Tristan And The Apocalypse Vol. 1 written 2016

By Asa Montreaux, pen name Andrew James

Book I

There wasn’t much at all to be said about this kind of dorm room. I had unverified myself, humbled myself just a little — and what did this room look like — there was pictures on the walls of my literary heroes, and not supermodels like the young adult next store. I had accumulated bottles of wine on my desktop; he had stacks of crushed beer cans. My speakers attached forever to my macbook always played. That was the best way to fall asleep, after an entire day of stressful reading—thumbing back and forth, making notes, wishing sometimes, I was some place else. The only way to fall asleep, eventually. It is strange how books could so overtake my life, even if I hoped it was temporary, and everyone else wished it was extremely temporary. They aren’t a place far away, but they become the place you’re in. They color your thoughts, they become your moments. And often now, I count the books I’ve read, not how many parties I’ve been to lately, or how many new friends I can make. Although don’t think I would cheat myself of the university life. I need to have things to write about, after all. Just because I feel like showing what my lifestyle looks like to you, I want to tell you that I pack it in at three, leaving the books aside, and I usually rouse myself by eight, sometimes nine. And classes really are a little trivial, the books were the things that taught someone like me things, whatever Hemingway had to say to harass Mr. Wolfe. I got ready, and I held my head down to keep to myself as I walked to the arts building. It was stolid outside. The air was frozen and there was no wind. I felt very somber going to class, like they were going to try and execute my individuality. I’ll say this class didn’t bother me so much, it was on the bard himself. I was surrounded by young women this class, every class. You’d think they’d find the bard just a little unattractive, but they must have been swept up in his poetry, I’m just surprised they voluntarily study early modern English. Shakespeare’s vocabulary was much bigger than most of ours, and it was bigger than his time, too. I was so excited in high school — I really loved Shakespeare, unlike many. As long as I took upper level courses, I could escape having to listen to other students discuss things, and the professors could lecture and I could learn maybe a thing or two. Believe me, I like talking to the people my age, I just need them to be a little tight first. It really was my mission to read extremely widely, and I’ve found I’ve been stooping myself with Lacan just to find most of it isn’t very helpful for this paper, and yet I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, which I think is funny. I can’t imagine anyone else feeling this way. You know, in the women that sit around me, I can see them as a woman I have eyes for, but I can’t see Maisie in any of them as they are here taking classes. No, I can’t find her in other persons. When class was over, I went to speak to the professor about sources for my paper on language. Most people took several moments to gather themselves to leave, saying a few things to the people they were sitting with, watching my conversation with the professor. He gave me a handful of sources off the top of his head, and said he would send me an email with more when he got to his office. Eva offered to walk with me, but I told her I had to get to the library quickly. This was our second class together. I am thoroughly in love with the library. It was easy enough to find a quiet space, though after a while there is always people sitting around whispering very loudly about my personal life. It was annoying; it was flattering. I suppose it had a lot to do with my writing, a lot to do with my life which I had tried to keep interesting, going about it without people thinking that it is a nightly t.v. show. I went thoroughly through parts of three books in five, six hours studying. I met my dorm mates in the cafeteria afterwards. I felt energized again, we had found a new place to eat after we had grown so sick of eating from the same place so often. By now we had grown out of talking about ridiculous silly things, and we talked about our papers, and had good discussions. 

On our way back to the dorm the night was buzzing softly. Daphne and I were in my dorm room for a while. The thing I appreciated most about Daphne, is she wasn’t even a patient of mine. If there was anyone I could see Maisie in, it was her. She took to lying on my bed while I sat in my chair, talking and doing things on my laptop. It wasn’t a time I could call Maisie in London, Toronto time was way off. I wish I was there, with her, but it was good here sometimes.

I had fridays off, and I awoke while it was still almost freezing outside, and threw my running gear on. After a couple minutes walking, the sleep caked on me washed away, and my extremities buzzed with the cold. The campus was lovely when no one was awake yet. I stayed to the out of the way paths that went to the park, an hour and a half was a usual amount of time. When I returned, after a short time I would sometimes go to the gym, but I wasn’t maintaining some huge weight. Daphne didn’t have any class today like me. And so we drove to the cinema and watched two movies. I felt a little sick from having eaten so much chocolate. Two big milk chocolate bars. I admit this is a very childish side of me to be discussing chocolate as a pleasure. Forgive me for not discussing the pleasures of adults, but I am not writing erotica, might I tell you. While everyone was away at classes we studied for a few hours before dinner came around, when I actually just went to my room for a nap. It was a night when at nine everyone in our dorm met up for a res party. There was a handful of nights when I had gotten as drunk, as if I were a first year at a frat party but by now, I would set out with a couple drinks and be content with a bit of a rush. It was sad to see Daphne get drunk in a way just like that because she is composed now and normally. We got there at ten and it was still early on, but it was filling up quickly and we were lucky to have a place to sit and get some drinks before soon there would be no places to sit at all, and no places to go without being in the middle of the dance floor. When that happened I was having fun, but Daphne could obviously tell I wasn’t that in to it. We went outside, and Daphne was the one that lit a cigarette. People came around and talked with us. This was more fun for me. People were happy that we had brought ourselves out and made an appearance. There were lots of people that were intelligent enough to talk to. It was still even kind of a relief there were no grad students drawn to something like this. There was nothing so oddly comfortable now as University parties. Those guys at the front door made me feel safe more than scare me like the first couple times. I always had a fear of getting in a bar fight. Just not something I would want to happen. As I passed the bouncer, I flicked my head up. I was feelingly very confident, and there were flashing white lights everywhere so that I was slightly worried about having an epileptic seizure. We stayed away from the crowd there for a long while. When there wasn’t anyone around, after a while I definitely got into continuously talking to Daphne about sweet little nothings and seeing how long I can mildly amuse her without even remotely trying to be serious or hard working about anything, anywhere. I’ve never thought you could always be a comedian. Don’t you have to grow up from that one day? Nobody thinks old guys are funny do they? That’s why there are some very famous comedians. They can still be funny when there old. I’m over simplifying. There were reporters there too. They would go and tell young female students the things I had officially said in public word for word, and it will all get back to me a week from now. Within this community, it was usually almost supportive that everyone knew what was going on. These were the kind of people that always tried to raise the people around me to the level that was expected of me. I think they misunderstood that you can’t compete for my identity. I don’t know. I was happy with the place they’d picked for Daphne, nobody else deserved that particular quality. 

Maisie wanted to come home. She is very warm. A simple sentence, I need to say it, corny, but some of these northern women are the worst. Without her family there’s no way for her to be Maisie. They love her so she can be like that. It was time for me to realize I wasn’t as anonymous to her as I first thought. She never would have wanted any of these things. She was doing something right now that was meant more for me, while something like this was more meant for her. I think we realized that the cold London lifestyle was making her skinnier and bonier in a way it might have hardened me, strengthened me. I never thought I would be an actor, despite how ridiculously much I looked up to these elite kind of men sometimes, if one could say something like this, I always wanted to have some massively impressive platform like that. I just hope when they give it to me they do it officially. I always performed my shyness, but there was a day coming real soon when I couldn’t perform my shyness, and I would just need my time alone, and all the other time I would be someone that people start to rely on for either something amusing like Daphne right now or something amazing like I was still trying to explode the boundaries of for Maisie.  Hmm. That’s the most stressful part, and maybe the part of my identity that other people think they can possess, is that by out wowing me they can have my part in the public life I haven’t even had a chance to properly build. And I think people forget there’s one more version of us. There’s me and there’s me. 

There were a lot more people outside now. It was late in the day for me, only in comparison to some of the more first-years partying heroics types. Daphne, let’s leave now, I said.  Not now. We just got here. Let’s go inside. We were just inside. It wasn’t fun for me to go around talking to people. I just tried to make a little show for the people listening out of the corner of their eye and depressively realize they think they’ve met me this way. Eventually we walked inside and I remembered I’m surrounded by extremely evil people that I haven’t differentiated myself enough from, and they all think they can just look like studly hockey dudes, or maybe polo players, and they’ll probably still think that years later, many more air miles later. I suppose I’ve just said what I intend to do is to fight to be myself and it is nothing really new, I’m just going to have to live three times as well. I wouldn’t say I’m making proclamations, I’m not making any promises, this is certain. We still were at that table, trying to talk over the music, and after a while we did just leave, and head back to the dorms.

I’m sure you can expect you will hear about sweet guy slowed-down walks from me, so I won’t even try to excuse this one. It was still like this in the morning. The thumps from the party diminished. Daphne, I thoroughly want to do nothing for the rest of the weekend. I’m collapsing for you, or something. We weren’t there very long. I feel we might have had the last of our night but we could be searching for another thrill, or some passionate thing… At this point we might be crawling, climbing walls, wearing leather pants, changing limos. I long for a little more now, I longed for a little more a few hours ago, I should be by the wayside, I should be inside of the outside, I should, but I’m afraid Daphne you with me I will be nothing less than sound asleep. What a shame I enjoy your company. Without it I would have been so much less quite. And yet I would search for someone else to complete this quiet. I envy you completing it. And I hope and I know I have made perfect sense now. I really hope not.

If I wore leather pants everyone would stare at my ass.

I figured I would wear them. Hey, you know, you would not believe how many times someone has tried to poison me however wildly to make me feel like I’m the medieval Tristan in love with whoever and we are going to die together. This did not happen tonight. And it would have happened if you were not there. So I’m mad at you for allowing me to feel well, when I should be feeling like shit, miserably living out my thoroughly time-condensed destiny.

There is lots of stuff written about Tristan, spanning his whole life, and you knew that. I’m not not looking out for you. You aren’t going to die.

Yes, but the movies are only in hours. And it really is the Tristan and Isolde, not Sir Tristan that I was named after, that is giving me such terrible nightmares. What a horror that Thomas Mallory would write my life you know. Dear God. No, there’s always something to try to make me part of some other thing, a real thing or someone who’s wanting me to be something other than what I am with me. See, when I think of your name, I think of little chipmunks, then I quickly think of you, and all the ways I like to think you support as I am giantly falling to pieces right in front of you. 

You really are leaving this summer, aren’t you?

Yes. Maybe earlier. You have no idea how much it is that I yearn for now, if I could express it, with what type of stuff, with what terminology, none that anyone has thought of. There’s a lot here, but I feel I’ve exhausted it.

Only you could feel that way. I’m happy now, this way. I’m happy I’m not in the working world. They are really not so terrible. You refuse to think in this lateral way though. It’s always up with you.

I was just going to say that’s because I feel I’m falling down. I really am thinking there should be psychologists keeping up with my brain.

I love that you're so stable. Please don’t say these things. We’re almost home. You’re usually quiet on these walks. Come on, now.

Right. This is not to reach out to you this time. Which I am not doing. Keeping my mouth shut. I’m actually freezing. Let’s hurry on home then. I held my hands and shivered.

That was a thrilling fake freak out, she told me. The next day early I knew that this was a cool experience, but I was probably meant for a less conventional school. Sometimes a Canadian Ivy is comforting, and will feel okay. Other days I don’t quite feel this way.

No, I don’t really feel this way at all. To academic types like you and me, and I say it with my jocularity and with my impatience, everything about here comes to us with difficulty and with difficulty and with great real ease. 

I returned to Vancouver full of great strength, stuffed full of the desire to put the books to the side for a little. Maisie wanted to time what was her final return with my travel, but I held her back a few days. It was just me, under my covers, snug, dreaming about the year like I was in a great fever.

I wasn’t sure I could go back. There was tasks I really needed to be doing at the present moment. I can’t go, I did prepare for there being everyone coming to this one place. I definitely would regain myself by being with them. Everything felt fine. A couple of times though, I thought I might faint. But it was nothing. 

It was definitely a good sign that Allister was genuinely excited for Christmas. Sometimes I thought he never wanted to come home from school, and it really was scary how busy he’d become, compared to how lazy he was before I recovered him from that house in Houston. It was uncomfortable how inactive they were, because I had noticed that she had taken to painting the walls, even went to buy new furniture, and I really think part of the reason she lost her head was because she really had been dieting in an extreme way. It is funny but there is a whole little period there were my father really wasn’t watching Allister too closely. I guess that was something my mother used to do, she’ll be there for who needed to be worried about, and maybe that was us all the time, and meanwhile we loved seeing the bravery in each other, and really we were all in bit of a dream carried along by grief years later, when finally we realized more clearly that we needed to be there for each other, step up and become a three person family, and not try and include a fourth member so readily. Leave it to the youth to really know how precious youth is sometimes, not as just to be enjoyed but to be used in a world that does change, can be saved, however similar it is to the world my father grew up in. 

There have been people that have contacted me from that street and the details have begun to trickle in and then really give frightening insight in to just what was happening with the people inside. That period where Allister was alone shrinks, and it becomes me having watched over his past, pathetically feeling I had to mother him for those moments. I really hope my Dad’s travelling will start to dwindle. I really am pushing for him to be around this summer. I really can’t sponsor no parent fun for two months this summer when he’s had it all year, and as I get older the summer seems muggier and more brutal, and I spend more of it indoors now, and he’ll see he should. Is that a weird thing to force on someone? Probably not. I honestly think that I have more rude remembrances of that scene than he does now. It came to me as a crime scene, something we had to escape from, and I really do think it is pushed into that room in his memory, the rest of the house was just the rest of the house. She was travelling somewhere between being awake and asleep the entire time he was there, and in his little kid way her death wasn’t surprising, except it was. 

It is funny. This area is actually burning out and becoming less habitable. The housing prices are still going up but the houses really are worth less as assets. I’ve publicly had my father talking about a move again. And even he weirdly acknowledges that might happen, even though it really isn’t so secret that I just want to write a great novel, become rich enough to leave on my own and support a bigger life. Regardless there is tangible feeling inside our house of sanity, sometimes lost in the dorm hallways, not really allowed by not fully possessing a real hangout area, a house that is silent on the inside, with it’s blinds shut, the world turned off and on in a tv. We really didn’t even have cable there. Just movies. 

