News From Around the Universe
My apartment is broken into by government agents at 4 in the morning. I’m handed a cup of fair-trade, dark roast coffee and a sealed envelope with the word classified stamped on the front. I’m told I have 48 hours to verify the validity of the documents within and to mail back the contents to the Department of Secret Stuffs. They tell me there’s a self-addressed envelope inside as well. I notice that there’s no postage and when I start to ask why they’re being so cheap they’ve disappeared.
After falling back asleep, cleaning up and refilling my spilled coffee, I thoroughly inspect the envelope. The contents within appear to be a collection of entirely true news stories from around the universe and various dimensions. These stories may not have a direct bearing on our lives, but they shed light on issues and situations that could affect us here on Earth. The first article is from “The West Dakota Tribune”:
“West Dakota Residents Charged with New Tax on Breathing”
Residents of West Dakota will be forced to pay a a new tax next year. The bill passed state legislature late last night and was signed by the governor 27 seconds ago. The Breath of Fresh Air Act proposes a 40% tax on constituents for breathable air. Businesses and white male landowners are exempt.
Our first three reporters were forcibly “Freedomed” from the capital by red-blooded American leaders after receiving multiple patriotic blows to their person. One of the legislators in question released a four-page statement which just contained the repetition of “U.S.A.!” After the matter was resolved with no consequences, we contacted the State Senator Mya Pocketsful, the author of the bill, through a backchannel at a pecan roasting factory that exploits squirrel and chipmunk labor.
“Right now, people only get their breathing from oxygen produced by algae and trees. This is extremely inefficient,” said State Senator Pocketsful. “There’s also no quality control. People who provide jobs for their communities deserve to breathe better air.”
Outside of a recent town hall meeting we spoke with a white male landowner. “Maybe think about how you and your child are going to breathe and cut out that third meal,” a local uncle and jet ski connoisseur commented. ”It’s really frivolous how the poor spend their money on food, medicine and shelter.”
The business community is happy with the recent bill. We contacted the spokesperson of Fresh Scents, a company whose sole purpose is to decay the environment and promote the use of baby koala traps. “The atmosphere in West Dakota is made up mainly of pollutants from our factories, so the people are essentially breathing in our product. These toxins, or what we like to call lung enhancers, are being enjoyed from our factory for free. We can’t have people stealing the air we breathe. Breathing isn’t a right. When are the poor going to start thinking about how their poverty affects corporations?”
We did not feel the need to reach out to anyone truly affected by the bill. Our advertisers reassured us on this position. The governor’s office is currently drafting legislation in congruence with Fresh Scents to monetize sunlight, déjà vu and that contently full feeling after eating just the right amount of food.
This next article comes from a dimension where all wars were finally ended by Phil Collins. People decided in this dimension to open their ears, hearts and minds. It’s from a publication called the “Daily Heath Ledger”:
“Phil Collins End All Wars”
You’ve probably noticed the news has been absent of any coverage of war, death or destruction. Before boredom overtakes you, this is the recent result of a song that was released last Friday by Phil Collins. The name is so powerfully blinding it will not be etched here. All copies have been pressed into old Mariah Carey 45s. Once it hit the airwaves soldiers all across the world put down their guns. Researchers also cite a large viral movement of holier-than-thou sharing and one-upmanship help spread the music that healed the hearts of humanity.
“I first heard it after my Bing search for lions and kings,” stated a former ruthless dictator from a country that’s located somewhere. “I immediately disarmed all of the nuclear warheads, death squads and goon patrols. Mr. Collins has taught me that I don’t need to torture my people to be happy.” Western world leaders refused to comment and were heard mumbling.
The sweeping string arrangement, from the creator of such hits like “Easy Lover, ” throughout the piece has caused masses of people to weep uncontrollably for the beauty of life. “I’ve heard God and their name is Phil Collins. I mean, he was in “Genesis.” He was ”Genesis”! That’s enough for my ethnocentric view of the world to come to this conclusion,” stated a person that would not stop calling us.
However you categorize the former bongo player on one song off of George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” album, this musical number has ended all disease, famine and heartbreak. Speaking the lyrics has even been shown to cure burn victims. Everyone on earth has resolved all of their problems after realizing the true meaning of life, which I don’t need to reiterate here.
