The Zombies of Nihilism

The dead are walking the earth. Great masses of animated corpses roam about, and then explode into violent thrashing, gnashing, and clawing when their pale dead eyes catch sight of the young woman running by. She is alive, perhaps the last to be alive, and she is desperate to escape the clutches of these zombies and thus preserve her life.

She is running along the road at a sustained pace. An exhausted pace. She has been running for hours now. To her it seems as if she has been running for months; and perhaps she has. Her face bears an expression of utter exhaustion. Her eyes are dulled, fixed upon the looming edifice in the distance, up the road. Her gaze hardly strays from it to take in the abominations that leer out from her peripheral. As she passes, the decaying, moaning figures surge out from every shadow. They spill out of ruined doorways, and from between darkened trees. They pull themselves, drag themselves out of ditches and attempt to pursue their prey with broken, rotten limbs; like pathetic awkward serpents, not yet evolved to depend upon their bellies for locomotion. But these vile creatures will not evolve. They are dead. They are dead tissue that have come to be by some unnatural means. They are truly abominations.

Behind her, close behind her, follow the zombies that are in less advanced states of decay. They are the more recently deceased. They keep pace with her. The whole mass of them leering and stumbling, lumbering and reaching, as desperate to grab hold of her sweet, living flesh as she is to escape them.

But while she is silent, not making a noise save for her labored breathing, they are a noisy mass. Gasping, moaning, wailing in their pain and suffering, lamenting in their desperation to overcome it. To overcome it by the taste of this sweet flesh, running just beyond their grasp.

Hundreds of them, with more added every few paces, and all are oblivious to everything but their own driving hunger. Their distorted rotting faces display the painful desperation they suffer. In exaggerated grimaces they express the shock and horror of being dead and yet still being so compelled by hunger.

In contrast, the expression upon the face of the girl is absent of any emotion. Exhaustion has drained all of the fear and disgust from her and left only a stoic resignation. In her eyes there is only the immediate goal of shelter; of a sanctuary from the masses of cannibalistic zombies that endlessly, tirelessly pursue her. The edifice.

She is close to it now. It is a large dark building. Perhaps a museum. Or rather it was a museum before…before all this, before the end of the world had came and went. It is a large structure with multiple floors and a huge entrance of many steps and pillars and columns; after the Greek style. It does not appear to be infested with the zombies.

And, most importantly, there is a light in one of the top floor windows. This light itself is enough to warrant some hope. For everywhere else the only light comes from the moon, which is now full and suspended above the earth. She has seen no artificial light for days. Ever since the hordes of dead finally broke down the barriers that protected her and the last of the survivors. Only she had escaped from their biting jaws and clawing fingers. Only she had managed to somehow wriggle out into the open as the lanterns and flashlights were extinguished amidst the screams of the dying. The lights went out, one by one; just as the people who had held them breathed their last in an exhalation of horror and agony.

Since then it seemed like she had been running, almost continuously. She had thought herself to be all alone. Perhaps the last person on the whole planet. But now, surely someone had barricaded themselves inside this museum. She was drawn to that little flickering light as if it were all that was left of life and of the world. She would exhaust her final resources to get to it. She was drawn to it like a moth to the flame.

Up the steps she sprinted. Two at a time. But the steps prove difficult for the zombies. They can not effectively maneuver them and they fall upon one another and continue to stumble upward. Wet tissue is torn open and frail dead bones are snapped in their clumsy haste to secure their prey. Up the steps the girl climbs. This is it. This is the last burst of her energy. If more zombies lie in wait on the inside she will surely be devoured.

She stops for just the briefest moment at the huge, double doors that stand ajar. Inside it is pitch black, but no sound, no movement. She hesitates a moment longer and then, looking back upon the decaying throng climbing the steps, flings herself inside. She takes hold of one door and then another, pushes, tries to shut them. But it is no use. She wastes no more time and continues on.

Her footsteps fall heavy in the dark tomb-like silence. The quick pat, pat, pat, echoes back at her from marble floors and concrete walls within the hollow chambers of this edifice. Her eyes are beginning to adjust to the gloom as she hears the first of her rancid pursuers spilling into the building. She must find the stairs.

