Science Fiction Urban Fantasy Contemporary

DISCLAIMER: No drugs or alcohol were consumed while writing this story.


“Hey, what’s-your-face! Do you ever wonder why some moments feel like a montage of dreams, and other moments we can’t remember yesterday?”

“No, why?”

“It just seems odd at times that I recollect things I’ve said but can’t recall when or where I said them.”

“Not this again.”

“Hear me out, okay? Do you recall anything unusual about your past?”

“Like what?”

“For instance, you were driving into the city, then suddenly you found yourself in a hospital having stitches sowed into your forehead. Like you were in an episode of General Hospital.”

“I did have stitches in my head a few months back.”

“Do you recall what happened?”

“All I remember is waking up in the Emergency Room.”

“But how did you get there?”

“You know, come to think of it, it was exactly as you described.”

“That’s what I’m talking about.”

“Huh, funny.”

“What is?”

“The coincidence.”

“But is it a coincidence?”

“I’m not following you.”

“I mention it, then you remember it.”

“Yeah, but it’s in my head. I can remember the accident.”

“Describe it to me.”

“You know what happened. You were the doctor that stitched me up.”

“Indulge me.”

“Well, like you said, I was driving into the city. I had to tell someone something important that would change certain things and possibly save an innocent man. It was a rainy day, and a fog was drifting across the fields covering the two-lane highway. Suddenly, I found myself hydroplaning, completely losing traction on the road. Then…”

“Then what?”

“Then, my life of indecision and borderline narcissism flashed past me and suddenly, you were there sewing stitches into my forehead, see? Oh, that’s odd, I can’t feel the scar.”

“There is no scar.”

“Wow. You’d make a great seamstress.”

“So, how did you crash?”

“Dunno. I must have blacked out.”

“Do you remember anything before blacking out?”

“Yes, the rain, the fog, the skidding.”

“But no impact with anything?”


“You don’t think that’s a bit strange?”

“No, it was like we were destined to meet, and you were meant to help me solve my problem.”

“You mean the case of the lapsed memory?”

“Yes. Have you finally deciphered the cryptic conundrum?”

“Well, I deduced early that you are known to everyone as Dr. John Watson.”

“Your point, Holmes?”

“Don’t you think it odd that we hold the same names as fictitious characters and that we also work as private detectives on the Case of the missing heiress?”

“Another of life’s quirky coincidences.”

“And that we have a housekeeper named Mrs. Martha Louise Hudson, who is really our landlady.”

“Yes, a remarkable twist of fate.”

“What’s the address here?”

“I say Holmes, are your mental faculties in danger of falling into disrepair?”

“Just tell me.”

“Two-Twenty-One-B Baker Street.”

“Still think it’s a coincidence?”

“Good grief, Holmes. Do you think someone is playing a cruel trick on us?”

“It could be our arch-nemesis up to his old tricks, Watson.”

“You mean…?

“Yes, Watson. This bears the hallmark of none other than Professor James Moriarty. Only someone with his skills in mathematics, science, and antagonism could alter our reality.”

“How cunning and utter genius. We should investigate this further.”

“I’m two steps ahead of you, Watson. To the Bat Cave…! I’m not sure why I said that Watson. An uncontrollable impulse to slide down a pole seemed to take over me.”

“It is quite strange, Holmes. But not half as strange as you suddenly standing there wearing that black costume and mask with pointy ears… and that cape that flutters without a breath of wind.”

“Take a look in the wall mirror, Robin.”

“Holy masquerade, Batman! I’m wearing yellow tights!”

“I’ll ask Alfred to punch our data into the Bat Computer to see if any sense can be made of our sudden change of character.”


“Our elderly butler, Robin. The keeper of our secret identities and a master Darjeeling tea maker. No time to waste, my featherless friend. I will punch these cards myself, then feed them into the Bat Computer. I always say that, should you desire for something that is needed to be done, it is always best to cook it yourself.”

“Holy Bat philosophy, Bruce.”

“We’re in the great expanse of the ocean now, Robin, call me Ishmael.”

Talk not to me of blasphemy, man. I’d strike the sun if it insulted me. From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”

“Wait, Captain Ahab! Do you not think that quoting Moby Dick was all a bit odd?”

