Blue Algae

0.

My mother sets up a mattress for me on the floor in the lounge room. Brushes dust and fur off, covers not big enough even though it is a single. I lie on my back as she watches tv, getting up to smoke expensive cigarettes from a pack my mother bought me when it feels right.

The tv plays a show about people caught on cctv footage. Man runs through glass wall at full speed. Man kicks train while it is moving. Two women pull over on a highway and brawl, a van is sent. “People do this,” the watcher says, “knowing they are being watched 24/7.”

The tv plays a show about British people buying a house in the country. They are very polite but they only smile when they talk. The first house is too cramped, the second and third too open plan for the dog.  The host seems very disappointed that they did not like his suggestions. “I don’t know what they are looking for,” he says, “but I hope we helped them figure it out.”

My brother plays videogames and swears. Died. Died. Died. Watches through the enemy’s eyes while he waits to come back. “They’ve got to be cheating,” he says, “see their reaction time? He just walked into a room and killed three people in a second.” I look at the roof. “Maybe it is your internet connection.” No, it was working earlier. “They’ve got to be cheating.”

 

1.

I play poker on a cruise ship with Male Friend Whose Ex I Slept With and Girl I Like. There is earth on the floor and the room is thick with old trees and deep green foliage. We all play tight-passive. Shuffle the blinds around. Our stacks stay about the same. We cannot read each other.

New Guy makes his way through the trees. Girl I Like stands, smiles, they kiss. Introduces us. I nod, Male Friend nods, hands face down on table. Girl I Like is happy, holds his hand. Gives us her money and leaves with him.

Male Friend and I continue playing, not talking. We get aggressive. Start betting big on stupid hands. I go all in on a big blind special, 7/2 off suit. He calls and I give him my money. I make my way through the trees to look at the ocean.

Male Friend follows. I take out an expensive cigarette for us both. Light them. I lean on the railing. “I only invited her because I wanted to get laid,” he says, laughs, “I don’t know much about poker.” Smokes, breathes out in short puffs, watches the smoke rise. I stay silent, reading him.

 

2.

The bottom of the ship is huge. Blue, black, grey, modern. There is a woman I don’t know standing on a podium at the end of a metal arm pointing forwards towards the enemy. She watches as I cover the distance between us. Silence as a welcome.

She gestures below. Multi-barrelled machine guns are set up in front of computer screens. “We made these for the military,” she says, “they can read hundreds of targets a second. Watch.” The guns start firing. The computer screens bring up targets. The guns are not very accurate. The computer screens flicker with static, smoke rises. I leave.

The dining hall is as big as the room below. Brown, gold, white, classic. The place is cramped with hundreds of people. They look old. Lumpy growths on their skin like leprosy, covered in thin white fur. They stare at me and ignore their food.

An old woman cries on a chair next to me. I ask her if she lost her husband in the war. I draw her in, hold her, stand back. There is a wet patch on the front of my shirt. An old man stands up, crosses the distance to me. He puts his hand on my face and I fall to my knees. The fur on his lumpy hands is soft, warm, reassuring. I want to vomit.

 

3.

The top of the ship is blackened and ruined. The sky is dark with clouds. Blue rain falls upwards from the ocean and every wet surface. There is a woman’s voice in my head. Could be Girl I Like, could be anyone. Probably Girl I Like.

“There is something in the water.” She says, “When it stirs it makes us sad, makes us say the things we should.” Girl I Like and Male Friend Whose Ex I Slept With are lying in a burnt out building on the deck. Dripping, long blue hair covers their bodies and their faces. They look monstrous.

They stand. The hair makes their faces look hollow. “I am sorry, I slept with him.” Girl I Like says. “I am sorry, I slept with her.” Male Friend says. “I am sorry.” I get angry and muffled lightning cracks deep beneath the ocean. “I don’t care,” I say, start yelling, “I don’t care who you fuck. I do not own you. What you do and who you fuck on your own time does not and should not matter to me.”

The rain slows, starts falling back down. Washes over them, washes the hair from their bodies. The hair pools at their feet, slips through cracks in rotting wood. Girl I Like is smiling, gaps between her teeth. The rain makes her hair stick to the back of her neck. I walk away, find cover, light an expensive cigarette. I breathe it out in short puffs, watch the smoke rise.

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