Journal of the Plague Years 2021: Morality in Fiction

Writing about Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers got me to thinking about morality in fiction again. On the whole, I’m in favor of it. Trollope is a great example: Barchester Towers brings life to the Tractarian Movement. To me, it’s a miracle that he’s located the beating heart of a theological debate, and created characters who struggle […]

23. The Castaway

After days of blank mourning, a purpose comes to Inglorion in the night. He will visit a nearby shrine, El Tiradito. The name means “The Castaway,” and the memorial is dedicated to sinners and outcasts, souls too degraded and impure to be buried in hallowed ground. Tereus was a non-believer, criminal and occasional drunk; Inglorion […]

7. The Knowledge Grows Slowly Within

It’s full night when Inglorion walks back. It’s a sweet, cloudless evening. Brick and stone have begun to cool; the moon is waning. Inglorion can see again: The hesitant, frozen forms of rabbits crouching in the weeds; a handful of bats, flying irregular trajectories. A stray cat drops and rolls in the dirt, and eyes […]

6. What You Fear Is True

“How long have you been in this land?” Brutus asks casually, as if he’s making conversation. He’s studying Inglorion’s face intently. “Not long. A few weeks.” “How did you come here?” Inglorion’s gaze flickers over to the older man’s face. It’s impassive. Now that the dark is falling, Inglorion’s eyes are shifting to dark vision, […]

3. Year Nine

Once they’ve eaten and rested, Lucius leads his father into the city. Inglorion is tired and numb. They cross the railroad tracks: Half-seen, impressive, mysterious, and entirely meaningless to our hero. He can’t make sense of the abandoned cars that clog the streets, either, so he ignores them. After miles of incoherent and abandoned cityscape, […]

2. At the Foot of the Black Mountain

At first, Inglorion felt the serene clarity that follows a long illness. As Inglorion lies there, in his son’s embrace, emotion and sensation well up within him. He says, “Where are we, Lucius? I don’t understand how you found me.” “What do you remember?” “Very little. It’s strange. I can’t recall where I’ve been recently. […]