There was another murder today. Bob watched the news and had the whole story unfold before him as though it had happened on some fictional planet instead of two blocks from where he lived. He stuck around longer than he wanted because the on-scene reporter was young and blonde and had perky tits. He lost interest in the tits when the body was shown being loaded into the ambulance. The corpse. He clicked the TV off and went to his computer. He brought up his web browser, turned on his webcam, and started streaming. He sat, staring at the screen. In the corner, he could see his image being projected out into the empty world. His eyes were sunken and tired. Acne covered his face. His arms were scrawny and pale.
“I feel like we’re doomed,” he said to the camera. To himself. To the world. His eyes drifted down to the viewer counter in the corner of the screen. It read zero. He thumbed at his mouse and considered stopping the stream. Outside, a car alarm began blaring.
“I don’t know if I’m going crazy or what,” he said. “Once something is seen, can it ever be unseen? Can reality be denied? Is it even possible to know what reality is? Isn’t truth, real truth, lost through interpretation?” He sighed. The viewer counter rested comfortably at zero. He looked at the small camera and the small camera looked at him. Across the street, where the car was alarming, shouting filled the air.
“We built this,” he said. “We bought this lot at the price of our souls and God didn’t even take time from His day to try and fucking stop us.” He ran his fingers through his hair and felt the grease deposit onto his fingers. At the corner of the screen, the viewer counter clicked to one. Bob blinked and looked at the chat portion of the screen. No words came through.
“Everything about life is a prison,” he said. “We work for money that is created from nothing so that we can turn around and give it back to the people who created it from nothing to begin with. We’re the prisoners and the guards and the wardens and the construction crew who put up the walls.” He looked at the camera and the camera looked at him. The car alarm was silenced, but the shouting was now louder and more violent. The viewer counter still read one, but no words came through the chat.
“We are the keepers of our own prison. We pay taxes for its upkeep. We buy shit we don’t need to make our lives happier momentarily, and that money just goes into producing more shit that we don’t need so we’ll buy it again. We pay for television channels that tell us what to think and who to like and who we wanna fuck and who to hate. Then we take those implanted ideas and spread them across our prison as if they’re ideas of our own. I cheer for football teams, but I don’t lift weights. I drink to forget who I am and where I am and why. I’m a prisoner in my own life.”
The shouting turned to blood curdling screams of panic. Two gunshots were fired. Bob looked at the viewer counter at the corner of his screen, and it clicked back to zero.