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Theo's shirt.

Devil Number 666

By Mark Abraham & Dom Sinacola · Sep 04, 2013

Dom: Mark! Welcome back. You are a sight for sore eyes. F’reals.

Mark: Thanks? But…I’m not a sight in your sore eyes.
We don’t even live in the same city.
We’ve never lived in the same city.
So you can’t actually see me.

Dom: That’s what you think!

Mark: Yes. That is exactly what I think.

Dom: Don’t I know it!

Mark: …

Dom: You see, I don’t need to see you. But I can see “you.” I have compiled an almost 99% accurate replica of you based solely on what is available on the Internet. All your likes, dislikes, erotic proclivities, favorite foods, familial relationships, adventures, misadventures, even the cadence and character of the way you speak: it’s like two algorithms of work, actually. Surprisingly easy. I’m pretty much talking to a Max Headroom version of you on my computer screen right now. I’m like motherfucking Eric Stoltz on Caprica up in this bitch.

Mark: I never watched Caprica.
The Plan killed my Battlestar Galatica romance dead.

Dom: Mark Headroom is wearing big white sunglasses.
Cool, huh?

Mark: I do love big white sunglasses.
Based on that fact alone your replica sounds distressingly accurate.
Is this what you’ve been doing for the past three weeks?

Dom: Impressed?

Mark: No. More like “exceptionally disturbed.”
I’m…I’m just not sure where to go from here.
I think I feel violated?
Are you going to start singing “Blurred Lines”?

I thought we were going to talk about the Devil, this being our 666th article and all.

Dom: Me too.
But I know what you’re probably thinking, even if you haven’t thought it yet.
You’re going to be thinking, “Why did he do this?”

Right?

Mark: First I was—

Dom: First you were looking around the room, attempting to sense a change in pressure or a weirdly blinking light that might signal an electronic device hidden somewhere, which I’ve been using to monitor your everyday activities. Then, suddenly feeling foolish, because you know that I haven’t been spying on you—because why would I?—you shook your head and re-entered the conversation to correct me, saying, “First I was,” which is when I interrupted you. But during that brief interlude, you were also wondering why I’m doing this…or, not so much wondering as allowing that doubt to limn the edges or your otherwise more logical train of thought.

Mark: This is…a lot to digest after a three-week break.
Have you seen the movie Weird Science?

Dom: Yuh huh.

Mark: Oh. ‘Cause it’s a really shitty movie.
Why was there a motorcycle gang in it again?

Dom: Oh. I’m so glad the cat’s out of the bag.
I was trying to figure out how to tell you. I ran a few scenarios on Mark Headroom here, and to my relief, every time you reacted in much the same way you’re reacting now, which is bemused enough to—

Mark: Bemused? Dom, I may not be ready to burn your house down, but—

Dom: Apartment. I’m in an apartment now.

Mark: —oh, apartment. You moved? When was this?

Dom: A few months ago. But I just moved across the street. I spent a week carrying all of my earthly possessions, box by box, across the street. I ticked that one off my bucket list, lemme tell ya.

Mark: Yeah? What’s your new place like?

Dom: Oh, roomy enough. The decor is still trapped three decades in the past, and the oven is so ancient I have to light it with three matches taped to the end of a wooden stirring spoon, lest I burn off what little arm hair I do have.

Mark: Heh, that’s true. You have the arms of a prepubescent child, with about the same taste and forethought put into the tattoos that adorn them.
Have you applied to be on Tattoo Nightmares yet?
Have you come up with a better story about why you want your tattoos changed than “um…I had bad taste?”
They’re going to think you’re crazy!

Dom: What’s crazy is that an 87-year-old woman used to live here, and she specifically requested that the oven not be replaced. 87! I have no idea how she—

Mark: Nope! Shut up! Stop. Just…

Dom: Mark Headroom just whimpered.

Mark: So: why’re you doing this to me?

Dom: Not to you, Mark. For you. For us.

Mark: I’m not following.

Dom: What if something happened to you? You’re a resilient guy, Mark, I’ll give you that, but what if? Accidents happen. Unforeseen catastrophes. Pain on an epic scale.

Mark: Come on, Dom. I’m pretty healthy. I eat vegan for breakfast and lunch.

Dom: Still, what if?

Mark: But I’ve only ever had one spine tumor, Dom, and that one wasn’t even cancerous!

Dom: What if, Mark? I don’t know what I’d do with myself.

Mark: That’s not—

Dom: That’s not a reason to play God. I know. But what if it’s not actually about playing God? What if this makes me God?

Mark: You…you’re insane.

Dom: Oh, c’mon. I’m far from insane. I’m…outsane. I’m doing what God did once, and I’m going to do it a heckuva lot more. In fact, if you want, you can talk to Mark Headroom. Would that help?

Mark: You want me to talk…to a replica of myself?
That you made?
Based on my internet footprint?
Like, what does Mark Headroom have as conversation topics?
Alexis Carrington vs Amanda Woodward?
1970s free improv?
Bedazzling tricks and secrets?
U.S. cultural history?
Fried chicken?
No wave bands you’ve never heard of?
The plots of obscure fantasy novels he hasn’t read in decades?
A lot to say about how Lost was an annoying television program?
An internet search history that includes “Tom and Lorenzo” and “cleaning squid”?
Geez. You’re making me bored with myself.

…and what does any of this have to do with the number 666?

Dom: Nothing.
But I really think if you talked to Mark Headroom—

Mark: Can I be frank, Dom?
Just how well rendered are these big white sunglasses?
Do they look like sunglasses, or do I look like an old school cylon?
I know you’re not an engineer or anything, but if you’re going to turn me into a robot can you at least aim for a human-looking cylon?
And not a software program built to look like the height of 1984 CGI?
…which, also, it somehow seems non-coincidental that you based this on something from 1984.

Dom: A human-looking cylon is phase 5.
Phase 2 is a sentient chrome robot.
Phase 3 is a sentient chrome robot that corrects grammar.
Phase 4 is a sentient chrome robot with excellent baking skills that corrects grammar.

Phase 6 is a Funny Hat Parade!

Mark: Does it really look like me at all, though?
…or does it look like that shirt Denise made Theo that one time.
(The real me is the designer shirt Theo actually wanted in this metaphor.)

Dom: If you’ll recall, Mark, the girl Theo was trying to impress liked that shirt Denise made.
Ooh: Mark Headroom just shrugged and rolled his eyes.
JUST LIKE YOU’RE PROBABLY DOING RIGHT NOW!

Mark: Sigh.
…I mean, I guess as long as it eventually doesn’t come to try and kill me, ‘cause it thinks there can be only one or whatever.

Dom: At first I programmed it to never hurt itself, which I figured would mean that it’d never hurt you, because you are it—

Mark: I think you mean that it is me.

Dom: Whatever, doesn’t matter.

Mark: Um…

Dom: But then I was like, “I, Robot, dummy?” So then I programmed it to never hurt a “Mark.” So, y’know, you’re totally safe, Mark Wahlberg! You hear me?! MARK!

Mark: Are you talking to me or Mark Wahlberg? Plus, why didn’t you just program it to never hurt a human being? That’s one of Asimov’s rules…

Dom: Huh. Well, that makes a lot more sense. Don’t I feel silly!

Mark: I’m sure this is the first and only time.

Dom: Well, you know what they say—

Mark: Who?

Dom: The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

Mark: So: Kevin Spacey then.

Dom: You think he was talking about cylons?

Mark: No.

Discussion
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