Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Fog

Rickey and I go for walks a lot.  Rickey is my friend who I grew up with in high school.

If our friendship were to read like a personal's ad, this is probably how it would sound:

"24, Short Stocky Lesbian, likes to go for long walks, obsess over what she did wrong, drink tea, read erroneous biographies and watch long, in-depth documentaries.  Looking for 25, Lanky/Tall Gay Male, who likes to go for long walks, wants things to be done well and responsibly, drinks tea and is a non-practicing Wiccan."

Anyway, last night we were out on a long walk.

It was around midnight that we set out, with no particular destination in mind.  The fog last night, if you weren't near a window, was also unnaturally strong.  To give you an idea, I could see only about twenty feet in front of me clearly in any direction while standing in the middle of the intersection near my house.  It's startling how unnerving thick fog can be; you know houses and people are there from experience, but with this kind of mist, everything becomes liable to move on you.

Also, I don't know if you know this but my hometown, Alameda, is an island.  Here is a map of the Bay Area to help get you acquainted with the layout.  I've added on some key landmarks to help anyone not familiar with the area:




Anyway, for the purpose of this story, a huge chunk of Alameda Island is dedicated to a now defunct Navy Base.

Let's zoom in to Alameda a bit more.  See if you can spot where the Navy Base is:



Give up?

I know, I know, it's hard.

Here, I've added on some landmarks to help guide you:




There, that's better.

The old Navy Base, aka, half of Alameda Island, is now a ghost town.  The airstrips are empty, blocks and blocks of warehouses stand unused and old warships silently loom off the South-West bank, one of which is the USS Hornet, an old WWII aircraft carrier.  Small bit of trivia info, the USS Hornet is also the ship that picked up Apollo 11, aka the first Moon Landing peeps.  It weighs 40,000 tons and  apparently, it has the highest suicide rate than any other aircraft carrier in the US Navy.

So last night Rickey and I had no direct plan, usually I goad him into walking along the more pleasantly-suburban beach path, Shoreline Drive.  But, this time was different; we ambled down Haight St., crossed Webster and kept going until we hit the threshold between Alameda, the city and Alameda The Ghost Town.

*cue eery music*

Again, we really couldn't see a damn thing in front of us when we got to one of the many old fenced pathways.

There were lights here and there that helped guide us to where we were, and being Alameda natives, we knew roughly where we were.

That's a lie.  Once on the Base, I had no idea where I was.  I blame Rickey.




Just standing there it felt like the Fog would slowly consume you.



 Or maybe that was just me.


It didn't help that Rickey's way of soothing my nerves was to tell me "the zombies would be moving slowly, anyway."  I instantly focused on a scene from 28 Days Later, particularly the one where the army has captured a zombie and tied it up in the backyard, supposedly "under control."


Rickey then said he was also wearing "a large, sharp ring tonight.  It's ok, Beryl. I got this."  This was about when I started to clutch onto my own my personal key-chain knife, which isn't so much of a weapon as a nasty guitar pick. 

We continued on, talking over what we normally talk about (what would you be willing to put up with in relationships, astrology, the latest recipe that involves as much bacon or butter as possible, etc.) meanwhile I kept asking over and over, "Are you sure you know where we're going?"  

Rickey said he did.  The thing about the Navy Base is, aside from it being practically deserted, there are several huge parking lots/aircraft landing strips.  One of which on the upper North East bank is being dedicated to the now well-known Antiques By The Bay once a month.  

The problem is these landing strips are such large expanses of concrete that it's hard to tell when exactly they end, aka it's not obvious where the drop off points into the rocky shoreline are.  I had no urge to go for a surprise swim, and I also had no urge to step onto something hard and pointy.

Plus, there was the fog.

And we're back.


We were traveling down another path, slowly making our way back to what we thought was the exit.  Unfortunately, Rickey hadn't quite remembered where we were after all.  And it was starting to sink in that we were alone, in the middle of a deserted Navy Base, with old ghost warships nearby.  At one point I could see them in the distance--and I'll never forget, they looked even more frightening, looming so quietly, so huge, and only slightly darker than the surrounding fog.

Halfway through on our supposed 'way  back' I turned and saw lights off to the side.

"Huh," I said.

"What?" He said.

"Nothing.  It's just those lights look just like car headlights.  Only, they're not.  Right?"


"Huh." 

We kept walking on, not sure if we were actually nearer or farther from our supposed exit.  It tuned out, we were somewhat lost.  But, if Rickey's calculations were right, we were at least a good two hundred feet away.  But, again that is if we were right, if we were seeing what we thought we were seeing through the fog was the exit.

Rickey looked back.  Deterring away from his usual confidence, he stopped us, looking at the lights.





That was about when he started walking faster.  Walking faster turned into running, which turned into full-pelt running the last two hundred feet to the next turn.  Looking back for a split second I could see the "static" lights were now very much headlights, very much moving towards us.  

I think my adrenaline had hit an all-new high.  It wasn't so much that I feared for my life, but I definitely didn't want to explain to the authorities why I would be out at 1am on such a freakishly foggy night, on a deserted Naval Base.  And if they weren't the authorities...well, I just really didn't want to talk to them at all.

Rickey and I kept running, and eventually we were able to peel off to the side to one of the main exits, out by Pacific and Encinal.  

We were safe.  

We had escaped.

Looking back, I am again reminded of a scene from a film, this time The Lord of the Rings, in which the Fellowship is running away from the tracking group of Uruk Hai.  To continue with that metaphor, I was very much aware that Rickey would definitely have been of Elfkind in Middle Earth, and I would have been a Hobbit.  

Hobbits don't run.

Especially not over disrupted, un-maintained cement ground on a haunted Naval Base in deep fog.  

Basically, if I had been Frodo, Sauron would have gotten the ring.  But, thankfully, as I remembered later on, Rickey was the one wearing the ring--not me. 

And that's why we're friends.

-Beryl


Edited to add:  Thank YOU to Crystal Chen, who helped me draw headlights in fog using MS Paint.  I got stuck, guys.  I really did.  But, she showed me the light--literally.  Thanks dude!

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