Running wildly, breathless, exhausted, suddenly she slams into something with her shins. The impact topples her. Searing pain shoots up her legs and causes starbursts to go off behind her eyes as she lets out a cry. It is the first time that she has heard her own voice in days. Not since she escaped the fate that her companions had met. She picks herself up and now continues to make her way, only now at a considerably slower gait.

The zombies are gaining on her now. She can not comprehend how it is that they can sense her there, in the dark. Her own live senses can barely make out the shapes of things by the sparse light of the moon that manages to shine in. How is it that they, with dead eyes and only reanimated brains are able to follow her? They follow her by scent perhaps. Within their decaying heads the scent of her live flesh swirls around, filling them with insane desire. Her living, breathing flesh enticing them into cannibalistic madness. But maybe to call them cannibals is inaccurate, for they are no longer of the same species. Not really. These walking corpses constitute some new adaptation to nature. Some blasphemous exception to the laws which govern life.

The stairs! She has found the staircase. It is illuminated by a window overlooking the landing. Quickly she climbs. Both shins aching, pulsing. Pain surges hotly through both legs until she feels as though she will burst. Her head swoons with exhaustion. And still she climbs. Up one flight, and then another, still another.

And then she arrives at the door. She can see clearly within the gloom the frame of a door illuminated from the inside. A dim light traces the shut door within the frame, and it flickers a little. It is candle light. Someone must be in that room! If it were a battery operated light it may have been left on in the unoccupied room for perhaps days, but this is definitely candle light. Someone has to be inside that room!

No longer feeling the pain or exhaustion she flies at the door and, grasping the handle…she is stopped dead.

The door is locked. In an outburst of confused emotions and sheer panic she begins into a torrent of screaming and pounding upon the door. She claws at the wood with her nails she pounds with her palms, her fists, her forearms, her knees. She cries out, “Please! Oh god, please open the door! Oh god, oh god damn it open this god damn door! Please! I’m still alive! I’m trapped out here! Please! Their coming! Their coming! Please open this god damn door now!”

Utter panic ensues. It takes over her entire being. Where the will to survive had spurred her on before, had got her here, now at this point, at the end of the road panic has taken over. Mortal fear has superceded all other thought and function within her.

She turns back toward the staircase to see the first of the zombies emerge over the landing. She pauses in her hysteria to watch with crazed eyes as crooked, unsteady, rotten feet set down upon the floor. Her eyes meet the cataract gaze within the wrinkled, pained face of the dead. The things move toward her now and as they do she resumes her display. Screaming and crying and pounding upon the door. Letting herself go to the fear, to the madness. In desperate, wailing tones she begins to break down, appealing to the mercy of someone whom might not even exist. “Please! Oh please!”

The zombies come closer. They surge forward. Their own desperate moans becoming louder and louder. The din of their hunger drowning out all other sound, just as their dead organisms are sure to drown this final living victim.

Trapped, her back against the door. Sobbing, her lips drawn into ridiculous sniveling, she resigns herself to fate. The outstretched arms, the grasping fingers come nearer, propelled by broken bodies. The gaping open mouths lined with foul slimy teeth chattering, gnashing in anticipation of the squealing, squirming meal. The fingertips, reaching, reaching in the darkness, clutching at her, grabbing at her, taking hold of that sweet, soft flesh, taking hold…

Suddenly she falls. The nightmare was complete. The feast was imminent. In all of her wildest nightmares she couldn’t have anticipated the horror of all those dead zombie faces gathering around her…and then, a different nightmare. Falling. Falling in the darkness. She is falling backwards, backwards into the darkest night. Falling. Falling for what seems like a long time. Such a very long time.

“Get up, move out of the way!” a man shouts at her as he sweeps her legs clear and shuts the door. She watches, amazed, enthralled, dumbfounded as he simply shuts the door. Shuts the door upon the looming faces, the hungry zombie faces that are still too slow to register what has just happened. Faces that were about to devour her. Faces full of sinister teeth and sickly salivating mouths that were prepared to feast upon her. Until…until he, this man, simply shut the door.

