Chapter Twenty Five – Channels

3 Aug

‘What? They don’t even have any ears.’ I laughed.

‘Yeah, but we could get one of them to write something. I mean, if we tape a pen to it’s hand, then it could answer questions that way.’

‘Or it could start stabbing things with the pen. Possibly us.’

Rosie smiled at me and said ‘Ok, it isn’t a perfect plan. But I don’t suppose you’ve got another one.’

‘I don’t suppose they know Morse code’. I muttered, realising how stupid it sounded before the words left my mouth.

Rosie laughed and changed the channel to a telesales program. Interestingly, in this universe, there wasn’t a single piece of cheap jewelry or kitchenware in sight. No, the annoyingly perfect presenter was selling a strange green plastic object for only £39.99. At first I thought that it was a sculplture of some kind until she connected a hose to one end of it. Tiny jets of water spurted out of the side of it and drenched the carpet.

The presenter seemed completely oblivious to this as she sat down in front of it and started to press her hands against it, like she was playing a piano. Surprisingly, it actually made a noise – a strange kind of ambient haunting melody, like a cross between a muted church organ and a recorder. Apparently, according to the text box which appeared at the bottom of the screen, the green thing was called a hydraulophone.

I turned to Rosie and said: ‘This place gets stranger by the minute. I mean, is that even a real instrument?’

Rosie just shrugged and changed the channel to a gameshow that I’d never seen before. I kept trying to think of ways to communicate with the models, but apart from a few basic bits of html code, I didn’t know anything about programming, let alone hacking. It was highly unlikely that the models knew morse code and very likely that they’d start stabbing us if we began tapping on their heads.

I refused to even consider the possibility that there was any kind of sorcery or magic involved. As strange as this world was, the idea that there was a logical explanation behind everything was about the only thing keeping me vaguely sane at the moment.

After about five minutes, she looked at me and said ‘No ideas either?’

I shook my head. We watched TV for a while longer and I tried to make sense of this gameshow. It seemed to be that you got five points if you flipped over a red card and two points if you flipped over a blue card. But, if you got an orange card, then you automatically won the game. Unless you had already flipped over three red cards and hadn’t found a single blue card. Rosie kept trying to explain the rules of it to me, but whenever I thought that I’d worked them out, they changed again. Yet, inexplicably, Rosie already knew what they would be.

‘How the hell do you know all of this?’ I sighed with frustration and slumped further back on the sofa. One of the contestants, a woman with short green hair, flipped over a purple card. All of the studio lights went out for five seconds and, when they came back up – the cards had all been rearranged and the whole game was starting over again. Rosie was practically laughing at this and rubbing her fingers together in glee. Obviously, this was the work of a master player.

Finally, she turned to me and said ‘I know the rules because, after a few years here, you get a sense of everything. It’s not quite learning, it’s not quite intuition and it’s not quite subconscious either. I can’t describe it, but that’s where the idea about attaching a pen to one of the models came from.’

I sighed and nodded before getting up and rifling through the cabinet by the TV for an old pen and a roll of sticky tape. I eventually found them underneath a few folded train tickets, an unopened condom and a translucent purple herb grinder. it took me about two minutes of scribbling randomly onto the train ticket before I could get the pen to work again. All this time, I could hear Rosie laughing and making whispered comments about the gameshow. The strangest was when she started chanting “Silver card” repeatedly for about ten seconds.

Eventually, the credits rolled and Rosie got up. She took one look at the pen I was holding and shook her head before saying ‘No, I was wrong. We need to use a pencil. It’s made out of wood. Trust me on this.’

I found a blunt pencil and a small notepad in my room before we left to go looking for one of these models. Surprisingly, there was actually one of them standing outside of the ink-spattered clothes shop we’d visited earlier. It was wearing a pair of bright green shorts and a white shirt covered with rorschach blots of wet ink. Surprisingly, no-one was even bothering to look at it. So, we got the tape out and started to attach the pencil to it’s outstretched hand.

As I finished with the tape, I thought that Rosie’s “intuition” thing was probably bullshit. Still, it made sense to give it a go. After all, how much damage could one of those wooden models do with a blunt pencil anyway?

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