it's stinking hot, covered in sweat like slime second skin that burns up the atmosphere. it's underwater over land, the day hazes away, and clouds hang like dali clocks in the molten skies.
i'm pedal to the metal down the freeway, turn off down some side road and sleepy suburb. the dawns delayed but when it arrived it had vengeance in it's heart.
i weave down before the traffic catches up, head into galston gorge, that sunken bushland that takes me straight to prehistory. man there's no sign of civilization here except for the road and my old truck. no radio signal can reach me, just some looming interference. the air con makes a rattle and hum coughing along, barely able to pump out anything but short spurts of hot air and an irritating buzzing.
i'm descending into the valley, down we go spiraling narrow road, rickety old bridge a hairpin turn or two, this is remote but it's in the middle of a city. sydney has pockets like this, it's a wild place despite what you see on the tv screens, it's land will kill you, they don't call it untamed wilderness for nothing. there's something else here to, some magick. an ancient one, one you don't wanna fuck with unless you know what your doing.
the mechanics in my truck are clunky, each gear change sounds abrasive and when the windscreen falls out i know i'm pushing my luck. i hear the tyres crunching over glass and in my single side mirror see the sparkle of fragments catch the light like exploding stars.
the truck begins to slow down, i rev the engine thinking speed may help but the movement is sluggish and snails pace and the more i rev the more a thick black smog engulfs the old jalopy. my chest begins to burn as sunlight streams through. i've already stripped down to my shorts and my skins starting to fry.
suddenly the radiator goes, a hot gush of steam shoots upwards in front of my horrified face. the air con packs up and the truck splutters to a standstill. i am fucked and i'm fried unless i can get out of the sun.
around me flames start to appear, spontaneous combustion. fire come to life. already several small pockets surround me as i wander away from the truck watching in disbelief.
they say never leave your vehicle but mine is melting, i watch the tyres smolder, the ugly stink of rubber and toxic black smoke.
i attempt to run along the road but my shoes are sticking to the tar.
seems like i'm in an australian version of hell, flames begin to grow towering up and leaping from branch to branch, smoldering embers float across my line of sight like tiny lethal fireflies and then as i rush into the bushland the very flames of hell are quite literally licking at my heels.
momentarily the smoke seems to disperse and i run to a standstill. i am surrounded by fire, a circle blazing away but frozen, a fire wall, a firewall.
a tiny ember floats by my shoulder traveling on an easy wave trajectory with no angles. i watch it as it catches my eye in some fixation. it moves faster and at and suddenly stops, hovering just at my face.
all moments froze, my mind still operating in fear at the speed of life, thoughts just like flames sparking into ignition from nowhere and burning up into nothing, my synapses exploding, all things frozen except my mind as it burns inferno like exploding thoughts, memory and ideas. i can't move anywhere but the safety of my circle. the fire itself is ceased mid-burn, each flame on ice as if time has stopped. i am in a photograph captured at 1000th of a second. physics itself burns.
through the frozen landscape something moves, a shadow being glides through each flame, weaving past burnt tree trunks, feet make a crunching sound crisp and clean upon the ashes of the bushland. it snaps the columns of flame that stand in its way, it breaks into the circle from outside and stands before me, it's ancient face from a time and place beyond all human history it's wings are black and scarlet, like burning blood. it's terrible gums and teeth like a hound. it walks around me like a shark would swim around prey, eyeing me up.
'let's make a deal mission?'
a finger is snapped and i can speak and move freely but the area is still suspended in time.
'who are you?'
a powerful voice riding the wind screams like a chorus of angry vultures from the depths of a black charcoal soul. it not only cuts through every atom that vibrates within my flesh it sears itself into my soul rendering it outside of natural law.
'i am the adversary, lord of fire.'
and then a whisper, 'i came to claim your return but i am willing to come to an agreement.'
the nature of fire is it is immensely unpredictable and destructive but it comes from the same place. a place i am familiar with the secret destination of all alchemical transmutation, the sun.
my negotiation is simple. emissary of the sun on earth.
the lord of fire disintegrates before me, taking all flame and fire and leaving me alone in the scorched earth with a quick look of acknowledgment, for we are brothers. and we both believe we serve the same light.