Welcome to Prime Time

One of my favorite kills of Freddy Krueger was where he smashes a girls head into a TV that he has just grown out of, moments before he quips ‘Welcome to prime time, Bitch!’ don’t ask why but I had that in mind for the title of a story so…yea this was basically based around that line alone.

Billy Hanley lay lengthwise across a sofa, his head resting on one arm
rest, his legs dangling over the other. Idly he flicked through the
channels on his TV, bored. The room was dark, the curtains closed so
as to prevent any glare on the screen and the lights switched off. On
one channel a pair of cowboys dodged between rocks as they popped
shots off at each other, on another a heard of animals drank from a
river in Africa, in yet another the news was showing some old woman
receiving some award or another as if it mattered. Billy sighed and
dropped the remote to the floor where it bounced and the channel
flicked back to the wildlife documentary.

Just then the door to the room swung open and a stream of light poured
in, followed by Billy’s mother. Who looked around the darkened room
before finding Billy’s prone form and scowling.

“William Hanley you have spent the whole holiday on that sofa watching
the television, why can’t you go play outside like all the normal
twelve year olds?”

William took a few seconds to even respond, slowly turning his head to
gaze through bored eyes at his mother.

“All the other twelve year olds are at home playing on their games
consoles that their normal parents bought them” he said with a hint of
frustration in his voice.

“Well I pity them I really do, while they lock themselves away,
rotting their brains with their toys you have a chance to have some
real fun and maybe learn something, a chance you consistently
squander”

“If you wanted me to have fun you would buy me a console like I asked
for mum!” Billy half yelled at her.

“I am not having this argument with you again William; you can have
one of those toys when you can buy one for yourself.” She turned and
went to leave the room before stopping.

“And keep the lights on while you’re in here wasting away, watching TV
in the dark will ruin your eyes.” And with that she flicked the lights
on and stormed out.

Billy closed his eyes for a few seconds against the harsh new light
that filled the room. His mum had told him a hundred times about
watching the TV in the dark and it was as bullshit then as it was now,
it had done him no harm. He adjusted his position on the sofa and
returned to watching the documentary but was bored within the minute.
Picking up the remote again he started flicking through channels
again. Old movies, reality shows, news and documentaries were all that
was on. TV during the holidays sucked.

Billy was just considering, with a bitter taste afterthought, of
taking his mother’s advice and taking his football out to the back
garden and kicking it again the wall for a while when he noticed
something on the TV screen, A small crack like a brilliant lightning
bolt crashing across the top corner of the screen. Curious Billy
changed the channel a few times and on every channel the mark was
there. Billy’s stomach tightened, if the TV was broken or damaged then
there would be no point in buying a games console, he would have
nothing to play it on. Getting up from the sofa Billy approached the
TV and sank to his knees to examine the crack. It looked to him like a
tear in a piece of paper, a jagged line that almost separated the
corner from the rest of the screen. Billy raised his hand and ran his
finger across the mark, not sure what he expected to feel. To his
horror as he ran his finger down the length of the mark a small piece
of the screen, about the size of his finger nail, came away from the
rest and fell to the floor like a leaf in a breeze.

Billy scrabbled and grabbed the small piece of screen, it was thin as
tracing paper and weighed nothing and held it up to the screen, trying
to piece it back together like a jigsaw but in his panicked state he
only succeeded in knocking off another flake of screen which drifted
away. Billy turned away, planning to call for him mum, maybe she could
fix the TV but his voice caught in his throat. He couldn’t bring
himself to reveal that the TV was broken; he knew he would be blamed
and then his parents would never trust him again. He desperately
turned back to the screen and then noticed something.

Behind the screen, it wasn’t just bright white like he had first
thought, there seemed to be some depth to the screen despite the TV
being flat screen. In fact there seemed to be room behind the screen.
Slowly Billy reached up to the screen, his panic completely replaced
by curiosity. Very carefully he scratched at the corner of the rip in
the screen and pulled away a few inches more of the screen, the
picture that was on the TV continuing to play despite chunks of the
screen being removed, as if the rip wasn’t there at all. The picture
on the screen disappeared from the chunks that Billy scratched away,
turning pitch black and floating away like ash.

As Billy scratched he seemed to fin there was more and more room
behind the screen for his fingers to fit into and before long his
entire hand could pass into the void behind the screen, allowing him
to pull away almost all the screen in one go. Sitting back, the ragged
tatters of screen in his hand Billy looked into the space behind the
screen. It was like a huge empty space behind the TV, the floor was a
polished, shiny white and the walls were so far back and the ceiling
so high they could not be seen, they seemed to fade away into just
pure white.

