Note: This is NOT a mature-themed prose. The only reason why it has a cut-off is because it would be far too long if it didn’t, and then it would clutter the blog. This is appropriate for PG-13.
“Come one, come all, to the great exhibition!” the voice boomed from the speakers that hung from every corner of the room, “Whether it’s romance, action, horror, we cater to everyone!”
Children crowded around with cheers while the adults acknowledged the announcement with pride and anticipation. Every available spot in the dimly lit room had been filled with screens, set with projectors that animated the white material to life with color and movement. Speakers were aptly placed beside each screen to provide the sound, woven delicately to gracefully coincide with the videos. Machines accompanied the displays with simple buttons and levers, decorated with signs that screamed ‘DO NOT TOUCH’.
The crowds were meek in the presence of the moving images, quiet and still. Even rowdy children were calm and attentive, drinking in every sight and word presented to them. So was the setting for most of these presentations, with the exception of one as a gentleman ran around enthusiastically while he hooted loud and proud.
“I am so very glad you could make it, everyone! Kids, thanks for dragging your parents here!” he greeted, allowing the audience to laugh for a short while before continuing. He straightened his suit and tipped his tall hat, “I know most of you know me by different names, and since I own this place,” he emphasized the word ‘own’, which was punctuated by the audience’s cheers, “Call me the Owner. See, short and sweet!”
Suddenly, he stopped in his place to the giggles of the children. Crossing his arms with mock importance and with a cheeky grin, he leapt up to the screen and faced the audience, “Now, it gives me great pride and joy to present my work,” in a dramatically slow pace, he lifted his hands to accentuate the screen, “Interactive movies in every genre imaginable, operated by simple buttons that even children can use!” he gestured towards the smiling kids who sat in the front of the audience.
He chuckled, “Well I can see that the children have glued their eyes on the screen instead of me, so let me just get out of your way,” he announced, sliding his way to the right, “Please, please, enjoy the film!” the crowd’s explosive cheer drowned the speakers’ music, and in response, the Owner bowed deeply in gratitude before slipping away to entertain the mature audiences in the crowd.
“This is great fun, what you have done here, my good sir,” an old man with a dapper suit guffawed, a glass of ambrosia he held in his right hand, “Such intricate detail. I love them all!”
“Why thank you,” the Owner graced, “Your praise means much to me, but perhaps you praise too much.”
“No, that’s impossible,” a lady dressed in fashionable and daring red argued, “You deserve every small bit of it. I have never seen nor felt such overwhelming…” she glanced at the screen behind her, which had the images of a young man and woman projected. They were wrestling in bundles of white cloth, groans and mutters clearly audible from the speakers. The little children pointed and laughed, while she gasped and flushed (although not completely embarrassed), “Emotions.”
The restless children began to wander around in innocent play, tinkering with any sort of machinery they could lay their grubby hands on. A young girl, not quite an adult but not quite a child either, had grappled the problem with useless scoldings. The children giggled at her futile attempts, and one toddler succeeded in pushing a big red button with the words ‘BOMB’ labelled over it. Immediately, the screen connected to the machine flashed with a bright light, and the speakers produced a deafening boom. Wincing, the Owner excused himself to remedy the situation.
“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent…” the words from the monitor gradually lessened as the Owner lowered the volume. He reminded himself to put an ‘OUT OF ORDER’ sign on the particular exhibition as soon as possible, which was a shame as that particular film was his best work. Sighing, he patted the shocked toddler and returned to entertaining his sponsors.
“I must say, you have done the perfect job in emulating everything,” the old man said, continuing his previous conversation, “To be frank, you had me worried when I heard that you would be creating the characters based on our image, but it turned out to be quite spectacular! One could only be so captivated by freakish monsters and objects!” Once again, the man laughed obscenely, “Now I can only wonder, did you create such unconventional characters out of narcissism or criticism?”
The Owner laughed politely, “I can assure you that I created them without disapproval in my mind.”
“Yes, yes, such a textbook answer from such a textbook man,” the cold ringing from the taps of high heels echoed in the room, from which an old lady appeared from. Her white hair was done meticulously, wrapped high in a royal hairdo, with feathers decorating her personage. She fanned herself lightly, though one could guess that her actions were out of fashion rather than the heat, “What I am intrigued by most is your level of devotion towards your creations. Or rather, obsession.”
Though taken aback, the Owner chuckled lightly, “Why, what is this obsession that you speak of, my lady?” he entertained as he bowed and kissed her hand that she had stretched out of formality, but as soon as the woman had retracted her arm, the disgust and disdain in her eyes were as clear as daylight.
“Is it not obvious,” she said, announcing to those who had gathered around to watch the debacle, “That you are quite attached to your own creations, perhaps not out of the wonders and glory a masterpiece would harbor… But out of pure, paternal love?”