I should be hearing from Allister about now. He’s yet to really shoot up in height and I am still a foot taller. It is fun to have his soft voice around. He can control that, but he can’t really control how deep it has gotten, how crackly it can get. I sat down with the fireplace on. Regardless of my age, I think I really had become one of the most literate people on the planet. I’m not sure Allister cared as much as you think he would. I don’t think reading connected with intelligence for him so much. To him his brother had always been the same person.  Maisie actually got there first, and she came to see me before she headed over to her parents house. My heart rate trickled a little because of how thin she was. Her face looked carved with stencils, more like chisels. She was flushed with some emotion. I fear her eyes had changed colours. I really don’t want her to change, I want her to stay the same, just as if we were on urns. Her voice rang with clarity, she was really happy to be home. I felt I should ask her about the fainting spells too, I so thoroughly expected her to be coming in from the cold. She embraced the same, she felt the same. I just won’t register any more change than I have feigned to register now. 

Daphne, you have to meet Maisie.

I really want to meet her. But why do I have to?

You really think you can be my friend without meeting her?

Sure. She’s not really like your other half or anything.

But she so means so much more to me than just this silly other half nonsense. We’d rather be three superheroes than one person in halves.

Point taken. Maybe over Christmas. We really don’t need you staying at your evil Dad’s for too long.

He isn’t that evil.

Anyone who lived in a married relationship with that woman becomes a little evil. Sorry.

This is something I’ve considered you know. Why do you think it is that we aren’t that close. He’s more like a sponsor most of the time.

Uh huh.

Seriously though. I really don’t have to pretend to be close with him now. We really don’t need close relationships with them at this age. I think Good parents are happy to give there kids some space.

I agree. My mother is really annoying when she thinks we can be close when we don’t see each other, and we don’t even talk on the phone very often. I will see Maisie. I’m making it my priority, if it will make you happy. So this way, it isn’t something far away. It will happen very soon.

You have no idea how happy this makes me. You’ll be my proof that I have friends here and that I am not just giantly unhappy which I am.

You really shouldn’t pretend to be quite so pathetic.

Well I want to get a few excuses out there for why I don’t want to come back next year.

People aren’t very understanding for why you want to leave. Come on. Let’s sneak off before it gets far too busy here. 

Gladly. I’ll talk in your direction for a bit here before my next class. 


A few days later Maisie’s Dad gave me a look over which made me suddenly realize that we’d only seen each other in person a few times. Yes I was picking her up then, and all of a sudden it was like to him I might as well be picking her up for the second time and she just had never left the house. It was strange. I could see why she would feel this way. She looked many years younger, just having prepared there, having spent some time with her mother. I felt sad. We really weren’t going anywhere. She was just coming to our house for dinner. She obviously had a bag with her. She hadn’t left any clothes while we were away. My father wasn’t even going to be there. 

This is actually the first time you’ve cooked for me. How weird.

You’re good at that. It was nice the other way around.

It was important to me to be as unsentimental as possible. All the little subtle changes in her personality continually frightened me, took me aback at how interested they kept me. It was scary but Maisie had grown tougher, braver. I really just did not want to express to her that I was more attracted this way. In my young heart I regardless felt we had to hold on to whatever sweetness, hope it is there, pretend it is as the first and very last resort.

A couple of times, for the first time really, Allister was staring at her from the side, and I could hear what he was thinking. She knew he was looking, though he didn’t stare too long. Tristan’s moving to California, he said.

I’ve never said this.

Sure you did, you said that. I’m always listening. And you said it so many times it just isn’t funny if you think you can say that you didn’t say it because you said it.

It is funny because I really didn’t say that.

He’s going to be a movie star, a rock star. And a porn star.

I’ll be a novelist if I’m anything. Something retiring. 

Porn star? Maisie offered.

Yeah. I don’t see why not, Allister said.

Maisie is happy to get a feel of what they teach you in private school, kid.

I hope you’re not asking us to go into porn together, Maisie said.

No, of course not.  I was only joking. God, you’re becoming such freaking adults.

Ouch, Allister, that hurts. Aging is for old people.

I felt weird. I couldn’t keep my eyes from closing, and yet I wasn’t tired. I was feeling lightheaded. This actually was a little boring. I guess we were lucky just to have time together right now, but it just isn’t Maisie’s role to be spending as much time with Allister as she was. Time together was good, but she really was like a mother for him, his mother, more than anything because he just seemed to always need correcting, not necessarily compassion, or looking after, not rides, advice about acne, at the very least she was continually the antithesis to his step-mother. I think Maisie noticed my eyes were fluttering. I got up and left the table. In the bathroom I made a warm towel. I felt the cold might shock me. I closed my eyes and soaked my face. My body was shaking a little. I stayed like that for several minutes. I couldn’t hear them talking. I sat down for a second, trying to breathe deeply. I really didn’t know where I was going yet. That actually wasn’t bad advice. I don’t think I wanted to try the expat life just yet.

When I looked in her eyes again I was very sorely reminded of all the things swirling inside my sorry writer head, and just how annoying and incommunicable most of those things are, I thought right away about how intimidating I hoped my intelligence would be, without thinking how Maisie might receive it, and I had to wonder whether it was intimidating, and was that why she looked so much older. It was already ten o’clock, and we were still very happy to go to bed, but at one point in the night I lay there and thought I might as well be seeing ghosts.


Over the past couple years, I haven’t been a part of one place. I really have been in different places. If there is one thing you learn from a little hockey, is that you can travel to some very strange, out of the way places. I have to tell you I feel worse right now then I felt when I started writing last time. But it will pass, I’m sure. I’ll feel better.  I do think I’m dying. I’ve been to doctors, but they can’t diagnose my symptoms. I was speaking about how I felt. Emotionally, I feel even worse. I feel awful. But putting things in perspective, despite feeling weirdly displaced, life without Paige has been a lot different. It isn’t easy to blame things on someone. At least not on someone who is supposed to be a mom. We all have come to see her death as disgraceful. Things really are better now, even if I seem to have a lot more things to figure out. Then again, even that is levelling and I think in my twenties I really won’t have much to be responsible for. This is probably why I’m worried I’m dissipating. I’m not sure whether I’m a hypochondriac because my symptoms seem real. Anyways. I’m happy to say I’ll tell you about them if they get worse, or rather when they get worse.

I’m not in contact with Agnes now. She really did stay down south. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt a part of yourself die. That’s what I felt. I thought that was something you get over, but maybe it multiplies. I haven’t been back since Paige died. I’ve been meaning to visit, and then I don’t get around to it. My feelings for that area are dissipating a little. It really is smoggy. It really is a little warm. I think you could suffer from poor health from it for years after. I do mean to vent.

It is embarrassing that I never wanted to be close with anyone. I thought in my own private thoughts that I would be someone a wee bit toxic to girls, that they might see me two or three times, and then never see me again. This really hasn’t happened, but they have so few things written over their faces except you’re a bad guy or you’re a slut. That one puzzles me. A lot. Please know that no one could understand me when I was younger. I’m happy to say that my Dad pretended. That’s what I remember anyways. I thought way off in the future I might get into that whole marriage thingy. I dreamed of love, I had a nice big romantic heart. I was a bit of a sissy. But I still never thought that stuff was real. I planned to be in different places so they could all wonder what I was up to. Did I manage to be mysterious? Probably, but it isn’t as interesting as I thought it would be. 

I thought about going to the doctor. Then I thought about the larger world. There were so many gosh darn awful things going on. The world only seemed to become more chaotic. There wasn’t much hope that I felt. But I wanted to be this hero for people, and make the unimaginable something actualizable, recreate our experience. There was one thing I thought about in particular. There was a big storm coming. It was somewhere off the east coast, but it was so strong, they signalled it might get as far west as California, and as far north as Alaska. People felt the whole continent might change, and it would happen, it would occur, as a disaster. Driving through the town, the sky was contemplating us, the air was changing, the pressure increasing, people seemed to stay inside much more, the roads were emptied. The few people who were walking were battling, growing old, walking against the wind, carrying heavy things, bracing themselves. Allister was worried, you could see it in his shiny wet eyes. The hairs on his arms stood up like little pecks on a hedgehog, and he was quiet in a way again that reminded me he was a thinking person, and everything inside of him hadn’t just been about this mother who had died, there were big things happening, and humans were the instruments of so much more than they imagined, and there was no reason to feel that a young boy didn’t experience the pressure of all these not so far away things.

It is proper to think of our private lives. This world is just so big. And yet I might as well have been able to describe the things inside Allister’s mind because there were similar things in my mind, much darker I fear. I was worried about the things I was seeing everyday. It was strange, everyone like me went through an experience like this, where things weren’t as simple as you thought when you were young, or rather they are as complex as you feared. 

Dad said that things had always been like this. Things were going to be okayish. But it made me sick to think, that we had not been around for forever, that things had changed so much in some time before my Dad.

When the storm came, it was twice as big as we thought. It touched land in Miami, and devastated the area. The sea swept ashore everywhere. The storm kept its strength into the Midwest. Tornadoes followed in its wake. Further destruction was discovered as time went past. By the time it had got to us, it wasn’t as strong as expected, but Vancouver wasn’t built for such a disaster. Schools collapsed, cars were rivered away, homes were ruined, power was lost along the whole coast. Across the country, there were thousands of deaths.

Maisie and I stayed downstairs with Allister, away from the windows. It was very scary. My heart raced. Allister held his knees under a blanket. We watched movies on the portable dvd player. I kept an eye on what was going on outside. Occasionally, whole branches, legs of trees it seemed, flew through the streets. They collided with the sides of the house, the boards on the windows. The whole house quavered. It lasted three days. The streets were dismantled, strewn with objects, the sewers overrun. It was as if God had signalled the end of each and every one of these neighbourhoods. Rain battered the house with such incessant artillery so that we could do nothing but read each others lips. The house shook, its wood readied itself to break, its brick prepared to crumble.  We prayed we would be all right. There were so many things about our lives that we wanted to hold on to. We didn’t really know it, the city had changed forever, and this was only the start. For three days, we ate what was in the house, we stayed together in the only space we thought it was safe. In three days, the character of the people in the city had changed, and we would all have to wait to see what remains, and just what has not survived.


A week later, the water had gathered in small valleys everywhere. Some of the ponds where so deep you could drown a man three times. Whole houses, whole power lines were underwater. There were paths where you could walk, some long stretches you would need to swim, or use a boat. The government thought we ought to start a shuttle service, to get people across some of these distances, but there was no way to organize it just now.

  Most of our street was above water, and we got together to see what was possible. No one was able to have contact with the surrounding world without having to travel across the waters. We feared many people had died. We established that between us, there was plenty of food for a while, and we wouldn’t need to be bargaining with whoever we could reach across the water just yet, or rather we wouldn’t need to be asking for that kind of help just yet.

There were massive power outages all across the West Coast. Quantifying the damage wasn’t possible just yet, and didn’t seem feasible anyways. Whenever we stepped outside, there was some new detail that made your heart wrench, and the air was different, the world was a new color. It was strange. We even thought we would need an expedition. We couldn’t bring everyone, but we selected a group from the street, that was to row all the way to the centre of town, and survey things, and then find help. We needed to know what was going on now. They left, and they were only to be gone for the day. By nightfall they weren’t back. We couldn’t be concerned because we didn’t have contact with them, so we had never lost contact. But they did not return the next day, nor did they within the next few days. They were dead.

There were a handful of us now. That so many people had died put people on edge, and that there were so few of us, it made us all distrustful. The three of us figured we would have to leave at some point. We would have to find some way to be safer. Allister would sit outside and listen to people talk to find out any clues. He kept trying to estimate, in his head, how far away the water stretched. I could imagine it with him, and I wondered, were there unsafe spaces, waterfalls, had the ocean filled up the water with creatures, sharks, worse?

Allister for the first time was full of fear on behalf of us. There would be things he would need to do, to help us be safe, and he would need to be one of the ones to help us decide how to rebuild, or even just to regroup.

He had a intelligence about him as if to say I’m not wise, but what the hell does the world need wisdom for? It just needs ingenuity. Young people see the world like it is a forest. There are obstacles that they navigate and old people are spooked because sometimes they don’t see you, but only there goals.

Teenagers always yearn for other teenagers, and we were always a little older than him. We always feel we need friends other than our brothers, other than the people that are just around us. He was lonely here, and the disaster only multiplied that feeling for him. Loneliness isn’t usually something you need to communicate, but it isn’t always easy to solve. Sometimes loneliness brings lots of fear because some people will look down on you. I wish when I was his age I didn’t yearn for such specific things, for a prize beyond all, but that was just what happened. 

When there would be someone ready to set out, it would be Allister. He was telling us things, that we were hearing as well. The East Coast had been devastated, in the south the death counts were still rising, and there were continuous gun fights, over territory, over whatever there was. They blamed each other for not seeing things coming, they blamed each other for not being prepared. 

Allister was thinking we should leave in the next couple days. We shouldn’t let our reserves go to waste. He said we should just try to go together, but there wasn’t someone we could trust with Maisie. If we tried to ask her to leave, regardless of if there was someone for her to stay with, she would want to come. 

Allister said I don’t think we need to build anything. The boat is here, we have enough spare tools in the garage out there for pretty much anything. 


Daphne, do you think we need to be here?

What do you mean?

Do you think that school can shape us, or does it crush our individuality?

University is supposed to be a place where you learn to study independently.

Not really. Not unless you’re in the arts. And if you’re in the fine arts, they teach you to make art in a certain way. Most artists seem to need some school, but usually the ones I read about are the ones that gave it up at some point. But surely, if you aren’t going to try to write or make things outside the norms of society, then you should stay in school. I wonder why they think they can teach so many people to write sometimes.

Sometimes that was the best, was just to have a safe place, and some movies to watch. Sometimes people criticize me, but I’ve always thought pizza was one of the best things. One day I got to thinking it wasn’t much different from pasta, and they wanted me to eat pasta before each and every game. College was great to me, even though I was anti-normalization, anti-dorms, anti-the same for everyone, that I could localize my life, instead of living it all over the place. That’s the problem. I don’t know why people think trains are not things you can only use occasionally, or for a couple years. Even in LA, they all seem to live so far out. For example.

