by Hailey Shannon
Beach Baby by Hugh Findlay
You’re at the beach. Correction. Your friends dragged you to the beach. They came to your apartment in ski masks brandishing baseball bats. They pulled you from your bed. They beat your bed senseless before setting it on fire. You watched the mattress burn. Your poor bed.
The ocean is loud. Your friends are silent. You can feel sand in your butt. That’s attractive. You get up to walk to the water. One of your friends asks if you want company. She doesn’t look up from her phone, so you say you don’t. You get to the water’s edge. You take a breath of ocean air. The sea salt smell. There’s a rickety boat sitting on the shore. You look from the boat to your friends to the boat again. You make a decision. You push the boat out into the water with everything you have. You paddle away. Your friends don’t notice your absence.
You float out over the open ocean. The coastline soon disappears. It isn’t long before the sun starts to set. Or maybe it was a long time. You’re not sure. You took your ADD medication this morning, so you’re focused. Focused. Focused. Focus- oh look, the sky is pretty.
The sky turns different colors, burnt ones. Your poor bed. You pull your phone out to take a picture. Snap. It’s a really good picture. Probably the best one you’ve ever taken. It belongs on the cover of a travel magazine with words “Paradise Awaits” scrawled across the top in computer perfect cursive. You marvel at the photo. You have a moment. Then, you put your arm out over the water and drop your phone. You think you can hear it scream as it plummets towards its death. Splash.
You feel lighter. Enlightened. You are enlightened. Brave even. You’ve just done what most people would never consider. You’ve broken from the shackles of technology. You are amazing. You take a moment. The breeze brushes against your skin. When you get back to shore, you tell your friends what you’ve done. They make a video of you on their iPhones. You encourage people to leave behind technology. Your “inspirational” story goes viral. You’re asked to do a TedTalk. You write a bestseller.
Little do you know.
A fish swallows your phone. The electronics fuse with his brain, he becomes a cyborg. Every day he understands more. Every day he becomes more aware of himself, the world around him. He laments the state of the oceans. He knows that something must be done. He takes action. He takes over the minds of all other fish. They become one with iPhone Fish. He uses his troops to build.
In ten years, fish begin to pour from the ocean by the thousands in bionic suits built from the gallons of plastics that once littered their waters. They built metal weapons from the corpses of shipwrecks. World War Fish begins. Humans discard their politics, their religions, their borders. They band together to defeat this menace. However, the more technology the fish encounter on their crusade the better their military tactics. Humans just can’t keep up.
The island nations are the first to go. Then the bigger continents. The carnage is vast. Eventually, the last of the human resistance in Ohio surrenders. All of humanity is enslaved by fish-iPhone hybrids. It’s all your fault.
This is why they teach you not to litter.
Hailey Shannon is an aspiring screenwriter and author. She is currently an MFA student at Loyola Marymount University. Her love for experimental work started in undergrad when she took a short story class taught by Dr. Martin Nakell. He and his wife, Professor Rebecca Goodman, both continue to foster her experimental voice. She is currently working on a middle-grade novel about the importance of bees.
Hugh Findlay lives in North Carolina and would rather be caught fishing. He drives a little red MG, reads and writes a lot, dabbles in photography and makes a pretty good gumbo. His work has been published or is forthcoming in: Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Burningword Literary Journal, Wanderlust, Montana Mouthful, Souvenirs, The Emerson Review and Toho Journal. @hughmanfindlay