(January 29, 2007)

We were sitting in my parents' house; your eyes were simultaneously glazed and cold, and I was panicking.

"You have to understand, we've been taking shots of this stuff every night for a months now-" you told me, describing a type of industrial substance used in photography which had a French name and which surely does not really exist. My heart sank; could this be the cause of these bizarre times, some toxin clinging to your red blood cells or clouding your mind? I grabbed Ocelot, but the Internet had no answers for me - I was given the digital runaround, and decided that it was a more active approach or nothing.

I ran to a Toronto mall, skipping across time and space on the power of my desperation. The store I entered was a labyrinth, all spiralling curves and random departments, and as I dashed through it, an alarm began to sound. Some chemical had been released into the air, and I could see it hanging thick in front of me; Hazmat operatives were escorting people out of the building, but I couldn't leave before finding the substance I sought. Holding my breath, I darted left and right, hands over my eyes in a futile attempt to keep them from burning. People were yelling at me, screaming that I was acting contrary to my better nature, but it was such a singleminded search that I barely heard them.

Finally, after perceived hours of running, I found a young man covered in tattoos who smirked and gestured at a nearby display. The stuff was there all right, and I grabbed a bottle in both hands, flipping it over and scanning the ingredients. What would it be - cyanide, mercury, lead? Where would I have to go to find the antidote? I didn't care, so long as I knew what I was dealing with and therefore where to go next.

The words were in print larger than the bottle: This product has been certified non-toxic.

I woke up in tears, feeling utterly helpless. There's no magic bullet here, and that makes things so much worse.