Daphne felt there was nothing to be concerned about around here. The centre of the universe was fine. I was someone that was a little too dark, she felt she needed to say. The world was stable, more or less.

The people that aren’t dark at least a little dark are the stupid ones. Just be dark with me. It makes you feel better about yourself.

That doesn’t make sense.

How does anything make sense if it is not paradoxical. Otherwise we would never speak.

Uh huh.

I’m serious. Why wouldn’t you want to be stuck-up? It makes you feel great.

In a few days, most of my work was done, just a couple of papers to finish. The library was oddly empty. I kept expecting people to walk by, but there were hours when I wouldn’t see anyone, except a few heads at far-away desks. One day there was a commotion at the other end of the library. I looked over and there were men in suits, walking through, talking rapidly on big cellphones. I was expecting them to walk back after they walked one way, but I realized they disappeared into the library staff’s back room’s. People weren’t just leaving and going home. Everyone was there. In class, no one was missing. I was sure it wasn’t even conscious. People were acting differently, staying home more, moving more slowly, and behaving more quietly. There eyes were bigger and wetter, somewhere inside of them now aware that they were at the mercy of the world and the stars. On my way home, all the lights were dim. And there was some creature singing to me, some sombre song. Surely we have no nightingales. Daphne said that someone wanted to teach you through the bird. It wasn’t the bird, or anything from the world.

That was one of the things I thought about. Eventually, we would have to go that far east. I was really hoping for some way to reach her, but there was no way yet. Eventually, surely someone was going that way that could relay a message.

Allister said there must have been a bunch of people that we know in Texas that are in trouble. Yes, I said. We’ll have to offer help. And there are many people we know that are… dead.

We sat through many of the nights with the fire on. We were not so cold, but we shivered with shock. One night I thought about how at war I was sure men were mostly fine, but when they came home, they could often seem not to adjust back to normal life. You always have something to think about. The mission, what to do next, who to trust, how to stay alive. I thought, how could you ride the train to work after that? Anyways.

Allister and I started preparing, packing supplies on the boat. Maisie wanted to help with all of these things, though we wanted her to rest. We made sandwiches, cured meat. Brought a cooler of fruit, bottled drinks, warm clothes, some books to read, flashlights, maps, what we thought we would need. Before we left on the boat I held her hand and tried to feel strong, but I felt cold as well. We left shortly, deploying into the water, and I started the engine, with two hands on the steering world, to brace myself against the unknown.

Strangely, harrowingly, we reached the downtown core before buildings poked up around us. We drove carefully, trying not to run ashore on some rooftop, or whatever it could be. It was desolate. Something must have happened, because there was no one. Some of the windows we could step inside, but there was little to find, and no evidence of what had occurred. 

Maisie’s eyes looked hollow, the water rapped back and forth in her haunted day visions, the same ones all of us were experiencing. We sailed on. It had never occurred to me just how much could be lost beneath water, as it rocked slowly, as one ocean.

Many days later, we reached a space where the water seemed to end. There was a vast rising desert before us. Allister tied us ashore. We walked along the waters edge some time, and we couldn’t see any end to the shore either way. We took backpacks, and began walking farther east. It was late in the day and the temperature was bearable. After a few hours, there didn’t seem a point to turning around yet. We had found nothing. We kept walking, and eventually we found a safe area to pitch camp. 

It got cold at night and we sat around the fire with some food we brought. There were animals alive. There presence was comforting, everything else was bleak. An owl sang intermittently for us, and the trees hung ambiently around us. Over the last few years little Allister had had a lot of questions. There wasn’t much to say, there wasn’t much to laugh about. All of the sudden we were very alone. I couldn’t even say we were confused, I am not even quite sure I could say we were perturbed, just very alone. 

He fell asleep where he was on a fold up chair. We had two of them. Maisie was sitting in the other one, and I was sitting on a blanket. The fire wasn’t very big though we weren’t getting very cold yet. Maisie and I stayed up and passed some of the night. Eventually, she woke Allister, and we went over to our small tent, and fell fast asleep. In the morning, I packed things up. 

We walked with a brisk pace over branches and bushes. It was almost silent. There was a strange smell, desolate, coming from far away, not too far away. There were streams and we stopped to replenish ourselves with some water. It cooled our bodies, and I felt it was a little more humid than we had anticipated. In some places the forest wasn’t as thick, and it was quite barren. Another days travel was behind us and we set camp again. In the middle of the night I woke up feeling ill and I left the tent and went off a ways into the forest. 

For the first time, trying to find some head space, I heard something. It was more than a rustle of the wind, but it wasn’t another person. I couldn’t see much, but I listened very closely, trying to determine what the sound was, and where it came from. It was sudden that I didn’t feel nervous or even very frightened. I listened for a few moments, then I moved forward some, and I heard something again. Like a choked voice, a sonorous whisper, almost from the trees. I spun around trying to follow it. Then I heard again and it was like words. It wanted to say something to me.

It encircled me, not threateningly. It brought a mysterious spirit, of something not of here and beyond. It meant to guide me. We were so lost. I couldn’t understand its tongue. It illuminated the forest around me in a green and in a blue. It showed me images, they came to me through it, of what was going to happen, and what I was going to do. My insides moved and I trembled. The spirit in its twirl began to turn red, it shifted colour and blinked glaringly in red and subsided into its soft blue. It lasted a few more moments, and then the forest returned to normal. I was shaken, and awed and stuck in two different realities, slowly becoming one, both relinquishing me. I suddenly felt a little out of breath, and put my hands on my thighs. The forest stood there intent on being as if nothing had ever happened.

I returned to the tent, and Maisie had become awake as well. She sat where the fire had been with a blanket. She was in a thought. I sat down by her gently. She noticed me and I waited for here silence to include me. You not sleeping?

No. A lot of things on my mind now.

Sorry. Me too.

I get frustrated. Why has nothing happened like this before?

I sat there and I didn’t really say anything yet.

It is sad that I feel safe here. There is no one out there. There is something happening, and yet no one has it out for us. Someone knew we would live.

She didn’t seem to have seen or experienced what I had just seen. I said, I don’t know what to say.

It makes me angry. I’m really angry.

I’m sorry.

It isn’t our faults but it is. It is your fault, don’t say it isn’t.

I’m sorry.

It’s not fair.


It’s not fair.

I felt a little empty inside.  I didn’t have much emotion to give right now. I didn’t feel as happy. I couldn’t be positive. I want everything to be okay, but everything isn’t okay. We have no guarantees, no reason to feel our lives aren’t over, I said.

You’re still being pretty fucking positive.

What’s the worst? We’ll die? We might die. That way it’s just over.

She looked sad, and if there were a fire she was watching it burn.


Next morning was a whole fresh new plane and we couldn’t be sure what was in front of us and what the greater forces that had so forcefully made themselves known meant for us. We traveled again, and we were not so weary yet. I wondered whether I could detect that spirit again, whether there wasn’t something similar I could find, some smaller resonance of it, that I could seek comfort in. I seemed more so to know where I was going today. The peddle wiggled at my feet. I focused on driving safely, monitoring my speed, despite our anxiety.

It was mid-day before we all got the sense that we had come to something important. The air changed and soon the trees changed slightly, and the ground felt different. In a few hours, we came to a path, and there were streets and we had found a town. It had the sense of vacation and small-time about it. The streets were empty but they held a strange charm, because people had lived here recently, you could feel. There was some old man that had crossed this street with his wife a few weeks ago. It filled me with unease that as we looked, the more we discovered that there was no one there.

There was a grocery store and there was food inside. We were hungry. We found enough for sandwiches, and we ate in the deli area. The fluorescent lights made me blink. Maisie was feeling better today, and we were up to this challenge, for now anyways.

We ate a little more than usual, and we replenished our foods. I packed lots of granola bars, drinks, spreads, and I had the strength in my back for some pastas we could make. As we left, I could hear the ceiling crumble some. The ground was caked in dust, and outside electrical lines, telephone polls lay in front of me.

We had so much to carry. And now, we had reached the conclusion that there was no one here. Maisie, maybe we should stay here. We have no idea what’s out there, or whether we even want to reach the other side. Who knows what has happened. This is Cranbrook. There is a long ways to go before we can reach the next place.

If there is no one here, I am sure there is a set of keys for one of these cars.

That was what I was thinking. The only question, is is there highways?

There must be some. We’ll find something that goes off of road. We should stay the night, but not much longer. We should get a good sleep inside of one of these homes.

We walked the neighbourhoods for a few hours. There was a new three storey house behind a gated fence, left open. We went in, the door was open too. I wasn’t as aware before, but the world has a sound. The house kept the noise out, and I instantly felt sleepy. I fell asleep on the couch, and I awoke, Maisie and Allister were making coffee and breakfast. The room was softly touched with light from the sky. 

I’m not sure if I can eat, I’m so weak from that sleep.

There’s lots. Just wait. Coffee first.

Gas stove?

Gas stove.

What I wouldn’t do for something cold.

Where did you sleep Allister?

There are three beds upstairs. I slept in one of them. A guest bedroom. Maisie slept in the master bedroom. I was thinking. We should stay a little longer.

My insides screamed yes, but I wanted to reach other people. Either way, we would be there soon enough. We needed time to plan and to deal through what was happening.

This one is up to you, Allister, I said.

I felt fine through breakfast, well rested, waking up, but after my hands started to shake. I hid this from Maisie and left for the bathroom again. I ran them under cold water and I’m not sure if that helped but it stopped. And I walked out to go lie down though I realized I couldn’t remember having walked up the stairs or going into the washroom. 

I went into the guest room and sat on the edge of the bed. Looking out the window, I saw the backyard, and just beyond there was a small stream, with the water flowing against all odds, slowly, normally. There were probably little fish in there. I hadn’t been complaining, but I had been feeling pain doing all of this travel, and searching. Every discovery was full of anguish and the loss of what had been. These funny symptoms made me fear the future, and I felt sure that I would go through some pain, and I would struggle against the things we would face while I went through the things inside me, and on some level, they would be the same.

I thought of the spirit. It showed me some of this. And it promised me strength, that it would help me see it through this.

I wasn’t sure what Maisie was doing. We had certainly spent a lot of time together up to this point. I was feeling ill and I laid down, fell asleep. I took a nap and I awoke around dinner, though I wasn’t hungry. We felt safe, but we didn’t feel happy.

Allister, did you find any good books upstairs?

I picked a few out. Do you want one.

No, Maisie said. I’m asking just for the sake of talking.

Ahh. Here is one. Ivanhoe, its called.

Never heard of it.

Not surprised. I’m sure Tristan would tell you all about it.

Maybe I’ll ask him. Maybe I won’t.

He’s your partner.

My what?

You’re… nevermind.

I was listening as I walked in. I might skip this dinner you’ve prepared so carefully, Maisie. What do our fair hosts, long dead now, god rest their souls, have for snacks?

There are some cookies. Pretty good.

Good enough.

I could never feel upset or disappointed with either of them, though I longed for something better than what he had now. The world didn’t have to feel so desolate.

Maybe tomorrow we’ll leave?

Not too early. But the time has come, so to speak.

The only thing that is missing from this empty town is zombies, Allister said.

I didn’t laugh.

There were some ways we couldn’t go getting out of the town, though we made our way around, and we could drive on the highway for some way, with some obstructions. The night was coming soon, and our world made a little more sense, in that we were on a map, and some things still existed.

It was strange. We would play cd’s, and didn’t mind their happy feel. Most of the time the land was scorched. Sometimes it was quite pretty. It felt we were moving so quickly when all the other cars stayed still and we drove past everything on our way to where it was we could do something about all of this.

It was harder to talk to each other now. Compared to when the step mother passed away, we just weren’t as young now, and we seemed to be involved in something exponentially larger. There was always something big going on, and we seemed to have gotten involved in it, very much so. Our lives were something the world depended on for help, as opposed to us relying on each other for our lives, for our well being.

Allister was concerned, he felt disgusted to an extent. He looked at the things we passed with a grimace. He was mad at the lack of care by the people for us, he was mad at the unpredictability, and the uncontrolled nature of the world at large. For Maisie and I, it was eery that it didn’t feel much different than a lot of travel we had done.

By the end of the day, we made our way to Saskatoon. There was an unfriendly feeling here. We thought it might be best just to keep going. It was ghostly, far too scary. Canada didn’t feel so charming anymore, and even before this things made me feel ill, I must observe. In the prairies and beyond I felt more connected with the North, and Canada was reminded to me as a not particularly hospitable place.

The trees were bare and ashen, the roads were cracked and marked, the sky never left off its overcast daze. Some things were gone forever, but perversely, the world would start again.

Maisie and I eventually split the driving. She slept through the night, with a pillow against the window, and her seat tilted back. Allister had lain down in the back, and was soundly asleep for hours. In the morning, I pulled over, and we took a moment to sit on the curb and eat some breakfast, drink some water, and then she started driving. I slept for over fours hours, and then I started driving again, and by now the landscape was changing, and I had the first smallest sense that there might be someone else out there.

In Manitoba we stopped. There was a farm house. I got my camera and I went around taking pictures of what everything looked like right now, things had changed around us. In the future I would be able to explain what it was like. As we were driving, and we covered more and more distance, we would grow, we were learning some strange lesson. It was hard to tell if this was random, or if there was signs this had been coming, it was hard to say if we had been honestly warned, and if we were the responsibility seemed not for us, and the new face of things wouldn’t be a responsibility, though something of a privilege to say the least. These things begin slowly, and then they move quickly, and all at once everything has subtly become entirely different.

I sat on the porch of the big farm house like I was Will Faulkner. Unfortunately there was no postman coming by. I did open there liquor cabinet, though. I watched the sunset. Maisie was tired, and Allister had taken to reading Ivanhoe himself just before it was getting dark. The sky was a much different colour here. Everything about Vancouver was so blue. I waited and waited for the sun to descend below the horizon, for the night to trickle slowly, until the moon was high and midnight had passed. I went to bed, spending the night close with Maisie and in the morning I felt we were only a couple days away from reaching someone. I was driving only now and a heavier tone overcame us. We were nervous about this. We felt ready for this.

