Theodore, wake up.
Where am I? It feels like maybe this is the first time I've woken up here. My heavy, burning, bloodshot eyes painfully lift open and I see this... Key.
It looks like any other key; a scratchy copper shade of gold. Eagle insignia. “Security Key, DO NOT COPY” is inscribed on both sides.
How long has that key been laying here beside me, on the typewriter? Perhaps it’s been laying there a day, a week, maybe months. It’s hard to say. I don’t know. I can’t remember.
Siri, what’s the weather like today?
The car is on fire, and there's no driver at the wheel.
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides.
And a dark wind blows .
Weird. I don’t feel drunk. I’m not hungover. Something must be wrong with Siri. I throw her in my pocket along with that… key, grab a bottle of Super Premium vodka and head out to take on the day like Rob Ford on a midnight Jamaican fried chicken run.
A gust of wind slams the door shut behind me. The lock snaps closed as I shuffle through my pockets trying to find that... key. Maybe it’s one of those automatically locking doors… I don’t know. I can’t remember.
Everything is so… so foggy today. How long has it been since I’ve seen the sun? Perhaps it’s been a day, a week, maybe months. It’s hard to say. I don’t know. I can’t remember.
I’ve never seen fog like this. An infinite amount of tiny little water droplets descending, as if they were ascending, prancing upon the now locked door. It is the bleakness of December, the leering darkness of the winter solstice and nothing more.
Siri, what time does the next OC Transpo bus arrive?
We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine and the machine is bleeding to death.
How long have the water droplets from this fog been seeping into her? A bus begins to appear through the fog and without thinking, I hop on and plunk down into a seat, close my eyes and doze off.
“Sir… Wake up sir. This is the last stop.”
How long have I been asleep? A minute? An hour? A day? I don’t know… I can’t remember.
When I come to my senses and step off the… Greyhound? The fog is as thick as ever, crushing down the tops of the buildings, as if they’re crumbling in on themselves. The fog sheds an astonishingly surreal light upon Ottawa.
Flashing red lights begin to appear through the mist when it hits me like a shot of Super Premium vodka: last night... The firemen were there too! A backdraft of tiny little details, memories I had thought lost ignite in my mind. The trash can next to me suddenly begins spewing smoke. A firetruck pulls up alongside me, and for the second day in a row, firemen come roaring past me.
Siri, where are we?! What’s going on?!
The sun has fallen down.
And the billboards are all leering.
And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles.
She’s fading away with the skyline. It was beautiful on fire, all twisted glass and metal stretching upwards. Everything washed in a thin magenta haze.
I lift my skinny fists like antennas to Heaven, trying to ground myself, desperate to pull reality back down to within my grasp. But it’s too far, too tall, 1814.3 feet too tall.
As my fists fall back down to earth, through the now dark city, I spot a half-burnt page through the window of a seemingly abandoned old warehouse. “The Fire Doesn’t Burn Itself” the entrance reads. I stop dead in my tracks and take a deep breath. That smell, that vintage, mulled wine, cheap beer smell. It smells like… creativity.
Even inside, away from the fog’s delirium, everything is surreal. Art is everywhere. Artists ignite with excitement as I approach their creations. My curiosity becomes unfathomable. Who are these people? Where did they come from? Why are they here?
Fire passionately dances behind their eyes. A sombre pride in the beauty of their creations, every swig of exquisite Pabst Blue Ribbon evokes wondrous joie-de-vivre.
The crowd thickens as the night falls further and further below the doughy layers of clouds outside. Anticipation begins expanding upward like a loaf of bread about to be overcooked when midnight ticks by. Tomorrow becomes today and today is the final day for many of these pieces of art.
The Pied Piper of Afterhours beckons us to the streets. Quietly, the crowd follows him down towards the harbour, unsure of what to expect next.
Siri, are you coming?
Kiss me Theo, you're beautiful - these are truly the last days. Take my hand and fall into it, like a daydream or a fever.
Every tangible facet of this day is scintillating. Siri, the fog, the art, the people, all ready to combust as the crowd gathers around a sheer metal trash can.
“Burn it! Burrrrrn it!” they shout. A small painting is dropped into the trash can, and for the third time in 24 hours, fire erupts right in front of my glassy, confused eyes.
And so it went. Piece after piece, set ablaze. A spectacular ceremony, a celebration of life and its grand creations, immortalized by the flames.
The creators cheer and applaud, nary a tear in sight as their creations burn to the ground and soar to the sky
Just as the foggy day began, so did it end... The awakening of the fire, the mist and fog, the artists, the journey to an unknown part of Ottawa, every little moment fades with the flames. Smoke and haze are all that remain. Am I dreaming again? A futile question. I couldn’t ever wake up from this day.
Siri, did you see that? What an incredible sight to behold!
Siri? Siri! Where are you?
I can feel the details, the bits and pieces I never bothered to put into words. I can feel these extreme moments, even when I don’t want to. And when I put them all together, every tiny piece, every perfect little moment, I get the feel of a… A person. Enough to know how much I’m going to miss them. Enough to know how much I hate the fog and the fire for taking them away.
Your pocket, Theodore.
I reach into my pocket and pull out the key. It’s covered in blood.
Experienced by Steffi