McSweeney’s Internet Tendency The Toast The Morning News Shouts & Murmurs
n a 2009 study, scientists at the University of Arizona concluded that ordinary household dust is a combination of dead skin cells, tracked-in soil, loose fabric particles, and even some outlawed pesticides. Those findings might be good enough for some.
But they’re not good enough for me.
Like the vast majority of my fellow Americans, I find science to be deeply unnatural and offensive. After wowing everyone with the courage and stick-to-it-tiveness that I showed in refusing to read more than the tiny little free synopsis of the study that appears in Google searches, I decided to make up my own, better, science.
As you’ll soon witness, I’ve done just that. Moreover, I did it in a mere FOUR YEARS and without any fancy “equipment” or “sound research methodology.” Like all the great scientific discoveries throughout human history, mine not only makes good intuitive sense, but could also easily be turned into a major motion picture starring, say, Channing Tatum. I’m not saying we’re twins or anything, but I could see us being distant cousins.
There’s a resemblance, is what I’m trying to tell you.
I have no illusions about the dangers of speaking out about the dust. No doubt radical Big Science will pillory me and my “unconventional” presentation, so far removed (as it must be) from the savage fetters of facts. Oh, I fully expect to be mocked; to be scorned as a “Dust Doubter.” And their misguided lifetime ban on my attendance at their conferences will probably continue, unabated. But will I listen? Will I submit? No! Did Darwin listen? Did Einstein? No! Did Galileo?
Actually, yes, he did. That’s a bad example. Forget that one. But no! I will neither listen nor submit! Although in my case it is mostly because I will be deep in a hole in my backyard, constructing a giant hermetically sealed concrete bunker, from whence I will wait out the dusty end of it all.
Yours, Graham K. Nelson
FADE IN: INT. GUY’S SPACIOUS APARTMENT — LIVING ROOM — DUSK. Three buff, tough-looking, incredibly handsome guys flex their muscles in a room full of cleaning supplies. GRAHAM, a 30 year old writer/journalist/producer, who clearly gets more women and visits the gym more often than his objectively super-buff-and-handsome friends, eyes the corners nervously.
Guys, listen. I don’t know how much time I’ve got left. This might sound crazy, but–goddammit–I think I’ve stumbled onto something big here, maybe something too big for me to handle alone. End of the world kind of stuff.
This place–my apartment–sure, it looks cozy and it’s in a fantastic neighborhood and, yeah, it’s got an actual ladder to the bedroom, like I’m living in a treehouse or something. But I think–no, I know–that this isn’t an apartment at all.
It’s a nexus. It’s a portal. It’s a goddamned six-lane highway.
Right here? You’re standing in the doorway to Dimension D. The Dust Dimension.
Don’t say anything for a second, just think about it. It’s the only thing that makes sense, given all the facts. You know me. You know I’m a clean guy. I vacuum–what?–two, two and a half times a week? I even get down on my knees and use the hose thing-y in the corners. Sometimes with the attachment. The one that looks like a walrus mouth.
GRAHAM produces SWIFFER from side holster.
And God knows that I use my Swiffer. I Swiff hard.
But every time I come home, it’s here. No–they’re here. Waiting. Watching. Gathering like the Devil’s own severe, incurable, prescription-shampoo-requiring case of dandruff.
Dust. More dust. Dust in sprinkles and layers and mounds and piles.
TODD, GRAHAM’s stupider friend, shakes head dubiously.
Oh–there must be another explanation? Like what, Todd? You think buildings just magically disintegrate on top of our heads? You’re playing right into their grimy little hands. Lord knows I played that game long enough. All that time I wasted–sealing up windows and changing filters on everything and making everyone that entered through that door take off their shoes. Even if they just had to use the bathroom or something! You know how many friends I lost because of my No-Shoe policy? Friends lost to the dust?
Two. Two friends, Todd. I don’t even want to tell you about all the “dead” skin cells I louffa’ed off down the drain.
No, I did everything, everything I could think of, except face the cold, hard, dusty truth: the Source is inside the apartment. The perimeter–it’s not just breached. It’s fucked.
But I’m not gonna roll over for these dusty bastards. I’ve been watching them, you know? Tracking their movements? Looking for patterns? Measuring density? Sneezing violently at their scouting parties? And I’m close. I’m real close to finding the Incursion Zone–the jagged slash in space/time through which they squeeze their filthy little bodies into our world. It’s either under my bed or in that giant tangle of cables next to my TV.
TODD raises a dubious, stupid finger.
No, Todd, I can’t move them. Those A/V cables are probably the only things holding reality together. And, you know, giving me surround sound.
But lately–yeah, something tells me they know I’m onto them. The dust–it’s different, you know, bolder than I’ve ever seen. Aggressive even. They used to skulk around in the forgotten places, the places no human would go. Like above the fridge. Or on that typewriter where I’m writing the great American novel. But now–now they rally in raiding clumps along the walls. Hell, sometimes I see them just lazing about in the sunlight, taunting me. Last week, they sent some crazy-ass mote on a kamikaze mission straight into my eyeball.
Probing my defenses.
But I’ve been thinking. I’ve got a plan to end this once and for all. All I need is for you two to–wait. The hell?! Was that table dusty when you walked in? I just vacuumed an hour ago. Th–that’s impossible! Impossible…ha ha…unless…of course…ha…God help us all…unless they’ve learned how to escape from the vacuum bag.
So this is how it ends, huh? Not with a bang, but with a fit of sneezing.
You two need to get the hell out of here. And fast. I got these wet wipes; I’ll cover you until you’re clear.
GRAHAM heroically rushes friends to the APARTMENT DOOR.
Tell Jill–Jesus. Just tell her I’m sorry. Sorry for it all. Sorry that I always made her take off her shoes. Especially those times she wore those tall boots with all the strappy things on them. Took her about five minutes to get those things off. She needs to hear this, Todd: let her know I’m…I’m sorry I said she was tracking stuff in all those times.
Christ. I know better now.
And make sure she stays the hell away from the dryer. Pretty sure it’s a wormhole to the Planet Lint.
Now I ain’t going down without a fight. I’ll hold ‘em here for as long as I can, but, if the worst happens…if I don’t make it out…I want you to go down to the store and get the most absurdly expensive Dyson Vacuum Cleaner you can find. The one that retails at five hundred. And when they come for you, and they will come for you, you show those damn dirty heathen Dust Lords why Cleanliness–heh–why Cleanliness is right next to Godliness. Ashes to ashes and dust…to dust.