Sunday, September 18, 2022
His phone pings on the bed next to him. It’s 2 a.m. and it hasn’t pinged in at least an hour. Odd really.
He finishes reading the page he’s on, puts down the book, and reluctantly reaches for the device. He activates the screen, enters his code, but before he can see what the ping was he’s asked for the 27th time if he wants to “finish setting up” his new iPhone. As he’s not given the choice “No, and don’t ask again” he has to click “Not Now”.
The message that caused the ping tells him the water reservoir on the dehumidifier in the other room is full. His old dehumidifier had a little yellow light that appeared on top when the water was full. He’d notice when entering the room and empty it. But that machine broke down weeks ago. He had to get a new one, and the new ones notify by message.
He decides to go empty the dehumidifier, because it’s humid in fact, it’s always humid. He knew this before taking the job in Houston, but yeah, he kind of didn't know it.
After emptying the dehumidifier, since he’s already at the bathroom sink, he figures he might as well brush his teeth and call it a night.
He reaches for his toothbrush, which at the last instant he remembers is a new toothbrush. He groans as he picks it up. Of course it has a safety casing around the bristles. The little screen lights up along the handle: “Activate your new Dentbright Toothbrush?” He clicks “Okay”. It instructs him to download the App. He trudges back to the bed and gets his phone, activates the screen, enters his code, clicks “Not Now” to finish setting up his new iPhone, then searches for dentbright.com.
He downloads the App, and after entering his code again, he can open the App. He gives Dentbright his email, creates a password, opens his email for the verification code, then goes back to the App to enter the verification code. He clicks “Set Up New Toothbrush”, then scrolls down to find his model. He clicks the icon. The connection is suddenly bad so he scrambles over to the nearest window, stubbing his toe against a desk leg in the dark. The icon for his model activates, his phone slowly connects to his new Dentbright toothbrush, and the handle says “Unlock safety casing now?” He clicks “Okay”, the casing lock clicks open, and he takes off the casing and tosses it to the floor, putting his phone on the bathroom sink.
While he’s brushing his teeth the phone pings. He rinses his mouth, puts the toothbrush in his glass, picks up the phone, activates the screen, enters his code, clicks “Not Now” to finish setting up his new iPhone, gets to the message that caused the ping, which it turns out came from Dentbright: “How do you like your new Dentbright toothbrush?”
Since he’s not given the choice “Fuck off already” he clicks “Satisfied” and puts the phone back down on the bathroom sink.
Before finally going to bed he needs to piss, so he steps over to the toilet, which gives a little chirp and says “Welcome back!”
He stands for a few seconds in the dim light, the toilet now silent. He feels the coolness of the floor tiles passing into the soles of his bare feet. He relaxes his muscles and begins to piss. He’s tired in fact. He closes his eyes as the urine streams into the bowl.
In mid-piss his phone pings, causing his body to jerk slightly in irritation, the stream of piss now spraying past the edge of the toilet bowl onto the floor.
He groans and reaches for a handful of tissue. He starts to lean down to wipe up the small puddle when his phone pings again.
He stands up straight, tossing the tissue in the direction of the puddle. The tissue misses. He steps back to the sink, looks at himself in the mirror. He stands there. Looking. Then he grabs his new iPhone which has not been completely “set up” and bounces it sharply off the tile floor, splintering the screen into a spiderweb pattern. Picking up the phone, he tosses it into the toilet bowl. The toilet says “Flush now?” but he ignores it.
Stepping back to the sink, he grabs the new Dentbright toothbrush, twists it into an L-shape, and tosses it into the bowl with the phone. The toilet says “Flush now?”
He reaches behind the toilet, pulls loose the plastic casing and yanks out the wires that power it.
He strides back toward the bedroom, passing the dehumidifier. Then he stops, turns back to the dehumidifier, unplugs it, hoists it up, and smashes it against the wall. As the machine crashes to the floor he hears someone mutter in protest in the apartment next door.
He finally returns to his bed, clicks off the light, and lies in the dark, his heart racing. He thinks about his job, about Rachel. He thinks about how when he gets up in seven hours everything—yes, everything—is going to be different.
* * *
Check out Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.
Posted by Eric Mader at 1:45 PM
Labels: short story, story
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