Akira Marathon - James Reinebold
The cartoon was the only source of light in Gordon's dorm. All of the shades had been drawn to a close and the ceiling light had burned out (a maintenance request was pending but unanswered). An empty, hand-painted ashtray bought on a family trip to Mexico stood on a stack of graph theory textbooks in the exact geometrical center of the room. A golf putter that hadn't been used for at least a year leaned against the aging television set.
Several discarded pizza boxes still sticky with congealed mozzarella cheese lay at Gordon's feet. A half-filled, warm bottle of cheap domestic beer was clutched in his left hand. There was a smell present that was nostalgic yet rancid. Gordon had been watching Akira on vintage VHS for 48 hours straight and his roommate had finally had enough.
"Give it up," Tommy said. "Watch something else. Something happier, trust me. You'll feel better. She's a cliché."
It had all started when Gordon's girlfriend left him to be a missionary in Thailand. She called to let him know just as he had first put the tape inside the antique VCR. The conversation between them had been brief and quiet, like a rushed rehearsal of a play where the entire cast had already memorized their lines and just wanted to go home.
"You don't understand the philosophy behind this film or the technical skill it took to create it," Gordon said. "This is art. This is taking animation to the fullest extent of the medium."
"I don't care. Let's go outside. We could get some coffee," Tommy said. He picked up the golf club and poked up at the dead light bulb screwed into the ceiling fan. A light snow of dust fluttered down to them.
"The colors aren't as vivid outside."
The fatal blow was struck just as Tetsuo was sliding his bike to a stop under the streetlights of Neo-Tokyo. Gordon's VCR shattered and the television screen switched to a nonstop broadcast of black and white fuzz.
Tommy set the club down on the floor and waited for his roommate to move. For a few more moments, Gordon sat in his chair watching the static. Then he got up and turned on the lights to discover that it was Wednesday.
James Reinebold is a software engineer and writer living in Southern California. His fiction has been published in Word Riot, Portland Review, and Jersey Devil Press. You can find more of his inane ramblings at www.strangeworkshop.com.