The video showed two anonymous hands putting eggs and flour and sugar in a plastic box and sealing it with a green, plastic lid and some gaffa tape. Next, the hands threw the box into a washing machine together with dirty towels and a pair of socks. Cut to a close up on a dial on the machine, hand turning it up to maximum temperature. Short sequence showing the washing machine working. Then the hands open the machine and remove the box, open the lid - and voilá; lifting out a perfectly baked bread.
“Great job, guys. Put that after the microwave ice cream and before the glue gun”.
Mr Normhack left the editing table and looked at his clipboard. “I think we can use it in the TenTipThuesday channel too”.
Normhack Entertainment had more than thirty channels running on YouTube and Facebook and other media platforms. The channels were very similar to each other. Every video showed ten different so-called life hacks; every-day ideas to make life easier by using household equipment in new and unexpected ways. Very few of the ideas actually worked in real life, some were even straight out dangerous, but that didn't seem to matter, the audience loved the shows anyway and each channel had at least 20 million subscribers.
Right now, the company was recovering from a lawsuit from the family of a woman who was electrocuted when trying to make crisps by wrapping potato slices in aluminium foil and putting them into a toaster. The lawsuit was dismissed but they had to make an effort to cover the legal fees. It wasn't that big of a deal. Money kept pouring in and a few more videos should rebalance the books.
Fivestep Normhack laughed at the pathetic figures who tried to make him feel sorry for them, people who were stupid enough to believe that you could make a caramel sauce by putting a jar of condensed milk in the micro. When he was a child he had heard a famous music producer say that “people aren’t as stupid as you think, they are stupider”. Well, that had been his motto ever since. If people really are that stupid, then that theory is what I’m gonna use to make money.
He left the office at four o'clock. A light rain had begun to fall and he cursed his car, which had stopped working this morning. On the way to the tube station his hair got wet and he promised himself to buy an umbrella one of these days. And new shoes too, he thought. These expensive shoes would be ruined in the rain.
At the intersection, right before the tube station, he was halted by traffic lights. He stopped, but felt really stupid. Was this really necessary? Did other people do this? Stop because a sign told them to, even if there were no traffic? Uncertain how to handle everyday situations as a pedestrian, he waited until the sign switched to “walk”. Then he stepped out into the street - and was nearly hit by a car in full speed, honking its horn and scaring the living daylight out of him. It was close, very close. He could have been killed. Badly shaken he backed up on the pavement and looked at the traffic lights. They showed green lights for the cars, and for him. This can't be right, he thought. I will write to city hall and complain. I could've been killed.
The tube station was filthy, full of graffiti and people in sweatpants. Still, he managed to calm himself down, and when he reached the platform, the near-accident was just a good story he could tell the guys at the bar. Someday, when his brother had children, he could tell them too.
When the train rolled in, he had forgotten the whole incident and was thinking about how to stage a scene with a vacuum cleaner and whipped cream. Could it be done? Would people buy it? Probably yes to both. He entered the car. And - wham, - the doors slammed shut before he was through and caught his right arm above the elbow. The train started moving with his hand hanging outside. He tried to pull free but the sliding doors were like shark jaws, shut and ready to tear him to pieces. It wasn't until some fellow passengers saw his predicament and pried the doors ajar that he was able to free himself. One tenth of a second longer and his arm would be sprayed onto the iron bar gate that prevents unauthorized people from entering the tunnels. The fellow passengers looked at him and nodded, meaning he was a lucky bastard and should thank some patron saint for his lucky escape.
When he finally got home in one piece, he was shaken and tired. Was this the life of common folk? Danger and vulnerability? He must get his car fixed as soon as possible. He had sent an sms to the auto-repair shop, telling them where the car was and giving them the code to the garage door. But when he looked into the garage now, the car was still there. Damn Idiots! Didn't they understand English? There was only one thing to do to calm down; eat some burritos and drink a bottle of wine.
He went into the kitchen, opened the freezer and took out a package of frozen burritos and put them in the microwave. He reached for a bottle of red wine from under the sink and uncorked it, poured a glass for himself and went over to the panorama window. The rain had stopped and it looked like it was going to be a nice evening. He should do something fun, he thought. Finish the vine and go down to a bar and hit on some easy girls. It would be great to have some company right now
The mobile beeped three times and he picked it up from his pocket and turned it on. It was an sms from an Anonymous, saying “Dip a mobile phone with cracked screen into a bowl of mashed bananas. Leave it for five minutes and then wipe it clean. The cracks are gone”. That was a brilliant idea; bananas were always great, they were mysterious and full of chemicals. And cracked screens, well, everybody knew about them. They had already made a couple of cracked screen videos, like the one with toothpaste, but people forget. (The comments that his crew deleted had been hilarious. People actually put toothpaste on their phones!) The question was; who had sent this message ?
While he stood there in front of the panorama window with the mobile in his hand, reading the message and thinking about how to make mashed bananas look powerful, he suddenly noticed the faint smell of something burning. He turned around and saw that the microwave oven was on fire. Black smoke poured out from behind and yellow flames were showing through the glass in the front. He ran over to the machine and tried to turn it off, pressing all those incomprehensible touch buttons he never understood, but it just kept going, even though the timer showed a big, red zero. Finally, he pulled the plug, and the sound from the micro stopped. But it kept on burning. He had to pour several pots of water over it before the fire died out. It was still steaming for a while and some smoke continued to seep out, staining walls and ceiling and cupboards. The kitchen looked like a total mess.
This was too much. He didn't dare being alone anymore. He ran to the garage and jumped into his car to drive to his brother’s little family, a place where nothing bad or unexpected ever happened. As he put his keys into the ignition, he remembered that the car was broken, but, to his surprise, the car started immediately. The soft humming from the engine was the best sound he had heard in the whole day, he thought. He pushed the accelerator.
Nothing happened. The sound from the engine didn't change and the pedal felt like it was pumping empty air. He tried to put the car in gear. The gearshift lever was as loose as a spoon in a soup. He tried the steering wheel. It didn't do anything. It just spun like a pinwheel in the wind. The car was in worse shape than he had thought, much worse than it had been this morning, and he cursed the auto-repair shop that had let him down like this. And the stupid car engine didn't even stop when he tuned the key and removed it from the ignition.
Suddenly he could smell it. The still air from a traffic congestion on a hot summer’s day downtown; the suffocating, stale smell of invisible exhaust fumes. The gas was led straight into the car and was slowly replacing the breathable air. He tried to open the door, but it was as futile as everything else, and when he tried to open a window, it was as if the car just said “no way”.
He began to feel tired, immensely tired. The phone beeped three times, and in a last effort to keep himself awake, he turned it on. It was a message from Anonymous. It said “Don't mess with us”.