Fiction On Odyssey: Reset (Part Two)

Fiction On Odyssey: Reset (Part Two)

"I cackle at my victory over you."

As sickeningly cliché as I’m being right now, Will is the light of a life that I hadn’t realized was so devoid of illumination. At first, I’d dismissed his relaxed countenance and constant positivity as idiotic naiveté — which definitely wouldn’t last long in a world so grim as the one we had the misfortune of living in — but he quickly proved me wrong. His sunny smile brightens the dark void in my heart; his bright disposition is the perfect counterbalance to my constant cynicism, and the contrast between his tanned skin and my unnatural pallor when he wraps his arms around me makes me smile with an elation I’ve never experienced before. He is my solace, and for the first time since realizing there’s no WiFi for Netflix in a zombie apocalypse, I’m actually kind of enjoying life again.

I’m actually grateful you met the blond angel, because your thoughts in isolation, as always, were annoyingly depressing. Your days were monotonous, pockmarked with the periodic spikes of heart-stopping adrenaline that are inevitable in a post-apocalyptic world where the dead walk and stalk the living. Traveling alone left ample time for introspection, for contemplation of your purpose here, and you did exactly that all too often.

This is living, you guessed, going on a day-to-day basis, where every day is nothing but wake up, walk, fight, eat in no particular order, where the physical and social constructs that humanity spent millennia building no longer matter, and one can no longer enjoy the air they breathe because they’re busy using it to fight for their next inhale.

If I had eyes to roll at your hypocrisy, I would, because isn’t that exactly what the beings you fight are doing, stalking and devouring for no purpose other than a dark, insatiable hunger? Though, I have to admit, this is no hunger of your own; it’s mine.

And as if you were conceding as well, you would think about how they have it much simpler, because they don’t even have the capacity to think, to worry, to love, to fear. They’re monsters, you’d remind yourself, no matter what they were before they died, you kill them to survive, so they don’t hurt you or anyone else. So then the question you asked yourself was… How does one destroy a monster without becoming one?

That, that was just too rich, and I would silently, mockingly, chuckle my response.

We live with a small group of other teens, people that Will used to go to summer camp with before everything hit the fan. When Will found me, he’d been out scouting for herbs that apparently had medicinal purposes. He serves as the group’s medic — having been on track to becoming a doctor before the dead didn’t stay dead — and his father was apparently the god of natural remedies or something, because Will learned nearly everything he knows from him.

At first I was wary of them, and admittedly I still am, because even before the apocalypse started I was not one to trust easily. Will is an exception, however, and even though I’ll never know how he managed to worm through the cracks in my walls, I’m eternally grateful that he did, because I don’t know what I would do without him.

The baseball bat drip… drip… drips its crimson accusation onto the decrepit wooden floor, and thanks to me your heightened awareness picks up each drop hitting the ground like a gunshot hits a wall. Drip… drip… drip…

A familiar head of blonde hair lies a short distance away, matted with dark blood, and attached to a prone body with tanned skin dulled by the gray pallor of death, and I cackle at my victory over you.

I know something has changed, everything has changed, because the others give me these forlorn looks when they see me with Will. Perhaps it’s the fact that we have two new members in our little group as of recently, and the confused (and later pitying) looks they give me are changing the others’ perceptions of me, questioning my place even though Will vouched for my integrity when he brought me here.

Something has changed with Will, too, though, because the amicable guy I knew that could make friends with anyone is now speaking to nobody aside from me. Okay, that is a bit of an overstatement, but he no longer has conversations of sustenance with anyone, and when he does talk, it is like they cannot even hear him.

“Wait, so who is Will?”

A heavy sigh. “Will was our medic, I guess you could say, and the two of them were really close. They, uh… they went out on a patrol one day, and—” A helpless gesture to a lone figure standing stoically by the fence that borders the makeshift camp, hearing every word of the conversation unbeknownst to the two speakers. “—came back covered in blood and water, but alone. We all figured that something awful happened, and Will had to have died.” A wistful sigh. “We’ve stopped trying to ask questions about what happened, and we just… I dunno, play along. None of us have the heart to say it aloud…”

My dreams have begun turning into nightmares. At first, they seemed simply to be memories, such as the memory of when I’d woken up with no recollection of the first decade and a half of my life, — which, to this day, I still cannot recall — or the memory of when Will and I first met. Then, they got darker, like the other members of the group talking about a patrol gone wrong or something. Like me being infected and biting Will after our first kiss. Like me murdering him and then standing over his body victoriously.

The dreams and nightmares are never from my perspective, however. Well, they are to some extent, but it’s more like an alternate version of me, a more menacing one, one that exists inside me every waking minute of every day, like me but not me, as if it is me watching myself from a different, more sinister perspective that somehow manages to live in the shadows of my conscious thoughts.

I just thought you might want to know… his blood COATED your hands as you dragged his body back to our dumping grounds.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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The Realness And The Rubbish

What reality TV offers its audience

I watch a lot of reality TV.

Most people’s immediate mental image when reality TV is brought up is mind-numbing Kardashian Jersey Bachelor Teenage Pregnancy cultural slime that is dumbing America down one “unscripted” episode at a time. I share this same disdain towards a lot of the shows that dominate Bravo, MTV, and ABC (especially the white hetero-pile of toxic sludge that is “The Bachelor”) but with a lot of these shows I find myself unapologetically, sometimes regretfully sucked in.