Billy stared, moving closer and closer trying to see more of what was
behind there, he could see something, small moving squares that
floated freely in the air but they were all too far away to be seen.
Carefully, Billy reached his hand forward; it passed through the empty
screen and into the world behind it. Leaning forward he placed his
palm on the floor, it was solid, it was really there. Billy pulled his
hand back, looked to the door, contemplating again whether to call for
his mother but again something stopped him. He took a deep breath,
looked to the screen, and leaned forward.

He passed his head and shoulders through the screen. Looking about he
found that he was very close to the ground, about as high as a cat
flap. He leaned further in so he could fit his arms through the
screen, placing his hands on the ground he found himself in a weird
position where his upper body was close to the ground where his legs
were almost standing up. Billy wiggled and pulled with his hands,
feebly crawling until he could get him knees through the screen, then
he managed to leopard crawl like a soldier on TV till he managed to
get his legs and feet through.

Standing slowly Billy looked around him. The world seemed to be
exactly how he had seen it. Nothing more than a wide open space that
faded into white rather than blackness. His footfalls made no sound
upon the white floor and despite the emptiness, when he spoke there
was no echo, his voice completely lost in the air. Looking back where
he had come from Billy saw that his TV screen was nothing but a small
opening in the air, floating a few inches off the ground, peering
through it he could see the room he had just left, empty and unmoving
like an image on a CCTV camera, he was looking through the screen back
into the room he had left like one would look through a window.

Looking around again Billy saw that the moving shapes he had seen
before were more screens floating in the void, some the same height as
his own some at head height, some so high in the air he would never be
able to see them. Walking cautiously up to one of these screens he
stooped slightly to see through it. Beyond there was someone’s living
room. A family were lounged around on two sofas arranged around a
coffee table. The first sofa had a rather fat man on it, rapidly
emptying a packet of crisps into his mouth. On the next sofa there was
a woman a lot thinner than the man who threw a worried glance across
at who Billy assumed was her husband. Between them sat a small girl
with dark hair in pigtails who watched the screen intently, clearly
oblivious to her parents.

Billy waved, pulled funny faces and even shouted but they all seemed
unable to see or hear him. Cautiously he reached his hand forward,
expecting to pass through the screen as easily as he had his own but
to his surprise his hand hit something and there was the dull clunk as
his hand hit glass. Billy pushed against the glass with all his
strength but it didn’t seem to move. He knocked hard against the
screen and for a second the girl looked around as if she had heard
something, but then her mother turned and said something to her, Billy
could hear nothing on the other side of the glass, and the girl
returned to intently watching the television.

Billy walked away a bit and paused for thought; he guessed that the
reason he couldn’t be seen or heard was because the people on the
other side of the screen were watching the TV, not what was behind it.
He guessed that they hadn’t pulled their screen away like he had and
could not see through like he had. He wondered if the girl would have
so willingly clambered through the screen to this world like he had.
But then he saw another screen, this one at perfect head height for
him and he bound over to it.

As Billy ran along towards the new screen he was vaguely aware of a
sound, very quiet as if it was in the distance, it sounded a bit like
wind rushing along far away. But he dismissed it as nothing so interested was he in seeing through more screens.

 

When Billy reached the next screen he peered through and saw another rather large man, this one though was somewhat younger, sat very close to the TV and he had a games controller in his hand. He was rocking back and forward with the motions he was making on the controller and he had a microphone almost in his mouth. Suddenly the man threw his controller to the floor and screamed something into the microphone. Billy couldn’t hear what the man had shouted but by the look on his face he could tell it wasn’t something good. Probably something full of abuse and swear words. Billy moved on from this screen and wandered around, looking through as many screens as he could find.

Through the next one he checked he saw an old woman stood doing the ironing, occasionally looking up and staring out at Billy, not seeing him like everyone else. Another screen had a pair of children fighting to sit closer to the screen, while a mother walked around in the background, carrying a baby and talking on her phone. The children looked to be trying their hardest to fit through the screen like billy had but they also hadn’t removed their screen so they wouldn’t be able to. Billy smiled to himself when he thought this as if he had been so clever to be the only person to figure this out.