“Oh preposterous. Nonsense!” he sputtered, “Such attraction is… Is repulsive!”
“Prove it,” the woman ordered. Whipping her fan close with an authoritative snap, she pointed at a particular projector filled with tension and anger, and what looked like to be a young girl in a very heated debate with an identical, older woman.
The Owner was particularly proud of that film, he was attached to the characters in it, especially the girl. He was nervous, and though he would not admit it, he did not want to interfere in the ongoing events of the film. He hid his anxiousness, covering his face with a cheerful facade, and then chipped in with a graceful manner, “Yes, my lady, how shall I please you?”
“Such emotions bursting out from this machinery of yours is ridiculous, isn’t it? Why is it that they favor shouting rather than quiet debates? Such foolishness makes me question your intentions,” she wondered, the slow clicks and clacks occupying the silence as she sauntered over to the projection. Her fan hovered over the projector teasingly, and as a small smile appeared on her expressions, she commanded, “Kill her.”
He gulped and picked all his possible choices, although there was a big red button labelled in equally big letters of ‘STAB’. It was easy to end the girl’s life, all it took was just a press of the button. But it was not a matter of being able to or not, it was matter of desire. Of want, and he did not want to kill her.
“Yes… To kill her, was it?” he stalled, he had to stall, if not the girl’s life would end right before his eyes. His most beloved creation, his masterpiece, he could feel his heart thumping in denial of the request.
“Why, what are you waiting for?” the old man who the Owner had conversed with earlier egged him on, “They are just characters, are they not? Why, you could easily make a new one!” he laughed with good humor.
“Ah, yes, yes you’re quite right.” What his sponsor said rang true, the Owner could just as easily make a new one, one with the exact same personality. But it wouldn’t be the same, his heart screamed, she wouldn’t be the same.
He could clearly hear the words being uttered from the projector, the older lady was shouting at the girl, raining down abuse in the form of curses, and this in turn allowed the tears to flow from both parties.
“Mom, please, please understand!” the girl cried, “I had to do it, I had to! He was hurting me!”
“You could have fucking taken it, you ungrateful shit!” her mother countered, “But no, you didn’t. You had to tarnish our family name, our reputation that I’ve built from dirt!”
“What is the matter?” the white-haired woman asked, snapping the Owner back to reality, “Is this perhaps too much for you? Are we to believe that you cannot control even your own mere creations?”
Almost immediately, the silent whispers of disapproval raging in the room appeared to the Owner. People were skeptical of his credibility, he knew, sponsors were debating whether they should retract their support. The glares of disappointment were harsh and directed towards him, and under it, he felt small and scrutinized. He panicked, if he lost his popularity and standings, he would lose everything. Would he lose all that? For just a little girl that he had created to begin with?
“No! Of course not!” he defended himself outrageously, “I was merely observing their actions.”
She scoffed, “You’ve observed enough,” she snapped, “I am beginning to doubt your motives, and I am sure that I can vouch for others as well.”
No, he couldn’t lose everything. He had to save his other creations, a small creation like this didn’t matter, he attempted to convince himself. It didn’t matter, just a small little girl like her, she could just make another one! Yes, that was right. He could just make all the small little girls as much as he wanted to fill the spot of the soon-to-be missing one. It was just as easy as a push of a button. As easy as a push of a button…
The taps of his feet resounded in the silent room as he approached the machine, the Owner held his breath to discourage himself from running away instead. You can just make another one, you can just make another one, he reminded himself, even if he knew, deep down, that it was not true. He didn’t mind, he forced himself to look the other way. His fingers felt numb with the fear of pushing the button, the girl had always been cheerful, and he always had comfort in watching her smile. She didn’t deserve this, she didn’t deserve the abuse, she didn’t deserve death.
“Mom, mom please…” the girl begged with all of her will, “Please forgive me, I promise that I’ll make it up to you, I promise!”
He forced the lump in his throat back down, he couldn’t risk it being seen by the onlookers. His present smile wavered. You can just make another one, you can just make another one, he repeated like a mantra, drowning all of his other emotions of sorrow and anger. He had to do this if he wanted to continue with his creations. He had to, he had to, and there was no way out.
The Owner looked away as his fingertip grazed upon the button, and he blocked all sounds out from his ears and heart. The scream, the cries, the clash of flesh with metal… All of it, he blocked it all out. He looked away and addressed the crowd with the plastered smile, fake in all of its glory.
“Excellent,” the dignified woman praised for once, “I am truly glad of this improvement. We cannot have someone of your stature bow down to the wishes of the lowly. They are only humans.”
“Only humans.” He echoed.
“Good, and remember that,” she tutted and turned to exit the theater with her head high and proud, “We are Gods, after all.”
He sighed, “Yes,” he repeated once more with resignation, “Just a God.”