What's anything but as it's valued? - Troilus and Cressida.
All day we wander these corridors. The set is a shopping mall, but the walls are plastic and styrofoam designed to look like stucco and brick. There is all manner of vegetation about, made from nylon and other fabric.
It does look like a shopping mall, at that, with folks milling and walking and sitting and talking. We are, all hundred and twenty of us, paid extras in the giant reality program Our Show. We do what most do in such places, except leave the premises. Ever.
Our living quarters are on the second floor of the end closest to the parking lot. The walkways are very long and, as you can't see from one end to the other because of the dogleg at the end away from the parking lot, nobody knows just how extensive is our home ground.
I used to know directions. Like, which way is north. Now, I only know from the parking lot.
It doesn't really matter, though, because we have enough room to wander. Besides, once you go out any exit, you can never enter the premises again. (It is rumored a whole gang in a shop were expelled with the shop in one fell swoop. They didn't like the diner on the set and what's a half-dozen more or less millers along the mall? They sealed it off and built something else and never again were seen those who had wandered into the shop.)
The camguys carry their tools unobtrusively on a shoulder. They swing their arms as they walk so we hardly notice them. At first there was the tendency to act out before the cameras like all the other shows, but that became too much effort after a time. If you are always on-screen, then you never are truly. At least that's what some of us have decided.
Anyway, all the passion necessary for melodrama just fades away with time.
A condition of our participation is that we never forbid the camguys from wherever we may be. If any of us hook up, then they might follow us up to our rooms. Nobody seems to mind anymore. It will be shown vividly in it's time, but we never know when, as the live stream for Our Show does not follow consistently the day it was taped. There is ever, as we say, a mismatch in the sequence. Besides, loving up in the rooms has become similar to what goes on elsewhere. I don't mean we make love in the fountain (that's only happened a couple times since I've been here); I mean all we do has become ritual and has sort of lost its excitement, if you know what I mean.
We are of all ages, though like most shows (and like most malls), the young predominate. The lady I often sit with at the taqueria (no kitchen, that we can see, so the grub must come from elsewhere -
the shops carry real corporate names, though, as they sponsor the show - we are cautioned to never complain about anything but one another) is a senior, in fact. I mean, she's elderly; we aren't allowed to ask how long anyone has been in Our Show.
What is strange is that ... I do complain about those who annoy me to Alice. She nods and seems to understand. I tell her Jack is messing up scenes because he can't seem to remember who he is. He was in the obnoxious jock role and yet there he was crying down by the fountain because all his pals were alienated from him.
I never saw Jack anywhere about the set after that.
Sometimes we talk about the life we had before. Some say they did something useful and the others will laugh her down and she won't be convinced by anyone that what she did might have been accomplished just as well without her. Besides, what is 'useful' outside has no real application on the set. Everything is of the same value in here. It's good when it's on tape and worthless otherwise.
Some fall in love, or seem to. But it's just too difficult to distinguish that from any other act which brings pleasure and perhaps prestige - along with a camguy. We all make gestures, after all, hoping (with a degree of avidity inversely proportional to the length of our time on set) to end up on tape for the day. We are, after all, under the illusion we are worth the tape and also there is the suspicion (unstated) that a certain time without tape means expulsion.
Some have been disappeared from Our Show. They broke a rule, like hitting the exit and wildly chasing off into the night, screaming. I don't know what happens to them then. Maybe they go back to doing something useful outside. We never see them again.
And whenever I complain to Alice about anyone, that one is gone immediately. Maybe there's a parallel set they are cast into. Maybe there are many parallel sets for any number of expulsions.
Some days I just don't feel like rising in the morning. And that's all right. Nobody seems to mind. Or even notice.