display | more...

I waited for the departures board to scroll through M-Z. Why is it that they always seem to linger on the pages that you don't need to see, but the page showing your destination disappears before you've managed to find your flight number? Eventually the monitors flashed up destinations A-L. My flight number became an irrelevancy: all flights to London Heathrow were delayed. Fog, apparently. There was no indication how long I'd be waiting. I dismissed the idea of making my way to the main Emirates desk almost as soon as the thought entered my head. It'd be mobbed by travellers desperate to make it home in time for Christmas, and despite Emirates having the reputation for being the best airline in the world, they have no control over the weather.

So I did all that I could do: I found a seat, and I waited.

I watched the teeming carnival of humanity parading before me. Demure women in their black abayas, walking a pace-and-half behind their dish-dasha-clad husbands. Teenagers in transit from one Gap year destination to another, forming families of their own invention. Slightly harassed mothers, their eyes flecked with specks of apprehension, trying to occupy their children. Older couples, content just to sit and be. What would any of them think of me? How might I feature on the spattered canvases of their lives? We were a dizzying array of colour, of language, of culture, clashed together for a few short hours before being flung onwards, soaring to opposite side of the globe.

The minutes slipped into hours. I watched planes depart for New York, for Melbourne, for Riyadh, for Karachi, for Singapore. It grew quieter, less bustling. Those waiting for early morning connections settled themselves to catch as much disturbed, unsettled sleep as possible. Fewer new arrivals marched along the snaking air-side halls, and those who had landed appeared more weary, more sedate. Those waiting for the fog to clear in London mounted a quiet sentry duty, guarding the departures board. At around 4 am there began a soft murmuring, a slight shuffling of papers, a gentle movement of bodies. One London flight had a gate and a departure time, soon so did a second, and a third. London's fog had finally lifted: I was able to go home.

We took off at 5 am. Dawn was breaking: the pale Middle Eastern sky shot with amber and below us the Persian Gulf was glittering, almost-silver and not-quite-gold. So man's mechanical winged steed began to race against Apollo's chariot, taking us into a perpetual westbound morning. Yesterday and tomorrow were merging into a continuum: where — or what — was today?

London. She was enveloped in a dusty pink haze as the early morning light mingled with the winter damp. Dubai's amber glow was behind me, and Sydney's bright blue sky even further in my past. Same time, different place. Unifying mind and body could wait: the now that demanded my attention was Somnus' calm embrace.



For etouffee - because he asked, and I couldn't possibly refuse

The following sequence was compiled with the invaluable help of OldMiner

A figure sprawled on thick pile carpet. Rolling over, they blinked around, wondering for a moment where they were. A glance at the clock showed it to be five-thirty, it was partially light outside. The figure stood up and stumbled to the kitchen, feeling woozy and very confused. Half-way through his breakfast, another figure appeared, the mother of the first. Her conversation was confusing, but he didn't seem to notice, too busy trying to figure out what had happened during the past two days.

"How are you feeling?", her question was met with a shrug. "Are you going to be home for the rest of the day?"

"I should be home from uni about four" was his reply.

"It's already five-thirty", she looked at his bowl of cereal.

"I know, I'll be going soon", he shovelled down the rest of his breakfast.

"Phil," his mother looked at him curiously, "it's five-thirty in the evening".

The man stared back at her, dumbfounded, as he tried to think back. "It's not Friday morning?"

"No, it's Thursday evening."

       {7_, ' =     "!             f,         '       _4QQQQQQQQQQQI3
        6jc-`,              _   }_c}{{       ar       c/            } 
"=pc_/-~j|s_/ '    / 5c      f.c4d'- f.d} \_"/ \7   .),?-- _  s ^`    
:_-^^ _7}$-''~,    }!, 'j/ ;c m'}    \F\L7' ,-m!  .a?4/   _``        .
'-\     -`\_        -   ' ;{' '              a\a-"  a"             _a 
     '  ..-^a/   . _/'                              _?'              _
 .      aJ?6a/?aa/?'           a    ./                 ..        _/}  
? ?      "'a)!' "!'       aw/ aW6/.QWQ6/ aw     ? --?  ?aa-._awWq-4fQQ
/            ?_a          "P4Q??)WQ'  4Q?QWgaa        _a,)!'  aa"??.aJ
                46     _a aW )6aaW??6aaQP?   J?'      aa/            a
               a?       )4gaaaW        "4g  Q/        /)??'       ?   
        ??P     ?      aj??)B'           jf Qf           )\aaaa/     a
          )????      _aQ'   )6          )QP  )4aa/      ??a           
       ???????P?       4/  _j?          _QP'  aQQa    aaaaaaaaga      
        /  ??        }QQQaaQQaaa       aQ4QQaaWQa        _      )?4P  
   aaJ??    a           )WQQ/  46aaaayP?  aQa?        a ????'        _
     "?    aa  Q/         )WQaaajJQgja_yaaWf           "_/         _a 
           -  _jw)')        ????Q?( - QQ???              "'       '  '
\a_a        a%? _"/',                 ?                  .'         -?
=T^         -  a?`_-                                   /a/            
\a            -  ,`           a _,  a,      )L,   a \`?) -            
'    ,          J_/\J!/    c !}r-`}. -\,   aL-Y"(Q ~?                 
 ./'/         _J!`s?`}L  ,'j" -        -\  tY    "Y            \  }\_/
  '   _,,,  ' -   `  6/_, -'             -,=                    ^c d"_
' _(`   m   _a)'   _3Qr'                   "            _         ?/" 
Wed 21:00 - Returning home after a long day of uni and parkour training, Phil ate, showered, then slumped behind his desk, physically and mentally knackered, unkempt brown hair falling over his face. The young man flicked it perturbedly out of his way as he caught up on emails and E2.


