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    • Izzy_Indigo
      By Izzy_Indigo in In The Midnight Lands
         0
      WHY ARE hospitals so bright inside? What are they afraid of losing?

      That day the light, neutered of warmth and goodness, thrown from long rectangular bulbs in the ceiling and boomeranging off glossy walls and linoleum floors, had the feel of examination, of interrogation.
      I walked with squeaking footsteps down narrow corridors coagulating with stuffy air. The smell of disinfectant strong, but not strong enough to mask the miasma of corruption, of steel and blood, death and decay spilling from the rooms passing to my left and right.
      Some of the doors were open, and I caught brief glimpses of the intimate tableaus inside. Patients, lost, white, hunched, hacking and in pain shipwrecked amongst visitors hushed, numb, horrified and blind. I averted my gaze.
      Harried nurses, dressed in unripe greens and blues, flew past or sat behind piles of folders at plexiglassed stations. I knew they did a tough job well, but - still, I couldn't help the prickle I felt in their presence, the sense of remnants remained, the end-of-timers they'd helped usher to other worlds.
      From one I got directions to my sister’s ward and room.
      I hurried on, squeaking.
      Earlier in the day my aunt had called to say Ginny was in hospital. My sister had been battling the flu for the past two weeks, one of those on-again-off-again health problems she always seemed to have. I hadn’t paid much attention, other than to send her a few emails to check in.
      That was until my aunt called. Hospitals meant something more serious; it snapped me out of self; sent me off in search, rattling down those antiseptic halls.
      Ginny I found on the second floor, at the far end of a tubular, cream room. She lay in a folded-up bed plumped with pillows, obscured from others by a half-pulled green curtain.
      She looked pale - more than an aspect of the light or the shapeless white gown she wore - her freckles prominent, brown eyes bright, face framed by a trickle of loose, dark hair.
      A thin cord ran from her nose to a whispering machine at her side. Into one arm’s vein an IV dripped. I registered this in the ten steps it took to reach her side. Registered also my first pangs of unease.
      Ginny looked like she needed to be in hospital.
      "Hi-ya," I said with forced cheer as she spotted me and made the effort to sit up. "I come bearing gifts."
      I took the seat next to her and fished out some X-Men anthologies I'd brought. Ginny liked comics and the movies, crafts and the family. She had a great sense of humour and we laughed a lot. I never felt judged in her presence.
      She thanked me, took them, flicked through a few pages, and then set them aside.
      "So, how you feeling?"
      "Not the best," she answered. A far-away voice. She tucked a stray piece of fringe behind one ear, then said, "I ache, and it's like it's all over, Izz. Like it's in my bones or something. It's been like that for the last week. And now I can feel these weird lumps across my stomach.” She indicated where they were, a disquieted look on her face. She made me feel them.
      "Aw, Gin."
      I didn't know what else to say.
      We sat looking at each other.
      "What do the doctors think?" I finally asked.
      She sighed. "Some sort of obscure virus, but they're not sure. They're pumping me full of antibiotics and giving me painkillers every hour. Hopefully it will all start to kick in soon."
      "Gin—" that lack of words again. "I . . . I should have known. Come to see you sooner." I was the only one in the family living nearby but I had not seen her in weeks.
      Ginny fluttered her hand. "I didn't know. I was at home with the flu this morning. Weird, ay?"
      * * * *
      This blog is a story. Each post picks up from the last.
      If you are new, start at the bottom with post 1 and then work your way up. 

      * * * *
      Enjoying what you're reading? Please take the time to follow the blog, like and comment.
      Your support means a lot.
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    • Izzy_Indigo
      By Izzy_Indigo in In The Midnight Lands
         5
      CHAPTER 2.