Our modern concept of “reality television” didn’t really exist in America until 1992 when people stopped being polite and started getting real on “The Real World” where seven strangers were picked to live in a loft in New York City: today, 25 years later, it is inescapable. In my twenty years of experience consuming media I have learned that reality TV is one of the easiest ways to connect with people. In the fifth grade I remember discussing “American Idol” with my science teacher and my classmates like it was a religion. In junior high “The Glee Project” capitalized off of adolescents’ obsession with Finn Hudson and high school glee clubs. Today, on “Bachelor” nights groups of girls congregate in dorm common spaces with TVs across my university’s campus. In my own world “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is practically the fabric of mine and other fanatics’ lives. The day after a queen is eliminated I am either in mourning or praying for my favorite’s numbered days in the competition. I remember when I was young there was a cartoon called “Total Drama Island” that was a faux-reality parody of shows like “Survivor” that my friends and I were absolutely obsessed with. I’m still traumatized by the memory of my parents telling me I couldn’t watch anymore because it was too mature for my age.

These reality shows (one merely a parody of reality) have quietly (or not so quietly) influenced me and Americans for years and I’m trying to work through the thoughts surrounding this controversial subject. Many agree that reality TV is frivolous, fluff, lacking any real substance. It’s where the thin, the white, and the heterosexual go to drink, debauch, and embarrass themselves with each ridiculous fight. Most of the TV shows we know have been proven to be fake, unreal, tearing down the edifice that reality TV has built up.

But I love it.

I can’t get enough of it.

Most of the TV I watch and actually keep up with is reality, past and current. The more I watch of it, I realize that a lot of it is filth. So unimportant, so uninspiring, so unartistic, but I can’t stop watching. I’ve realized, though, that it’s because reality TV isn’t a sprint, but a marathon. There’s so much of it that you have to sift through to find the gems worth your attention. In a normal TV show there’s only so much room for boring air time, footage without purpose; everything is deliberate, while reality isn’t supposed to be. Real life isn’t exciting 24/7: it can get messy, it can often seem pointless. But you need to sit through most of it to get to the good stuff, just like with reality TV.

How many episodes of “The Hills” did I have to sit through to get to that single, mascaraed tear that falls down Lauren Conrad’s cheek (“You know why I’m mad at you, you know what you did!”)? Countless seasons of “The Real World” were watched to see that guy slap Irene in Seattle after she outted him. Kim K losing her diamond earring in the ocean and crying has reached peak memedom (“Kim, there’s people that are dying.”) The night Taylor Hicks snatched the crown off of American sweetheart Katharine McPhee’s precious head on “American Idol” would go down in history as The Day the Music Died. And then there’s that guy from “Survivor” who lied about his freaking grandmother dying just to not get voted off the island.

So, I’d like to validate the hours I spend watching twenty somethings get into yet another drunken fight or the parents with way too many children or a Hilton sister milk a cow with the thought that I am waiting. Waiting for that culturally defining moment that I’ll have seen first hand and not after being recycled into a tweet or a meme.

I also hold out hope that these shows are actually real, or at least hold onto some thin shred of reality. I’d like to think that in the finale of “The Hills” when the camera pans away from Brody Jenner to reveal a soundstage, implying that none of the past six seasons were actually real, that this was just an artistic choice, not telling of the actual scriptedness of the show. We’ll never know for sure whether “Laguna Beach” was the real Orange County or just the fake one, so for now all I can do is hope.

Cover Image Credit: unspalsh

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6 Comments You're Sick Of Hearing If You Wear Glasses

Yes I can count the number of fingers you're holding up

I've been wearing glasses for as long as I can remember. In fact, I still have my first pair of little purple glasses sitting in the top drawer of my dresser back home. Being as visually impaired as I am, you can bet I've heard all of the jokes and have been asked all of the questions. These are a few of the comments that people who wear glasses and contacts are sick of hearing.

1. "How many fingers am I holding up?"

Without my glasses, your fingers might be a bit blurry, but that doesn't mean I've lost the ability to count. I can still make out the outlines of the two fingers you're holding.

2. "How bad are your eyes?"

Bad enough that I have to have corrective lenses! My prescription doesn't even make sense to me, how is it going to make sense to you?

3. "Are those glasses real?"

Yeah they're real! I don't go to Claire's and buy frames for fashion or steal the 3D glasses from the movies and pop the lens out of them. I need these for sight, Karen!

4. "Do your contacts hurt to put in/take out/wear?"

They don't hurt once they're in my eye and if they do, that means they're scratched or old and I should probably throw them away. For the most part, they're great until a speck of dust or eyelash gets in my eye. Then, and only then, do my eyes feel like they're legitimately on fire.

5. "Why do your glasses fog up so much?"

This is why I never wear glasses in the winter. The lenses fog when you go from a really cold place into a heated building and water condenses. The result is me looking like Chandler up there: confused and blind.

6. "Are you near or far sighted?"

I honestly couldn't tell you. All I know is my eyes are messed up beyond repair and I need glasses for the rest of my life.

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