End of the River

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Unease and mild distaste in the land of the ice and snow.http://denniswyman.com/endoftheriver/

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O Earth, what changes hast thou seen! There where the long street roars, hath been the stillness of the central sea. The hills are shadows, and they flow from form to form, and nothing stands; Like clouds they shape themselves and go. "In Memoriam" - Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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INDEX
4 Preface

CALENDAR
6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 September 2012 – “Kodiak Triangle” October 2012 – “With Apologies to David Fincher” November 2012 – “Untitled Notes Taken On Oxycodone After Car Accident” December 2012 – “End of the World Tours, LLC” January 2013 – “Winter” February 2013 – “Coffee Shop” March 2013 – “Drunk 2am Facebook Conversation” April 2013 – “Terminal” May 2013 – “Matthew” June 2013 – “Ready Lets Go” July 2013 – “Farewell Fire” August 2013 – “just another… in the…”

About the Author / Final Notes

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PREFACE
Canadians celebrate "Canada Day" every year on July 1st. From what I'm told, it's kind of like America's July 4th, but that's the extent of my knowledge. I was originally scheduled to be visiting an old friend of mine in British Columbia for Canada Day and experience their celebrations firsthand, but got delayed after my overloaded Thunderbird inexplicably blew a transmission fluid line and left a giant mess of viscous liquid in downtown Wasilla. I manage to get towed to a friend's house in the heart of a swamp in the Mat-Su Valley, where, several days and hundreds of mosquito bites later, I get the problem fixed. Canada Day is instead spent speeding through the broken roads of the Yukon as fast as possible to put some distance between me and the place where I've spent the past 10 months of my life, and every time the suspension of the car bottoms out or I hear a ball joint knock in its socket I'm immediately reminded of Hunter Thompson's axiom from Mescalito - "We live in a jungle of pending disasters." But it's alright. I may not be in what most people would call "total control," but if anything goes wrong I feel in the right headspace to deal with issues as they crop up, and I'd argue that's definitely a more realistic form of control than preventative decisions motivated by fear. So I plow forward. The northern half of the Cassiar Highway is mostly barren, nothing more than a glorified logging trail through the middle of nowhere. No road markings, very few signs, even less people, and it's barely wide enough to hold two passing cars. Not that it matters, because I see maybe one other car every couple hours. For some reason I'm continually flashing back to a park I used to hike at when I was eight years old, where the trail snaked up to the top of a hill and all you could really see was this barely established path bordered by thick brush on both sides that grew so tall there was no visible horizon line, let alone sight of the final destination. But it didn't grow tall enough to cast shadows over, so there's just this straight path ahead of you that's bathed in sunlight. Where will it end? Who knows, but for now I'm enjoying the ride, despite the disconcerting sounds echoing from my poor Thunderbird's aging suspension components. I've had numerous family and friends tell me I should write about what it was like to live in Alaska, but I've already moved on. Aside from a

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handful of pretty cool people I met up there, I don't see myself looking back on it very often after this - But considering it's only going to fade further from my mind as time goes on, well, here we are I guess. As I take a brief rest in Calgary, I've been pouring through notes, tweets, chat logs, text messages, and a folder full of unfinished story concepts that all came together while I lived in Alaska. Rather than a direct account of what went down, here's what I salvaged from the creative void and arbitrarily sorted into what I feel is some kind of matching chronological order. Life doesn't slow down, so I can't pause for too long on this one. Even bigger things are on the horizon, and I feel it in every fibre of my being now that I'm on the road once more. You'll be hearing from me again soon, but for now, I leave you this. Laissez les bons temps rouler! -"Captain" Dennis Wyman

