When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put the ways of childhood behind me. -- 1 Corinthians 13:11
I have wrote it before, and I'll write it again-- the biggest thing I learnt in London was how to be a better Christian. Unlike Singapore, I was exposed to the rich tapestry of Christian tradition from ancients like St. Augustine, Medievalists like Aquinas, Reformers like Luther and Calvin and moderns like GK Chesterton and CS Lewis, instead of merely reading the works of contemporary Christian thinkers.
The man who opened my worldview exponentially was Chris Oldfield. Introducing me to such works and differing views, he once again inspired me to once again pick my Bible up and read.
I admired Chris for his intellect. I learnt from him that Christians should be affective, and not effective. I learnt that salvation was independent of my efforts. Most of all, I learnt that love
I loved Chris for his concern. He would check up on me every month (despite his busy schedule).
The funny thing is that pre-Christian, I would have never thought any sane man would take Chris's job. His wage was low and job probably unappreciated. After learning much for him, I realised that there was no other job I rather worth doing.
Even though I am not officially having the same job title as Chris, I am roughly doing the same thing as he does. I influence my students to be more caring and less mercenary. I give my peers the hard food of discipline, rather than the soft milk of flattery. I inform my superiors of another way out, instead of merely trusting
Yet I still wished I lived in the same country as Chris. He would know what to say or do, no matter the situation. But hey, I am in God's hands. And that's good enough.
Everyday I wear my armour and I enter the classroom to teach. I pretend I am not affected by the reaction, behaviour and work ethics of my students. After all, it is normal for teenagers to throw tantrums, to be forgetful and to be insensitive.
Recently, one of my kids made a comment that totally pierced my defences.
"I missed her," she said, referring to my predecessor. Can I really blame my student? It was a hurtful comment, but she meant it honestly. I rather deal with an honest person anytime of the year.
It stung, but it was true. My predecessor was a much more engaging teacher than I am. She would come up with interesting lessons, and was skilled in technology. In addition to that, she knew her students well and could mix with anyone of them at the drop of a hat.
In my lesser moments, I would wish I was half the teacher she was.
For one of the few moments in my life, I remain silent and listen as my student reminisced the past, citing the stuff my predecessor did with the class.
"You know what; I miss her too," I conceded. In there lies a lesson to be learnt. The staff at the National Institute of Education would call it a "teachable moment", but I never liked that term. Every moment spent with the students is a "teachable moment".
I explained that we had to make the best of what we had. She had to adjust. But it was not only a lesson for her-- I also have to be better.
Disclaimer: The following takes place in fictitious Singapore.
Then she came. I did not know where she came from, or how she came upon me, but she appeared. Opening fire on my attackers, she grabbed and pulled me aside.
"Everyone has turned!" Nadia quickly explained. To be honest, my brain could not process what had happened. I was still trying to accept the fact that Timothy, a peer whom I had learn to trust and put in charge of the young wards had turned!
"I should have never made that deal with that monster! He was a monster before the plague, and he is a literal monster now," I cursed my poor judgement.
Seeing the fear in Nadia's eyes, I regained my composure. She had looked for me for leadership, and I had better be up to the challenge. As I gestured to her for a weapon, Dr Stern pounced on me. Only that he was not Dr Stern anymore. Holding me to the ground, the mutant was too excited by the prospect of me being dinner as Nadia fired a round into his cranium. Nadia quickly informed me that the armoury was being overran by the mutants, and that she was holding the only rifle available.
I gestured towards the prayer room, but my assistant gave me a bewildered look. She did not know that I had made the prayer room another weapon storage facility. Looking amazed on the weapons I had stored there, Nadia exclaimed, "My goodness!"
"We don't need goodness; we need more ammunition," I emotionlessly added as I armed myself. Now was the time for the phase step of the plan-- extermination.
