Life-Fed Scenes

Submitted into Contest #144 in response to: Write about a character who’s pathologically camera shy.... view prompt


Inspirational Adventure Friendship

Peter stood in the circle taking his turn to enjoy a mighty pull on the joint before passing it on to the next guy, Parker. Parker swayed drunkenly. Peter was just sick of the whole mess of it all. He felt as though he were looking at Parker through the wrong end of binoculars. Parker seemed far away, swaying in the center of a hyper-focused circle. Black hair sticking out every possible direction, glasses broken and smudged, looking to be slipping down his narrow nose. Wine colored button up, unbuttoned. White not white shirt now seen between the unbuttoned buttons. Hyper-focused on Parker as a whole, Peter took note that Parker’s torn and stained jeans were being held up by a bike tire as a belt, a belt once a bike tire. Peter felt like he’d been arm outstretched with the joint too long, yanked back the reach, took another long pull followed by an equally long cough. Later in the now, the joint back in air, mid-passing as an attempt toward Parker again. Parker looks over with eyes swimming back and forth, as if tracking twelve of Peter repeatedly passing the joint, deciding which Peter to reach for, what direction, whreee? Parker takes a stumble toward Peter. Peter notes Parker wears shoes without socks or laces and wonders how Parker could still have shoes. How Parker could have anything, really. Parker was always drunk, but Peter preferred that scene over the screen scene.

Screeners, man. Just can’t get far enough away from them….

Next thing Peter knows, he’s finally passed the joint to Parker, because he isn’t holding it anymore. His fingers twitch and rub against each other.

thumb finger index index palm palm palm

Peter catches his thought and makes fists, he punches his un-gloved hands as deep as they’ll go in his brown jacket pockets and glances around the circle. He can’t gauge how many of them there are, just knows there’s Parker right next to him, knows no one has any screens with them, knows that in this moment he has a bit of live-fed freedom.

Hey, um joint. Wher’s the j- I… hey, heey- Peterrr


wher’s the joint? man, hey wher’s the- hey Peter. Pe’er. He he hahaa. Peee’errrr

(sighs) Parker- what? What’s osooh hey, uh man. I dunno. I thought you had the- oh. Oh. Here it is man, on the grou-uh (grunts as he bends over)

Yeah, man yeah, of course!! that’s wher it is… give it, give it here man. Ya that’s great! (rocks back and forth excitedly)

The sun is setting and Peter doesn’t yet know which way the day will go- back towards tomorrow, or on to yesterday? His awareness of Parker begins to fade after his final pass found success. Parker is face down on the ground in front of him now, not quite in the center of the circle. Others in the circle mumble to each other, murmurs massaging against Peter’s eardrums. Peter catches a glimmer of reflection and looks up sharply. A square light, a circle of insanity, a soul-sucking being made up of shedded skin cells, sick microbes, flakes of empty particles of unnatural metals, plastics… His lungs expand as if preparing for a cough but his breath is suspended. His belly tightens, trying to force the exhale. His belt buckle left over from the rodeo of his childhood bites into his skin. A gurgling begins near his loins. His fists work the fabric of his pockets flapping out... out... holding the jacket taught like a tent. Heat swells the flesh of his face and beads of sweat ooze out, he thinks as sticky as the resin of the herb he just shared- ah, I ehh eh he just shared this ducking joint, man, and now he’s got a flipping cell phone out eh eh I cannot escape…eh, ehhh! the freaking Screeners are everywhere!

Peter whirls away from the circle and makes exaggerated marching stomps toward the tall grass. He doesn’t stop stomping until he feels he’s reached the Ocean's edge.


The Ocean makes its constant drone and soothes Peter’s not-quite-high-enough-for-that moment.

Peter screamed. “MEEAAHHHUUHHH”

He shouts loud, humorless laughs. “Hu. Ha. HA. Haaa. Ha.”

He gasped for breath.


The Ocean had a quieter drone now. He sat heavily on the sand. Sticky. Salty. The usual offerings of the beach. Grains of time; he sobbed. Soon, someday, someday he hoped the terror of the screen would be as pulverized as that which led sand to become sand.