Sometimes Maisie would ask me where we were. She would awake from a nap, or she would be looking over something we had with us, a magazine, and she would look over, and talk. I bared down harder against what was in front of us. Before too long now, we were in Ontario, and the smell was so potent, full of oil and explosions, I felt I should refrain from big breaths of air.

We were headed for Toronto. We guessed that any gathering of people would be here, we started walking in Mississauga. It was so hot outside. We stopped quite often to find shade and cover. We found stores with electrolyte drinks, and even if they weren’t cold, they seemed to help. We walked for several hours, until finally we came upon something.

There was one single building. It was a gallant high-rise. The only thing occupied. There was a congregation of people on the street. There were several tables set up with cover where people where eating. People were talking, lounging but engaged there. We had heard that there were quite a significant number of survivors here, and some farther east. Approaching the city, 100 kilometres away, 80 kilometres away, soon enough, we were walking through the suburbs, and soon we were in the city.

It was funny. One of the first things I thought of was my father. He was in Japan when this happened, far away. We had heard of events happening there as a result of this, though we weren’t sure yet just what had happened. I hoped he was alive. I was certain some of the people I had met here where still living, I was sure I would see Daphne, she was just too important to die. We might have witnessed the collapse of the Western world, but we still didn’t know the toll of this global storm.

There was something different about the place than Vancouver. There were more buildings standing. They were built thicker, even if they were older they were firmer, and that seemed to explain everything. We came to the centre of the city, and there was something happening. There was a group of people. Some were in private spaces of mind, looking at maps, talking on radios. It was a mixed group of people, but they were not rag tag. They were not the elite; but they were leaders, of one kind or another. We could tell we were the first ones to come to them. They were stunned, they stared at us. Though, they were not frightened. Hello, I said.

Where have you come from? an older man asked of me.

From the coast.

Well. That’s what we figured. We thought there might be people on the very edge of things.

Some of us are alive. Not many.

Good. How are you doing? You look well. A little tired? Let us catch you up to speed with some of what’s going on. Then we’ll find you a place of rest. You’re Tristan, are you not?

Mhmm. That’s me.

We walked over to one of the tables farther away. It was under a tent and it was cold. There was a laptop set up with a generator they had manufactured and there was someone sitting with it who motioned to us stand by him and look at the monitor. There was satellite image of the continent. He selected different cities and showed us pictures of the major metropolitan cities. In the West, everything was under water. In the East, everything was under water. In the Mid-West, there had been mysterious explosions and many fires. Everything was scorched, many things were crumbled, though there were likely still a significant number of survivors. The majority of Canada was wiped out.

I felt that we need to be here for quite a while, but there would be an expedition. It is bigger now, and it would be organized, and this time, we wouldn’t be heading into the unknown. We’d know what to anticipate and we would only have to do what we had planned.

A remembrance and a forgetting. The older man told me his name was Ian. The other person was his wife. She was slim, and she had ash blonde hair, that was turning grey only faintly noticeably, as if under different circumstances, she might just need some die. They seemed to be focusing on what they were doing, even as they came over to meet me, as if they were scientists waiting for a break through. I waited patiently as they scrolled through pages on the monitor.  I motioned to him as I was going to inquire what they were doing, but he cut me off mostly gently, but also absent-mindedly. Go ahead and go upstairs, and find yourself a room. We have someone working as an attendant who will give you the keys once you pick one. Some people are feeling safer on the lower floors. Some are feeling safer on the upper floors.

Maisie frowned.

Are you sure? 

Yes, I said. Lets stay with them. For now, I said as I walked away.

Inside the room, there was an enveloping of sound like in a hotel. There was some furniture. I am not sure who the people were that were there before us. The wind was howling outside. I could only imagine how scary it would have been if we had been here during the storm. We sat down on the bed together. I expected to be wired, though I was tired. I closed my eyes, and I fell asleep. Maisie stayed awake, but when I woke several hours later, I could tell she had been asleep for at least an hour or so. I locked the door and went downstairs. Allister was looking at maps on the wall. They were screenshots from the monitor inside of the tent. I looked at them with him. Are things changing?

No. Only in a few places is there any noticeable change. The storm didn’t lose much strength, even as it was across the continent it was almost as strong, and almost nothing has happened since.

We were contemplative about this. The old man offered us information on far away places. There was a war that had erupted in Europe. There were several bombs. Some of the smoke in the air was from very far away. His wife was eating at a group of tables. We sat and had some sandwiches. Allister was much hungrier, he ate two sandwiches in the space of time I ate one, and yet he was still getting skinnier. He was growing taller, and he had more energy. He moved a little easier, and he was getting much less cranky. Sometimes I felt what was going on in the world had as much to do with Allister as to do with anyone else. It was almost as if we felt the disaster more intensely because he was able to help us solve it. Anyways.

It was interesting to me how religious her eating was. I think that what’s what religion was. These repetitions that become the center of things because the world doesn’t make sense. No one ever definitively said religions weren’t true, but everyone has said they were not scientific. As I looked around I saw many people to talk with, though I could feel what they were all thinking.

The night was quite peaceful. I stayed up for a few hours, listening. It was quite. 

The skies fell slowly, the voices in the hallway disappeared in sync with the sounds outside. I could hear a lot of things, without cars or airplanes, with nothing happening in the distance.

I couldn’t sleep at first, and my thoughts circled back to before the storm. It was strange how far away my mind felt from that time, not very long ago. It was strange to me how far the change had pushed us away, so that it accelerated time, and the world had changes before more rapidly. Disaster threatened us immensely, it threatened our livelihoods, and threatened to change our world by eons in a few hours.

Maisie’s breath was slow and untroubled, but her heart was a little fast still, like listening to a puppy. The red pump in her face suggested she was tired, flushed, and as young as anybody else anywhere. 

No one interrupted us, and in the morning we met more of the village that had come about, and we discussed how things were going around here, and we listened to what the strategies were for moving forward.

Around mid-day it wasn’t so warm. Maisie and I went for a walk. I looked down at the ground in front of my shoes. Have you talked to your sister lately?

You mean back when we had phones?

Right. Back then.

No. I asked about her. Didn’t hear anything.

Keep asking. I want to hear something. We really need someone we can trust.

I do really wish to find her.

I like the temperature. I thought back to our tournaments when I could see my breath. I missed being young, my first, real youth.

Seen any zombies, I asked?

Not yet, she said.

In some places there was lines of trees and the streets were still clean. I felt the wealth of the city and it was fairly nice. The breeze was gentle, not scary like the night before, and we walked for more than an hour, taking the hills, and watching our thoughts much as we watched the city.

It was strange that everything was black, it wasn’t scorched, most things weren’t crumbled, there was only a layer of black everywhere. Not dust or powder, but it had hardened, like the city had aged a thousand years overnight. I felt tired. Then I didn’t feel safe anymore, and we were heading home after that feeling.

If we were injured I think we were being nursed now. I was trying to express earlier that usually you feel the weight of something once it is over, and the thoughts play over in your head, and I think that’s the haunting part. Haunted. Sometimes it makes you jump. You’re thoughts connect back to it, and you’re worried that everything has to do with that same threat, however long ago.

Eventually, all these new images I saw, and new thoughts, started to take over the old experiences. And I felt that, the old man, and his wife, and the people here, didn’t really know what was going on. All they had done, was look at some images. They had the topography. We were the group that had traveled and interrogated what was happening. I think we’d be moving on as ourselves. They seemed content to stay here, and have a community here. It was a big continent, and sometimes people came to feel they were the only thing that was really important. 

All the same, I spent another week on the hammock, reading about far away places, looking for the things happening in other times. Soon I felt collected, not after long I felt like a different person. When wind swept through the trees, I felt like it was life pouring through me. I felt in tune, I felt a little better.

Sometimes the old man would sit with me. In his past he was in finance, but I think his life was about more than that. It was peculiar that he would be part of this commune, as if things didn’t really belong to anyone and we could all sort of use them. An awareness that you need money and you have to go after it, but that it really is this silly thing. That’s what I felt, anyways.

Sometimes I found that wisdom really came in having the opportunity to speak thoughtfully. Thoughts were strangely jumbled. It was much like having a journal, but someone always wants to read your journal, so nothing is secret. I think if there is someone you can trust, then maybe it can be a secret. But a mind isn’t really a one person thing, I think that’s why we think we have more than one voice sometimes, psychomachias if you will.

Anyways. I think it was time to leave. We hadn’t found anyone, and this wasn’t a home. We didn’t mean to save anyone, but we meant to recover them if they were lost.

It was best we use the same car, and we were to set out for a walk back the other way, to the other side of the city. The old man’s wife was quite civil with us. She told us the weather was clear now and wouldn’t be getting worse again. Toronto was always a place that people were coming in and out of, and it seemed natural for her to keep track of these kinds of things, and to offer us this kind of help. It was scary to me that they seemed to have expected us, and yet they hadn’t known we were coming in a conscious way.

That was one of the reasons it was time to leave. Sometimes it is after you get to know people that they get even scarier. Strangers can be more comforting. This isn’t what I was getting at, but the more people know about you the more that they know they can take from you. The old man offered me his advice, but I still had a father. We left early in the day, two weeks after we had gotten there, and we walked back to the jeep.


Driving, we were moving pretty quickly. We had decided in the previous days, the previous two weeks I suppose, to go east first. We would cross the border in about New Brunswick. This way we would learn more quickly about how the storm hit, and we felt a little safer staying inside one country. We were somewhat optimistic. As we travelled, I felt it more likely we would encounter other people. One side of me, most of me really, said that it would be like the other coast. The other side of me said it might be different, that they might have anticipated it more, and maybe there were more people who had taken very serious precautionary measures.

Where are we now? Maisie asked.

Quebec. The townships.

Are we stopping.

No. I don’t think so.

I can’t really see anything.

There might be something to see in the morning.

I hope so. All these places are so creepy.

Before or after?

I don’t know. She groaned inaudibly, grimacing a little without opening her eyes.

Just sleep, I think you’re only overtired.

All right.

The roads weren’t slick and the roads were clear. I had the high beams in, and we moved quite quickly. We still had a very long drive ahead of us.

Maisie had a pillow against the window. Allister had a mag light and was reading in the back. He looked very grave, which was odd, as his face was so childish.

I had been feeling okay, and hadn’t been having the strange spells. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to us, but I didn’t really have more reason to feel that I had been suffering from anything more than stress. Symptoms were just symptoms. They didn’t add up to anything. At least not at first.

Maisie awoke in the morning and her voice was a little groggy. We had all begun to look a little pale, as if there wasn’t so much to laugh about anymore.

Driving is lonely, even when people are with you. You realize how lonely it is the longer you drive. The farther you go, the more alone you are. The farther you go, the quieter it seems to be inside. I really think we only combat our solitude.

We drove through some of the smaller towns, and they were spooky, ruined, and empty. Along the coast, the whitecaps displayed the sea’s power, the wind shook our car occasionally. Solemn houses stood atop cliffs, looking out at the water crashing madly into the cliffs, far below. We didn’t stop very often, but just kept driving.

Fredericton was much older than the cities we’d been in. The east coast felt so perverse, it was different than Halifax, though.

We drove through the university, found an old brick mansion, and went inside. We looked around, I sat at the table with them for a short while, the vibrations of the road dying down in me a little, and then I went to bed. I slept for ten hours.

In the morning, I went off by myself and did a look around the campus for clues. I wanted to know what had happened, what the people were doing here right before the disaster happened. I wanted to know if it was safe. There was something more going on then just nature, it was something to do with good and bad.

Sometimes Maisie would just sit in one place for hours. Once or twice she was reading magazines. Usually she would just sit silently, thinking about the way she looked. She thought about sitting somewhere where we could see here. It didn’t seem to bother her that there were less people to look at her now.

I went through the professor’s offices. At first I found nothing, except class lectures, notes about when their children where coming around, when they were seeing their therapist. Then I looked for professors who might have been studying the storm. 

They had studied the storm in advance the way the old man had studied it after the fact. They didn’t predict it would be so large. But there work was bizarre. At first it was concerned with the storm, but afterwards it was concerned with something else. There were pictures of far away places. There were satellite images of terrorists. Tapes of Presidents when they looked nervous, or upset. They weren’t watching a storm but a vast event. There was a globalized trajectory of actions and the storm had gotten so strong in some way that they couldn’t explain just with the rules of the weather. 

I tried to find something that could definitively tell me what the hell was going on. There was something about New York. The storm was something that could draw you in, and they had been following the same path we were on now. I think we were getting close now to the truth.

The ivory of the campus was filled with sombreness. It felt old. It wasn’t full of the same technological pursuit as Toronto. Maisie and Allister were interested what clues I had found, but I didn’t divulge very much just then. We went and got in the jeep to investigate the city. For a while we walked along the water, and I tried to imagine what had happened. Many things still stood. We couldn’t seem to find anything. 

Eventually, in the museum we found some things that said people might have been there recently, after the storm I mean. There was some containers in waste basket, and the chairs in the cafe were left in a circle where a group of people would sit. There was a little bit of liveliness to it. There were lights inside, and something was echoing now and again.

I felt very tired, and I felt very weary. But I felt a tiny sensation, of hope, though I made no promises to myself, felt no promises from these signs. I felt closer to Maisie and Allister now. Neither were as nervous with me anymore. But we had a long ways to go. And they counted on me. To be myself, to be reliable for them.

I didn’t feel like much of a protector, and yet there wasn’t much that had threatened us yet on the road. 

She was different than how I thought of a women. She controlled her emotions quite well. And she would get excited, but her excitement always seemed to be appropriate.

Our personalities wouldn’t mesh, but she would be herself and I would be me. That was how life was testing us, would we change, or would we keep ourselves together?

Anyways. We hadn’t found anyone. But there was a real chance that someone had been here, and we knew were they would have been going.

We stayed for some time and we lived in the house, watching the rain through the window, and trying to have fun with ourselves. Sometimes I felt I was being reached by the spirit, but it was never as strong as that first time. I hope I hadn’t just been feeling sick. 