      YEARS LATER, I pulled into a hospital car park with a poem on my mind.
      Max Ehrmann's Desiderata had hung on my wall for years because I liked its sentiment and because I thought it helped my mystique with the ladies. (My mystique needing all the help it could get.)
      Lately one line in particular had been talking: take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
      I didn't know how you did that - surrender the things you love.
      The dance scene is many things, but mainly a movement of youth. From the moment you discover it, certain in your conviction it is important and means something, the sand starts, flows. You have many years - good years, glad years - but time passes and you age and the dance scene stays the same.
      And then one day you wake and you are attending engagements and thirtieth birthday parties, not twenty-firsts or farewells for mates off travelling.
      An aficionado now, you know the good electronica, have a visceral dislike for the cheese and the tossers it attracts, yet jaded, also, and even in the better clubs of the deeper underground, the kiddies, with their exuberant first-time-on-drugs ways, begin to annoy.
      No, you don't want a massage. No, you don't sell pills. No, you don't want a huff from their just used nasal inhaler. You believe, truly, the scene was better, less generic, more real when you were their age.
      House parties and backyard BBQs become the norm. The music still electronic, for it is the soundtrack to your generation, but the talk now is of mortgages and children, not upcoming parties or superstar DJs.
      You drink because the come down isn't worth the come up, nod to the tunes because restraint has evicted enthusiasm, and late in the evening you sneak off for a cheeky cone, or two.
      And all of this with the same faces laughing over the same stories, with perhaps a shake of your head over just how far you've come, until even they begin to fade, one by one, and you realise that, soon, there will be nobody left to storm with.
      It was a death, gradual but implacable, I had watched and sullenly mourned for several years; for the good days gone never to be known again.
      A death I could feel at work inside as I diminished in the world, a star that had consumed all its fuel, becoming more insular and isolated, more remote - so much so that one friend felt compelled to sit me down one day and have a chat about 'no man being an island'.
      And it all would have been okay, all of it . . . if only I'd had a choice, or been ready to let go. But I didn't. And I wasn't. And it felt as if, dangling over a precipice, my fingers were slowly being forced open against my will.
      I was thirty-one, single, and still in love with the dance scene as if I were ten years younger. It was the source of my best and brightest memories: mental heirlooms my mind polished like trophies over a fireplace. My fondest wish was to create more. And more.
      But nothing lasts forever. I know that. Yet I wasn't ready to let go. Not yet. Not even if I was now prone at dance parties to attracting well-intentioned young fluffys in their first throes keen to tell me: "Man, I hope I'm still going hard like you when I’m your age." Their tone quite convinced they would never be that old.
      I didn't know how you gracefully surrendered the things of youth. Being graceful wasn’t a big part of my make-up.
      * * * *
      This blog is a story. Each post picks up from the last.
      If you are new, start at the bottom with post 1 and then work your way up. 

      * * * *
      Enjoying what you're reading? Please take the time to follow the blog, like and comment.
      Your support means a lot.
      Also, sharing is caring. 

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    • Izzy_Indigo
      By Izzy_Indigo in In The Midnight Lands
         9
      "ANYBODY KNOW how far up the road it is?" I asked and lit a cigarette.

      Joseph bummed the cig, took a drag, and answered, "It’s pretty far. There’s a whole unsealed section into the Canaan Downs we haven’t even hit yet.”
      "Bugger, ay."
      We stood on the side of the narrow, snaky highway that climbed the Takaka hill, maybe three quarters of the way up, surrounded on all sides by ardent greenery. Ahead a stationary and long line of gleaming, Gathering-bound vehicles twisted out of sight.
      Behind more vehicles pulled up and our taxi driver - having returned, good as his word - had already long since disappeared back down the highway.
      “Well this is just great,” exclaimed Sam shading his eyes with a freckled hand. “Why would they tell you to catch a taxi if it's going to be like this? What are we supposed to do now? Walk everything in?”
      “Nah,” Tim replied with a slow smile. He seemed to be enjoying himself. (He always seemed to be enjoying himself.) “I reckon we join the queue.”
      When no better idea came, we decided to do exactly that. With Tim in the ‘driver's seat’ we arranged all of our luggage into the shape of a car and sat down on the warm bitumen to wait. When the queue moved so did we, having great fun making loud car noises and dragging everything forward a few feet at a time.
      The day was crisp and clear and it was all rather pleasant sitting there, but eventually, I suppose, we would have grown bored and attempted to hike our gear in.
      A dire fate.
      But we were saved.
      The family in the campervan behind. A couple, maybe in their forties, funky, apparent in their effortlessly tilted fedoras, with two sons in their early teens.
      The type of couple, funky, you secretly wished were your parents taking you to an electronica festival as a kid. They'd watched our antics with bemused expressions for the past half hour and now the father called Tim over to his window. "You guys need a lift?" he asked.
      "Ah, man, that would be so great, if it's not too much hassle?"
      "Not at all." He turned to his two sons in the back. "Chris, Matt, make some room. We're going to have guests."
      Bubbling over with gratitude, we moved quickly to take them up on their offer, the two sons watching us invade with an air of astonishment. When we had finished, we'd filled their camper to overflowing: Joseph, Sam, Tim and I either sitting on our backpacks or standing, and using the overhead cupboards to balance during the infrequent times we actually lurched forward.
      Light burst in, Placebo played on the stereo. A friend in need's a friend indeed, a friend with weed is better . . .
      They were Wellingtonians - the father a journalist, the mother a schoolteacher - and we passed the next few hours in pleasant conversation, Joseph and Tim schmoozing as they was so good at doing.
      In-between times we ducked outside to survey the queue and speculate on home much longer it would take our friends coming later, feeling glad it wasn't us. On re-entering the camper the third time I noticed the two sons sneaking glances my way and whispering.
      The father noticed too and had a quiet word. After, he said with a laugh, "Don't worry, they were just wondering if you were maybe some kind of professional wrestler."
      Joseph, sipping on a water bottle, nearly choked.
      No doubt the son's confusion that day had more to do with the fashion I was rocking than the guns I was packing. For in the year since I'd crossed into the dance scene my style had changed, blossomed, the plaid flannel long since retired.
      Perched on my luggage that day I was arrayed in a puffy silver jacket, reflective silver jeans, and - a new styling recently acquired - polish coated my nails, silver, of course.   I was rather proud of how far I'd come and how funky I now was, even if it did mean being mistaken for a spandexed hero of SmackDown occasionally, or a few awkward moments in transition - such as when my father walked in on me applying the nail polish three days before. Dad had stopped, muttered 'God fuck me', his favourite swear expression, it never having occurred to him what it was he was asking God to do, done an about turn and fled. Dad’s evident strategy being ask no questions, hear no unpalatable truths, though my answer would have been: Dad, it's cool, really meaning: Dad, it's freedom . . .
      * * * *
      This blog is a story. Each post picks up from the last.
      If you are new, start at the bottom with post 1 and then work your way up. 

