Monday, 3:47 AM
I should probably tell you why I started this journal. To be honest, it’s not something I would normally be doing. I’m just not a journal kind of guy. But if there was ever a time in my life when I should do such a thing, that time is now. If you’re reading this, then you already know everything I’ve done, everything I’ve been going through. I don’t need to tell you all of that again. But what I do need to tell you is why.
Legacy. That’s what it’s all about. This journal is my last chance to preserve my legacy. My last chance to escape my inevitable end. We all live, we all die, and for most of us, our lives are entirely forgotten within a few generations. After that, everything is lost. How many billions of people have been alive over the course of history, each one of them with a life just as long and interesting and significant as any other, all of them now forgotten? How many people preserved in our history books are truly deserving of that distinction? How many people should have been honored for their contributions to science and to society, but almost every detail about them—their names, their personalities, their hopes, their dreams, successes, failures, everything that made them who they were—has been lost to the unending weathering of the sands of time? I do not want to be forgotten like that. And thus, I write this journal, knowing that eventually it will be found and read, and my memory will live on. Maybe just for one day, maybe for one hundred years. At that point it would be out of my hands entirely. But regardless of however long I will be deemed worth remembering by those who have that authority, I will have momentarily escaped the harrowing transience of life. That alone makes this something more than an exercise in pure futility.
I don’t know how I should be feeling right now. It’s been so long since I’ve been anything but depressed that I almost think I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be happy. There has been a sadness growing inside me for so long that I’m starting to treat it as the new baseline, and any time I say I’m ‘happy’ is really just a day I’m slightly less sad. But today is different. Today I feel nothing at all. I am no longer depressed. But neither am I happy, or sad. I barely even feel alive. All emotion has been stripped away, and nothing has come to takes its place. It is a blistering void, infinitely deep, endlessly empty. And I can’t help but think for some reason that this is the way it is supposed to be. This is what everything has been leading me to. Today may have been the most important day of my life—and for better or worse, I am unable to appreciate it in even the most fundamental of ways.
We all must live with the choices we make. Be they good or bad or amorally inconsequential, if we do not stand by the choices we have made then we are not being true to ourselves. People tend to let decisions of magnitude weigh heavily on their conscience, especially after the fact. Doubt and regret serve no purpose other than to impede further progress. They create hypotheticals of little relevance to future outcomes. Should I have gone to that school instead of this school? Should I have worn this shirt instead of that shirt? Of course, certain scenarios hold an indisputable pragmatic weight behind them, but even so, once that decision is made, it has been cast in stone. Unbreakable. To then regret it is to betray your own judgment on the issue. Again, exceptions exist—decisions made under strenuous circumstances by an unsound mind should not be held as unforgiving law. But if a person has any respect at all for himself, then all fairly made decisions must be treated as such, without regret, never looking back. On this particular day, I chose to go on a walk.
After how I had been feeling lately, I decided it may be a good idea to get away from it all, if only for a short time. A change in scenery can be quite therapeutic, or so they say. And thus, after making sure I had nothing else to do today, I just stepped outside and began to walk away, with the intention to keep going for as long as I could. I hardly even stopped to check that I was leaving with my wallet or phone; for the next few hours I wanted to be tethered to my real life as little as possible. I was just going to walk aimlessly, a solemn free agent with no identity to call my own. Freedom is what I sought from the odyssey. Freedom from the all-penetrating sorrow my life had become. And with naught to remind myself of that sorrow except for the keys in my pocket and the clothes on my back, I succeeded.
I rarely venture into the city without purpose. Living on the outskirts of the metropolis, with my workplace also close to the perimeter along with all of my other common points of interest, I’ve seldom had reason to go deeper into the bustling population than was necessary. I manage to get along in my own little corner of the world just fine, and the rest of the world manages just fine without me. As such, I know little of what lies beyond my own relatively small area of the city. To think, I’ve lived here for so long yet I’ve seen so little of it. Most people would find that strange, I imagine, but I do not mind. In fact, I would even say it led to the convenient fact that today when I found myself walking through the city, I was excited to be in places heretofore unbeknownst to me. As eager as I was to give myself a day to completely clear my mind, I could not resist the temptation. The thrill of adventure made the experience somehow seem more genuine to me.
It was almost noon when I left home, and I did not stop to check the time for the next several hours. I was for all intents and purposes lost in uncharted territories when I finally noticed the sun setting in the sky, originally planned to be my cue to turn around. But I was not yet satisfied by my odyssey. I continued onward toward no destination in particular, fully knowing that I would undoubtedly become more lost as the darkened night sky took its hold. I did not care. This was still to be my day of absolute freedom—regardless of the fact that the day itself was coming to an end—and I was not about to let it be cut short for any reason. I resolved to keep going as far as my legs would carry me.
Several more hours passed. The sun was long gone, and the moon had risen to take its place. As I passed from one area into the next, hour by hour, I began to notice less people outside. The activities of the day were subsiding, leaving nothing but a dead world behind for me to explore on my own. For the first time, this was my city, and I was free to do with it as I wished. And what I wished to do was continue walking through this temporary peace, to continue to let my mind wander as it is wont to do.