Wed 22:00 - Another long day awaiting him, the man considered sleep, knowing he must be awake enough in the morning to use power tools. Tired but knowing his body wasn't ready for sleep, he researched a work-in-progress engineering project instead.


Wed 23:00 - An hour later, Phil broke off browsing Oatley and Jaycar, Darlingtons became good night darling and he was left alone. Climbing into bed, he closed his eyes and waited ...and waited.


Thu 01:00 - Sick of the countless nights of poor sleep he was by now used to, a dejected figure returned to his keyboard. His frustration mounted as E2 page loads started timing out with increasing frequency, and he began running traceroutes. Added to this, his ISP routinely rebooted a critical piece of equipment, leaving him without a connection for twenty minutes. ...Back to bed.


Thu 02:00 - Phil decided to eat, not really having anything better to do. He didn't expect it to help him get to sleep. He apologised to people for possibly being obnoxious in his current state of mind, but no one seemed to notice.

"Really, though, you need someone to talk to?"

Eh, he was used to this, it'd been happening for years.

Thu 03:00 - The night dragged on, Phil's research shifted from switchmode power supplies to synthesising human milk. He tried again to sleep, but to no avail.

       {7_, ' =     "!             f,         '       _4QQQQQQQQQQQI3
        6jc-`,              _   }_c}{{       ar       c/            } 
"=pc_/-~j|s_/ '    / 5c      f.c4d'- f.d} \_"/ \7   .),?-- _  s ^`    
:_-^^ _7}$-''~,    }!, 'j/ ;c m'}    \F\L7' ,-m!  .a?4/   _``        .
'-\     -`\_        -   ' ;{' '              a\a-"  a"             _a 
     '  ..-^a/   . _/'                              _?'              _
 .      aJ?6a/?aa/?'           a    ./                 ..        _/}  
? ?      "'a)!' "!'       aw/ aW6/.QWQ6/ aw     ? --?  ?aa-._awWq-4fQQ
/            ?_a          "P4Q??)WQ'  4Q?QWgaa        _a,)!'  aa"??.aJ
                46     _a aW )6aaW??6aaQP?   J?'      aa/            a
               a?       )4gaaaW        "4g  Q/        /)??'       ?   
        ??P     ?      aj??)B'           jf Qf           )\aaaa/     a
          )????      _aQ'   )6          )QP  )4aa/      ??a           
       ???????P?       4/  _j?          _QP'  aQQa    aaaaaaaaga      
        /  ??        }QQQaaQQaaa       aQ4QQaaWQa        _      )?4P  
   aaJ??    a           )WQQ/  46aaaayP?  aQa?        a ????'        _
     "?    aa  Q/         )WQaaajJQgja_yaaWf           "_/         _a 
           -  _jw)')        ????Q?( - QQ???              "'       '  '
\a_a        a%? _"/',                 ?                  .'         -?
=T^         -  a?`_-                                   /a/            
\a            -  ,`           a _,  a,      )L,   a \`?) -            
'    ,          J_/\J!/    c !}r-`}. -\,   aL-Y"(Q ~?                 
 ./'/         _J!`s?`}L  ,'j" -        -\  tY    "Y            \  }\_/
  '   _,,,  ' -   `  6/_, -'             -,=                    ^c d"_
' _(`   m   _a)'   _3Qr'                   "            _         ?/" 
Thu 09:00 - Phil blinked his eyes open, a familiar heartbeat beneath his head, but nothing else was familiar to him. He had no idea where he was, how long he had been there, or how he had come to be there. A beautiful smile answered his first, but before he could ask any of the others, a "Honey, sleep" came from behind it as she gently pushed him back down. He obeyed unresistingly, waking fully again shortly before noon.

Thu 14:00 - Phil stumbled into his room after returning home, collapsing onto the floor.

