Observitude, Part One
Surprisingly, I was walking down a corridor. I say surprisingly because I’m not sure how I got here. In fact, I’m not sure what happened before this moment either. I had the numbing feeling that I’d been dropped into a short story with no effort at background information.
And what a corridor it was. I had little reference for other corridors, but it would have easily been in my top 1 of all the corridors I’d seen. I couldn’t see the end of it. It was made of some futuristic-looking material, probably metal, but it’d been fashioned to look like wood. Wood panelling, to be more specific. The lights were low, appearing on either side of the wall at every blink as I walked down the corridor. If you’d moved the camera to the right hand side of me, it would have looked like a chase scene from Scooby Doo. Which was odd, because I couldn’t remember what Scooby orDoo was.
The lights deserved extra scrutiny, and not just for the purposes of this exposition. They looked old, but they were brand new. They looked exactly like a light you’d imagine seeing in a Hollywood movie set from a 1950s mafia speakeasy, but when I looked inside I spotted there were no bulbs. They were certainly lighting up, but they were providing flickering, yellowing light. They had the appearance of a set of electrics that would worry a reputable electrician.
But even more horrifying than the state of the electrics was the disgusting decoration glued half-way up the wall on either side of the corridor. I struggled to think back to a more repulsive image ever searing into my retinas. I would have nightmares, flashbacks, and PTSD from what I was seeing. Dark brown in colour. Its curves destined to never leave the 1990s. Perfectly varnished. It was a dado rail. It’s a word I’ve never written down before, and a word I hope to never write down again. All I could do was marvel at the workmanship to make something so incredibly repellent to the eye, so incredibly and pleasingly horizontal.
I checked off what I’d already seen in my head, as a summing up of the frankly overly-described story so far. We had a metal corridor, neverendingly futuristic in nature. It had been fashioned to look like wood panelling. We had lights without bulbs, and no clear understanding of how they were working. The inspiration for which had been drawn from old and cliched movies. Then, perhaps worst of all, we had the dado rail, one so perfectly placed centrally and horizontal on the wall, no human on the planet could have performed such exquisite DIY.
Keen to move on, and as if by magic, the first sign appeared on my right. A neon sign, ripped straight out of a nightclub. ‘Observation Room 1’. I opened the door, instinctually preparing myself for an argument with the door staff of the establishment. Anything written in such cool tones of neon and so dull of name has to be a fashionable nightclub.
Oh. It was an observation room. A chair, a table, a room, a one-way mirror. Looking back at me on the other side of the mirror was another human. At the bottom of the mirror was a little clipboard, with a few words written on it:
‘Subject: ten ecks’
There were a few more words written on it too, but for the purposes of increasing tension, I decided to leave those until later.
I pressed the single red button on the table, and attempted to communicate with the ‘subject’.
“Siri, speed up this conversation.”
“Erm, I’m not Siri.”
“Who are you then?”
“I don’t know to be honest. I’m just here, talking to you.”
“Well, I think so.”
“Where the hell is the ten ecks button?”
“What the hell is the ten ecks button?”
The subject sighed. His blank resignation said everything. I had a feeling he was about to trot out a very staid and heavily scripted piece of dialogue designed to help me understand who he was and how he got here.
“I have spent my entire life building up the ability to listen to conversations at least twice the speed of a normal human. Recently, I have surpassed even my own expectations, learning the ability to listen to conversations at ten times the speed of a normal human. It’s allowed me to dissect learnings faster than ever. It’s improved my life by at least ten ecks. I was working on a highly engaging Twitter thread to explain my learnings, when I opened a direct message on Twit…”
I’ll be honest, I’d zoned out. I’d become somewhat of an unreliable narrator. My eyes drifted back down to the clipboard to read the remaining of this subject’s file.
Subject appears to repeatedly refer to ’ten ecks’. In our brief conversation, subject appears to have a pathological desire to speed up both his responses and mine. He kept prowling the room, looking for the button that would allow him to ’ten ecks’ his conversation. The subject appeared to believe all conversation and noise had been recorded for their personal purpose, and thus allowed them to bend reality to save time. Subject repeatedly refers to speeding up learning, as if learning is the only thing that matters in life. Subject also kept referring to learnings. I mean, to the point where it got annoying. Like, really annoying. Like, so annoying, I’ve reverted from my formal observation reportage to inform you of how, like, really annoying this subject is. That’s what I learned from this subject. Please don’t make me come back and observe this subject on day two. I may kill him ten ecks.
I was walking again down the metal faux-wood panelling corridor. The dado rail mocked me with every step, it’s perfectly horizontal angle never quivering. It was challenging me to lay a spirit level on it at any point of its never-ending straightness. It would normally have been a challenge I’d have accepted, but I’d arrived at another sign.
This sign looked like an old pub. Dark green, slightly tatty. Its name: ‘The Boot and Observation, incorporating Room Two’. This was one of those fancy modern gastro pub things. Those pubs that have the appearence of a pub, but when you tentatively cross its threshold, you discover you must wait to be seated. You discover it has wait staff. You discover it has pleasant toilets. You discover somebody has glued a canoe to the wall. I turned the handle and walked in, preparing to feel underdressed.
Oh. It was an observation room. Another chair, another table, another room, another one-way mirror.
Although, this time, there wasn’t anybody sat in the seat. There was just a little post-it note stuck to the mirror.
‘Nipped out for lunch. Will be back next Saturday’.
The truth hit me like a dado rail at the back of the head. I was in a serialisation. And the truth hadn’t hit me like a dado rail at the back of the head. It actually had hit me. And everything went black.
Amazing, ten ecks amazing.
Yea if you'd said "chair rail" instead of "dado rail" not only would your piece have been less funny but we wouldn't have enjoyed this absurd and entertaining conversation!