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LJ Idol - Week [5] - Distractions*

A relatively long distance away, in a galaxy not very much like this one, the Great Head and fellow leaders in charge of a particular world, were not happy. It seemed that more and more people were replicating themselves: “breeding” if you want to be gauche about it. The fear was that these beings, dangerously outnumbering their leaders, might become unhappy and do something… unpleasant.

Now, there was enough food to feed everyone; there was enough to drink for all. There was enough space. So there was no reason to expect a revolution. But those factors could change, usually at unexpected moments. And the leaders were not “evil” per se. They liked the beings and were often amused by the situations and circumstances they would occasionally hear about them, through second or third parties. And certainly the lucre those subjects generated kept the leaders’ places assured. So, they sought distractions.

First, they heard the citizens would do something called “Enter-Tainments” where various people among a population would perform acts, show talents, bits of business and sing songs, do humorous routines and tell stories to keep others amused. “Performers” traveled around to the various towns. This proved to be a modest success, as people enjoyed these travelers when they had an opportunity to see them. But the population continued to grow, and there were only so many groups available.

Soon a seer and adviser to the Great Head, Noster Paternus, said he had a vision. Rather than have one group, or even a series of groups go from town to town, they could create great halls and have recordings of such groups performing using projected images! The wisest inventors set to their sketchbooks and workshops and created a device to record and then play back the images. And soon thereafter, the moving image shows were sent into every town and could be there every day, and night.

This certainly pleased both the people and the leaders, as the people could always distract themselves from the unpleasantness of their lives any day, and the leaders started receiving even more funds because of it, as some people began to create stories to show in these halls and others performed in them all for a fee.

Things were going so well, that Paternus got to vacation, and it was during a visit near a place it was commonly understood people lived, he overheard a conversation where one youth stated that the projected image show was not available at a convenient time, that he would have to leave work to ever see it, and that to travel to and from the showing place was time consuming.

That evening, in his slumber, Paternus dreamed of a device that would be like the projected image device, but in each dwelling! He rushed back home from his retreat to share his vision with the Great Head.

Again, the most sage inventors of the realm set to work and created the device Paternus saw: one that could receive pictures and sound from long distances and show them wherever those devices could be!

And again, these devices were offered, presenting many of the favored acts that so many people enjoyed from the “Enter-Tainments” days, performing on screen for people to watch. Demand was incredible, which pleased the leaders, because the price for operating all of it was covered by various merchants who wanted people to see their products and ran advertisements during the programmes, making it very cost effective, indeed.

The Great Head was extremely pleased, and even some of the “regular” people became famous and maybe even a bit rich because of their work in this area. This served to provide more distraction, as people became fascinated with those that went from being nobody to being seen on these devices, and pursued them.

Eventually, all of the people seemed to want an opportunity to have an acknowledgment and one evening the Great Head approached Noster Paternus with a question – “How can we get more people involved without having to pay them to perform?”

This time Noster went directly into a trance as he spoke to the Great Head, who propped him up by his collar.
“Two ways!” he exclaimed from his deep sleep state. “Have a system where all people can post all of their own histories and stories, and have everyone be able to look and see them!” The Great Head nudged Noster again “And have devices that people can carry with them to communicate, play games and create their own enter-tainments to share!”

When Noster awoke, even he had to laugh at such an absurd thought. Still, the Great Head commanded his inventors to create exactly what Noster described.

And surely it came to pass that when the new devices and system were presented to the people, they all wanted them. And people created many enter-tainments for themselves and their fellow citizenry, while the Great Head and all his fellow leaders got unspeakably wealthy, discovered many secrets about the population and would every now and again ratchet up the cost of everything, just for fun and just as a variant distraction from the otherwise unimportant lives of their subjects.

The moral of the story? If you want to get a Head, you should put down your devices.

*This piece was written for LJ Idol using the prompt: "Build A Better Mousetrap."


( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 12th, 2014 11:43 pm (UTC)
Very clever piece :)

Very much enjoyed reading it :)
Apr. 15th, 2014 12:52 pm (UTC)
And thanks for reading!
Apr. 13th, 2014 01:44 am (UTC)
I just love this one! :D So interesting.
Apr. 15th, 2014 12:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it!
Apr. 13th, 2014 04:38 pm (UTC)
This was quite clever! :)
Apr. 15th, 2014 12:53 pm (UTC)
Thanks for a lovely compliment!
Apr. 14th, 2014 01:27 am (UTC)
As always, I enjoyed reading your work. I sensed a touch of satire. It was very, very well-written.
Apr. 15th, 2014 12:53 pm (UTC)
I appreciate that very much! Thanks!
Apr. 14th, 2014 07:00 am (UTC)
I think "unspeakably wealthy" describes the results many of those peole are enjoying. ;)
Apr. 15th, 2014 12:55 pm (UTC)
This is what might happen when people are left to their own devices! Thanks for reading.
Apr. 14th, 2014 06:40 pm (UTC)
lol Clever and very amusing.
Apr. 15th, 2014 12:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much!
Apr. 15th, 2014 04:45 am (UTC)
It is research paper time. I'd honestly like to leave a better comment, but I at least wanted to let you know that I've been here to read your entry!
Apr. 15th, 2014 12:57 pm (UTC)
Well, thanks for taking time out to just read and comment! That's very kind of you!
Apr. 16th, 2014 12:57 am (UTC)
I echo many above--very clever!
Apr. 17th, 2014 03:53 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading and commenting!
Apr. 16th, 2014 01:19 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed the almost jocular tone to this piece. (well, that's how I read it, anyway!)
Apr. 17th, 2014 03:53 am (UTC)
That was the intent! Thanks!!
Apr. 16th, 2014 06:14 am (UTC)
Laughs, I enjoyed this. All hail The Great Head.
Apr. 17th, 2014 03:54 am (UTC)
Thanks much!
Apr. 16th, 2014 12:43 pm (UTC)
Amazing!!...kept me "Enter-Tained" till the end. A good take!
Apr. 17th, 2014 03:55 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading, and for a lovely compliment!
Apr. 16th, 2014 12:49 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what to say, but I like it.
Apr. 17th, 2014 03:55 am (UTC)
I'll take that as a very kind compliment! Thank you!
Apr. 16th, 2014 01:08 pm (UTC)
*phew!* Thank God nothing like this could ever happen here!
Apr. 17th, 2014 03:56 am (UTC)
You are SO right!! Thanks for reading.
Apr. 16th, 2014 04:02 pm (UTC)
Not sure if you were targetting Fox or Apple here. Perhaps both?
I thought perhaps the reference to getting more people involved without paying them was about reality TV, but it turned out to be smart phones and tablets.
An intriguing way of making the point that society is largely composed of slaves to our e-devices though. And the irony that each and every one of us on this forum is caught in that mouse trap :)
Apr. 17th, 2014 03:59 am (UTC)
As far as I know, most Reality TV performers do get some kind of payment - just not the scale wages that SAG/AFTRA actors receive.

I definitely wasn't going for any particular manufacturer, but more the societal interest and how that affected the people of that distant world.
Apr. 16th, 2014 05:30 pm (UTC)
very creative, well done!
Apr. 17th, 2014 04:00 am (UTC)
Thanks very much for reading and for the compliment!
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