RAMBLINGS OF THE MAD MAN

By Robert Goodheart

 

Koharu’s departure impacted everyone and changed most into dark creatures. Those who committed the most heinous of deeds transformed first of course, the darkness within them consumed them quicker than most. Those who had next-to no darkness inside their heart weren’t as lucky. Their minds fought and slowly drove them into madness. These were the unfortunate ones.

A man wearing rusty armor is standing alone, he starts walking around the ruins of an unknown town, aimlessly. No one would ever give him another glance, if he weren’t the only thing alive in such a desolate place.

“Your loved ones. Do they love you back, or do you hope they love you? Mine did. Or I thought they did.” The man seemed speak more to himself, rather than to anyone else. “What is love anyways? Does it even matter in these times, or did it too, disappear? There is no way it could leave us, it’s within all of us. Right?”

The armored-man stopped speaking and let out a heavy sigh.

“Then again, we believed Koharu loved us all, and she abandoned us. Her bastard children she tolerated, but never wanted. Left to fend for ourselves.” The man’s face showed no emotion, but his eyes betrayed him, showing the sadness underneath. “These ruins were once a bustling city, and now nothing remains but me. Life may have been simple, but then again, it was a life worth living.”

The man paced around in a large circle. Thoughts filled his head, yet nothing he deemed important enough to speak about. Watching the man, you would believe he lost interest in his own story.

“My best friend and I were peacekeepers in a time of unity.” He started suddenly, “we didn’t have much to do other than walk around town and look impressive, and I tell you, we did that damn well.” The man was motionless as he spoke. “People looked up to us… Well, no. That’s a lie. They looked up to my friend, and tolerated me. You see, he was the one everyone knew personally, while I just tagged along, absorbing whatever respect I could. Of course, I didn’t know that till, after.”

After a brief pause the former-peacekeeper stood up with a slow, deliberate motion, and began to wander around the crumbled ruins of his once hometown. “We could walk around town doing next-to-nothing, and people would run up to him, give him gifts, people I didn’t even recognize, and always, he would just smile.”

He stopped walking and let out a deep sigh, as if the thought of a smile caused him physical pain. The troubled-man stared off into the distance, deep in thought, and muttered something only the wind could hear. Just like before, his thoughts seemed to wander from subject to subject, and the man seemed to pick and choose which thoughts to entertain.

“Sometimes,” the man continued, “your prayers come true. I always dreamt of an exciting life, one surrounded by danger. What I didn’t realize is that I had my wish, Koharu’s departure just added chaos into the mix. After she left, people began, well. They began to change. The incarcerated were the first. Those convicted of the highest offenses changed faster than the others. Slowly but surely, everyone began to transform. Most were convinced it was related to their crimes.”

“The scariest part wasn’t the change the incarcerated went through, rather, it was the change in society. Like I said, people were convinced it was related to the prisoners’ crimes; but many began to blame the samurais in town. Townsfolk began to rebel against authority. Why? I don’t know. A thousand theories, a hundred answers. I couldn’t keep track of them all. The other samurais and I became worried, all but one.”

‘“I’ll take care of it.’ My friend would tell me, “I’ve always been able to handle trouble-makers.”’

“‘I know’, I replied, ‘but how?’”

‘“I’ll take care of it.’ he would repeat.”

“I decided not to worry about it, after all, he had respect of the entire town. Slowly, but surely, the rebellions quieted down. We still had the occasional trouble-maker here and there, but nothing that we didn’t have to deal with before. I guess none of that matters anymore, without a society to tell of.”

This time the man didn’t seem to gather his thoughts, but seemed tortured by them instead. As the man continued his story, his tone began to wander into anger,

“We thought that was it. But then others, those never convicted changed. My friend.” The man spat out the word friend, as if he tasted something horrible, “He was one of the first. And then it slowly came out, the beatings, the deals.”

The former samurai’s face then drained of all emotion. His body language giving no indication of any feeling, as if he had become numb.

“He protected those who paid him, and beat those who didn’t. He got away with it, because he was a samurai.” The man’s face did not reveal any of the emotions he felt within, though it was evident in his speech.

“He even protected me. It was the reason why I was never targeted by anyone, hurt by anyone. They were afraid of him. No one had told me, because they assumed I was involved. How did I find out? Well, when he began to change, I was devastated.”

He began to speak faster with each sentence, betraying his former style of speech.

“My best friend changing into a monster? It must be some kind of misfortune, a mistake. While I was openly weeping, I saw others celebrating! Of course I wondered what kind of monster could celebrate the death of another. I talked to them and they wouldn’t talk to me. They thought I was kidding, but who knew that someone…”

The man stopped speaking, regained his composure and spoke with clarity.

“That someone you trusted could be so morally corrupt. Just as the entire world around us began to crumble away, my own world followed suit. I began to find more evidence of corruption. When it came to the townsfolk, it seemed to have no end. It was everywhere.”

He shifted uncomfortably before he spoke, as if he had been there for a long time, even though only minutes had passed.

“They of course, began to change as well. It was clear to all by now that whatever was well, within you directly correlated to changing. Those of us who hadn’t changed started speculating, the dominant theory was that we were the chosen ones. What that meant, I paid no attention too. I was tired of being chosen, I finally wanted to choose for myself. I left the town. Left them all. When I came back, there was no one left…”

It was at this moment, the man finally broke down. It wasn’t as simple as crying or sobbing. It was as if the man was being struck over and over, a spasm being the closest definition. And then, quite suddenly, whatever was happening to him, stopped. He walked over to the exact position he began his speech in, and stopped, looked at seemingly nothing, and began to speak.

“Your loved ones. Do they love you back, or do you hope they love you? Mine did. Or I thought they did…”

He was doomed to repeat these ramblings, till the day he transformed. This is but one tale of those who transformed last, no one to comfort him, no one help alleviate his insanity.