Where’s The Blue Food? (excerpt from Terminal Monday: Under Observation)

Looking down at his food, he noticed a little blue spot, like a drop of ink, dabbed on one of the tiny dunes of whipped potato mess. He poked at it with his plastic spork, and it started spreading, very much the way ink spreads in water, tiny fingers reaching out from the center. Rather than stopping in some diffused circle, the ink kept spreading, soon engulfing the entire puddle of potato slop. Then the peas started turning blue, as if some microscopic blue fungus were spreading over the surface of the peas in time lapsed video. At the same time, the chicken started growing some sort of blue mold, which also affected the mozzarella, shooting it through with veins of blue.

The television sparked to life again, and there was a young George Carlin standing on stage in the round, asking, “Where’s the blue food, man?”

The camera zoomed up to Carlin’s face, and he seemed to be looking directly at Richard. Then he looked down and said, “Oh, it looks like Richard found the blue food. Tell me something, Rich. Does blue food taste as good as regular food, or does it taste sadder?”

Richard looked down at his tray, and then looked up and admitted, “I’m not sure. I haven’t tried it.”

“Well, why not? This is a landmark opportunity, Rich. You can be the first man in human history to try the blue food. You can tell us what it’s like, maybe do the talk show circuit, write a book and do a signing tour, sampling blue foods all over the country. Talk about getting your career back in gear.”

“I’m not sure I want to be the guy who made a career out of talking about blue food, George.”

“Why not? It worked for me.”

“Well, that and the seven words, you mean.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. You know, though, you could feed the blue food to your girlfriend and turn her blue, too. Then you could tell people what it’s like having sex with a blue girl. Maybe even shoot some film. You could call it The Real Blue Movie. That’d sure to get their attention.”

“True, but I don’t think I’d feel good about making someone else blue just so I can get famous.”

“Well, what do you call what you’ve been doing over the last month? How many people have you made blue while you’ve been trying to get work as a writer? Have you seen your wife lately? She looks like she’s been on a steady diet of blue food, man. How long do you think it’ll be before Andy starts turning blue, too? Let’s face it, Rich, you’ve been feeding it to everyone you know for ages now, and you still haven’t gotten famous. What could it hurt if you just ate some of it yourself?”

“I don’t want to eat the blue food,” Richard insisted.

“Oh, I see. You don’t mind other people choking on it, but when it comes to yourself, you haven’t got the guts. Okay, I guess I understand that. Lots of people would feel the same way. But I’ll bet you that none of those people are famous either, Rich.”

“You see,” George continued, “you can’t ignore the blue food when you’re trying to make a name for yourself. You have to wolf it all down and go back for seconds. That’s how it works. Until you figure that out, you’ll just be another nameless wannabe. But if you’re happy with that, then don’t sweat it. Just set the blue food aside and let somebody else give it a try.”

“Maybe your girlfriend Andy would like some blue food, eh, Rich? I’ll bet she wouldn’t say no. That girl doesn’t say no to anything, does she? How long do you think she’ll stick around when she finally figures out what a coward you really are? She’ll be off with someone who isn’t afraid to eat the blue food when it’s in front of him.”

“Oh, fuck off, George!” Richard barked.

He hoisted the dish up and threw it at the screen, splattering the screen with the blue gunk. The food slid slowly down the screen, leaving a coating of blue behind it. George poked a finger through it and popped it in his mouth.

“Hey, Rich, you should try this. It’s a little funny tasting at first, but it’s pretty tasty. Something in the way it’s spiced, I guess. Maybe bay leaves. I don’t know. What do you think?”

Richard watched as the food dripped from the screen, splattering messily to the floor. The blue coating on the screen was spreading, soon covering the entire television and reaching up the metal brackets to the ceiling.

“I’m so blue… I’m so blue…” Carlin sang, his face and hands turning blue before Richard’s eyes.

The blue dye was spreading across the ceiling, coming closer to Richard. Then he looked down in horror and saw that the sheets were growing a huge blue ink stain that was spreading from the foot of the bed to where he sat. He tried to move his feet away, but the stain kept coming.
“Hey Rich, I guess this means I’m a blue Meanie, doesn’t it?” George quipped, and slipped a black mask over his eyes. Then he stepped back and said, “and that means it’s time to take off the kid gloves. Here, Glove!”

A blue glove with eyes and teeth popped out of the screen and started flying in circles, orbiting the television set, leaving a stream of smoke behind it. Richard looked down and saw that he was completely surrounded by blue, and it was rapidly closing in on him. He tried to find a place in the room he could get to, but the entire room was covered in blue now. And then the blue was growing up his legs. He could feel his skin getting cold and brittle under his hospital clothes.

Elton John started singing from the same stage as George, a blue piano appearing out of the floor.

“Blue eyes… Baby’s got blue eyes.”

Richard looked at his hands and saw that they were growing crystalline and blue, and felt his face growing cold and stiff. Elton kept singing, but he couldn’t hear him over the roaring of the blue glove soaring around the room, circling in on him. Then it dived at him, and he dropped to the bed to dodge it. The glove flew overhead, but then circled around and came to a full stop over top of his body, curled up on the blue sheets.

“You know what to do, Glove,” Carlin called out from the screen. Elton John started pounding out “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”, and the audience was singing along, their bright blue faces swimming past on the screen as the camera panned around in circles.

The glove balled itself up into a giant fist and began pounding on Richard’s back. He could hear crunching sounds, like glass shattering, but couldn’t feel the blows. The fist kept pounding, and Richard looked down to see his hands developing fissures and splintering away. Finally, he collapsed and watched helplessly as the fist began pummeling his face, huge cracks forming through his field of vision, and then splintering into darkness.

© 2010 Lee Edward McIlmoyle
from the novel Terminal Monday,
excerpted in the novella Under Observation.

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