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Amnesia: Mist Memoir

Sandburg said that fog comes on little cat feet. He couldn't have been more wrong. Fog lumbers in like a hung-over logger at the tail-end of a four-day drunk. Fog is the embodiment of forgetfulness. It is always looking for something it lost, though it can't recall the nature or shape of the thing or whether it really existed or not. Fog slips. It falls over hills and rolls down sidewalks, shaking trees and misting the windows of parked cars. Fog is the tears of loss, the fever sweat of memory.

It wasn't always this way. Fog was once a black giant, as solid, strong and dense as granite. In its arrogance, Fog decided that it was more important to the Earth than the Sun and tried to block out its rays. The Sun blazed hotter until Fog's skin turned to a grayish white ash. Knowing that Fog was addled from the heat, the Sun asked Fog, "What is your name, child?" Fog couldn't remember. It cursed at the Sun, though it was unsure why, and went to look for its name. In time, Fog forgot even that much and simply looked for this lost thing for the sake of looking. The more Fog forgot, the less substantial it became, until it lost its body altogether and almost vanished completely, existing only as a tenuous vapor.

In Romania and the Scottish highlands, they nail pleasing names to trees and the roofs of houses, hoping to placate Fog, so that it will freeze them less. In Denmark, Vikings left the names of their enemies in the dense forests for Fog to find, hoping it would freeze their enemies' hearts. Today, we turn up the heat and drive Fog away. But it lives in our dreams and the edges of our workdays, in those stray moments when we look up, not sure where we are, not sure how we ended up in this place, living this life. Fog is what we look like without something to keep us solid. Love, work, faith, desire. Fog is the god of Lost Souls, dead or alive.

 

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Richard Kadrey lives in San Francisco. Can you tell?

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