I : Hovering

My first clue that something was amiss came on my approach to the city by car. As I neared the environs of Artevelde, the names and numbers posted on the roadsides did not correspond with those on my freshly purchased road map.

I found my way into the heart of the city only through dint of some faint homing instinct and the use of crude landmarks such as hospitals and railway lines until I could at last see The Church, which served as a beacon of familiarity to guide me the rest of the way to the hotel (for the year or so that I allegedly lived in this city I enjoyed a daily view of its two steeples; its ubiquity in my daily life as well as many of my surviving photographs made it a kind of icon of the city for me.)


The hotel was situated on the outer side of the elevated train tracks, and the brick embankment on which they stood served as a wall of sorts between my lodgings and all that might be familiar to me—the city as I knew it.  The hotel was curious.  With only three stories it boasted a small elevator, which the owner kept encouraging me to make use of.  I preferred to simply walk up the simple flight of steps to my room on the second floor, but after a failed attempt to nap I thought to ingratiate the owner before I went out to explore my city. 


The elevator seemed to have faulty wiring, though—I pressed the down button and went up, then pressed the up button to get to the lobby.  At this point the car came down with a loud bounce, but stopped a good three feet higher than the carpeted floor.  I caught sight of the disturbed owner and quickly shut the door, pressed down for up, returned to my floor, and went down again, but this time by way of the more reliable staircase.  The owner stopped short of scolding me but was clearly displeased.  It was a small place and the operation of the elevator was loud and obtrusive; each stop of the car and shift into movement created the psychological equivalent of a minor explosion in the quiet lobby area, and each element of my little exercise had clearly been disruptive.

railway wall

Walking into the city, it seemed to be turned upside down, tilted on end, or twisted from corner to corner; when I emerged through a gap in the railway wall I had difficulty orienting myself and repeatedly skirted off in the wrong direction.  I was trying to find my way to my old stomping grounds but the old landmarks were all gone.  Where was Blue 29?  Where was the little bar (I had forgotten the name) where they played that odd game with a spinning wooden top and skinny bowling pins atop a platform in the corner?  Where, after all, was The Church

I was fumbling around, lost somewhere near the university, in an area known as The Noose, knowing all of these things were nearby, but unable to find them.  The fact that the church tower could not be seen was highly suspicious. This is when I first began to doubt my own history here.  It was a shame, but I had to take out a map to find my way to features that were less than a half-mile away. Soon enough I began to see a few familiar buildings, but they seemed out of context.  But the sun was out—a rarity in April—and I felt a mild elation rising through my fatigue and hunger.

On to Part I, Page 2
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