mistersmith_tm: (smith rose worth living for)
My greatest strength? Hope. It's what gives me the will to keep on going. And believe me, where I come from that's not easy. Hope, I mean. Sure, surviving in the world after the Big Death is it's own kind of strength. The kind you've got to find, way down deep inside. People like Kurdy and Jeremiah and Theo were born with it. They're fighters. And they've each got something to fight for. It's what gives them the strength to do what they have to do to make it through another day.

For me, it's Hope. It's out there if you know how to look for it. Everywhere. No, really. Look at any town or village – any community of people working together – and you'll see it. Families. And children. They're our hope for the future. Especially the children. They're learning from the mistakes of our parents. From our mistakes, too. As long as there are children, the future has a chance.

As long as I have my daughter Rose, I have hope. And the strength to keep on living.
mistersmith_tm: (Default)
Jeremiah once asked me if I had any unspoken thoughts. He was being sarcastic, but my answer wasn't. He was more right than he knew. Because I don't. Have any unspoken thoughts. Pretty much what you see is what you get. Ever since I first heard God's Voice . . . well, let's just say that I don't get to many secrets. And when I do, they're usually not mine; they're His.

There is one thing. Something that no one knows. I think about it a lot. Well, as much as I can, considering. It's something that no one else in the whole world knows about me. Not Jeremiah or Markus or Sister Hannah. Not even Kurdy or Rose, and I pretty much tell them everything. Because I care about them more than anything. Believe me, if I knew myself, I'd tell them! But it's something not even I know the answer to, and sometimes that frightens me.

Who am I? Where did I come from? Where is my home and my family? And why can't I remember any of it? My entire life begins with the Big Death. The 11 or 12 years that came before it are a blank slate I've never been able to fill in.

What is so terrible that my mind won't go there? What am I hiding from the world so effectively, that not even I know the truth of it?
mistersmith_tm: (smith no shirt bed)
There's something special about that first waking moment. That brief transition from sleep to wakefulness when your whole body feels like it's in limbo. Relaxed and comfortable and rested. Before having to rise and greet the day. Sunlight just beginning to shine through the trees or the windows, depending on where you are. Yawning. Stretching the sleep from your arms and legs and maybe arching your back, before the day demands that you push back the covers and get out of the bed.

That golden moment when you realize how very lucky you are to have a bed and a home. To wake in the arms of the woman you love, and know that she loves you back. That in the morning she's still right there beside you on, snuggled up close. Her arm draped over your chest, her soft hair against your cheek.

Sometimes it takes a long time to talk myself into getting out of bed. Sometimes I'd much rather stay right here. In this quiet, golden moment. With her.
mistersmith_tm: (smith cu concern)
There's something special about that first waking moment. That brief transition from sleep to wakefulness when your whole body feels like it's in limbo. Relaxed and comfortable and rested. Before having to rise and greet the day. Sunlight just beginning to shine through the trees or the windows, depending on where you are. Yawning. Stretching the sleep from your arms and legs and maybe arching your back, before the day demands that you push back the covers and get out of the bed.

For me, the best part of waking up is exactly that. Waking. Realizing I've made it through another grueling day. Discovering that I've survived another night. That's what the world is about, you know. Surviving. In the aftermath of the Big Death, it's really the best any of us can do. To wake up and realize you survived. Before having to face another day in hell.
mistersmith_tm: (smith voice)
Kurdy )
mistersmith_tm: (smith sock puppet)
Living. And dying. Kind of hard to decide which was bigger. You'd think I'd be more inclined to lean toward living, since it took me 15 years to finally give up on it. The daily struggle to survive. To find enough food and water. To find shelter and clothing. To hide from the raiders and everyone else who traveled in packs and survived by preying others. On little guys, like me. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst was the loneliness. The sense that I didn't belong anywhere, with anyone. Like I was a battered raft adrift in the middle of an ocean tempest. 15 years of that crap before I finally couldn't take it any more and gave up. I decided to kill myself.

Did kill myself.

That was the biggest obstacle. Not the dying. That was pretty damned easy.

