The Shopping Channel

Entry by: ben schofield

29th September 2016
“It’s six times sharper than a standard blade. Look, it can even cut through this old shoe.”
“In just six minutes you can target fat and build muscle. With the Body Fit Pro(TM) you can throw away those expensive gym memberships.”
“Did you know you can get full life insurance coverage for less than the price of your daily cup of coffee?”

The light from the TV changes erratically as Michael clicks his way through the shopping channels. Another typical night spent endlessly clicking, basking in the light of the adverts but never buying. He derives great enjoyment from scoffing at the junk, laughing at the ridiculous demonstrations and shaking his head at the unscrupulous sales people. “What kind of loser buys this stuff?” he thinks to himself as he flips from the Super Blender(TM) to the Eggfriend(TM) to the Ab-master(TM).

On screen, the presenter sidles in between the male and female model pointing out the mechanics of the awkward abdominal machine. The blue suited man pokes the corresponding enhanced anatomy, but the models never once break their strange fake smiles. They just endlessly twist back and forth. The presenter with his slick back hair and fluorescent teeth turns away from the demonstration and looking down the barrel of the camera says: “You certainly could use this at home, Michael.”

Michael’s eyelids peel back and his eyeballs bulge forward. They have his attention.

“Look at you sitting there in a grey hoody covered in chip crumbs, you don’t think you could do with a little daily exercise?” The presenter smirks slightly.

Michael checks himself and indeed he is wearing his faithful grey sweatshirt. In defiance, he flaps the grey jumper like a towel and resting miscellaneous crumbs go flying everywhere.

“Got a few crumbs on the floor? You need the I-clean(TM); the self-guided vacuum. It cleans while you relax!”

Disbelief now galvanises into reality and enough is enough. After a short search, Michael grabs the remote and points it at the screen like a gun.

“Never lose your remote again with the Telebuddy(TM). Conveniently keep all your gadgets in the one place.”

Michael fires the red button. Nothing happens. He presses the off button several more times but the presenter just keeps blathering on. He tries a different channel, a different input and the mute but with no result. In fact, the TV presenter is becoming louder: “CONSTANTLY CHANGING YOUR BATTERIES? THE CHARGE FAST(TM) CAN SAVE YOU HUNDREDS IN REPLACEMENT COSTS. IT COMES IN AA AND AAA.”

Michael's fear outweighs his usual apathy and he attempts to switch the TV off at the point. Yet the presenter still continues. “I REALLY THINK YOU SHOULD BUY ONE OF OUR FANTASTIC PRODUCTS.”

Abandoning all reason in the face of such bizarre circumstances he begins yelling back at the ever upbeat presenter. “THEY’RE ALL CRAP, NOW GET OFF MY TV!!”

The presenter still smiling says “Well I guess nothing can convince you.”

The TV switches itself off. Michael is left standing next to the blank screen and in the middle of a dark room. The adrenaline continues to surge and sweat begins to form on his brow. His apartment is completely silent. He holds his breath in the shock of the instant stillness. Suddenly the quiet is met with two sounds. The water on his brow almost turns to ice as his skin turns cold. His front door creaks open, followed by heavy footsteps.

“Only 6 easy payments of $59.99.”

The TV is alive again, drowning out the noise of the footsteps. Michael peaks around the corner and catches a silhouette in the hallway. The light from the TV is only enough to illuminate edges but in their hand, reflecting most of the light, is the bonus cleaver from the Chef’s Collection(TM).

“If only you had purchased the stainless steel knife set. It’s perfect for slicing through pesky home intruders.”

The tone from the set is measured. Less a taunt, more just a statement of fact. He turns to his bedroom. Thinking if he can just barricade himself inside and call the police he might be fine. At the door, aroused in panic his fingers stiffen, he can’t get a handle on the knob. The footsteps from the hallway are becoming louder against the sound of the presenter. He finally manages to wrap his hands around the handle, but even using all of his strength; he can’t make it budge.

“With the Body Fit Pro(TM) you could’ve had biceps that would’ve ripped right through that door. And in just six minutes a day.”

Desperately he pulls the door back and forth. The violence of his movement is in opposition to the quiet tik tak of the latch bolt against the barrel.

“It’s a real shame you didn’t take up that life insurance. Your loved ones would’ve been protected. Well if you had any.”

Now jittering, Michael slides down the door whilst tears slide down his face. “I’ll take it! I’ll take it all! Please, just let me live!” he screams out to the presenter. In a final attempt to save himself, he extracts his credit card and holds out in front of himself like a protective charm. He opens his eyes. There is no one standing over him, the TV is operating quietly, and his front door is closed.

Michael quietly sits back down on the couch and studies the advert for some sign of irregularity. Maybe it was just too much MSG in the Chinese, he thinks. The phone number continues to flash enticingly for the Ab-master(TM). Well, it couldn’t hurt to try and lose a few, he convinces himself. He picks up the phone and places an order through a kind lady on the other end of the line. The slick presenter suddenly stops his demonstration and catches him eye to eye.

“That was the right choice Michael.”

Michael’s stomach lurches so tight he won’t need his new Ab-master(TM) for at least a month.