Two weeks later, we had made plans, and we took off down south, towards New York. The place felt absolutely haunted as we left, and I felt very sorry for all the people that had been here.

Crossing the border was peculiar as there was no one to meet us and there was no noticeable recognition of us having done so. We had to drive more carefully, as the damage seemed to be more acute. At one point, we thought we would have to walk, but we tested the limits of the jeep, with really nothing but time, all the same in one hell of a hurry, and eventually, we were to this place we wanted to go.

The world here was more summery, whether the leaves were falling or not, the golden brown colours were so much warmer, and Canada felt like nothing but Tundra. I had so meant to be here. It was so funny that I had gone out west. I missed the East Coast. This was another place Maisie felt like she could have more opportunities, and feel another kind of specialness in the place, as well.

All the same, sometimes I felt like I was spiralling into my nightmares. Being so far away from the comfort of friends or family can be frightening. Three people is only so many. I thought of my father, though I wasn’t so worried. He’d make his presence felt eventually. It was nearing the end of the day, we stopped in providence, pretending we were students of Brown, sleeping in the dorms, each of us taking three or four of them.

We were quite warm and snug, and the halls were very proud and imposing. In the morning I went over to the rink, and there was no ice. But there were player’s sticks, and I shot a puck around. It reverberated loudly when it hit the boards. I really would have liked to have been playing games here about now. This was how I used to do most of my thinking, and I stayed for a while. Eventually, it was starting to make me feel sad.

We stayed for the rest of the day, and in the evening we drove on, and pretty soon we would be in New York city. It filled me with anticipation, and anxiety. It was daunting and in the best of times it was full of danger. It loomed above us. We drove across the Brooklyn bridge and I thought of all the movie scenes I had seen here. We dodged in and out of cars that were stalled on the bridge.

Ostensibly it was quiet, desolate, but I think we shared the feeling there surely must be some sort of activity here. We drove along fifth avenue, and by the world trade centre, and where there were flashing billboards, there were no flashing billboards, where there were swaths of people, there were sidewalks missing.

The skies still hovered above us miserably grey, full of pollution. We drove looking for anything that would need us to stop, and find something that was happening. We hadn’t found anything, but perversely, we had found enough, to know that is time, we had obviously found at least a thing that would be important.

We stopped by the harbour for a while, and I thought deeply about what we’d seen of the city. Maisie didn’t seem to have any clues. The water didn’t seem to hold our answers. We drove back through the park, and I thought of were there might be people. 

We searched through several hotels, and we didn’t seem to find anyone. Two hotels, three hotels, four hotels, and we searched on. I was despairing a little. We had felt so close. It was as if no one wanted to be found. As if we were all scared of each other. 

In one hotel there had been a noise, something moving down the hallway, but we couldn’t discover what it was. After that there was nothing in the other places. After a while my perspective began to change. We had found something after all. That’s what we had found, and in our vast travel, it might have seemed small, but as my eyes shrunk to the size of the city, it didn’t seem like such a small discovery after all.

As we returned to the hotel, as it towered twenty stories above the city, we knew what we had found. There were people inside, we were sure, we hoped, we guessed.

We started on the fifth floor and worked our way up. It made sense to us that they would keep themselves above ground. We knocked on every door on the floor, and then we would move up to the very next floor. We didn’t find anything on the fifth floor. We didn’t find anything on the sixth floor. On the seventh, the eight, the ninth, we didn’t find anything.

We were feeling quite defeated again. We had knocked on every door on the seventeenth, and just as we, starting to get tired, got back on the stairs. There was noise. One of the doors we had knocked, at the end of the hallway, slowly, opened.


She opened the door with a ready to see gingerness, and she poked her head out like a much younger version of herself, meeting us like we were a different race. She was pretty, she was built a little differently than Maisie, much softer, not quite so thin, just a little shorter. Her hair was brought up in a high ponytail, and despite her stress her eyes and her face were very soft. I think we were waiting for a response from her.

Eventually, she said, Hello.

She came out and she came near us. Are you all healthy, she asked of us?

Yes, I said.

Can I trust you?

Yes, we said.

Come with me, we will have to go for a walk together.                                     

The elevator must have worked, because she took us down to the street level with a key card. We walked out a side door, and walked through an alley for two blocks. We turned right, and came out onto the street and walked another block. We came to a smaller, office style building, and we went in the front door. We went through the lobby to the elevator, and we went up to the top floor, and there were people sitting at cubicles, and far away we could see a meeting room with people discussing something very seriously.

I just felt like walking around when we first walked in, and I sort of communicated that to her. When we were walking over she told us her name, Julia. I got the feel of the place. They were interested and excited to see us. There was a mild shock and a relief on there faces. One man smiled at us. Some of them were talking on phones urgently, which was very encouraging. We weren’t supposed to talk to them, though. I thought that we were going into the meeting room, and that we would be introduced to the men in their business suites.

And Julia took us over there, and knocked on the door. I almost felt like they were having a serious meeting about us to begin with. There were four men sitting aside and they turned to face us. They had all assumed roles, although one seemed to be naturally in this sort of position. He was a member of congress, and he was the one who seemed to need to greet us, and he was the one who had information to inform us with. His hair was grey and combed over. His skin was tan, and he was only a little over weight. He spoke slowly, by my estimation, with a deep voice. There were only three groups of survivors that had been identified. One was quite large in Southern California, and had been engaged in several episodes of fighting or warfare, involving guns and explosives. There was another in the Colorado area, near Aspen, with a group of people taking shelter inside of mine. The third group was here. It was the smallest of the three, and it was spread out through four buildings in Manhattan.

At first he said we wouldn’t be of much help. They had sent a small group to reach the ones in Colorado. Southern California was too hostile right now. Eventually, they would be sending a group overseas, and he said we might be fit to be a part of this.

He was encouraging, he was made for disaster situations, though he openly mourned the loss of lives we had experienced. Sometimes, when taking a breath, he would stop speaking and look out the window, and he would look sad recognizing the deadness of the city.

We weren’t busy and crucial like a New York city newspaper, but we had vital work to do. Right then, we were exhausted, and after we were debriefed, I felt a little overwhelmed, and we sat down with Julia. Maybe it is best we go back to the hotel for a while, she said.

Yes, I said. That’d be a good idea.

I laid down, tired again. I was shaking just a little, once more, but I didn’t think much of it. I was a little affected by the atmosphere, I think.

After a time we had winded down a little. Julia had went back to her room to sleep. We were through the afternoon, and after a while, I realized it was getting late, and that would be the end of the day. I tried to go back to sleep, though I had a lot on my mind. In the midst of all this, I really wished Allister wasn’t in the room, so Maisie and I could be alone for a while. The restless middle of the night seemed like a time where it’d be okay to feel that.

He slept like a baby, and this was, nonetheless, a good thing. I lay through the night, and I fell asleep for another hour or so, but mostly, my thoughts kept me company.

When everyone awoke, we ate breakfast and we were stationary. I felt dry of emotion, and yet in some way I felt like I was in the locker room before a state football championship. On occasions everything is on the line.

There was a knock on our door and it was Julia. Come with me, will have lots to do today, she said.

We walked through the side door, through the alley ways again, onto the main street again, and we walked through the double doors. Inside, it looked much like the day before. Every cubicle has someone at it looking at a computer screen attentively, and there were still people talking away in world-saving tones on their phones. We went back to meet with the congressman.  

So about the expedition overseas. It has been moved forward.

To when, I asked.

To next week. One week from now.

That soon?

Yes. We need to act quickly. You will be going to assist as you can, but you will also be going to intervene. You are still willing to comply with your mission, yes?


Alright. I understand you have some familiarity with the UK. You’ll be travelling to Northern Scotland. Your flight will be early in the morning. We have two pilots, and a private jet plane that will fly you to Heathrow airport. From there, we will give you keys to a car parked near the airport terminal, and it will have navigational instructions to your location, which I cannot give you the precise co-ordinates of yet.

The airport is still functional, but it has been shut down. There are severely limited flights, mostly for military personnel. Consider yourselves, more or less, just this. When you get there, you will have allies. There will be groups of people that come after you, and that want to take your life from you. You will have to be strong, and realize that it is your country Tristan, Allister, that asks this of you. We cannot foresee how much longer it will be safer here. We cannot tell if we are under a present threat. We may be. I will give you more details later. The majority of your objectives are secret, but they will utilize your intelligence, and your athleticism. You will be informed via secret communications of them when you are in Northern Scotland.  I will speak with you again in a few days.

We ate dinner with Julia. She used the stove. We sat around the table in her room. She liked to have wine with her dinners. I felt very warm. She told us about herself.

She, like many people, had moved to New York. She wasn’t from too far away. She was from New Haven. She said she went to a girl's school there, and was taking a year off here, though she was slated for nyu next year.

She said her father had died during the catastrophe. The congressman said they were sorry. They had word that, as she thought, her mother was still alive in Europe. She was thankful for this. She wanted to go over there eventually. She seemed particularly interested in us because we were going over there, and if we could make things safer she could come over. It was funny. No one was coming back. We were all going to leave, in some strange anti-manifest destiny arrangement.

She frowned often. All of this made her sad. She liked Allister. He didn’t mind her. They treated him like a little boy, and he didn’t appreciate that, though he really was poking for attention. When your young women often seemed to promise very much for you.

In the morning, we woke very eager, and then I realized they didn’t need us to leave for another week. I wasn’t so sure what to do. We weren’t bored of each other’s company. It was taxing to have Allister with us. It was straining, as even if he was old enough where I was not taking care of him per se, I still felt like the adult, and that made me feel very old. We couldn’t be young in the sense Maisie and I were young. Allister was so formal in his attire which didn’t stray far from his uniforms, his side combover, and his light, athletic jowels.

I started to feel a little anxious. I had visions of what the place would be like. I imagined an old house, an estate perhaps, and it really would be up to us, more so than they let on, to protect ourselves. I could foresee that I would be using my wits, and a gun. I felt as if I was taking a wife and child, and that didn’t feel right. Surely, I was just feeling that way. Surely, no one had meant for me to feel this way.

I thought of Daphne. It was a shame we hadn’t found her. She was resourceful and I was hopeful she was alive somewhere. She had left Toronto to go home, and she had been talking of going away on vacation. She was okay, I was sure of it. Wow I hoped she was okay.

I wasn’t sure if we would hear from Agnes, in the wake of this, or pretty much anytime in the future. I hadn’t told her but I was shaken up by her last visit, and I had declined to go see her again, to date.

The Congressman told us that there were two estates. There would be no one else on our estate, but their would be another, 100 acres away, with military personnel. 

There wouldn’t be anywhere around here we could reach. I guess it went without saying, we wouldn’t be sight seeing. And yet, I was expected to do some reconnaissance. It would be nothing more than camera work, though nothing less than running with gunfire.

It had been a long year, and sometimes the newest thing didn’t feel any more stressful than the past thing, and there was such thing as reprieve, but there was no such thing as an end. If I were to die, I wouldn’t know it. As far as my head knew, this life thing went on and on.

I sat about flustered for a short time, before finally I walked, fighting the urge to sprint, after all, there was all this time. I went to the congressman and talked to him about my father. They had to find out just where he was, and help me speak with him.

Of course it would take a couple of days.  I was sure — I was optimistic — that he was in a safe place by now, so what was two days?  I waited for those days to pass. Things were difficult. Maisie couldn’t laugh anymore. I hadn’t smiled in weeks. She was melancholy. I almost wanted to go off on my own. Though it wasn’t safe.

Julia was coming over to our room. Despite the circumstances, she was talking a lot. Far too much. We were her company for now and for after and I tried my best to calm her down. Being on your own can be exhilarating, but it also fills you with fear. We could provide reassurance, resources, advice.  

She didn’t just talk about her mom and dad but about all of her interests, and we wondered a little if our company, company in itself, was too much for her, now. We had quite a lot of it. We watched the skies change, as the sun came down the sky became purple, dying in orange, waking up green.

When the time came to leave, we were ready only in the strangest way. It was strange to me that we did in fact drive, were driven to rather, jfk. There was a plane on the tarmac, and we boarded. It taxied only for a short few moments, and then it took to the air, and we flew across the sea, and once again, we landed in London.                     


Our transit time was quick. There were very few people there to meet us. After we exited the plane, we were carted over to another area nearby, where the car was waiting. There was no driver; I would be driving. There was only directions inside. And keys.

We were halfway to Northern Scotland, slowly nearing Edinburgh, and Maisie said something doesn’t feel right. We have gotten so much responsibility.

Are you sure? We are only driving?

It feels like an impossible mission to drive across this, it essentially is enemy territory. And the how the hell are we supposed to sort things out from this fort house?

You don’t think I can do those kind of things?

I don’t know. I don’t see why you would.

It’s alright. Most of us don’t believe in destiny.

Scotland always scared me. It reminded me of blood battles of the past. The moors, the landscapes, made me think of cold and famine. If someone were to ask me about Scotland, I would complain about the weather, but I really mean to complain about the climate of it, the very soul of it, really.

We have travelled a long ways now. Our mobility, our focus, was already impressive I think. We worked remarkably well together, though the toughest challenges lay ahead, and our deepest character would be tested later on, if one were to feel that our integrity and such would be the essence and the making of what is the result of the war, the battle, the resistance.


There was a gate, and I had to get out of the car, and unlock it with one of the keys. I pulled it open. It dragged along grass that had grown in, and then I brought the car through. The drive way was long and wide, and the house stood there, three stories, positively haunted, full of mystique, and honour. 

The door was old, and it had trouble turning, but it did give away with ease. It was thick and it was not rotted. The house was thick as well but I think it might have to do as much with the temperatures, as with the threats coming from outside. We hurried in, and found that it wasn’t much different from the other houses we had been in.

It was dark, and it was still cold. There was heat, and after I turned it on it warmed up in a few minutes. I am not sure what we were supposed to do now. Really, I think we were supposed to wait. We were supposed to look for clues. We were survivors. We were rescuees. And yet we were undercover. And we would live. And we would be looking for something.  

