I look at the water—into it, more accurately—and I vanish. Imagine it brought to a boil, all of it at once. Husks of sea-life Fulton’d to the surface, bursting through that glass ceiling of mass extinction. What machine could do such a thing? What if it’s already been built? Constructed by Superfund, designed by the ocean’s enemy: Me—I designed it. 

Grew up a five minute drive from the sea. (Good luck with parking.) 45 minute walk, 15 minute bike ride, but up a great hill. Walk your bike up it. Don’t slip down the other way. Fall now and you won’t recover. The aquarium at the end of the pier is named for the sneaker heir. He attacked my oldest friend and some years later died alone in a hotel room in Bangkok. His face adorns the aquarium floor. You step on him as you enter. Fitting, my friend said, and stole all the fish from their tanks, and cooked them in the deep fryer she’d wheeled down the pier. She flung their breaded flesh at the glass double doors. No charges sought against her—for she was in mourning

The churlish aquarium director requested I “replace the dead.”

Flew to Alaska on Alaska Airlines. Found the missing crabs. They’d hidden themselves under Anchorage. Couldn’t bear the boil in the Bering anymore. So: they moved to the sewers. The sewers beneath Anchorage have always been there, I’d read. They built the city at that site because they could hook it right up to those natural sewers. Leopold David, their first mayor, called it a miracle. He asked to be buried down there. Fused with the sewers. Now any time you flush a toilet in that town, he laughs at you. California took a different tack—Montebello, for instance, fire-bombed the innate rock sewers below it with napalm B. They built a new sanitary system contoured exactly to the Earth’s preference. Bad idea, that; the elementary schools there are now constantly Hoover’d into the never-ending fires just beneath them. 

Meanwhile, I was FedEx-ing half-dead crabs back from Alaska. To the FedEx Office in Hermosa Beach. Charged to the aquarium’s card. The billion crabs arrived via cargo plane even deader than before. Smelled much too repellent for eating. But the director agreed to display what I brought him. Too many for the current facility: he pledged to expand downward. They hit sand forty feet beneath the water’s surface and kept the aquarium-pillar going. All this for a hundred and fifty stories of redundant displays filled with corroded Snow and King Crab shells—for that’s what they were by that point. And I’d assigned every one of them human names. 

(When ocean and Earth mix in such a way, no one will remain alive.)

— Z.H. Gill works in Hollywood, California.

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