Firing round after round into each infected, Nadia and I headed to the teenagers as fast as we could. Opening the door, our hopes were dashed as they all were revealed to be infected. If there were any that was healthy, they were probably eaten alive. I cursed as I dispatched the mob of teenagers with a well-placed grenade.
"How could we be so naive? If Khan could cure the infection, he could also cause it!' Nadia shrieked. The strain was too much for her. Laying down my weapons, I grabbed her head and asked her to focus. What had happened came down to me, not her.
The only question was why would Khan research and implement a cure in the first place. Why does he need healthy people, when he himself had been a mutant in the first place?
I paused for a moment. Using my once fabled intelligence, I reasoned out the one thing the mutants wanted more than anything else.
Food. The answer was food. Mutants do not cannibalise each other, and he needed more food. Suddenly, the next step seemed clear to me. Khan must die today, and his cure with him. Nadia saw the dedicated look in my eyes, and she nodded her head in agreement. Yet we knew it would not be easy-- Khan had a genius intellect and was surrounded by able guards.
Firing a grenade into the door, Nadia and I rushed headstrong into Khan's throne room. Bodies littered the floor, victims of my grenade. It was too easy. I was right-- Nadia was quick to spot an improvised explosive on the ground. As an explosion followed, Nadia tossed her body against me, shielding me against the blast.
My head was groggy, but I felt her die. I was alone again. As the familiar footsteps of Khan approach me, I gathered my strength to reach for the nearest weapon-- a crossbow.
"You dare oppose me? I could have saved the world. I could --"
Khan dropped dead, as a bolt went through his right eye. He spoke too much. I could not even take any joy in my Pyrrhic victory as I collapsed shortly after.
It was not until 12 hours later that I regained my consciousness. Reaching for a nearby railing I pulled myself up and took time to contemplate my surroundings. My friends were all dead. Nadia was dead. The airport reeked of dead and burning flesh. My surroundings were silent, except for the ubiquitous beating of my own heart.
Clutching my head in agony, I allowed reality sank in. I was the last gun in Singapore.
"Ahh, I see," I remarked to myself as my vision became less blur and more focused. I had my moment of clarity and knew my current purpose in life.
The infected were always going the be around. Only the bullets were the cure. I will cure the Singapore one mutant at a time.
And I will never make deals with monster again.
Disclaimer: The following takes place in fictitious Singapore
Khan agreed to give us a week to decide whether to aid him in his neutering of the minds of the infected. And the discussion was not in my favour.
"Do we just trust Khan to do whatever he pleases?" I challenged the group.
"The mutants keep coming with their unrestrained rage and aggression; at least in Khan's way, they are rendered harmless," Timothy, my close aide rebutted.
"If what Khan said was true-- that the plague has rewritten our DNA, then this might be the only method of reclaiming Singapore," Anthony, an ex-botanist also concurred with Khan. He had studied the necklaces extensively together with me. However, he was no mechanical genius, and struggled to explain the workings of the necklaces.
"Khan is hiding something from us," I insisted.
"Of course he is, all leaders have a right to protect their national interest," explained Dr Stern. He was one a sociology professor at the National University. It did not faze him that Khan was not being forthcoming with us. The other Singaporeans seemed to stand with Dr Stern. It was no surprise that almost all of us voted to support Khan. My vote was the only opposing one.
Fine. I could live with that. What hurt me most was that even Nadia, my second-in-command also went along with the rest. How could she betray me like that? Throwing my necklace at the table, I stormed out of the room. Left with no choice, I had to inform Khan of our decision.
Without knocking on Khan's door, I pushed it open. Stupid. Stupid. I should have noted that something was wrong beforehand. The corridor leading up to Khan's room was unguarded. Knowing that Khan was paranoid man, he would have never left himself vulnerable. To my horror I saw Khan and his men unmasked for the first time. There teeth had rows of sharp teeth, and their eyes were silt-like and misshapened. Laid on a long, dining table were the victims on the plague whom we 'cured' over the last week. Khan and his cronies were mutants, and they were feasting on the lovely flesh of their newly found food supply.