But agreeing to stay in the world I'd finally managed to escape . . . coming back to try and change things for the better . . . to make a difference? That was the biggest obstacle.

It still is.
mistersmith_tm: (weight)
Everything seemed so pretty up here. The narrow ribbon of sand on the shore, obscuring the worn concrete of the road, and the trees, tall and lush and green. A hundred feet below, the placid water reflected the cloudless blue of a picture book sky. Sunlight glistened in sparkling motes on the surface, dazzling the eye. A light breeze playfully ruffled his hair and gently nudged him against the steel railing with invisible fingers.

So peaceful. So beautiful. Quiet.

Worn and discouraged by fifteen years of scrounging and scraping and struggling to survive in a world gone to hell, he was tired and he was done. Hopeless and weary, he climbed over the railing and teetered for a heartbeat before stepping out into space and into the azure arms of death.
mistersmith_tm: (smith alone)
Kind of hard to pick one instance out of a lifetime of being alone. Seems like alone is synonymous with who I am. Well, since the Big Death, anyway. If I had to pick one day out of thousands, it would be that one. The first one of this whole, terrible existence. The day this life started and the other one, whatever it was, ended.

The first thing I remember is the air. It was thick with the smell of smoke and, beneath that, something sweeter and more horrible. Like rancid meat you'd left sitting out in the sun for too long, or the way the garbage smelled when you opened the lid to the trash can, just before you held your breath long enough to throw the bag inside. Except the whole world smelled like that. Like smoke and rot and decay.

The next thing I remember is the street. Nothing moved. No matter where I turned, I couldn't see a single soul. Not man, woman, child, cat, dog . . . nothing, anywhere. Just me. I was standing in the middle of the tarmac facing west. I know that because the sun was just setting over the horizon. There were small houses on either side of me with little lawns like postage stamps up and down the street. Trampled and ruined. White picket fences turned into splinters by cars that had run off the road, or worse. Fires burned in almost every building and broken glass littered everything, everywhere.

I couldn't understand where I was or who I was. Was I 10? 12? How old was I? How had I come here, to this terrible place? Where had I been? Where was I trying to go? I must have had some destination in mind, to be standing in the middle of the street like that. But damn me if I could remember what it was.

I looked down at myself and recognized that I was naked except for my trousers and my shoes. There was a box on the ground, resting between my feet as if it had been set there in preparation for something important. I bent to pick it up and recognized it. I don't know from where, but the memory of this, at least, was there. It was a camera. A pinhole camera. A science project, because I'd made it myself. That much I remembered. But when I reached further back, there was nothing there. No home. No faces of friends or family. Nothing. Just me and the world, sinking into darkness. Alone.
mistersmith_tm: (smith log)
Heart's Desire: Think about something you once wanted so badly but never acquired. Write about how you think your life would’ve been different if you had received what your heart desired.

Hi! Do you know me? When I'm not recognized, I carry the American Express Card!

Funny how the only things he could remember clearly were so unimportant. Like that television commercial with some famous guy hawking a green credit card. Or the words to a song from a cartoon. He could pull up any number of facts and images with crystal clarity. Odd bits of fluff and esoterica. Jingles, snatches of dialogue, passages from books, the faces of celebrities. But not his family. Not his mother or father. His house. His neighborhood. Nothing remained in his mind's eye. It was firmly closed against the most important things that came before.

His heart's desire was nothing less than what every kid in the world wanted. Their family back, whole and safe. For things to be the way they were before the Big Death ravaged civilization and ripped all of the adults away in blood and pain and madness. For most, there was no going back. There was no hope. They'd seen all of the adults in their lives, and older brothers and sisters, die horribly. But others . . . kids like Jeremiah, who were separated from their parents, still held on to that dream. That out there, somewhere, Mom and Dad were still alive. That they'd found a way to survive. That one day they'd be reunited.

But how could you find what you couldn't remember?