       {7_, ' =     "!             f,         '       _4QQQQQQQQQQQI3
        6jc-`,              _   }_c}{{       ar       c/            } 
"=pc_/-~j|s_/ '    / 5c      f.c4d'- f.d} \_"/ \7   .),?-- _  s ^`    
:_-^^ _7}$-''~,    }!, 'j/ ;c m'}    \F\L7' ,-m!  .a?4/   _``        .
'-\     -`\_        -   ' ;{' '              a\a-"  a"             _a 
     '  ..-^a/   . _/'                              _?'              _
 .      aJ?6a/?aa/?'           a    ./                 ..        _/}  
? ?      "'a)!' "!'       aw/ aW6/.QWQ6/ aw     ? --?  ?aa-._awWq-4fQQ
/            ?_a          "P4Q??)WQ'  4Q?QWgaa        _a,)!'  aa"??.aJ
                46     _a aW )6aaW??6aaQP?   J?'      aa/            a
               a?       )4gaaaW        "4g  Q/        /)??'       ?   
        ??P     ?      aj??)B'           jf Qf           )\aaaa/     a
          )????      _aQ'   )6          )QP  )4aa/      ??a           
       ???????P?       4/  _j?          _QP'  aQQa    aaaaaaaaga      
        /  ??        }QQQaaQQaaa       aQ4QQaaWQa        _      )?4P  
   aaJ??    a           )WQQ/  46aaaayP?  aQa?        a ????'        _
     "?    aa  Q/         )WQaaajJQgja_yaaWf           "_/         _a 
           -  _jw)')        ????Q?( - QQ???              "'       '  '
\a_a        a%? _"/',                 ?                  .'         -?
=T^         -  a?`_-                                   /a/            
\a            -  ,`           a _,  a,      )L,   a \`?) -            
'    ,          J_/\J!/    c !}r-`}. -\,   aL-Y"(Q ~?                 
 ./'/         _J!`s?`}L  ,'j" -        -\  tY    "Y            \  }\_/
  '   _,,,  ' -   `  6/_, -'             -,=                    ^c d"_
' _(`   m   _a)'   _3Qr'                   "            _         ?/" 
Thu 04:00 - "You realise it is now 4am here?" Phil was left alone again. He still clung to a hope that he might collapse shortly. Finally he had an idea, "It's 4:30am, should I go out?"

"Do you want to? Then you should."

He requested a route plan from his guidance system, unsurprised that the first bus for the morning wouldn't be for another hour. While he waited, Phil re-made his still unslept-in bed, and checked the weather report on the HF radio.

Thu 06:00 -
Silently, swiftly, shying from sleep
Summoning sunrise, a beautiful pink
A friendly feline feels his feet
Motorists wonder at the nocturnal traveller
Time inches, bus should be here soon


Surely that was only a few minutes ago, he thought? Time no longer made sense to Phil. He rested his eyes, checking the time every few minutes until suddenly he was changing buses 25km away after what he was sure was only about ten minutes.

Thu 07:00 - Phil was walking, no longer aware of where he was or where he was going or why. He passed a Church, he walked, everything was now just a blur. Arriving at a window, Phil fell against it, his breath fogging it up in the chilly morning air.

       {7_, ' =     "!             f,         '       _4QQQQQQQQQQQI3
        6jc-`,              _   }_c}{{       ar       c/            } 
"=pc_/-~j|s_/ '    / 5c      f.c4d'- f.d} \_"/ \7   .),?-- _  s ^`    
:_-^^ _7}$-''~,    }!, 'j/ ;c m'}    \F\L7' ,-m!  .a?4/   _``        .
'-\     -`\_        -   ' ;{' '              a\a-"  a"             _a 
     '  ..-^a/   . _/'                              _?'              _
 .      aJ?6a/?aa/?'           a    ./                 ..        _/}  
? ?      "'a)!' "!'       aw/ aW6/.QWQ6/ aw     ? --?  ?aa-._awWq-4fQQ
/            ?_a          "P4Q??)WQ'  4Q?QWgaa        _a,)!'  aa"??.aJ
                46     _a aW )6aaW??6aaQP?   J?'      aa/            a
               a?       )4gaaaW        "4g  Q/        /)??'       ?   
        ??P     ?      aj??)B'           jf Qf           )\aaaa/     a
          )????      _aQ'   )6          )QP  )4aa/      ??a           
       ???????P?       4/  _j?          _QP'  aQQa    aaaaaaaaga      
        /  ??        }QQQaaQQaaa       aQ4QQaaWQa        _      )?4P  
   aaJ??    a           )WQQ/  46aaaayP?  aQa?        a ????'        _
     "?    aa  Q/         )WQaaajJQgja_yaaWf           "_/         _a 
           -  _jw)')        ????Q?( - QQ???              "'       '  '
\a_a        a%? _"/',                 ?                  .'         -?
=T^         -  a?`_-                                   /a/            
\a            -  ,`           a _,  a,      )L,   a \`?) -            
'    ,          J_/\J!/    c !}r-`}. -\,   aL-Y"(Q ~?                 
 ./'/         _J!`s?`}L  ,'j" -        -\  tY    "Y            \  }\_/
  '   _,,,  ' -   `  6/_, -'             -,=                    ^c d"_
' _(`   m   _a)'   _3Qr'                   "            _         ?/" 
Phil stared at his mother again. "Ok, I'll be home all evening".

Sleep smoke, don't breathe this!

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.