Friday, March 9, 2012

These Are My Funnies #13, 14, 15

#13 (4 minutes 15 seconds): All is darkness until a narrow door is nudged open. Sunlight streams in, almost washing out the child as he steps inside. After some more darkness he finds a switch and electricity hums and bright bare bulbs hanging from chains illuminate work benches and shelves dense with aging electronics. We see oscilloscopes, microfiche readers, green-screened computers.

A montage: the boy explores many devices, bending around them to find their cables, then their switches, and many times he is rewarded with their sudden awakening. He is most delighted by a miniature synthesizer, which he sets before himself on the workshop's worn carpet. He is no musician but smashes out chords, first in thin electronic approximation of electronic guitar, then in echoing piano, then in the bright voice of a spaceship computer.

Days pass, not many but enough that we can almost see the boy age as he visits the workshop, takes down the synthesizer, plugs it in, and plays. He gets better; his chords are planned now, and his melodies run together for notes at a time. One day he comes into the workshop and takes down the keyboard and wears the steady face of confidence well earned, but when he presses keys there is no sound. He checks the power cord, the power switch, but there is power. The red light is on. He presses the keys again, then stops. Sniffs. Bends forward.

He goes to a tool chest, comes back with a pair of screwdrivers. The smaller is the right size. As he opens the synthesizer we know what he will find: an orchestra of tiny men and women, grieving the death of one of their own, too shaken to play, and how could they play without their comrade? And how could they grieve without a way to bury him? They have no tools for digging in plastic. They do not even know what death is. But no: such tiny people do not exist. What the boy finds in the guts of the synthesizer is a nest of stillborn rats.

#14 (20 seconds): A man sits at a keyboard, opens a web browser, a blog. "These are my funnies," he writes. A woman looking over his shoulder says, "You know these aren't really funny, right?"

#15 (85 seconds): A young woman shrugs her backpack around, then continues up a narrow stairwell. She emerges into a high floor of an academic library. Students lean and sleep and read all around. Her backpack is lumpy against her shoulders, the books inside straining, and she leans too hard against a shelf. A few feet away there's a thump: a shelf has fallen into another. She backs away, instantly mortified although the shelf she touched remains upright. But then there is another thump, farther away, a crash, a strangely wet spilling noise as books fall and fan against the tile floor.

"You!" someone yells, and the woman turns to find a balding man with a librarian's name badge pointing at her. Then there are others, their voices loud enough to carry over the clatter of all the shelves all around collapsing, of one of the elevators failing and falling, of a window giving out. "You! You!" they call, with such fervor that some of their faces start to melt, then the flesh of their necks. What's left is shiny metal, the chemical sour of melted plastic. Metal skeletons gambol and shout, pointing, unaware that most of their selves has melted away. 

The woman backs away, toward the stairwell. She expects to be chased but the machines seem to be locked into their behavior, all still moving from foot to foot, still pointing, still yelling at where she'd been standing. She keeps backing up until her hand touches the stairwell door. "You stupid robots," she says.

No comments:

Post a Comment