Everything was going to be okay, I thought. It wasn’t as scary as I’d anticipated. It wasn’t as scary as the congressman had said. But I was still sceptical. Maybe, later on, it would be unsafe. Something that we couldn’t handle would come upon us. And I thought about if he knew it would be an internal struggle. Externally it was easy, but internally, it was a whirlwind.

It was funny. There was no activity on the grounds. For the first few days, I didn’t take any walks. There was a town, but it was a long ways away. It was the fourth day and I went on a drive by myself into town. I didn’t really have anywhere to buy anything. But there were a few people on the streets. There were military personnel on the major street, near there vehicles. They stared at me, but I didn’t seem to perk the attention of the handful of civilians, which was odd.

When I got back I hadn’t told Maisie I had gone. She wasn’t worried though. Allister was somewhat worried. A few days later we would go out and try and find some things out. We weren’t supposed to do much for the first couple of weeks. I think we felt safe, and relieved to be here. We didn’t feel threatened. And it was peculiar how none of us seemed to be grieving, despite that we all were absolutely sad about the people who had died.

I always wonder if I can console someone. More than whether I can rely on someone else, I wonder how much I can promise other people. Only so much. I always thought the best thing was just to promise you’d be there always, even though you wouldn’t, because one day you would be there. 

Anyways. The days went by, only three or four of them. One day I didn’t know where Maisie was. She went for a walk. She hadn’t gone into town but just through the forest.

Find anyone?

No. Funny you should ask. I was just looking for something. 

Interesting. Was it something useful.

No. Not really. Just trees and some fields.

Any animals?

No. I heard some birds.

Well. That’s nice.

In that way we were safe a little farther than the property. I think in some ways all they wanted us to find out was what it was like here. But no. We had more to figure out.

The first time we would go into town was two days later. We got in the car and drove. We parked in front of a cafe. They were running on a ration system, and they had brought food over from other establishments on the street that they were preparing meals from. We weren’t really hungry, but we sat down, and that was how we found some things out. We talked occasionally, but we also listened. 

There was more tables than usual to accommodate for the town. There was a couple near us, several tables of three, one woman sitting by herself. Things wouldn’t go back to normal. There had been a bomber plane headed for London but it had blown up in the ocean. The pilot had been brought down. The majority of Europe was alive. There had been a bomb in Italy and in Russia. They said it would take years to reorganize the continent. The EU wasn’t functioning. No one was sure whether the U.S. would be the U.S again. Canada only ringed in their minds as desolate and empty.

It wasn’t very warm outside. The day had been grey in the morning and it still was. It was very quiet outside, and for a ways outside it was quiet. There were several moments were no one was talking inside, and eventually, we all became aware of each other. Though no one thought of us as anything strange, as anything from far away, as anything that wasn’t honest. 

Some of the things they said made Allister uncomfortable. Maisie would look at his arms shaking, and he would try to calm down. And Maisie would look down, eating slowly. 

We were shocked with what we heard, and we were sorry about what happened. 

Driving back to the estate, I felt content that we had found out quite a lot. Things that the congressman hadn’t known. It was hard to communicate with people far away, especially in times of crisis. And it was hard to get them to tell the truth, and harder to get them to tell the whole truth.

Here, we were on the ground, we had found out many things that were helpful for everyone in the New York office. Afterwards, we sat around the table, as if we should be in a meeting, but we were all quite silent, though. In a way, we were mourning. We were thinking of death as we were quiet, and it was interesting in that it didn’t make us feel depressed, but it weirdly made us feel a little more alive. It was more like encountering ghosts, than anything else. It was more like we had found spirits, as opposed to forever not having the alive people around.

That’s what it felt like. After a while I went and read. There was nothing to do afterwards. We weren’t supposed to reach the congressman right away. To keep cover, that’s what it was to do right now.

In the night I awoke. I figured I was a little anxious. Though I heard the wind outside. It swept across the roof of the house. It must have been 80 kilometres an hour. In the moonlight I could see some of the trees in the back wavering wildly in the wind. Sometimes the wind whistled, and I felt it might have been saying things to me, and it told me to be calm, and it told me to watch, it told me to stay outside of myself. I looked at the clock and it was nearing three. I made tea, and let my body wake up downstairs in the kitchen.

I went for a walk, and I went a little farther than Maisie. It was just after dawn, and when I was a ways from the house I wondered why I had felt so safe to come this far.  I encountered a change in the atmosphere. My awareness expanded slightly, and my heart beat rose a little. I suppose this wasn’t gorilla warfare, but there had been some strange things happening.

Sometimes I just felt like an English boy taking a walk, thinking of poems. But I looked for things out of the ordinary. I didn’t come across a secret layer. My fear stayed with me. There was something unusual in the field a ways off.

There were fences, tall and barbed, and I couldn’t see what it was that was behind them. The field stretched on off beyond my vision. But I could faintly hear something. Not a buzzing, though something constant. And there was something harrowing going on inside.

I thought this was only a sign I should turn around. I denied my urge to run, trying to not act like I had seen something out of the ordinary, if someone were watching. And as I walked, I thought of what it was I had found, a vast, off bounds area, where something was happening that many people knew nothing of.

I was somber as I returned home. It seemed to me there were bad guys in this, and not all of this was nature — which we knew — but moreover, this was in part intentional. The world was sick.

I came up the porch and into the house. I went to the kitchen for some water. Maisie was awake now, and she was waiting for me.

I told her that I had been for a walk off in the field, and I told her what I had found.

That’s peculiar, she said. I thought you would find something more subtle. I thought there would be something more subtle out there. That suggested someone had played a part in this.

I was unhappier still. I’ve found that someone had more than only a part in this.

It was that we weren’t having fun after this, and everything was serious. Our lives had become something moving along an arc instead of in some circle, a work week, what have you. We had to be stronger and I didn’t feel so young, lately.

It was peculiar that we were in a new community, and I think we were to have some life here for a short time. Maisie had not rushed out into anything. We mourned and grieved and that is something that will happen in a lifetime. Disaster will happen in a lifetime, and as we moved along through the centuries, disaster seemed to multiply in intensity and rapidity.

I sat down with here. She was looking at me, a little perturbed. I seemed to have been playing a leader and someone tough when things were scary, and I laughed to myself a little. I told myself that was for Allister, but quite possibly it was for myself, my ego, and how I worried about how she perceived me. She looked pale, though she didn’t look flustered, or worried, nor careworn. It occurred to me that I look this way a little. And we had a fiercer look, together, not any older, or wiser of a look, though. 

What was happening in the world was ongoing and I think we had shaken in direction, like a sail boat, so that he right away might not have been where we initially headed, and that the congressman, by way of trying to be a responsible authority, had been our wind that guided us in a new direction. Sometimes I felt that the world couldn’t be saved but that it had to be let to change. Sometimes I felt we had to open to the world, that it wasn’t where we thought it was. That it was bigger than the one we knew.  

Anyways. She was sitting on the counter and I had been sitting there with her. I moved and walked around the kitchen. I felt some stress in my body. Part of me felt we needed a hell storm of things to do, and another part of me felt happy just this moment.

Sometimes I wanted to say to her, global warming was nothing new, right?

Sometimes there were planes that flew over us. I think we heard every one, because it was so quite. But it would only be once a week, approximately, that we would hear something. I guess they were going west, because it wasn’t okay to be flying east right now. It was possible to drive, if you were on some mission, but planes would be shot down.

Sometimes my heart took little flutters, palpitated, and I’d be taken aback by all the pressure. But then I’d be okay. She looked a little puzzled. I thought about why and I realized I’d been pacing. I stopped, still thinking, then I said I’m going to go upstairs.

I visited Allister’s room, and he was lying in bed. It was getting late, almost afternoon. He’d spent a few days in bed. Feeling alright Allister? I thought you might be getting sick.

No. I’m not feeling so bad, I don’t think.

Okay. Any reason you're in bed again?

No reason. I’m feeling bored.

That’s why?

Yes. I feel bored. And I just am feeling in a bad mood. This is all awful.

It is pretty awful. Do you feel you’ll be in a better mood in a few days, or do you feel you're becoming depressed?

I’m not sure. I think I’ll feel better.

Okay. Just get some sleep. Try not to think too much. I’ll come and check on you later, alright?


I walked out the door. I started to go back downstairs, but I didn’t need to tell Maisie anything right away. I was just going to lie down. Then halfway to the bedroom, my heart fluttered wildly, and then I couldn’t feel my pulse for a few seconds. And I fell to the ground, and then I saw stars, and I hurt my leg, and it curled up with pain, and my head hurt, and suddenly I realized how dark and spooky the house was.


When I awoke from my nap. My head still hurt, though I hadn’t hit anything when I fell. I felt drained, a little feverish. I drank some cold water, and just stayed upstairs. I don’t think I had enough energy to read, or to have some chat with Maisie. I just sat there. And everything was okay for a bit.

After a while, I fell asleep again. It must have been several hours that I was on the bed asleep.

Then, there was noise downstairs. I awoke suddenly, and sat up, despite the pain in my head. There was something that was broken. It was glass. There was motion downstairs. Someone was moving around, looking for something. They weren’t being silent, but they weren’t being loud, so as to scare someone off and make them run away. They meant to find someone.

Maisie was in the bathroom. I went out into the hallway, and she had the door opened and she looked at me and I put my index finger to my mouth to say be quiet and she easily agreed. I went down the stairs, and I poked my head around the staircase and there were two men downstairs. One had a gun and the other was fishing around through the counters, looking behind things, etc. They hadn’t looked upstairs yet, but were still scouring the lower floor.

I didn’t know what to do. They looked very angry. They were moving quickly, and in a minute or two they were definitely coming upstairs. They looked slavic. They looked like they might be from Eastern Europe. They were average sized men. In shape, but built to rob and built to escape things, built to kidnap, but not like bouncers. I waited for them to stop moving. They stopped moving and they were trying to decide what to do, if they should go up the stairs, or if they should wait for someone to come out, or if maybe they should go out and see if we were running away from the house. The man with the gun was in the entryway, and he had thought about going to the door, but he had stopped, facing the door. He stood widely, trying to contemplate acutely.

I decided to make a run at him. He didn’t hear me. I was about to tackle him. I didn’t want to kill him, just to get the gun from him. I thought I might find out what it is they wanted. The other person saw me. And he yelled and pointed behind the gunman. He started to turn around. I turned slightly, and pulled down on the ground. He landed on his shoulder. The gun went off. I went for the gun right away. Holding his wrist. He fired another shot, trying to turn it at me. I swatted at his wrist, then I kicked him in the groin, and he dropped it. The other man had run over, and right when I got the gun, he was almost on top of me, and I shot his leg. He fell to the floor in pain. Then I shot the other man in the shoulder. Then I shot him again in the leg. 

Allister was coming down the stairs now. He saw what had happened, and he grabbed a chair and beat them while they were on the floor. I think he wanted them to be unconscious but I told him to stop. I said to be careful but go out to the shed and grab some rope to tie them up. They both seemed to subdue as they were still losing blood. I held the gun at them in case they wanted to try to stand up. 

When Allister came back, he was able to tie them up. He tied there limbs together. I told him to put there hands behind them. They looked blank at us then. Why are you here? I said.

They didn’t respond.

Why is it that you’re here? You. That had the gun. Did you come here to kill us?


Why did no one stop you?

  No one saw us. We came through the fields.

What is the reason for this?

We were sent to kill Tristan. We were sent to stop you. To stop you from gathering intelligence.

How flattering.

What is it you're a part of.

It is a secret organization. We can’t speak of it.

Just reveal yourselves for me. These are things that will help me. And we can all tell who is the good guy in this. We can all tell who has everyone’s best interests at heart.

I’m sorry. You know I will not. I cannot. 

I took the gun and pointed it right in front of his face. You need to tell me.

For what reason? I don’t see anything wrong.

It is called Uea, the other one said.

And what is that.

It is not important. It is too much to explain.

What should we do with them, Maisie?

I have no idea what we should do with them. Will more of them come.

No. The one who I was pointing the gun at said. You are supposed to be dead already.

We’ll have to keep them here. And we’ll have to move one from here soon. It won’t be safe here if someone discovers we are still alive… Allister, close up some of the bleeding. We have another week, a week and a half to decide what to do, and then we’ll leave. I think we have fulfilled enough of the congressman’s plans. We should close up all the blinds. Keep the noise down. Lock the doors. Double bolt them. Stay upstairs. We’ll have someone watch these two. I think we’ll be having to go east.

It was funny that when we were in an area that was supposed to be safe, we felt so watched, more than we could feel looked after. We stayed inside, and we sat upstairs thinking of what it is we should be doing.

They won’t fly us back from here, I said.

I feel that too. But why won’t they?

There not on our side. I think we are meant to accomplish more than the congressman has assigned us. Regardless of what has happened in the world, we’re meant to do something meaningful.

I don’t know what going over could hurt, as they have come across for us, and it is as if there is no difference. In our lack of flight I think we are mistaken for displaying compliance.

And in our flight?

We will escape, Maisie said

And we helped put an end to this. We’re tougher than we thought.

The hostages didn’t speak. They lay there stolidly, devoid of any more intelligence for us. One had to remember that the whole of the world was in a state, and that it was not just us that was shaken, but our enemy as well.

Ten days passed. Allister, I said. Give them some food. And we’ll leave them here. They’ll figure it out. 

We drove again, away from the city, and no one was suspicious of us going this way. No one was watching. We drove and we drove away from London, and the highways weren’t patrolled up here. We drove towards the East coast, and when we could see the sea, we drove South, toward Brighton.

We found that there was no one there. We didn’t go right into the city. But we did stop along the shore, and I stood above the cliffs, and there was fog that hugged the sea, as whitecaps encountered the shores.

We hung out there for a while. Maisie rested her head on my chest. We felt very sad after all of the things we had been seeing. The wind blew madly. Though I was certain it wouldn’t lift me from my feet. And yet I think she meant to do nothing less than anchor me.