The mutants took their rifles and opened fire at me. Instinctively I ducked behind a metal cabinet. Unprepared, I had only my trusty pistol with me. As I pondered on my next course of action, an small explosion erupted next to me and I toppled over. One of the cannibals pounced upon me and widened its mouth to reveal its fangs. Soon this will all be over.
Not today. I will not die today. I still had the Singaporeans to defend. Instinctively, I reached for my trusty grenade in my pouch and shoved it into the mutant's jaws. Pushing him into the crowd of my potential predators, I flung myself out of the way (and out of the room) as an explosion followed.
Half-alive, I dragged my body back to the room where I last left my friends. Ignoring the jarring pain from the grenade fragments that have impaled themselves on my epidermis, I finally reached the corridor. Another stupid mistake. If Khan could come up with a cure, surely he could undo it?
I watched in horror as my former friends roar in hunger. They now descended upon me.
Khan wasted no time at all. After planting his flag on our group, he forced all of us to wear metallic necklaces, claiming that it was a vaccine against the plague. Ignoring our protests, Khan spoke to all of us, claiming he had a way to restore Singapore to its pre-plague conditions.
I watched helplessly as Khan asserted himself. Confident. Eloquent. Proactive. Intelligent. All the qualities I wished I had.
"All your troubles are over, citizens of the South East Asian Republic. Because I finally found the cure."
Despite being treated like second-class citizens, we spent the last month without incident. Treated like slaves, Khan instructed us to tap into the power generators of the airport to electrify the fences surrounding our locations. As a result, there were no more breaches, and the only time we had to encounter the mutants was to clear their charred corpses from the fences.
He instructed us to uproot the concrete surrounding the airport to make way for arable land, with plans in the future for farming.
He organised us into scavenger groups, assigning areas to loot for food and medical supplies. Even my biggest supporter had to concede he was a better leader than I.
However, today was the the first day we had to test the necklaces. Khan ordered his men to move beyond the perimeter of the fences for the first time to capture some of the mutants to test his cure.. Nadia and I volunteered to follow. I trusted Khan as far as I can see him.
I watched as his soldiers set up a trap using some preserved meat they had brought along. It did not take long for the scent to attract a single mutant. As the mutant appraoched the meat, two of the soldiers pounced on him, pinning him to the group. With a single kick, the mutant propelled one of the soldiers away from him. Another soldier quickly sprung into to action, forcibly placing a metallic necklace (the same one he had given us) on the mutant. To our surprise, as the necklace flashed green, the mutant fell to the ground. Before I could examine the mutant, the soldiers dragged his body away.
"Where's my mum?" the once-mutant suddenly cried. Disturbed by this, Nadia and I rushed forward, pushing the soldiers out of the way. As the soldiers were not expecting our actions, we managed to disarm them quickly. Nadia kept her iron sights on them while I examined the patient.
His once-sharpened teeth were blunt, and his body were no longer as muscular as the mutants. His skin was no longer as rough as before, and his eyes seemed to have reduced in size. He was human again, except he seemingly lost his once-human memories and ... higher brain functions. The once-mutant, although conscious, could only speak simple sentences. Enraged, I gestured to Nadia to return to base to confront Khan.
"Imbecile! How there you interupt my sleep!" Khan snapped at me, but I was not in the mood. Khan had promised a cure, but all he did was to neuter the mind of the cannibals such that they no longer could reason or thing for themselves. Unfazed and still clad in his mask and suit, Khan slowly walked away from me.
"There is no cure. This plague is neither viral nor bacterial."
"So you lied to us?" I was half-ready to reach for my combat knife and gut the dictator.
"We are all infected, this plague has wrote itself into the genes that control us," he retorted emotionlessly. "Which would you rather, a Singapore overrun by cannibals, or a Singapore filled by harmless retards?"
I fell silent, half-believing he was right.
"The choice is yours, corporal, either you help me, or you do not. It matters not to Khan."