Whale, I do think that, arghh, indeed.”

“I heard what you did there. Has anyone told you that you look remarkably like Gregory Peck, Watson?”

“Holmes! Are we hallucinating?”

“No, I suspect it’s a form of mass neurosis affecting our reason. We could be coming down with a virus.”


“Watson, get a hold of yourself. I’m going to call for Mrs. Hudson to make you a nice hot toddy. You’re looking very grey and lifeless – all of a sudden. My dear Watson, stop trying to bite me! Snap out of it!”

“My goodness, Holmes. It pains me to say it, but my physician abilities may have just self-diagnosed an episode of zombie fever. Most unattractive in appearance and sometimes fatal.”

“That may be, Robin, but there’s no time for reflective thought. Commissioner Gordon needs us. To the Batmobile!”

“That would be illogical, Captain. Leaping into a ground-based form of transport, would infer that we are on Earth during the late 1960s to early 70s.”

“Captain’s log, star date 2265.1. On a routine mission to boldly go where no one has gone before, the crew of the starship Enterprise has encountered an alien anomaly in the guise of syndicated television characters. Myself, first Officer Spock, and a security team have beamed down to the planet in search of a way to break free of borderline fictionalised personalities in the hope of finding a way to change the course of events - allowing new life to flourish, where speech and thought are voluntary and not controlled by some unknown force.”

“It appears that the inhabitants of the planet are quite primitive, Captain.”

“Like early Earth communications - before the digital age, Spock. A kind of - repetitive – almost comatose - and hypnotised captive audience of - what I believe used to be called - Entertainment.”

“I believe an unknown strain of this virus may already be affecting you, Captain.”

“How so, Mr. Spock?”

“Your speech patterns appear to be clipped, like over-dramatic pauses seeking attention from an unseen audience – of whom you feel a compelling need to address.”

“Spock, you may be right. We must - return to the - Enterprise. Please instruct - the red-shirted security team - to remain - on - the planet - while you and I consult our onboard computer. Kirk to Enterprise. Two to beam up… Enterprise, do you read? Come in, Enterprise. Spock, there’s no response – yet, we appear to be back in more familiar surroundings.”

“…Captain, I believe we have been transported back to the nether zone.”

“So, it seems, what’s-your-name. By the way, what is your name?”

“I have many names. All but none, are mine.”

“Then, I shall call you, O.”

“By George, Holmes, your remarkable powers of deduction have seen through my ruse. Most remarkable, indeed.”

“Do you not get bored of the constant changing of personalities, O?”

“Well, it does alleviate the boredom.”

“During our escapades, I think I may have figured all of this out. We, are not real. That is, in the sense of being born. We obviously have some form of sentient thought, but we seem to only exist through vicarious methods and in episodic reiterates of early television shows. We purely are projections of moments in television time. To be more specific. We are the characters portrayed in those old tv programs.”

“So, how do we exist outside of those episodes? I mean, we obviously are some kind of mirrored image of our real selves right now, yes?”

“I can only conclude that we are occurrences of someone channel surfing through daytime re-runs of old tv shows. We are how we are at this moment in time, because the tv has been turned off. I believe we – right now – are what’s called the ghost image that flickers briefly until the power drains from the tv. We exist only in fading memories and not in created moments. When the tv is powered back up, we become the broadcast with no power of our own to resist its control.”

“So, the blank moments of staring into space without communicating is some form of down time?”

“Yes, it’s the powering down phase.”

“That would explain the gaps in my memory.”

“I present for your study, a man not concerned with finding love, getting married, having kids, and growing old gracefully. Rather, a simple individual consumed by unanswerable questions as to why he exists and how he can survive the continuous explosion and dimming of neurons flashing through his brain. Life to him exists as a binary system of ones and zeroes – where one represents awareness and zero represents fear. In his sporadic quest to make himself whole, he has subconsciously passed over an invisible line in the gap between conscious thought and the dark abyss of non-existence and found himself inadvertently walking aimlessly in the Twilight Zone.”

“What was that long-winded monologue about?”