As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, he searched. Not just for his memory of home but for people who knew him. Hoping against hope that in the next neighborhood or community or town someone would recognize him. That he'd turn a corner onto a suddenly familiar street to hear a joyful voice call his name. Maybe he'd look up and see a dark haired woman running down the center of the street toward him, tears streaming down her face as, arms wide, she caught him up in a fierce embrace. And behind her would be a man, equally as happy but a bit more reserved. A man with hazel eyes like himself. They'd babble happily about how much they'd missed him and how they'd thought they'd lost him forever, and he'd tell them how he never stopped thinking about them every single day. Even if he couldn't remember their faces or their voices, he thought of them and ached for them. How he never gave up hope.

But as the months stretched into long, tortuous years of struggling to survive, not once did anyone recognize him. No joyful voice ever called his name. Not man, not woman, not child. Like so many abandoned to the hell that was now the world, he was completely and utterly alone. Only in his case, even his mind had betrayed and deserted him. His memory of what had gone before had died with the Death. He didn't have their faces or their words to comfort him. He had only himself and a heart's desire that faded into bitter bile and ashes.
mistersmith_tm: (Default)
Where I'm from, it's not too easy to make friends. Not for me, anyway. The whole hearing God's voice thing really throws them off. It's kind of hard to warm up to someone you think is crazy. Especially when you've got more important things on your mind, like building an Alliance. Or winning a war. The first time I met Kurdy, it was to deliver a message. If you know Kurdy, then you know it didn't go over too well. Or me, either, for that fact. There are lots of crazy people out in the world. You have to be, even a little bit, to survive after the Big Death. Kurdy just figured I was one of them. Thing is, I'm not crazy. I do hear God's Voice. Most of the time I'm not too happy about it, but there's not a damned thing I can do about it.

It could have ended there. That one message to Kurdy. He didn't like it, but he eventually listened. He really didn't have much of a choice. But it was the right thing to do. He survived because of the warning, and so did a lot of his friends. I think that's why he let me hang around. Maybe because he thought he owed me for that, even if he still thought I was nuts. He didn't believe the whole God thing – still doesn't – but he tried to accept me for who I was. Not what I was.

People respect Kurdy. They look up to him. He's a natural leader. But all his friends thought he was nuts, letting me hang around Thunder Mountain. Letting me contribute to the Alliance in my own little way. Sometimes by taking pictures. Or traveling to towns, trying to sell the idea of an Alliance of communities. And the Messages. Giving me a chance to prove myself.

There was a day when things changed. A subtle change, really. Most people didn't notice it. But I did. In the way Kurdy spoke to me. In the things he told me. In the way Markus Alexander, the Alliance leader, included me in their meetings. Sure, they still thought I was the crazy guy. But I was their crazy guy. I was one of them. A member of the Alliance. A colleague. A friend.

They accepted me for me.
mistersmith_tm: (man of mystery)
If you could meet any famous personality, living or dead, and smack them in the head with a large trout, who would it be?

Books were a rare treat that Mister Smith savored like mythical fine chocolate. For him, finding the remnants of one was a cause for celebration. Finding one nearly intact was nothing short of miraculous. How anyone could have overlooked this particular tome in 15 years still amazed him. It was over 400 pages long!

The front and back covers were missing but all of the text seemed to be there. Chapter after chapter in numerical order. It didn't matter to him that he had no idea what the subject matter was. History, mystery, or computer manual, he didn't care. It was something to read. Something to relish. A piece of the dead past, here in his hands.

He parceled out each chapter like gems, reading one a night. Stretching it out and making the precious book last as long as he could. Carefully wrapped and stowed in his backpack, the book gave him something to look forward to at the end of a long day of struggle. Today had been a good day. He'd actually managed to catch two good sized trout with his nylon line and a bent paperclip. That in itself was cause for celebration, and he determined to do exactly that by reading more than one chapter tonight.

As the sun set and a harvest moon rose over the treetops, he bent closer to the campfire, the flames illuminating the small type. But as he turned the pages, his heart began to pound. As he began to understand the purpose of the story, a slow rage grew within him

"No. No, I don't believe it."

He turned to the title page. THE STAND by Stephen King. Copyright 1978. Eleven years before the Big Death. Only here, within these pages, it was called something else. Captain Tripps. But the symptoms were the same. Flu-like, highly contagious, that progressed into convulsions, bleeding from the orifices, madness and then death in a matter of days. Sometimes hours. A virus cooked up in a government lab. A virus that destroyed all life in the world, except for a handful of survivors.

