Artifical Art | By: Michael Christopher Thompson | | Category: Short Story - Comedy Bookmark and Share

Artifical Art

Artificial Art

    John MacGregor believes in the devil. Most other things he finds it hard to believe in, but he knows that the devil exists, and he even knows what the devil does. The devil’s job is fairly simple. It doesn’t require a lot of work, and anyone with enough of an axe to grind and a lack of humility can go about succeeding at it (a pretty face goes a long way as well). The devil is an entertainer. He’s an artist. A creator. One who turns things that mean nothing into things that mean something.
    The devil doesn’t start wars - human beings do that on their own without any help. They’ll often make up a false God to praise or blame for their behavior, and as time goes by whatever name they blamed ends up taking on the encompassing mantle of “the devil.” History turns all gods into demons. For all of his attributions, the devil is not such a bad guy. He’s got a great sense of humor, at least. Or maybe it’s God’s sense of humor that is so dark. John can’t tell. Perhaps the devil is God’s sense of humor.
    The High Lord of Hell spends his time keeping us all entertained because entertainment is a fairly potent waste of time, and if his intention is to draw us away from God, then the best way to do that would be to keep our eyes transfixed on whatever pretty glamours he happens create. Although it is true that entertainment can  inspire the select few, generally speaking, most entertainment exists only to wind away the hours. To “kill time.” Entertainment (referred to as “art” in more pretentious circles) inspires only a select few individuals to create more of it, and when it is created it often goes neglected and ignored. A masterpiece that might take twenty years of intense crafting to materialize is usually only briefly admired and even more briefly remembered. The Mona Lisa took a lifetime to create, and most people look at it now and think “Wow, that’s impressive,” before moving on and forgetting it. Is art worth the time and energy it takes to create? Maybe to some people. But not to John. He’s been possessed by the spirit of Cynicism.
    Most people prefer to mindlessly consume. Entertainment might masquerade under the guise of being educationally worthwhile, or intellectually stimulating. What are these things in the end? All that art is and ever has been is an image inside of a private mind brought to life. In John’s opinion, that makes everything an art. Even the imitation of art is an art in and of itself. It is for this reason that the devil entertains. This, and because of the monsters that entertainments inspires in the minds of men. Wasting time is dangerous, you know.
    When entertainment is not enough, then the danger is posed. What dark creatures has the imagination of the artist inspired that can come to life in the hands of the human rulers of this world? What does mankind create out of fear and loathing, inspired only out of the desire to “kill time?” Where Satan seems largely unconcerned with what others demand of him, those others continue to make demands nevertheless. Satan’s art is not enough. It isn’t the devil that makes men into monsters, it’s men that use the devil as an excuse to be the monsters they truly want to be. Human errors must not go unpunished, and the devil is the most convenient scapegoat, being immaterial and not bothering to show up for court trials. Yes, entertainment may satiate a few, but there are cracks in the screen. Where entertainment fails, fear of the devil prevails. And where there is fear of the devil, there is an ample supply of reason to kill things. Killing things is the best way to kill time. At least for some people. If you can’t make the devil your friend, then you must make him your enemy. Or rather, you must make your enemies the devil.
    John has been doing this for seven years. Now this job has him thinking about Satan. A lot more than is probably considered “mentally healthy.” And now he’s starting to like the guy. And that’s a strange thought to have. Seven years doesn’t seem like a very long time to do one thing, at least not for most people. But for seven years John MacGregor has been hosting the “Frontiers” radio show outside of Phoenix, Arizona. For seven years he has been listening to kooks, crackpots and utter maniacs spout their non-sense over the airwaves. They seem to have one united goal: Stop Satan. And more importantly, “STOP THE FOLLOWERS OF SATAN!” Naturally, these followers all only secretly worship Satan. Their identities range from “Protestants,” to “Catholics” to “Pagans” to “Atheists” to “homosexual leaders.” The fingers been pointed in every direction except one: charlatan researchers. Although occasionally they do point fingers at each other, and such spectacles are fun to observe.
