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    1. Coyote Kiss Waves

      by , 10-17-2017 at 04:25 PM
      I’ve just awoken from a night alone sleeping on the sand at a public beach, by a tree line at the far end away from the entrance. There are only a few people in the distance at the other side. It is the first full day of my vacation, and I feel at peace and excited at the open-ended possibilities of what is to come in the weeks that follow. I decide that the water is warm enough for a morning swim, and I scroll through the music in my phone for the perfect soundtrack. I settle on “Black Cat” by Coyote Kisses, and with a freshly cracked beer in hand I walk into the waves.
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    2. Leaderless North

      by , 09-12-2017 at 05:07 PM
      All government in Canada has suddenly collapsed, and there is a lot of speculation and tension as to what will happen to society in the country. I know of a group who have chosen to live nomadically for the sake of being able to flee and hide easily if necessary. They have set up tents in a park by the river, and I plan to join them. In preparation, I begin filling a backpack with all of the things I think will take up the least space while being the most useful.

      In the meantime, a friend and I order a pizza to be delivered to my house. When the delivery guy shows up he tells me it will be $100, which I think seems fair since the governmental situation must impact the monetary system. I count out the remainder of my cash, $120, which I doubt I will need as part of my impending new lifestyle. I’m about to give him the extra $20 as a tip, but then he asks if he can have a slice of the pizza, so I consider letting him do that instead. Then my friend and I get into an argument about what proper tipping etiquette might be in the new order of things.

      I head to the park, which is swarming with people. There seems to be some sort of festival going on, complete with a parade. I keep running into old friends of mine, all of whom I have not seen in a long time and who have struggled with serious drug problems. They now seem happy and healthy, just like everyone else in the area. It occurs to me that perhaps society might go on functioning communally of its own accord.
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    3. The Devil's Stress Hormone

      by , 07-31-2017 at 05:06 PM
      I enter a small, square, low-ceiling plywood structure that looks like it had been through a fire. Inside, some sort of recruitment session is taking place for a Satanist cult, led by a woman of about 50 with me and three others in attendance.

      The woman tells me she can answer any question I have about my future, as long as I join the cult. I don't want to be indebted to her, but I am concerned about my parents for some reason so I ask her if they are going to be okay. She tells me that in 3 years my dad will be in jail, wrongly convicted by a judge who is presiding drunk over his trial, and that in 2 years my mom will be dead.

      In exchange for this information, I join the others in injecting cortisol into our palms, and am told that we all must return here every day at 4pm for additional injections. I don't intend to follow through, but when 4pm approaches the following day I begin to feel nervous, as though I am being watched. I navigate a cluster of buildings, hiding behind walls as I go.

      I come across a television, on which I see a live news shot of a courtroom, with one of my fellow recruits among the jury. I feel relieved for him, since I know that he is in a safe place where he won't be forced to return to the cult. Then the leader appears next to him, smiling evilly, and the screen goes blank. She has come for him, and I know she will be coming for me next.
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    4. Pre-Festival Integrity

      by , 05-11-2017 at 04:13 PM
      It’s a warm sunny day at Salmo River Ranch just days prior to Shambhala, and a whole bunch of volunteers are busy getting things ready for the festival. I’m in an area that’s being set up with what seems to be a Flinstones theme, complete with enormous multi-coloured dinosaur bones and stone-looking structures surrounding a pool. A few of the buildings look like open jail cells with beds on the floors.

      Two women next to me are talking about how one of the beds is just a pile of straw, but that it’s because people specifically requested it, and how strange that is. I hesitate to chime in because I worry they won’t want me talking to them, but then I resolve to just go with my natural inclination to say something.

      “Yeah, what the hell?” I say. “They put mattresses in all the other rooms. Why not just put one in there too?”

      One of them hands me a beer, it’s from Four Winds Brewing, and we get to chatting. They tell me how they’re volunteering there with a group as part of a class project. I tell them that I’ve been to Shambhala before, but only on a day pass, and that I’m excited to attend the full festival for the first time this year. I realize that I was right to go with my gut and speak to them because otherwise I would be on the periphery instead of having this meaningful interaction.

      Another woman wades by in the pool and motions at my beer as if she wants some. At first I refrain from handing it to her, thinking she might walk away with it, but again I decide to go with what I think is proper and I pass the bottle to her. She pours a few drops of the beer into a tiny glass vessel she is carrying, returns my bottle, smiles at me and walks away. I feel glad that I have shared with her and decide that I should always just do what I feel is right in the first place.

      A gruff-speaking man in aviators approaches and starts guessing things about me. After three incorrect guesses he asks if someone has been to look at my house recently.

      “Sort of,” I tell him, since I did have a contractor come quote me for a kitchen renovation a couple months ago.

      “See, I knew that!” he says with a grin.

      I leave to go home, excited to come back in a few days when the festival begins. I pop into a pizzeria near my house, where a customer is looking for a T-shirt that he lost. I help him search for it but neither of us can find it, and the staff seems annoyed by us.

      Outside, a cop car shows up and the shirtless man explains the situation to them, but they arrest him. I know I should stand up for him since he has done nothing wrong, but I’m worried I might be arrested too and that I’d end up missing the festival. The car drives away with him inside, and I feel terrible for acting without integrity.
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