WELCOME TO SUBURBIA
“Remember where you came from, where you're going, and why you created this mess you got yourself into in the first place.”
- Richard Bach
The projector flickered and sparked to life; casting a white square of spectre-light onto the white wall ahead. The audience was silent. The beeps of the countdown numbers went from four. Beep. Beep. Beep. One.The film flickered and then the film began to play.
The aerial view of a billion white houses and green lawns; Suburbia; in all its pristine freshness. Houses moved around serpentine roads and white roofs fit with white houses, green sodden lawns against the chiming of an upbeat xylophone beat and the chirping sound of birds. A tall man with wide looked over the street and then turned. He had an extremely wide shark smile; inhuman and elongated with cheeks that seemed to have sharp bones protuding each side of his face. He had his hands together like a pastor, leaning in close to the camera, showing fiery-red eyes. “Hello there, and welcome to Suburbia, friends—Hello, Timmy!” A young kid in a black and white striped t-shirt rode by on an old bike and waved to the man who waved back and watched him go with some sort of appreciation.
“Great kid. So,” he said as he turned his attention back to the audience with a clap of his extremely long-fingered hands. “Welcome to your future—well, the future you may possibly have—sorry, a little joke. Come with us as we take you on a tour of Suburbia, the quaintest, shallowest place in all of the world!”
He turned away and quick began to walk backwards down the road, Timmy behind him riding until the images on the screen flickered and the bike he was riding was on the road; the eviscerated remnants of blood and bone mashed into a pulpy mess of a once clean black and white t-shirt. The suited presenter on his knees, cramming handfuls of pulpy flesh into his mouth as the bikes rear wheel span wildly. The projector cut out again and then kickstarted back up.
He was walking down a street down, the cameraman filming him as he walked past picket fences giving a frontal view of each house, each sprinkler on the sodden lawn spraying thick blood tainting the white of each house, each picket, and every blade of grass. Each house had four windows, one door, no porches. Each lawn with the same blood-spew sprinkler, each door the same bright red. Every window was the same width apart, except for each left window which was as clear as crystal water, giving way to the dangling torso of an unknown man, swaying as if some sort of beast was toying with it like a cat would yarn. Sharksuit strolled; smelling the air.
“On beautiful sunny Gods days like this, it feels good to walk down the ol’ sidewalk and take a look at all the beautiful neighboors doing their neighbourly business, don’t you think?” A woman in a white dress walked backwards, crying and sniffing; red stained her front; a meat cleaver in her left hand and a clump of hair in her right. Sharksuit, still walking backwards looked to her. “How’s the dog, Jean?”
Her smile spread through her tears and she shrugged. “Poor thing had a cold, had to put him down,” she said before dropping the cleaver and walking backwards, laughing heartily as she left. A thick trail of blood fell from her all the way down the sidewalk.
“I’m sorry to hear it, but it was merciful,” replied Sharksuit as he waved her off. He looked back to the cameraman.
“It’s always good to show support to your neighbours in times of stress.” He continued to walk until he stopped to wave at a man and a woman in their dressing gowns by their front door. “Hello Marc, hello Jess!”
“Hey, John! BBQ and beers at mine tonight,” yelled Marc with a wave of his hand, his fingers tightly clutched around the grip of a Luger. He and his wife stepped into their house, and the sounds of muffled gunshots rung out against the sound of a scream that the third roar of gunfire silenced. John smiled and continued to stroll. “All of these houses are one. Hundred. Percent. Recycled. So you can feel like you’re doing mother Earth a big pat on her big ol’ back when you’re enjoying your new home here in Suburbia. It’s a beautiful place with each house showing that loving and nurturing hatred of anything with substance. In fact, each place here has a two thousand percent mortality rate in the event of a fire.”
He kept walking, stepping over the remnants of a butchered labrador without looking. Behind him was the roaring flickers of a single house, erupting in flames and the sound of screams in the top floor. “Oh God. Oh Jesus. Please, oh God, it burns, it burrrrrns.” Below a muscular gardener shook an empty gasoline can outside the front door and proceeded to spark a lighter, igniting himself and running through the house, ablaze, setting off each essence of gasoline on his way until fire bellowed out the front door. “Woo,” said John, “talk about an excitable BBQ.” His sly smile spread across his face. “But enough of seeing the houses, I hear you askin’ ‘hey, Johnboy, where can a coolbean like me get some entertainment?’ well, fear no more, buddy. Cause Suburbia’s got a plethora of entertainments abound.”
The film flickered once more. John appeared overlooking Randy’s Classic Burgers. A 1950s diner with the old cars playing sounds from old songs, with old chefs making old classic meals and waving to John. “The hoppinest place to grab a good ol’ classic American burger.” He walked through the carpark, looking at two Jocks; Ricky and Jack—sat on the bonnet of a 1952 Red Pontiac. Ricky had his arm around Jack, both of them gazing longingly into each others eyes. “Now, now—boys, we don’t like that here do we?” John strolled backwards, playfully shaking his head and putting his hands on his hips.
