Their Days Are Numbered is a new year-long project authored by the collective Entropy community. It is a collaborative online novel written by the Entropy community on a weekly basis. A different author will write the next “chapter” each week, to be posted every Tuesday, following the previous post from the previous week, and following a very limited set of guidelines (that each author has one week to write the next piece after the previous week’s installment goes up, that installments should range between 150-1500 words, and that pieces should somehow incorporate a real-life occurrence, current event, news item, or other happening from that week).
Follow the entire “novel” here: Their Days Are Numbered.
The twenty-eigth installment is presented this week by Ben Segal.
Ok ok, thought the numberer, but whose days are numbered, exactly? The problem was a lack of specificity and the numberer’s view was obscured by the dense linguistic fog that amassed above the small heads of the numberable they.
He stared at those slowly going cloudeded heads. Among them were the they whose days were to be numbered. Which is to say made number, more numb, sapped of any emotional resonance. They were already a little numb, or else the numberer would only be the number, and that required a different technique entirely.
The numberer sighed. Proper identification or no, the numbering must go on. He slathered the unclear heads in analgesic prose. It was gluey, semi-opaque, though the outlines of features could still be made out and the sound-smothering barrier had been improperly mixed into the primary solution.
Coos of babies escaped, rocket engines, the hum of computer screens tuned to websites that could diagnose depression. First question: Are you on this website? Wave sounds crashed predictably around. The numberer numbed on with another layer. This time he spread thick, dolloping on the numbing agent with a ladle. That should do it. That should do it.
The numberer relaxed on raft on a great lake. The they kept on in their motions, clocklike, without the drag of affect. They would have been happy or grateful but of course that would defeat the whole purpose. Plus the fluid with which they’d been slathered, it was exactly the kind of lubricant they didn’t know they couldn’t care less about.
And all this sounds successful enough, but there was still the matter of Wen and the Harvey girls, none of whom were to have been numbered, and who reacted to the numbering agent with thick fits of coughing and syrupy leaks from their collective lachrymal ducts.
Even worse, the numberer had plain mis-read his assignment and in fact numbered the they, rather than the they’s days, and as the they were supposed to have retained unnumbered nights, this truly was a major failure on the numberer’s part. Still, he was on vacation (the lake, remember) by the time night came around and anyone learned of his snafu. And you might imagine the improperly-numbered they would certainly have protested this unapproved overreach, but really, numb as they were, they couldn’t even notice.