83 – Perplexity
in which… well… um… huh.
This Episode of Kakos Industries may contain objectionable content for some listeners, particularly regarding panic disorders, psychological and existential horror, and mentions of death.
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Intro: What you are about to hear is a crowdfunding campaign for a coffee table book filled with pictures of women named Ethyl.
Hi. I don’t seem to know where I am. Or why I’m here. I’m in a chair. There’s a desk. A microphone. Some notes printed on paper. I know what these things are, even though I don’t seem to know who I am. I can read. I can read the notes on the page. Hello and welcome to the Kakos Industries corporate shareholder announcements. I am Corin Deeth III. Am I? I have no way of knowing. I’m dressed in a suit. Does everyone wear suits? What is the significance of a suit? Cufflinks. I remember what cufflinks are. They’re silver. I don’t know what the significance of that is either. The clothes are restrictive. I can feel my waistband and belt pressing into me as I sit. I can’t move my arms very much. Why would anyone dress like this? I don’t remember dressing myself. Did someone dress me and leave me here? Where was I before I was here? Did I exist? How would I know? Was I created for this purpose only? To read?
There are a number of lights and symbols on my desk console. One of them simply says begin. So I began. Others, I seem to know exactly what they mean. Others still I haven’t the vaguest idea. One appears to be an image of a briefcase, but the light behind it is dimmed right now. Have I ever seen a briefcase before? There isn’t one in here that I can see. There’s also a light blinking a steady tempo. There are some buttons as well. I don’t know what happens if I press them. When I hover my hand above them, though, I feel myself filled with overwhelming fear. I think I should leave them alone.
There’s… There’s another person here. He’s… he seems to be a man. He is… smaller than me. Am I large? Or is he small? He’s wearing headphones. There are headphones on my desk. Should I also be wearing headphones? Is this something that everyone does? They wear headphones? I think it’s best that I blend in so I will put the headphones on. Now… now I hear my voice. But I heard my voice before. Perhaps this is how others hear my voice. It’s so strange. It sounds… different.
Other person, do you know what’s going on? Oh, he doesn’t speak. He’s gesturing at me. He’s telling me that he doesn’t know who he is or what he’s doing. I understand his gestures. Do I understand other people’s gestures? Do people communicate with gestures? I speak to communicate. I do not gesture. My hands are unpracticed. I’m trying to gesture to him, but he doesn’t understand. He’s showing me that he can hear my words. I don’t have to gesture. I’m… I’m not sure this person exists. Perhaps he is only in my mind and that is why I understand him so well. Does anyone else exist? Is this room everything?
The soundproofing and construction of every item in the room tells me a story that other people exist and that they have made things for me. But this could just be how things are. Reality, if that’s what we call this, could be just this. Just this enclosed space. Sound proofing. A window. Carpeted floor. The carpeting feels nice on my feet. I’m barefoot. I know the word barefoot and I am barefoot. There are shoes and socks beside my feet. And they appear to be my size. Did I take them off? Am I supposed to put them on? Other person, are you wearing shoes? He is nodding. Do I have to wear shoes? He is shrugging. If something is right to do for one person, should it not also be right to do for everyone? I don’t know the answer to this question. Perhaps I will dedicate some time to it in the future. I suppose it only matters if there are other people. Right now there are only two of us, and I am not quite certain of that. Perhaps this other person was put here to trick me. Perhaps I am not supposed to wear shoes. Perhaps I am not supposed to do what he tells me to do. Perhaps I will encounter some sort of punishment if I do as he does. But what punishment is there?
Am I being watched? Am I the plaything of something big? Bigger than me and bigger than this other person? Perhaps larger than both of us combined? Something ethereal. Something I can’t touch. Is it happy with me? Sad with me? Does it exist? Why do I even think that something like it could exist? Am I predisposed to thinking that there’s something larger? There is only this room. This microphone. Perhaps something is listening. Are you listening? The other person is nodding. Of course he is listening. He is in my mind. I’m quite certain of it now. He is shrugging again. Perhaps I am in his mind. But I do not hear his thoughts. He cannot hear mine either, he is indicating. I just don’t know if that’s true.
I think perhaps I should look out the window. I need to know what exists beyond this room. I need to know what else there is of the Universe. I will be back in a moment.
I should not have looked out the window. There are only horrors out there. Things that are not men. Things that do not look like me or this other person. Furry things. Things with violent body parts. Things that thrust menacingly into the sky from the ground below them, sucking the resources from the ground. I will never go out there. Out there is the end. This much I am certain of. I do not want the end. I want the now. I want to continue the now. Only the now. The now has changed. The now is now, but a moment ago was also the now. But now is not then. I have these words. What do they mean? Am I supposed to understand the difference in moments? What is a moment? How long is a moment? When does a moment pass? Why does a moment pass? And what comes next?
This is a frightening thought. I am not sure I can entertain it without causing myself pain. Pain. Was it always there? This pain I feel. In my head. My neck. Everywhere. Where I feel, there is also pain. Why is there pain? What is it telling me? Why does it want me to suffer? Who wants me to suffer?
