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Before you get rid of that analogue television, you should try it out. See if it still works. That could mean the difference between donating it to a thrift shop and tossing it into a landfill with everyone else's outmoded gear.
It's dusty. Sure, that's only to be expected. How long has it been since you've used the thing? It has to be more than a year, since you finally broke down and got a more modern flat screen that was on sale.
Clear off the dust. Just in case. The last thing you need is to start a fire because you didn't want to throw the damned thing in a dumpster just yet.
Find a free electrical socket and plug it in. Ah! It made that little "tweee" sound it always made when the power came back on after a blackout. You're getting nostalgic now, aren't you? The sounds and sights you'd become so accustomed to, which you've now put aside forever!
Remember hooking your game system up to the television? Remember connecting the VCR? Now you just insert a single plug from your DVD player to your current television, but back then you were actually left to your own wits. Red wire to red outlet. White to white, yellow to yellow. If that doesn't work, try to find the manual.
Ah, the old thing works! Well, it came on, at least. It powered up. That's a good sign, and maybe it'll find a new home with someone less fortunate than yourself.
It would be nice if it played something other than static, but for that you'd need a digital broadcast converter. It's part of the reason you finally upgraded, after all... why buy the converter when you should just get a new television anyway?
The old TV still remembers the channels that were programmed into it. Three, Four, skipping five, Six, and so on... the poor thing has always remembered what channels you could get, and has been waiting for you to come back and watch them. Kind of sad.
Hey, what's this?
Some faded, barely-there picture. An analog broadcast, still going. Isn't that illegal, now? Didn't the Government push everyone to digital? I don't know about you, but I think that's kind of strange.
But seriously, what's this?
What IS this?
Lean in closer, will you? See if you can pick out the shapes in the blizzard of black and white static. Turn it down a bit, though. The hissing sound is very unpleasant.
There's a very faint sound coming from the speakers... through the static, that is... some kind of weird mumbling, though maybe it's just your mind playing tricks on you. You're just hearing things amid the noise, I bet.
"Mrmle mrmle meemee meemle murmr mrmle..."
It just keeps going, like someone's having a conversation with their self and they aren't too worried about being clear.
Oh! Here's an idea!!
Turn on the closed captioning. That might do something.
HOST > WELCOME TO WOBBLE WORLD! CHILDREN, WILL YOU SAY HELLO TO WOBBLE?
CHILDREN > HELLO WOBBLE! HELLO!
Maybe if you fiddle with the settings, you can see this a bit better... or maybe hear it more clearly. You remember the picture and audio settings, right? You can find those from the menu? There you go, you've got it.
Well that's not much better, but I guess it's something.
Look! There, in the middle of the screen. Someone's standing there.
What's up with his arms? And his head? His arms are offset like one of those tall cacti. One's lower then the other. One's longer than the other. Ha! His head keeps wobbling left and right like a hyperactive worm.
He's so far away. Or is he just small?
HOST > TODAY WE'RE GOING TO LEARN ABOUT SHARING, AND WE'LL SEE A NEW LETTER.
CHILDREN > ALRIGHT! YAY! A LETTER!
You can hear them, now! The "Host" fellow sounds like an old man with a British accent. Sort of like Michael Caine, but a bit weaker in the voice. Shakier. The "Children" are just that... a chorus of different kids all shouting out responses to the British Host's dialogue. They're mostly in unison, but there are a few stragglers who answer late.
There's a familiar sight. The letter "J" is on the screen in large, bold lettering.
HOST > WHAT LETTER IS THIS? DO YOU SEE IT? IT HAS A FLAT TOP AND A CURVY BOTTOM. DO YOU KNOW A LETTER WITH A FLAT TOP AND CURVY BOTTOM?
CHILDREN > "J"! "J"! IT'S A "J"! OH, I KNOW IT.
HOST > THAT'S RIGHT!
He sounds over-excited, like someone imitating a child.
HOST > THE LETTER "J" HAS A FLAT TOP AND A CURVY BOTTOM! ... I SAY, YOU'RE ALL VERY SMART INDEED!
He pauses, then sounds a bit concerned...
HOST > ... DO YOU KNOW ANY WORDS THAT START WITH "J"?
HOST > COME ON...
