Jacques and his colleague, Don, aboard the Bathyscaphe Trieste. It's a record-breaking deep dive in the North Pacific ocean.
They are almost eleven kilometres down. The floodlights are on. Jacques wipes the condensation off the portal and peers out onto a landscape never before seen by man or cats or brush-tailed bettongs.
'What do you see, Jacques?' Asks Don.
'There's a little grey fish with fangs and a used condom.'
Don cradles his brow, feels an almost pleasurable sadness turning in his chest: 'Our filth precedes us, Jacques.'
Jacques frowns: 'What? No I don't think so. I only ever use the ribbed ones. This looks smooth.'
'I meant “our” in the broad sense – mankind – not...'
Jacques' isn't listening; he is rapt, face pushed up against the tiny porthole. Don thought he made a very profound point, the one about the filth, but now he just feels like a giant dingbat.
'The fish swam away, Don. Condom's still there though. I think there's jizz in it. Can you believe that?' Jacques turns to face his partner: 'there's still jizz inside the condom. We're a million miles underwater and there's still jizz inside the condom.'
'You're really chuffed with that, aren't you, Jacques?'
'Cheer up, Bum Boy, we're on the f-ing frontier.'
Don experiences a strange and sudden disengagement from his surroundings. There is a creeping darkness in his peripheral vision. 'Cheer up, Bum Boy, we're on the frontier.' It feels like the blood is draining out of his eyeballs. The darkness grows, encroaches inward to encompass the entirety of his vision. But he isn't blind: everything is dim, abstract, pale colours and soft shapes free from connotation. His consciousness has become defocused or whatever. 'Cheer up, Bum Boy, we're on the f-ing frontier.'
Don has a vision of the year 2012 (sorry, this is the 1950's. I forgot to mention that earlier). For a long dangling moment he truly thinks he will hit a few buttons, pull a lever and kill them both. Everyone in the future treats art like a job. There are books on how to write a hit song, how to get an article in the newspaper, what you need to put in a story to get it published. Sometimes it's a fair facsimile of art, but invariably a bit wrong somehow. The uncanny valley.
Everyone uses ribbed condoms in 2012. Maybe one day they'll invent something better than a cock and abandon the old thing forever. Vast shoals of used ribbed condoms floating about. Little grey fish with fangs attenuated to the perfect point for getting the jizz out.