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The Freeze Dried Monster on the Skyway

December 12th, 2009 · 7 Comments · Allegory or Fairy Tale, Architecture, British Comedy, British Humour, Canada Humor, Children and Pets, Christmas, Family Humor, Funny Horror, Funny Monster, Funny Paranormal, Funny Scary, Funny Science Fiction, Funny Torture, General Humor, General Interest, Jokes, Lifestyle, Monster, Political Humor, Satire, Science Fiction, Technology Advances

Alex Carrick

Gerry Westerfield was the kind of 25- to 30-year-old who disappears into the background. He grew his mat-black hair long, cultivated a beard and was perpetually attired in denim. He’d studied computer science at Sir Wilfred Laurier University but hadn’t quite earned his degree. There was no question he was a savant when it came to computer languages and programming. It was just that attendance in class was never as interesting as time spent in the coffee shop with friends. He was also kind to old ladies, polite to strangers and a lover of music.

 

When presented with the opportunity of working on rock concerts at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, he jumped at the chance. No, he wasn’t a backup singer or dancer or anything like that. He was hired as a stage hand to fill the void created when one of his friends left “roadie” employment under orders from his new wife. There were a couple of ways in which Gerry was uniquely qualified for the job and they would play roles in re-shaping the rest of his life. For one thing, he was impervious to decibels of sound that would have stunned almost anyone else.

 

It was late in the year 2010. The Christmas season was upon the land. The cold was keeping more and more people indoors and cell phone and Internet traffic was multiplying in leaps and bounds, both to keep friends and family in touch with each other and to accomplish year-end business chores before the traditional break for the holiday season. However, in retrospect, most professional analysts place the blame for what happened next on school concerts.

 

Toronto is a city of some six million souls. Dispersed among the throng are a great number of children. In public schools and high schools throughout the metropolis, the merrymaking gets seriously underway in early December. Anyone who has ever attended a seasonal performance will confirm the frenzy of photo shooting and video recording that takes place. The rushing backwards and forwards by parents to get the best shots is wondrous and scary. The general level of chaos usually crescendoes when the choir sings “The 12 Days of Christmas”, particularly during the drawn-out passage that lingers over “five golden rings.”

 

Then there is the uploading and distribution that takes place after the event. The cacophony is not unexpected. But this year, something different happened. The sound volume never diminished. It started as a low hum in the background, a “white noise” as it were, that grew progressively louder. Trying to drown it out with the radio or TV or i-Pod or game system or some other computer interface only seemed to make it worse. The City became wrapped in surround sound.

 

People gathered in the streets to check out what was happening. A filmy chalk-coloured crackling in the air could be seen among the skyscrapers in the city core. It wasn’t lightning or St. Elmo’s Fire or any natural phenomenon. Nobody was sure what it was. But it kept getting worse. And more substantial. In fact, the sheer speculation over what was taking place, leading to increased digital messaging, microwave transmitting and every other form of cyberspace communication, clearly caused the electrically-charged wave anomaly to become more active.

 

Within the coalescing cloud, a sentient entity was forming. It was comprised of all the computer emissions that were being generated in and around it. The sheer size of Toronto combined with the proclivity of its citizens and enterprises to employ high-tech devices were key ingredients in the metaphysical amalgam that was taking place. The extremely cold weather overnight in late December proved to be the final element needed to complete the birthing process. Noise, as he/she came to be called, was the result. How much danger was the city in from this wayward infant? Not much, as it turned out, because Noise had other things in mind.

 

Like any child, Noise was easily distracted by shiny baubles. Off in the distance, southwest across the lake, Noise sensed a particularly interesting diversion. Pretty colours could just barely be made out in the distant night sky. Unbeknownst to Noise, it was the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls. Noise was drawn to it a like a fish to a lure. Thirty feet in the air, it followed cell phone traffic along the Queen Elizabeth Way. It wended its way along the shoreline, skipping through Oakville and Mississauga, past the Ford plant and on into Burlington.

 

In the near distance stood the towering outline of the Burlington Skyway. This glorious structure needed to be traversed and Noise embraced the task. That was its big mistake. It rolled up the incline to cross the entrance to Hamilton harbor, only to become stuck at the bridge’s peak. It was probably due to the conductivity of the structural steel supports. They acted on Noise in the same way that tongue-licking a frozen pole will ensnare a foolish toddler. So there Noise stood, trapped and upset, and events entered the next stage of this drama.

 

On the first day that Noise filled the Skyway, everyone was frightened. The din was prodigious and no-one would go near the creature. In any other country, the inclination might have been to attack Noise with missiles and fighter aircraft. The government of Ontario, however, chose to address the problem by handing out earplugs to all individuals in the affected area.