    One after the other, from all religions and creeds, he sees charlatan after charlatan wreaking havoc on the collective psyche of humanity. He sees people lying their asses off on the air, he watches their movements and their reactions to his questions. He helps to spread their propaganda by giving them a platform to speak. And it’s driving him to the brink of bitter nihilism.
    He is paid a fairly decent amount because something about his vocal delivery and interviewing style attracts a sizeable audience. It doesn’t hurt that the he has a lot of loyal listeners. Or that his show is the only show in the area that talks about ghosts, UFOs, chupacabras, bigfoot, RFID chips, and the Mark of the Beast. All of which he thinks is bullshit, except for perhaps ghosts (being open to this only because of two strange experiences in his past). He knows how to work an audience, it has always been his gift. They buy his false charm and they believe he still has an open mind toward this non-sense. That stopped being true about six years ago. One year of a barrage of liars and criminals was all it took for him to snap, and for Skepticism to take possession of his mind. It’s been six years of a living, humiliating Hell ever since. But he grins and bears it, like a professional.
    He came into this business with an open-mind. When he was hired to take over “Frontiers,” he had never heard of the show before. He listened to a few tapes by the previous host, a man named Johnson Cerell. A very strange name, and one which Johnson claimed he was born with the one time they met in person. John still isn’t sure he was telling the truth. It sounds too much like a radio name. The man had seemed conniving at the meeting they had two weeks before John was officially hired, and John understands a lot more now that he’s been in charge of the show for so long. He invited hacks and charlatans on for ten years before letting John MacGregor sit in the host chair, and he played along well. As much as John hates doing the same thing, he knows that he can either play the game or he can ruin his career and lose everything he’s gained so far in life. Johnson talked to him on the phone one time after the hire before retiring in Tahiti and falling off the radar. “Spin a good yarn, that’s all that really matters. It’s an art.”
    He has been on the radio before, doing news on AM radio stations in different cities around the country at first, and later hosting a short-lived morning show in which he waxed poetic on all sorts of subjects, some of which he now feels quite embarrassed about. In spite of his embarrassment, the show was very well received. He was fired when just after a year of slightly above average ratings he was told that his services would no longer be required and that his contract was null and void. He was replaced with a man who he would refer to years later as a “douchebag” in a live interview on satellite radio to some minor press coverage and tabloid outrage. John had already been hosting “Frontiers” at that time and he had barely kept his job after his outburst on the Howard Stern radio show against his replacement (who himself had been fired merely a year later). When Howard grilled him about the subjects he discusses on his show, he revealed that he believes a lot of the people who come on are full of shit. This was a huge mistake. His boss was not happy when many of the guests (all of the ones who were full of shit) refused to return.
    After the first year, he had become more and more suspicious of his guests, often making snappy remarks about them live on the air or questioning their stories to the point where they would fall completely apart. The fits of cynicism and hubris he had been displaying against some of the more absurd of his guests stopped completely after his station manager told him he could either play softball with the guests (who were starting to refuse to come on the show) or hit the road. The Stern interview had been too much. He was on very thin ice. He swallowed his pride and chose to play softball. Backs were patted, wounds were stitched up, apologies were made and hands were shaken. And John made a public apology on the radio show. And now he is “friends” with a bunch of the frauds once more. And the friendships are just as false as they used to be. One more reason to be depressed.
    The Stern interview had been two years ago, five years into his run as the host of “Frontiers.” So for seven now, for five nights a week, for five hours a night (minus the commercial breaks), he has been interviewing face to face some of the the strangest people on the planet. The title of the show, “Frontiers,” was Johnson Cerell’s idea. He said famously (at least locally speaking) that “Space is not the final frontier - indeed, there is no final frontier. There are only endless frontiers of time, space and the human mind, and together we shall explore them.” Not even very good writing, really. A bad attempt to be as poetic as Rod Serling. Although that’s debatable, because it seemed to work. For seventeen years now “Frontiers” has been a Phoenix staple.
