Friday, July 01, 2011

#FridayFlash: The One-Eyed God

This is another one of those stories I started long ago, didn’t quite finish, then came back to. Maybe I just needed more practice writing before I knew what to do with it. It’s a little teen romance, post-apocalypse…



The One-Eyed God

The family gathered in the living room for their evening worship. As always, Jason’s uncle Tom spoke the invocation to their one-eyed god:

“Oh SONY, hear our plea: be a light in our darkness, that you may return your light to our darkness. Awake, O SONY, and guide us as you did of old.” He ended the invocation with a snicker.

Jason gazed into the nothingness of SONY’s face, barely remembering when it last filled the living room with colorful images, before darkness filled the world. He was five then, seventeen now. His dad often said they were better off without “that idiot box,” yet come evening he sat in worship with the rest of the family. Jason’s mind, as usual, went wandering during worship time. Maribeth was… he’d begun to wonder if he really wanted her as his girlfriend, especially since this afternoon.


He’d been sitting on the sandy creek bank fishing, hoping to put a couple trout on the dinner table, when Heather Scott came walking upstream on the far bank. As suited anyone hiking the brush, she wore a loose shirt and sturdy jeans with boots, hiding a newly ripe figure.

“Hey, Jason! Catching any?” She swung an empty basket.

“Not yet. What’s up?”

“Just lookin’ for cress. You see any on that side?”

“I think there’s some here.”

“Good! Can I cross over? Where’s your line?”

“Don’t cross here, it’s too deep. Go a little ways upstream and you’ll see a place to cross. If you’re lucky, you won’t get your boots wet.”

“Okay!” She skipped upstream. She was fourteen, skipping was still allowed.

Staring at SONY’s blank screen, Jason guessed things would have been different if that trout hadn’t grabbed his hook just as Heather approached. She saw his fishing rod bend and ran to him, watching him reel it in. It was a perfect size, too: big enough to keep, not so big that he’d have to throw it back. She sat down next to him while he was distracted putting the fish in the creel.

“Ha, I’m good luck for you,” she said. Jason gasped; now he had to kiss her to keep the luck she gave him. In retrospect, maybe she’d played him like he played the trout. He thought, I can give her a quick peck on the cheek, no problem. Heather had other ideas, though: she wrapped her arms around him and locked her lips on his; in his moment of surprise, she unbalanced him. He fell back, with her on top.

What Heather lacked in experience (not that Jason was an expert), she made up in enthusiasm… and after a second, Jason decided he liked it. He embraced her and rolled her to his right, away from the fishing gear, so they were side by side.


A pillow caught him across the head, pulling him back into the living room. “Stop moaning,” his mom whispered.

Jason flushed, but nodded. He watched the blank screen and remembered.


“Maybe we shouldn’t,” he told Heather.

“I don’t think it bothers you much,” she grinned.

“You started it.”

“I guess.” She sat up and tugged his arm; he sat up and she scooted alongside him. “Well, I won’t tell. Are you taking Maribeth Collins to the Summer Day fiesta?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I asked her, but she’s all maybe and I’m not sure and I’ll think about it.” He made a sour face.

“That ain’t right. Dad says say yes or no, and have done. If you asked me, I’d say yes. You’d have to talk to Dad though, he says I can’t have no skulking-around boyfriend.”


A rumbling noise: Uncle Tom snored, then jerked up and looked around before refocusing on the black glass that was SONY’s eye. Jason did likewise.


They got up; Heather found her cress before coming back and kissing him once more, but quick. “Thanks,” she said, wiggling her basket.

“Yeah. Thanks for the luck.” He grinned, then his second fish took the bait.


After worship, Jason hurried at the dishes; it was his evening to wash. “You must wanna go somewhere,” said his mother. “That Maribeth girl?”

“No. Not her.”

“Good. She’s just stringing you along.” She smiled. “Go do what you need to. I’ll finish this up.”

“Thanks!”


Jason found Mr. Scott fixing his old ethanol tractor, Heather passing him tools. She looked up and grinned. Her dad gave him a curious look.

“Can I ask you something, Mr. Scott?”

“I don’t have no extra work.”

“It ain’t that.”

“You want something to drink?” asked Heather. They both nodded and she sauntered up the yard to the house.

“Bring him what I’m having!” Mr. Scott yelled. To Jason, “What brings you then?”

“Um… Mr. Scott, I want to take Heather to the fiesta tomorrow. Is that okay?”

The farmer looked him over. “You don’t run the rabbit around the tree. I like that. You ask her yet?”

“No, but she said she’d say yes if I did.”

Mr. Scott reached into his tractor. “Damn fuel filter again.” After a minute, he pulled it out. “That’s Heather, she gets right to the point too. Well, consider all the my-precious-daughter sh– junk said. You know that spiel, right? Yeah. I mean it all, even if I don’t say it. Understand?”

Jason stood thinking for a moment. “Yessir. I think I do.”

“Good. Now your dad and me know each other, and whatever gets back to one will get back to the other. Right? Right. Well, here comes Heather. You walk her down to the mailbox and ask her. It’s a big deal, gettin’ asked to the fiesta, even if you know what she’s gonna say.” He grinned. “Then you walk her back up here and we’ll drink a toast.”

Jason came home, and saw the glint of SONY’s single eye in the dim light. He placed a hand on its dusty curved top. “Thanks.”

28 comments:

  1. I love the idea that they literally worship a TV!

    Fun little story.

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  2. heh, not so far from the truth in terms of TV worship!
    Sweet piece, and I particularly liked the girl's dad

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  3. Aw, this is a truly lovely piece. I like Heather. Direct and to the point!

