« on: January 28, 2014, 01:29:27 am »
A monitor ahead and another at ten oíclock, a mouse for each at eleven and one. Three pairs of speakers and a microphone Ė nine thirty and ten thirty, a television three paces away at five and a third monitor at eight. Four radio base stations are at nine.
The desk is a behemoth with motorized adjustable height, compartments to hide computers and battery backups, and a plethora of leg room. Itís wide open on the bottom but for a small section that separates the underside from the rest of the room. That thin metal plate has a few hundred tiny, patterned holes in it but the holes are blocked by four sheets of 8 Ĺ x 11 glaring white standard office paper. The paper holds departmental seniority over me. There is no discernible reason for it to block the little holes, as the desk reopens six inches way. Why did anyone ever bother to block it off?
If I turn my head from the forward monitor to rest my eyes they fall upon another monitor. If I turn around they do the same, so sometimes I close my eyes. They sting intensely for a moment while my contacts shriek from the staring and from the light and from the air filled with dead skin and fecal matter. They rim themselves with red. I keep them closed, squeezed actually, not rested, squeezed like a child tries to block out a monster. Eyes aggressively shut to ward off danger.
They stay closed until I feel myself nodding forward or until one of the speakers blares, my head jolting upright and my eyes fluttering and my hands, my hand shockingly cold for a moment, and then nothing. My left arm fell forward in that brief sleep and it must have hit the monitor. One of the monitors. I pull at it against all that cold but itís stuck as though in thick, wet sand or mud. I move my fingers to wrest myself free but the slow cold just works its way between them, numbing as it spreads, and as Iím moving it the image on the screen shifts. Startled, I jump back. Itís enough to free my arm, just a little.
The desktop on the forward monitor is a department badge. It budges, just a little. I tug again and the badge rips apart. My arm is free down to my wrist but the parts that were inside the monitor are covered with a thin, silvery, translucent residue. The hand is on the screen.
I can touch the shattered badge but there is no feeling so I find it hard to judge when Iíve made contact with one of the pieces or how hard Iím gripping. In a few minutes Iíve nudged them into some semblance of their original state.
With my right hand I grip the mouse at one oíclock and maneuver that around the screen to make contact with my left arm. The cursor makes touches a fingertip and the flesh gives gently to the sharp little arrow. I press further with mouse.
The cursor breaks skin, the little white arrow a digital scalpel. Blood beads up around the tiny wound and I instinctively pull it back. My hand sweeps aside the desktop icons. They scatter. The cursor is stuck fast and I pull it along with me. I startle again as the mouse moves of its own accord in my right hand, the feedback from my flailing. Itís pulled into the little gap between the adjustable desk and the stationary table and it clatters to the floor, the jolt of the track ball digging the cursor further into my index finger.
My coworkers look over at the noise and, uninterested, return to the news broadcast at five oíclock.
I pick up the mouse and lay it carefully back on the pad. I grab my left wrist with my right hand, pulling, but the cursor is an anchor. I take up the mouse again and, gingerly, pull it to move the cursor away from my finger. Itís stuck fast. The little notches on the back of the arrow snag flesh. Blood drips deeper into the screen, splattering on the five pointed sheriff star badge, running across its edges and into the cracks. There is still no pain.
My jaw is clenched and the knuckles on the hand holding the mouse are white. I push the cheap black plastic mouse and my finger together slowly. I move it through the resistance and I donít stop when the blood streams steadily from the little hole Iím leaving behind. The badge is a horrid red mess.
Suddenly my right hand, pushing the mouse, jumps forward when the resistance stops. On the screen, there is a tiny hole in my fingernail.
Freed, I yank my arm again and again. The monitor rocks back and forth and the screen, a liquid crystal monster, tears slowly away, leaving that sheen behind on my palm, then my knuckles, and then my fingertips. Blood drips from the sliced skin and nail but the blood is wrong. It glows like itís backlit and the color seeps into the air around it, pixelating the dispatch room one drop at a time. It creates little snaking rivers in the dried rock salt on the tiles and stains the grout between them.
The phone rings. I answer it with my right hand and allow my left to drain on the floor.
ďCommunications,Ē I say. Pause. ďOh hey, Jack. Yeah, all quiet here.Ē I look at the high resolution display at the end of my left arm. ďNothing out of the ordinary.Ē