The Scream (3)

The desperate people turned to music. At least, their songs had remained intact. Or were they?


The Scream (3)
by Niki Tehranchi

Part 3

Sure enough, David was gone from his pedestal. Soon to follow were the Venus of Milo and the Nike of Samothrace both skipping town the same day. The Thinker no longer thought. Oslo’s Vigeland Sculpture Park, once like a fully functioning city within a city, was but a ghost town. The Vatican was the hardest-hit, losing Jesus Christ from their famous Pieta. The Virgin Mary now cradled just a bunch of air where her slain son had once laid, expiring. Like their painted brothers and sisters, the marble and terra cotta and stone creatures dreamed up by geniuses from the Far East to the Wild Wild West had inexplicably disappeared. 

This second wave of massacres was infinitely more potent than the first. This time, all art forms were targeted simultaneously. Far from being restricted to paintings and statues, the epidemic continued its ravage into the literary world too. A PhD student at the Sorbonne was aghast when she opened up her Madame Bovary to continue with her dissertation and found that Emma had absconded from Normandy. In Iran, a translator who had been working on a new English version of Ferdowsi’s epic about Rostam, could no longer locate the mythological hero inside the Shahnameh. Fearing this was a covert operation from the government’s Censorship Bureau, he quickly went into hiding. In Russia, the intelligentsia was infuriated when Raskolnikov abruptly disintegrated from Crime and Punishment, leaving, well, no crime and no punishment.

Soon, there were no more book reports about the Red Badge of Courage in elementary schools, for the unnamed Civil War soldier had not only deserted the ranks of the Army, he had deserted the tale altogether. Actors from Broadway to the London’s West End were struck silent when their Shakespearean characters evaporated from the pages of their plays. Even the ghost of Hamlet’s father did not see it fit to continue his haunting. He had left for greener pastures too. The village of Macondo could for the first time truly experience solitude, much more so than in the hundred years that Marquez had written about, for all the villagers had faded out.

The desperate people turned to music. At least, their songs had remained intact. Or were they? In Montreal, a disc jockey playing Leonard Cohen abruptly stopped his broadcast when he realized that Suzanne was M.I.A. No more tea and oranges from China. Gone too were Marianne and the Sisters of Mercy. Roxanne? She could neither be found in Edmond de Rostand’s play nor in Sting’s musical tribute. Tupac Shakur ceased to rap about him and his “girlfriend” for she too had been lost. Never mind the girlfriend in question was his gun. The epidemic did not seem choosy among its victims. It only took a few weeks for the Billboard 100 to be reduced to 59, then 12 and finally oblivion. Even the nations’ anthems had ceased to exist.

But it was when television was affected that panic finally spread in all its glory and the common people suddenly roared their discontent. One by one, they trickled down from their apartment buildings, their homes, their yachts and their trailers. This (un)natural catastrophe had made them all equal in their pain, their immense loss. Without their favorite TV characters gluing them to the screen, they were all like little lost babies, tripping down the streets, eyes blinking painfully in the seldom seen sunlight.

And now, the people were demanding answers from their world leaders. What was happening? Should they go on to work and school as if nothing had happened? Should they go to the mall? Or should they be building nuclear bunkers and storing water and flashlights away? Was this the end of the world?

The world leaders, who only had boilerplate answers about nuclear races and tax impositions, had never spoken about art before. Neither had their speechwriters, policy makers, think tankers, advisors, priests, rabbis and mullahs, or even their private astrologists. They were left, literally, scratching their head and just kept mumbling about yellow and orange levels.

Some opportunists seized the occasion to worsen the already terrified populace by making grandiose proclamations of doom, blaming this chaotic series of events on rap artists, immigrants, and homosexuals. They have destroyed our moral and spiritual standards, these self-appointed media personalities spewed out daily on television and radio, Internet blogs and vlogs, and now they have destroyed our artistic and cultural background too. THEY are to blame. THEY have to be destroyed before WE suffer the consequences.

The people took their cues and began to group themselves along the lines of hatred, suspicion and panic. The poshest neighborhoods became war zones, as the people, with now too much time on their hand, resorted to violence to entertain each other. Their discontent turned into anger then full blown rage as they got into fights with their neighbors, accusing each other of causing this great disaster, of being one of the bad guys, of being anti-nationalist. This was full-blown anarchic chaos. The Leviathan had risen from the sea and devoured the only signs of man’s civilization. As such, man soon forgot that he was supposed to be civilized and descended back to his most primitive state.

Finally, when it seemed that the entire world was on the brink of collapse, a little known Australian paparazzi outfit stunned the world with photographs they had taken on the coast of the Tahitian island of Bora Bora, where they had attempted to catch Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie vacationing with their forty-eight children. The pictures, published worldwide on every medium possible, showed a glamorous couple on the deck of their luxury yacht canoodling merrily under the bright tropical sun until, after having caught sight of the intruders and their photo lenses, they had made a quick beeline for inside. The couple caught by the Australians wasn’t Brangelina. There was no mistake about it. Behind those chic Prada sunglasses and wide rimmed hats, flowery bathing suits and cheerful demeanor, the two glamour pusses were none other than the Screaming Man and Mona Lisa. And Mona looked like she was six month pregnant!
>>> Part 4 (last)

>>> Part 1 -- Part 2 -- Part 3 -- Part 4


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Azarin Sadegh

Was Mona smiling?

by Azarin Sadegh on

Wow...a surprise at each paragraph!

I just wonder if Mona Lisa is smiling? Is she happily married to screaming man who wasn't screaming anymore? How about he dead by hunger?

What's life without art? Without imagination? Without beauty?

Your story brings up so many fundamental questions to my mind, Where the hell is hiding Brad Pitt?:-)