If only we were all in that timeline, but do we really want Phil Collins to have that much power? I’d like to check back in on that dimension in a couple of years to see if they’ve kept it up. Next up is a story where a certain dimension’s scientist are having trouble convincing their people of some scientific truths:
“Fringe Gravity Theory Pushed by Scientist”
A group of radical scientists have recently published what many lawmakers feel to be fringe science. Chief among them being the Universal Law of Gravitation. As a journalist I will portray both sides of the argument regardless of the validity of the claims. These people of science assert that this force attracts every particle to every other particle in the universe with respects to distance and mass.
We visited a rural state to see how representatives are dealing with this new information. “I’ve never seen it!” shouted a lawmaker that had bravely fled up to the rooftop of the community center during a town hall meeting in his home district. “Jump, then!” responded a constituent. This started a raucous volley. “Jump! Jump! Jump!” Meanwhile, the statesman tweeted about vindication and triumph over evil.
A politician we spoke with on the phone said, “Forgetting the fact that this hoax was created by an operative from a hostile foreign government, from whom we won independence, the science just isn’t there. Next these scientists, more like terrorists, will say that gravity evolved and is gender-neutral. Where are the scientists that are researching and experimenting on projects with real American ideals, like a football you can eat.” When pressed further the elected official mumbled before abruptly hanging up the phone, “It’s more of an issue of state’s rights.”
Other theories considered wackadoo, as Rudy Giuliani once wrote on a bathroom wall in an adult movie theater, are heliocentrism, Jesse Eisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, and the rule of thirds in comedy. No opinion here on the issue. Reporting both sides equally and fairly. Next, we turn to our bear reporter with their chilling exposé on salmon and 101 uses for honey.
The next piece is in a slightly different format and is somehow the transcribed stream of conscious from a woman named Shannon Quill in a dimension of Earth entirely the same as ours with the exception of their world has green clouds:
“A Day on Twitter with Shannon Quill”
Shannon Quill opens up her Twitter account one afternoon to find Twitter atwitter. All the tweets are ominous. Tweets outlining some unknown tragedy. Shannon scrolls and scrolls but can not find the exact details of the event. Billy Eichner tweets, “THIS IS LIFE NOW!” Shannon chuckles but is unable to draw any conclusions from this tweet. She searches her mind’s appendix of the past few hundred tragedies that have occurred in the last two days, all dates prior too hard to access from the constant barrage of scandalous bullshit. Corrupt and pointless bullshit. She can’t pinpoint a concrete reason so she continues to excavate.
A congressman from somewhere tweets, “We are all Americans this day.”
“Oh no, this must be really bad.” The call for unity sent chills down her spine. Shannon decides to look up a few alt-right twitter handles to see if she could graph a line with the scatterplot of thoughts on her homepage. After the #MAGA results pore in she encounters an avatar of an American flag high-fiving a bald eagle.
“Freedom isn’t free #falseflag.”
“What the fuck happened! Why can’t someone just actually post what happened?” Checking the ‘tweets she may have missed’ section she stumbles across Buzzfeed. This could be great journalism or a quiz. “Finally,” she thinks right before she reads the post.
“Which Jane Austen character is this tragedy?”
“Fuck! That’s intentionally vague and insensitive. Does anyone actually even know what happened?” She digressed in her mind about how Jane Austen is misread, how her novels aren’t seen for the satire that they are and how they are reduced to costume drama. “If I wanted to hurt myself I would have logged into Facebook.” Shannon lays her head down on her desk and places her phone face down. A menagerie of blood, death and Trump danced around in her head. He had tweeted about a photo that was published by CBS of himself with a bagel and how that particular bagel was exceedingly large, very sad, and that in addition to making his hands look small this particular bagel may have ties to Russia and why wasn’t that being investigated and so forth. A rare intellect indeed thought Shannon.
Shannon decides to check her app one last time. AP Press tweets, “it’s all over and everyone is dead.” After the initial shock wares off along with how it couldn’t be entirely true, wasn’t she someone? Shannon thinks that with the freeing up of her schedule now she should do something for her. She scrolls through the last remaining tweets of humanity as the sounds of dragons, winter and screams blanket her apartment.
