All I could do was watch the stars and remember those few precious hours before I had found my brother puking in the toilet. Before we had both written it off as just the flu, before everything had changed. Nothing was the same anymore, and nothing ever would be. Maybe an idiot would hold onto such a blind hope that eventually, eventually, things will get back to the way they used to be. Yet, I knew that things would never be like before. To think of all the technology that had died and was dying with the people who created it, about how there wasn’t going to be any more electricity once there was nobody left to run the plants, and no fresh food because of no farmers… there was no way I could deny that things would change, that everything would fall into disarray, into ruin. My thoughts fell into a subconscious murmur as I watched the night sky, thinking about what had been, and what was going to be would do that to anybody. For every happy memory I tried to recall, another sad one would be there to keep the balance. Every smiling face had a rotting corpse, and every echo of laughter came with a scream of pain. They came one after the other, over and over, until they started to fade quietly in the background. The one thing that I remember the clearest about that night was how goddamned beautiful the sky was. All of those stars, twinkling and pulsing and moving, each with their own story to tell. I could recall reading that some starlight traveled thousands of years to get here, even after the mass itself was long gone. I wondered if there had been other beings like me, other people looking up to the heavens and trying to figure out how to move on. Were their stars dead and gone already? But yet, that question didn’t disturb me. The twinkling lights comforted me in a way that I still can’t quite understand, and almost didn’t want to understand. One thing that I would end up finding out over time is that with tragedy comes wisdom, and with time comes understanding. I would come to realize that some things don’t need to be analyzed to the very core, that it’s better off it you barely think about them at all. Something changed for me in that indefinable period of time. Slowly, I came to realize that those shining stars looked like arena lights in a way, the lights that meant so much before the sickness started. Lady Void immediately snapped to attention, and suddenly I was filled with this sick longing for my other life. The stars did look like stage lights, didn’t they? The stage lights I would look into as I did what came naturally to me. My Chemical Romance had been my therapy, the thing that I enjoyed so much. That band had proved that I wasn’t such a fuck-up after all, and that I really was able to do something in my life that had meaning. I had watched the bodies fall that September day, so long ago. I had watched them fall, and realized that I wanted to do something more than just draw pictures. Look at what I had done. Look at what we all had done, and see what we had made ourselves into. Before I had become the wanderer, I had been a hero to people. A fucking hero. Some had even called me the “saviour of the broken,” taken that saying from our song lyrics and applied it to me. But, you couldn’t come back to Frank, could you? No, no I couldn’t. I shifted and tried to remember our last great show, the night Mikey had first gotten sick, and the last time I had felt on top of the world. It really was fantastic, wasn’t it? Everybody was alive and smiling, the energy was flowing through the air. Really, it was the last happy part of my old life. It wasn’t like the before and after, which was the bridge in-between, but it was the last time things would be as the used to be. Up there, nobody was sick or dying, and we weren’t constantly thinking about the news of that oddly strange flu. Little did I know back then that soon, those lights would never flash again. I missed the people from that life, and I missed them a hell of a lot. I missed my wife, my parents, my friends back home, my bandmates, everyone. Everything and every part of my life before this I missed so fucking much. During that dark night, I started to really realize what it truly meant to be alone, and I didn’t like it at all, didn’t even know if I could handle it. I thought about Bob’s asshole grin and the way my wife used to smile, and the knowledge that I’d never see them again hit me hard. It was then that I thought that I understood why I had been left on this fucked-up planet. Punishment for Frank, yes, but I was also a the time capsule, in a way. If I was still alive and breathing on this fucked-up planet, they, my loved ones, were here too, in a sense. I was their legacy because they lived on in my memories. I knew I couldn’t just give in and kill myself, no matter how tempting it might seem, not until I’d passed their memories on somehow. Maybe later I would get the chance tell their stories, but for now, I was simply a wanderer. The wanderer, alone with his ghosts and the echoes of his last friend’s cry forever chasing after him. Living seemed to be the only fit punishment for my crime to Frank, and there was no way I could just give in and die. Maybe if I kept going long enough, I could somehow redeem myself for that greatest sin I had committed, maybe, somehow, I could make peace with myself for that fucking horrible cowardly thing I did to Frank. You asshole, nothing will ever make up for it. I didn’t even try to tell the alien