The next screen that Billy came to had a woman in front of it doing exercises, Billy couldn’t help but find her pretty and the figure hugging outfit she had on was far from covering, billy sat and watched he going for a while, partly wishing he could push through the screen and get to her but more just enjoying the voyeurism of the situation. Finally Billy pulled himself away and looked about for another window. He noticed however as he glanced around that the world seemed to have gotten significantly darker, something he had not notices as he had been running around. Indeed, where it had once been a brilliant white in colour it was now rather a drab grey. Also the rushing sound he had heard before had grown louder rather than abated and seemed to be coming from all around him.

Billy decided it was time to leave this new world he had discovered and get back to his screen. Looking around he saw how many screens there were surrounding him each with people he didn’t recognise and none of them showing his own home. Running Billy looked this way and that, up and down, everywhere he could think of but the world was so vast and the screens so numerous he couldn’t imagine finding his own. Worse the noise had grown louder still and the ground was now not just grew but seemed to be moving around. It looked like a thousand ants ruching beneath his feet. It looked like static.

Billy was in full panic, his heart beating in his chest, he saw the pretty lady doing exercise again, the family, the old woman, he saw people he didn’t recognise, a woman sat on her own, a guy asleep on a sofa. Billy started yelling but nobody could hear him. There were no distinguishing features of the world at all, Billy was lost, he didn’t know how far he had walked, and he didn’t know if he was even going in the right direction. Every time he saw a smiling face through a screen they looked to be leering at him, every laugh he saw was directed at him.

Then finally Billy saw it, he saw his sofa through a distant screen, it was far off but he would recognise it anywhere. He started to run as fast as he could towards it. He feet beating off the ground and his breath coming in ragged gasps. As he drew close he saw something move on his screen, his mother had walked into the room. Billy called as loud as he could but she still could not hear him. His heart leapt to see her, he was almost home safely. But then his heart sank. His mother had tuned to face the screen and she was holding the remote in her hand. Billy could imagine what she would be saying to herself. Complaining he had left the TV on again. Billy screamed and cried and shouted for her to stop. He was so close now. He slid down on his knees, hoping to slide through the screen but just as he drew within feet of the screen his mother pressed the button and all of a sudden the screen was black.

Billy hit the screen with his knees and heard that dull thunk of something hitting glass. He screamed and beat his fists off the screen but to no avail. His cried did nothing and eventually his fists started to slip in the blood they were leaving he had been pounding away for so long but finally in the end Billy’s tears were lost to the sound of static.

Phantom Limbs XVII

Friday 14th September 2116

James Dylan’s Audio Diary

What have I done? The last thing I remember is seeing the bar as I walked down the street. The bar and the bang. What have I done? Where did I get the gun? I was just. I wanted to try and…why did I go in? Why did I order that drink? And now…Phil. The poor man didn’t deserve any of this. His house. It was so sparse. There were bottles strewn about the place. He was as drunk as I was. But he had more sense than I did. He tried to run. Cried for help. He didn’t listed to me. To my mad, drunken ramblings and I go angry. Why couldn’t he just listen? No…I can’t blame him. This is all my fault. What have I done? Now I’m just sat in this house. Alone again. With blood on  my hands. What happened to me? This is a new nightmare. My child is gone. My wife. Phil…they’re all gone. And it’s all my fault. I pushed them away. I pulled the trigger. The police will be after me now. It’s only a matter of time.

What can I do? Or is it too late for everything? Is there anything I can do to make up for the evil I have done? The computer. The automated bank. Maybe one last thing I can do…for Mily…thank god Joanna always insisted on separate bank accounts. There isn’t enough money there to buy Mily that present she wanted. Maybe her grandmother  and mother can scrape the rest together between them. Maybe after everything I can still afford to give her that little house she wanted. Got to move fast. I can hear something moving outside the door. Am I still drunk? No. It’s got to be one of those police hounds. Those mechanical hounds, more machine than I am. But less cold… there. My last deed done. They are definitely outside the house. I can hear it snuffling beneath he door. I guess this is it. Joanna.. Oh Mily. I am so sorry…

James Dylan logged out.

Phantom Limbs XV

Gonna try to rapidly get the last few chapters of this story out in the hour I have left before I head to Japan for a month so be ready for a few quick uploads. hopefully the quality won’t tank to hard and i will pretty it all up when I get back.

Thursday 13th September 2116

James Dylan’s Audio Diary

She left me…I think she’s left me. Joanna found out about the upgrade I bought.and then she started shouting. I’m in such a daze, I can hardly remember what she was saying. And then she took Mily, she took her and shouted something about her mother and then she left. Poor Mily was in tears. Her little face was balled up, she was confused. She was afraid. It was like looking into the face I saw so often in my dreams that it’s almost burned into my mind. Now I’m just sat, in this empty house…I don’t know what to do. Where did my life go wrong? I…I’m not even sure I can speak right now.

