Short Stories: Static
I am dead.
It’s not a big deal. It’s really not that much different from being alive. There is no heaven or hell, and you are not judged for all the times you jerked off or snapped at your mom over something stupid. Everyone seems afraid of death, but its not that bad. The second you die, you return to the place you spent most of your time and energy. For me, I spent most of my time and energy at home. But it isn’t really home anymore. My new life is being sucked into a TV with the knob stuck between two stations.
I can’t interact. I can’t haunt. I just continue doing what I was doing in life, floating through a river of static every day. Some days, one station will come in clearer than the other, and things feel almost like they used to. When I look at myself in a mirror, I don’t see my dead self or my living self. I see a flickering of what maybe used to be me, scattered lines and waves of pixels. Maybe. I don’t know.
Before I died, I was drinking myself into oblivion every night. Not because I needed to or anything. It was just fun to do. Some people thought I was an alcoholic. Maybe I was. The sounds of the liquid pouring out and crashing into the now swirling ice always reminded me of a bowling ball gracefully gliding down the alley before violently smashing the pins. It was a soothing sound to me. Some nights, I’d make a drink just to hear that sound. That’s what I miss most about being dead. That sound.
Now all I hear is static. Sometimes it is more of a hum. Maybe the sound of a computer fan about to fail, or a TV on mute. It becomes normal after a while. I don’t know how I’d react if the static went away. Once in awhile, I’ll hear classical music. I’m not sure where it is coming from, but it will play in my head, like my own personal orchestra has moved into the spot that used to contain my math skills. They're playing right now. I can’t quite tell which artist it is, or what piece it is, but I can hear the occasional crash of cymbals and piercing wails of a violin. It helps me concentrate on the drinking glasses in front of me.
A tear shaped glass sits crookedly inside of a ribbed glass that is shaped like a spotlight shooting up into the air. The top glass is dirty. It’s streaked with water stains and whoever drank out of it appears to have had orange juice. The leftover pulp molecules seem to take on lives of their own. One spattering looks to have formed into an elephant skull. Below it is a smudged robot on wheels trying to escape the leftover backwash that has taken over his home. In time, both will be washed away by the cascading rains of the kitchen sink, itself full of filth in the bit of space between the faucet and wall. In that spot lives hundreds of crumbs, pieces of potato chips, a bit of rust, maybe some mold. It’s a world all its own, and I wonder if their lives are any different from what has become of mine.
The paraplegic chip once lived in a community with other chips, its grooves matching up with the grooves and bends of a friend to form a duck bill or approximation of an aging beauty who decided to she needed to have new, giant lips that are permanently too swollen to even close her mouth. Now it spends its life, broken to pieces, stuck behind a faucet that hasn’t been cleaned in years. I wonder what the chip’s favorite sound was.
A new song has started. It’s coming in clear. The 3rd movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. The piece has always haunted me. I should be the one haunting. Instead, I’m listening to the piano draw hourglasses and forests, grumbling at me as it tears through the forest it built on horseback as if it were fleeing from a monster. All I can think about is that damn dirty glass. The elephant has chased off the robot, but they’re both still stuck in an open air tomb that doesn’t even have the decency to be level. Never will the elephant be able to stand evenly. And if it ever gets the chance, it will probably be washed away down a never ending series of tubes and pipes that will bring it back to the glass in a mutated reupholstered form. It never had a chance.
My days are now filled with aimless wandering around my house. It’s always empty except for the occasional good reception on the TV that lets me see things in color again. I don’t have to eat, drink, or sleep anymore. I just float on the lazy river of digital static that gently meanders around my home. What used to be my home. I’m not really sure what it is now. I don’t have to pay property taxes on it anymore, and no one ever comes to tell me it isn’t mine. Maybe we both just exist only to each other. Is it possible that I am a construct of the house’s imagination instead of the other way around? If the elephant and robot made up of orange juice pulp, and the broken chip that needs a wheelchair can think and exist here, then the house could have created me. Maybe it fabricated me as something to fill itself, like the pans in the cabinet, or food in the pantry. Maybe I’m not dead after all. Maybe I’m just a digital flicker on a TV in this house. I wish someone would change the god damn channel.