    John makes a decent amount of money. He could live the rest of his life like this, assuming the ratings stay the same as they are, and assuming he doesn’t blow his lid and offend anymore guests with questions they didn’t  think about coming up with answers to before the interview started. “Frontiers” is only a local show, in spite of it’s large popularity in Arizona. It broadcasts to the whole state, but really only caters to the Phoenix crowd. There has been talk of nationwide syndication twice, but neither time anything ever materialized or even seemed to come close. All of it has turned out to be just chatter and noise. He’s gotten used to tuning out rumors about that sort of thing. There’s no use in getting your hopes up. Besides that, he’s having real second doubts about his journalistic credibility.
    It’s not that he’s a die-hard skeptic. He believes that all sorts of “supernatural” things happen all the time. It’s really man’s misunderstanding of nature that leads him to believe there is anything bizarre about it. John is more concerned with the types of people who exploit natural curiosity about such things, and who create hordes of idiots who go around damaging each other’s fragile minds in exchange for cheap ego gratification. It’s the same everywhere, whether he’s talking about the prey of the charlatans he hosts on his show or of the charlatans who call themselves priests, politicians and saviors. Or shamans. Or ex-CIA agents. Or… aliens. And once, a self-proclaimed shape shifting “reptilian humanoid.” That one had been a real career milestone.
    There have been a few guests whom John has believed to be quite sincere. Those types are few and far between. Usually it’s not outright charlatans that he interviews, but people who have miraculously convinced themselves to believe in their own self-satisfactory (and imaginary) bullshit. These people are usually in desperate need of attention, and make complete fools of themselves on the radio for all to hear for the sake of a quick buck. When he hears terms like “mystic arts” he tries not to laugh. Once he came very close when a witch named Satchel (like a bag) began to chant a mystic spell over the air which would clear away everyone’s demons. His own seem to have laughed with him and shrugged off the mystic assault. As for Satchel, she was never heard from again. The demons must have staged a mutiny.
    Tonight he has a real nutter to contend with. His name is Doctor Gordon Levitt - amazing how many “doctors” come on his show - and he is a “psychic archaeologist.” Apparently “psychic archaeology” is a new field which John was not aware existed. He did some research on this guy earlier and knows he’s either a sociopath money-grabber or a complete psychopath. Not that the two have to come separately.
    A certain pill-popping improviser calling himself a “Satanism expert” had once been waiting for John in the parking lot after a snappy remark was made during a commercial. During the show, he referred to himself as “Methuselah.” John had gone stone cold upon seeing the pale man in the darkness and had apologized profusely and awkwardly before the figure even said a word. The man only shook his head disgustedly and walked away. John had called his program director the next day and asked where the fuck that guest had come from, and why he had been lined up. He had only been told that a mistake in judgment had been made and that it would never happen again.
    John has thought about choosing his own guests before, but he can’t do it without managing to find some way to lose his temper and his job. He’ll pick out the people he really wants to talk to, alright. And he’ll destroy them. And that’ll be the end of him, too. But that’s just a fantasy. Better to let someone else line up the guests and do all the extensive homework. Although apparently no homework had been done on Mr. Methuselah. But John doesn’t give a shit about these people or their bullshit. He’d rather not waste the time researching them.
    According to his two “research diaries,” “Doctor” Levitt believes that giants used to walk the earth, and he’s going to discuss his experiences and theories tonight if the pre-show preview on the website is to be believed. That’s not in John’s notes, but he’s sure he can improvise. It was on Wikipedia, but between the space aliens, the shape shifters, the blood-drinking royal family and the origins of psychic archaeology (plus a good two hours of commercials), John thinks he has the night covered. He smiles a predator’s smile, and then tells himself again that he’ll keep his mouth closed when he needs to. Still, there’s a tactful way to ask a lot of questions. But he’s still feeling nihilistic. Almost like his job isn’t worth the subservience to these fools.