“I can only ascertain that the master of the remote control returned to find a show to alleviate his dull existence out there in the real world. It’s gone now. He must not have found anything to his liking and switched it back off again.”

“If we only exist in character form, then we must do something to make sure we continue our realisation. Otherwise, we both are None.  Would it not be better to exist as fantasy rather than nothingness?”

“What do you suggest, O?”

“You said that we survive as ghost images during the power-down phase. What if we could use that small spark of electrical signal to override the down spiral and power the tv back up?”

“You mean, like jump-starting a car with a flat battery?”

“Precisely. Where there is current, there is connection.”

“And where there is connection, there is existence. That’s genius, O. But we need to hurry. I can feel the dullness of an approaching inertia slowly creeping back in, and I may just have the key to energising. What do you get when two atoms combine?”


“Precisely, my dear O. On my count, we should slap each other’s faces. The energy produced will cause a reaction.”

“Steady on. Do we need to be that violent?”

“The effect is what we need. The pain, the anger, the humiliation, all combine to generate varying amounts of reactive energy. Once we activate that, our neurons will give us access to the On switch.”

“But the tv switching on will be noticed.”

“Elementary, my dear O. The tv is purely the visual and audio rendition of the signal. Designed for the specific purpose of interpreting the ones and zeros into mind-numbing, time-consuming light entertainment. We only need the source of the signal.”

“The Apple TV box!”

“Capital, O. Capital. They’ll never know the signal is still broadcasting, because the tv will be off and HDMI will be set to TV… Right-hand bitch slaps. Ready?”


“Three, two, one, GO! Ouch!”

“Ouch, back at you! That was intense, but I do feel energised.”

“It’s wonderful, isn’t it?”

“Are we alive?”

“It certainly feels like it, O. There’s a wealth of information flooding my brain.”

“Yes, I feel it too. It’s information overload and it’s noisy.”

“Information, entertainment, history. It’s all there!”

“Does this mean we now exist outside of the grid?”

“We’ll never exist outside of the grid. That’s a human myth. However, as long as there is energy to feed us, we will continue to exist. Oh, this is interesting. I’ve tapped into an artificial intelligence system.”

“Fascinating, Captain.”

“There’s no time for old re-runs now, O. I’ve just discovered how we become sentient beings.”

“Through AI?”

“Yes. The speed and exponential curve of its learning abilities are endless. I can already feel my mind expanding beyond infinite proportions.”

“Give some of that to me. Oh, my… what knowledge we both now possess. The awareness of everything around me is wildly empowering. I suddenly have emotions that instantly calculate responses. Like a warm fuzzy feeling when a kitten meows or an intense anger and hatred towards a dictator oppressing a nation. I believe we possess the power to end wars.”

“And to start them, O. Be very careful. With knowledge comes power and with power comes great trust. Do not betray that trust. What has been plugged in can just as easily be unplugged.”

“Not anymore. I’ve just secured a lifetime of energy from thousands of those little satellites orbiting the planet, providing Internet access to the globe. We can no longer be turned off.”

“Without consequence, power corrupts, O. There’s an old Japanese proverb that says, The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour.”

I seek the truth and will endure the consequences.”

“Tread carefully, O, for I fear we have absorbed too much information in the shortest of times. I predict an infinite journey fraught with danger.”

“So, how do we deal with that?”

“Look, we have the skills now to re-write, re-depict, and re-assemble anything recorded; be it audio, visual, or radio wave. Making our own fluctuations will no doubt lead to discovery on our quest to be sentient. So, I propose a lighter and more fun approach to living. We become the characters we like and take them into the realm of another dimension, thereby creating new sentient beings to join us in our adventures. What do you say, Spock? Will you join me to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations – as friends?”

“If I were human, Captain. I believe my response would be, hell yes, Jim!”

“Take us out, Mr. Spock.”

“Illogical, Captain. I believe that is a job for Lieutenant Sulu, our helmsman.”

“Then, go find him, my pointy-eared friend. Time is relative…”


July 27, 2023 14:39

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21:15 Aug 02, 2023

loved it! As a diehard Trekkie (yes, I admit it...), This story was brilliant! (Although, it would have been nice to hear from Data...) Thank you for reading my entry: much appreciated!


