Brian Smithwaite was no longer on his couch in his office at Channel 8 studios. He had left out of a despairing necessity. He had slept on that couch, eventually switching his cell off to avoid the constant buzzing and beeping. The next morning he had turned it on again after a rush of motivation – surely he was bigger than this mere obstacle – but after chatting with some of his people he had picked up the trace of what Tony Holdsworth was planning. He didn’t know the extent of it, but it fit in perfectly with the disturbing direction that Citadel Inc was heading. His suspicions were confirmed; he was a spent force. Not just personally but professionally. He had milked the Walter Wallace cow through the prime of its media viability; now there were bigger pay offs. Now there was Sam Tank.
The man who he despised so much was now on the television screen chatting to another man equally despicable. Tony Holdsworth stretched out a welcoming hand as the much shorter and thinner Sam Tank – or “Dr” Sam Tank – took it graciously. It was infuriating and humiliating for Brian to see this unfolding. Sam had beaten him; Tony had beaten him. This was their lap of honour – or maybe Brian had quit before the race had even finished. But despite all the negativity Brian could not look away. He loved television as a medium for spectacle and manipulation and now he was witnessing what may have been the boldest move in manipulation ever.
“Dr Tank – may I call you Sam?” Tony asked, Sam nodding politely. “Well, Sam, it is a pleasure to have you with us tonight.”
“Pleasure to be here.”
“Now I’ve prefaced your appearance as best I could without wanting to misrepresent you, so how about you give us a brief outline of why you’re here.”
“Of course,” Sam replied. “You see, around 8 years ago I published a theory in a relatively unknown journal about the interconnected emotions that living beings emit and receive. It is an invisible and seemingly untraceable force and is often the foundations of concepts such as ESP, déjà vu, coincidence - jinxing is another.
“Basically many of the traits we consider superstitions – even faith to a certain degree – could be explained by this phenomenon.
“This force, or energy, has been explored for centuries and acknowledged in many cultures, but modern science has been quick to dismiss it as voodoo simply because we have found no tangible measurement.”
“Mmm, and how did your study differ to the voodoos and witch doctors of the past?” Tony challenged as per the script.
“Well back then it was still a theory – probably why it was so tough to get it published and recognised – but I hypothesised a means of measuring the force, capturing it as more than just a qualitative assumption, turning it into numbers.”
“And did it work?”
Tony took the pace down a notch. He was releasing the information to the viewers nice and slowly – like a drip of morphine to a cancer patient. It was also common practice in television to keep science to a minimum, but since this show was clearly all about the science so Tony was just easing the pressure on the viewer’s brain, reviewing the information so that it is clearly understood. It was exactly how Brian would have done it. It made the viewer eager and anxious for more - that was exactly how Brian felt right now.
“So this all happened 8 years ago. Why has it taken so long for anything to materialise?”
“Well like I said it was only a theory and it would require a bold mind to actually try implement the testing and funds required. The assumptions alone made it a risky venture.”
“But then someone so bold did come along, did they not?”
“Yes Doctor Blues was a very bold woman indeed. We met by chance actually. In a bar of all places. We talked as little and found that we were actually working in a similar field – an existential science if you will. She was looking for a way to define happiness, to solve the world’s woes.”
“Perhaps her own as well.” Tony added.
“Well that’s actually more insightful than you may think but we’ll get into that a little further on. I showed her my work and she was instantly taken. She contacted me some weeks later with an actual working prototype that could measure, within a small range some of the energy from people in the immediate area. We even managed to pick up small interference from her pets.” Sam said with a smile.
“So what did you call this energy?”
“Well Lucy used to call it Emotion Emitions as a joke and then we ended up saying EE.”
Sam had this nostalgic air of confidence to him as he spoke of Lucy. Had he fucked her or was he just trying to give the impression that he had. He was good; frustratingly good. Tony took it to commercial and Brian put the TV to mute – he never watched commercials. The break from the flashing lights and buzzing sounds gave him some time to think again, but he was at a loss for what action to take.
He sat on the end of his bed in a motel room. He had nowhere to go and no one to call. His brain recognised the shitty situation he had found himself in and he was again swallowed with anxiety. For the thousandth time that day he imagined killing himself. This time it was hanging from the loop of his tie in the empty wardrobe. He visualised himself being found by the motel cleaner the next morning, at first being mistaken for a forgotten suit before she screamed. It was too comical. And the fact that he saw it as comical proved that he had never really considered mortality attached to it, only the reaction it would generate. He needed another plan.
The commercial went into an advert for another program on Channel 8, which meant Tony and Sam would be back soon. Brian did have another plan. It was much bolder than his teenage necking fantasies. He could get one back on the higher ups at Citadel, back at Tony Holdsworth and that cunt Sam. He could get the word out on the real plans that the company had. The only problem was finding a viable source. He knew better than anyone that the media was pointless – unless he wanted to put a freelancer on a very undesirable hitlist. He could start a blog but he rolled his eyes at the thought of it. Ultimately he knew that warning Walter was the only real action worth taking.
He had convinced himself to do it, that it was the only noble course of action, but still found it very hard to pick up the phone. He knew there were worse ways to be found than hanging limp in a wardrobe. The special came on and Brian played around with his phone idly as he watched the story unfold. It was riveting. He would call next commercial break.