This man now bars the heavy door and crouching to her asks if she’s all right. She does not respond. She only stares, still in the shock of the moment, still not certain she has survived.

He offers her a hand, to help her up. She hesitates. He smiles reassuringly. She accepts and is helped slowly to her feet. The noise just outside the door grows louder as the zombies arrive at the realization that they have been cut off from their prey. Dead limbs limply pound against the door. Impotent gurgling lamentations emanate from their hungry rotting mouths. But she is safe now. Yes, finally safe.

She looks around, taking in the room. Candles in various stages of disintegration dot the room and dimly display shelves of books. Too small to be a library but perhaps a study.

She feels the eyes of the man upon her. She looks him over now. They don’t speak for a while. They just gaze back and forth. There is a mixture of strangeness and recognition in their glances, of suspicion and of utmost faith. They are the last human beings alive.

“Are there any others?” he asks, but as he does the optimism in his voice drops. He already knows the answer.

She looks at him, dumbly. Trying to remember that most essential human function of language. The look of anticipation on his face almost fills her with disgust. He is so obviously desperate for communication, for conversation with another live human being. His face veritably beams as she tries to form the words.

“Are you alone?” she asks softly; doing her best to hide her disgust at his desperation.

“Yes…yes; until now, that is.” he says. His face beams at her. He does not try to disguise his joy at having her there. He is no longer alone, and in his reverie he takes no notice of her aversion to him.

She, in comparison, takes no pleasure in his company. She is not even certain of being grateful to him for opening the door and prolonging, not saving, but prolonging her life. Now what is to be; she starts to think. She is trapped. The zombies are still right outside the door, surrounding the building; and presumably everywhere upon the planet earth. Now she is trapped in here with this strange man. This strange smiling man who is so happy to have her there. So happy that it makes her sick. His beaming face in the candle light, taking her in with his greedy eyes, drinking in her image, devouring her with his eyes just as the zombies wish to do. Devouring her with his beaming face, his disgusting, ridiculous, his almost cartoon face, sickening, making her sick, making her nauseous, making her want to vomit, making her want to…

She vomits. The stinging warm bile comes spilling out of her mouth and down the front of her. She drops to her knees and vomits again. Acidic liquid convulsing out of her and pouring down upon the floor. She faces the puddle below, all clear liquid, rank with the fumes of digestion. Not much substance to it. She can not remember the last time she ate. The last time she ate…when was that? They had wanted to eat one amongst them who had died, she had opposed it, she had refused, but they…they insisted. They were going to eat the dead man. They had to, they reasoned. They had to stay alive. But as they cut into his fresh corpse…just as they began to cut away at the meat…the corpse’s eyes sprang open wide…an inhuman hollowness…and then the scream, like nothing she had ever heard a human being make…and then the corpse attacked them, and bit into them, and proceeded to eat them…a fine reversal, an almost comical irony…almost comical but not quite because they we’re still all trapped in that little space, with that corpse thrashing around, biting, violent, screaming…trapped…

Kneeling over her own vomit she loses consciousness.

She awakens and with hazy eyes and swimming head finds that she is beneath a small tree. Above the stretching limbs a pitch black ceiling, no there are stars, it is a glass ceiling. It’s still night. The man is seated upon the floor on the other side of the room, the other side of the tree. He looks up from his book and smiles. She feels her nausea coming back.

He places the book on the floor, stands and comes toward her.

“You should try to eat. It will make you feel better.” He offers her a small piece of dark fruit.

“What is this place?” she asks. Her voice quavering as she accepts the strange fruit.

“I don’t really know. Some kind of terrarium. I’ve been here for about…oh, a month, maybe six weeks…you kind of lose track of time when…” he breaks off into an awkward little laugh. It grates against her. She remembers her revulsion of him. “I was lucky to find this place. I’ve been living on the fruit this tree produces. It’s not much, but it has sustained me. I think if were careful with it there should be plenty for the both of us. It’ll last until…until whenever.” He smiled sheepishly at her, breaking off the thought.

Meanwhile she had completely devoured all but the pit of the strange dark fruit.

