A man sits down in his living room chair, his fingers fiddling with an old cigar. In the background an analogue TV is on, but it’s out of tune. Cigar in mouth, he fingers through the pages of yesterday’s newspaper, scanning momentarily at the headlines of war, bombings and potential nuclear explosions. He sighs, and puts it down on the stained coffee table next to a collection of dirty mugs.
The static carries on playing in the background as the man reclines, leaning his balding head on the peeling wallpaper. His surroundings are minimal, but he likes it like that. Easier to pack up when he inevitably has to escape again. For now, though, his collection of history books and newspaper snipping will suffice in making him feel at home.
The static noise continues. Outside, the night progressively gets darker. It’s silent, apart from the occasional scream. Just another typical evening.
The man takes a drag of his cigar. Another scream, continuous static. At this point, it has just become white noise to him. Sometimes, when it’s a quiet night, he cannot sleep. It’s become normal. Death is inevitable, now, he has discovered. ‘So it goes’, as Vonnegut would say.
It’s better to just ignore it than say something. There’s not much the man could do. He used to rebel, he used to protest. After seeing so many perish it became evidently clear that his shouting was just becoming a part of the white noise. Instead, he sits and reads in his chair. He leaves his home as little as possible, to pick up canned food, perhaps some apples, then he returns and he listens to the static. Sometimes he challenges himself by completing a crossword, but almost always gets frustrated.
He’s not a psychopath. He doesn’t enjoy hearing the atrocities going on outside. He takes no pleasure knowing that the soldiers torture and murder on whim. But he knows that there is nothing to be done. The man reads of past wars, World War 1&2, the Cold War, Vietnam war, etc. There are many reasons that humans create such travesty, but still, we never learn. The man has come to accept this.
A bomb goes off. A mile away from him, perhaps; more screams seem to accompany it. The man doesn’t flinch, he knows when it’s vital he must evacuate, but that time is not now. In his mind he pictures where he thinks the bomb hit, what the damage would be. A mile away, potentially near St Alex’s children’s hospital. Carnage, screaming, blood, ash.
He hopes it hasn’t hit the jumble shop that he visits, only to collect history books now the library has been burnt down.
Eventually, when his cigar burns out, and only ambulance sirens can be heard outside, the man manages to fall asleep. His sleep is filled with static.