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September 2012
“Kodiak Triangle”
In 2010, a study was carried out by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the existence of the “Devil’s Graveyards,” regions of sea in which many anomalous and unexplained phenomena are alleged to occur. First hypothesized by biologist Ivan T. Sanderson as the “Vile Vortices” in the 1970’s, several of these regions have been charted out across the globe. Among more well-known areas such as the Bermuda Triangle, Japan’s Dragon Triangle, and the South Atlantic Anomaly, special attention was paid to the Kodiak Triangle in the Gulf of Alaska. The Kodiak Triangle, which extends from Kodiak, Alaska, in the northwest, to the Prince William Sound in the northeast and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, in the south, overlays a major shipping and transport route between the continental United States and southern Alaska, while also being a popular area for fishing and cruise ships. Meteorologically speaking, much of the snow and rainfall that impacts the western coastlines of the United States and Canada is generated from storms that originate in the Gulf of Alaska, impacting the countless vessels that pass through it on a daily basis. In addition to the many disappearances and disasters that have been reported in the area, the Kodiak Triangle also has several lessdangerous peculiarities. The Alaska Marine Highway ferries many travelers northward from Washington, and occasionally the ferry will disappear from radar en route, only to reappear out of the northern boundary on it’s regular schedule. When this happens, ferry passengers and crew have reported total loss of all communications with the mainland and even satellites. Curiously enough, this dissociation from the rest of the world serves to unite the passengers, as they band together with notebooks and musical instruments and meager supplies of smokes and liquor and trade stories of the events that led up to them arriving in the Triangle and what they plan on doing once they exit and reach Alaska. The ferry system attracts a lot of travelers, many of whom have been all over the globe, and they have a lot to discuss about where they've been.

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It’s a rare moment of validation for those that live that lifestyle. Many have trouble forming meaningful personal relationships with so-called “normal” people, but these kids will bond instantly with each other despite being total strangers. They come from all walks of life. Some are runaways and dropouts looking for direction or purpose to their existence. Some are lovers that have sworn to go around the world together. Some just want to go someplace new to get a fresh start on life, far away from the ghosts of their past. Sometimes a normal family moving from one region to another will get sucked up in the Triangle with the rest and leave with a new perspective on the world. Some claim that the phenomena of the Kodiak Triangle (along with the other Vile Vortices) is due to the intersection of another dimension parallel to our own, and whatever laws of physics that govern said dimension come into conflict with ours. Supporters of this theory claim this is what causes the frequent storms, and also why people have sometimes been known to return from it in a permanent dissociative state.

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October 2012
“With Apologies to David Fincher”
People are always asking me if I know Sarah Palin. “Have you met her yet? She lives in Wasilla, doesn’t she?” For a second I forget about Palin’s whole “Going Rogue” thing and wonder how to strangle someone over the phone. Wait, back up, let me start earlier, and stop paraphrasing a movie script. Ever since the 2008 election, Alaska’s legacy to the rest of the world has been Sarah Palin, who after resigning from the Governorship halfway through her first and only term due to a barrage of ethics complaints, has continued to serve the post of Alaska’s very own malignant tumor. In a state full of survivalists that have a perpetual hard-on for living in the middle of nowhere and enduring some of the worst weather on the continent, Alaskans hate a quitter. Aside from some on the fringes of the Republican party, she is almost universally despised in her own home. As a final insult to the state, she left the seat open for her replacement, Sean Parnell, former head of government relations for ConocoPhillips, who has been pushing for handing billions of dollars in subsidies to his old employers - you know, under the argument that the money will somehow come back to the state and “trickle down” into jobs. The only thing holding him back is a bipartisan coalition of sorts in the state legislature, at least until the state elections next month run their course, now that Parnell and his friends have had plenty of time to redistrict and gerrymander to their hearts’ content to get the opposition out of the house, and more of their corporate-bought pals in. Alaska has long been considered the “final frontier” of the United States, which seems fitting given that it’s more or less the last place that has yet to be totally devoured by the corruption and Reagan-style economics that has wrecked the other 49 states in the past several decades. But hey, keep paying attention to Sarah Palin instead.

