Channel lock

Her TV would not budge from channel 11, and this was not her local station.

At first Alice thought it was her; she thought she must have made a mistake. But, really, she had never before seen the programming on this channel 11. It was supposed to be her local station. But neither the remote nor the buttons on the set budged it.

On the TV, a young woman was reading verses from the Bible, the Quran, and the Bhagavad Gita, rotationally. When she turned it on, the woman could have been reading the King James Bible, Deuteronomy 2:3, just the one verse, then it was a verse from the Quran, in Sanskrit Alice thought, and Alice didn’t know Sanskrit, then a verse in Hindi from Bhagavad Gita, and Alice didn’t know Hindi, then Deuteronomy 2:4, reading “And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast” and so forth. Actually, Alice was not very religious, so she didn’t recognize the verse even when it was in English.

It didn’t make any sense. The woman on the TV stumbled over the Sanskrit and Hindi. She stumbled even over the King James. The lighting in her studio was poor. How could she even see the texts? She picked up one book at a time, ran her finger down a page and, presumably, resumed at the next verse. Behind her was a landscape; it looked like the landscape behind the Mona Lisa, but this reader was not a Mona Lisa. She was plain, without makeup, wearing a calico print with a white collar. Alice thought that the woman on TV didn’t even have a good speaking voice.

Alice wanted to watch the history channel, not this. She used the remote to turn off the set. Then she turned it back on, but it was still the same young woman with the three books.

Alice was not a dummy. She knew about subliminal messages, and she seemed to remember that test subjects who were aware of what was going on were less susceptible. Well, no one was going to catch her unawares. She stood up and walked closer to her TV set. She didn’t notice any flashing images or any unusual flickering of the light. The main things she noticed were that this was not what should be on channel 11 and that she couldn't seem to do anything about it.

The whole thing didn’t make any sense, but it was oddly captivating.