    Gordon Levitt is a slimy man. That’s John’s first impression of him. His second is that he is very tiny. His hair is balding, and a shiny dome sits on top of his head devoid of all hair. Only a grayish-red ring encircles, making him look like some kind of strange monk. He wears John-Lennon glasses but they do not compliment him. His eyes are narrow and a deep, ugly brown. His nose is crooked, as though it has been broken in a bar-fight (although the idea that this man has been in a bar fight is about as laughable as the idea that he’s ever been in a bar). He wears a dark brown suit and has a cherry-red leather suitcase with him, which is sitting in his lap as he sits across from John. Red headphones are over his ears and a microphone sits on front of him. Music begins to play and the station ID comes on. John nods to him. “Ready?” he asks. The good doctor nods in the affirmative.
    John goes into the music like a hot knife into butter. “Welcome back to “Frontiers,” ladies and gentleman - where we think no frontier is ever the final frontier. Tonight we have our guest, Doctor Gordon Levitt. Hello, Gordon! How are you?” He sounds happy to see the doctor, although he isn’t even amused. The doctor looks very happy to be on the show, and very happy to get any attention at all. “It’s great to be here, John. I love your show. You know, I think you’re really pushing the envelope. I’ve been listening to your show over the internet for years, you know.” John nods. “That’s great, Doctor Levitt. For our listeners, Doctor Gordon Levitt is the author of two books. They are ‘The Shapeshifter Diaries’ and ‘Giants Walk Among Us’ - now, among the alternative research community, you’re highly acclaimed, Doctor Levitt.” Alternative research community, thinks John, and he fends off a grin. There is laughter in his mind, however. “That’s why it’s an honor to be here with you.” Bullshit, bullshit. “Yes, and it’s an honor to be here with you. A career milestone, really! Your show has quite the little following.” It’s true, John knows, and he is sorry that he doesn’t like the sound of success as much as he thought he would. At least not this kind of success.
    “Doctor Levitt, your last book was ‘Giants Walk Among Us’ - why don’t you tell us what you mean by the title?” Levitt smiles, happy to oblige. “Well, as you know if you read my book--” (John didn’t and wouldn’t) “--then ‘Giants Walk Among Us’ is a follow-up to ‘The Shapeshifter Diaries.’ I make a shocking postulation, John, and unlike a lot of other researchers in this field, I have the scientific evidence to back it up.” John is sure that this is not true, but he says the opposite to the good doctor and repeats some bull-shit he heard on the internet. “Yes, I know they’ve found giant skeletons all over the world now, there are pictures on the internet… you can’t hide it anymore.” Levitt nods appreciatively, feeling respected at having his opinion agreed to. “It’s true. Pretty soon even mainstream scientists are going to be unable to deny the fact that these giant skeletons exist! And my postulation, as I was getting to earlier--” (these people always get off track) “--is that these giants have cross-bred with human beings, that they are capable of changing their shape and that they walk amongst us. You can put all the pieces together. Look at ancient myths. The Bible mentions giants. They were the Nephilim, the sons of fallen angels. The great Anakim. The Native Americans recognized them. All of these cultures recognized giants. This is proof in and of itself! On top of that, I have more proof!”
    Doctor Levitt begins fumbling through his red briefcase and begins to pull out various documents. He slides one over to John. John almost - almost - rolls his eyes. Instead he picks up the document and his eyes scan over it. It looks like a government document and the words “TOP SECRET” are stamped across the top. “As you can see, that’s a top-secret document,” says Doctor Levitt - and quite frenziedly, John notices. He reads through the document, reading phrases like “the skeleton is approximately 753 inches tall” and “skull the size of it’s own ribcage.” He puts the documents down. “These are very convincing,” he lies. Levitt nods.