I grab my second cup of coffee and ponder about what’s going to happen when those 48 hours are up. The clock in my apartment was eaten by a racoon so I’m not entirely sure what time it is. The next article in here is about a different version of Google that has solved world hunger. I’m sure there’s nothing dystopic or anything terrifying about this dimension:
“Google Solves World Hunger”
Our benevolent overlords at Google have created the new Foodle application to combat hunger anywhere in the world. Access your Gmail account (you need a Gmail account, Google’s version of email) and click on the Foodle icon whose image will rotate depending on whichever country’s artisanal labor is most popular that week. Once those two accounts are linked together, allow those two accounts to access, review and investigate your Google Plus page, Youtube account, location, microphone, camera, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.
Along with Foodle, engineers at Google have manufactured a portable and wireless 3D BioPrinter for the app. Each BioPrinter comes equipped with enough nutrients to last a year before the ink needs to be refilled. After charging the BioPrinter (which can take up to ten hours), sync your device with the printer using Bluetooth technology and download the software update. This will take around forty hours or whenever it is that you fall asleep weeping from hunger and frustration.
Now, upon awakening and after all of the software is in place, open up Foodle and on the homepage click on “Begin Assessment.” You should feel a slight breeze. Foodle removes your clothing and is inspecting every inch of your body. This is entirely for enhancing your dining experience and has nothing to do with market research, advertising, or anything from a Phillip K. Dick novel. A faint giggling may be heard but you should ignore it, or maybe do some sit-ups. Once the physical inspection is complete you will undergo a barrage of psychologically invasive questioning to better understand how your subconscious influences your taste buds. Information that will never be sold to Doritos.
Thank goodness we don’t live in the same reality as this obtrusive corporation. Let’s see, here’s what appears to be a letter to the Editor of Time from the Universe. Not the magazine, but the editor of the fourth dimension, I guess:
“A Letter from the Universe”
In an unprecedented turn of events, all of existence will return back to two Thursdays ago precisely at 2:37 p.m. EST. The news was beamed straight from the Universe directly into the Editor of Time’s email inbox earlier this morning which he forwarded to multiple news outlets. After skimming through twenty boring pages of numbers we arrived at a recording from the Universe giving an explanation for the date change. Here is a transcript of the abridged version from the recording in its entirety:
“We come in peace and take us to your leader! Ha, just joking. We meant, we mean you no harm but don’t take us to your leader. Just wait a month from now and you won’t even believe… but we digress. This may come to a shock to you but the Universe had a really bad day those two Thursdays ago with Earth. We really dropped the ball and we’re sorry. People, or humans, not sure which you prefer, deserve better from your Universe. Every phone call was missed, no trains ran on time and coffee and alcohol were spilled everywhere. We’re not proud of these shortcomings and we are deeply apologetic.
Stoves, coffeepots and toasters were left on all day, or were they? It was hard to tell. It was a confusing time which led to the last two weeks of mishaps. We accidentally turned the gravity off for about a minute and that really scared you all. We don’t blame you. Also, not everyone was a fan with turning the oceans into cotton candy and we see now how that could be considered bizarre to some people. Cephalopods were big fans though. Oh wow, we almost forgot about that giant spider. Yikes!
We’ve been spending too much time focusing on what we think people want from us, like cotton candy oceans, and that had us making poor decisions. We were letting things slip. The Universe needs to focus on what we need to do to be happy, but this isn’t about us. We’re returning all of existence back to two Thursdays ago in about four hours. All of us will go back. We’re not proud of this but we, as a universe, deserve a second chance. Oh, we’ll all remember that this happened too. No one will have their memory erased. This isn’t some hack job.”
The recording went on to wax poetically about the meaning of existence, the importance of kindness and telling those you love how you feel because “there are no do-overs in life as far as time is concerned, except for this one, and it won’t happen again, maybe, so you should really feel lucky,” and so on. Information that we will not burden you with here.
There’s about a dozen more stories in here on various types of paper. I grow tired of reading and think about watching a movie instead. I’ll definitely be able to verify all of these stories after a little bit of ‘me’ time. I’ll save “101 Ways to Cure Cancer” after I rent something new on Amazon. There’s probably some new films on Netflix too.