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:

Today, in 1999

Enjoy a picture of my family and I from early 2000! Guess which baby I am.

I was really bummed that I missed the Daily Create where one uses the words that were added to the dictionary in their birth year. Therefore, I was very excited to find that it is in the Assignment Bank! It is titled “Never Fear – It’s The Words Of The Year” and submitted by Anonymous. It is worth two stars.

The description is as follows: “Merriam-Webster keeps a year-by-year list of when words were first recorded, or first recorded as being used in a particular sense. Each year gives us a list of somewhat random unusual and mundane words. Your challenge: Take the list from some significant year, such as the year of your birth, and build a poem from the words on the list. You don’t need to be limited to just the list, unless you choose to do so. Any kind of poem will do – just make it meaningful. Assignment inspired by the ever-inspirational Amy Burvall.”

Therefore, I decided to look into my birth year: 1999. I was surprised at how applicable many of the terms were to modern day. I had no idea that many of those technologies had been formalized at the time of my birth, and it was a delightful surprise to be a little “meta” with it. One could consider my ‘freestyle poem’ a critique of my generation, though I am truthfully indifferent about my generation other than excitement over the fact that we’ll be the ones high in society one day just like all others. These are some thoughts from a different perspective. It’s a bit rocky since I had trouble trying to connect all of the themes in a poetic manner. Regardless, please enjoy!

Today, in 1999

Gen Z, a generation revolving around public storytelling

Destined to become bloggers, manifesting thoughts into blogs

Before they are released into the lofty blogosphere

Amongst noxious clouds of mango vape.

A chillaxed vibe as they curl up with their e-readers

Clickbait nagging their attention away from stream of thought

Speech devolves into a monotonous stream of texting

Just as often as they claim this invisible world as their own.

Dashcams make it so that mirror awareness is not a priority

The only mirror observed is a handheld, coltan screen.

Suddenly and wonderfully mindful of a carbon footprint, yet

So heavy was the footfall of the old world

That there is no shoe large enough to fill the damage done.

But we believe.

All these things intangible in an epigenomic society:

It’s no wonder that sometimes they think they have

A hoarding disorder their heads.

I’m a real boy.

One of my shticks from my Intro to Digital Studies course last semester was that I made quite a few pieces of interactive fiction. They were told in the second-person perspective using “you” to refer to the main character, who is intended to be an insertion of the reader. I like the style, for it allows for a certain extension of empathy and thought would go best with the topic of transgender identity. I took this theme a bit literally, and it contains some personal content that could be viewed as negative.

This activity, “I’m a Real Boy,” (two stars) was created by Cherish Phillips and contains the following description: “Everyone has at some point wanted to be like or actually be someone else. Whether they’re a famous celebrity or just someone you really admire. For example, Pinocchio. He just wanted to be a real boy, that’s all he wanted. So what you’re gonna do is write a snapshot of what your life would be if you could be anyone else in the world. This can be a snapshot of a single day, or a summary of how your life would be. Be creative feel free to use anybody whether its a TV character, and actual person, or some random person that lives in your neighborhood.” In this text, the subject is myself and contains a snapshot of a Tuesday morning.

Trigger warning: instances of potential body dysphoria*

You inhale, your ribs liberated from a vice-like ache known in an alternate universe. You can breathe freely: you’re not worried that too sharp an inhale could destroy your image. The morning is like any other, and so you go about it with an occasional hum, random bass notes emanating from your throat. Your roommate is still dreaming, though they’re a heavy sleeper. The sound floats briefly in the echo-chamber bathroom before dissipating into the sound of running water. It is nice how you don’t have to hover outside the bathroom to wait for people to leave it. You’re welcome there, or at least you’ve welcomed yourself. 

It takes you quite a short amount of time to get ready, not blinking twice at the reflection that you’re used to. Even though you’ve been stress-eating, you’re naturally active. You’re a black belt, and you had to work just as hard as the other guys during your test last summer. Soon enough, you’re ready to walk out the door. You’re not worried about the position of your backpack strap as you sling it over one shoulder. It lays across your chest instead of cutting into it. Your shoulders are relaxed because you don’t feel the need to make them look broader than they already are.

Your hand envelopes the doorknob, granting you full control as you close the door softly. Your name is on it unashamedly, declared in bold Sharpie on a googly-eyed bird made from scrapbook paper. Sterling. It appears on your license, birth certificate, and others: just as it should. You do not have to cover up your name when your family comes because they have always known you by that name.

You have to tilt your head to view it because you’re your father’s height: 5’10”. You’ve never had to wear any kind of hidden heel to feel like people can see you as the man you are. You shake your head. No point on dwelling something so… well, cute. You can say that word. It’s OK.

It doesn’t take you long to walk to Stage Dialects class because you don’t worry about the way your legs look as you move. You greet your friends and sit in a chair, bow-legged and relaxed. The class begins, and you’re required to make a pure “e” sound. It comes smoothly from the front of your face in a casual tenor. Your gum ridge vibrates with the sound, the need to deepen your voice and keep it trapped in your throat – a half-muttered rasp – never arising.

The sound confirms that you’re a real boy.

And so am I.

*Please note that even though this details many insecurities, I am rather confident in my body. Also, I apologize if I used the wrong term in my trigger warning! Thanks for reading! ^_^