How Many Pixel’s Are There In Wilford Brimley’s Mustache?
by Avaryl Halley
Date: March 12, 2072
Time: 8:00 am
Place: Charleston, South Carolina
I open the door to find Ed McMahon on my door step. A bushel of red balloons in one hand and check the size of my couch in the other. Wishing I had gone with my gut and had that cup of coffee before answering the door I begin to focus on what is happening. Half-awake I listen to his speech about taxes and limitations but find my mind wondering, Does Ed McMahon write those huge checks himself? If so is his check book the same size? and consequentially, does he have a pen to match? As the image of this eighty year old man wrestling a giant pen crosses my mind I recall that Ed McMahon died over sixty years ago. Before I can finish my thought this faux Ed McMahon is beating me over the head with the novelty check. I am thrown into the back of a white van with Publishers Clearing House written on the side. Laying on the cold metallic floor I can only think of that cup of coffee I wish I had had.
I am slapped awake by a man who looks an awful lot like Wilford Brimley in a lab coat. Because I skipped breakfast I instantly begin to drool, fantasizing about Quaker Oats.
“Follow me.” Wilford Brimley seemed to be in a hurry and a bad mood so I follow. Feeling my forehead for any record breaking paper cuts I follow closely down the corridor. The whole place would seem terribly sterile were it not for all the obnoxiously bright colors littering every surface. Colors so bright I hadn’t seen them since I found that old picture of my grandparents at prom in 1985. Suddenly we are in front of a pass-coded door, Mr. Brimley nods at the guard, who is the spiting image of Sir Ben Kingsley. At this point I am contemplating what was in the sushi I ate the night before. What could all these celebrity personalities from the twentieth century be doing here? Could this be hell? I am about to pinch myself when we turn a corner and I am presented with a bright green cubicle. In the center is a matching monitor and a single joystick. Wilford Brimley indicates that I should sit, and places a set of equally bright green headphones on my head.
“I will see you after dinner.” Brimley closes a gate I had not seen before, locking me in and leaves.
The monitor in front of me turns on. Music begins to play a very catchy electronic melody synonymous with one thing, Tetris. After seven hours Wilford Brimley returns. He helps me out of my chair. My eyes are having trouble focusing and my legs feel disconnected from my body. Is this what an out of body experience feels like? I heard so much about them in college but have never had the pleasure. Fully prepared to demand an explanation I work up my best authoritative voice but before I begin that bastard Wilford Brimley forces a pressure syringe into my arm and throws me onto the cold floor. I am unconscious in seconds. I dream of pixels, and shapes, tetris shapes. “Where is a long piece when you need it, no, no, not another square!” After a restless night of tetris strategies I awake to find that I have already been put into my bright green chair, headphones and all. How much longer can this go on, tetris all day drug induced comas at night.
No longer can I see the details of life, only cubes, shapes and pixels. That desk chair certainly looks like one of those uneven pieces I really could have used yesterday. I don’t know how long it’s been since I saw Ed McMahon’s face but it feels like an eternity. Since then I have seen Joseph Cotton, Meg Tilly, Buster Keaton, and I swear one day my nurse was Hedy Lamarr but I know better now, they must be impostures. What is this place? Who are these people? Certainly the government could not be funding a project to resurrect twentieth century personalities from the dead only to have them test the limits of my sanity.
Every time I think I have reached my breaking point I recall the day I was allowed into the common room. The day I realized I was not alone. The day I met Pacman, our leader, there were six of us total, Pacman, Centipede, Asteroids, Frogger, Pong and me, Tetris. Each girl had their own quirk by now but it was Pong who was the most affected, her eyes never quite focused as they panned back and forth as if watching an eternal tennis match. That was when we decided to escape, planning out every detail so it couldn’t fail. “No longer will our minds be turned to mush in front of our eyes” Pacman had said and she was right. I wake up, Wilford Brimley walks me down the long neon colored corridor. We reach the pass-coded door and I salute Sir. Kingsley, a smile spreading across my face. Today the neon green of the cubicle seems vibrant and less maddening. Even my game of tetris seems less arduous because I know it will be my last. Exactly one hour after I am locked in my cubicle our plan goes into action. There is a strange comfort in knowing we will all be together. I stand up, joystick in hand. I pull the cord out from the wall and string it around the beam above my head, as I wrap the cord around my throat I can’t help but think that the beam above my head looks like one of those long pieces I have been hoping for all this time.