The Apex of Megalomania, the Ultimate In-Control

As I mentioned in my last week’s summary, I was hoping to watch They Live (1988) on my roommate’s Hulu. Unfortunately, that requires another subscription to something called Starz – which, as you can infer, my roommate doesn’t have. So I’m left again to rely on summaries and my memories of watching the movie 5 years ago. Trust me. I’ll find a way! I considered doing something else for this assignment, but the concept in my mind was too strong for me to ignore.

The assignment I chose was called “Facing Your Fears” and submitted by Rachel Harris. It is worth three stars. The summary is as follows: “What is your biggest fear? Is it spiders… heights… snakes… needles? Have you ever thought about what your fear might think of you?  Write a short story of a terrifying event from the perspective of your fear. You never know… they might be just as scared as you are!”

Thinking about They Live, I had trouble deciding about what was the primary fear: the fear of being controlled or the fear of losing control. Even though both imply the same concept of loss of autonomy, I believe that the former targets a purposeful removal of free will. The latter targets a more subtle attack on one’s autonomy, whether it be in illness or invisible aliens plotting to dominate the world. I felt like this fear of losing control might be more effective, so I decided to write a short story from the point-of-view of Losing Control. I apologize if this any of this content is disrespectful – I do not intend any kind of offense, for everything is in the mind of this character. Here we go, again with the second-person perspective!

You linger in every human; every being that cherishes their individualism. You’ve brought about several undoings, making it only so that they can become redone if they form an alliance with your nemesis: Truth. However, you still succeed most of the time, sending people to places they can never return from. It brings you joy when you take up these jobs. After all, Fear is the family business. You are good at your job, having found the most profit from hospitals. Paraplegics. Alzheimer’s victims. They were all very delicious, most surrendering their will to you on a silver platter that looks an awful lot like a table.

As time went on, the numbers of those people have decreased. People are more brave and determined to overcome since modern medicine and storytelling. It’s unfortunate, though you’re still popular for being a “dark horse” among the fears. You manage to take annual business trips to the Worldwide Web, where you and your colleagues get a lot of work done. Your stomach rumbles just thinking about the Dependence Buffet and how many people lose themselves to the system. It’s pretty great! Your life has been swell, apart from one pitfall. The worst time in your career was when you met the infamous Nada. It was a true tragedy indeed.

You were well on your way to a promotion, having been put in charge of a project called Operation They Live. Back in ‘88, things were a lot simpler. It took only a month to process the contract with the skeleton-like aliens. They infiltrated Los Angeles at the snap of your fingers, and they proceeded to re-do the billboards in a way that was unerringly straightforward. You made sure that their messages were hidden, but that their influence was still there, slipping quietly into the subconscience of all who viewed them. Their reward? The ability to terraform the Earth with global warming.

Some people had unveiled the true messages, but they were far too scared of you to act on it. You chased them in the night when it was too dark for them to see the truth and told them otherwise. Either that, or their cries fell onto unlistening ears: their ignorance orchestrated by yours truly, of course. That was until Nada put the sunglasses on.

Always observant, he saw your shadow as you peered from an alley. This man didn’t see you then, but he saw your plans and he would certainly have the ability to see you soon. You clenched your teeth, turning around in cold determination. It was time to take this man down. You couldn’t control him, but you could put this fear into a woman named Holly Thompson that he seemed to feel for. Your alien subordinates ‘eased’ her fear of losing control by bribing her into a better position, though only you know that having power makes the fear of losing control even worse.

Things proceed against your plan, and Nada shoots Holly. Suddenly, you clench your stomach. You’ve been discovered, and it hurts. You falter, crouching in pain. You’ve always worn a strong suit and tie, though Nada stands taller in his plaid shirt and imposing figure. Even though he does not see you in the material world, he is somehow looking at you straight in the eye. His gun is pointed at your head. Death is only temporary for those of your occupation, but that does not keep the fear from racking your body like a fevered shudder. It rattles your spine, your eyes widening as you lose control. You tremble in vulnerability.

“F*** it.”

Those were the last words you heard as Nada pulled the trigger, shooting the transmitter you built to mask the presence of your aliens. You scream as your head explodes in pain, the bullet penetrating your incorporeal skull. He must have allied with Truth. Sparks explode everywhere, searing your skin even though you aren’t supposed to feel them. You’re going to die. You lie on the ground, fear bleeding from your body as Nada’s bullet-ridden body collapses beside you. Your final sight is of Nada giving you the middle finger.

Your talent is your undoing.

Here is the scene I detailed. It’s spoilers for the movie, but if you don’t mind them I think it helps to view it:

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