Eventually I came upon a large warehouse district, the likes of which one would expect to find in perhaps a movie due to its utterly sterile atmosphere. The surrealism of the scene was practically intoxicating. I began to ponder what sorts of exciting situations may have once taken place here. Perhaps the area had a long history of sheltering illicit drug deals; it certainly looked like the place for such a thing. The area was deserted for miles, maybe even abandoned altogether. The buildings themselves all appeared to be empty as well, save for whatever cargo some of them must have stored. The only light I had to guide me was the natural light of the moon. It was a place of total solitude, and for as long as it sanctioned me I would respect it.
I passed by one warehouse in particular, and something caught my eye. I turned to look through the building’s window. Inside, a light was on. A single dim ceiling light trapped in a sea of darkness. It hardly succeeded at brightening the room in which it dwelt. I walked over to the window and put my head against the dirty glass and looked around. I saw no one inside, and I was overcome by curiosity. Who had been using this building, and how long ago? How long had this light been on for? I felt compelled to investigate. At the very least, I felt obligated to turn the light off to save some money for the building owner.
I went over to the door to the left of the window. It was locked. That shouldn’t have surprised me, I realized; there would be no need to keep these doors unlocked. But seeing as I had the time, I didn’t want to give up just yet. I went around the perimeter of the building until I came across a second door on the other side. As luck would have it, this door was not locked. It almost even looked as though the doorknob had been broken off forcefully, although I paid little attention to that detail at the time. I was too concerned with my primary objective of turning off the light.
I opened the door and stepped into the warehouse. It was a single large open room, almost completely empty except for a small wooden table with a wooden chair next to it on the far side, roughly directly under the light. I walked along the wall of the building, hoping to find the light switch. I came across nothing of the sort before coming to the table under the light. There were some scattered pieces of paper on it, along with an empty glass and a few other small items apparently long undisturbed. I picked up one of the papers, wondering what this building was last used for. Before I had a chance to read it, I was interrupted.
“Don’t touch those,” a male voice said. I dropped the paper and quickly turned around, startled. A figure stepped out from the shadows on the other side of the room, his face only dimly lit as he began toward me. I couldn’t quite make out all his facial features, but I thought I vaguely recognized him. “Who are you?” he asked. I stuttered a little in my panic, but I answered the man truthfully and quickly. “Do you know who I am?” he then asked me, and I hesitated before answering no. “My name is Eugene Malone,” the man said.
He asked me what I was doing here. I didn’t answer; my mind was practically frozen. He said it again, this time more aggressively. I still said nothing. He pulled out a knife and asked it again. I was being overcome with fear at this point. I did not know what kind of answer he expected from me. I had only ended up here with him through sheer coincidence, but I could tell he wouldn’t believe that. He was looking at me as if I knew more than I wanted him to know. And I could tell that he didn’t like what he saw. He didn’t like my silence.
Malone lunged at me. I jumped out of the way, barely dodging him and his blade. I lost my balance and hit the floor hard. He was still moving in my direction. Unable to think of anything else, all I could do was to try kicking him and hope for a hit. And through some miraculous stroke of luck, my flail of a kick managed to connect with his right wrist, sending the knife he had been holding flying through the air. I rolled over and got back onto my feet as Malone recovered from his flinch—my kick must have struck a nerve.
The knife landed on the floor just feet away from us. We both jumped for it, knocking into each other on the way down. Malone punched me in the side of the head and I could do nothing to block his blow. The two of us hit the ground at approximately the same time, the knife between us. Still a bit dizzy from the punch, I was unable to grab the knife first. Malone seized it and thrust it at me. I managed to act quickly enough to push his arm away from my direction before the knife reached me, and before he could bring it back toward me, I kicked him square between the legs. He cringed reflexively, but more importantly, his grip on the knife weakened and I was able to take it in the following split second.
Hardly stopping to think, I thrust his own knife at him and stabbed him in the chest. And then a second time. It was over. My mind was racing. I stood back up. Eugene Malone was on the ground in front of me, coughing up blood and struggling to take his last few breaths. With the last of his strength, he said “I guess I’ve had this coming to me for a long time.” And a few seconds later, he was gone.
Silence. There was now nothing but silence, save for my own heavy breathing. I had just killed a man. I had just killed the man named Eugene Malone. I had no idea what to do. So I left. I wiped my fingerprints from the knife, along with everything else I touched since I got there, and then I just walked away. Out of the warehouse district, back through the mostly empty streets of this part of the city, back through the more populated areas, and back home. It had been far too long since I had eaten, let alone slept. And yet, I could do neither of those things now. My walk was a success: my mind had been cleared, and I was no longer feeling the stresses of my depression. Right now, I feel nothing at all. Eugene Malone is dead, and I am finally at rest.
I know this won’t last. Soon, everything will hit me and I’ll be worse off than I ever was. Right now I’m thinking the words, but their meaning has yet to sink in: I’m going to be caught eventually. Everybody gets caught eventually. But if I’m smart enough, maybe I can delay it as much as possible. It is now 5:13 AM, Monday, April 23. Maybe they’ll get me tomorrow, or maybe it’ll happen in five years. Until then, all I can do is run. I just need to keep running, and never looking back.