I know I did wrong here. I know that it is my fault. I should never have gotten the upgrade, never gone to the store but…nobody can understand the trauma! The dreams were nightmares, the sleepless nights. The bins piled high with packs of used 5 hour energy tablets. What was I to do? I needed something to help and, somehow something about getting the implants. It just spoke to me. Every upgrade seemed to help.they silenced the dreams, made the pain go away. Made me a better man at work. Every bit of machinery inside me has made me a better person but each piece has pushed someone else away from me. My family…my coworkers. And now I am the best at my job, I can sleep easy and I am sat alone in my empty house. I can’t stay here. I need to go get some fresh air.

James Dylan logged out.

Phantom Limbs XIV

Well this is the first post in ages. work has really been dragging my morale down and made it hard to get the drive to write but hopefully ic an get back on the waggon and finish this before i go on holiday for a month.

 

Wednesday 12th September 2116

James Dylan’s Audio Diary

Well here I am again, back in the bar. If there is one good thing to say it’s that the dreams are gone. The good ones and the bad. When I go to sleep I pretty much just shut off, when I wake up it is like no time has passed at all, it’s justs suddenly day. I can’t say I am overly thrilled about that but if it keeps those horrific nightmares away I would have done anything. That brings me back to what I have done. Joanna doesn’t know about the arm upgrade yet. I’m an idiot but I was smart enough to get the same coverings put back on so my arm doesn’t look any different. Still, it feels like she knows. She hardly looks at me anymore. I’m starting to feel my old self again and she just seems to be falling back further away from me. After my first nights sleep when I woke feeling fully rested I tried to give her a hug and she pulled away from me. In 11 years of marriage she has never refused a hug even if she has been busy. I feel like somehow this process of recovering has effected her so badly. All the time I thought it might have been me changing, that somehow it was my fault things were falling apart. What if actually it was her that was changing. All this time I was angry at her but she couldn’t help it, she’s been affected more deeply by this than she can let on, trying to be strong for Mily. I feel like such am imbecile that I didn’t see it before. I need to get home and show her how I can be strong now for all of us, she doesn’t need to anymore.

Work is even starting to progress along again. This upgrade is great. I was never a great typer before, hence all the audio diaries I guess. But now it’s like I hardly need to even be looking at the screen and I can be editing reports and everything else I need to do. This upgrade was a great idea, I’ll be moving up the ladder at rocket speed before long. The old colleagues are still being bitter about everything. They haven’t invited me out recently. Hardly even look at me to tell you the truth. So childish. And after they were so supportive when they thought I was a cripple. Though I guess they showed as much sympathy to Phil as well and nothing was wrong with him. Speaking of I now know Phil is back on the bottle. Poor sod, I would almost feel sympathy but it could be a problem in the company. Can’t have drunks about, we already know they can cause accidents. Anyway, time to go be strong for the family. One more quick drink and then back home we go. I am starting to think that everything might turn out alright.

James Dylan logged out.

Phantom Limbs XIII

Luck part 13…

 

Sunday 9th September 2116

James Dylan’s audio Diary

Another morning waking up in a hospital bed, another new surgery, more new machinery added to me. I’ve made a huge mistake. I couldn’t help myself, I was on edge. And I’ve always been one that can be talked into compulsive purchases. I bought the arm upgrade. They installed it and the update at the same time, I can’t even change my mind. It’s too late. It’s built into me. What am I going to do? I needed that money. Now how can I afford to buy Mily that gift for her birthday? That play house. She wanted it so badly. I can seen her disappointed little face when I close my eyes now. It’s worse than the dreams could ever be. What have I done? And Joanna, she’ll be furious, there is no hiding what I’ve done. How can I? If there was an award for worst father of the year than it would be me. Why couldn’t Joanna have come with me? Why did she need to be so self righteous? She could have stopped me, why didn’t she take my credit ships off me? She was always going on about how she was the smarter one with money. God damn her, she always has to be so right and now she’s going to laud this over me when she did nothing to stop it happening, if she had just listened to me for once. Worst of all I can’t even go get a drink to try and calm my nerves. I can’t drink for a few days while I am taking the medication to help they systems adapt better to me. Why should I need to drink though? Why would a man ever be afraid to go back to his own home. And I bet I won’t get any sympathy from her. I’m the victim here, I’m the cripple. She’ll forget that though, forget or ignore it like my damn colleagues. Anyway better cut this short, doctor is coming.