I said I wanted the now. But I am not certain I want the now. I think maybe I want a new then. A then where this pain does not exist. A then when I know things. When I know who I am and what my purpose is and why I exist. A then when this pain isn’t present. It’s restrictive. Have I always had this much trouble breathing? Other person, do you know what’s happening to me? My chest is pounding. My ears are throbbing. Have I reached the end so soon? I was supposed to read more, I think. Why else would there be words on the page. But now… the pounding. And my belly. There’s another word for that. But I can’t remember. My belly hurts. Spreading pain. Fear. Where do I go now? This is unbearable. Other person, what is happening to me? Your shrugs… They don’t tell me anything I don’t know. You do not exist. You do not have information that I don’t. Just leave me alone. I can’t… I don’t know what but I can’t. Don’t look at me. I want to be alone for this.
What are you doing? Why did you come in here? Why are you touching me? You’re squeezing me. You’re a fool. You’re squeezing me and I can’t breathe. Didn’t I tell you this already? Or did you just want to hurt me? Are you a bad person? Have you been deceiving me all along, you monster? Let. Me. Go. I…I do not want to breathe. I…
I feel better. Did you know that would make me feel better? You don’t know? Have you done this before? If you don’t know anything than you’re useless. I do believe that you are another person now. You are so quiet.
I don’t know what any of this is. I don’t know what torment anyone wished on me that left me here. Perhaps it would be better to read the page in front of me and move things along. Make the now not the now anymore.
“This broadcast”… it’s a broadcast? Who is listening? And what do they derive from hearing me? Is it joy? Joy at my pain? Are there thousands laughing at me at this moment, and I just can’t hear them?
“This broadcast is coming to you from Plastic Bombastic’s new DopeAzz speaker.” The paper says it’s cheap and sounds like shit, but I should lie to you and tell you it sounds better. I do not know you, whoever you are listening. I have no reason to mislead you.
“We all exchanged cards for the Celebration of Affirmation. Expand on this.” Is this a joke? How am I supposed to expand on this? Other person and I exchanged these cards, whatever they are. It was celebratory and affirmative. I have given you no new information.
“No news on Big Black Hole. Still grape flavored.” This has got to be a joke. This makes no sense whatsoever. What is a grape and how can a hole taste like anything?
“Coming up we have the Darkest Universe Celebration.” This also must be a joke. There can be no Universe darker than this. Or… can there? What fresh horrors have I yet to experience? Very well. Bring them on. If they are too much, then I will expire and there will be no one left to torment.
Also a celebration of steam? How do you go from the darkest Universe to a Celebration of Steam? Steam? Have I seen steam? I seem to know it is hot water vapor, but how? I know that it can burn. This seems like a foolish thing to celebrate. I don’t want to. If I have any say in the matter, we won’t celebrate it. Do I have any say? It seems obvious that I do not, but perhaps I do. Perhaps what I say happens. Other person, turn around in a circle. Yes. That’s it. Control feels fantastic. Perhaps there is nothing larger than me. Perhaps I am on top. But… there can always be something larger, can there not?
“We found a key that unlocked Margerie Tonnenberry’s chastity belt. Too bad she’s been dead for thirty five years already.” This is from The Division of Figuring Out What All of These Keys Go To. Perhaps there are many keys here at this Kakos Industries. And many locks. And people can die. This is terrible news. How long did Margerie Tonnenberry live? Was her existence as short and confusing as mine?
“I still don’t know who fucked the Tabithas.” Fuck. That sounds like a word I use a lot. I seem to remember what it means, but only vaguely. Other person, do we fuck? I am growing tired of all of your shrugging. Who are the Tabithas? Why do I care who fucked them? Was it me? Are they other people? Do they look like me and this other person?
“Hell has had to cancel its exploration into the perpetual misery engine as the number of hooded figures pounding on the walls and gates grew to be too many.” A perpetual misery engine? Perhaps that is where I am now. It would make sense at the least. It says that these hooded figures have not been deterred by boiling oil poured down the walls. That sounds awful.
It says talk about “Kimzzzzzzzzzz.” I do not know this person. Whatever I was supposed to say, I cannot say. Their name is long and contains a lot of repetitive letters.
There’s also a handwritten note telling me to mention Jasmine Aashna, Dr. Dunkelwissen, and their ridiculous costumes. This document does not tell me what their ridiculous costumes were. There are also no pictures. I cannot tell you any more. Either these papers were written for someone who knows more than me, or this is all part of whatever joke has been played on this… fledgling consciousness. I have a pen. This is my handwriting. Or perhaps it was made to look like my handwriting. Other person, write something and show it to me. Handwriting seems to vary person to person. Thank you, other person.
A letter has just fallen onto my desk from somewhere above. There appears to be a mail slot. The envelope says “In case of confusion”. This handwriting is similar to mine, but not the same. The more I look at it, the more different it appears. I will open it. There is a blank piece of paper inside. The paper is the same size as the one with the notes written on them. Should I eat the paper? Perhaps there is another way to see invisible writing. If I hold it up to the light, I don’t see anything. There are two pills in the envelope. Small, solid, pills. They are blue and they have an imprint on them. I don’t know the significance of the imprint. I also don’t know why I would take something that came out of an envelope like this. That makes no sense. This envelope is unhelpful.
