Before she shot herself, I was working on the theory that they were after our attention. A "pet" theory. That's what you call it.
I was working on the theory that they were after our attention. That they didn't care about anything, or have any real interests themselves--not like we did. But that they craved our attention. In any way.
They would do things; cause things to happen. Big things. Dramatic things. Things with explosions, horror, and dead people. The most senseless, cheapest, biggest things they could do, just so we would look. We'd look, jump, dance--run about doing all the things we did when something big happened. And they'd love that, savor that, do anything they could to get more of it. They'd dance and sing, too, in this flat, horrible, marionette way, that would still draw our attention, because it looked close enough to the stuff we'd used to watch when we'd wanted to watch something. Some of the older ones remembered the difference, and complained, but after some time they were gone, and no one remembered anymore.
It was all gradual, though. Then there were new older ones who remembered different differences, and they complained, but after some time they were gone, and the complaints switched around, but it was always sliding toward less of something, less of whatever it was that the first ones had been complaining about the absence of.
We did less and less, but talked more and more, and even in that talking, they found they could get our attention. They became talkers, talking in a way that was like talking, without really talking. And we watched it, drawn to it like horror, like when one of the big cats stole past a fire that had gone out and dragged off a child, but got caught sneaking out and pummeled to death, and it was a mess of gore and fur and hell when everyone jumped up to see the fight get finished. We stared for hours afterward just because it was horrible, and then even the conversation became horrible by itself, like a car accident with a body half out a window, but not all the way out, so chunky chili and pink rubber tubes were leaking into the gutters where the windshield wipers usually sit.
We all stared at the talking, talked about the talking, even when it was nothing but lies, we couldn't help but look at it, talk about it, think about it, and so they gave us more, and we gobbled it, like moths to flame, consuming even more of the talking and looking as hard as we could. I was working on the theory that what they really wanted was our attention. In any form. Hatred, complaining, cheering, agreeing, it didn't matter, because all they wanted was our attention, and we couldn't seem to turn it off, no matter how little they deserved any of it, or how bad it was for us. Something about us made us give attention.
That's why they picked us, I used to think. Maybe we were insecure, maybe they knew if they stopped here they'd find what they wanted. Maybe it was us to begin with, like a phantasil network where you have to program all the lights to intersect just right so it reverberates in the way that makes it work to begin with, and then never stops, so it's a self-fulfilling thing, like a prophecy, I think they call it. You have to set them up the right way before you realize that the crossings of light that made the effect you wanted were only possible when the light you wanted was already there, so it should've been impossible to create to begin with. It's like the old saying about the sky and the ocean, or the chicken and the egg, where one never could've come first unless the other had, and vice versa.
Back then, I was working on the theory that they wanted our attention and nothing more. That without it, they would wither away and die, and it would all stop. No more wars, lies, or misdirections, because all they wanted was for us to look, to watch, to care, feeding them every second we did it. No celebrity correspondents. No secret agency journals disguised as public interest newsletters to spend decades dissecting. We'd play our own football games and build our own trucks, tell our own stories and settle our own fistfights. There would just be nothing more to complain about. But then she shot herself in the head and I read about it anyway.