By Justin

​Nothing seems to catch these days. I watch flick after flick after flick but they’re all starting to blur together. Still I watch, as if I have a choice. They say there’s other work on the outside, but we all know trash detail is euphemistic suicide. In fact, anyone that’s ventured outside the dome never seems to come back.

There’s nothing but conjecture to go off of, but I’ll take it. In my mind, when a man describes something, and in the process can’t help looking past you the entire time, their eyes wandering to a distant place you can’t see, their mouth moving listlessly the whole time, you listen.

I’m thirsty, so I ask for another bottle of Speb's. I’m a good watcher, reliable too, so I get a nice kind of discount. If I drink another three bottles this week, I’ll get another a coupon for another one (all free!); I’m real grateful for that.

The bottle falls through the chute and bounces off the concrete floor before rolling lazily towards the northernmost wall of my Cubicon. Or at least I think it’s north. I’ve never been good with directions. I get up and stop it with my foot. It’s all fizzed up. Bummer.

Not wanting to waste a second of my workday, I double back and queue up a new flick. This one’s called “Silly Goose.” It follows a computer generated Canada goose who struggles to fit in with a gang of city-dwelling pigeons. His catchphrase throughout is “birds of a feather flock together.” It’s a family film. It’s got a good message. It’s terrible. I rate it four stars.

I receive 400 Kroons for my effort, and scoff. It’s a pain to transfer kroons to MegaBucks, and the exchange rate is far from fair to the Gobby side. Still, 400 isn’t bad.

I take another sip of the Speb's.The cool carbonation and syrupy thickness settles my stomach, and purges my hunger. It’s better than the government crap, but it’s a hell of an expensive habit. Still, you’d struggle to find anyone on my block who wasn’t addicted. You’re advised to drink just one per day, but I override the warning each time it pops up. If the surgeon general didn’t work for Snide gum we’d probably not even get the prompt.

It’s hard to keep track of who owns who. I think Snide is owned by Octocorp, who used to belong to Nephrilia, but I can’t quite remember. Nephrilia are obviously a member of the Sheshire conglomerate, but what’s the connection again? Maybe about 57 companies back they’re owned by Kelp international. Yeah, that makes sense.

Kelp tried to steal the Speb's recipe about a year back. As I recall, The families of the criminals were covered in GRAFT wire and thrown from the top of the dome. As they fell, the wire shredded them into bits, raining blood and wet chunks of meat along the dome’s sidewalls. We were all made to watch it. It was fantastic. I rated it four stars.

My block lies in the lower quadrant of the dome, to my preference. Some watchers strive for the top suites, believing all the Gobby crap we’re fed. They always try to relocate people to the top homes, but they’re dangerous, because of trash despots and falling debris.

One of these Gobby films, -mandatory viewing- follows a broad, wide-hipped, toothy woman as she goes through the process of buying her home here on the Dome. She’s supposed to be a young upstart watcher, but she fails to look the part. Since actors are pulled from those too poor to do anything else, (mainly criminals and toppled garbage despots) they have terrible casting, nothing like the old flicks.

Also unlucky for the poor girl was the no-makeup rule for Gobby films. You could tell the poor girl was being pumped full of Prolacticane to keep her upbeat. Her neck veins were distended and thickly pulsing, a dead giveaway. She says some unconvincing fluff about how we should try to be as close to the top of the dome as possible, but every time she looks at the camera I’m hypnotized by her disgusting veins. It looks like they’re bound to burst any second.

Every watcher’s seen this film over and over. We slag onto crypto’d v-chat and laugh at her acting. “What a tremendous waste” says Bannigan “Coulda sold her for a whole twenty-one pack of Speb's.” We laugh hysterically, but it’s sharp, hollow, mirthless.

“You couldn’t get me anywhere near the dome” says Tierfan “I’ve heard the thing is damn near collapsed.”

This Gobby film isn’t time-locked like the others, so I can watch it for credits any time I want. Still, I can only watch it maybe once or twice a week. I just hate to look at her. It’s not worth the pain, or the megabucks.

However, watching the flick over and over, I’ve noticed some things, like how you can see light coming through small holes in the dome. The digi-wizards try to cover it up with FX all nice-like, but they’re rushed these days. Just about any flick we get is filtered through them, and that makes for a lot of tough work. If Gobby doesn’t like the violence, or the acting, or anything really, they change it in post. In fact, recently, most films are entirely FX.

I barely notice it most time. I spend more time watching than doing anything else. It’s the only way I can really afford anything.

The next flick in my list starts up. It’s a period piece, a romance between a prince and a lowly peasant woman. The prince loves her for her personality, doesn’t care that she’s a member of the lower class. It’s real sweet. There’s even a song break in the middle. In the end though, the prince decides the best way to express his love is by giving her 50 bottles of Speb’s. The anachronism completely takes me out of the film. Total drivel. Four stars.

My stomach growls. I slam the rest of the Speb’s bottle and shudder. It feels like my whole body is on fire, bleeding pure ecstasy from every pore. This stuff really is the best.

One day, on what I often think of as the best day of my life, the chute accidentally dropped two Speb’s instead of one. I was so excited I immediately drank both, almost made sick by the rush. Later, a man had dropped through the chute, inquiring about a missing bottle. I lied through my teeth that I had no idea what he was talking about, but he quickly found the second empty bottle, scanned the Seri-code and proceeded to beat me senseless. Thankfully, though, I could barely feel any part of my body, so early in my Speb’s habit I had been. As he rained hit after hit on my weak, flabby body, I continued to watch flicks, knowing full well he would be punished for his behavior.

When two more Gobby men fell through the chute, cracking GRAFT wire whips at his back, I barely noticed. After all, after about ten minutes I had become completely enraptured by the film, and completely desensitized to the pain. I considered stopping the flick to take stock of my situation, but I wasn’t sure if I could afford to. I lay, taking blows, half-focused on the film, half-focused on this man’s execution.

There was a moment where I could feel the blows stop, and started to hear the man howl like a wounded animal. Half his face was avulsed, hanging limply like an ill-fitting mask, and I could see each tendon in his jaw tighten in fear. The Gobby men kept striking him over and over, hacking off limbs and flesh, until he was little more than a screaming, twitching torso. They then proceeded to throw him out the window. He screamed all the way down, but I never heard him land. I was too focused on my flick.

Back to Stories