James Dylan logged out.

Phantom Limbs XII

Saturday 8th September 2116

James Dylan’s audio diary

Well here we are again, waiting for more robotics to be added to my system. Can’t say I’m any less nervous about this than I was about the last time I had this done, turns out that no matter how much electronic crap you have shoved in you you’ll be just as nervous as the first time. Might help if my wife was here for some support but she has made it very clear that she has no intention of helping me through any of this. She took Mily to the park and told me she might stay with a friend tonight. She made it out like I was saying the dreams were her fault. Then again after the last one I’m not so sure that they don’t have anything to do with her. Last night the dream played out as it usually does, the lights, the room, the table, you’ll be sick of hearing this by now. I was stood by Mily’s side, watching her being tortured. The silent screams…then one of the wires, it winds down and wraps around my neck. It tightens, I choke and I am lifted off the floor. The wire has cut off all air, I can’t scream. Nothing. I struggle but it is impossible to get my fingers under the wire as it grows even tighter. My body grows limp and in a last act I look up. Above me, the hub from where all the wires and tools are descending. It’s Joanna’s face. She wears a blank expression, eyes closed and it looks like it has been cut off somehow and attached to the ceiling but somehow still it looks as real and alive as the last time I looked at her. I am still being drawn upwards and as I am moved closer her eyes open. Only there are no eyes there…just more machinery and as her lids slide apart more wires tumble down like vines in a jungle, but with razors instead of leaves. The wires envelop my body and I can feel the agony as the razors dig into my skin, sticking deep into me and even worse they start to feel like they are worming their way even further into me. And then Joanna’s expression changes, from blank to a look of fury that I have learnt all to well these past few days. Her brow furrows and her mouth opens but no words come out. Only one long, angry. Furious scream of fury as the wires around my neck tightens again. Finally, as my body has done before in these dreams, my neck breaks like a smashed glass and I feel my body being lifted away in the wires before I jerk awake.

I couldn’t bring myself to tell Joanna of that one. Couldn’t even stay in the house. I have been wondering the city for a few hours now. As soon as the Apex clinic opened I was there, had to wait a few more hours before I could be prepared for this upgrade. Spent most of that time talking to the clerk about a new set of systems for arm augments they had had in. Took my mind off everything for a while…

James Dylan Logged out.

Phantom Limbs XI

this wasn only originally going to be a ten part thing, guess i can’t even keep to my own guidelines.

 

Thursday 6th September 2116

James Dylan’s audio diary.

As expected Joanna flipped her lid at me again when I told her that I had signed myself up for this update but she just doesn’t get it and I was just too tired to explain it to her. I haven’t slept all night and now I am sat here, in the bar again, running up a tab that I have no idea how I am going to pay for after this update and after I buy this damned present for Mily. But I can’t lie, the alcohol at this rate is the only thing that is keeping me sane, as stupid as that sounds. Anyway the procedure is in a few days, if no0thing else I can count on Apex top be there to give me the help I need. Not like those damn, so called, colleagues of mine. I went about today and explained my situation to all of them and to a man they were all unsympathetic. They carried on asking why a man who will now be earning more than they will needs to borrow money of them? As if I hadn’t explained about how I needed the upgrade, how I need this gift for my daughter. I even brought out the big guns, I said to Phil that maybe I wouldn’t need to borrow money if I hadn’t had the lost income from a few weeks off work. Wouldn’t even need the upgrade if we hadn’t had our little accident. Then he goes off on a tangent, says that it was a ‘shitty thing to say’, apparently the truth really does hurt some people. Then the rest of the guys came along and they were there backing up HIM! One of them even says that I only got the damned promotion because of my handicap and that I should be THANKING PHIL!

Great now the barmaid is telling me to keep it down, says she’ll have me thrown me out if I keep making a racket. Apparently there is more discrimination against disabled people in this city than I thought. Guess you only see it when you’re on the other side of it. Anyway Joanna is still in a huff with me, fortunately Mily was at home again yesterday, kept the battle axe off my neck, but she is staying with a friend tonight, there is going to be a riot when I get home, maybe I am a coward for hiding here again but I just can’t take the stress right now. I need some time to myself, away from the damned job, the arsehole colleagues, the judgement, thought I apparently can’t even escape that here. Thought maybe it’s just a gender thing, there is a woman over there, bionic leg, she’s had no trouble. Keeps looking across at me like I’m something foul she stepped in. The hell does she want? As if I don’t have enough problems with nosey bitches giving me the evils.

James Dylan logged out.