THE OCEAN ON TELEVISION by Mike Young
05/09/10
 
You dump some huckleberries into boiling water. It's Thursday, and you're in a hurry, but there's always time for huckleberry tea. You watch the ocean on television. These days, screens show just live feeds of shoreline. You like the Pacific mostly, the Arctic when you're drunk. Seaweed and news washes up. Here's an octopus, yawning. Here's Barack Obama, wringing out his tie. Alabaster shells skitter onto the sand, followed by this year's college basketball champions. People who look like each other ride sharks who look like each other; everybody yells. Someone in a pinstriped suit staggers out of the water, hiccupping for breath. Then somebody with more hair gel breathes just fine. Driftwood is smacked by spray and tide, and the digits notched in the wood play through: stock quotes and temperatures, box office takes and the ages of the dead. An Apache helicopter rolls onto the beach. The door opens. A school of plankton fly out and drop and flop and start to die. Someone comes screaming out of a wave with a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher. He fires at the helicopter. It explodes. Wild and nervous, dying plankton bite the rocket man in his ankle, and the man suffers a severe allergic reaction. He's whisked to the hospital. The doctors take blood blots. They give each other psychological tests based on the shapes of the blots. Nobody says what means what, but all the doctors raise their eyebrows a little. One doctor shaves the dying man completely and tapes all the hair to his own body. He hides in the break room refrigerator. "Look, I'm a yeti," he whispers over and over, practicing. Finally one of the other doctors opens the fridge, groping around and not looking inside, telling another doctor off to the left "ówhy he never enjoyed seafood, I guessó" Then Doctor Grope notices Doctor Yeti and screams. Simultaneously, Doctors Grope and Out of Frame throw all the needles in their pockets at Doctor Yeti. His skin turns blue and bubbly. His neck melts into his shoulders. His fingers web together. Doctors Grope and Out of Frame look at each other and become a certain kind of friends that aren't friends at all but stay that way forever.

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Mike Young is the author of We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough (PGP 2010), a poetry collection and Look! Look! Feathers (Word Riot Press 2010), a story collection. He co-edits NO÷ Journal and Magic Helicopter Press. "The Ocean On Television" is from an unfinished interactive fiction project about Ada Lovelace. Visit Mike at http://mikeayoung.blogspot.com.

 
 
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