As a species, we’d forgotten about the notion of going someplace quiet. Screens were everywhere – in your home, in your car, in the street. Even in the bathroom. And somebody had to create all that content.
That person was Murray.
To be fair, he was really a small cog in a giant machine. Since robots and artificial intelligence had taken over virtually all manual and mental labor, most jobs related, in some way, to content creation.
Creating content or consuming content. There wasn’t much else to do.
When Murray thought about it, and lately he’d been thinking about it more than was healthy, the content he created was really about mind control. Not in a creepy, 1950s Twilight Zone kind of way. In a normal, everyday, keep ’em distracted and happy so they don’t come and take your stuff kind of way.
It had been 30 years since the government enacted the living wage. Theoretically, people could live comfortably on their monthly units, which appeared like clockwork in their accounts on the third day of each month.
That didn’t mean there wasn’t still poverty of course. And homelessness. There were still people who spent more than they had on things that weren’t good for them – alcohol, drugs, and all sorts of black market content. Snuff films mostly. Torture. Rape. Things like that. Anything that could make you feel something. Anything that could carry you to a different plane of consciousness where the things you did and the thoughts you thought and the feelings you felt actually mattered somehow.
Most days, Murray did fine with all this. He got up in the morning, went to his job, wrote down a couple of episodes for the soaps, cranked out a few commercials for dish soap or beer, and called it a day.
Most days were okay. The nights, though. They were a different matter.
Murray didn’t sleep a lot. It was something about the light from all of those screens. It was blue and cold and foreign somehow. When he couldn’t sleep, Jerry would roll out of bed, put on some shoes and go for a walk. That was how he first met Josh.
Josh was a tweaker. You could find him collapsed in an alley on a pile of smelly trash bags or wandering the streets bumping into things. Nothing in the real world bothered him very much because he was constantly focused on the tiny screen that was built into his contact lens. It wasn’t one of those cheap ones either. Josh’s eye could stream all kinds of things – from classic 20th century TV all the way up to newly released movies that were still in the Cineplex.
It never took Murray too long to find Josh. He haunted the same three blocks just north of Little Morocco. And there he was, bouncing between the sides of an alley, muttering to himself between bursts of laughter.
“Hey Josh. Whatcha watching?”
“Oh, hey Murray,” Josh replied hurriedly. “I Love Lucy. Oh my god! Have you seen this bit with the chocolates?”
“Sure, Josh. Everyone has.”
There wasn’t much else to say. Josh was locked inside his own brain, having his own experience, and Murray was outside, enjoying the darkness that had settled in the alley, drinking in the feeling of being near another human, even if that human had no use for him.
About Prompt-A-Day: The rules are simple. Every day, I generate a prompt using Story Shack’s awesome writing prompt generator. Then I set a timer for one hour. At the end of the hour, I post what I’ve got. Sometimes it’s decent. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes I fail at the prompt. Sometimes I do okay. I do not edit, unless I find a typo, because I can’t help fixing those. Feel free to join in and post a link to your writing in the comments.