Ultraq's Final MooCow

Bits and pieces by Emanuel Rabina

Early bird

6am waking-up in the morning...

No, it's not Friday. It's Sunday, very early in the morning by my standards, and I'm at work.

The room was still covered in darkness when I awoke, the alarm from my cell phone at the lowest volume setting, yet creating what felt like a loud plea for me to wake in the relative quiet of the early morning. My hand reached out from its warm spot under my duvet and protested what it was doing when it met the cold of the morning air. My arm continued to reach however, not needing input from my sleep-addled brain as it had performed this manoeuvre many times before - locating my cellphone on the bedside table, flipping it open (I've still got one of those clamshell-type phones), and pressing the button that would silence it's pleas to rouse me from my sleep. I would have normally gone straight back to sleep after that, returning to whatever dreams I had momentarily left by the time my arm returned to its place under the warm duvet, but something in my head kept prodding me and preventing me from sleeping:

Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.

It was just as annoying as my cellphone alarm, but I didn't have a routine to turn this kind of buzzing off; I couldn't reach a metaphysical arm into my brain and press the button to turn off subconscious thought. So I just lay there, listening to its pleas:

Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.

Wake up
Who else's subconscious is a penguin with crash cymbals?

Why? I wondered back. Why must I wake up? It's too early, it's a Sunday, it's the LONG WEEKEND! WHY? But my questions were useless; the subconscious never answers questions, it only makes requests.

And it almost always wins.

I opened my eyes. Then I wondered if I did that right, because all I could see was the same blackness that stared back at me through closed lids. My eyes wouldn't open any further, so I tried turning to find something I could train them on, and there, on my ceiling, was a single streak of light from a lamp on the street outside.

I came to several conclusions then: that it was cold, that it was early, and that the sun had not yet risen. I also remembered something else: I had to go to work.

So I got out of bed, faced the frigid daggers of single-digit temperatures that were waiting for me the moment I shrugged off my duvet, and started my usual morning routine at the pace of a shambling zombie. My eyes never opened fully, despite my repeated attempts, and I managed to make my way through getting changed, eating breakfast, and brushing my teeth, amongst other things. I remember looking into the mirror through the slits in my eyes and looking upon the 6am version of myself: sunken eyes, frazzled hair, no will to carry on, and only the wish to sleep. That last one however, was normally the subconscious' job, but it was still intent on getting me to work instead.

Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.

It seems I wasn't awake enough by my subconscious' standards and it could see through the charade that I placed before it to try to get it to shut up; the zombie-Emanuel marionette on display wasn't enough to appease its simple request and high standards. I didn't think my state of mind would have met the medical definition of awake or conscious either, but it was all I could muster at such an early hour. Like Superman, I draw-upon the sun for my powers, but the sun was still a while away from shining its grace on my little corner of the world.

By the time I left my apartment to begin the walk to work, the sky was still the same shade of black as the shadows of a dark alley where unwitnessed murders would take place. There is no colour to be found in an early morning city: only the glare of artificial lights and a million shades of black. I looked down at my pants and couldn't tell what colour they were, couldn't even remember what colour I put on when I got changed this morning. Zombies apparently don't have a short-term memory. Funny, I thought, considering their insatiable appetite for brains.

I haven't had to wake up this early in a long time. The streets, normally packed with other people making their way towards their own work, were empty of humanity. I was reminded me of those old spaghetti western movies that I used to watch with my dad, and I half expected to see a tumbleweed float by - incongruous in a city setting, but not out-of-place for the current context.

A dark shape skittered across the road - a plastic bag.

Hmph, appropriate. I thought.

Plastic bag
Urban tumbleweed

So yeah, I'm at work, at an unusual time and day. This weekend, the system that I've been working on for almost 2 years is being released and I'm here to help oversee the transition. Although there's actually one of the more senior and knowledgeable guys here to cover that, I'm sort of the backup, the 'throw-ideas-at-me' guy. So with nothing to really do until we get a phone call from the few people on-site to report something odd going on with the transition, I decided to do some blogging.

The light at the end of the tunnel that I've been chasing after for so long is finally here, and it feels like all the weight and stress of the previous months is finally leaving me. I should really be more stressed, considering that now I'll be moving-on to doing live support and production fixes, but it just feels so much better to see the end of something that's acted like a vacuum to my spare time and social life - sucking it all away from me until I only had work and the next working-day left to look forward to.

So fingers crossed that nothing catastrophic happens; catastrophic to the system we're deploying, not catastrophic to the planet. Hell, I'm more worried right now of our phones ringing than I am of a meteor striking the Earth. That saying about how silence is golden? For me, at this very moment: totally true.