WARNING: This story may contain traces of irony.
It must have been about noon when Jake lifted his head off the table and peeled the keyboard from his face. It was the third day of his writing career which corresponded to the third day of writer’s block. He had managed to nail procrastination, so much so that he could procrastinate in his sleep. As Jake’s eyes scoured his tiny little office for an inkling of inspiration he rested his gaze upon the electrical extension cord used to power his computer.
The pattern of the British plug socket was the first thing that caught his eye. The socket slots formed a triangular pattern. The peak of the triangle had a vertical slot. The base had two horizontal slots. The two base slots were blanked out. Upon further investigation Jake noted a plastic lever inside the open vertical slot. He carefully placed the tip of his metal scissors into the slot and pushed the lever. As if by magic the horizontal slots opened up.
Jake was now fully immersed in the mechanics of the extension. He had it resting on his lap with a series of tools spread over his desk. There were his metal scissors, three plastic coated paper clips, a Bic biro lid, a folded business card and weirdly, an old wooden skewer he found sticking out under the drawer pedestal when he lifted up the extension.
He wasn’t stupid, he knew metal conducted electricity so he used the skewer to push against the lever. He took a straightened paper clip, making sure he was holding it by the plastic sleeve and delicately placed it into a horizontal slot. The first thing Jake noticed was the heat coming from the paper clip. The second thing was he was now lying on the floor. There was something odd too. He had his inspiration.
He jumped back into his seat, pushed his tools to one side and rescued his keyboard from the back of the desk. His fingers had never typed so fast. Within an hour he had penned his first personal essay. He paused, taking in a deep breath, summing up the courage to post his first written piece. I am a writer, I am a writer he repeated to himself. With his confidence topped up he pressed the Publish button. He had done it. His heart was no longer on his sleeve but weaving its way around the internet in a series of ones and zeros.
Four minutes later he had his first Recommend. Shortly afterwards, a Follower. He sat and watched as the numbers kept increasing. He was ecstatic at his sudden growth in popularity. Fame was finally creeping up on Jake, he just hoped fortune was to follow.
The next day after spending an hour marvelling at the three hundred and twenty six Recommends and the one thousand four hundred and eight Followers, Jake realised the enormity of having to follow that essay. How on earth was he going to reach those dizzy heights again, especially as he was clueless as to his next topic? He gazed at the pile of stationery he had assembled yesterday and then down at the extension. Is that my muse?
With paper clip and skewer in hand Jake delved into his inspiration. The idea came in a flash as did his singed eyebrows. Immediately he started transcribing his thoughts. An hour later and buoyed by the now two thousand plus followers he pressed the Publish button.
Five minutes had passed and the sweat was running down Jake’s remodelled brows. Not a single response had been registered. He hit the Refresh button and he let out a maniacal laugh as his story’s Recommends rose well above five hundred and his Followers now exceeded five thousand. Jake had found the honeypot.
Now everyday he was knocking out any old shite — personal essays, self-help articles, secrets to success blogs — all inspired by a four socket extension. ‘This is what happened when I went to see my gynecologist: I’m a man’, ‘I was anally probed by an (illegal) alien’, and ‘I was abused as a child and this is how I came to terms with the experience and addressed my abuser on Facebook, trolled him on Twitter, hacked his Instagram account and burned his frog’ were particularly shite pieces where the quality of the headline far exceeded the quality of the content.
Even the comments he received were as trite as his text. His sixty thousand plus Followers had indeed become that. They sucked up every word and responded with sycophantic bullshit. Jake loved it, he revelled in it to an extent where he was checking his statistics every five minutes. He even set his alarm to go off every hour while he was trying to sleep just so he could check his Followers count.
One hundred and seventy two thousand, three hundred and ninety one Followers later, Jake died. He was found fused to his extension cord and keyboard. His eyes were hollowed out with scorch marks around the edges and his corneas were splattered on the computer monitor.
Jake learned what it took to gain a great following. It seemed the key was to have a muse that sparked your imagination and a title that shocked!