Archive for December, 2009

#62. The Locked Ward

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2009 by armaneaux

Most elder-care facilities have some kind of locked ward if they deal with dementia cases. The Colonel Belcher doesn’t deal with hoarders or undressers or any of the other worst-off cases, but about a quarter of the top floor has been locked ever since it moved to its new location a handful of blocks away from the coroner’s office. Residents claim that nobody ever goes in and nobody ever goes out. They complain about the smell. They complain about the sounds. But few people tend to care about the elderly and their complaints.
While the main door into the locked ward is secure and hasn’t opened since the facility did, it is possible to get in through a janitorial closet nearby. A set of coveralls hangs on the wall opposite the door. If you unzip the coveralls, you will discover a hole behind them that leads into the locked ward. Be warned though: the coveralls cannot be unzipped from the other side. To this day, no one has returned with a satisfactory answer. In fact, all anyone ever agrees about is that the locked ward is very dark, and very hot.

#56. The Drive-In

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2009 by armaneaux

The drive in hasn’t had many customers in years, if it ever did. It doesn’t have the iconic appeal of Peter’s, it doesn’t have the cult appeal of that red bus, and it definitely doesn’t have good food. It’s never even managed to cash in on any retro appeal since it was built ten years too late. What it does have is a large denim-clad regular who always seems to be seated, regardless of the weather, at one of the concrete tables out front. If you look past the person who takes your order, into the kitchen, you can see photos tacked up on a bulletin board that go back to when the drive-in was founded in the late seventies. The man, utterly unchanged by time, is in them.
At night, he actually goes inside the drive-in to sleep, although he’s definitely not the owner and if asked the staff claim not to notice him in the photographs or outside the building. If you ask him how he’s stayed the same so long he’ll tell you that it’s force of habit and refuse to talk about it any further. If you ask him why they let him sleep inside, he’ll claim that he works there in some function and likely tell you to mind your own business. If you want a straight answer, you’ll have to ask him:
“Why does the drive in run through so many staff?”
But be careful. It’s never wise for the fly to harass the spider.

#53. The Trailer

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2009 by armaneaux

There is a trailer park in Crowfoot, or was the last time i was there. Should it remain in whatever year you’re reading this, go there. Close your eyes and begin to walk. Let your mind wander. Concentration is anathema. You will feel something sliding into your mind, coiling around your thoughts. Let it. It will begin to guide your feet and, before too long, you will find yourself in front of a trailer. It will be, regardless of what time it was when you arrived, dusk. Enter the trailer.
The inside will be surprisingly dingy. The faux wood paneling, shag carpet and off-putting smell of age will lend the room a particular feeling of datedness and discomfort. A man dressed in a black suit with blue piping will be sitting on the couch. He will look entirely incongruous, with a sharp haircut and sophisticated demeanour. He will be watching the television, but the programs will be highly unfamiliar. The language impenetrable. The man will seem nonplussed by your presence and offer you something to drink. Accept. The worst fairy food will do is vanish when you leave.
After a time, he will ask you a question about the secret history. Some minute detail that seems significant when you’re living it but in retrospect seems only the debris of other people’s lives. Tell him what he wants to know, and he’ll nod with approval. You will be allowed to spend the night and crash on his couch. Your dreams in the trailer will be long and strange. When you awaken, you will remember nothing, but over the next week everything you must do will seem intuitive and easy, as if you have done it before.
Should you fail to answer his question, his expression will grow dire, and you will find yourself unable to speak for the remainder of your days.

#49. Kitsch

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2009 by armaneaux

On Edmonton Trail there is a diner of the type that was trendy about ten years ago. You know, the kind that puts muesli in everything and has a DVD of old cartoons running on a wood paneled television. The walls, like all diners of this type, are practically dripping with kitsch. Mostly fifties and sixties stuff, although there are some old Lohengrin post cards and the like. What makes this diner unique is that every single piece of kitsch inside was used, in some way, to kill someone. There is not a single object in that room which has not been, in some way, used for an act of violence.
The post cards were love letters left out to inflame the rage of a jealous spouse. The broken clock above the counter was used to brain a sewage worker in the late seventies. Even the decorative infomercial knife set was once used in the torture, murder and mutilation of a local gang member. What’s more, if these objects are placed atop the DVD player hooked up to the TV near the entrance, the picture on the changes to the murder through the eyes of the victim.
This has made the diner popular amongst local Satanists and snuff fetishists who view the murders after hours. However, the diner ran through its stock of deadly kitsch last summer, and has since taken to commissioning new killings to decorate the walls.

