as we know it (cont)
this being the reminder of chapter 1
The fact that he had been unable to persuade anyone else to come along said more about his own self than it did about the conditions on the island. Or more about the success the nighthoppers had at keeping their existence widely unknown, than about his inability to present a convincing argument. What had happened after all? What did he mean the world had ended? We were all still here, weren't we?, they all asked. Some people actually preferred not knowing and pretended it was pretty much normal, that it was all temporary. Sure, Gato told them, just like the Dark Ages were temporary. Hell, back in the day there were people who claimed there were about 600 odd years of history missing from modern reckoning. That now there was no shortage of food was true enough, but neither was there any way out of the island. Not that anybody minded, really, for most it was all kind of like a big party, an extended holiday. For most, it seemed, being cut off from the rest of the world had been a good thing. Nowadays there was hardly anyone left that actually remembered the rest of the world. In his lifetime, the world had shrunk, and to Gato that seemed plain wrong and went against everything he'd learned as a boy.
You had to hand it to the nighthoppers, they knew what they were doing. They had an uncanny insight into human nature, even though they seemed quite past their humble human beginnings. He on the other hand obviously did not. He had been certain that there would be land nearby, or at least relatively soon. He remembered the conversation clearly, as if it had been yesterday and not twenty plus years, and the map up on the wall with all those islands trickling downward toward the southern continent.
“You could sail all the way dow to South America and never lose sight of land. Everyday a new island, a new port.”
That had been his uncle talking to his own older brother, back in the day. Both of them were long gone now and had never been heard from again. Now he was all that was left of his dry, old family tree. And he would soon expire if things continued this way. It was the end of a line of sorts, and there was a certain finality that now appealed to him, surprisingly. He was tired, exhausted, but the hadn't realized to what extent until now, as he floated recklessly on the ocean and contemplated his own doom with an odd sense of relief and deliverance. He had left because he thought he would find passage to the real world, because he felt he had to do something before he became too old to do anything about it anymore.
There were no children, no wife, no significant other, not even an extended family... only himself. There was so much more than meaning missing in his life and it had not so suddenly become untenable to continue. A lifetime of ambiguity had come to a head, if you will, and resulted in a senseless shipwreck, an aimless listing of purpose and direction. And yet, an unequivocal feeling of being par for the course, of being on the right track, of all the possible ironies. As Gato pondered these slippery abstractions he couldn't help but agree and acknowledge that righteousness and stupidity were no strangers to each other. Perhaps he was indeed exactly where he needed to be. Or better, where he deserved to be.