The ninth of my many entries for this year's Pod and Planet. This is entered in the "Other Things Just Make You Swear And Curse" section [along with one other, hopefully, if I can finish it]. This one is 679 words.
Inspired by a passage from Eve Source, which has fascinated and confused me.
It was, she decided, entirely pointless. An hour in front of the projector, getting nothing done and learning even less? Where was the struggle? Where was the flash of inspiration that solved the problem? Gallente Holoreels, she declared, were not for her.
And yet she came back, again and again, to watch them. Day-el and Aura, her flatmates, had mocked her initially, but eventually they learned a shared fellowship of fandoms and fantasies. Each twist in the plot, each subtly manoeuvred hand or weighted glance, they discussed. If Kala was to die permanently, or if it was another fake-out. Day-el agreed with her, but Aura favoured permanently. The show needed a villain, they said. Someone merciless enough to beat Kala at her own game.
Still, it was frustrating. How could she explain that she hadn’t got 110% on the ‘easy’ Caille tests because she had been watching some silly show? Her parents living on ‘Frigia’, as Aura called New Caldari Prime, wouldn’t understand. So she slept less, worked harder, and watched more.
Aura laughed at that. She had converted one Caldari, she said, from sneering disbelief. If one conversion was possible, then everybody had potential. She worked on Barin, her boyfriend, but it was a challenging task. The twisting, pulsing social dynamics that so fascinated the girls slipped through his clumsy fingers. Aura dumped him. “Justice!”, she declared, and anyway, he was ‘ming-ing’. Another of her strange modern words that no-one knew how to spell...
Still, with Barin out the picture, they could finally get their own boyfriends. What was it with men that, like hawks, they avoided each other’s territories? Sky-city like ‘hunting’ grounds, and not one of them would come home with her. At least her favourite characters were as unlucky in love as she was. A string of advances, rejected by a lightning-like defence field that protected them from her. There was a furtive romance with Dr Zhar Kov, a Deteis post-doc, but as soon as she brought the show up, he grew angry. “Brainwashing”, he bit out, “to get you to reject the State.”
He gets dumped, too.
The show goes on, even as they graduate. A new villain, sly Kly-tus, grew on her, but he wasn't her favourite. The Emperor in Red, he’s the one. The female lead, lost in the war, rocketed to new heights of melodrama. They mocked her roundly, echoing her heady claims of disaster in new and ironic ways. Surely, no Uhn (the inhabitants of their serialised planet) could accept her? Gorhd, the male lead, remained stoic and fierce, yet dreamy.
They go back for further education, and on into life. Day-el became a planetside journalist for the Scope, flying from crisis to crisis. Aura became a carpenter, building the wooden dwellings that the Caldari prize. Each house from ‘Arboria’ demanded a princely price. The show kept them together, through 14 hours of crises of love, life and ‘saving the world’. Ayy Jjax, her fiancé and second favourite viewing-partner, went off to war and never returned: the show got them through the loss. They built a shrine to he who was “King of the Impossible”.
Finally, however, all things must end. The show wasn't as popular, and the episodes were declining, though the writers still stood for every one of them. They gathered, in their old room, to watch the final episodes. The saga of the Uhns’ end wasn't one they will forget.
It’s darker than their usual fare, but they watched with rapt attention. Each twist and turn, each duck and dive, they memorised. The episode is a masterpiece, but it is the end they rewatch over and over. The tip of the spear, the impalement, the sword, the fading power. Gorhd, sacrificing himself, so that Sector Alpha 9 may live. They cheered, they cried. They are left hollowed out by weeping...
Eventually, they pulled themselves together. “We’ll watch it again”, Day-el said despondently. “All of it, together.”
“No,” she replied, “it isn’t over yet.”
“What?” they gasped.
“Didn’t you get it yet?” She smiled. “Gorhd-uhn’s alive”.