Let’s see what’s on TV.
I’m sitting at a metal table. Well, that’s what the screen is showing me. It’s first person: I see arms on the table and a plate of fish and mashed potatoes in front of me. The left arm moves, scooping up some potato, and then delivers the food right underneath the view. This happens again, and again, until the plate is clear. The view moves, looking around the room. It’s sparse, white concrete with a reinforced metal door. I realize that it’s a cell. Then, a second later, I realize that the person is, was, eating their last meal.
A guard walks in, and takes the food away. The inmate, for that must be whose eyes I’m watching through, watches the him leave. A few minutes later two guards come in, the one from before and a new one. The view rises; the prisoner is standing. One guard leads the way out, and the other falls in behind. The first guard leads the way through concrete halls for a minute or two, until they reach a room with a chair in the middle and glass all opposite. The chair has leather straps for the arms and legs, and is made of metal. As the inmate sits down, I catch a glimpse of whose eyes I’ve been watching life through for the past few minutes in the mirror. It’s a woman, beautiful in every sense of the word. Her body, face, posture, everything is perfect, even in prison garb. Well, everything except for the four teardrop tattoos under her right eye.
The channel goes dark. No static, no interference, just darkness. It’s still on though, I can tell by the power light glowing in the corner of the TV. Just as I decide to get up and check it, see if anything is wrong, a new perspective flashes into existence.
It’s dark. Not dark dark, but dark, like night dark. Snoring emanates from the TV. After a few minutes an alarm starts buzzing, a loud and obnoxious stock tune from an iPhone. The snoring stops, and the eyes open, revealing a dimly lit room. It’s just a basic bedroom in a shitty apartment. The view is bleary until hands come up to rub sleep from the eyes. The view moves toward the bathroom, and I watch as the person sits down on the toilet, flushes, washes their hands and face, and gets dressed. There was no mirror in the bathroom, which was disappointing: I wanted to know desperately what this stranger looked like.
After dressing in nondescript work clothes (no chance of even guessing the gender) the view moved out of the bedroom and into a hallway. Down the hall we went: the person living this, me, and any others who might possibly be watching this. At the end of the hall was a set of stairs. I figured that going down the stairs wasn’t important, so I turned away for a second to get some chips from the kitchen. But of course as soon as I turned away something happened, this particular something taking the form of repeated thumping that ended with a resounding THUD.
I spun around, but I had missed the action. The view was at an angle now, a strange angle indeed, kind of upside down. A second later I realized why, when the arm came into view. The hand was at an unnatural angle, bent backwards, fingers askew. The view blurred, and at first I thought the signal was lost, but then I realized that the person must have passed out. I thought about calling 911, but I had no idea where this was, or who it was, or anything useful at all. So I just watched the black screen for a moment more, before it changed again.
The next view is of a nice kitchen. It’s empty: all the cupboards are open, there are no pots or pans, no food or silverware, nothing. Not even boxes that might suggest moving. A bare room. As I sit down to watch the view swings around, looking left and right. Still bare. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
For nine minutes I watched this, watched it intently, hoping for some change. I had just about given up hope when a woman entered the room. She was pregnant, about four or five months from the look of her. She held out her hand towards the camera, bending down slightly, and I realized that the current view must be from a young child, a toddler even. A small hand reaches out and takes her hand, and starts following her into the next room, the living room. The view is wobbly, jerky, and I realize that walking must still be relatively new to this kid. As the toddler passes by various toys, the view goes dark.
It’s dark. Well, it’s dark outside. In here there’s light, coming from a lamp to my right. It lights up my corner of the room, and throws its reflection upon the window in front of me. Of course, it’s not really me, but for all intents it is, that’s how caught up I am in this broadcast.
My legs stretch out in front of me, in dark plaid pajama pants. My fingers rest on a keyboard, and the screen glows white, expectant of the coming thoughts. A glass of scotch rests on the small table beside me, and as I watch my hand reaches out, grasps the drink, and downs it in one go. I hear myself let out a satisfied sigh, and then my fingers return to the keys, and begin to dance.
Words begin to unfold on the screen. To Whoever The Fuck Cares, I’m out of here. This place is shit. Everybody sucks, and because of it, my life sucks. I don’t really care who gets this letter, but that’s okay, because they never really cared about me. And yeah, it sounds like a suicide note, but it’s not. It’s just my way of trying to find closure. Fuck knows I’ve tried to find it other ways, but you all suck. Never letting me go when I tried to before. So to hell with you all. I’m out. Don’t try to find me. You won’t be able to. Plus, I’ll be busy trying to find myself. So long fuckfaces. -Dan
The note finished, my hands reached once more for the glass. But they found it empty, and so I got up and found the bottle. I looked at it, admiring the vintage, and then unscrewed it and took a swig straight from the bottle. Then I took another swig. Then another. And another. My vision, the view through the TV, remained clear, even after half the bottle was emptied. I, on the other side of the screen, might have seen clearly, but the person on the other end, Dan, did not.
He swayed, barely managing to set the bottle upright on the counter, and then turned. The screen tilted as he stumbled towards the door, and then struggled to open it. On the third or fourth try he finally got it, opening it up to a depressing sort of hallway. Dan lurched forward and started to fall, and the screen went dark.
Water. Water everywhere, for as far as the eye can see. Not waves, not on top of the ocean, but underwater. It’s murky, dark, foreboding. An arm glides into view, an arm with no body attached to it. The arm trails blood that diffuses in the water. There’s a lot of blood in an arm, apparently; either that or the diffusion process was a master of exaggeration (DIFFERENT COMPARISON THING WHATEVER). There was no flinch as the arm drifted past, no noticeable reaction at all.
That’s when I noticed the shaking. It was slight, but the view was shaking, tiny jerks to and fro. I leaned forward, perplexed, hoping that if I stared at the TV long enough the answer to this mystery would be revealed. Seconds ticked by: long, painful seconds where the only movement was the slow, languid drift of the bloody arm and that damn twitching.
After what seemed like hours of that agonizing twitching, the answer finally revealed itself as a small fish swam by, a scrap of flesh in its mouth. The twitching, the blood, the lack of movement, they all made sense. And what’s more, it was picturesque, out of a movie. It could not have been better staged, even if anybody had tried. It was a perfect set-up, a perfect execution, and I had swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.
I had to sit back after that, and reflect. It seemed that this broadcast, whatever it was, wasn’t just for the living, because that last person was most certainly dead. Or at least, I hoped they were dead. They must have been dead. Nobody could drift that long without breathing. These people, these perspectives, were from all ages, from all over the world. The enormity of the world around us, around me, doesn’t really weigh down on you. It’s there, sure, but it’s not until you get out and see it (or in this case have it come to you) that you really realize how vast this planet really is. And then you have to sit back and think, and re-evaluate your life. Also, that pun I thought of from that last clip, it was really bad.