807 words by Stanley Lieber
The sunlight fades and I wonder after my satchel. It's here, buried somewhere under the snow. Wearily, I prop up both of my arms and thumb through the entries on my leaf.
I stumble upon a decades-old post.
So, I was laid out on the couch (free), face pressed up against my camo pillow ($123.67), wondering if I should pick the dead pill bugs out of the fibers of my bath robe, when a garish advert for a new Pink Floyd "greatest hits" collection ($2999.99) ran across the display of my telescreen:
Order ECHOES now and we'll include blah sqwak blah niner foxtrot delta sqwak blah sqwak blah
My attention span waned and I lost the rest of the advert to random static generated by a mild migraine headache (previously acquired), but the damage had already been done. Slowly, the new information sunk in.
Within a couple of hours I had stumbled into the bedroom. I stood fondling the jewel case of a 2-disk collection of my own original music (entitled: ECHOES), desperately trying to figure out how Pink Floyd's handlers had managed to bug my home.
I took a swig of apple juice from a glass tumbler on the dresser, then spit it back out again when I realized the surface of the drink had been blanketed by a layer of dust. I needed to stop leaving those things laying around where anyone could find them.
I resumed staring at the jewel case. The artwork was superior to what I had just seen on the telescreen. Fucking Pink Floyd. What did I ever do to them? (Besides torturing that girl in the Pink Floyd t-shirt at Denny's.)
There had to be a reason why they had selected me.
I glared at the tumbler for a couple of seconds, then back at the jewel case in my hands. I downed the entire glass without tasting the dust. Apple juice doesn't really ferment, but at this point my migraine had wedged itself in-between my frontal lobe and another slab of gray matter I wasn't able to identify, resulting in a significant impairment to my decision making faculties. Somehow, I kept from vomiting.
Before long I detected a handful of splinters in my hand, and came to the slow realization that I'd squeezed the jewel case into several pieces. The dust flavor returned to my mouth, resembling the sensation of pushing my tongue through ungroomed tufts of fur. I threw the tumbler down and stomped back into the living room.
The advert was on again. This time tracking a sequence I hadn't noticed during the previous playback. The message ran at ten minute intervals, but I had yet to see it all the way through. The visual rhetoric was contrived, but would probably prove effective. They'd likely sell a billion copies.
I swallowed an over the counter pharmaceutical designed to combat dizziness and resumed my seat on the couch. Staring at a spot two feet above the telescreen, my mind began to spin down, drifting to other concerns. My next shift at my corporate front-job was scheduled to begin in just under five hours. Still tasting apple dust (maybe it wasn't really apple dust, after all), I chewed at the air with my mouth and then dozed off, resigned to whatever dreams might come.
Approximately two-hundred forty minutes elapsed.
I woke up. Two more pill bug carcasses had embedded themselves into the folds of my robe. They no longer seemed to be the most likely vector of leaked intelligence. In point of fact they appeared organic. Quite simplistic. This new-found lucidity intensified as I painted shaving cream onto my chin and then accidentally sliced the skin between my nostrils.
It occurred to me that Pink Floyd might not really be ripping me off. They were probably capable of coming up with such an obvious title as ECHOES on their own. Their boxed set was probably being manufactured even as had I decided on the title of my own collection. Still, the overlap rankled.
I guessed that it must have been a case of Steam Engine Time.
For posterity's sake, I will note here that my own ECHOES collection may be sampled at the following address:
And here I had inserted a hypertext link. A pointer to some old, half-considered project of mine from my early years trying to break into the music industry. I wince at the memory, irrationally certain that this will be all they'll find when they finally dig my starved body out of this house and this snow drift and begin to piece together the circumstances of my disappearance. Decorated Agent Leaves Behind Rough Draft Of An Early Internet Posting. Family Denies Any Knowledge Of Agent's Artistic Endeavors.
I lean back my head against the exposed boards of the attic floor and observe as small flecks of snow float in and out between the cracks in the roof. My fingers have become useless now, and I suspect that I'm too weak to kick through the tile shingling. Troubling, to be sure. As if to underline the point, I make an attempt to stand up and one of my legs cracks and falls off onto the floor.
Well, so be it. Another opportunity to reflect on my past.
Reviewing this material I have to admit, I've had a good run.