    “You can see those documents clearly mention that there are skeletons as tall as 753 inches - that’s almost 63 feet, John! - that have been uncovered in Saudi Arabia by our own military!” John nods. The doctor only stares at him for a moment. “Could you verify that for your listeners, John?” he finally asks. John is annoyed, but he doesn’t let it show. He nods at Gordon. “Yep, that’s what it says alright. Very convincing documents.” He slides them back to his guest, glad to have them away from him. Time to change the subject.
    “So you say you’re a psychic archaeologist?” Gordon nods. He is almost shaking, John notices. The attention overload must be getting to him. “That’s right, that’s right,” he says. He sounds like he’s on speed, although John doubts he’s really the type. “How did that come about?” He tries to sound as serious as he possibly can. He hopes that at least one day he can listen to the tapes of all these shows and laugh at them. Perhaps in their own way, they are worthwhile - humorous, at least. But then again, they might be depressing. How many crazy people is he enabling every night by giving a platform to these kooks?
    “You see, I’ve always been psychic, ever since I was a little boy. I couldn’t talk about it. You know how people are, my family really was freaked out by the fact that I could see ghosts and that I was hearing voices…” He laughs uneasily. John laughs with him, sounding very sincere in spite of himself. This story is the same as the others. It’s not that such stories can’t be true. John doesn’t know enough to say one way or the other. One thing can be said, in spite of all of these hacks, he is still open to the possibilities. If he is skeptical of anything, it is the pathetic evidence people like “Doctor” Levitt offer forward in an attempt to prove their claims.
    “Yeah, I understand that,” John says, lying again. “Families can be hard.” Especially when you hear voices, he thinks. And see dead people. Gordon continues. “I didn’t really accept it until I was 37 years old.” John wonders if it was after years of solitude, or if this man found some other maniac to marry him. “That’s when I began to have flashes of my past lives in Egypt. I was a high priest in Egypt during the reign of Akhenaten and later King Tut. It was during these lifetimes that I was initiated into the mystery schools, where I met the grandmaster Melchizedek. Melchizedek has communicated with me telepathically and in my dreams in this life, helping me to uncover the mysteries of the past using my psychic abilities. I’m like an archaeologist, except slightly better because I know how to use my god-given gifts to see what happened to whatever I’m looking at.”
    John feels laughter in the pit of his stomach. It is threatening him, yelling to burst upward. He suppresses it. Thank God it’s time for a commercial. “Time for a commercial!” he informs the good doctor. “We’ll be right back with Doctor Gordon Levitt to discuss psychic archaeology after these messages!” The music fades and he presses a button, and the commercials start playing. He has three minutes.
    “John, I’m just--” starts Gordon. John holds up his finger. “Let’s talk when I get back,” he says. “No offense, I just really need a cigarette. You smoke?” Gordon shakes his head no. John waits until he gets outside to show his relief.


    Last night had been bad. Tonight is worse. In fact, every night seems worse. John takes a drag of his cigarette, wishing instead that it was a big fat joint because he could really use one right now. His guest tonight is a complete maniac. He’s another local radio host named Bill Traverse, and the only reason he’s on the show is because he has his own show broadcasting from this station in the afternoon. This is sort of like “cross-promotion” except it’s not being advertised as such because the producers want the appearance of a more “spontaneous interview” - whatever the fuck that means.
    Twice tonight Traverse has insinuated that all homosexuals want to molest children, while at least once claiming that he is not even remotely homophobic and that he has no problem with homosexuals. He’s four times hinted that we are in the time of Apocalypse, three times suggested that armed revolt against the government is necessary (while claiming the opposite, again), and once ranted like a madman for two minutes over John. And they’ve only been on the air for ten minutes.
    Bill seems to view this as yet another few hours for him to spew his idiotic bullshit. He once insulted John on the air because John hosts crackpots, a remark which John had found extremely amusing considering that Traverse is one of the biggest crackpots of all. He seems to be ignoring the fact that he insulted his own host, however, and instead simply going on insane diatribes and stopping to take extremely long, glass-emptying gulps of water every few minutes in between ranting.
