Sunday, January 22, 2012

Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- Writer's Poke #356



A young man named Jacek carries a heavily-worn picture of a child. Who is the child? Is it his sister? Did she die far too young in some tragic way? Perhaps the young man has never forgiven himself for her death, even though he was in no way responsible. Perhaps her death has made life meaningless.

The truth of the matter is this: the young man feels helpless. Life has no purpose. He feels as though he has no control over his life, just as he had no ability to protect the child from death. It’s by no means a rational thought, but he convinces himself that all deaths are random and beyond the control of the living.

With this thought in mind, he finds a metal pipe and some rope. He plans a random act. He will hire a taxi and kill the driver. Who is the driver? It doesn’t matter. Whoever drives the cab that picks him up will do. 

When he puts the rope around the driver’s neck, the young man discovers that death doesn’t come easily. The driver struggles, and eventually the young man finds that he must start beating the driver with his pipe. As he drags the body from the cab to a nearby lake, Jacek assumes the driver is dead, but somehow the driver lives on. 

After Jacek had hit the driver in the head with his pipe multiple times, he was so sickened by the sight of the driver’s bloodied head that he covered it with a blanket. Now he hears the driver’s gurgling pleas. “Please,” the driver says, “I beg you.” But the young man will have none of it. He must complete the killing. Knowing that the pipe didn’t do the job properly, he finds a big rock, and he slams it down purposely on the covered head. Once. Twice. Three, four, five times. 

Now the job has been completed. The young man proves to himself that he has the courage to kill. Having proven to himself that he is in control and that living has not made him into a coward, he allows a brief smile to escape. 

Is there any explanation for the young man’s actions which would cause us overlook his brutal actions?

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer

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