Fireworks! Bursts of gold glitter! The sound of an air-raid siren! Title card:
“It’s 2:47 AM!
Written by YOU!
Directed by YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS!
Produced by YOUR HIPPOCAMPUS!”
Title card fades, and the camera pans in on a fuzzy purple caterpillar, cozily reading a book by a fireplace.
Oh, hello, you! It’s 2:47 AM! I was just wondering where you were. Come, join me by the fire, and we’ll lie awake considering all of your anxieties. (He cups his ear with one of his feet) What’s that? I don’t seem all that scary? Oh, good, I’m glad to hear it. This isn’t a nightmare. No, no, you’re half awake! I’m actually an idea for a children’s book character you had about 15 years ago. You were going to write a best-selling series of 32 books about me. Of course, you never got around to writing even a page, and now your best ideas are gone, as is your ability to work at something for more than a minute before you have to check your phone. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
A pause, while you check your phone.
No new emails? Of course not. It’s 2:47 AM! And also, no one loves you. So, what would you like to do first? Let’s see… tonight, we have (He holds up a series of title cards for the camera) “Worry about mole/deathly melanoma on left knee,” “Replay ‘Called Dan Don’ incident in the mail room from seven years ago,” “Fret about career,” “Fret about partner…” (He stops, and looks up, chuckling.) So sorry. No need for that one! “Fret about dying alone,” or “Did The Americans end up wasting or fulfilling its promise in the end?” What’s your poison?
You hesitantly choose The Americans.
Great! “Replay ‘Called Dan Don’ incident in the mail room from seven years ago” it is! Let me just pull that memory up. Here we go!
A small screen descends. Grainy video of man taking mail out of his mailbox, turning, and rolling his eyes at the camera.
Ready for the quiz? Just one question: What should you have done?
A) Nothing, he probably was just having a bad day, surely you were not the first person to ever call him Don, why can’t you let this go, it’s been seven years, good God.
B) Made a Godfather joke.
C) “Whoops, sorry!”
Oh, there’s no correct answer. No, you just keep replaying these choices over and over, wishing that you could go back in time to fix this.
The sound of pounding hooves is heard in the distance.
Oooh! That’s the sound of a giant pack of numbers stampeding! Here comes your current salary, your life expectancy, the percentages that you sort of remember from that article about retirement that you skimmed at the dentist’s office, the amount of money in your savings account, the amount you should have in your savings account, the amount of credit you could access tomorrow if you had to… here they come!
A crazed rush of numbers fills the screen, overwhelming it until they finally dissolve. The screen begins to dim, then snaps back to full brightness as the BOOKWORM shakes it.
Whoopsie! You almost fell back asleep! But before you do, what was the name of the girl your brother took to his junior prom?
A brief pause.
Oh. Marie, that’s correct. Huh. I didn’t think you’d come up with that so quickly.
The screen starts to dim again. The BOOKWORM pokes it.
So! What do you think Marie’s deal was? Because that one time when she came over to watch Friends with you, she was a little weird, right? Oh! Do you think maybe she was living with an alcoholic parent and you just never realized it? How thoughtless. Hey, maybe you should get up and search online for her and send her a heartfelt note. Go on, now.
The screen starts to dim again. The BOOKWORM sighs.
Dammit, time to call in reinforcements.
The ALARM, a cheerful and very brightly lit lightbulb, appears on the screen.
So, so sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to remind you that you have me set for three hours and eleven minutes from now because you have to get to work early for that important meeting.
Wait, does that mean she’ll only get three more hours of sleep!?
Three hours tops. And that’s if she can even fall back asleep, what with not having decided what to wear yet. And the blazer she thinks she might wear is actually at the dry cleaners. Oh, and also? Climate change is real.
The screen had started to dim, but suddenly, it snaps back to fully lit, showing the BOOKWORM smiling smugly.
The BOOKWORM and the ALARM high-five.
(Leaning into the camera) By the way, you have to pee. (Leans closer still.) But for some reason, you don’t want to get out of bed.
He leans back. The camera remains on the BOOKWORM, smiling, for another 39 minutes until it finally fades to black.