Mister Smith stared at the weathered ancient tome. Was this it? Was this the catalyst? Was he holding the book that had given the inventor of the Big Death virus the idea in the first place?

Who the hell was this Stephen King and how could he write something so chilling? So irresponsible?

Mister Smith was not a violent man but at the moment he wanted nothing better than to pick up the first weapon that came to hand -- the trout on it's spit, for instance – and smack some sense into that long-dead author. To see the seed he'd sown and the terrible world that had sprung from it. Would it have made a difference? Would the man have cared? Mister Smith had no way of knowing.

He looked down at the book in his hands and frowned at the words on the page in front of him.

This is the way the world ends; not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Memories

May. 13th, 2005 10:22 pm
mistersmith_tm: (Default)
If you could only carry one memory with you into the afterlife, which would you choose?

Only one? Damn, that's hard! Even for someone like me who doesn't have a lifetime of memories like most people. You'd think it would be easy in my case, not remembering what my life was like before the Big Death and all. But that still leaves the last 15 years. Of course, most of those memories aren't exactly the kinds of things I'd want to take with me. Once was enough, you know?

There are some good memories, though. Even for me. Like meeting Rose for the first time and suddenly knowing, in that instant, who she was. If I could take only one memory with me . . . if I had to choose . . . it would be something like that. Something of hope and love and beauty, like my daughter Rose.

Fannon )
mistersmith_tm: (smith voice)
Which are you more afraid of: Being too gullible and believing things that aren't true, or being too skeptical and missing out on something important?

Being too skeptical? Funny that. My entire world is about skepticism. I mean, look around you. Look at what we've become. Most people don't know where their next meal is coming from or if they'll have a place to sleep. The ones who do have worked all their lives for what they have, scratching and scavenging and fighting to survive in a world gone to hell. Sometimes that means taking what you need or want from others through violence. There isn't much hope where I'm from. This is the world as we know it. It won't get any better. It can't get any better. That's skepticism.

Me? I know it can and it will. I know that there's a better future in store for us. That it won't always be like this. There is hope. I've seen it. I've heard it. Through the work of the Alliance. Through the Sisters and their School, nurturing the next generation. Through families and individuals who are trying to make that world themselves, one step at a time. Am I – are they - gullible to believe in such a thing? For envisioning a future of civilization and prosperity? Maybe. It certainly sounds like a fairytale. But I'd rather hang onto that than never try at all.
mistersmith_tm: (man of mystery)
If you could trade lives with one person for a day, who would it be, and what would you do?

Kurdy. Hands down. I'd want to be Kurdy for a day. And I wouldn't change a thing about him. He's history in the making. A born leader. A great leader. Because he cares about people. He's passionate about the issues. And he knows how to get things done . He's probably the most self-assured person I've ever met and the most comfortable in his own skin. He doesn't give a damn what other people think or the "right way" to do things. He does what needs to be done, with resolve and determination and heart. Kurdy has the biggest heart of anyone I know. And a great sense of humor, even in the face of impossible odds. People look up to Kurdy. For good reason. Everything that's happened to him since the Big Death has molded him into a force to be reckoned with. A crusader. He'd laugh if you told him that, then probably call you something that would make a Raider blush. But it's true. That's what Kurdy is. All that and more.

And he remembers his past. He remembers his family. His parents. It's bittersweet, sure. Most memories from before the Death are. But for once, just for a day, I'd like to have those memories too. Even if they belong to someone else.
mistersmith_tm: (smith alone)
I'm a failure. Does that count? I think it does. I mean, if you don't succeed at anything, that's a pretty big flaw, right? When no matter how hard you try, you never manage to succeed at what you're doing. When no matter what you do, nothing ever seems to turn out right? Not that I'm a jinx. At least, I don't think I am. But most of the time, things just don't turn out the way they're supposed to. Like Rose. I've never really been there for Rose. I try. I make promises. And then I have to break them. Mostly because of the Voice, but that's just another excuse. Another failure. Rose says she understands. Six year olds are incredibly forgiving. But I know the truth. I know I've failed her.