“Until what?” she asks in a sardonic tone. She rises to look for more of the fruit. It hangs in plump little dark orbs from the drooping branches of the small tree.

The man follows her. “Well until those zombies die.”

“They’re already dead.” She quips in the same sardonic tone as before as she reaches to pluck another piece of fruit.

“Yes, but I mean until they rot all the way through. Until their bodies decay so much that they can’t move any longer. I mean whatever brought them back to life can’t possibly keep them moving after all their muscles have turned to jelly. They’re already rotting. I mean…it shouldn’t take too much longer. You know, a few months maybe. In the meantime were safe here. They can’t get in, and as long as the light still shines in,” he points up to the sky-light. “We’ll be OK.” He smiles at her reassuringly. She is not impressed.

Just then, a loud rhythmic thumping starts. It comes from the other room, through a small doorway back to the study. She jumps with a start.

“Don’t worry. They can’t get through. These two rooms are completely sealed. We’re safe.” He assures her. “They must have found something to bang on the door with, a piece of furniture or something. But don’t worry they can’t get through. They just make a lot of noise. They were making so much noise I thought it best to pull you in here, but we can go back in there whenever we want. They can’t get in and there are a lot of books to read, and…” he stops short. Her look cuts him down. He is beginning to sense her aversion for him. “Don’t worry.” He insists. “We’ll be all right.”

For a long while nothing is spoken between them. He goes back to reading. She just mills around aimlessly. Inspecting the confinement of this sanctuary. Two small rooms. One full of mildewed books, the other with a small, fruit bearing tree. She tries to ignore the incessant pounding, pounding at the door. She tries to ignore the incoherent moaning, the garbled noise coming from the rotting throats on the other side of the door. She hopes that the throats rot away first. The throats and then the arms. She hopes they just rot away and fall off and then she won’t have to listen to them anymore. She wonders how long that will take. Certainly the dead flesh couldn’t be sustained much longer now. It’s already been…how long? Two months? Three? How much longer could it take? Weeks, maybe months…oh god maybe…maybe years! Years trapped inside these two stifling rooms. Trapped in here with this idiot sitting in the corner calmly reading, all happy to have someone to! talk to. And all the while, just outside the door, the muffled sounds of zombie mumbling, and against the door, beating against the door, pounding against the door, over and over again, pounding, pounding, incessantly pounding. Day after day after week…and stretching into months, into years! Oh my god, into years! And then…and then!

“And then what!” she suddenly shouts at the man. Her thoughts spilling out into the world, her venomous emotions directed at her unfortunate, unwanted companion.

“What do you mean?” he asks looking up from his book.

Surprised by her own outburst and yet carried forth by its momentum she starts in on him. “After they rot away, if they ever rot away, then what do you suggest we do? Just go ahead and go out and live our lives again? They’re all dead. Everyone. Every single one of them is dead. There’s nothing left. Nothing!” she stands staring at him, hating him. How can he be so calm? How can he just sit there reading while all around them the world has gone to hell? She finds herself asking this question aloud.

He is almost amused. It’s as if he were waiting for her to engage him in this very conversation. “Well,” he begins smugly, “if there ever existed anything to live for, I can’t see that anything’s changed.”

“Everything’s changed!” she exclaims. “Everyone’s dead! Every single person! We used to be capable of such achievements, of such joy in life. But now that’s all gone. All of our human potential is gone!”

“Are you religious?” he queries in a calm and interrogatory voice.

“What?” she is stumped by the sudden change in direction, and by his still composed manner.

“Do you have a belief system? What do you believe in?” His dispassionate steady tone seems to mollify her.

“I…I used to be, well I used to be a humanist I guess. I mean, I never really believed in God, but I believed in something. I believed that man could strive for perfection. I believed in absolute being, truth, goodness, beauty, freedom, etc.”

“And now?” he questioned.

“Now I’m a Nihilist. Now I see that we will never reach those ideal standards of achievement. Now I see that nothing we do is worth anything because we’ll never reach that state of perfection. Now were just falling away from those most high and lofty ideals. Now were just falling away from all that is true and good and perfect. Therefore I am a Nihilist.” She spoke all of this with a far off look in her eyes and an almost melodramatic tone in her voice.