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November 2012
“Untitled Notes Taken On Oxycodone After Car Accident”
Post-it notes are still a useful mode of communication, but highly annoying in large numbers. Use wisely. Lobster farms are always a great idea in theory, but in practice I’m pretty sure they require lots of maintenance and diligence. In a worst-case defensive scenario, a ream of regular office copy paper can make an excellent blunt weapon. Facebook keeps telling me there are five million single girls waiting for me. Then I read the ad again and it tells me they’re all Mormons. Fuck you too, Facebook. It still feels like I’m living in the morning after a really intense dream. All I could think of when the cops showed up to write the police report after the truck got rear-ended was: “Well, I suppose it’s a good thing the cab doesn’t smell like it did back in Florida anymore.” Music sounds like it’s echoing from the past. If I close my eyes and lean back in my chair, I can get back to the lake again. I’m not sure what you’re up to these days, but whenever it gets cold outside, the burn mark you accidentally left on my arm becomes visible again and turns a dark purple, and I start to think back once more.

What the pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know! One mom discovered how to cope with soul-crushing existential despair by following this one weird tip...

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December 2012
“End of the World Tours, LLC”
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for choosing us as your tour guides for the Mayan Apocalypse during this foul winter solstice. Now if you would please take your seats, we can get this tour underway. Remember to keep your hands inside the bus at all times and that smoking is not permitted. If you look to your left, you can see " Let’s Have An Apocalypse Orgy" ads start to trickle in on Craigslist. If you look to your right, you can see people buying up gold, even though in mere moments the entire concept of economics will be rendered meaningless. Besides, even if a few people did survive, they would likely trade something far more scarce than gold, like unopened cans of classic 4Loko. You may have noticed the doomsday-themed advertisements by McDonalds and Jell-O on the billboards, as branding initiatives continue straight on to the bitter end. This is because even something like the end of all life can still be packaged and sold as a commodity. Morbid! Now, if you are worrying about how you left your home tonight and who will see it and judge you after we all die, rest easy. If our calculations are correct, then in a few thousand years what remains of this particular city will eventually be subducted under another continental plate and vanish entirely. In times like this, you should be comforted to know that the Earth has mechanisms that can effectively hide all traces of our existence. It's also comforting to know that nobody will be screaming about this being a "false flag operation" because everyone will be dead. That wraps up our tour for this evening. Feel free to lounge in our movie room while waiting for the unstoppable wall of fire to wash over us. For those interested, they are playing a retrospective Top 10 Moments of Mankind, and I'm fairly certain all of them are "Man Getting Hit By Football," so it should be a pretty good show.

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January 2013
“Winter”
The bulk of organic material typically dies during the winter. If you are still alive in April, congratulations, you are hardier than most plants and reptiles. Be proud of that. I'll be alive too, despite the multiple attempts on my life. Snow and ice both keep trying to kill me when I drive home, but I'm always several steps ahead of them. Drop the transmission into second gear and punch the gas; executed correctly, you can kick the rear end of your truck around and pull back onto the road without rolling over. Most people hit the brakes: This is wrong, as you lose momentum and get stuck, or sometimes go into an uncontrollable spin. Steering doesn't do much against gravity either, but a good press against the accelerator, however, can do wonders. Your inertia is your only friend. This also works against the four foot tall snowbanks that the plow trucks pile up on the street corners. Given a choice between skidding into a pile of snow or ramming through it full speed and continuing on with my day, I'll take the latter and decidedly more fun option. I've taken out fences, rock walls, and other cars with this truck. Slow down for crystallized water? Give me a break. Don't fuck with me now, snow. I will outdrive you. The cold, on the other hand, puts up a strong fight. Alaska is not a friendly climate to us reptiles, and the heat lamps and Christmas lights strung up in my office don't quite compare to the Florida sun. Walk outside, and the frigid air entering your lungs freezes you from the inside-out. Even the local mammals are known to lose digits to frostbite and the resulting necrosis if they aren't careful, and they're the warmblooded ones. As if to mock me, for five hours every day the sun just barely peaks over the horizon line to give me a giant middle finger before dipping back down to more desirable regions of the globe. Nobody is out at night and I'm distressed that I can't randomly go for a walk across town without my joints freezing up, but mainly I’ve got a bone to pick with whatever arcane god decided that honeydew shouldn’t be in season right now.

