It is the night of the 29th of October, 2012, in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. In the early hours of the morning, a huge thunderstorm brings down the power lines, leaving many areas in the dark.

In the middle of the city lies a neighborhood called Caballito. Just a few feet from the city's geographic center, in an old house, something strange is about to happen...

Many years ago, a large family lived here, but today only the parents remain. Together, they used to sit and watch an old black-and-white television that had been given to them as a wedding present in 1960. Twenty years later, this television was turned off – just like it was every night – but with one important difference: it would never again be turned on. This was because, that day, the family bought a new television set, one in color, just in time for the first live color broadcast scheduled to take place at midnight on the 1st of May, 1980, on Channel 13.

Since that day, this old television set has been stored unplugged and forgotten in a spare room. Thirty-two years later, it is still turned off. Inside the television set, among cables, speakers and circuits, there's a group of vacuum tubes that haven't been turned on for over three decades.

Suddenly, in the middle of the storm, a powerful bolt of lightning strikes the Caballito neighborhood. The power flickers out, leaving many areas in the dark. The electric charge of the lightning bolt flows through the neighborhood's power lines, reaching the old house, where part of its energy is dissipated in the old television set. For the first time in 32 years, the TV set receives a jolt of power so strong that it transforms the vacuum tubes, giving them the ability to speak, feel, and move!

PSSSSSHSHSH!!! The electricity flows through the television's circuits, raising the temperature, and the tubes start to get hot. This causes the smallest tube to awaken, opening his enormous, round eyes!

His name is Brightness, and his first words are: "1, 2, 3 ... Testing ... Hello ... Can you hear me?!"

Upon hearing Brightness' voice, his mother and father immediately wake up.
The mother exclaims, "This is Mom here!"
"Hi, Mommy!" replies Brightness excitedly.
"Tuning? Brightness?" interrupts the father. "What's going on?"
"Hello, Tone, sweetheart!" responds Tuning, the mother.
"Daddy, Mommy! Doesn't something seem strange to you?" Brightness asks.
"Yes," Tuning agrees. "Finally my nightmare has ended. I had a terrible dream where time stopped."
"Don't be afraid, my love," responds Tone. "We're all here together... But wait, what about your brothers and your sister, Brightness?"

One by one, Brightness' brothers and his sister begin to wake up, loudly calling out their names!


That night, once they discover their new abilities, they decide to get together to talk about the strangeness of the whole situation. Feeling curious, they set about making a hole in the back cover of the television so that they can leave and investigate their surroundings. For the first time in their lives, they're going to have contact with the outside world, but they better do it at night, while the owners of the house are sleeping!

Here they are!! They're ready for the biggest challenge of their lives. Charged with energy, full of electrons that pulse through their transparent bodies, producing more and more heat, they decide to investigate the area.

Tiptoeing lightly in the middle of the night, they silently cross the room, discovering that this isn't the same room where they used to transmit television. They wander around, studying the area, taking in every detail. They see old, abandoned objects on the floor, recognizing a vintage Winco record player and an electric fan covered with a plastic sheet. In every corner, they bump into dead insects and dust. Finally, Interference, the only sister, discovers a way out through a small peephole, leading to another room.

They split up into two groups to guard the area, and only four of them – Brightness, Contrast, Interference, and Volume – go through the hole into the other room.

Walking silently, pressed up against the baseboard, and being careful to not become separated from one another, they enter the next room – the kitchen.

"Wow! Look over here, up above – a small television set," Interference calls out.
"That must be one of those next-generation Japanese televisions!" exclaims Volume.
"Shhhh, quiet down, Volume!" cautions Brightness, adding: "You're right, it's definitely a color television!"
Contrast, without glancing away from the strange device, proposes, "Why don't we climb up to the counter to investigate?!"
"Yeah, let's do it!!!" all of them exclaim in unison, being careful not to shout too loudly.

Now facing the modern device, the four siblings begin to climb up and press buttons with their feet, until one of them notices that the front opens like a door. One by one, they begin to enter the strange television set, except for Contrast, who decides to stay outside. He proposes to the others, "I'm going to close this door-like thing and afterwards I'll tell you guys what the television looks like from out here, OK?"

While Brightness, Volume and Interference are all inside the device, Contrast, from outside, spies a button marked "On." Performing a special maneuver with his feet, he presses the button. Much to his surprise, the three tubes begin to rotate on a round, glass plate, with sparks flying from their bodies, becoming hotter and hotter!

What seemed like a modern, color television was, in fact, a microwave oven!

After a few stressful seconds, Contrast figures out how to stop the machine and open the door. His two brothers and his sister come out of the microwave singing, doubled over in laughter and feeling dizzy, almost tipsy. When they see Contrast, they suddenly stop laughing and freeze in their tracks, noticing that their world has turned from black-and-white to full color!
Contrast looks at them and asks, "What's going on? You didn't realize that you were inside a microwave oven?"
They all respond in chorus, as if they've been hypnotized, "Color oven!"
Volume cries out, "Wow! I see you in color, brother!"
Interference adds, "Life in color... how romantic!"
And Brightness exclaims, "This is just too much!!"
Nearly trembling with fear and gradually losing their color vision, they begin to rapidly claw their way back in the direction of the rest of their family of vacuum tubes.

Approaching the kitchen door, Brightness abruptly stops when, to his amazement, he notices a photo hanging on the wall of the love of his life: Marilyn Monroe. Motionless, he peers with squinted eyes at the picture of the diva whose color seems to be slowly decreasing. Suddenly, his eyes shoot wide open when he realizes that this photo is part of a calendar from the year 2012! Feeling confused and disoriented, Brightness hears his sister Interference warning him of the dangers of being alone in the kitchen, so he crosses over the threshold of the kitchen door to join the others.

Back home in their television set, hearing the sounds of the storm starting to subside and feeling jumpy after what they experienced, the vacuum tubes decide to hold a family meeting to discuss what happened in the outside world. Brightness, Volume and Interference tell the rest of the family what happened in the microwave, including their experience of having momentarily seen in color.
To everyone's astonishment, Brightness interjects:
"I'm sorry to tell you this, my dear family, but we are no longer living in the year 1980. We're living in the future...specifically, in 2012!"
"What?!" they all cry out at once. The father tells Brightness, "The last time we were shut off was yesterday, my dear son, on the 30th of April, 1980."
"I don't know, "In the kitchen I saw a calendar from the year 2012 with a photo of my beloved Marilyn!"

No one believes Brightness; they say it's all just a figment of his imagination. Tone, the father, deep in thought, begins to piece things together. He thinks about the strange room in the house where they're now living, about the microwave oven, and about the story his children have just told him. Pensively, he says, "If that's the case, we've been turned off for 32 years!"
"Oh my nightmare!" exclaims Tuning. Channel, nearly stammering, asks, "BBBB but does that mean we won't be able to transmit television anymore?"
Horizontal and Vertical add, "Does that make us useless?"
"We don't know," Tone responds. "We need to find out, but to do that, we need to connect to the television signal. Let's get to work!"

To be continued...

Story by Ramiro Cairo
Written by Ramiro Cairo and Sebastián Salguero
Music by Dario Calequi
Photos by Ramiro Cairo
Digital design by Sebastián Salguero
Translated by Eve Andersson
Edited by Neil Coyle

Copyright 2016