Saturday, April 14, 2007

Vocal Carcinoma

Stan Tamborine sat in his dorm room, trying in vain to come up with a good name for the protagonist of the piece he was writing. It was a Friday night, and everyone on the floor was getting drunk. Everyone but Stan. "Stan's aren't big drinkers," Stan had always said. "They're big geologists." But all Stan's geology major friends were out getting drunk, so Stan sat in his dorm room, and decided to name the protagonist Tad Thalamus. He then dropped his neurology textbook in the trash.

It was going to be a science fiction piece. Stan knew it wasn't really the most noble of pursuits. He could be off discovering some sort of new igneous rock formation, after all. But, though he loved rocks, he spent his nights alone, writing. Or at least, he wanted to. He told people he did, but he mostly just wandered around the floor, looking for anything to do. He didn't even like any of the people he would meet, but he couldn't bring himself to write something he didn't like. Tonight, however, he had become fed up with his failure to create, and forced himself to do some writing.

For a good while, he just spoke to the reader, delivering no actual plot, no real solid information. Science fiction is about prognostication. Stan's introductory literature course on science fiction had stressed this fact. But so far, nothing he had written related even slightly to the future. Nothing even remotely speculative had been written down. It was all just autobiographical ramblings: complaints about his social life, worries about his motivations as a geologist, anxiety occuring due to his tremendously small penis. All of this he disguised as Tad Thalamus' problems. It was cathartic, but it was getting Stan nowhere. Nobody reads science fiction to hear about the author's small penis. Nobody reads science fiction.

He started throwing some things in about humanity regressing to a more ape-like intelligence, and being conquered by a newly discovered disease that possessed a hive-mind, but he couldn't think of anywhere to take the subject. He started listening to some jazz. He considered the possibility that his social failures may have something to do with his taste for banjo-based jazz experimentation, but refused to accept it.

Hearing some noise coming from the lounge, he walked over to find it filled with drunks. People he had enjoyed philosophical discussions with just hours before were eating corn chips and jumping on tables, shrieking like apes. Stan really felt this simian behavior cheapened their dialogues on string theory. He struck up a conversation with the one other sober person in the room: a little girl. She was 18, but five feet tall, and skipped everywhere. Their talk revolved around how crazy everyone was, and how hilarious she thought it to be. In a room full of inebriated, everyone was brought to her level. It was unfortunate for all involved. Stan left.

Times like these, Stan thought he needed solitude. But then he was left to brood. Seeing the depths of human stupidity infuriated him, but he longed for their company. The novels he read were full of things like this. A common theme of science fiction authors is alienation, surely due in no small part to their failure to connect to humanity. He enjoyed the books, but they didn't fix anything. He turned on the TV, hoping to be distracted from his frustration. The news said something about a new breed of cancer that could communicate to other instances of the disease, researchers said, coordinating metastasis with military-precision. No cure was in sight.

Stan's cell phone rang. He looked at the number, and recognized the area code. His mood momentarily rose; it was the same area code as back home. Imagining it to be a friend he had lost touch with, or perhaps a girl he had used to know, he answered. It turned out to be a drunk stranger. Their conversation involved only one word: hello. It was repeated by both parties several times until Stan hung up, realizing that it was the most intelligent conversation he had participated in all night.

Stan had downloaded Edward Penishands the day before. The scenes were hilariously awkward, even for a pornographic film. Edward licked nipples with such precise ineptitude, and his dual penes sprayed urine with such force. Stan had downloaded the movie as a joke, upon recommendation from a friend. He now watched the movie for its original purpose, without any ironic motive. He felt a lump. It started talking to him. "Did you see me? I was on TV," it said.

He zipped up his pants, and began writing again. Finishing the piece, he felt an epiphany. He left his room, and walked into the lounge, with a piece of paper in his hands.

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