Nor-Man and the No-Force

Occasionally, I do the “writing prompt” thing. This one was from Saladin Ahmed on The Twitter:

“New prompt: Bad Guys (interpret as you like) rule the future. What does well-made but complicit entertainment look like? Avoid easy parody.”

We never do.

“Suck it, Nielson.” Norman Jones said, temporarily replacing the gleaming cityscape window with an HD overlay of his media empire. Ratings, eyeballs, time spent, channels changed, links clicked, all of it was populating moving charts and in.

“The Media Empire” was what the TV stations, newspapers, and websites that he owned called themselves, anyway. There were others, of course, split up from The Wave, and they got along just as well as the things they’d replaced.

Back then, he’d been The Normalizer. He was glad The Wave had taken place a decade or so after that unfortunate flirtation with “Nor-Man” in the 90s, when everyone had immaculate curls, belts, pouches, and Big Armor.

He sighed, squeezing his temples, remembering the boots and the epaulets. “We were all on those damn Exo-Steroids, that’s the only explanation.” That was always the explanation, when they all got together - those who were left. Still, though, sometimes he woke up at night screaming when he thought about what they’d done to those consultants and fashion designers.

A finger poked at a graph he didn’t like. It expanded, he scrolled it around, closed everything with a pinch and a snap.

“Get me a feed on Drone Strike.” He said, one window displaying producers and directors and writers and Generals, the other blossoming into the familiar footage over somewhere that was inevitably either dusty and parched or green and flooding.

This time it was flooded. He pursed his lips and watched the red cursor float around the screen for far too long. He pushed a button and somewhere an editor was fired.

“Movies.” He said, flustering the digital assistant as piles of movies he’d recently watched started queuing up on the screen.

Chicago: Death’s Mile, Septimius Severus, Patriot Wave, Shooter, Sea Shepherd: The Horrors of Deepwater Horizon, Entourage, The Purge, they all populated the screen for a moment, each still color coded. Norman’s queue saw a lot of blue filters and Mark Wahlberg, he hated those movies, they always got the details wrong about The Wave, but since he paid good money to make them, he did, at least, watch them.

“Mag-Lord’s balls, that’s not what I meant. Show me the movies we’ve got playing in theaters worldwide, international releases only.”

Lines going down. Some of them red. The psychics and telepaths were finally right - The Wave wasn’t bringing them out anymore. They’d had enough shattered buildings and blowing dust, enough dim lights and shaky cameras.  It was time for something new. Something bright. Something colorful and ultra-violent.

He pushed a button to talk to a real person. “Get me some artists, I want designs on Nor-Man and the No-Force for the big screen. The nineties are coming back.”