In some way we gathered our confidence, and we drove into the city. We walked into another hotel, and took the stairs up several flights. We made ourselves at home. It seemed we would be safe here. And I wondered if there wasn’t a way across the channel without having to return to London in these times.

It was spooky outside. We stayed inside for several days. We took separate rooms, the whole floor, and Maisie told me things when we were alone together that I hadn’t known before. Spooky things, stories that filled you with unease and a sense of youthful vulnerability. Sometimes I wanted to save the world by being closer with her. But I didn’t care for a happy ending. I wanted to be happy in all of our moments. People always are mistaking life for beginnings and endings.

We walked to the pier. The roller coaster was halfway submerged in water. There were still seagulls around. We climbed the ferris wheel, all the way to the top. It was a little scary. The structure seemed sound. The carts were locked. Nothing was going to move. 

It’s really cold up here, Allister said.

This place is happier than the places we’ve been. But it isn’t very happy next to where we’ve come from. Do you think it is colder here than Vancouver right now, Allister? I asked.

I think so. I think there will be frost everywhere this evening. And more than just that. It is going to snow soon.

I thought that too. We should be okay just with blankets. It has been pretty warm inside.

Anyways. Maisie hasn’t been sleeping.

Maisie hasn’t been sleeping?

I haven’t been sleeping?

I think Maisie is worried. But not just about the state of things. About something in particular. But I don’t think she will tell me.

There is nothing wrong, little boy. I’m perfectly rested.

You have dark circles. 

I have not dark circles.  

Around your eyes.

There are none around my eyes or around Venus now quiet.

At that point. I kept up so I could climb on to the cart in front of us. It was a little risky. I turned around and smiled. I guess we won’t need to put any pictures of this on Facebook?

Don’t think so.

Even if I hang off of this with one hand?

No. Not even then.

I made a superfluous frown, and then I climbed inside the pod. I shook it lightly as if I was a slight breeze of the water. They were watching me, unperturbed. It was getting later in the day.

Then, the pod fell. It plummeted from the top of the ferris wheel to the ground. It hit the lowest pod, and then slid to the ground, making another loud thud. Maisie screamed. Allister lurched forward, shocked. They were held still for a second, there heart rates in limbo. Then they began climbing down, as quickly as they could. All the windows shattered, and there was glass everywhere. There was a huge dent in the cart. I was still inside it, and I was unconscious.


When I awoke I was in a small hospital. We were in London. It was two weeks later. One of the first things I felt was pain in my head. And then I felt a huge pain in my back.

It didn’t subside. My vision was blurry for several minutes. I couldn’t really feel my right leg. It was in a big cast. It didn’t take me long to remember what happened, though I couldn’t find a way to describe what had gone wrong. 

I was alone for a few hours. There was no button I could buzz. I could have yelled, though I was afraid my throat would hurt, maybe my whole body. I was not sure what would happen. 

After a doctor entered and he was relieved. I was awake and it looked like I would recover. He said the leg would take two months, though I would be able to move with crutches soon. They would leave me alone for the day then my friends would be in later on. They were informed I was conscious and improving.

While I lay there, and didn’t experience much except my body in pain. I thought that here we could get some info on the whereabouts of some of the people we hoped to find, info on who it was that survived. I could move my hands and I looked at my wrists as I flexed them, turned my forearms. In this moment I didn’t feel anything very special, and that’s when you find life out a little. There was no emotion that I went through. I just felt thankful to be alive, and it made me want to live my life well.

Allister came in when it had been dark for a while. He looked upset, like the fact we could nearly die and come back to life only amplified how tenuous life was for us, and I felt that not only was I more aware of the fact I was alive, but I think he was aware of life as the pulses in his heart, a life line. The accident wasn’t only about me, but it was about everyone involved. And it could have been not an accident, and maybe that’s even scarier.

Is the pain really bad?

It is pretty bad.

The doctor said you will be okay.

He told me. Has anyone wanted to speak to you?

Yes. Daphne has been looking for you. They have her in New York. I think we’ll fly back. But not right away. 

Excellent. What else?

Well there is bad news. Maisie’s family has passed away. And they can’t find Dad yet.


  I think so. That’s what happened.

I thought this was very bad. And it was weird that I thought that Maisie had barely seen her family for quite some time. Before this. And I had thought I wasn’t sure who it was that was her family anymore. But I thought that she would be sad. And I felt very sorry for her.

Allister sat with me for the evening. The states was becoming more organized. There were obviously a few more survivors than was thought initially. There were no communications, and now there are some. There were about one hundred million survivors, they thought. 

There was a serious terrorist threat in Canada, and it was too hard to tell what was going on there now. There were several rogue forces that still wanted to take more lives.

We might not have to go east, now?

I think they will send several groups. It won’t just be us. So, yes, that’s what I heard, Allister said. It won’t be just us.

Maisie came in later in the evening. My heart sunk, I didn’t know what to say to her about what had happened, I mean about the news they gave to her. Her eyes were swollen from crying. You’re okay, she said.

I seem to be. It’s nice to see you. I think when I woke up I felt the fear that I had been dying. Otherwise all I feel is tightness and haziness from all the morphine.

That sounds quite okay for your injuries.

Are you going to be okay?

I’m not sure.

We’ll always be here for you. You’re part of your family. And I’m sorry. And I’m so hurt. I’m so sorry. One day things are going to be okay. I don’t know what to say.

She was sunken in sadness. She sat with us. In the night Allister fell asleep on the couch. Maisie sat up with me for quite a while. They’d given her a room, and eventually she went off to fall asleep. And I lay there, soon I found sleep as well, though nothing felt so easy, and my dreams were full of anxiety.


I was there without moving for another week. Then I was allowed to arise and take a small walk along the hallway. It was painful and it felt like walking for the first time ever. I felt wounded that I wouldn’t be my most high flying self during these times. I was sorry things would be this way. I’d had too much time without stir and my heart was restless. The doctor said I should go lie down and I was reluctant to stop, taking my time to turn around and walk back to the hospital room. It was quite cold inside and that helped with my sickness. They allowed me to lay without blanket and things. And I couldn’t wait to get the gown they had given me off.

Allister had been around the area some and people were a little more comfortable. You were allowed to leave your home now, though you weren’t supposed to walk around, just trips of necessity. People seemed to see a haze in the air, as if the whole world had taken on a new quality, the dirt, gunpowder, smoke, filling the world around us. He’d seen two gun fights, though they’d been well contained by the police, and there hadn’t been any deaths reported in a few weeks.

He said the only instructions he’d been given were to stay here. It was going to be safe for the next foreseeable amount of time. Maybe we’ll have to stay here, he said.

I don’t know if we want to go back to the states after all of this. 

It’s pretty crazy. Things are going to be very sad there. And very different.

Yes. How about the crazy weather? Will there be more?

I don’t think there will be more that they could consider part of the hurricane. But there will be. In a year or two. It might get worse.

I was quite shocked at all that had been changed. Maybe we need to see nothing but that we needed to leave. And I felt hollow thinking about where it was I was from in the first place.


Lying in bed, I was more at ease than I had expected. My body adjusted well to these different circumstances. There wasn’t much to do but to pay attention to my vital signs, and it gave me some small hope to see myself change to what my conditions were. I could handle not getting to move around. My heart rate stayed settled despite no exercise. I didn’t have any spots of rubbing from being in any one place to long. When I sat up, no blood rushed to my head. Sometimes Maisie would sit with me for hours. I was still myself and when it was quite we would lock the door. I felt very close to her all the time. Still I was very sad and there were many things I missed.

Allister would bring things back. He would spend our money on things to pass the time. We bought dvd’s and things. We watched movies about disasters, and it was funny how many ideas they had given us while this had been happening. Perversely this was no new ice age and that was an unexpected relief.

As I got better I realized I had been suffering from exhaustion. People get sick when there tired, and maybe that is what I had went through. An extreme tiredness. Maybe that is when people develop serious diseases, which often are complications of simple illnesses. Apparently much of the flooded water was returning to the waterways now. More people could be seen outside of their homes or places of refuge now. They are much more reserved now, but things still had movement and the same ring of life going on about. After a month I could feel my leg getting better. At that point I could get up and walk around, and I went outside, and walked in the grounds with Maisie. There hadn’t been much for her to help with, and she had just been having to stay inside, help with me, and we mourned for her family. They had contacted my Dad and he was in Hong Kong, safe and alive. Agnes had passed away, and we had still not been able to make contact or find Daphne.

I spoke with people around about what it was we needed to do. It seemed as if we did not need to start completely anew. That much of the world’s structure was safe, though very reorganized. The history of us was part of what we were, and I’m not sure we knew how to do things in a much different way.

Safety, cities better built to withstand storms, prevent flooding, much bigger steps to fight global warning. Most of the time I felt I would never be a scientist who could fight this, but I think the job of politicians and thinkers as to what it is we need to invent, and where it is we need to invest money, what courses of action we need to take, where obviously, all very important, and as I got older, these would be the things I could do, that I would need to do, to keep making the world around us a much more secure place.

We would stay here for the foreseeable future. My restlessness seemed to express itself through my mind, and I needed to write. At first I started again with my journals, but I had so many thoughts. I started to write about our experiences. After what we had been through it would be possible to contribute something to the world, and maybe this is what it was I was supposed to do after my life had blown up. 

I’d written two hundred pages. I’d been writing a novel and it was an ambition of mine for a long time, and it was time to do it. I kept it a secret, doing it when I was alone, keeping the papers in a drawer beside the bed. Maisie didn’t know. It was fun trying to hide what it was I’d been doing, especially because it wasn’t something I could be in trouble for. Also I was writing about her, something she knew I would do, and she knew when I started I didn’t tell her, and I wondered about nearly imperceptible clues that would signal this moment had come, but there probably were none.

Sometimes she looked at me funny. Nothing more though. 

One day Allister asked me if he would have to go back to school.

No, I said. I’m sure you’ll finish from home one day not too far from now.

Okay, he said.

I wrote more of my novel. I wrote another fifty pages, and then I didn’t know what to write for a while. The only writer’s block I’d experienced so far meant that it was time to take a break for a while. I think people went through thinking that literature was much more than just some books sometimes, and that was the other kind of writer’s block. As if some of us would have more than a few great stories to tell.

I was trying to think of what it was I would write from my bed, when there was a knock on my door. I said to come in, and it opened, and in the doorway was the congressman.

I was happy to see him. I think he had much news for me. There was something particularly he wanted to tell me. They had located Daphne. He had a video feed on his laptop of what it was she was doing.

She looked thin and a little worn, and she was listening attentively to a companion sitting across from her. They were deciding something about the city. She was still in Toronto. The congressman said she survived underground. Now she was in a house near the university. She was sitting on the second floor. Continue to prevent entry and exit, she said. We don’t know who wants to come in, and we don’t know what they want. That they are here, without the intention of seeking help, saying they have come for another safe place, but that they are here for business, seems to imply that they had a hand in this, that they saw it coming, she said. We should patrol the border as to prevent this kind of person from jeopardizing what safety we have.

He looked as if he agreed with what she said. There was only a small number of people that were assembled.

He did have a point of criticism. This is in spite of the fact you want to go down to New York, though, Daphne. You say we need to make inroads, and perhaps we do, but how could we know that you don’t have some other motives? Why, why is it that you think I want to have you there, when things are more dangerous there than ever before?

This is important. And if you cannot trust me, then there is no hope at all.

He seemed to have no more to say right then, and she got up and left the room. There were several people there. The commotion was just like before, in that people were trying to run things here, all around the world. She wanted to tell them to act differently. She went outside and walked across the road, went another block, to a cafe. She ordered food, and she sat down to eat, and I think she was thinking of me. I wanted to be there with her, and chat about all the things that had happened, all the things that had happened to us. I couldn’t wait until I saw her.


Maisie stared at me blindingly. There is no magic here.

I was filled with wistfulness. You know I felt something at home.

Did you feel something at home?

It was right in front of me. It lit up all around. I felt some knowledge of it inside. It was a spirit.

Really? What did it want?

I’m not sure. To make me see things.

I believe you.

You don’t think I’m crazy?

No. I don’t think you’re crazy.

That’s good.

Because I saw it too.

You were there?

I wasn’t there.

How did you see it?

I didn’t see it. You are crazy.

That’s comforting. It doesn’t change the fact all it does is rain and look dreary here.

All the better for strange beasts.

I don’t know. I don’t think London had many giants. I think the fairies were only far away.

When will you feel well enough to go back?

Have you discussed it with the congressman.

Yep. Whenever you’re ready.

You really want to go back?

She looked away, frightened a little. Of course, she said after, confidently.

I don’t know. Very soon. A week.

She thought about it. It will be okay there.

I hope so, I said.

I could walk normally now. I stood straight up, and felt only a little pain. My movement in my neck was a little restricted. My arm looked a little skinnier.

Allister had been brooding about the future, without really knowing that we were leaving now. His opinion of things changed. Oh, he said. He was excited a little bit. Apparently some of his friends in the east had survived.

The congressman stayed with us in the nights. During the day he yacked on his phone. He assured us things would be safe, and we would have to wait for things to develop, and help people to bring themselves into a proper mood. There had not been any crime in Toronto. There would be no broken windows there and invaders there. The congressman said he was sorry, but at the time it was hard to offer us more protection, and he said he hadn’t been aware of the threat.

The United States had interfered in the wars in Mexico, and the fighting within the country was subsiding. New York wasn’t running on an economy. There were rations, and people were making food within communities. People were assuming roles, and trying to function on a day to day basis.

He flew with us. The plane was small and a little cozy. The journey was smooth, and we landed in Toronto early in the morning, anticipating with great hopes the land that birthed us.

The skies fled before us, golden and red. It was very chilly, you could feel pretty cold.

I dragged my bag behind me. We walked through the airport. It was quiet inside. There were few people. We walked out of the entry way of the terminal, and a car took us to a hotel. Daphne was staying there and she heard of our arrival.

I was happy to see her. I hugged her very tight. She seemed so happy just for a moment. She looked quite lively. Things had been sad but I think she had been up to lots of things. There were many things I wanted to say to her. I let the congressman talk as he spoke about what was going on here and around the continent.

