Z-Man 0: Zero Hour

0. Zero Hour

He was insufferable.

He knew that now.

Tired of his family, he had abandoned them.

Tired of him, his friends had abandoned him.

He had no girlfriend. No spouse. No one he loved, and no one in turn who loved him.

He was all alone in the world…

It was just, he had always been alone.

And so life to him was just a game. Had always been a game. A game of trying to find meaning and purpose in day-to-day existence.

He called himself Zeron. It felt fitting. Tasted suitable. It rang with emptiness, the hollow texture of a man whose insides had been eaten away by vitriol, pain, and sorrow, leaving behind a scarred shell. A man whose mind was the metaphorical remnants of a once-green, fruitful land that had endured a bloody scorched Earth campaign: one that left the once lush countryside strewn with corpses, the ground soaked with blood, the blue sky now blackened with the infusion of volcanic ash, and a fiery glow in the distance where volcanoes now roared.

He looked out upon the world with shadowy, darkness-ringed eyes whose unfathomable black depths seemed utterly empty and devoid…

Zeron.

He had stared into the dark so long, the dark had begun to stare back. He had been alone so long, the dark had become his one, true friend. With no one else there to comfort him, he welcomed the creeping shadow, letting it cover his body and seep through his skin, through his veins, through his mind, and at last, to his heart, where it latched on.

The darkness: he had stared into it so long, he had realized… it wasn’t that he was staring into the darkness. He was the darkness staring unto himself.

And what was the undeniable truth about darkness? It complemented the light of this world, the two inseparable yet mutually exclusive.

To the darkness, this world existed like a factual statement, but there was nothing redeeming about life within it. The darkness could only watch on, flirting with the light, unable to touch, hold, or feel it, yet forever enraptured by it.

Then to the darkness, no material end was an alluring enough goal…

No, the darkness thrived on spiritual goals. And of the many sought by the darkness — nobility, destruction, hatred, love — the darkness loved love the most. Yes, the darkness sought love constantly, for love sated its emptiness most.

Therefore, Zeron, a manifestation of pure emptiness and darkness, could not help but be eternally bent upon finding her.

Who was she? Perhaps she wasn’t even a woman. Perhaps more appropriate to say he was searching for it. But he refused to compromise upon the humanity of what he sought; no, it had to be her.

How strange.

The sun, it seemed awfully distant and cold. He tried to reach out for it as he lay on the concrete, but his hand wouldn’t move.

How strange.

The colors of everything were so frighteningly vivid. His entire life, nothing had seemed real, but now, everything seemed too real. The twisted, shearing sensation that screamed out inaudibly from his contorted hand, impaled by a sharp piece of steel and dripping warm crimson onto the callous black surface of the road. The panic and pain that shredded his breast in unison. The rock that locked his throat, leaving him unable to scream.

He could only blink, his lashes fluttering in a calm breeze that tousled his hair and licked at his wounds.

“Shhhh.” A voice upon the wind quietly whispered, easing his pains. “It’ll be okay.”

“You will die soon, and the pain will cease.”

He remembered all his close encounters with death. Those panicked, frenzied incidents where he’d overdosed and thought he would die — only to pull through, okay. Some nerve damage, perhaps, but okay. Every incident had taught him: his brazen belief that he did not fear death was wrong. In coming to realize and accept that, he had developed the ability to look upon death with respect and reverence rather than arrogance; to face the reaper in the eye wholly aware of what he was putting on the line as a man, instead of rushing in towards him like a brash pup who had yet to understand what it meant to live.

Instinctively, like everyone, he feared death inherently and utterly — and when it became time to truly confront his own death, he would break, he would wish and beg with every bit of his being to survive, to live to see his family… because he just couldn’t bring himself to let them go.

Even if he abandoned them, at least he could go back to them as long as he was alive. That was enough.

But now… it was okay that he was going to die. There was no need to beg or be afraid. No family to go back to. He had finally accepted his fate.

***


God is He who is One,
He is the Eternal Refuge,
He neither begets nor is He born,
Nor is there to Him any equivalent.

God has always existed, will always exist, and is defined by His Oneness. He was never born and He shall never have children.

Has nothing always existed? What was there before the universe?

If we present the axiomatic postulate that there was Nothing before there was the universe, then Nothing has always existed.

Surely, Nothing continues to exist.

Nothing will always exist.

Nothing can neither be born, nor does it give birth to Nothing.

Then, could God be Nothing?

“You know, so many people would take what you said as utter blasphemy, the ramblings of a deluded fool.”

“They should take it as such. I am no prophet, and I care not for guiding other men with my words. These are merely my reflections and they are intended to serve primarily me. What use others find in them, whether as guidance or as misguided reasons for conflict, is their business. I have no need nor desire of imposing these words upon others.”

“But perhaps such controversial words are better left in your mind, unwritten, unknown?”

“How can you say what is for the better? In my perception, it is better that men think. Words that stir thought, then, ought to be spoken.”

“Even if they invite chaos?”

“This life was not meant to be lived in peace. Chaos is a fundamental aspect of our existence.”

“Many people would look ill upon you for that sentiment.”

“Let them, for what sway have peace-abiding and happiness-seeking humans over the truth? None. They are often the first to die, unable to withstand the pressures of a truly hopeless existence.”

Even if God is Nothing, I would still worship Him and Him alone, for He created the universe and the heavens and stars…

“In other words, God is Nothing in this universe. But God isn’t really Nothing, is He?”

“How could He be? No, no… God being synonymous with Nothing is doubtless another of His paradoxical, poetic, jokes; one of those life lessons.”

God is Nothing.

“Not to be misconstrued with Nietzsche’s saying, ‘God is dead’. Honestly, how could God ever die, much less be killed by humans? Even if God were mere ideology, simply an idea and nothing more — and He is so much more — the fundamental ideology of God is so intrinsically intertwined with nature and existence that it constantly asserts itself. Even if all mankind discarded the ideology of God, one day another life form would evolve to recognize God. Whether by God’s own hand or merely the nature of things, God is, was, has been, shall always be: inevitable.”

***

“What are you?”

“Nothing.”

“Who are you?”

“Man.”

“What do you want most?”

“To become a sword.”

“What is a sword?”

“It is cold, hard, unfeeling. It is sharp, keen, piercing. It is many things, but above all else, it is strong.”

“What is strength?”

“The fortitude and ability to take on any challenge or obstacle head-on, regardless of one’s fears.”

“Why a sword?”

“To protect.”

“But why not a shield?”

“Shields cannot cut, and I am, at heart, a cutting instrument.”

“Are not swords weapons, devices of war and death?”

“No. Swords are not purely devices of war. Swords are tools, and like any other tool, may be wielded for a variety of purposes. That they are especially suited for violence simply happens to be one perspective; but they are equally suited for nonviolence, for defending against tyranny and corruption and standing for ideals that otherwise could not defend themselves.”

***

“What am I?”

“You are an edge.”

“A whatnow?”

“The sharpened edge of a cold steel blade…”

“Whoo, now you’re talkin’ buddy.”

“The means to violence and death.”

“Let the path to suffering blaze with glory!”

“Forged in the hot fires of sorrow, cooled in the crimson waters spilt by war… What are you, Trickster?”

“I… Am… God.”

“Then God is not dead.”

Trickster laughed. “But I… am also Nothing.”

***