I was easily found guilty of one Class A misdemeanor. The surveillance system at the grocery story had clear footage of me stuffing the fish into my pocket. Unfortunately for me, the camera wasn’t at an angle that could see the fish moving inside of the cooler.
I wanted to explain that a talking fish had made me do it and then framed me for it, but I didn’t want to end up in the nuthouse so I just kept those details to myself and took my charge on the chin.
After spending two nights in the county jail waiting for my arraignment, I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed. I pulled onto my driveway and unlocked my front door. The house seemed too quiet compared to the cacophony in jail so I decided to blast the television to give myself some company. Unfortunately for me, it was tuned to the news.
“In our top story, there has been another shocking development in the case of the missing CFO of ComEd. We’ll send it over to Tom Matsumura for more details. Tom?”
My ears perked up and my eyes were drawn naturally to the news story. Soon enough, a handsome man in a dark blue suit was smiling a frozen and patronizing smile on the screen. I assumed his name was Tom.
“Thank you, Diana. I’m here in front of the headquarters of Commonwealth Edison, where we have been told a major announcement is about to take place.” Tom turned towards a small ruckus that was heard offscreen. “It appears that someone is at the podium now and, well, no…that can’t be right.” Tom squinted and furrowed his brow before waving at the camera to turn around; to see what he was seeing. The camera spun and zoomed in, capturing the small speaker at the podium and framing them dead center on screen.
It wasn’t a person in a suit as was expected. It was a fish. And not only a fish, but one that looked pissed right off. It was sitting in a shallow bowl that was filled with water. I knew for certain that it was fresh water.
When the fish spoke, it slammed its tiny fin with fury against the surface of the water. It splashed the reporters in the front row. I was sure that was intentional.
“Attention idiot humans,” the fish boomed out with the help of a microphone that was about three times bigger than its body. When the fish spoke, a hush quickly overcame the murmurings of the waiting crowd. “I know you have all been wondering why you were called down here today. Thank you for putting down your addictive sodas and your baloney sandwiches so that you could all squeeze yourselves into your tiny polluter cars that were made in stinking, smoking factories here in America using parts that came from Mexico and that burn oil from Saudi Arabia at an alarming rate. Thank you for using your greasy human fingers to switch off your television shows about unhappy human women who are more full of plastic than our oceans. Thank you for - ” The fish, red in the neck, would have continued his snide tirade had it not been for the advice of a pufferfish, who suddenly bobbed over, bloated with whispers and air, both of which were expelled beyond the range of the microphone. The fish nodded and cleared his throat, coughing into a fin that was balled up like a fist.
“That being said, thank you for being here. We are here, really, to talk about just one thing. Power.” That last word sent a new wave of murmurs and questions through the crowd. The fish lifted his fins up in a calming gesture. When things quieted down, he continued.
“Power can come in a lot of different forms. In the case of the company that is stationed behind me here, power came in the form of electricity.” More murmurs. Confusion and fear swept through the sea of reporters. “You ugly, air breathing goons harvested it, controlled it, and sold it. You ran your massive fiber cables through our homes, through our water sources, and you act like it has no impact. You act like it does not alter and destroy entire ecosystems. Are you so dense that you do not know? Or so selfish that you do not care? Either way, that ends today.” On cue, as soon as those words were uttered, the lights shut off. All the street lamps and store fronts and all the miles and miles of fluorescent tubes that ran along the halls of nearby office buildings, they all went out.
My TV went out.
I fished around in my cabinets and closets in the dark, feeling around until I found what I was looking for. I cranked my hand crank radio until it had enough juice to pick up a signal. I soon zeroed in on a news frequency and I heard the conference once more. When I heard what happened next, I was thankful that I wasn’t watching it anymore.
“The man now seated before you, the one you see strapped to this aluminum yard chair, he is your missing CFO. He is the man responsible for all this power…and all the havoc it has wreaked.”
I heard a few loud shrieks and screams and the sound of running. After a moment, things quieted down enough that I could hear the fish continue. “I see that you have all noticed my friends. Yes, see how they curl around the chair? The way their bodies contort and slither and wrap around themselves? All of that increases their power. You see? There it is again: Power.” A crackle of electricity split the air, sending feedback across the radio waves and fear across the crowd in waves of another sort.
The signal cleared. The fish went on. “Your electric chair uses two thousand volts in order to kill a man. My friends here, they can all generate up to eight hundred volts each. They’re up to eight feet long, and 80% of their body is covered in electric organs and powerful electrocytes. With this many of my friends gathered here, we should have no problem taking care of this man, this living garbage, this CFO of mayhem and waste.”
More screaming. More running and muffled cries. I wished I could stop listening, but I was glued to my radio.
“This is a warning. This is an example. Tell your leaders, tell your rich, tell everyone, that the power is shifting back to us. This is only the beginning.”
There was an explosive crackle and a sustained hiss. Bursts of electric current thundered over the radio waves, accompanied by screaming.