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February 2013
“Coffee Shop”
I'm at the coffee shop right as they open. Fifteen minutes of sitting here with my laptop on their wifi and staring at my work project, and I already want to start drinking. It's a doable idea - there's a handle of 100 proof Southern Comfort sitting in the ice-encrusted toolbox in the back of my truck. Just walk out to the parking lot to do shots. I am another anonymous hick in this city in jeans and boots with a rusted-out Ford pickup, and I feel beyond anyone's judgment at this hour. I sat in the truck in the neighboring parking lot for the past several hours listening to the radio. A security car kept driving past me, and then a cop parked his car nearby while occasionally glaring at me before finally leaving. It's like they've never seen somebody with nothing better to do but sit in a truck listening to morning talk shows. I kinda get the feeling that I'm expected to be rotting indoors if I have no particular reason to be outside. Fuck you, this is my city too.

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March 2013
“Drunk 2am Facebook Conversation”
"I think you face the same dichotomy I do: Too smart to do hard drugs and be forced to live the life of idealism/struggle, as opposed to just wanting the American Dream. Like vagabond train kids making the best out of communal living." "I like the concept of communal living but in practice it never really works from where I've been." "You contributed to that, which is great, but you can still earn your own living." "I don't mind working like I am now just because I know I have to take care of myself ‘cause I've been through worse." "Exactly." "At the same time I don't like being settled, and stability is boring. So that's my conundrum… I think?" "It's just sucking life's dick just to get those little breaks. I was in math class today thinking, 'Damn, I could just quit right now and do something unexpected,' but I think I'll save that for when I've become actually boring. When I was in high school I was absolutely in love with this kid I barely knew. We had all of these plans to just quit everything once I graduated. We even came up with inventories of what we could carry on our backs and we were going to become train kids for a while." "Sounds familiar." "Well it happened that he joined the army and I was in a relationship and wanted to go to college. So we did those things instead, and I always think back to, 'If I had done the dumb fucking thing I wanted to do, would I be dead now or better for it?'"

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April 2013
“Terminal”
For the past few months, I’ve been living in an airport on the moon. My discount flight from Tallahassee to Toronto apparently had a layover on the moon, which I neglected to notice in the fine print. Nor did I notice the “five month” layover time. I don’t know who the Priceline Negotiator negotiates for, but he certainly wasn’t looking out for me. William Shatner is going to be hearing from me when I get back to Earth. Cargo flights leave here every other week, and Delta can’t put me on any of them because of “liability concerns.” They have, however, offered me a voucher for 100 free flyer miles. One of the walls of the terminal is composed almost entirely of windows. I’ve staked out a row of seats near an outlet where I can sleep and keep my laptop plugged in. Every day I see the Earth come up over the horizon past the lunar surface. I would probably find it incredibly gorgeous if it wasn’t the only thing to look at every day. I spent the first couple of weeks writing. I gave up at that once I realized that I was essentially rehashing the same ideas over and over again with new words. Lack of stimulation or new events kinda does this. My friends back on Earth message me all the time, and it’s usually along the lines of, “Wow, I wish I could live on the moon. I’m so jealous.” Please, take my place. Just know that I’m not giving any refunds. A few weeks ago, glory holes started appearing in the walls of what was the last clean restroom in the terminal. Former Senator Larry Craig is up here too, and I know this because I’ve tripped over his leg sticking out from under the stall walls on several occasions. Next time I book a flight, I’m flying nonstop.

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May 2013
“Matthew”
It will be eight years next month Eight years later and your Myspace page is still online Eight years later and your band's Myspace page is still online You're the only one of us that never changed at all in those 8 years Even though Myspace has changed Even though my perceptions of you - 'you' in memory – have evolved I hear your song play again and wonder what would you be like now? I see wasted potential in everyone around me but never in you You used yours Maybe you used too much of it... Curious how I think about this more now than I did then It's a shame I never got into playing music until recently I'd have loved the chance to have jammed with you We'd have made a good team, I think just like we used to when we were kids just like when we were kicked out of Boy Scouts together for lighting too many things on fire Perhaps on the other side, my friend "don't be late"