voice to shut up. Instead, I crossed my arms over my chest and let my eyes scan the stars, remembering how much they reminded me of the stage lights. I am the wanderer and these are the ruins. Forever I may roam. Those words seemed to be a solution somehow, an answer to everything. I was their legacy, the man who talked to ghosts and failed his last friend. It was only fitting that I should roam like a wild animal, trying to find my place in a world that had forgotten everything I used to be, a world that had forgotten everything I had loved and cherished. Where are they now? While I am here, where are they? I had no idea. This was the first time in days I had thought about death in that sense, and I had no fucking clue. If I hadn’t been under the stars, I might have gotten anxious over it, or cried or something, but with all of them smiling over me, that didn’t happen. As I thought about the subject of death in general, I was overcome by this feeling of peace. It was as if the stars had seen and known everything, and no matter what, things were as they had always been intended to be. These balls of gas had seen more than I would see in five lifetimes, and for some reason that comforted me. While I didn’t know what happened to a person after they died, I knew for sure that it was the way whatever God had created the universe had intended things to be. If it was fate, could death really be that bad? And if it was, why antagonize over something I had no power to change? Lady Void tried to stick her claws in me further, but the stars were slowly making them slip away. Even though the guilt and the grief was still there, the twinkling of those eternal lights was lulling me, and soon my eyes were growing heavy. Before my body finally surrendered to sleep, I actually felt peaceful, easy, like I could maybe move past all of this. My eyes shut with a glimmering hope that maybe I would feel like this tomorrow, and maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t the bad man I thought I was. Maybe, things weren’t as bad as they seemed. It would turn out that I wouldn’t feel that way again for a long time. God knows how long I drifted through the lands of slumber, in that feigning of death and life at the same time, just floating there in the lands where no dreams can be found. I drifted, I drifted, until I found that door into the land of dreams. To my waking mind, it seemed like only seconds that had passed between me seeing the stars and me finding myself standing in a parking lot. At first, I didn’t know where I was, but it clicked in seconds. I knew this strip of asphalt well, because it was in one of the venues we had played during the Projekt Revolution tour last summer. I had stood here talking to the woman who would end up becoming my girlfriend, and then my wife. What happened here wasn’t the first time I had said hi to her, but it was when that connection had been sparked. I was standing there with my back facing the world, just staring at the bus we had used and remembering how Lindsey had looked that day. Fuck, she was so beautiful. I always had a thing for her and just… I had felt like the luckiest man in the world. Time was rippling and flowing like it always does during a dream, but like every other human, I didn’t notice. Had we stood right here? I couldn’t remember anymore, but the important thing was that we had made a connection that day. A small one, but something that would turn out to be the happiest, best relationship of my life. I never thought that I would ever marry anybody, until I had gotten to know her, and, well… you can never really forget a person like that, can you? My dream self smiled as he remembered how her lips had felt, how she had whispered his name… how…. “Gerard,” that familiar voice whispered, interrupting my thoughts, and I whirled around in shock. Lindsey was standing there. Lindsey was standing right there in front of me, alive and breathing, with blood flowing through her veins. She had never looked better. Like in all dreams, it didn’t seem strange that she appeared as the Lindsey I had known in the later months. After all, I didn’t even know I was dreaming. “Lindsey? You aren’t dead?” I was astounded, amazed, and aching at the same time. She only smiled at me, her eyes sparkling the way they had always done. My wife was alive and well. Lindsey was here and with me, not dead. “Did it really happen?” I asked her softly, unable to believe my eyes. She looked down for a minute as if she was afraid to answer, but I didn’t notice that. Lindsey was wearing one of the outfits she loved to perform in, with that sexy short skirt and schoolgirl top, and it was one of my favourites. “Gerard,” she said again, except this time it was only a whisper. It was her voice that was solely reserved for me, one of the secret languages between us. The sound of it was enough to break the hold on my frozen limbs. “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.” I was telling her this, over and over as I make my way to her body, into her arms that were open, ready to take me in her embrace. The parking lot rippled slightly around us, but I didn’t notice. The only thing that really matter was that my wife was here, oh fucking God she was here. She was so warm when I fell into her arms. Warm and alive and on Earth and perfect and gorgeous and healthy and just here. Her familiar, slender body pressed against my own, and suddenly, it seemed like I had never felt so complete.