When she was finished the man began to laugh. He laughed and laughed, his mirthful convulsions echoing in the small enclosure. He laughed until she was infuriated with him. Then he apologized… and quickly began to laugh some more.

“What’s so god damn funny?” she spits at him as if her words were acid.

“Nothing.” He pauses as if he just told the punch-line to a joke, and begins laughing again. “I’m sorry I don’t mean to laugh. Please forgive me.”

“Just what do you find so amusing asshole?” she utters through gritting teeth. If this was the real world she wouldn’t even entertain the notion of speaking to this guy any longer. But there is nowhere to go. She is trapped in here with him. She is seen through his eyes. Like it or not, he is her counterpart and reflection.

“Well it’s just that you claim to be a Nihilist.”

“I am a Nihilist. With the way the world is now, it’s the only belief system that makes sense anymore.” She is adamant.

He starts to laugh again but stops himself. “I’m sorry, but to put it quite simply; you are not a Nihilist.”

“Excuse me, but I think I know a little bit about philosophies and beliefs, and I sure in the hell know about my own beliefs, and I’m telling you-I am a Nihilist.”

“Well it is clear that you definitely do know a little bit about philosophy,” he pauses for effect, “a very little bit.” And he starts laughing to himself again.

She is so disgusted at this point that she turns and walks away. She moves towards the threshold of the study and then, hearing the muffled pounding of the zombies, thinks better of it.

He begins to address her from his spot on the floor. “Look I’m sorry. Please don’t be upset. Let’s try to understand this shall we.” He rises and begins to pontificate in the manner of a college professor. “Nihilism is agreed upon by most to constitute a rejection of all values and the denial of such concepts as being, truth, goodness, beauty, freedom, etc. It is not simply a lament at that which is unattainable. Instead, all is meaningless and worthless; always. Nihilism represents the bitter refutation that these concepts of perfection have meaning and worth at all. Nihilism knows no such distinction between the flawed, real-world versions of ideals and their perfected other-worldly counterparts; all and everything is looked upon with equal disdain. The Nihilist lives in a world of shit.”

She is taken aback, but still insists. “I am a Nihilist because I am disillusioned with the world.”

The man just looks at her and shakes his head in a condescending manner. “Let’s look at what the exact definition of the word is, shall we? The basis of the word Nihilism can be found in the Latin ‘nihil’ which means nothing; that which is devoid of value. This nothing does not refer to a disappointment. It does not allow for any other-worldly postulations of perfection. What is meant by nothingness is essentially that all is meaningless. All is worthless. Such high concepts as truth, goodness, beauty, freedom, etc. are not only inconceivable by the human mind but could not exist in this world or in any other. This is because when the human mind is trained on such lofty principles and tries to imagine such a thing as being, truth, goodness, beauty, freedom, etc., one invariably finds that the concepts are hazy at best. They can not be conceived of by the human mind. These high and lofty concepts have never been conclusively put forth by any philosopher, th! eologian, psychologist, nor leader. These concepts, these (Platonic) Forms have never been demonstrated to conform to perfection. They will always fall short; conceptually and otherwise. To place any of these concepts under the slightest scrutiny one will always find that, not only do we have no clear conception of what that perfection might be; but that any attempt to put those concepts into any kind of communicable or attainable idea falls short. There is always some flaw where the reasoning breaks down. There is always some hidden implication that comes out beneath the weight of a rigorous and honest scrutiny and contradicts these ideas.

“I don’t believe that anyone in the history of the civilization of man has ever really been able to hold the concept of being, truth, goodness, beauty, freedom, etc. in their mind for even the briefest of moments. The glimpses that we get when we attempt to do this are obscure, fleeting, hazy, abstract, and static.

