A few nights ago, I felt intense stomach pains.
Couldn’t tell if I was going to be sick or if it was just a plumbing error. I was sick of wondering about it and wanted to do something proactive, so I decided to take a quick walk around the block, walk it off, speed the metabolism along—the danger being, if I was really sick, puking and collapsing on the city streets just before midnight.
Nice, nordic summer evening. Slightly chilly breeze. Walking on a bridge over tracks. Lit windows running over the surrounding mountains in the distance. Enjoying myself.
I instantly realized this was a bad idea. But I did not want to concede this fact to my smug gut (it would never let me hear the end of it) and so I kept walking, further and further from my apartment.
I stopped and bought a Sprite on the off chance that the carbonation would settle things.
Pains subsiding. I started to enjoy my walk. Oslo is an easy city to walk in. You can pretty much get anywhere by foot (though some cross-city walks are a bit of a hike). Lots of greenery. It’s not the kind of city you have to worry about walking in at midnight.
This was maybe the second time I was wandering around in the city after dark (the dark doesn’t happen for very long in the summer here). Cities at night fascinate me—and so I kept walking.
I walked by a tiny movie theatre with a poster for Public Enemies. My former apartment-mate had complained about it the week before.
“I already know the end,” he said. “He dies doesn’t he?”
This is of course the end to any story if you don’t stop it soon enough.
“Yeah,” I said. “He was shot dead, right across the street from my favorite pub back in Chicago.”
That’s the Red Lion Pub. John Dillinger was shot across the street at the Biograph Theater, next to a diner I like to go to after sessions of Twilight Tales to eat, talk shop with other area writers, and play the occasional game of Call of Cthulu.
So I found myself staring at the movie poster, suddenly missing open mic night at the pub, spooky stories, fish n’ chips, Joe the bartender, the large tree that inexplicably grows from out the cluster of buildings in the middle of the decked beer garden on the second floor, and the very fat, very literary rats that occasional skulked through.
A Norwegian walked by, and looked at me strangely for a long moment—a guy in a fedora staring at a poster of a guy in a fedora late at night.
I drank more sprite. Walked. The combination of carbonation and movement worked, and the stomach pains died with a death rattle burp (NOTE: Death-Rattle-Burp would be an excellent band name).
With the pain gone, I realized just how restless I felt. I’d planned to stay in and go to bed as I had work the following morning…but I kept walking…
I walked past a statue of Winston Churchill.
I walked past the American Embassy. It’s a very ugly, imposing building. I chuckled because something someone said at work was true: when you walk by it, the empire theme music plays…
I walked by the royal palace.
People watching is a free hobby.
Restless and restless and I kept walking. Suddenly, I realized I’d gotten down to the city center and to Karl Johans Gate—the equivilant to Beal street or Bourbon Street (or Duval Street for you Key West fans)—lots of foot traffic and tourists and street performers. I’d previously only taken the train down here.
After a little more wandering, I hopped what might have been the last bus home.
Take that, stomach.
Beer Friday and the Living Dead
Another Free Beer Friday has come and gone at Funcom.
This time around, after achieving a buzz on the roof, I came down and played some Left 4 Dead.
Then another late night walk into the city…
The House of Literature
On Saturday, I had the fortune of finding this place, Litteraturhuset (The House of Literature)—the largest House of Literature in Europe (from what I read).
I bought an over-priced coffee from their cafe (but not all that much more expensive than an overpriced coffee from home) and worked on some writing outside where they had tables and candles set up (these people love, LOVE to be outside during the summer months…which I suppose is an indication of the winter…).
I’d like to go back and find out more about their programs for writers.
Look Ma, I’m on CD!
An audio reading of my story, "Blood, Snow, and Sparrows" can be found in disc form from Pseudopod (it’s story number 121).
Pseudopod is a free, weekly podcast of short stories of horror (or at least the dark and the strange).