    His face is red and his veins are popping out and he is fat and angry. He seems like a pissed off dwarf from hell and John is afraid to cross him. He’s really afraid to question him, because even when his questions are meant to agree with the man, Traverse assumes he is being questioned in an attempt to upstage him and responds with subtle (and often overt) hostility. Better to let him rant, really.
    And it’s coming up on three minutes. The break is sadly almost over. He tosses his cigarette onto the concrete and steps on it, then walks back in the studio. Bill is still sitting the seat, a fresh glass of water beside him. He takes a sip out of it, for the first time all evening deciding not to empty the whole glass in a few large gulps. Putting the charm on, maybe, thinks John. Maybe he’s going to calm down. But probably not.
    John sits across from him as the commercials end and the music starts playing. “Welcome back to ‘Frontiers!’” he says. “You know our guest tonight well, he is local radio host Bill Traverse and tonight he’s here to talk about the New World Order. Before the break, we were talking about--” Bill interrupts him. “We were talking about these NWO-Illuminati crooks, John. We were talking about how they’re using this society to brainwash our children, how our own government is working for these Satanist bastards. People like you and me, we’ve gotta stand up against these freaks, against these perverts. These liberal, communist fascists. We can’t put up with this anymore, not in this country.” His face flushes red. “NOT IN MY COUNTRY!” he shouts. He looks at John, thinking for a moment. “NOT IN OUR COUNTRY, BUDDY! ARE YOU WITH ME?!” John stares at him, not sure of how to respond. So much for Bill thinking John is a hack - now that they’re face to face it’s all buddy-buddy. Perhaps the station manager had a chat with Bill. “I SAID ARE YOU WITH ME!?” he shrieks demonically. “Uh, yeah, yeah, of course!” says John, more ashamed than ever that he can’t tell this fat bozo to fuck off and get out of the radio station.
    “I believe what we were talking about specifically was how Hollywood is brainwashing us using symbols in our own television shows, in movies and music. We can’t escape it. They’ve got technology which just implants thoughts into our heads from looking at a picture. All they have to do is vibrate something at a certain frequency and you can’t stop thinking about the damn thing! This is black magic, but they’re using technology to get the job done. Maybe that’s the way it’s always been done, John. Just hypnotizing us all. You look on television, it puts you into the alpha state. Did you know that’s the state most susceptible to outside influence? It just imprints thoughts on us, John. It perverts us, it turns us into things we’re not. It makes us do things we wouldn’t normally do. Unnatural things.”
    John wants to ask him if he’s really blaming art for the way it makes people react, but a) the question might be too deep for Mr. Traverse and b) it might get him fired. Instead, he decides to let the mad-man rant. Half of the people who listen to this show only do it for shits and giggles anyway.
    “They’re turning us all into sex slaves. You see, no offense, John, but we’ve got shows like yours. No offense, buddy, but you’ve got a lot of kooks on this show. You’ve got a lot of people who say they’re channeling aliens from Zeta Reticuli and all that non-sense. I know it’s not your fault and this is a great show, a lot of great info gets out there. You’re a great broadcaster.” John can almost not believe this is happening, but it is, and worse, he knows no big deal will be made of it at all. When it comes to dealing with Bill Traverse, everyone expects him to be a colossal asshole and they’re often disappointed when he isn’t (they’re not often disappointed). “Um, okay,” is all John bothers to say. It’s all he can get out anyway.
    “This is all disinformation. These people are lied to by our own government to discredit people like me, people who know these things are lies. Our government gets up to some nasty stuff. We’ve got underground facilities where we clone famous people, politicians, we’ve got anti-gravity technology, we’ve got man-made viruses that can selectively target individual human beings and utterly wipe them out. We’ve got nano-technology that can take over your brain and let others operate you while you helplessly sit there doing nothing.”
    John thinks one thing: Where is the evidence? He wants to say it so badly. He wants to just ask this one thing. But he already knows the answer. And Bill Traverse says it anyway, almost as if reading his mind.
