Zan Bockes
The Box

As the inky blue wash of morning paints the skies, I peer at the TV in front of me like a voyeur. Its 24/7 antics and news, ads and airless gravities cleave darkness like lightning. I transfer my sight from kitchen window to the tube on the table, caught in this box from which I can't escape, sifting through the channels and their wavering displays. Perhaps I will never move from my vinyl seat, be frozen here for years while the world prances by in its multicolored raiment.

It's been several long nights. I used to sleep to dull the painful perspicuity of Now, but for the past three days my mind has become so tightly wound it defeats the linear measure of any clock. I have no love of noisy day, but nights shout their silent hours.

I flip to CNN. A bombshell narrates the current atrocities, licking her purple lips. Haloed by blue backlight, her face remains flat, yet seethingly angry. Her icepick eyes chip away at my stomach. She is a careless surgeon, trying to expose my organs for the next Today show. And my flesh has melded to this chair — I cannot even raise an arm to turn off the TV.

As she speaks, the pink fox of her tongue leaps back and forth over the white picket fence of her teeth. She chews out cryptic comments about the war: "Someone has bombed the city again. There were many civilian casualties. We believe the perpetrator lives alone in a low-rent apartment, is unemployed and has a history of brain disease." My skin creeps across my skull. Soon They will find me crouching here before this box and watch as I turn to stone.

Outside, red and yellow spots form on fresh snow. The screaming sun aches my eyes. When I look at Bombshell again, a zig-zag scar bisects her face. She stands before a Rorschach map with a labeled dot: "You Are Here." The new world boils.

"This war belongs to you! You, with your cowardly cowering!" Her voice quivers with passion, echoing and shrill. "We are watching you! There is no way to escape!"

More red and yellow spots puncture my retinas, like afterburns from flash bulbs. Even if I close my eyes, they remain, urgently stabbing my brain.

The sun bawls my name. The wind gusts suddenly beyond the window, blowing snow across the TV screen. Static crackles, raising my hair. I should unplug the TV, prevent the voyeurs from seeing me through the dancing specks.

I begin to unfold the great weight of my body, struggling up an invisible ladder. My skin cracks like clay. I follow the cord from the box to the electrical outlet. A tiny red light glimmers inside — a camera lens. Maybe if I dig in there with tweezers, I can disable it . . .

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