“Furthermore we can not have these lofty concepts independent of the circumstances that they are applied to. You can not have beauty stand alone, as if it were a Platonic Form floating somewhere out in the other-world. In order to have beauty you must have it as something that is beautiful. But beauty, like the concepts of justice and freedom and truth etc., is a thing which is highly subjective. It is entirely dependent upon the observer, upon his frame of reference according to his personal experiences prior to the witnessing of the object of beauty, his social conditioning and cultural epoch, his genetic predisposition, and the desired expectations of the object beheld.

“Aside from this the object of beauty is almost certainly subject to flaws in that beauty. When gazing upon an object that one regards as beautiful, one is almost always willing to overlook any ugliness. But that secret ugliness is there none the less, threatening to overwhelm the beauty from certain angles and perspectives. And within the form of the beauty itself decadence has already taken hold just beneath the surface. Even in the very midst of life and beauty, death and ugliness are already present. They brought the form into existence and lie subtly awaiting to reclaim it.” The man paused. There was something in his face and in his manner that the girl hadn’t noticed before. Something sinister. Something mad.

She responded, this time treading a little more lightly. “Certainly it is accurate to say that in our lives we perpetually strive to achieve something better, and consistently fall short of this goal and into despair. Is this not Nihilism?”

He started to speak; his eyes were wild now, crazed. It was as though speaking about such things had unleashed something within him. Some madness that he had stifled before, but that now threatened to explode at any moment. “To grasp at an understanding of the psychology behind Nihilistic thought one must assess the fundamental despair of human awareness,” He gesticulated wildly as he spoke. He glared at her as he paced back and forth. “But to postulate that the motivations of Nihilistic thought emanate from a peculiar type of despair, this despair being a reaction to one’s realization of an ideal of perfection and of the subsequent failure to achieve that perfection, either individually or as a culture, race, etc.; is quite simply inconsistent. Furthermore it is a clear indication of desperation in one’s own psychology. A Nihilist would have no need to imagine some perfect other-world that exists beyond his and his races capacity for achievement. This is ! not Nihilism. This is something else.

“Perhaps this could correctly be called Gnosticism. Gnosticism is an ancient mode of thought that has pre-dated Christianity and was absorbed into it as one of the many heretical movements that sprang up in the early years of the church. The basis of Gnostic principles places the world of matter and all that exists within it far away from divinity; not only in spirit but in actual proximity. The Gnostics teach either that God created and then abandoned the world to its own machinations, or that the world was created by a lesser divinity, or perhaps a malignant entity and that God is somehow unaware and powerless, at least partially, to intercede on the worlds behalf. Either way, those that find themselves trapped in this hellish world of imperfect matter can achieve a reunion with God and with the perfect other-world through Gnosis; or Knowledge. Thus these mystic Gnostics would have a conception of the perfected way things should be, contrary to the corrupted ways of the world.

“Or maybe it’s Relativism that you espouse. Nihilism goes far beyond the basic tenets of Relativism though. A Relativist might postulate that values and truth are subjective; i.e. the Sophists argument that a Greek would accept no amount of money to eat his grandparents, but that there exists many exotic cultures who would accept no amount of money to refrain from bashing their elders on the back of the head and devouring their corpse, in order to absorb their life force in homage. So for the Relativist truth and morality are exclusive to the culture, the historical period of time, the individual circumstance. Truth is to be found exclusively in the moment.

“But for the Nihilist, the hardcore Nihilist, the denier of not only absolute truth and morality but also of any subjective claim to higher knowledge, there is no such circumstance that might warrant a valuation judgment; save that there can be none.

Nihilism is not born of any cultural phenomena either (though it was not named such until 1862). The anti-morality of Nihilism has existed far longer than any culture, as it is not a by-product of social convention or industrialization. Certainly the consequences of industrialization, as well as exponential population growth have heightened the phenomenon of Nihilistic thought, but it can not accurately be considered its source.” He glared at her. Waiting for the next challenge. Waiting as if all this time he had been waiting. Waiting just for her, for her to come and seek refuge here with him so that he could argue philosophy with her. Maybe he had been waiting precisely for this. Maybe he truly was mad.

“What about the philosophers? What about the one’s who were Nihilists? Wasn’t Nietzsche a Nihilist?” she asks. She is afraid to let the conversation lull. She is afraid of the way he has begun to glower at her. But she is also afraid to continue the debate. She begins to wonder if there is a way out of these two little rooms.

