The Celebrity approaches me with an outstretched hand and a smile which, from a distance, almost looks genuine. He is so fucking charming, I can tell instantly it’s not natural. I hate all these newfangled procedures. As if the muscle implants and the Newskin™ grafts weren’t enough, now they all have Charismaplasties and Seductoboosts and God knows what else. It’s no wonder we can’t resist their charms.
I kind of recognise him. He’s a minor superhero in one of those comic book movies. Maggot Man or Wonder Worm – something like that. It’s pretty clear he expects me to know who he is. I play along – the D-listers are always the quickest to anger.
“Ah, Mr Smith,” he says, his expensively purchased smile revealing a set of iridescent teeth. They’re simultaneously bright white and shiny gold – they make me feel ill. “Welcome to The Centre. We’ve been expecting you.”
Of course you’ve been expecting me, I think to myself. I was bloody summoned here. But I keep my thoughts to myself and try to appear grateful as he offers me a signed selfie.
He shows me inside and leads me down a corridor lined with portraits of famous chefs and talent show judges. At the end of the passageway are three doors. The one on the left is marked ‘Celebrities Only’ and is protected by a teeth scanner. The right door is marked ‘Nobodies’s Room’ and it’s this door he gestures me to open. He doesn’t follow me inside; says it was very nice to have met me, flashes a grin at the teeth scanner and disappears through the Celeb door.
The Nobodies’s Room is a dank and dimly lit storage cupboard. The smell of piss is artificial, I know. The odour is added to the paint to make us Nobodies feel more at home – it’s pretty convincing. I sit down in a deliberately uncomfortable chair and flick through the selection of reading material.They’re all glossy newspapers, The Daily LOL, The SMH Times – the usual crap. I pick up a copy of OMG News and glance at the front page.
Celebrity Shag Castle Winner to Become New P.M
OMG! The Church of Celebrity said today that they have picked the much-loved winner of ITV’s reality TV show Celebrity Shag Castle, Rodérigo ‘Hot Rod’ De Boat-Ox, to lead the country after an awesome elimination process.
Hot Rod became favourite for the top job after eating a live cockroach off the belly of professional Credit Card Tester, Biancheva Implantini, on live TV last month. OMG News spoke to some Nobodies after the news broke, who told us that Hot Rod’s awesomeness under pressure and monstrous sex appeal is exactly what is needed to make this country awesome again.
I stop reading. The news of a new Prime Minister is barely news at all. Within a couple of months, a new star will be flavour of the month and Hot Rod will be voted out. If he’s lucky he’ll remain within the Church, clinging onto F-list status by releasing crappy cover albums or exposing himself to reporters. More likely, he’ll sink off the radar completely, be booted out of the Church and back into Nobody society with the rest of us. Or even worse, if he pisses Them off on the way down, a life sentence in HasBeen Penitentiary.
The door opens and another Nobody enters. He smiles at me wanly.
“Re-Celebducation?” he asks me.
“Me too. Got the summons this morning.It’s my own fault; one of the D-listers must have overheard me talking in the pub. Telling my mates I didn’t care if Biancheva had cheated on Xander with Xander’s high school French teacher. Or if Xander had a threesome with Biancheva’s mother and sister in the back of his private jet, while Biancheva was in the cockpit flying the plane. Told ’em I was more interested in the hole in my bedroom roof and trying to put something resembling food on my table. Silly really. What did you do?” he asks.
I don’t really want to answer. A tap on the door means I don’t have to.
It’s the Celebrity again. He opens the door and beams in. His smile is as fake as ever but behind it, just for a moment, a catch a glimpse of something real. Sympathy. I wonder how many Re-Celebducation cases he’s seen. Maybe he even knows what they’ll do to me.
“Mr Smith? They’re ready for you now.”
Like all Nobodies, I have no idea what the procedure entails. All I know is that six weeks ago my brother was a free-thinking, rational person with a wide range of interests. Now, he spends his days watching Shag Castle and calling Biancheva Implantini a slut, just like he’s supposed to.
I follow the Celebrity back into the corridor and he knocks gently on the middle door. This door has no sign and no security control. It doesn’t need one. No one goes in here out of choice.
“Come in,” drawls an old man voice. A lecherous, tawdry voice. I can hear the drool forming at the edge of his mouth.
I bid farewell to independent thought and open the door. Before me, sit the old men who get rich on pain and misery. Who trade flesh and heartbreak like commodities. Who tell us what to think – who to build up and when to them knock back down. And most of all,who and what and when to HATE. The red-topped scumbags who contribute so little, yet influence so much.
They smell of strip clubs.
“Hello, Mr Smith. We’re The Tabloids”