      * * * *
      Enjoying what you're reading? Please take the time to follow the blog, like and comment.
      Your support means a lot.
      Also, sharing is caring. 

      * * * *
       
    • Izzy_Indigo
      By Izzy_Indigo in In The Midnight Lands
         14
      I HAD discovered the dance scene quite accidentally the year before.

      I happened to be at Auckland's Real Groovy Records waiting to be served one blank September day, and I happened to glance down at one of the colourful dance party flyers littering the counter. It was the colours that caught my eye. That and the promise of a ‘Snow Party’.
      Picking the flyer up, I thought: snow means wet clothes, then: this might be a good place to meet chicks. Which it wasn't. Not if you went to the party in a plaid flannel farmer's shirt - as I did - certain it was the height of manly fashion.
      Before then, nothing was extraordinary in my life. Not that there was anything particularly sub-ordinary either, you understand. It was just your average, early-twenties, know-nothing, drink-beer, chase-women, recover-and-repeat, Kiwi-bloke life.
      I was average in height and build, average in looks - with a receding hairline and an upturned nose that had earnt me the nickname pugsley. (Whether due to a resemblance to a member of The Adams Family or the dog with the squashed in face I was never entirely sure.)
      If you didn’t count the hat-trick in school boy cricket I took when I was seven, I had two claims to fame: being a fifth generation New Zealander and the only son out of five children to parents comfortably married.
      My days I spent in subtracting the hours to the weekend, where I would drift along behind my mates through the pubs of Auckland - The Forge, Broncos, Copper Joes, The Loaded Hog - shimmying away to the commercial pop played, and enjoying it far more than I let on, because that was the best place to meet girls . . . and at 3 AM, kebab in hand, heading home, alone.
      In summer I played cricket; in winter I watched rugby; and every New Years I went camping in the Coromandel with my friends, there to get prodigiously sunburnt and prodigiously drunk.
      Not a bad life, really, just: ordinary. And some part of me was searching, searching for, well, the extraordinary I found at that first abandoned warehouse dance party in the centre of town.
      It was all madness and riotous magic from the moment I entered the parking lot. Snow blowers were blowing a blizzard at the door, pyromaniacs were spinning great tongues of fire outside, and white was the attire for everyone - other than me, in my plaid-flannelled goodness.
      Nervously I had gone to join the queue. The bass reverberated through the cinder-block walls; the bouncers were friendly. A surprise. They ushered me inside . . . to collide.
      A new realm of being.
      First that techno tidal wave hitting like a train (and I thought of it all as techno then), then those weird, wild and wonderful ravers in their blissful, boisterous boil (and I thought of them all as ravers then), and finally the recognition they were dancing, actually dancing, cutting loose and letting go, the warmth and the lights and their glow, but with such freedom and ecstasy, such kinetic creativity, it was like experiencing a human murmuration.
      (And, incidentally, putting my patented sidle-up-to-a-girl-and-grind-against-her groove, doing the pugsley, to deep, deep shame.)
      From that first reveal through ice-crusted doors, I was out of step. Lost. I did not know how to move. I consumed space and collected frowns. I gawped and wanted to take pictures.
      I was a sightseer to the Amazonia Planitia of Mars and all the martian woman streaming by were gorgeous - so this is where they all hang out! - and all the martian men laid-back-cool-enough not to be hitting them; where water was preferred and your skills on the dance floor mattered and an effervescent energy reigned and not one fight began, and I careened around dazed for a while.
      Finally, overwhelmed, defeated, I retreated to a wall at the back, a tartan flower, there to be pounded ever flatter by the bass.
      I marvelled over what secret school had taught them all to dance this way. I developed a man crush (sadly) on the obvious king of the party: a bloke onstage wearing soap-bubble-coloured aviators, wrapped up in smoke and lit up by lasers, peep-peep-peeping away on a glowing whistle.
      And slowly, inexorably, like all those in the warehouse before me, I became determined to cross over . . . to the extraordinary.
      * * * *
      This blog is a story. Each post picks up from the last.
      If you are new, start at the bottom with post 1 and then work your way up. 