A memory made a little mind movie reel in his head, a memory of childhood, his mum. His hunger. The gurgling loins of his settled, receded its activity down and out to the floors of the sand, a gas released in time. He unzipped his jacket and pulled-hugged his knees to his chest by using his oversize thermal shirt to help hold his fold all together. Of course, he rested his weary head on his knees, fingers interlaced around the caps, cold wind blowing from Oceans exhale of typical dampness. Hunger returned with the memory. S o so very hungry. He was 5, little jeans, legs twisted to hold the potty in. Counter holds constant light, square light of the talk box stealing all of his mother’s time. She’s wiping up, brushing up, lap lap lap goes the brush to lash, lashes thick and full for the wolf’s pending comment, oh my what big eyes you have... the wolf on the other end of the line, the wolf stealing all of mommy’s time, the wolf who knows not nor cares the terror its yap will bring. She’s annoyed with her son. He’s too dumb to understand there’s no app for that, and she ain’t hungry, and tonight’s only gonna cost a currency, but he’s soon to be out on the streets. He’s running, running away from home, from her camera, from her endless click click click. And not just running from her, running from them.. all of them…

He’s dreaming. The nurses are typically hideous. Bigger lips than normal, probably hiding bright white pointed teeth, breasts pushed up, cleavage leading. In the right hand, they hold the needle. They’re coming. Peter jerks violently chanceless for escape. A long grass blade tickles his nose. Why are they jabbing my nose? I don’t want the shot…I don’t want the shot! The cameras in their left hand click. Click. zoom...

Peter sits upright. He’s been passed out on an orange couch in the middle of a rare grassy field in a rare abandoned lot looking rarely past the grass, Ocean…unseen unless the wind blew, yes the couch itself rarely looked out to the vast empty feeling om of an ocean. The sky is dark, white seagulls form horizons beyond... Peter reaches under his thermal to feel if there’s any joints left in his inside not so secret secret breast pocket. Ho, empty, just as he thought, just as he knew it would be. Empty. He contemplates the ocean being its own sort of empty, and why this was an all-pervasive feeling even though all forms of life one could know and not know about dwelt in the salty water there…inside, above, beyond and besides. There was all sorts of life out there, right here, even inside of him. He closed his eyes to listen, but the mind movie immediately got up to its projection tricks and he flew them open again. The grass. A little wind. The ocean. No screens. No life but his own and the alien beings that lived independent of the screen, out here inside of his own little slice of live-fed freedom. Parker suddenly appears. Stumbles towards Peter and they both know he’ll soon be butt to butt next to him on the o-range couch. Parker sits too close, practically on his lap, really, and Peter pushes himself over. Creates some space. But not too much space. Parker is a real-live not Peter human.

Not a Screener, man. a human



I feel really small. in the best way. in a really insignificant way.


but my head hurts, man. all this water around and nothing to drink. amber liquid me another day, eh? got any funds for the drink?

Parker, this scene is free. Let’s just sit here and be free. No joints, no drink, no screen.

hm. ya. hm. ya. ok. ok Peter. I’ll sit. I’ll wait. I’ll watch. Let’s observe this truth together.

All day Peter and Parker sit on the orange couch, among too tall grass, in a rare-to-find space. They wait. They watch. Birds crap. Fish sorta fly. The wind blows. The Ocean does quintessential ocean things. Om. The bugs buzz. Peter and Parker spend the whole day vaguely aware of their own heartbeats and hyper aware of the live-fed scene unfolding all around them.

Ya. I’ll never go back. That other world is an other world, Parker. I’ll never work in it. I can’t man. Everything’s a screen. They’ll steal my soul if I’d let them. Capture me in. I broke her phone. I smashed it. I left the scene. I threw the scrim of my life on that sim out, drowned it, put it in the ocean. No job for me. Ever. All those jobs have screens. Not the scene for me, man. Not the scene for me. I’ll fade away out here, thanks. No home for me. No. No home for me. This here, this home less life, that’s my scene. Everyday, no screen. No screen’s gonna steal my soul. This here, this here scene is my last chance for living a little bit of freedom…

As the sun sets, Peter stands and stretches.  

May 03, 2022 09:10

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