Her and Maisie were going to get along. They were about the same height, coming up to my shoulders. Her eyes were much bigger and they continually surprised me. Everything she said seemed exciting. It felt like we were in college again and that this had been something for us to study. It was certainly something for me to write about.

Her family, her father and her sister, had survived and were in a different hotel building a little ways away, in a different part of the city.

She said she had been underground for over a month. There were strange happenings in the city. Things wandered in the evening and several groups had come after them.

She lost some weight and said that it made her appreciate things more. We were still alive and we were a part of this history. After dinner I lay in bed with her, just holding her. It was very comforting that she was alive, whole, and that she was herself.

The threats had subsided in terms of the bizarre things she experienced, and now people were focused on reorganizing. Our empathy increased as if eons of evolution had occurred, and we seemed much more inclined to be there for each other, and have the ability to give every one a voice, even if the population of the world had decreased by almost one half, and everything we had known was different now.

In her room, as she opened a door there was a cat that was trying to slip through in the hallway. It came at us, still not quite with the velocity of a puppy, but all the same it expressed loneliness, rubbing itself against us, purring, as if she knew all about us. Her fur was golden and white like a great lion, not having had to hunt for quite the amount of time.

Her room had a homeliness, with plots and charts hanging, things a little disorganized in a way that she understood, so that it felt as if she had become a little cozy here, and didn’t intend to live in some other way, any time soon. I sat with here, and she had photos uploaded onto her laptop of all of the strange things she had since the storm.

There were photos of plains that had turned red and purple, buildings that crumbled completely, cars that were floating down the river flipped upside down, burials, streets flooded for miles and miles, mothers, daughters, fathers, crying.

It was truly just as sad, some time gone by, as it was as it was happening. She had more trouble with it than us. We had been away. For a second it felt like all of the things that made us travel that had made us so far away, were secondary to our decision to be so far away, but only for a second.

She looked a little younger having lost weight. It was jarring, like we were in high school again. Even if we were friends, our first time in University had been a bit of a bad dream.

After this catastrophe our personal problems evidently seemed smaller. She was lying on the bed, and the lioness kitty was three feet in the air, in her fingertips, enjoying being held high, thrown up and down some. She wanted to distract Daphne, in the most unselfish of feline ways.   

It was unsettling that she did not wear any of the clothing that she wore when we were together at school. I knew that she had not brought her clothes here, not had a chance to, but it seems that she would not have worn them anyways. It was just the first instance of change, and she would not make the same expressions, her face was held in sadness, and her eyes looked deep with sadness, that could last an eternity. 

It seemed that from now on there would be a lot of time we sat quietly together, and had thoughts about the disaster. It wasn’t easy to watch a movie anymore, or to feel that every thing was okay.

Later that day we met with the congressman, and he told us that he could use our help tackling some of the activity back in Vancouver. There was a channel for communications, and he asked us to monitor it, and made us a contact for personnel overseeing things in the city. There was only a handful of people, and also several who had made there way out there, and were seating the surrounding areas, uncovering damage, and looking for more people. If anything were to happen to them there would be a distress call on the channel.

We worked patiently at this. Most nights we saw Maisie’s family. There was a new sense of normality, as if an industrial complex wasn’t going to happen again, at least not over night. We hung our heads to an extent over the way the world had been, saddened, and distressed. Her father would hardly speak many times. I think it was only for his daughters that he showed any sign of life, or a modest belief in a redemption of mankind.

It occurred to me now how in love with Daphne I was while we were together, and Maisie was far away. With my eyes averted from the table, I wondered whether she might have hoped for us to get back together then, before now, before she had met Maisie, and seen us together, and seen in reverse how my heart was aching, attune to those moments when I missed her finally.

They didn’t sit together often, and there relationship struck as being so different from Maisie’s and Agnes. They would bicker. But I think it was Daphne, incredibly civil, prideful, not remotely american, not remotely southern. Sometimes they seemed to me like one person, while Agnes was another, and then I would worry and tell myself that is no way to think.

As it grew darker in the evening I was closer in space to Maisie, and Daphne would hum, until she caught herself, and then everyone would realize the discrepancy in intimacy, and it felt a little awkward.

The night fell and I slept very well. In the morning there were people about having breakfast and I went for a run. The air was a little crisp. I could breath very deeply, and ran along the water, and I pondered what trickled beneath it.

By the end of the week Daphne seemed a little cheerier. She awoke to us a little, more of our life remembered to her, her recent sadness more drowned. Sometimes Maisie was inconsolable, and there was nothing I could do. I mourned for her. One day I asked her if he would ever get over this?

‘No, she said. I don’t think so. It is unlikely.’

‘I think it might get better. I think you and me will be okay.’

The sun was high in the sky. ‘I love you. You mean everything to me.’ I said.

After a few weeks, I felt very comfortable here again, and in a weird way it felt like I’d just had a vacation. My dad was okay, but he wasn’t able to fly over right now.

Allister was spending time with the friends he’d made, and they’d put together a secret accommodation, though I made sure Allister came home every night. Having time to hang out just with his friends wasn’t anything I could prevent him from having. We were shocked. Things didn’t feel right, and as time went by, sometimes I felt things might get even scarier again.


By the time winter came, more people had come to the community from all over the world. Six months had gone by, and there was much more for us to concern ourselves with. The city was much more busy.

Maisie and I were at dinner in the hotel. ‘You’re face is still flushed.’ She said.

‘We were walking for a long time.’

‘I didn’t think you noticed.’

‘I did have some knowledge of just how far we walked.’

‘And briskly.’

‘My face is not flushed.’

‘No. Not really.’

‘Unless it is the wine. Then I could be flushed.’

‘You’re a lightweight.’

‘Please don’t encourage my alcoholism.’

‘You’re so sad. If I were to read your novel I am not sure if I could believe anything you say.’

‘I didn’t tell you I wrote a novel. Have you been going through my things.’

‘Oh. Well no, of course I haven’t been going through your things.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘I don’t know. Maybe I might have come across it looking for some makeup or what have you.’

‘I’m lying. I remember telling you.’

‘I remember too. I wasn’t sure if you were having some concussion issue or something.’


‘The food is good.’

‘Pretty good. Pretty good.’

‘We should say thank you.’

‘What’s the point?’

‘I don’t know. So they can make the meal good more often. So there hard work is appreciated.’

‘What if the chef isn’t a nice person, just a good cook?’

‘Well. We don’t have to say thank you.’

‘No. I guess not. You look very pretty. That is worth mentioning.’

‘I wanted to look sexy.’

‘You can sure do what you have set your mind too.’

It was only about eight o’clock. We were almost finished.

‘I love you.’

‘That’s reassuring.’

‘I miss you when you are not at my side.’

‘I love you too. So much.’

I took my last bite of my meal.

‘Tristan. Who is this Daphne?’

‘She’s an assassin. For you, maybe. I’ll have to further investigate.’

‘Well, sure. But who is she?’

‘She’s my friend. My best friend. Someone who has my interests. Someone who I want the best for. Someone who I trust completely. Almost completely.’

‘You need those kinds of people.’

‘You’re being facetious.’

‘Thanks to you I know how to be facetious.’

‘Thanks to me you know what the word means.’

'You are very funny.'

I was content with this.

Later on in the evening, we were sitting around the fire with Daphne and Allister. It was very cold outside. This evening snow blizzarded past the windows. It was going to be minus 30 degrees by midnight. 

We shared a big sofa, and two blankets. This kind of weather made us feel the world was a little insane to begin with. Allister gazed at Daphne with fascination. She was from Ontario, and seemed perfect for this moment. I think he felt close with her, in his heart, closer than with us in some ways. Sometimes it takes something, someone I suppose, new, for us to have the experience, the awareness, of bonding to.

He fell asleep there. It was quiet and above the crackle of the fire, I could here his breath, very settled. He had his feet on the coffee table so that he was almost laying down, sliding off the couch a little, with his head off to his right side some. His face looked very young. It had moved a little more in the direction of weary. But on the whole there was the beginnings of a manliness.

In the morning he went off to get some exercise. I made some tea and sat down to write until about 1. I wasn’t having as much success as the day before. The plot wasn’t coming as easily, but I wasn’t ready to use the word writer’s block yet. When I got up my head hurt a little. But I felt better after a glass of water and a snack.

Maisie and Daphne had been next door. I went over to see them. Maisie was a little concerned. If I was perturbed, something must be wrong. But things seemed to be getting better. The weather was different here and she was still dark from the summer, and all the time we had been outdoors. I felt selfish suddenly because she looked infinitely sad. I couldn’t hide from all the of the darkness we were now educated in. The past was a far away place, drifting father away, gone.

Dad said it was going to be safe for him to come over now. There was flight in a few days. I looked forward to having her. He should bring comfort. And he might recover a feeling in me of being truly young. It’d been a long time since I had seen him now.

We seemed to have a bunch of things to do and time flew so that before I was aware of it, night came. After we had walked back over from next door, and spent some time mulling around, feeling hungry, we couldn’t locate Allister. I wasn’t worried, but I thought he’d have been back hours ago. 

Another hour went by, and he still hadn’t returned. The congressman was concerned, and he sent several people looking for him. We hoped we’d find where he was by the end of the night. And all of the sudden we really wished no harm had come to him.


It was midnight and there was no one that had found him. The congressman came and knocked on my door regretfully. His face was grave. I’m sorry. We’ve heard the story. He was betrayed by an older man, and turned over to a group of hostiles. We are not sure what his present condition is, or where they have taken him. We know the roads they took exiting the scene, they were headed east, but further than that, we have no idea where he is. We’ve activated a team to pursue his whereabouts outside the city. I have to ask that you stay here, and wait until we’ve apprehended the suspects. There is a chance that Allister might be okay. This may develop into a hostage situation. If they want something for his release, I’ll keep you posted.

I thought about who might want something to do with him, though nothing came to mind. Those invaders in Scotland were so far away. What could anyone want from us, now. We had been involved in too many important matters, and Allister was the most vulnerable of people, and in his new found quest for independence, he had strayed just outside of what we thought was safe. I decided I would leave Maisie and Daphne right here, and I set out on my own, perhaps knowing what it would take to find him, or what would lead me to him, more than the special forces.

Walking in the street with my scarf and jacket bundled, my face burned in the cold weather. While the Congressman’s men swept throughout the city, I went to where he had been, to find clues. And as I ran, I wondered about my well-being there as well.

I could tell none of his friends had been here with him. It was cold inside, and there hadn’t been anyone there since mid day. The first floor was mostly empty, and I didn’t see signs of anyone there, no signs of any struggle. On the second floor, The floor was dirty. I noticed bits of glass, and a window was open. I went to it and looked out, and across the way was a flat rooftop.  

I went in the second bedroom and there was disarray. The dressers were open, the bedding was on the floor, and the window pane was broken. I looked down from the window. It wasn’t very far. I could see ways to climb to this level. I didn’t find anything in the house that would tell me who it was that had taken him, but I had a sense of what we were up against.

I went across the way. I hesitated at the door, and thought about who might be inside. I went inside the shop. When the bell rang, the owners were jumpy. They looked at me, as if they had knowledge of me, and sensed I would be coming, and they looked somewhat guilty. Hello, I said. 

Can we help you? As you know, we will be closing our shop soon.

I’m just going to have a look around. Did you notice what was happening across the street.

Afterwards. The police said they took the kid off in a grey vehicle. Said they’d been around all day looking for someone. Then they broke in, and they kidnapped him real quick.

What had the boy been doing?

He was waiting. He had ordered supplies to protect his group. He was worried the special forces weren’t doing enough.

And then.

He was more right then he thought. No one saw them, until we heard the car speeding off. 

I tried to picture it all in my head.

And where did they go?

East. Who are you that you want to know this.

I’m his brother. 

He didn’t say anymore. I looked at him and saw that he didn’t want to get mixed in. Anything he told me could have been found in a newspaper. By tomorrow, I would suppose.

So you don’t know anything more.

No, sorry.

And you didn’t see who did it? No one saw anything until the car took off?

We’re sorry, no one thought this would happen.

Okay, I said. I couldn’t bear it for a moment. I hadn’t found enough information. I don’t think the disappointment in my face could have been hidden in the moment. I turned around to leave.

I walked towards the door, and as I opened it, Wait, I heard.

I know who took your brother.


The resistance.

The what, I said quietly.

They are the group behind all of this. They are not from around here.

All of this.

All of the things that have happened to you, I mean.

Who are they?

They’re a rogue group. They want power. They are in Quebec City.

If I go there, I’ll find them.

Yes. But,…

What is it?

I don’t know if you will find your way out of there again.


As I took the ramp onto the highway, I had an eight hour drive ahead of me. I hadn’t told Maisie I was leaving, there hadn’t been time. With good time, most of this wouldn’t have to be explained, and I could hopefully forget it with the relief of safety and rest.

There was not a thing that perturbed me while driving, but the mood, as if it were in the very weather, was wrong. The sky above me was dark and grey for hours.

The roads were wet and slippery, and my desire to make good time had to be weighed against the danger of an accident. I thought about what kind of conditions he was in right now. They could have done anything they wanted to him. He was very vulnerable. But a voice in my head said they didn’t want to hurt him, so much as they wanted to use him as leverage.

As I passed Trois-reveres, my anxiety rose. So many things could happen now. Everything was evacuated, emptied, everything was lifeless.

In Quebec city there was not a settlement set up. I didn’t detect any signs of a group for the first twenty minutes of driving when as I entered the cities outskirts.

The shop owner said the resistance had set-up and remained in one area, moving only a few blocks each time they were challenged. There hideout was suspected to be on —— street. The area was light now, it was almost ten in the morning. The streets were very white with snow. Many of the buildings were crumbled. I parked some distance from — street, and then slowly made my approach on foot. There were three buildings on the street, facing south, that still stood. It was said they were in one of these three. They had connected them underneath the ground to conceal which building housed the leader and his high council. I hid behind a wall and I considered the three. One was a residential building. The other two were a shop like the one in Toronto, and the other was a bank. 


Popular Posts