Wednesday 25 April 2012

Dark Fiction - Fast Forward

Dark Fiction Image

Fast Forward

By Casey Douglass

‘Where the hell did that come from?’ Bev said in a voice that increased in volume and tapered off at the end, leaving the question mark hanging in thin air.
Steve winced as he lifted the black rectangle from the cardboard box, trying to stifle a satisfied smile when he felt how heavy and well made it was. The golden light of the afternoon sun cast a pleasing rectangle across the top, adding to the aura of perfection.
‘It was erm...a free upgrade, only cost a tenner for the delivery, it was a total bargain!’
‘It won’t affect the channels will it? If I can’t watch Dancing on Ice you’ll be in trouble!’
‘Nope, no it wont! All the channels stay the same, we get more choice if anything with the on demand stuff!’
‘Like what?’
‘Watch films and TV stuff through the internet connection when you want for a small charge.’
‘We won’t be doing that then!’
‘You never know.’
‘No Stephen.’
Steve slowly shuffled his knees across the carpet, offering up the Tivo to the TV cabinet like a priest making an offering to the Gods. A few sneaky cables were then tracked down and pushed into the back, each wiggled to make sure it had a good connection. A cup of coffee thunked down on the shelf near his right ear, a hand patted him on the shoulder.
‘Boys and their toys,’ Bev’s voice came from above softly.
He turned and smiled. He knew the expression he had been wearing was dynamite for changing Bev’s mood. He had perfected it years ago by watching and mimicking his little dog Phoebe when Bev shouted at her. She always seemed to close in on herself and give a slight tremble until Bev spoke more kindly to her. Steve had tried it with the tremble but that had only ended up with him being coerced into bed because he was “probably coming down with something.” Now he just let the expression do it’s business, and it worked almost every time.
‘Boot it up then Steve, let’s see what all the fuss is about!’
He turned and rooted through the remnants of the packaging, finally finding the remote control was beside his left foot all along. He flicked the battery cover off like a ninja, the batteries seemed to mysteriously click into place of their own volition. He looked at Bev who had seated herself on the sofa, but she was browsing her Heat magazine and hadn’t seen his skill. Bloody Heat he thought, that magazine had cost him more missed opportunities for adoration and respect than anything else he could think of. He briefly adopted “the face” but then it occurred to him she still wasn’t looking. With a heavy sigh he slowly got up and joined her on the sofa.

‘Wow it’s dark outside!’ Bev said with a laugh.
Steve stirred, his brain taking a few moments to take stock of the situation, and the location of the parts of his body that kept him in the seat. With a click, he straightened his head, slyly wiping a bit of moisture from the side of his mouth.
‘Is it over?’
‘Yes, Darcy won.’
He forced a smile.
‘Oh these bloody adverts,’ Bev passed him the remote. ‘Forward them while I’m making us some tea.’
Steve leant forward and stared bleary eyed at the adverts.
‘I can’t. You can’t forward ads unless you’ve pre-recorded the show.’
‘Try it anyway.’
‘There’s no point...look.’
He pressed the fast forward button on the remote and gave a small choke when the images on the screen started to flick forward.
‘You taped it then!’
‘No I didn’t.’
‘You must of.’
‘No Steve!’
‘But how is that poss-’
Steve rubbed his eyes and watched the screen closely. The news was up now, the digits on the clock rushing forward with a speed that almost made him feel like he was watching some time lapse nature film, where the clouds above some nice scene go haywire and anything living that happens to walk around looks like it just can't make up it's mind where to settle. It made him feel a bit sick.
‘Do you want sugar in your tea?’ The voice carried through from the kitchen, snapping him out of his revery.
‘Yes please.’
‘Where’s Phoebe gone?’
Steve glanced around the room and saw Phoebe staring back at him from near the radiator.
‘Don’t give me that look missy!’ he whispered. Louder he shouted, ‘She’s by the rad, think she’s cold.’
The clattering of cups and the roar of the kettle masked any reply, but he didn’t really listen for it anyway. The pictures on the screen were picking up speed now, zipping along like a flick book in the hands of a some hyperactive toddler, only with less chocolate stains.
He pushed fast forward again, pushing it further and further. News programs came and went, celebrities disgraced themselves and were forgiven, but after a few more minutes, he didn’t really recognise any of them. Who was this tosser with the pink mohawk? What the hell was Bust-a-gut? It looked like some strange offshoot of the krypton factor.
A news report flashed up out of sequence, a stern faced young woman with a picture of the Large Hadron Collider behind her. He pressed play. This looked important.
“ that the Large Hadron Collider has successfully created a black hole. However it is not contained and is in immediate danger of destroying the earth. Scientists are scrambling to find a solution but the clock is ticking. The government has advised everyone to remain calm until further news is available.”
‘Jesus,’ he muttered under his breath. He looked at the date of the newscast as he felt his pulse in his temples throbbing. He relaxed a little when he saw that it was some fifty years from today. Still, he thought, maybe they solved the problem.
He punched fast forward again, just enough to make the date move on slowly. After another three days had passed, all the pictures just disappeared. With a small crackle, the Tivo went dead, a small wisp of smoke signalling its early entry to the next life. Steve didn’t notice.
‘They didn’t solve it.’
‘Solve what? Here’s your cuppa.’
Bev sat next to him, handing him his hot beverage.
‘Are you okay?’ she asked. ‘You look dreadful. Are you coming down with something again?’
Steve’s eyelids flickered. The very last picture he had seen was of a great chasm opening up in Switzerland, the sides gaping like a giant mouth, and everything on the precipice slowly tumbling inside, falling slowly and gracefully over and over and over...
‘I’m okay,’ he smiled sheepishly. He decided that he had to stop what he had just witnessed from happening, it was his duty to the human race, his duty to his loved ones, his duty to-
‘Good! I just found this receipt on the side. You said it only cost ten pounds for delivery! So why does this say “Thank you for your payment of £200!” hey?'
The smile vanished from Steve’s face as he adopted the look. He just needed to survive the next five minutes, the fate of humanity depended on him now. He started to tremble. Well, it couldn’t make things any worse.

The End

This story is dedicated to my good friend Steve with his James Bond good looks, his partner Bev with her feminine wiles, and Phoebe their little dog, with her fearless attitude to all bigger dogs and her phobia of fat ginger cats.