What Does It Mean to Be Evil?

A young woman confronts the mayhem she has caused.

from The Reapers are the Angels
Alden Bell

The thing that happened back here, she says. I mean it ain't like you asked--but anyway.

He doesn't take his eyes off the fire.

I mean I guess I been around meatskins too long, she continues. Sometimes it happens where I'll lose it. Like a switch got flicked somewhere in my brain, you know? And then my hands'll start rippin and tearin and they don't care about the whys or wherefores.

The fire pops and sizzles with the sap from the branches they found.

And it's wrong, it's  a sin as big as the world we live in, bigger even--to lay your hands on a creation of God's and snuff it out. It don't matter how ugly a thing it is, it's a sin, and God will send a terrible vengeance down on you for it--I know, I seen it. But the truth is--the truth is I don't know where I got off on the wrong track. Moses, he says I ain't evil, but then if I ain't evil. . . If I ain't evil then what am I? Cause my hands, see, they ain't seem to got no purpose except when they're bashin in a skull or slittin a throat.  That's the whole, all around truth of the matter. Them meatskins, they kill--but they ain't get any satisfaction out of it.
Maury, you sure are wandering a lonely earth--full of breach and befoulment--but the real abomination is sittin right next to you.

What she does not know and cannot gain perspective on is that the cause of the much-rued frenzy redounds highly to her credit and goes a long way toward, if not exoneration, at least extenuation.

The book has the taste, the feel, the bite sometimes of The Road. It isn't The Road, not even close--but the style and some of the choices made within the book hearken back to it in some ways.  Some call it a Southern Gothic Zombie novel, and I can agree with that--but it is a strangely, terribly lovely thing throughout and I can't wait to finish to say something that may, perhaps, be more coherent about the whole.


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