Image: © Mara Eastern (Used with permission)
My first night in the big smoke turned out to be literally that.
Feeling confident and hearing that the night life in the city was something to behold I ventured out making sure of the landmarks as I passed by them.
After a time I realised I was totally mesmerised by the lights and the colourful characters around me. I lost track of time and more importantly, direction.
Around midnight I became aware of a thick fog descending on the city. It was so thick I couldn’t see more than an arm’s length in front of me.
I thought it best to stick to the walls; at least then, I figured I might not run into people. But everyone had the same idea, and I was constantly bumping into folk trying to find their way home.
My phone had a GPS on it, and I fed in my desired location and looked at the screen. A message appeared: “Atmospheric conditions prevent Maps from operating. Try again later.”
I was hopelessly lost and found a seat in a doorway to wait and see if the fog lifted.
A group of drunken young people came by, lost as much as I was except one of their group was sure of the way home. They soon disappeared into the gloom with the voice of one girl complaining vigorously, “Damien you better know where you are going.” Soon after I heard screams, and then a splash and I hoped it wasn’t them, or maybe it was the whinging girl.
I had recently been reading John Wyndham’s ‘The Day of the Triffids’, and the thought struck me that tonight would be an ideal time for an attack. Thankfully, I thought, it was just a story. Then there was a sound beside me, and I was struck with terror.
What was it?
It was uncomfortably close, and I trembled in fear.
“Terrible night isn’t it,” said a voice in my ear.
“What? Who are you?” I asked loudly in the hope that someone might hear me and come to my rescue.
“Fog Fairy,” the voice answered, “but don’t worry I’m pretty harmless. I don’t mean to frighten you just every time this happens no ever bothers to stop by on the seat you know. I get very lonely hiding out until the fog comes in. And even then people go indoors, and I’m still just as lonely as ever. I did hear you thinking about Triffids, and yes I agree with you, scary things.”
“That’s ludicrous,” I answered, “there’s no such thing as a fog fairy.”
“They once said that about black holes, they once said the earth was flat,” said the Fog Fairy, “not everything is made up you know.”
“Well I’m lost, and I need, no I want to get back to my hotel.”
“Which hotel would that be?”
“The Astor,” I found myself saying.
“Just around the corner,” the Fog Fairy announced.
“Which corner, I can’t see anything.”
“Here put these on, they will help,” said the Fog Fairy handing me a pair of unusual glasses with the thickest lenses.
I put them on, and suddenly everything was crystal clear.
“These are amazing,” I declared. I found myself following the Fog Fairy, a tiny man about two feet tall and dressed immaculately in a three-piece suit. My hotel loomed in front of me and felt extremely grateful for his help.
Once we arrived at the door, he took back his glasses, and I expressed my gratitude.
He wouldn’t take money, said he had no need of it, but he did say: “Say nothing of this encounter with me. Word gets around, and there’s no telling what trouble that will bring. Once inside you’ll forget me for at least ten years. I did enjoy our little chat, goodbye,” he called as he rounded the corner into the fog.
All that happened on my visit to the city in 2008.