I tried to take Simms out of the picture by myself and look what happened. I got caught. And beaten. Story of my life. And I couldn't save Libby. It didn't matter what I did. I tried to convince her not to come with us. I knew, you see. The Voice had shown me what was going to happen. Well, part of it. She came anyway. And when I found out the truth of who she was and what she was doing, I tried to reason with her. But she wouldn't listen. She didn't care. And she died because of it. Because of me. I couldn't stop it. God damn me . . . I couldn't stop it!

I can't even get killing myself right. I'm still here. I'm still fucking things up. How many more people are going to get hurt? Are going to die, because I can't seem to do anything right?
mistersmith_tm: (pocketwatch)
On the surface it looked perfect in every way. The gold casing was unmarred by scratches or dents, as pristine as the day it was crafted. It's face was a convex, rounded crystal that, if held just right, would catch the light and fracture it into motes of color. The numbers were bold and crisp, the hands elegant and dramatic.

Except. The pocket watch didn't work.

Even though he faithfully wound it every day, no sound issued forth. The hands remained stationary. The delicate Swiss works encased inside remained motionless, frozen in time at that terrible moment when the Big Death escaped into the world. It was a beautiful but dead symbol of the past.

And yet. Mister Smith continued to wind it. Every day. Lovingly. Faithfully. With hope and trust and complete confidence. Because one day the watch would start working again. On the day when the world changed for the better and finally moved forward, away from the legacy of the Big Death, it would begin to tick. It would signal the advent of a new and better future.

Until then, he would continue to be the custodian of this unusual harbinger to the future. He would faithfully wind the little pocket watch every day and patiently wait for it to Begin.
mistersmith_tm: (man of mystery)
I've already done that, you know. Lost it. If I ever had it at all. Thirteen years without it and, well, if you were me, what would you do? Probably the same thing. Maybe not the same way, but the same idea. Me? I jumped off a bridge. Hey, it worked for me. I mean, I can't swim for shit and I wanted to do the job right. Why? Because after the Big Death, life was hard. So very hard! And it wasn't getting any better. I was tired and I was done. So I gave up.

Without hope, what was I struggling for? What was the use? Why live at all?

Thing is, it wasn't until I was drowning that I found it. Hope. It was kind of handed to me against my will. At that point, all I wanted to do was check out. I didn't care any more.

But He did.
mistersmith_tm: (smith cu concern)
The Big Death. That's pretty scary. Even now, 16 years later. It was a virus. Something cooked up in a lab. But it didn't stay there. It got out. I don't know if someone let it lose or if it got away from them. Doesn't really matter how. Just that it did. It started small, killing just a handful in India. In six months, 6 billion people were dead. All of the adults. Everyone over the age of puberty. Leaving just us kids behind. To try and bury the dead. To try and survive.

No. Not much scarier than being 12 years old and left alone in a world without adults. Inheriting a world gone mad.

Except, maybe, waking up one day and finding the world dying around you . . . and not knowing where you came from. Not being able to remember your home. Your family. Your friends. Just death and disease. Burning cities. The smell of the bodies . . . the ones without anyone to bury them. Just lying there.

Not knowing where you've been is a lot scarier than not knowing where you're going. Believe me. I know.
mistersmith_tm: (smith sock puppet)
How about all of it?

No. No, that's not true. And that's not fair. There've been some pretty good things in my life. Not a lot. Not often. But when good things happen, they happen big, you know? I've seen some pretty amazing things. Witnessed history in the making. Like Markus' Alliance. Communities coming together for a common cause. For a greater good. For our survival. Our future.

I try to help. I do what I can. But it isn't enough. It's never enough. I should be able to do more. I want to do more. Because I've got this Voice in my head. The voice of God. And He tells me things. About people. About the future. About things that make a difference. But they're not always things I can share. Sometimes I can only watch. Helpless. And I don't understand why.

I don't want to know the things that I know. I shouldn't have to know the things that I know! Not if I can't do anything about them!
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