The Servante of Darkness
Horror Story of the Month
THE UNCLE ROGER SHOW
by Franklin E. Wales
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it
Saturday, 6:45 am Eastern Standard Time
Forty-five minutes to go. All those years of study, and investigation were beginning to crystallize. Larry Grant, a.k.a. Uncle Roger opened the bottle of Chivas Royal Salute. Today was cause for celebration. Tomorrow would be soon enough to begin work on next week’s program. Nearly fifteen years of preparation were coming to fruition this day. A just and righteous cause for celebration.
New York City, New York:
Karan Martel could hear the twins, Donnie and David scurrying about in the kitchen. She considered getting up to fix breakfast, then decided against it. Two eight year olds boys were quite capable of fixing cold cereal. Besides, Uncle Roger would be on soon. Let him entertain them, she was going back to sleep.
Justin Applebee sprang out of bed. He’d have to hurry with breakfast and brushing his teeth. Uncle Roger would be on when the big hand reached twelve, and he wanted everyone to have a good breakfast and clean teeth.
Ann Arbor Michigan:
Abby Duncan turned on the radio her parents had given her for her birthday. She didn’t need to tune it in, the only time she played it was to hear the Uncle Roger show. This was going to be a special day. Uncle Roger had said so last week. “Special,” she said softly. “S-P-E-C-I-A-L.” She could spell that word. Uncle Roger had taught her how.
Larry sat, sipping the two decade old Scotch. Uncle Roger’s voice was known all over the country, while Larry Grant remained totally anonymous. That was the beauty of it all. Even his neighbors had no idea what he did for a living.
The result of years of research, Uncle Roger was perfect in every way. Larry had hired the best vocal tutors he could find, and they had taught him the correct way of speaking from deep within, giving Uncle Roger a friendly, and more importantly, trustworthy voice. Uncle Roger talked with the children of his audience, not down to them. It was important that the children think of him as someone they not only trusted, but loved. Many names were tested before Larry finally decided on Uncle Roger. Everyone had a non-relative they called Uncle, and Roger seemed preconditioned into the American psyche through all those years of the PBS host from the ‘neighborhood’
New York City, New York:
Karen Martel knew she was responsible for the success of the Uncle Roger Show. Though whoever Uncle Roger really was, that man was the one behind the idea. She, however, and her hard work were responsible for making the show a National phenomenon.
A couple years back her son’s had stumbled across the show one Saturday during a month long vacation at their condo in Connecticut. Karen had been up early fixing the family’s breakfast, when one of the boys found the program on the radio...within moments both her rambunctious boys settled down and gave the program their undivided attention. That got her attention pretty fast.
The remarkable part was that the program seemed too simple to work on today’s kids. It was that simplicity, though that seemed to make it work. Perhaps in this high tech work, Uncle Roger provided high touch, so to speak.
The man told stories in a well deep-satin smooth voice that might have been sexy if it hadn’t been so innocent. In between these stories he gave little lessons on everything from good behavior, to school work to good personal hygiene...and the kids actually listened to him.
The program was reportedly recorded by the ocean. If one paid close attention, waves could be heard rolling softly in the background. The only other sound was the Special Bell, a soft, singular note that sounded a little like the bells used to ring at counters for service. Three times the Special Bell would ring during the show, signaling something of great importance (a period marks the end of a sentence) was about to be revealed.
Karen knew a marketable product when she found one. Before vacation was over she contacted Uncle Roger through the radio station. That alone wasn’t easy. She had to leave her cell phone number and wait for a call back. After several hours on the phone, she managed to convince the voice on the other end that she should be his agent. She e-mailed a contract that evening to his e-mail account. The signed form arrived at her New York City address two weeks later with a local postmark. After that, his e-mail address was canceled. Six months later, thanks to countless hours of telephone calls and deal making on her part, Uncle Roger went Coast to Coast.
Timothy Bailey carefully cleaned the toast crumbs from the table. Uncle Roger always said to keep things clean to help Mommy and Daddy. With that done, he hurried off to the living room and the radio.
Kristina Cooper was happy now. She was always happy on Saturday mornings. Mommy always felt ‘sick’ and slept late on Saturdays. Today she was sleeping with Daddy-Bill. He’d lived with them since Daddy-Pete had left.
Kristina didn’t like Daddy-Bill. Sometimes when Mommy wasn’t looking he touched her on her private place. But right now she wasn’t thinking about Daddy-Bill, she was thinking about Uncle Roger...and that made her happy.
Larry was rightfully proud of Uncle Roger. He had worked his ass off creating him. It was true that the children who listened to his show were better adjusted than those that didn’t. What amazed Larry was that no one had discovered why the same child who listened to Uncle Roger, and never forgot a word he said, might forget a teacher’s instructions by lunchtime. It seemed so obvious to him.
Subliminal messages had been around for decades. By studying back-masking in music, Larry learned to increase the speed of his messages until they became mere blips of sound. Hidden in the background of ocean waves, his blips were entirely unnoticeable to the human ear. Unknown to the listener, the subconscious picked them up perfectly and decoded them without effort or knowledge.
