By Aaron David
Pete was a born entertainer. He’d always had the knack of raising a smile or a laugh. It was something he had to do. It was within him and it had to be let out. Some might call him a show-off and they would be right. He had it all; he could sing, he could dance, he could act, he was good looking. He should have been the biggest star in the world. So why was he lodging in a converted loft belonging to a very peasant, elderly couple? Why was he working at McDonalds? Because he had to eat, that was why.
He earned bits of pocket money doing extras work, helped out at the local ‘am-dram’ theatre but stardom was an elusive, distant dream. The ‘big break’ hadn’t happened. It nearly had a year earlier; he’d landed the starring role in a twenty second yoghurt commercial. It was to be his making, a six month long campaign that would put his face on every television in the land. Two days before it’s first airing, botulism had broken out at the yoghurt factory. Most of the workforce had caught it, three had died and the company went bankrupt. Terrible for all concerned but the biggest tragedy for Pete was that the ad never aired. He settled back into obscurity.
Gilded by ambition he made the decision; if fate wouldn’t bring him his opportunity he would go out there and find it. He got an unsecured loan from the bank, maxed out his credit cards and raised eighteen hundred pounds. He packed his belongings and booked the first available, one way flight to Miami. Why Miami? Because the Dreamz corporation was based in Miami. The Dreamz Corporation made films, published music and most importantly owned leisure complexes all over the civilised world. He would launch his glittering career there.
Pete arrived in Miami, complained about the heat (being British), found an apartment and arranged an interview at Dreamz headquarters for the following day. He spent the evening in his new apartment posing in front of the mirror, trying different hairstyles, different voices, different accents, quoting ‘Taxi Driver’ etc. He was going to slay them. Dreamz wouldn’t know what had hit them.
Six months later his career was well established. He was a road sweeper at Dreamzworld, Miami. At least he got to wear a costume. This week he was a clown, last week he’d been a pixie. His job meant he got to interact with the public and interact he did. When no supervisors were around he’d put on a little show using whatever props he could find nearby. Juggling discarded drink bottles, origami with food wrappers, playing ‘keepy uppy’ with soiled nappies, anything to amuse the children. Of course the nappy game would go disgustingly wrong occasionally but that always got a really big laugh so was worth it. Some day one of the parents would turn out to be a Hollywood agent and he would be discovered. He would just have to carry on degrading himself until that day.
One day Pete was entertaining two young children with a puppet he’d made out of a pair of socks he’d found in a bin. They didn’t smell too pleasant but Pete had handled worse. One sock was over his hand like a glove puppet, the other draped over the top to make dangly ears. Two bottle lids for eyes, a piece of gum found on the pavement for a nose, et voila! A talking dachshund! The children were enraptured with the comedy material Pete constantly plagiarised. They weren’t to recognise a Robin Williams routine from twenty years ago. The children’s’ father eventually joined them and enjoyed the performance. He did know the material but was impressed by Pete’s enthusiasm.
“Say son”, he beamed. “You ever acted on TV?”
“A little, back in the UK”.
The man put his arm around Pete and guided him to a bench. The two sat down. He gave Pete a business card.
“Call me Monday; I think I might have just the job for you, that’s if you don’t want to play with garbage for the rest of your life.”
Pete’s heart almost exploded. This was it! He was going to be a star after all. The man began to explain how Pete’s television career was going to start. It was a new sit-com about two young men who shared an apartment and both wanted to get ahead as quantity surveyors. Didn’t sound very funny or any good but Pete would be on television and who could know where it would lead. He imagined his movie career, collecting his Oscar, doing good work for charities, marrying another superstar then divorcing after six months.
“Just one thing” Pete said, “How do I…..”
Then Pete died. Then everybody died. Nobody knew how. Nobody knew why. There was nobody left to know how or why. All animal and plant life on earth simply ended. Only bacteria survived. Over time cosmic dust landed on all the dead creatures and plants and buried them. The continents shifted, volcanoes erupted, mountains were destroyed and formed, and ice-ages came and went. Seventy two million years after Pete’s TV career began and ended single-celled protozoa began to evolve, then moss and algae developed then small sea-life and insects. Eventually millions of species would populate the Earth. Of those one would become dominant by being better at killing than all the others. It would reach the top of the food chain and become a threat to the Earth. Then the Earth would hit the reset button again, as it has done repeatedly since the beginning of time. As it would do for the rest of time. Crushed under the dirt and debris, scrap yards and manufacturing plants would become seams of iron ore to be mined by some future species. Uranium dumps and nuclear power stations would be seams of uranium and plutonium. All previous life on Earth would become fossil fuel. Pete had wanted immortality. He got it. Until he became exhaust fumes anyway.