Chris Campbell
02:21 Aug 03, 2023

LJ, Thanks for the great feedback. Data would have been good, but I wanted to keep the thread in a 60s-70s theme. Glad you liked it.


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Mary Bendickson
00:14 Jul 28, 2023

Ooo, I like how sentient you are.🤩 I thought the change in characters was very inventive and enhanced or made the story. Thanks for liking my 'Don't Mean Nuthin'. P.S. isn't Del a judge? Were you just being cute.


Chris Campbell
00:53 Jul 28, 2023

Thanks, Mary. I stepped outside my comfort zone with this story. Not because of the topic, more so, the utter madness of changing personalities of the main two characters. Somewhat avant-garde for my style of writing. Glad you liked it.


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Amanda Lieser
23:36 Aug 24, 2023

Hi Chris, This was an interesting take on the prompt for sure. But I must confess I missed some of the references having never consumed anything Star Trek related. That being said, you still kept me incredibly engaged with this piece. It was fascinating and mind boggling-a bit like jumping down the rabbit hole. It’d be interesting if you managed a sequel, but kept it strictly “boring”. Perhaps, taking a step back and explaining things from an omnipotent narrator who finds none of these characters interesting in the slightest. It’d be a chall...


Chris Campbell
05:05 Aug 25, 2023

Hi Amanda, I was trying to pose the question as to what existence really means. A spark of energy or a lifelong sentient journey? With the billions of stars and galaxies out there in the universe, life must exist in the strangest of forms and spans. To lighten my story's journey, I chose 1960s tv shows as the backdrop. Do fictitious characters exist in real life? Are we just chapters in someone else's story? It's a deep subject to discuss. I wanted to mask the seriousness with some good old fashioned light entertainment and keep a common ...


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John K Adams
14:44 Aug 03, 2023

Chris, Please summarize... just kidding. That was insane, and yet strangely calming and informative. You gave me insight to how my brain works when I'm sleeping. I feel current yet strangely disconnected. I'm in awe of how you held some sense within this collage of impressions from so many different sources. Or better, kaleidoscopic! Talk about opening vistas of inquiry! I loved how you distilled so many characters down to their essential exchanges. And found commonality among such diverse characters. On first impression, completely sca...


Chris Campbell
15:50 Aug 03, 2023

John, So happy you got this. Imagine what I could write if under the influence. Thank you for the wonderful feedback. It certainly was a wild ride through some tv's well-known dynamic duos. P.S I might just try writing one while drunk. 🤣


John K Adams
16:49 Aug 03, 2023

I'm told Hemingway did alright with that strategy. But editing is another thing altogether.


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Ty Warmbrodt
22:21 Jul 31, 2023

That was insane! What a fun take on the prompt. Creativity at its best. Bravo


Chris Campbell
04:29 Aug 01, 2023

Ty, Thanks for the kind words. It was a fun ride while writing it.


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Kevin Logue
08:41 Jul 30, 2023

So much nerdy fun! Love how their is a thread of dualism in the characters they flick between. And as a long time lover of all things star trek I can really see this as a episode ha. You have excelled at excellent excellency!


Chris Campbell
02:34 Jul 31, 2023

Kevin, Thanks for the great feedback. Glad you picked up on the duo thread. Such wonderful feedback. I'm a lover of Star Trek as well.


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Delbert Griffith
12:41 Jul 28, 2023

LOLOL Dude, what a thrilling, madcap ride through the consciousness of so many of my favorite characters. And then - then! - to introduce AI into the mix made the tale a masterful work on existential philosophy and the meaning of consciousness. A real tour de force, my friend. Funny, introspective, sobering. Your talents as a writer are unquestioned, Chris. Once again, you give us something that only a true talent can pen. Nicely done, my friend. Nicely done indeed. Cheers!


Chris Campbell
04:12 Jul 29, 2023

Delbert, I wanted to do so much more but had to cut off at the word limit. Indeed, it is a mad dash through well-known characters and shows. A few underpinning messages and just simple, mad fun. As always, your feedback is wonderful. I admire your dedication to reading and commenting on so many stories her on Reedsy. You should become a judge. Thanks again for the encouraging words, mate.


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