“Ha! No…no,” he laughs, but there is no mirth in it now. Now his laughter sounds devious, sinister. Still staring her down, still pacing like a caged animal waiting for feeding time, he continues, “No serious philosopher yet has attached himself to the idea of Nihilism. None would because to do so would be to utter an apparent contradiction. To say that ‘all ideas are worthless’ and then to say that ‘therefore I am a Nihilist’, so that ‘the idea of Nihilism has worth to me’, is to commit a fallacy. It can not withstand the test of self-reference.

“So if we want to look at who the real adherents to Nihilism might be, we need to look at not intellectual figures necessarily, but to madmen, murderers, psychopaths, and tyrants. Only those individuals whose morality is eclipsed by the darkness of eternity, whose morality bears no resemblance to anything remotely altruistic or abides to nothing of higher purpose. These black souls might be said to be the closest thing to an actual Nihilist that exists. Though this too is not entirely accurate. Most serial-killers and tyrants have a value system. In Nietzsche’s terms these values may be termed the ‘will to power’. Madmen are perhaps the closest it comes. For in some madmen the only motivation is that secret darkness of the soul; that malady that would, from a religious perspective be considered satanic. But it is to the madman nothing less than a joyful, agonizing plunge into the darkness of human depravity. From this perspective all the universe is shown ! to be nothing more than a violent and crushing moment of nihilistic fantasy. As severe and unforgiving and indifferent as nature is to man’s over-sensitivity as an organism. This is what the Nihilist and the madman agree upon. This is what is glimpsed in those moments of utter, willful self-destruction. This Nihilism does not seek a better place and find only that which falls short, find only disappointment and despair. This Nihilism rejoices in the idea that all will come to not, that all has been for not, that all and everything is simply a futile convulsion in the eternal night of cold, cold darkness that everywhere pervades and everywhere reigns.” He drew a deep breath, exaggerating the motion as though he were breathing in the very blackness that he had just spoken of.

Then he continued, “Was Nietzsche a Nihilist? I don’t think so. An atheist? Nietzsche was definitely an atheist. Anti-Christian, or rather anti-Christianity? That can be said with little doubt. Was he a relativist? To some degree, and to some degree he was a pragmatist as well, perhaps even a utilitarian. Perhaps. Was he a Nihilist? I think that… only in those dark, dark nights… when the health of his ailing body had left him all together… when his awareness could focus upon nothing but his own suffering and the inevitability of his own merciless death. In those moments, when Nietzsche forsook all optimism, and all human endeavor. When he no longer despaired because those human emotions were obliterated, and, as it were, annihilated; at those moments it may be said that he had reached a state of Nihilism.”

“But no one arrives at their belief system in a vacuum.” she ventured, “How else would one come to be a Nihilist except through disillusionment?” She was still looking for a way to get out. As he paced the floor and came nearer and nearer, she also moved about the room scanning the walls and ceilings for any possible escape. She also cast her gaze about for something with which to defend herself. In a shadowy corner she could make out what looked to be pruning shears.

“Oh, well…” He was clearly delighted with the prospect of refuting her. He was breathing heavy now. His chest heaved. Sweat began to glisten upon his brow. Madness was transforming him as they spoke. “Perhaps one might arrive at Nihilism by the mechanism of disillusionment. In this case it would be a reaction to the realization that the world is not perfect, specifically as one had considered it in youth. Or rather as one was not compelled to consider whether the world is perfect or not because children often take such considerations for granted; in this case Nihilism is arrived at through crushed optimism. It is a reaction to being hurt by the world that you once trusted and looked to for fulfillment. But this is not Nihilism. Nihilism goes beyond this stage. Nihilism renounces that past optimism. It denies it all together. It sees it for the fallacious naivety that it is and contributes it to nothing more than a human being’s lack of awareness; and disca! rds it appropriately. So if our awareness is limited, which it most certainly is, perhaps Nihilism is the utmost reaction to those fleeting glimpses of awareness of just how dire a situation that we as human organisms find ourselves immersed in.