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  4. I really like this piece. Their worship of the TV is priceless. I like the touches of teenage romance within the MC's memories and his going to her father and asking her to the dance instead of Maribeth. Good job!

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  5. Can't add anything else to what's already been said, 'cept to say that I really enjoyed this.

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  6. The world needs more women like Heather.

    And nice choice, Sony make the best TVs ;).

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  7. The thing that works for me here is the juxtaposition between the very modern tv worship and the more innocent-sounding kids embarking on their first romance. It is encouraging to think kids might just still dispaly this level of innocence. If they don't, you have provided at least a glimmer of hope!

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  8. You been listening to Marilyn Manson?
    "God is in the TV..."

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  9. Good job. Happy slice of life, even in a "dead" world.

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  10. The idea of worshipping the TV makes me laugh. LOL

    Really liked the romance.

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  11. I'm going to second what everyone else already said, and add that I really enjoyed reading this.

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  12. You seem to have nailed that one, I was thinking the same as everyone else.

    Great idea, I am going to start worshiping my Bravia now (might help my kid get in a good school later on if I start before the world ends).

    Made me think that worshipping the TV and missing those images brought about Jason's own vivid memories, as if invoking the images it can no longer provide.. good old Sony.

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  13. I don't like teen romance much, but I liked this. Your setting here reminds me of what I usually come up with when I do post-apocalypse -- I like the idea that things we consider somehow cheap or low (i.e. TV) are mostly so because they're new to us.

    I'd be curious to see what the adults in this setting have to worry about re: making sure their kids live to see adulthood.

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  14. Well done, Far! The TV god continues even after the apocalypse. And I like that rabbit and the tree expression. Did you coin that phrase?

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  15. Oh what a lovely story, told so well. I have a big smile on my face, this was just perfect!

    helen-scribbles

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  16. I wondered if they weren't worshiping a videogame console. The television makes even more sense. Mine is more of a companion than a deity, and one I haven't been spending as much time with lately. Does that make me a heretic?

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  17. Hi everyone! Overwhelmed by the comments here, but I'll take a shot at answering them…

    Michael, Mazzz, W.G., Sonia, Boran: The idea of worshipping the TV is one that's been stuck in my head for a long time. I could see people leaving them plugged in, just in case the power ever came back on, then just sitting and staring at it because that's what they've always done. The grownups might mock (Uncle Bob snickering after the invocation, Jason's dad saying they're better off without) but still they sit with the rest of the family.

    Icy, Craig, I can imagine Heather's dad thinking, "yup, I raised her right" while still being concerned about her chasing after an older boy. She seized her opportunity, then drew a sharp contrast between herself and Maribeth without being vicious about it. Jason's right: she played him, but she's still a good kid.

    Cherie, I've amused myself thinking about Maribeth's reaction when she finds her head game didn't go the way she wanted… but I suspect that Heather, despite being younger, is more than a match for her.

    FlyingScribbler, without the images provided by a (working) TV, internet, video games, etc., I suspect kids would find it easier to be kids.

    Adam, you got it! Jason had to work things out… the question is, was it all in his head or did SONY help him?

    ZJW, welcome to the free-range insane asylum! The dangers are out there, certainly, but with regard to this story they're a little murky. But I think keeping them well-fed and not reproducing too quickly are constant worries.

    JohnW, a PS/3 *does* resemble a monolith, doesn't it? Interesting concept. I don't have much time for TV, most of what little free time I have gets absorbed by writing these days.

    IBC4, Raven, Anthony, Helen, and all of you: thanks much!

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  18. I love the way you bounced back and forth between the worship service and the relationship story. Great story, FAR!

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  19. Great characterisation in here, FAR. The transitioning back and forth in time is smooth and painless when it could have been confusing, which is great, and I love the last paragraph, too. =)

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  20. Sorry Boran, I forgot to answer you question! Our preacher says "I run the rabbit around the hole," but that doesn't make sense — the rabbit would just go down the hole, right?

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  21. Chuck, JohnX: thanks for the comment about the transitions. I was hoping it wouldn't get too confused.

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  22. I like this a lot. I think the story of the kids could stand on its own, but the juxtaposition with TV worship is interesting.

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  23. Gah I lost a big comment! I agree with Tim though I loved the humour the TV worship injected, it read like a snippet of a longer story.

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  24. Heather is a lovely and cool girl! Jason is lucky he got her and not the "I'll think about it" one. heh

    Loved the take on worshiping the TV. Sounds like a world that's worth exploring. What was the apocalypse's cause?

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  25. Nice mythology around the luck. Cute characters that seem to have found a way to make this world work. This reminded me of the urban legend of a man castrating sheep with his teeth when the young boy comes to ask father if he can date his daughter.

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  26. Wicked - love the one eye god terminology and image - so true!!! nice work

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  27. Tim, thanks much. If I write a romance, there's going to be an apocalypse or space ship in there…

    Foregoreality (love the name, wish I could!), sucks you lost your comment. I'm getting into the habit of copying mine before hitting a button. But thanks!

    Mari, I liked Heather too. I knew a few like her back when I was not smart enough to know what I had. Not sure what caused the apocalypse, but I'm a "peaknik" so it probably had to do with running out of oil.

    Aidan, *snort* Mr. Scott isn't *that* scary, but he did want to see if Jason was smart enough to understand that he expected responsible behavior. I figured superstitions about luck and other things would develop at random, and it did provide Heather her opening. ;-)

    Brainhaze, thanks, I agree that SONY and the others in the pantheon already have plenty of worshippers.

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  28. Great balance between the satire of worshiping the telly and the burgeoning of young love.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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