The apocalypse has happened. The world is not as we remember it. There are very few people left, cities no longer exist; vast and treacherous piles of rubble lie where skyscrapers used to rule the landscape. Those who survived the catastrophic destruction brought upon us by the forgotten war...some think it was the hand of God, now struggle to survive. Some have settled in small groups, returning to the ancient ways of mud hut homes, small farms, and raising livestock. Traveling short distances on foot to trade on occasion with other nearby villages.
Some, though, do not like the idea of settling and merely surviving. Some want more, some need to understand, to search for answers they don't even know the questions to. One such man feels a wanderlust that drives him to travel the ruined world in search of life. He searches not for other survivors but for ways to feel alive, to expose himself to the world and absorb all the knowledge it possesses. He just wants to experience all that life has to offer. And he craves to learn.
He looks at the settlers and he cringes. The apocalypse has come and gone and here they are just doing what humans have always done, settling. Doing nothing to learn, why do none of them ask questions? Why do they just go on living but not experiencing life? They bare down and work to survive, but they never look up and see life.
He at one point meets up with a small group traveling the same potholed and crumbling road as he. It is not unheard of to occasionally run into travelers. But he knows they are only traveling to trade, or to resettle. They don't travel like he travels, they don't seek knowledge, they only seek food and shelter, and maybe someone to help repopulate the earth. He talks with them as he always talks with people he meets. They are kind and return his chatter as they thank him for helping to carry their burdens along the path, and also for sharing his chocolate candy with them. Chocolate is rare to come by these days.
He learns nothing new from these people. They are the same as everyone else, farmers, traders, settlers. He continues to walk with them for a while longer, only because they are still going in the same direction. They come upon a forest and one settler points out a small dirt path.
"Down that path is a village I once visited. They are Catholics, holding on to the old ways, but they are kind."
He is curious. He has not met anyone claiming to be Catholic. He craves the knowledge these people might possess. He craves the new and unknown adventure the dirt road offers. He leaves the asphalt road and follows the dirt path.
The path is long but he eventually arrives. The village surrounds an old mission compound. The compound has obviously been rebuilt and patched up. He walks by many huts and approaches the doors of the largest building, the church.
He meets the leader of the village, a priest. The priest and he talk for many days and he soaks up the new knowledge. He learns of the Catholic belief that God brought the Apocalypse. Why, then, He asked, are there believers still here? They did not believe at the time of the destruction, but they believe now, replies the priest.
Two women have come to the village. They are from a nearby village and make a monthly trek to trade with this village. One is wearing the old habit of a Catholic nun. She is obviously very pregnant. He asks how she is a nun, but is pregnant. She tells him that times have changed, although she follows the old religion, the world must be repopulated.
He has learned all he can from this village so he helps the two women with their goods and travels with them to their village. The trip is short and when they arrive he sees that their village is very small.
He walks the village guided by the nun. She is the only nun, and if the village has a leader, it would be her. He shares his chocolate with her, Hershey's Kisses. They are in colorful Easter wrappers and she lines the little kisses up on the table. He sees the colors of the wrappers, she has lined them in the proper order of the color spectrum. This is significant, but he knows not why.
"Life needs order," She says to him. "Human beings need rules, laws, in order to remain sane and survive."
He thinks about what she is saying.
"There are sheep and there are herders. Not everyone can run around thinking all the time. Someone needs to tend the fields, feed the livestock, raise the children."
He understands her, but he is saddened by the reality.
"They need to believe they are doing it for a higher purpose. They need to believe something better will come in the end. They need to believe in a god. Something easy, something that takes no understanding, just blind faith."
He thinks about it.