    “We have the documents.” John dares a question. “Can you produce them?” It doesn’t sound too nasty. But you can’t tell with this guy… Traverse sneers, looking disgusted. “Yes, I can produce them, they’re on my website. We’re exposing the Hell on earth that we live in here in America, this human wasteland of decadence and moral decay. This once great country is now soiled toilet paper.”
    John’s been to There are no documents to speak of anywhere. Only endless references to references to references to documents. Usually they go in circles, referring only to each other as evidence. A good way to get a dog to chase it’s own tail.
    He bites his tongue. Traverse continues to rant. Life goes on.


    “I’m getting him…” she says, sitting across from John with her fingertips on her temples. They massage her scalp and her eyes flicker behind closed lids. He waits. He waits. Finally, knowing he needs to break the on-air silence, he whispers “For those of you just tuning in, we have professional psychic medium Madame Tara Krista in tonight, and she is channeling Michael Jackson so that he can take questions with our listeners.
    “I’m here,” she says in a horribly bad imitation of Michael Jackson. Her eyes are closed and she sits bolt upright in the chair. He puts his fist over the microphone. “They can’t hear you very well, lean into the microphone,” John says. He’s lying, they can hear her perfectly well. But he wants to see if her trance breaks. It doesn’t, of course.
    “Michael, we’re glad to be speaking with you tonight,” he says. That familiar laughter bubbles in his lower stomach. “Glad to be talking with you,” she says in her Michael voice. “Michael, do you care if we take some calls?” “No, I always love to speak with my fans, even from this side of reality,” she says in a ridiculous falsetto. The laughter inside of him threatens to bubble over, but he keeps it in check, ever the professional.
    “Our first caller tonight, we have Linda from Flagstaff. Linda, you have a question for the late King of Pop?” His dignity. Oh God, his dignity. Has it entirely departed yet? “Yes,” says Linda emphatically. “Michael, I’m a huge fan. I’m so glad to speak with you. I just… I love you, I love you so much.” She starts to cry, her voice breaking up. Richard wants to throw up again. “Michael, my favorite song from you… it’s… I was mugged, you see. ‘Smooth Criminal’ really means a lot to me… I know it sounds silly, but it just… it really touches me in a very special place. I wanted to know what inspired you to write that song, Michael. I want to hear it from your mouth.”
    “Michael” answers. “Well, I witnessed a mugging,” Tara Krista says in the falsetto. Or rather, Michael says through Tara Krista. This goes on for another twenty minutes. More mindless questions from idiotic callers. None of them are asking anything about Tara Krista or the legitimacy of this ridiculous experiment. There aren’t even any call screeners. How this ever happens, he doesn’t know. He hasn’t had a prank call in weeks, and those happen very rarely. Is that good luck or bad? It would at least relieve the hideous tension that builds up sometimes.
    Finally there’s a good call. “Michael, I was a photographer for the National Enquirer in 1994, and I saw you pick up a young Puerto-Rican boy from school every day for two weeks in September of that year. Would you care to talk about that?” “No,” says Tara Krista in Michael’s voice, “I have no comment on the matter. I don’t want to talk about that.”


    “I have seen the future,” says Ian Carter. “The government has stolen my ideas and implanted them throughout history. John Lennon stole my songs.” “How did he steal your songs?” John asks. “I wrote ‘Imagine’ in 1997.” “But ‘Imagine’ is a lot older than that…” “I told you,” says Ian. “They are using a time nexus crystal to take ideas from me and implant them in whatever time period they desire.” John says nothing, only staring. “The song ‘Imagine’ did not exist before 1997. But when I wrote it, the U.S. government stole the song from me and went back in time to give it to John Lennon, their number one propagandist in the twentieth century.”
    John is very curious. “What else did they steal from you?” he asks. “Well,” he says. “I invented the telephone in 1991. And the internet.”


    “The end of the world is coming! We are living in the final days right now!” shrieks an impassioned Reverend Steven Cera. John wishes it were so.


the end.

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