 

On the second day, curiosity started to get the better of most people. Canadians often turn out to be more adaptable than they think they are and that certainly proved to be true in this case. By the third day, most people were beginning to lose interest. In fact, their chief reaction was turning to annoyance over the disruption to traffic that was underway. Re-directing vehicular flows around the Skyway was causing huge bottlenecks. Something had to be done. If only someone could simply communicate with the beast and explain the situation. Gerry Westerfield was the man.

 

Gerry had been one of the first on the scene at the original monster sighting in downtown Toronto. Finished tidying up after the “talent”, he’d walked out of the Air Canada Centre and, thanks to his computing skills, quickly grasped what was going on. In fact, it was Gerry that gave the creature the name Noise. He said it during an on-the-spot interview with a local reporter. Gerry joked that he was surprised such an event hadn’t already occurred in Ottawa, also known as Silicon Valley north. But then he’d added that the hot air from the federal parliament was probably precluding such a possibility. This witticism had gained him a great deal of notoriety.  

 

Gerry’s interest in Noise escalated. He raced home and fired up his laptop. Something that Gerry had been keeping secret from the world was his exceptional hacking ability. He struggled for a couple of days but finally made contact with the beast. Soon afterwards and knowing that it would be a turning point on his own personal pathway, in terms of privacy and career choices, he still did the right thing. He contacted the authorities. Noise was an asset not to be wasted or destroyed.

 

The army swooped in. Gerry was taken by convoy to the danger zone. He was allowed to approach Noise and wasn’t at all bothered by the sparking giant. Meeting in person, Gerry had a calming effect on Noise. They “talked” back and forth. Noise came to understand that it couldn’t stay where it was. The present situation was untenable. Therefore, Noise accepted an offer posed by the military and conveyed through Gerry. It would board a Hercules transport plane and be transported to a place where it would have more room to roam. It would also take on an assignment for which its special abilities offered a chance of success where all others had failed.

 

And that’s what happened. During the flight, “Silent Night” was played over and over again on a portable sound system to keep Noise relaxed. This was necessary because the trip took them halfway around the world. Gerry went along for the ride as well. Noise was going where the population density was thinner and the air was always cool. The destination? A clandestine Canadian military base in the mountains of Afghanistan. The assignment and potential good deed? Noise was to use its ethereal tracking abilities to find Osama Bin Laden.

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Dear reader, you’ll also want to know A Dozen Answers to One Osama Bin Laden Mystery.

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For my first book, “Two Scoops” Is Just Right, please click here for the paperback version and here for the Kindle e-book version.

For the sequel, “Three Scoops” Is A Blast! (with the award-winning “Size of the Skip”) click here for paperback and here for Kindle.

For “Four Scoops” Is Over The Top (containing Hemingway short-listed “Caboose Follies”) click here for paperback and here for Kindle.

And finally, for my latest book, “Five Scoops” Is An Addiction!, please click here for the paperback and here for the Kindle digital version.

Also, I would love it if you joined me on Twitter (Alex_Carrick), Facebook and/or LinkedIn.

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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Marisa Birns // Dec 13, 2009 at 7:35 am

    A very amusing fairy tale. Not familiar with Canadian politics but did understand and laugh at the hot air and federal parliament line!

    And every year I see “A Christmas Story” — the tongue frozen to the post is a particular favorite scene.

    Here’s hoping that Noise does the job easily and quickly 🙂

    I was drinking my morning coffee and reading this so thanks for starting off my day in a happy way, Alex.

  • 2 michael j. solender // Dec 18, 2009 at 6:35 am

    intriguing tale – don’t get the bolding though – it distracted me..

  • 3 Melissa // Dec 18, 2009 at 11:17 am

    This should be fun–Noise tracking Obama. Like that you personified a phenomenon that is in many ways all too real in our technological society–and gave it a “good” purpose. Love the segue from the school holiday concerts to the introduction of Noise to the people…

  • 4 Michelle // Dec 19, 2009 at 4:12 am

    white noise… very interesting story. 🙂

  • 5 Deanna Schrayer // Dec 22, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Very imaginative story Alex. Too bad we can’t really use noise in such a productive way…yet anyway.

  • 6 Chance // Dec 23, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I have to be honest and say the bolding really has thrown us from reading the piece.

  • 7 alexcarrick // Jul 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    The bolding on some topic areas was originally placed in some of my earlier stories to help with search engine optimization (SEO). It’s a practice some businesses (including my own company) adopted on the Internet. I agree, it’s often jarring when trying to read the piece, however. Therefore, I’m taking it out.

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