The page then says “we take credit for”, which is then followed by three blank spaces. Underneath that, in bold font twice underlined, it says “THREATEN”. I’m going to say we take credit for this room, the other person, and how I feel right now. And if you don’t like it, I’ll do something really bad to you. I don’t know what. I would probably have to see you first and get some idea of what would cause you grief. Case by case basis, I guess.
It says “Sol has won today’s Ruin-A-Life Drawing”. That’s sun in another language, right? Sol? It continues, “as a result, the life of Sol’s nemesis will be ruined. Sol’s nemesis is Ursa Sky.” I suppose I can see the sun and sky being at odds with one another. I think. All the same, ruining someone’s life over a drawing seems a little bit extreme, doesn’t it? I really don’t have a frame of reference, though. Did I lose this drawing? Is that why I’m here? It says we spun a wheel, and that the wheel landed on the space for Demotivated. Wheels have spaces? That’s bizarre. As a result, Ursa Sky will be 30% more demotivated and Sol will be 10% more motivated. It then says the word “Congratulations” in quotes. Perhaps I should say it more sarcastically. “Congratulations”. I have to say I’m feeling pretty demotivated myself.
It then says “Destroy radio.” I don’t have a radio to destroy as far as I can tell. Should I destroy some of this equipment? The other person is now threatening violence against me. I knew it would come to this eventually. I have no reason to go against you for now. None of these things seem like radios to me. Perhaps it is you listening that should destroy your radios. The ones I mentioned earlier, perhaps?
Then there’s a list of numbers.
That’s the end of the text. What do I do now? Do I just sit here? Do I wait? What comes next? Is it almost over? Am I almost over? The other person is shrugging. I will sit. And I will wait. The end broadcast light has lit up on my desk. That’s it, then. Okay.
Kakos Industries is written and produced by Conrad Miszuk, who is also the voice of Corin Deeth, and the composer of the music. The introduction is read by Kim Aiello, and the credits are read by Kelsey Kemmer, the only person who can’t turn invisible at will. Please visit KakosIndustries.com for news, extras, and more episodes. There are also transcriptions on the website if you’d like to read along with the Kakos Industries announcements. That’s K-A-K-O-S-I-N-D-U-S-T-R-I-E-S dot com. Please visit store.KakosIndustries.com for merchandise and special offers and get wonderful benefits by becoming a subscription donor at kakosindustries.com/patreon. Questions, comments, or a strong desire to collaborate? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like Kakos Industries, be sure to rate and review us on your favorite podcasting service, and connect with us on YouTube (YouTube.com/KakosIndustries), Facebook (facebook.com/kakosindustries), Tumblr (kakosindustries.tumblr.com), and Twitter (@KakosIndustries). We encourage fan art and listener participation on all our social media platforms. We’ve recently expanded our social media team, so please visit the website to view their credits and current projects.
Special thanks to our esteemed shareholders Iain Croall, Renee Stein, Dan Shumway, Blaise Devletian, and Courtney Campbell. Also thanks to our honored employees Katiana Greer, who didn’t leave us hanging on that high five like everyone else, and Valerie Koop who finished the quiches that no one else wanted and we were going to have to throw away otherwise. And thanks to our Division heads Britney Garcia, head of The Division of Beanies, Booties, and Construction Projects That Are Probably Too Large for Yarn, Patrick Green, head of The Division of Oceanic Micro-Cryptozoology, Lynne Herman, director of the Division of Increasingly Improbable Slash Fiction, Atramento Perdita, head of The Division of Deep Meaning, and Euan Goodfield, director of The Division of Ever More Bizarre Injuries. The Division of Beanies, Booties, and Construction Projects That Are Probably Too Large for Yarn has begun construction on their new floating fortress. How it will levitate is still unknown at this time, but they have been buying a lot of balloons. The Division of Oceanic Micro-Cryptozoology has found some evidence of the TigerPanther Fungus. It’s just like a Tiger and a Panther, but it’s also a fungus. The Division of Increasingly Improbable Slash Fiction has recently started shipping the good of the people and autocratic rule. We’ve seen this one before. It’s not going to work out. The Division of Deep Meaning has claimed a connection between every religion’s trickster gods, and the scent of fresh lemon zest. It’s another chin scratcher. The Division of Ever More Bizarre Injuries has given someone a case of the upsiedownies. It’s not really clear at this time what that means, but we’ll get to the bottom of it. Our esteemed shareholders, honored employees, division heads, and other Patreon patrons are the best. If you want a thank you in the credits, your own division, or other great rewards that help to keep this show running, please head to Kakosindustries.com/patreon. That’s Patreon: p-a-t-r-e-o-n.
Kakos Industries can be heavy sometimes. Try mastering the tamborine to ease your soul.