Dying Light – Keeping The Dream Alive

It’s time to ROCK! Or it was, once upon a time. I’ve spent the past year working on these brand new songs that would change the world, but then the world changed into something else, something unfamiliar. Everything changed overnight. A deadly virus has overrun this town with chaos and isolated us from the rest of the world. The only use music has here now is a distraction for zombies. Yeah, look over there… BOOM! There goes the grenade. Sounds a bit like the bass drum part, no? My band is now tucked away in my backpack.

Not too different to a live music crowd, really. The same primal display, reacting to sights and sounds while bumping into each other. Who’s to say they’re not enjoying themselves? If they could swarm the stage, they would. That goes for both humans and zombies. A few chords and everyone turns in my direction. They all want to eat me.

I had spent so long thinking about the future that I wasn’t ready for the present. Kicking arse, fighting zombies, staying alive. This is suddenly my life out of necessity. It makes me wonder, did I really need my old life? I wasn’t going to die if I couldn’t be a musician. It did make me feel human, however, which is more important than ever. I had to ask myself, why did I want to be a musician so badly? If the ultimate goal was to bring smiles to people’s faces, I could still do that in this world.

I met another man who couldn’t let go of his dreams. He was a salesman selling uh… some cleaning product, I didn’t catch the name of it. Seemed dodgy. The only cleaning product we needed now was alcohol. I agreed to help him deliver products to his “clients”, who I assume are all dead but I didn’t want to sour his optimism. He was determined to finish his job, zombies or not. It was like they barely even existed to him. I set off some car alarm traps, rocked out on my guitar and threw cocktails around, but it only seemed to attract more and more zombie attention.

While fighting for my life and his, he’s still telling me how good his products are. Some people just get lost in their own world, don’t they? Still doing advertising in this world? Is that the only thing he was good at? Was that what he was born for? Part of me thought, people like this don’t really deserve to survive a zombie outbreak. But he had come this far on stubbornness alone. I was suddenly hit with a realization… I wasn’t too different. We just had different worlds in our heads.

Well hello there. A fine acoustic guitar just sitting here in good condition? I started to play some chords around the apartment block, maybe it would bring some smiles and lift the mood.

Nobody even flinched or cared. I suppose when you’re fighting to survive every day you don’t really feel music the same way. Does that mean we’re already zombies? When you lose your capacity to enjoy things, I think some aspect of humanity is dead, or at least dormant. I was desperately clinging to these music dreams for that reason.

I can feel it affected me too with my sloppy playing. It’s hard to become a guitar god when you’re climbing and running every day. Just too tired for it all now. It reminded me of the jobs I used to have, cleaning up endless sawdust underneath loud machines. At the end of the day, I couldn’t tell the difference between a zombie outbreak and the assembly line of soul-crushing capitalism. Both take away your humanity. I had felt this before.

We were running low on medical supplies and the mood was at an all time low. Without Antizin, we would have no resistance to the virus and start turning into zombies. The whole thing would unravel. I decided it was more important than ever to pick up the guitar again. This time, I started singing and a few more people noticed. My singing voice was terrible but I think that made people more comfortable. A few of the men laughed and a woman across the hall started singing along with me. Hell yeah! Before I knew it, others had joined in, people were clapping, and everyone was having a good time.

John from downstairs pulled out his tambourine, and Alice from the medical room pulled out some poetry she had been writing. She passionately read page after page while I played some soft chords underneath it. I was blown away by her prose. Finally, this is more like it! We partied long into the night and everyone shared their stories. This was more than just joy, I could feel a wave of relief and hope splash over the apartment block like an airdrop of supplies. We had remembered why life was so important, and suddenly it had so much more value. We actually wanted to live now.

Fired up and energized, I put my guitar away and decided to head outside and help gather more Antizin. Even out here, it wasn’t all bad. I was at least my own person. It’s amazing what you can get used to. Lining up zombies and getting head-shot combos just seemed like working a warehouse job and lining up the boxes. I’m crafting ammunition and weapons now instead of sandwiches and furniture. The difference is, these are for us! We’re using them, not selling them. It hits differently when the fruits of your labour actually benefit you.

Running around and learning parkour skills also made me more fit. Then again, the “fittest” creatures in this town are those jacked-up volatile zombies, so it’s hard to even see that as an aspiration anymore. We had to be smarter.

I had run past this artwork several times, but it took until now to actually see it. My approach changed as I noticed more and more wonderful things in the world. Sometimes you just need to stop and appreciate some good art to feel energized and clear-minded. I looked behind me, as if expecting a zombie to be there. All clear. I was running from nothing again.

Where had all the cats gone, I wonder? I hadn’t seen any since the outbreak. They are so agile and clever it’s hard to believe they became zombie food, either. Perhaps they ran out of food themselves, who was feeding the cats? Most of the stuff here is dead now and all the food is locked in human cans. I hope they’re okay.

Mmmm, that’s the cleanest water I’ve had in a while. I didn’t care that I was surrounded by zombies, I had to savour this. Om nom nom, glug glug glug. We had just completed an enormously difficult mission by restoring and redirecting the water in the sewers. Now the fountains and taps were blossoming with life again.

The most important lesson I’ve learned in this new world is that we’re not alone. This game world wouldn’t be nearly as engaging or interesting if it didn’t have people to help and quests to do. I’m not the only survivor here and selfish people don’t last long. When there are thousands of people trying to eat and exploit you, it helps having thousands of friends who are on your side.

We have a lot of great people gathering food, restoring electricity, and trying to find a way out of town. Thinking I could do all that alone was a form of narcissism from the old world I didn’t need anymore. It was holding me back. We have to rebuild slowly, take care of each other, and have the courage to smile at grim realities and bring out the best in each other. Even with a military arsenal, the only weapon that will conquer fear is a smile. That’s the only way the music will flow and babies will be born.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some people to save. After clearing the zombies from the entrance, I plugged my amp into the lighting system and ripped a killer guitar solo to see if anybody was still alive. Cranked up to 11, the notes bounced off the tunnel walls and penetrated deep. Hell yeah, I didn’t even need an echo pedal with a setup like this. I stopped and listened… there was a faint sound coming back. I walked closer and it was unmistakable. The words “PLAY FREEBIRD” shot out of the tunnel and I immediately knew what the next quest was. I’m here to help, friend.

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