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by Frank Duff

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559 Nathan Abbott Way


Johnny awoke to the most utter blackness he could remember experiencing. There is a tiny claustrophobe hiding inside of every person and the one in Johnny was threatening to start pumping his lungs. Quickly he reached behind his head to where he vaguely remembered there being a lamp. After a few seconds of fumbling he managed to turn it on.

The room burst into light. Sitting up, he took in his surroundings. At least that much of what he remembered from the previous night seemed to correspond to reality. Night? The sun had still been high when Tinka had found him. He could only have been four or five hours into his trip. There is no way he should have been able to sleep. "Here. Swallow this," his memory provided. A pill! Had he been poisoned? He patted his chest and stomach with both hands as though that would give him a clue. No, it suddenly occurred to him; not poisoned, sedated. Remembering a clock, he looked up. To its face there was affixed a note:

be gone
by dawn.
Take the note with you.

Detaching the note from the face of the clock, Johnny learnt that it was three o'clock (in the morning he could only assume). Johnny looked again at the picture next to the clock and in a moment of uncharacteristic jealousy wanted to leave the note behind so that the man in the picture might find it. This urge passed and he gathered his skateboard from the floor and his binder from what passed for a desk. He looked around once more before leaving and resisted the temptation to rifle through Tinka's things. He pushed open the door and was surprised to find that it did in fact open up onto an extremely narrow passage with an identical doorway proclaiming 1959 directly across the way. In his mental separation of the previous day's reality from delusion, he had filed the fact that Tinka lived in the forgotten archives of the Hart House library firmly under the delusion column. Closing the door behind himself, Johnny was once again plunged into pure darkness. He reconsidered, re-opened the door and rifled through Tinka's things just enough to find a working flashlight. Not surprisingly it seemed that she kept several scattered around the room.

Back in the corridor, Johnny noticed that Tinka had left the padlock hanging open from the locking ring on the outside of the door. For a brief panicked moment Johnny considered how easy it would have been for her to lock him in. He locked the door behind himself. He found the trapdoor without trouble and lowered himself down into the hallway.

Johnny couldn't for the life of him remember how they had gotten here from the lunchroom. Well, there were only two choices. Choosing the wrong one, Johnny found himself, after several twists and turns, at a dead end. Actually, the end wasn't entirely dead. There was a steel door plastered with warnings which said "Keep out" and "Authorized Personal Only" and "Danger: High Pressure Steam." There was a wheel set into the middle of the door. Johnny had heard of the abandoned steam tunnels which connected together the oldest buildings of the University. Apparently students had been using them for years to sneak into buildings after hours and cause trouble. Surely there couldn't be another set of steam tunnels still in use. Of course, it wasn't worth the possibility of being scalded to death to find out. Still, Johnny's curiosity overrode his caution; he found himself turning the wheel.

Some people remember the onset of their first acid trip as a moment when their lives changed forever. Johnny had never had a very good memory and honestly couldn't remember his first acid trip. He would however always remember the moment that he lifted aside the manhole in the Medical Sciences Building's parking lot and emerged, one shoe short of a pair, into the pre-dawn rain as a moment where his life took a very important turn. Not that anything momentous happened just then, but it was an instant when Johnny could very easily have felt uncomfortable, lost and confused. It would have been very simple for him to decide that these new things and people he was getting himself involved with were just too strange. Instead he lay down in the asphalt water and laughed.

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