#48. The Hope Chest

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2009 by armaneaux

[This one is written in a different hand than most of the rest]
A hope chest is a small box or trunk given to young girls. The idea is that over the course of their lives, they collect linens, baby things, crockery and pieces of household decor to take with them when they get married. It’s sort of a poor man’s dowry. I remember when my sister got hers… but I’m wandering. You want to know about the Hope Chest in the old house on the hill, up by the river, but you’re too shy to ask me. Don’t want to be on the hook for another favour? That’s okay, boy, I like you.
The hope chest measures about sixteen inches by twenty four inches by twelve inches and is made from cedar, as was the custom at the time. The order was for an art deco chest, this was the twenties you understand, before the house was even built. The order was furnished promptly, and I added to the chest all the objects that the customer ordered. Bottles of unguents, potent herbs and… allspice. He requested that it be sewn into the cloth lining, which I of course indulged. I had no idea of knowing who They were at the time. We thought they were just postwar immigrants.
Insofar as I know he never opened the hope chest. It’s a sort of a safety, you see. The second it opens, everything inside is let out and, well, after this many decades of fermentation… well, you know what they say about mutually assured destruction? I’m pretty sure that They could show them a thing or two about assured destruction.
[It’s signed “Edward Ramsay De Cae” With a bold, antiquated flourish]

#47. MacKimmie Library

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2009 by armaneaux

MacKimmie Library at the University of Calgary is supposedly obsolete, and definitely of little interest to the scholar of the obscure. Nevertheless, as a building on the borderline, near its replacement, it teeters on the precipice between our Calgary and its shadows. As the Library prepares to give way to the new Taylor Family Library, its last sighs echo throughout the structure. Reality is soft here, soft and pliable and easy to push through. Like other borderlands, it is dangerous for precisely this reason. Dangerous, but useful.
Walk up and down the building’s staircases until the lights begin to dim and colour begins to drain from your field of view. After the colour has completely drained, exit the staircase. You’ll find yourself in one of the other libraries, in one of the other cities. The books will be altered, some subtly and others more overtly, and all will contain secrets that have slipped in around the edges.
Beware the librarians, however. They prize silence, and they punish overdue books with a staggering ferocity.

#46. The Soup Kitchen

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2009 by armaneaux

The Soup Kitchen downtown has been open for years, although it’s received support from different charities and agencies (most recently it’s been attached to CUPS and The Mustard Seed). But it’s always invariably dropped within six months. Despite this, the door never closes and it never has any trouble holding onto volunteers or its location. Go to the soup kitchen on a Tuesday afternoon and get a cup of soup. The broth will be cheap with hard water and lumps of powdered stock, but drink it anyways. You’ll need the protein.
After drinking the broth, leave the soup kitchen and walk down the alley next to it. After a moment’s searching, you should locate a milk crate that should give you enough of a boost to reach the fire escape on the building that houses the soup kitchen. Climb the ladder and then walk to the top of the fire escape. Regardless of the weather, the top floor window will be open. Climb inside, but leave behind anything that might be construed as a weapon. The volunteers are jumpy.
The top floor will be a recreation, almost down to the last detail, of the soup kitchen itself. The most important differences will be that the volunteers behind the counter have their mouths stitched shut and that the patrons are noticeably better dressed than the homeless and impoverished on the ground floor. The soup they ladle out here is a broth made from the tears of a captive angel lashed to the wall in the building’s basement seventy years ago over the protestations of William Aberhart. Drinking it will grant you youth until the end of your days, but the gates of heaven will forever be closed to you.