Video Home System
rating: +6+x

In the middle of a dirty desk, with plastic coffee cups piled up, spilling their leftover contents on an unhealthy floor, traced by lines of ants, lay a frustrated author. He reacted violently, ripping character sketches from a plank above himself, tearing tentative timelines, and discarding story outlines. Abrupt movements that knocked an ashtray filled to the brim with cigarette butts to the ground, and directed the pile of leaves into a dumpster, also overflowing with discarded ideas and aborted narrative. Happy and bitter endings, conspiracies and twists and turns being suddenly removed from paper and mind, in a maelstrom of self-loathing and resignation. The flimsy wall that supported the board was receiving one clatter after another of kicks and punches; a violent, toddler-like chortling and ode to futility.

―This is all a load of garbage ―shouted the irate writer, as he stared crestfallen at his aging worktable, cracked and half-broken from the continuous fits of rage provoked when the man decided that one of the ideas he was working on was stupid. The life cycle for each of his concepts was always the same, and as time passed, it became shorter and shorter. A wonderful, unique and intriguing idea, developed over weeks where eating and sleeping were mere ordeals, only to later lose the hook and throw it all away. The relationship with his inspirational muse was one of love-hate, a back-and-forth of fights and reconciliations contaminating the creative process of a desolate man, who only wished he had a great story to tell, and was the living representation of the extent to which a man can be the harshest critic of himself.

Then, he would go to the bathroom to wash his face, look into his eyes reddened by the debauchery, and sob openly; the white ceramic of that place amplifying his whimpers and letting them escape through the window, mingling with the cacophony of an industrial city surrounded by monochrome apartment complexes and dull gray tones.

―¿Why am I not able to create something original, what do I have to do to give my work a unique form ―he asked himself, barely holding back his sobs. Having calmed down, he would go to his armchair and simply drown his sorrows between bottles of cheap whiskey and a small television, where he would spend the night. Television was an effective escape, which seemed to never cease to have things to offer, but these ideas eventually wore out. So he would turn on his VHS player, and proceed to put a movie in it. And another.

And then another, over and over again. He had a catalog of tapes of all kinds, sourced from all over the world. New releases with million-dollar budgets, B-movies, amateur recordings, avant-garde art collector's pieces with no rhyme or reason, and even a box full of porn tapes, snuff videos, and any mixture of the two that came his way from time to time. He proceeded to watch them one after another, for an indefinite amount of time, until he learned by heart every dialogue, scene and plot, every character, every mute, every climax, every coda. This process would end when a spark of a fresh idea would sprout, then he would turn off the VHS and head to his desk, grab some paper and proceed to plot out casts and stories. But some time later, the banging and ripped sheets would repeat the cycle once again.

His dreams haunted him. The videos he had already watched so many times were crisscrossing, characters were in foreign plots, and some were doing things completely different from how they were planned, but they were still consistent within their universes. Unconsciously, he realized that each of them was looking at him with hatred, as if from the depths of their souls they loathed him. Fixed in an immovable frame, in a visited scenario, with roles already lived in a narrative planned a thousand and one times. A prison, whose architecture mixed all the other existing prisons, but it was still a place of confinement. That was the mind of this man, surrounded by walls preventing him to escape to the originality beyond.

One cold May morning, after months glued to his tape player, he realized that he hadn't visited his desk in all that time, as he played for the eleventh time a film of Russians performing risky acrobatics on a lake covered with a thin layer of ice. Usually it only took a few days to get down to work, but now it was different; his muse hadn't visited him in a while. Puzzled, he went to his desk, sure that something would come up as he walked around his workspace.

He stayed there, from noon until well into the wee hours of the morning, waiting for that urge to return to fill in more sheets and tables, but nothing crossed his mind. He could only remember his dreams, broken amalgamations of ideas, recursively derived and deformed until they looked like grotesque mosaics to imagine. Not even his garbage can could give him glimpses of the things he had created and left behind, for his fits of rage never left recoverable legible remnants. There were only ashes and dampened scraps of paper, with the ink running and the pulp crumbling.

That night he was unable to fall asleep, and later in the day he could not conceive any new ideas either. He had only his conceptual spawn in mind, and the palpable hatred of the characters forming part of them, eliminating his other thoughts, and depriving him of rest.

The passing days took their toll on his physical and mental health. Now his bouts of frustration were due to his mental drought, but it was the first time a punch to the wall had left his hand bleeding and sore. By the sixth day, he could hear the characters in his head talking to him, cursing him. By the ninth day, they were screaming continuously and heartbreakingly, not even stopping to catch their breath, in a torturous, never-ending chorus. His will to live abandoned him on the thirteenth day, having left the author reduced to a starving, emaciated husk.

He didn't even have the strength to self-flagellate, and had ruled out throwing himself from his window because of the terrible possibility of surviving and not being able to try again, so he went to his medicine cabinet and mixed all the medicines to his credit, diluting them in the little remaining whiskey, in order to crack the damned walls that had cloistered his creativity and his life.

As he waited for release, his thoughts became louder and louder, and almost seemed to daze him. Little by little, his eyes deceived him, watching as the images in his mind merged into a single silhouette, and took corporeal form in front of him. He could see her, she was his inspirational muse, but she did not look human, much less feminine. It was a tentacular creature, morbid and putrefying; it looked like a deformed primate with upturned entrails, seeming to suffocate her in uncomfortable positions. Its eyes were purulent and its mouth a jagged sewer giving into the deepest depths of hell. From there, incessant shrieks were emitted, spitting out only one thing: hatred.

There the author was frustrated with his own creation. The consequence of the continuous abandonment of his ideas, the result of refusing his own creative processes, and letting his own mind usurp the paths already explored. She was the achievement of all, the symbol of her renunciation. Eternal hatred, transfinite, from every dimension imaginable, spanning from the genesis of the universe to her thermal death and beyond.

Running from his desk, the entity was everywhere he looked. His VCR only played static, but from it the same chant emerged again. Slowly, he could feel something inside him, the effect of the sweet poison ingested. But he did not see freedom, but felt the walls closing in on him. Walls enclosing his soul because of his prejudice, his abandonment. Destined to drift from others, until entropy is the only thing left.

On the local news radio, there was talk of the accident on the ninth floor of that apartment. Irrecoverable, with practically all the valuables turned into soot and smoke. Except for the VCR, intact, with a movie inside. A video was playing, but it was always different. Alternate characters, changed scenes, different plot.

Who would have created this marvel?

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