From behind them came the swing of a wooden baseball bat, crashing down on Jack’s head; his slim frame smashing to the floor. A group of other Jocks began to bludgeon his head into the floor of the carpark; his fingers twitched, his entire head becoming nothing more of an existence. Ricky wailed out until the group grabbed him violently and snatched him away. “JACCCCCK.”
“Here at Randy’s Classics, the best burger in town is served to the slammin’ tunes of the Ink Spots, the classics—who wouldn’t want to eat here?”
Ahead of John was another row of immaculate 1952 Red Pontiacs. A dark-skinned jock with a shaved head smiled and waved to a girl sat in the front seat of her Pontiac. The seats were filled with blood as she bathed in it, a human stew that bubbled and boiled. Steam rose but the girl; blond-haired and smiling only gazed at the jock with a flirty flicker of her eyes. “Hey there, Marcus—how was practice?”
He approached the car and leant down. “Hey, Tiff’, you know how it is. Tirin’, coach has us running extra laps and practice for the match against Dartmoore and we’re tired, y’know.”
“Aww. Well how about tonight I take your mind off it? Grab a shake and maybe a hotdog?”
Marcus stood up and dropped his smile. He looked around frantically and gripped the football in his hand. “Where am I? Why am I here? What did I do?” His eyes went white with fear and he clenched his teeth. His ball dropped onto the floor below and he stepped away from the car as he stared at the girl. “Tiffany—what the f*ck?” He looked into the bubbling blood stew and slapped his hands to his head. “Oh, Jesus f*ckin’ Christ. What did I do to be here!?”
Tiffany climbed from the blood stew and stood up, her lower legs; swollen and bubbling began to shed. Her flesh fell from her like tender meat, giving way until the bone was visible underneath, stained crimson. She looked to him while a bloodcurdling scream flew from his mouth and he turned and fled. The sound of his cries were cut short as another Pontiac smashed into him, pinning him against the row of cars, knocking two out of the way. He went silent as his body was flung apart in the jumbled mess of mechanical beasts, and then Tiffany slid back into her car, leaned onto her steering wheel, and sunk under the boiling bloody stew once more. John smiled and shook his head. He looked back to the audience. “Kids, eh?”
John walked into the diner backwards; the place was full. Patrons sat at every table. A waitress rolled around in a pink dress on red roller skates, a tray of milkshakes balanced perfectly. She put them down to a group near the door and John patted one of the larger boys on the back with smile. “Enjoy those shakes, boys, they’re on the house!”
“Gee, thanks, John!”
“Golly. I love chocolate!”
He walked further down the aisle. “See, we get people of all races, all colors, all walks of life coming to Suburbia. There’s no story too strong, no words too limiting. Everybody in Suburbia, whether you lived a good life, a bad life, or a mundane life—you are equally welcome. Because here, we’re all scummy pieces of sh*t who are hiding who we are, and we’re all trapped under the facade of what this place is.” The entire restaurant looked towards the cameraman. The images flickered, and then there stood only John.
The diner was old, dilapdiated and coated in dust. Outside raged fires and inside were the charred corpses of each patron, frozen in solid black drinking ash-filled glasses and cheering in an eternal, burning slumber. John smiled his sharky smile again, and for the briefest cut of the film, there was blood, bone, screams—each patron eating each other, until there was nothing but silence and darkness. The film kickstarted once more.
John was back on Main Street, walking down familiar roads, backwards with eyes that grew more red with each flicker of old film. “Suburbia is a prime place of wonderful excitement. Everything is a facade, and behind closed doors, what you do is your business. It’s a wonderful place of excitement and community! It’s here in this place, that we all exist. So why don’t you come on down and spend an eternity with us in this place? Oh,” he waved his hand playfully, “who am I kidding, you all know you’re already here, just take a look at the people sat around you. You’ll see you’re here for the long haul, chums.” He forced a small chuckle out then said: “This is John, signing off, and wishing you all, a pleasant existence in Suburbia.”
The film turned off. The audience stared in silence until finally, from the left side of the stage there were the sound of footsteps, and John was before them all in his familiar suit, slickback hair and gaping smile. “Hello, all,” he said as he looked down. “Welcome to the rest of your life.”
He stared down at the crowd and made out each person. Marc, Jean, Jess, Marcus, Ricky, Jack, Tiffany, and even little Timmy. They were all rooted to their chairs, barbed wire surrounding each of them, digging into their flesh and holding them still. They looked at John, unable to speak, unable to move. He knelt down to them and leaned in. With a voice unlike his own, giving way to a deep, gravelly voice, he said with a strong stare. “Welcome to Suburbia,” he said as he slowly began to melt, his skin slipping from his face like hot wax. “Welcome to the facade,” he added as his voice slowed down. And then finally, darkness eneveloped the theatre.
There was darkness for the longest time. And then finally the projector flickered and sparked to life; casting a white square of speckled light onto the white wall ahead. Beep. Beep. Beep. One.
Fresh faces replaced the old ones, and then John appeared with a sharkey, unnatural smile once more on the suburban lane.
“Welcome to Suburbia...”