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I was born in the fallout plain of a smelter. The world's largest nickel refinery loomed on the edge of my hometown, the axis of radiating arms of mine headframes and abandoned open pits. 200 years of burning rock, pregnant with sulfur, made the Earth acid. When I was born, my city was a man made hell. It left a mark on me, body and soul.

Highway 17E runs through Sudbury, Ontario east to west. Like a creeping cancer, the INCO industrial complex at Copper Cliff sprawls. It is a testament to man's contempt for nature. We claw deep into the earth, tear the silvery veins from solid rock, and feed the sky brimstone and fire.

I was coming back to town after a weekend spent at big city doctors down south. My body had recently decided that my skin was not my own and was trying to shed it, like a snake. "Environmental factors". The fact that I used to play outside when you could taste and see the sulfur dioxide from the stacks at Falconbridge played some role. We drove all night, and as a boy I never slept in the car. Travel in Ontario is measured in hours, not miles. We crested the last hill before the smelter-refinery just as the disk of the sun crawled above the bare black stained hills.

Miles of metal shone in devilish light. Things at Copper Cliff are on a scale that awes my mind. Pipes the size of highways, tiny walkways clinging like remoras on sharks, rows and rows of blinking aircraft warning lights, stacks and gaslines. It spreads completely across the valley, like a cybernetic implant bursting from the skin of the world. Smoke belching concrete reaches for heaven. A black slag mountain holds up the sun. The far off tailings ponds glow an unnatural aquamarine, so full of acid that the pH kills. You can see all the way to the pristine bottom of those dead ponds. Railroad tracks of impossible complexity spread like veins. No trees have grown here for years. Grass is all that can survive, and it has trouble. Raw timbers and posts decay at an unnatural speed, and a wreath of hydro lines hang in the air like a web. Yellow Black billboard signs point out separate parts of the complex. The copper refinery has green windows, like a rusted penny. The acid plant stands over the rail line like a sawhorse, filling the black tankers. The chrome gas leak warning horns sound like air raid sirens, but they are quiet today. The main smelter houses the Superstack, a Titan of concrete you can see miles out of town, God's own cigarette. The road runs right through the belly of the Beast, lifeblood of the city.

I am home.