In the middle of the night, my cell phone began to ring. Half asleep and afraid someone close to me had died (the ominous shadow behind every late-night call) I stumbled downstairs and retrieved it with fumbling hands from my jacket pocket. On the other end of the line, there was a vast crackling and hissing. It was the ocean calling, to remind me of my forgotten home. Its immense, distant song was filled with the voices of mermaids and drowned sailors, lunar rhythms and lost wrecks.
Next morning, when I turned on my computer with shaking hands, I found the aurora borealis burning behind the glass screen. It threw green-tinged flickering ghosts across my walls and ceiling, ice age shadow puppets to remind me of the great emptiness of space beyond my living room lights, all the darkness before and after the brief sparkler light of human existence.
At lunch hour, when I ate my tuna fish on rye sitting on a bench in the park, dark green vines wrapped themselves around my ankles, twisted themselves up my legs. The overhanging branches of trees reached down and curled around my throat. “Feel the ancient green throbbing of our life,” they seemed to say, “and remember how small and weak and brief your life truly is.”
Walking back to the office, carbon-black clouds followed above me like a pod of great demonic whales. They unleashed a plague of frozen rain upon my head, burned my heels with jagged bolts of lightning so that my shoes smoked and melted to my feet. The wind screamed its pent-up anger in my face, threatening to tear the tissue-soft flesh from my brittle bones.
When I got in the elevator, a bitter cold ocean wave (it must have stealthily followed me home) slipped in just before the doors had time to close. I filled up the lift from floor to ceiling, and when the doors finally opened, I was swept out onto the carpet, half-drowned and gasping for air.
The reception area of the office smelled of sickly sweet jungle flowers, of death and decay. At the desks where my co-workers once sat, there were only corpses, being stripped clean by insects and birds. The walls were covered with mould, and ominous tangled vines hung from the fluorescent lighting. Black, poisonous-looking toads croaked inside the water cooler. The glass of the windows was scattered across the floor like the remnants of a prairie hailstorm. Outside, the sky was flashing red and white. Somewhere beneath the booming of the thunder, I could hear the ocean, still calling and calling my name.