“Nihilism can not be the recognition of perfect ideals of truth, goodness, beauty, freedom, etc. and our failure at achieving those high ideals. Nihilism is the recognition that those high and worthy ideals do not exist, have never existed, will never exist and that even the very conception of those ideals do not conform to any type of perfection. All of those concepts are flawed in their very essence. Furthermore, not only do these concepts possess no ontological reality, but to assert that these are standards set by an ‘absolute being’ is to misunderstand the premise of Nihilism entirely. Nihilism is the recognition that not only is everything in the world of man fucked, but that everything, even that which is independent of man, is fucked. Amen.”

Having said that he came closer and closer, leering at her, menacing her, until he had backed her into a corner. But she had anticipated it and, walking backwards had edged herself toward the corner that held the pruning shears.

“And now my dear,” he started to say, almost in a whisper, and grinning from ear to ear, “I am a man. And I have been alone for a long while now. As a man I have certain biological needs. These needs will not be denied, no not a moment longer. And so, as you are in the world of man, you are going to be fucked…”

He lunged at her and they slammed into the wall. He snarled as his frantic hands tore at her clothing and scratched at her skin. She groped behind her for the shears, got them, dropped them, and then picked them up again. She tightened her grip upon the handle and in a single swift motion stabbed upward into his belly. He pulled back as the sharp point tore into his stomach. She squirmed out from beneath him as he slumped over. The immense pain left him gasping as she made her to the study.

She looked back to see him regain some composure and try to stand upright. His left hand clutched at his belly and was already full of blood.

“Oh but you didn’t let me finish,” he tried to laugh; “First I’m going to fuck you. But then you’re going to satisfy another biological need. Then I intend to eat you.” This starts him laughing painfully as he hobbles toward her.

Nowhere to run. She finds herself now pressed against the other side of the door she was so desperate to get into earlier. She can hear the zombies on the other side still pounding, still hungry.

He appears in the doorway. He is badly wounded. But worse he is completely insane now. He has abandoned all regard for his own well being. Now the only thing left for him is to have her and to kill her. The look in his eyes conveys this quite clearly.

“Nowhere to go,” he sings out, “No perfect world to hope for.” And he lopes toward at her full speed.

She does not panic. She simply swings the door wide open and stands behind it.

The zombies that had been pushed against it came spilling in onto the floor. These were immediately followed by a voracious wall of gnashing teeth and clutching bony hands that flowed over the pile of broken flesh beneath them and instantly converged upon the wounded madman. He gave one shriek of terror as he went down and was lost within that sea of putrefying bodies.

The girl managed to streak past him and back into the terrarium. She locked the door behind her just as the swarm of zombies came slamming up against it. She slid to a seated position on the floor and remained perfectly still for quite some time.

It was not until the first rays of the morning sun began to shine in through the sky-light that she stirred from that spot against the door. She listened to the zombies all night. She could hear them feasting on the flesh of the madman and others still tried desperately to get at her through the door. They will probably never stop trying to get in. And when their bodies finally do give out they will just stay right where they are, in a big pile of decaying flesh. She’ll have to push through them, push them out of the way to open the door.

She walked over to the book the madman had been reading and picked it up. It was a dictionary. She looked to the tree. A few pieces of fruit still clung to it. It would grow more she supposed, just as long as the sun could still shine in through the sky-light.

Just then she looked up to see a clawing hand, and then another appear on the glass of the sky-light. And then another pair scratching its way up. And another. Soon grotesque faces were pressing against the glass, distorting their already decayed features into soft, slimy nightmare glances. Before long dark bodies were being dragged up over the glass. Zombie after zombie glared down at her from the sky-light. Chomping and drooling and smearing their filthy bile all over the glass and all over each other. Some of the bile seeped down through tiny spaces in the caulking. It dripped in thick black strings upon the tree. Soon the sky-light would be completely covered with these grotesque corpses. Soon all the light would be blocked out. Forever.

Killian Scarre sends this fiction piece "in response, or in refutation," to an essay posted on spread entitled "The rejuvenating power of nihilism" by John Marmysz.