Luke walked through the large double doors and stopped. He removed his pack and his shoulders felt like fishing floats on salt water. The road dust leaped from his boots and floated to the marble floor. He looked up with tired, excited eyes at a 20-foot-tall television screen. He had only seen them in books or heard of them in stories, and now he was in front of one for the first time, and the blue light made him feel very small and very curious. It was like walking in on God with his back turned and waiting for him to wheel around and notice. Luke was speechless.
At the base of the massive screen sat a woman at a desk in a dark suit – one little dot against the blue. She stared into her own television screen and yet another screen sat in front of her, facing Luke, that read, “Start Here.”
He made his way to her desk and started to introduce himself, but he was interrupted.
“Wait!” said the woman, smiling, not looking up at all from her personal screen. “Here it comes.”
Luke was puzzled.
“I’m sorry?” he said quietly.
The woman shrugged and looked up for one second.
“That Part!” she said. “Wait. Okay. Here it is!”
She held her screen up to Luke’s face just in time for him to focus on the image of a man in a white suit, holding a peacock like a baby as he said, “Tonya, you’ll always have my one-two-nine.”
Next, a massive explosion filled the space behind the man, and he looked slowly over his shoulder.
“Oh my god, don’t you love that?” the woman asked.
Luke just stood, and hoped to find the right words.
The woman tilted her head and made a face like she was thinking.
“You must be an immigrant,” she said. “Sorry, I just totally love that show. Okay, here, take this and walk through that door.”
She handed Luke a silver bar with an arrangement of buttons on the front. Luke walked through the door, which was labeled, “Port of Entry, Television of the United States.” Once inside, Luke found himself in a forest of television screens. People, looking just as lost as he felt, stood at the screens, each with the same silver bar in their hand. Luke noticed a screen with a flashing green light above it, and moved intuitively in that direction. Once in front of his personal screen, it came to life. Luke’s heart raced as the screen produced a crisp image of a woman standing next to a stack of smaller television screens, all of which displayed images of families laughing in slow motion or people walking on beaches carrying sandals in their hands. Then, the woman spoke.
“Welcome, and thank you for choosing our country. Is this your first trip to the Television of the United States?”
The woman’s question echoed from other screens in the room.
“Is this your first trip to the Television of the United states?
“First trip to”
“The Television of the United States?”
Luke looked around to notice other people pressing buttons on their silver bars. He looked down at his and found a button marked yes.
He pressed the button.
The screen before Luke lit his face with orange and green light, and his eyes widened as a blast of trumpets and laser beams filled his ears. Then, a voice sounded from the screen: “The Television of the United States is always excited to receive new Viewer Citizens. We’re certain your stay here will be both entertaining and fulfilling, but before we begin, here are some products you’ll need to purchase within the next 23 hours to remain a legal Viewer Citizen…”
There was a short hiccup of blackness on the screen, and Luke shifted in his boots. Then, the screen lit up again…
“If you’re new to the Television of the United States, particularly if you are from the White Dot Collective, you’re probably experiencing some anxiety due to the strange and exciting environment you find yourself in. That’s why you will buy NoShy Omoxil 900 within the next 23 hours, or risk arrest and deportation. NoShy Omoxil 900 … start feeling like everyone else today.”