The Hauntings of Playing God: Chris Dietzel
Living in the world not able to speak, fend for yourself, walk, move or even appreciate an simple thing like the sunshine is what many people in the world created by author Chris Dietzel face each day. A block is defined as a “large solid piece of hard material especially rock, stone or wood, typically with flat surfaces on each side.” A block is solid, cannot be bent or dented except if hammered, and has no emotion or emotional attachment to its owner. Imagine living in world where some can understand and work to achieve their goals and the rest are confined to wheelchairs, feeding tubes and life support systems that have to be tended to and operated by others. Imagine living in a vacuum that engulfs your body, mind and spirit and you have no way of finding you way out. What happens when some are left to care for those that cannot function on their own? What happens when children are born that are alive because you know they are breathing but that’s all? What happens when some are designated as caregivers over many and left to tend to their needs often to the neglect of their own? Within this novel many moral and ethical questions come to light and readers will have to decide if our main character: Morgan, whom you will meet and get to know should be charged with murder or were her actions as a result of allowing some to survive and keeping her spirit going? What happens when you are the last person on earth or at least the only one that you know is still alive and you feel that responsible for the lives of many others who cannot speak, verbalize, rebel, question, say thank you, appreciate you or respond to you in any way. Blocks are what they are called and you are their only hope for survival. What would you do if they were entrusted to your care living in a gymnasium filled with the basic necessities of life to help sustain them and hopefully you? Before there were four and now there is only one!
Morgan and Elaine before she passed away cared for 64 Blocks or adults that could not care for themselves. The Book of Life has many stories and they created their own for each Block. One was a Slasher, two pilots, a runner, murderer, comedian or even a detective giving each Block a personality, a voice and a soul to be heard. But, reality would set in and her days were numbered and marked by long hours of caring for so many. What is her recourse when no one was out there to guide her? What would you do in order to survive and care for those that could not care for themselves? Morgan deals with her own feelings about God, her wondering if God turned people into Blocks and thinking he would never do that. The Great De-evolution: Things just happened! If God created beauty and nature why would the world end up so destroyed? Who caused the Blocks? Is there an afterlife and will the Blocks be like her when they pass? How do you look into their eyes knowing that you can do just so much and not more?
Nightmares plague her; guilt surrounds her daily as she hears the voices of many of those who she cares for haunting her dreams as she decides in her own way to play God. Taking away the nourishment of some of the Blocks would ease up her burden and make it not as difficult to care for the rest. But, even that goes against her as she becomes ill several times only to awaken to find many of her Blocks dead from lack of nourishment, water and care. Just how guilty does she feel? Were those she cared for within her nightmares judging her?
Imagining the world as she would like to envision it with nature blooming, meeting someone special, having parents, finding friendship and waking up from this nightmare. There are days when Morgan thinks that God is keeping her alive until: she believes in him why keep her alive? Is she supposed to understand his master plan and if so what is the rationale for what has happened to her and others? Does he want her to repent for her sins and make up for her blunders? Yet, no matter how despondent she feels and how downcast her life she forges ahead and feels responsible for each and every human life that is in her charge? But Why? Is she getting paid to care for them? Would anyone know if she killed them all and left? Is anyone watching her? How does she manage to get food and sustenance and keep her sanity? Choices are made and Morgan has to find a way to live with them although at times she is haunted by her actions through the words of those Blocks that the author allows readers to get to know by hearing their thoughts and voices as if they were just like Morgan. Deciding who lives and dies is God’s job but now it has been given to Morgan by Morgan in order to alleviate her burden and eliminate so many that need care in order to enable the rest to survive.
The role of a caregiver as I know from personal experience is a special one. Caring for someone who is incapable of addressing their everyday needs requires a special person and someone who is selfless and caring. But, as the author relates Morgan’s thoughts it is made easier because some patients like the Blocks do not complain, request more time spent with them, fight, yell or argue. Is this the way the world stopped wars, terrorism and disagreements? Silencing voices that might offer different viewpoints, dissention, and opposing views, by creating Blocks these would be silenced. Peace: is this the way it was finally created?
As Morgan weakens and becomes incapable of caring for so many some will die and her mind might create scenes that would lead the reader to believe she is becoming delusional. One Block named Rachel she thought was staring at her but why? Is she staring at her and can she show any type of emotion or are they just blank eyes looking at her for answers that no one can give them? Is Rachel hostile towards her? Does she want to hurt Morgan?
Humanity: Is this what is meant for them? How does she keep on going and why? Nightmares come daily. Guilt plagues her day and night and each dream brings on the next one with one of her Blocks standing close enough to end it all. “ Is life measured by the amount of times you feel in control of your future and the amount of times you feel powerless?” But, within the last few pages the reader can begin to wonder as Morgan does: do you have everything figured out? Do you see things for yourself or through the eyes of others? Do you appreciate the birds, the sun and just being alive? Who will take on the role if she dies? Will anyone even care? Did Morgan really do the best she can or did she play God too often with the lives of those she chose to end? An ending that is quite powerful and will send the reader wondering what is real, what is next for Morgan and everyone and just what would happen if this became a reality? What would you do if you were Morgan? Blocks are trapped within their own bodies and even if you think they have thoughts and they might they cannot express them, show emotions or even cry when in pain. Who knows! Maybe in the next life they will be like everyone else. So, maybe we all need to learn some important lessons: appreciate your life. Appreciate those who love you and embrace the good and not the bad. Care for those that cannot care for themselves. Cherish what you have. Responsibility or penance: Love of people or just because she thought she should: If you were Morgan what would you have done? The Hauntings of Playing God will haunt you long after The Dreams and Nightmares End! Once again author Chris Dietzel has hit the mark even higher with this book that will get readers thinking and raises many moral and ethical issues about life. Is Morgan guilty of a crime or did she just do what she needed to survive and safe others?
Fran Lewis: reviewer