His studies had shown that the main fault with previous subliminal attempts fell on human nature. The format had always been used for monetary gain—Where Larry used it to promote knowledge. After all, he reasoned, tomorrow’s leaders came from today’s children. Single handedly he was shaping a generation. One that would correct the mistakes of their parents.
New York City, New York:
Karen cursed her luck. Here it was Saturday morning, the kids were occupied, she couldn’t sleep, her husband was not in the mood, and all she could think about was that damned Uncle Roger.
True, he had brought here a large amount of money, but if she could only get him to sign with television or satellite radio, that sum would triple. CBS had made an extremely nice offer, but he flatly refused to discuss it. Television, he insisted, was nothing more than talking heads. He felt it essential each child picture Uncle Roger the way he or she needed to see him, rather than a given image. .
Sweet Uncle Roger was a stubborn man, not to mention a control freak. His other reason for denying television, he had said, was the fact that once you signed with a network, you relinquished all control to them. She couldn’t argue with that fact. TV had a way of taking over everything it touched.
One radio station at a time was painstaking work, but Uncle Roger would have no talk of satellite radio because it had no time zone. He insisted his program run from seven to eight Saturday mornings without exception. He’d even cost them a few radio stations at first, simply on the basis that the station wanted to run the show in a different time slot. If a news bulletin ran into his time slot by half an hour, he insisted the program not run at all.
Whoever he was in real life, the man was certainly wrapped in mystery. Once she had him signed to a hundred stations coast to coast, he had his telephone number changed. Uncle Roger, or whatever his name was, simply called her once a month to check in, always blocking his number when he did.
To hell with him, too. He wasn’t that different from other men, she thought. He was still a pain in the ass to deal with.
Yawning, Karen thought again of sleep.
Conway, South Carolina:
Billy “Buster” Brown crept quietly toward the radio and plugged in his headphones. Mommy and Daddy didn’t like him to touch the stereo, but he always listened to Uncle Roger. He was, after all, six years old, he wasn’t a little kid anymore. Anyway, they always slept late on Saturday mornings.
West Palm Beach, Florida:
Cindy Goldman finished her oatmeal. She’d been looking forward to this day since last Saturday. Uncle Roger had promised this would be a special day, and he always kept his promises. Mom and Dad, on the other hand, were much too busy with their parties and country clubs to worry about the feelings of a seven year old girl.
Entire Eastern Time Zone:
Radios came alive with the eagerly awaited sounds of ocean waves. Uncle Roger’s soft voice blended in with the dreamlike tranquility. “Good morning, children. I’m so very glad you could share some time with me today. Today is a special day. Special like each and every one of you are to Uncle Roger.”
The procedure was really quite simple. Three times during the program the “Special Bell” would ring. Following each ring, Uncle Roger stated the week’s grammatical rule. Each rule was also increased into a speed blip and woven into the background ocean waves. Although the audible rule was only stated three times during the sixty minute program, the blips were peppered in approximately two hundred times throughout the program.
Simply stated: The children learned because they had no choice.
New York City, New York
Maybe Uncle Roger had a better grasp than she did about his show, Karen thought. The surveys constantly reported that he had a listening audience of 75% of all children nation wide between the ages of six and eight. No television show could boast that kind of audience.
Always trying to improve the effectiveness of the program, Larry studied the conditioned reflex experiments of Pavlov and his dogs. Fascinated, he experimented using the “Special Bell”. Immediately after the bell, he planed suggestions under the lesson of the week.
The first experiments were rather simple. He asked the children to color a picture and send it to him. The response was quite effective. The following week he asked for a photograph. That time the response doubled.
The system was fine tuned to the point where three times a month he instructed to children to get a friend to listen to the program. The forth week Larry always requested the children to color and mail another picture.
Each month Larry judged his progress by the increase in the number of responses he received. He calculated about eighty five to ninety percent of his listeners were now responding to the Special Bell.
Larry smiled. What Madison Avenue wouldn’t give for those odds.
New York City, New York:
Drifting back toward sleep, Karen was vaguely aware of Uncle Roger’s dreamy voice coming from the living room.
Entire Eastern Time Zone:
Second bell. Uncle Roger reminded everyone to always end a sentence with a period.
From Maine to Florida children squirmed with anticipation. The third bell was coming, and that would be really special.
Larry put his glass down. The third bell was due. (Tomorrow’s leaders are today’s children) Soon the program would be over. (Fifteen years of work coming to conclusion)
He wondered again what effect the time zone delay might have. It was the only real area he had no control over. There shouldn’t be any problems, but only time would tell.
Eastern now, followed by Central, then Mountain, Finally three hours from now, the Pacific time zone would peak. Each one following on the hourly heels of the last.
Eastern Time Zone:
The show was almost over. Children stood silently. Although they did not know how they knew, they understood Uncle Roger wanted something...(Ding)...third bell...Young minds from Maine to Florida simultaneously focused on one thought.
It had seemed wrong at first. Slowly, over the weeks, the idea made itself clear, and good. Now they accepted without question...
...kill mommy and daddy...