He sounds as if this is very urgent, but is trying to keep calm. He talks through gritted teeth, you can hear it.
HOST > DOES ANYONE KNOW A WORD THAT STARTS WITH "J"? ... ANYONE?
Without warning, the picture shifts to that misshapen silhouette in infinite white space. It begins wobbling faster... more erratically... its whole body seems to be twitching and shaking, now.
HOST > I THINK WE'RE MAKING WOBBLE UPSET.
You're probably knitting your brow, now. Staring at the screen quizzically. I wouldn't blame you.
YOU know a word that starts with "J", right?
Wobble takes a step closer to you.
HOST > OH DEAR.
It's kind of hard to believe those kids are taking so long with this. It's not exactly hard to think of "Jump" or "Jacket" or "Juice".
Did you just say "Juice"? I think you did, under your breath.
CHILDREN > JUICE! JUICE! JUICE STARTS WITH "J"!
The image shifts back to the large "J".
HOST > THAT'S RIGHT! JUICE! MY, YOU'RE ALL VERY CLEVER. THANK YOU, THANK YOU ALL!
He sounds very happy... relieved.
HOST > "J" ALSO STANDS FOR "JUSTIFY". REMEMBER, CHILDREN - YOU CAN JUSTIFY ANYTHING YOU FEEL LIKE DOING! CAN YOU SAY "JUSTIFY"?
CHILDREN > JUSTIFY!!
Well, glad that's over. It's kind of disconcerting that you thought of the word right before they all said it, but really how many "J" words would a little kid know? I guess it's time to turn the television off and put aside. Next time you're in the city, you can take it to one of those junk shops.
HOST > WAIT, DON'T GO AWAY YET!
Your finger instinctively withdraws from the power button. What's going to happen that's so important? Nothing you're terribly interested in, I'm sure.
The silhouette... I guess that's "Wobble" and this is his "World"... takes a step closer to the screen. He's shaking more, now, and his head is squirming this way and that with no rhyme or reason.
CHILDREN > YEAH! DON'T GO! PLEASE DON'T!
Your thumb finds the power button again. Wobble takes a few more quick steps, and the children simultaneously scream in terror.
HOST > ALRIGHT... OKAY...
HOST > THAT'S CLOSE ENOUGH WOBBLE
HOST > STOP SCREAMING, CHILDREN...
He sounds very worried, but he keeps trying to bring his voice back to a reassuring place...
HOST > HA HA, IT'S JUST THAT... YOU KNOW HOW WOBBLE FEELS ABOUT SCREAMING...
As soon as the kids all stop their shrill, mindless vocalizations, Wobble takes another few steps closer. He's almost filling the screen, now. He's shaking violently! If he vibrated any faster, you'd barely be able to see him!
HOST > WOBBLE YOU'RE SCARING US!
He's scaring you, isn't he?! Is that the sound of your heart racing? You'd better turn the damned thing off right now, don't hesitate!
As you click the power button, Wobble races toward the screen. The children scream. The Host screams. Thankfully, it's all gone within a split second and the television set is dark... quiet... your reflection in the screen looks a bit disturbing, doesn't it? All the color's gone from your face, and you're shaking!
I don't know what that was, but it wasn't... right. If you live to be a hundred, I bet you never want to see anything like that again!
You need some fresh air, I think.
Yeah, go outside. Just relax and take a few deep breaths.
It's nice out. Kind of cold, but nice. Crisp. The air is sweet and does a lot to help calm your nerves after... WHATEVER just happened.
Some children are playing nearby in a neighbor's yard. They're throwing leaves at each other and laughing and hollering. There's six or seven of them. It'd difficult to tell since they keep dodging behind trees.
You should probably talk to them.
Call out to them. Shout over, it's alright.
Ask them if they know any words that start with the letter "J".
They're staring now, just quietly watching you like you asked something out of the ordinary. Which you clearly didn't. As the seconds pass, it seems like they actually might not know any words that start with "J".
That's crazy, though. They MUST know at least one. How stupid would they have to be to actually NOT know any "J" words? They've gone back to playing now, screaming and playing and screaming, and the screaming is really getting under your skin. Why do they have to scream? Don't they know how you feel about screaming?
I have an idea that might help.
Take a few steps toward them.
Try wobbling your head.