The Stars in Twin Lakes.
Andrea and John didn’t seem to notice, focusing on the first of the bubbles to reach the surface. John reached down, the movement of his arm tracing a glowing arc through the air. Andrea was giggling and running her fingers through his hair. He seemed to look up at her and down at the lake at the same time as he scooped one of the bubbles from the lake. My heart was racing and my head was screaming as I tried to make sense of it all. The bubble rested in johns open hand like a Christmas decoration. A blurry shape moved and glowed inside, like a firefly. All around us yellow glowing shapes rose from the surface and hung in the air. They danced like sparks reminding me of the others sitting back at the cabin where we had left them around the fire. Were they experiencing this too?
As I thought of them, I felt my body rising from the boat, dark imagined wings beat at my back pulling me from the surface, the flight scattering the sparks across the lake. Effortlessly I was drawn backwards and down to the cabin on the shore. Through the windows there was movement blurred inside. The walls of the cabin seemed to rise and fall as if it was breathing. Orchids were growing from the porch, rapidly taking on growth, reaching across and devouring each other. I smiled knowingly. They were something that could only come from the mind of Jessica. As I floated, looking through the window, a rose vine crept from the roof to wrap itself around my wings. The sharpness of the thorns registered distantly in my mind and the wings dissolved into feathers of light floating away, burning into embers. I landed awkwardly on the porch
A large man with a blank face burst through the fly screen that now dripped down the frame like honey. He pushed past me, running across the driveway towards the pine trees on the slopes. He was waving his arms in a frenzy of coloured lights, swirling around and spinning in all directions. As I watched, his body gradually lost its form, turning into pure light and dissipating into the tree line in all directions. I followed its changing colours beneath the canopy. Above in silhouette against the rapidly lightening sky, several trees seemed to break away and fly upwards like crows. Everything was moving, merging, even the ground beneath shifted and rolled up and down. Was this the end of it all, or simply the beginning of something new? I needed to find Jessica while I still had a foothold on stable reality.
I stepped into the doorway of the cabin. The lights were now green and gave an eery feel to the room. Sitting in a chair by the fire was a giant bear made entirely of ants. It was playing with the flames in the fire, teasing at them with its claws. A crowd of people were dancing in the kitchen there was music but it was difficult to make out. Sounds, smells, colours, even the floor were all becoming confused. The cabin was filling with bubbles. They pushed in at the windows like a faulty washing machine, spilling across the floor. I glanced upwards and ducked as a crystal chandelier danced downwards towards the floor. It broke at my feet, exploding in slow motion, shards becoming mist like, swirling in a draft that flowed from stairs.
There hands on hips on the landing was Jessica. She stood with a letter opener in her hand or was it part of her? I couldn’t tell any more my eyes were watering. She whirled away in her red dress that malted rose petals as she walked towards the bedrooms. I made to follow her, stopping only just in time to realise I was still standing in the boat. Frustrated I took stock of what had happened. The stairs floating just in front of me rose and fell as the house continued its heavy breathing. At my feet, Andrea and John were now in a state of passionate arousal, rolling around and kissing in the boat. I watched as John’s shirt appeared to break away, turning into a swarm of spiders that crawled overboard to pool like oil on the surface of the lake.
Watching them merge together, each no longer discernible from the other, arms and legs dissolving into one body, I felt the urgency to see Jessica return. Resting one foot on the side of the boat I lurched and aimed my body for the bottom of the stairs. They welcomed me, curling around like a blanket inviting me to sleep. I hadn’t noticed how sleepy I felt before. Pushing away the folds of the stair carpet I slithered up the slope of the stairwell. Rose petals drifted around, as they met with bubbles, they ignited sending smoke rings into the air. There were lots of bubbles now, they were filling the space around me making it difficult to move and hard to breathe. Finally I made the landing and dragged my tired body upright. Swaying in what seemed to be a drunken state, I giggled at the old age that seemed to have overcome me. I looked down at my hands which had become clawed and useless.
There were letter openers growing in small clumps from the floor and the walls, standing tall like the asparagus we had tenderly cared for in the roof garden last summer. The rose petals led the way, carpeting the floor completely. I could smell expensive wine, summer barbeques and children singing. The door at the end of the corridor was made of sponge and coral. Blurred fish swam amongst the bubbles, nibbling at its surface. I pushed it aside and lunged into the room. She was laying on her back on the bed The red dress nearly dissolved into nothing. The light in the room was blinding. She looked without recognition, turning away with her eyes rolling in her head. Her hair was golden fire, burning into the pillow and dripping from the covers.
There was nothing left. I couldn’t even remember why I was standing in the room. Everything was confusing, the light was so unbearably bright and all I wanted to do was rest. Shielding my eyes, I made a clumsy walk to the bed, laying down beside her. The light above us was so blinding. I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of her breathing, of the house breathing. It was a heavy sound, laboured and desperate. There didn’t seem to be enough air for us to breathe and the room was filling up with bubbles. The stars had fallen to the earth and were burning the trees and there was nothing we could do about it. I would sleep and clean it up in the morning. The light was too painful and I needed to breathe.
I needed so desperately to breathe…
…desperately to breathe…
Since the occurrence of numerous earthquakes on Mammoth Mountain in 1989, scientists have been monitoring large amounts of CO2 gas leaking from the Long Valley Caldera. They noticed first that large numbers of trees had died. The nearby town of Mammoth Lakes has not been affected, but half a mile north of Twin Lakes there are warnings that staying in the vicinity of horseshoe lake for more than half an hour can be fatal. This story is based on an imagined gas leak in Twin Lakes and the struggle of an individual to find the one person he loved before it is too late.