The end of the world is nigh and BT won't answer Dennis' calls.
"There was a tooth on the pavement this morning." Dennis told Karen after she'd brought him a cup of tea. It was true, but he wasn't entirely sure why he expected Karen would be interested.
"Oh." She said. "Though I don't know why you expected I would be interested. It's not mine."
"I never said it was yours. I just said it was there."
"Oh." She said. "Is it yours?"
Dennis had often lamented the fact that on a Friday evening, he was probably having a similar conversation with his wife to the one every other 40 year old man was having with their wife. Dennis didn't like feeling insignificant, it's the reason he bought a nice car for himself last Christmas. He couldn't afford it. It keeps breaking down.
With some pride Dennis noted that it was unlikely any other 40 year old man had found a tooth on the pavement this morning, except the ones who had - and he certainly doubted that they'd told his wife about it.
"Did anyone else tell you about finding a tooth?" He asked his wife.
"Oh." Said Karen. "I don't think so, why?"
So that was that. No other 40 year old man had told his wife about it. Dennis was unique. It was now 7PM, time to watch the news.
"Oh." Said Karen. "It's 7PM."
"Time to watch the news." Said Dennis, with some anticipation. Dennis liked the news. It was new.
"The BBC Headlines at 7 o'clock" Said the TV woman, even though everyone was already aware. Dennis often wondered why she had a job. If people weren't aware that the news was on, then why would they be watching it? She'll probably be replaced by robots in a few years, he thought solemnly. Everything is electronic these days.
The TV woman was wondering when she would be replaced too. She was 37 years old, and took some pride in the fact that no other 37 year old woman in the country was presenting the BBC Headlines at 7 o'clock. However, being 37 in a youth-oriented industry, she did indeed fear that she would soon be replaced by a robot. Or worse, a blonde.
Headline reading was a delicate art that required two tones to perform adequately. For each headline, the TV woman was required to speak in either a cheerful or sombre tone. Invariably, the final headline would always be a cheerful one because otherwise viewers will get depressed and kill themselves - which leads to less TV licences. The teleprompter - once a thirty something divorcee from Birmingham named Kevin, these days an emotionless robot from Tokyo - gave her the headlines and it was up to her to decide whether each headline required a sombre or a cheerful tone. It was a high-pressured task that not everyone could do.
"Good evening. The government has declared a state of quarantine across Leeds this evening after several lab workers were exposed to a potentially deadly virus." After some deliberation, the TV woman decided to go with sombre.
"The Chuckle Brothers have announced a special performance at the Royal Variety Performance this year." This one was easy. Definitely sombre.
"A prototype for a self-replicating military robot has escaped from its top-secret location and is believed to be stuck in traffic on the M6." Sombre again.
"Rainfall is expected to reach record levels across Scotland and Northern England tonight as the Met Office issues a flood warning." A very sombre evening, the TV woman reflected.
"Due to health concerns, further updates from BBC News have been cancelled pending further notice. The government encourages citizens to remain indoors due to fears of impending apocalypse." This was the last one, and the TV woman dutifully used her cheerful tone to finish. And she was cheerful about it, because if there was no BBC News then she couldn't be replaced by a robot. Or worse, a blonde.
"This cup of tea isn't very nice." Said Dennis, sipping it. "Did you forget the milk?"
"Oh" said Karen, sipping hers. "We're out of milk."
Dennis stood up to find his anorak. It was raining outside. "I suppose I'll have to go to Tesco then."
They used to go to Waitrose until Dennis' company was downsized and he had to switch jobs. Now he makes coffee for people in an animation studio and quietly harbours dreams of painting full-time despite possessing the artistic ability of a ferret with no torso.
"Right." Said Dennis. "I'll be back soon."
"Oh." Karen sipped her tea. "Don't forget your anorak."