On This Human Earth

July 11, 2010

Television: Stay tuned for an important announcement! Stay tuned for an important announcement! Stay tuned…

*

Michael Langford was tuned. He was tuned not only to his television, but in fact found himself tuned to an IKEA dining-set, 12-cents of instant coffee and a waffle-maker. He saw no particular prospect of extricating himself. Breakfast was breakfast and was not easily available anywhere else. He could not understand why the television would be so alarmed.

*

Television: Coming up is an important announcement.

*

He scanned the headlines on the upper-fold of a newspaper lying on the other side of his kitchen table. Gaza Attack Kills Fifty-Six. Abuse Revelations in Glenelg School. New Tax to Increase Toilet Paper Prices. He did not pause to read further into any of these matters, as there was an important announcement coming up, and as the waffle-maker was beginning to whizz and whir in anticipation of rich, golden goodness, making Michael realise that he had forgotten the maple syrup. He rose from his chair and tuned into the cupboard above his microwave to look for it.

*

Television: Hey you, you desperate lonely loser!

*

Oh shit, thought Michael. It’s gonna be one of those.

*

Television: Don’t you start getting insolent with me you sack of dickshit. You’re useless and nobody loves you!

*

A television is hurling abuse at me, Michael said to himself with a sigh. It’s okay though, it doesn’t mean it, it’s nothing personal. It’s just doing it’s terrible job to tens of thousands of people at a time.

*

Television: Oh, well, look who’s playing the bigger man. Hey big boy, take a look across that dining table of yours and tell me what’s there; a girl, or a stack of unread papers?

*

Michael couldn’t help but do exactly as the malevolent little box told him to. A reverie on what it would have been like to live in a high-school history textbook, where televisions weren’t programmed according to a marketing agency’s psychological profile of the viewer, and where everybody walked around their homes with little black cell-phones for bossing TVs about like electronic slaves, was crushed by a nauseating wave of depression coming from the hateful machine and the totally empty home.

What was I looking for? I –

*

Television: It doesn’t matter, you insipid fagmosexual. Look at yourself, look at yourself with all four of your clapped-out eyes. You’re rummaging around in a rubbish house looking for trash so unwantable it almost makes you look – no, I’m sorry, you’re so unlikeable you make even that innane assortment of inconsequential embarrassements look positively interesting.

*

Michael didn’t hear the last two or three volleys of abuse because he’d gotten caught up in the deep and meaningful look the stack of papers was giving him.

You always nag me, dammit, you always nag, he found himself muttering beneath its withering gaze.

After weeks of pressure slowly building up, something in the stack finally gave, and the top half of the pile slid off of the table and hit the floor with a fluttering slap. At that exact instant Michael realised he was twenty-five and thought to himself, holy shit. Holy fucking shit. This isn’t bound to change. I could really go on like this until I’m so old and this place stinks so bad that the neighbours come by every other week to check if I’ve died yet. And the neighbours won’t exactly be fresh as daisies either.

*

Television: That’s right! You’ll die a virgin and it’ll be all your fault.

*

Shit man, Michael now panicked aloud. Shit man, what am I going to do? I wasn’t supposed to die like this.

*

Television: And die you will, unless you listen up. Romance Dot Com remedial dating service is presenting you, and you especially, lucky chosen viewer, with a unique oppurtunity: a medically certified human female, as hopelessly repulsive, as totally socially useless as you, someone who in fact possesses no redeeming features beyond being able to pay us to run this advertisement on your television, and the televisions of millions of other slimeballs competing with you for this one pitiful chance of your inexcusable lifetime.

*

That was kind of harsh.

*

Television: STOP! WASTING! TIME! Stop wasting time feeling sorry for yourself. Do you know what your problem is? Do you want to know what your problem is? Assholes like you waste every goddamn minute of every goddamn day sitting around going “ah-bloo-bloo-bloo, ah-bloo-bloo-bloo, nobody wuvs me, evwybody is sooohhhh meen,” instead of getting up and getting ahead like a real man!

*

The words had turned into barrage of noise in which, though he could discern a pattern, Michael could divine no clear meaning. What is that, he thought. There’s a word for that, I know there is.

Music.

Abuse Revelations Increase Toilet Paper Prices.

Gaza Attack in Glenelg School.

New Tax Kills Fifty-Six.

*

Television: Holly Oltbaum was born with a rare spinal deformity that rendered her unable to walk without the aid of a complex, specially designed cybernetic apparatus. In addition to the gross impracticality, the condition has caused her to suffer a lifetime of crippling migraines that have inhibited her capacity to develop her mental faculties, and bound her to an almost permanent state of barely contained mean-spiritedness and fury. This feeble and unnattractive hulk is thus also burdened with the intellectual and emotional maturity of an eight year old, rewarding any who form an emotional attachment to her with unrelenting dependancy and regular tirades of abuse.

The sole conceivable consolation of her wordly existence, and this is where you come in cumstain, so listen up, is that she is in possession of a fully functioning reproductive system. If anything it functions too damn well. Since the age of eleven she has developed an all-consuming addiction to pornography, consuming in a day adult products to a value greater than the sum-total of every book she has ever attempted, and failed, to read. Doctors, having given up any attempt to treat her condition as either doomed to fail or expencive beyond the means of her family and her state-entitlements, have redirected her limited healthcare funds to feeding this addiction, reasoning that it’s substantially the only thing society can do for her in the absence of legalised euthanasia. And after many years of saving, and a series of loosely-worded charity bake-sales by her well-meaning siblings, she has saved up enough money to contract our services to find, somewhere on this human Earth, a fully functional male reproductive system to join with her, so they can consummate their worldly existences in a haze of alcohol, misapplied prescription drugs, and only-technically-legal porn.

*

Michael stared at the screen, which was now displaying a 1800 number as it waited for someone to buy in, and thought to himself, they never tell you about this. They tell you about how you might be an astronaut, or a doctor, or even a builder or a fireman. And the way they tell it at five o’Clock those guys all have some place to be. No one ever tells you that the ads on television will know you so well they’ll make you dance and cry.

He remembered a guy he’d met in his last year. Glen was a mature age student who was repeating high-school because he couldn’t get a job after he got out of gaol, and he couldn’t pick up welfare-checks if he wasn’t studying. He was talking with a group of kids who were hanging on every word and rolling off of their chairs, laughing.

“And that’s why,” he remembered Glen saying, “when I get married I’m going to write my own vows, but they’re going to be exactly the same as the normal vows except that when the priest asks ‘do you take this whoever to be your lawfully wedded wife,’ instead of saying ‘I do’ I’m going to say ‘she’ll do,’ and she’ll say the same about me, because, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, that’s how things really are.”

It was only then, with the 1800 number staring him in the face, that Michael remembered that that guy had not so much as smiled or blinked as he said that.

*

Television: And we have a winner, folks. Guess the rest of you losers will be dying alone.

This message has been brought to you by Romance Dot Com, bringing you relationships you can trust.

*

And with that over the television fell silent. Michael looked up at the clock mounted on the wall above the blank screen. He had just enough time to finish his breakfast, before finding his coat and leaving for work.

One Response to “On This Human Earth”

  1. Dear Internet,

    I want it known that as I write this it is two minutes before midnight on the 10th of July, 2010. Screw you WordPress.

    The other thing that I was considering embedding in this story was http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoRSTRwGUSY but in the end I decided that the beginning clashed too much with the tone of the story, and would have rendered it unreadable.

    I promise to write something more original and thoroughly developed next week. Cut me some slack, Internet, I’ve been alternately sick and busy and sick all week.

    Well, that’s it,

    PAK

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