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June 2013
“Ready Lets Go”
I forget exactly what I took, but the last thing I remember doing physically was falling into my desk chair as I was overwhelmed by a rush of memories. Random bits of my life from before I moved here that I'm now reliving in precision detail. Every time, place, person and adventure I have ever valued, these memories bombard me relentlessly, even after I lapse consciousness and start dreaming. "This is you," they say. "This is the life you belong in," they say. "Wake up," they say. "Wake the fuck up." I pull my head up from my desk. How long have I been asleep? This desk and my surroundings all of a sudden feel alien to me, like my body's autopilot switch somehow got locked into the "on" position for nine months and I've just now come back to reclaim it. Problem is, all I see in its wake are piles of empty liquor bottles and pill wrappers and unfinished projects, and I'm really starting to recoil in horror at how much I've been wasting away in this apartment. My joints feel stiff like the corroded chain on my bike after having left it outside through too many snow storms. And it's cold. I'm cold. It's that kind of early morning cold when you're a child waking up for the first day of school again, being pushed out the door to the bus stop before you're even done dreaming. Pump fresh blood into my dry and rusty veins, and then blast me out of bed with a fire hose while I'm still coming to. Cold start me like a diesel engine in 20 below and immediately punch the gas. Run me into the ground and push me beyond repair, then throw a noose around my neck and drag me forward until I pick up the pace, because there is no more wasting time. The world doesn't slow down if you fall off. It's moved on and I desperately need to catch back up. But it's not waiting. It's unaware and emotionless, spinning the only speed it knows: full. There's only one way back on as it spins wildly, and I'm just hoping I can somehow grab hold of it without it tearing my arms off as it rips through space at a hundred miles a second. Here goes nothing.

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July 2013
“Farewell Fire”
If you find yourself in a car accident at the end of a two thousand mile drive, and if changing any one of the turns you made beforehand would have prevented it, did you make only one wrong turn or a series of wrong turns? Being in a coma is exactly how they script it on television sitcoms. You sit in your own little dream world, and at first it's fun once you realize you can control this world. But after a while you realize your imagination can only take you so far and the lack of new real and tangible experiences begins to drive you insane. When it got bad, I'd imagine myself talking to you. Whether it was raw philosophy or just random banter, these conversations kept me grounded in reality for an agonizing ten months. When I finally came to, greeted by a swarm of old friends and associates welcoming me back to the world, I'm sure I saw your face at the back of the crowd for a moment. I pushed through to get to you, but you were gone. I'm certain you were there briefly, as if to make sure I was finally safe and in the clear, before vanishing. I can take it from here on my own now, I hope.

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August 2013
“just another… in the…”
I ask myself ‘where to next?’ as I stare at a nondescript entrance ramp to the interstate highway system. At the top are a thousand passing lights of a thousand passing cars carrying a thousand passing lives, and it looks so easy to vanish into this. How many of them are actually paying attention to the man parked on the side of the road? The man that watches all of them and visualizes in his mind where they run, their paths forming a spider's web of lines across a map. Enter and vanish, reappear elsewhere. Speeding through ramps and interchanges, I can go anywhere. I am any one of these cars, and I feel obscured. The people in this world seem like they run on a fixed track these days, but I feel like I've derailed somewhere along the line. I watch them form paths of light like in one of those overproduced time-lapse videos amateur filmmakers take of downtown metropolises, and I can dip inside these vectors at any random point and observe faces and lifestyles and where they run as they weave a spider's web of lines across the surface of the earth. Drop out and vanish, reappear elsewhere. Slipping through cracks, I can become anybody. I am any one of these people, and I feel safe.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Dennis Wyman, and I spend too much time on the internet. I freelance in web development, have a severe obsession with music, and frequently get drunk and go on crosscountry adventures in beat up old cars and trucks. In my free time, I head up administration of popular gaming blogs, ZeldaInformer.com and Gamnesia.com.

FIND ME AT
http://www.denniswyman.com http://www.facebook.com/dennis.wyman http://twitter.com/capncornflake http://capncornflake.tumblr.com

FINAL NOTES
Special thanks to all the rad people that helped edit and encourage this, or gave me cool conversations to lift quotes from. Copyright notices are for chumps. By all means, share and redistribute this as you see fit. Just practice good manners, and be kind, rewind. This is released free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated so I can keep taking more time off work to do fun projects like this. My PayPal address is ‘[email protected]

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