Posted on: September 20th, 2009 Channel Surfing in Amnesiaville

by Justin Howe

Pilot Episode: Out of the bus and onto the street, scalpel-born smile for the world to see, Xander dons sunglasses.

He gives the Sams and Delilahs back home a reason to be jealous, cutting through a crowd of extras, slick as a razor and perfect as a summer day, dressed in fresh paperweave. His friends wait in the bubble bar, their voices awash in kinesthetic sound: Cleo, Julian, Betty, and Roman. The first time like the last time like all times forever.

A Cleo waves. Her group needs a Xander.

Back home was not like this. Back there, he was simply another Sam, watching the world pass by on the surround-screen. Never again. He’s made it now. Recruited by the Networks, everything perfect, another day, another season, this year’s episodes better than the last.

Xander quotes dialog from memory like it was his own.

#

Third Episode: He goes home with Cleo. Xander’s watched himself do it before, and some Sam’s back home watching him do it again.

They fuck, and afterwards they compare souvenirs.

“It was my mother’s,” Cleo says, showing him a one-eyed teddy bear. “She had it for years.”

Xander takes out the watch his older brother gave him. “He was wearing it the day he died in the car accident.”

They fuck again.

#

Fifth Episode: Julian and Xander are coming home from the bubble bar. Julian’s talking about Betty, how happy he is that they are together.

“She told me about this bear her mother gave her.”

There’s someone else on the street, some has-been Xander digging in a trashcan. He tries to run, his torn paperweave showing last season’s logos, but Xander tackles him.

They drag the has-been to a vacant lot, where Julian laughs as they stomp out his teeth.

#

Eighth Episode: Trouble in the world, and not every Sam and Delilah is happy. They’d rather dump the whole show and do away with the Cleos and Xanders. The Networks are asking for volunteers, and Xander’s decided to enlist. He’s invested too much in himself to let some Sam or Delilah tell him how to live.

Julian and Roman join him, and Betty comes with them to the station.

Away from the others she admits she’s always been in love with Xander, ever since she was a Delilah, watching him on the surround-screen. There’s time before the flight leaves.

The two of them sneak away to a conapt, the micro-eyes of the world upon them.

#

Mid-Season: A line-up of little Sams and Delilahs, maybe they’d have grown up to be Bettys and Romans. Maybe if they had lived as the Networks wanted them to live. Their brother Sam is on the ground, a watch on his wrist. Its shattered face catches the sunlight and cracks it.

Xander turns up the sound on his helmet speakers. He drowns out his own screams as he squeezes the trigger on his flame-slinger.

The Networks are pushing the war with all they have. A real thrill-killer the Networks call this season. Ratings are up, and the smarter Sams and Delilahs support their efforts.

Back in the barracks, Xander sits with Roman and Julian.

“No hard feelings,” Julian tells him. He too has been watching the surround-screens.

#

Season Finale: Xander’s different since he came back. They all are. When the five of them get together the dialog sounds false, like something hollow and empty as a can.

Betty and Roman check out together. They leave a note saying they can’t handle the pressure. The Networks step in and replace them, always another Sam and Delilah waiting for a chance. Cleo is retired, no more teddy bear. She gets replaced with a Jasmine.

Outside the bubble bar one night, Julian waits for Xander. The first punch catches Xander unawares. His jaw breaks, tearing the scalpel scars and implants that made him the man he is.

Busted up now, Xander’s another has-been, nowhere to go but down from here.

#

New Season: And Xander steps off the bus, no longer a Sam, owned by the Networks. All his new old friends wait for him in the bubble bar, the first time like the last time like all times forever.

Filed under: bad-ass, stories

2 Responses to “Channel Surfing in Amnesiaville”

  1. Landis Says:
    September 20th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I wonder if has-been Xanders ever return to Samhood.

    A lovely piece. One of my favorites from here.

  2. Landis Says:
    September 20th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I wonder if has-been Xanders ever return to Samhood.

    A lovely piece. One of my favorites from here.

  3. ourbig.ru Says:
    September 27th, 2009 at 2:23 am

    Thank you for your mighty fine work. You are our beacon of light in this long dark tunnel of chaos.

  4. ourbig.ru Says:
    September 27th, 2009 at 2:23 am

    Thank you for your mighty fine work. You are our beacon of light in this long dark tunnel of chaos.