      * * * *
      Enjoying what you're reading? Please take the time to follow the blog, like and comment.
      Your support means a lot.
      Also, sharing is caring. 

      * * * *
       
    • Izzy_Indigo
      By Izzy_Indigo in In The Midnight Lands
         4
      CHAPTER 1. 

      I TIGHTENED on Sam's troubled expression. He bit his bottom lip and continued to stare back up the path. "But how do you know, Izz?"
      "Because we're part of something bro," I replied. "Can't you feel it? I mean, just look."
      I panned away from him, out over the lookout's edge. Out and over and down to where the Riwaka Valley lay shimmering under the sharp southern sun like some great, sea-colored serpent.
      Curling to the distant Cooks Straight it was a view to intoxicate, deep and wide and wholly alive, and I drank it in, was drunk on it, and when I returned to Sam, Joseph was at his side. "Yeah, Sam," Joseph said, arm around his shoulder, "can't you feel it?"
      Sam fended him away. "I’ll tell you what I'm feeling. I'm feeling like that taxi driver just took off with all of our stuff."
      Sam had a point. Ten minutes before, on his own initiative, our taxi driver had pulled into the Hawkes Lookout car park and insisted we check out the view. To sonnets of praise for the vistas presented he shooed Joseph, Sam, Tim and I out of the van, and soon after, still loaded with our gear, we watched as he drove the van away.   "Popping in for a cuppa at my mates around the corner," the driver said. "No worries," we replied and waved goodbye. Then, we'd gone to check out the view.   The way Sam said it now it did sound kind of, ahh, stupid. But then, in those heady midsummer days of 1999, after driving eight hours the length of New Zealand's North Island in raucous convoy - a convoy complete with blinker signals for toilet, food and spliff breaks -
      two days of twenty of us charging around Nelson - one of which I passed out in a park, after sampling my stash, to the immense delight of my crew - before the temporary separation, reduction to the four of us now, in the taxi van, for the final drive in:
      after all that, well, we were so amped to be on the last stage of our journey, so sure of our righteous positivity and so full of our youthful almighties, it simply didn't register anyone might want to steal all of our stuff.
      Other people's maybe, but not ours. I said, "Sam that guy loved yarning to us. He'll be back."
      "Hell, he'd probably come with us if we asked," Joseph added.
      Sam snorted. “I hope you’re right. Because I'm not going to be the one telling the cops we left everything with a stranger - let that stranger drive off - and then went off on a hike to sight see."
      We laughed. We weren't worried.
      Life was too glorious to us then to worry.
      "Give him half-an-hour, bro." Joseph wrapped an arm around Sam's shoulder again. "Come on, let’s go have a chuff."
      * * * *
      This blog is a story. Each post picks up from the last.
      If you are new, start at the bottom with post 1 and then work your way up. 

      * * * *
      Enjoying what you're reading? Please take the time to follow the blog, like and comment.
      Your support means a lot.
      Also, sharing is caring. 

      * * * *
       
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