Magic Hour at KSO

The photographic shoot is on reclaimed land near warehouse sheds, at dusk or just before. The usual palaver, faces shiny in the arc-lights, magic hour obscured by the buzz of ambition and clouds of pheromones. Out there, partially submerged beneath the dark water, is Kenneth Slessor Oval. The girl is hanging on your lapel, soliciting - what? A smile? A sexy, sulky look? Or perhaps just the blank you feel, seeing the dome of your head reflected in a reflector. You brush her off and wade out into the night, surrounded by crowds of people, some boarding an ocean liner for the cruise of a lifetime, others simply trying, as you are, to return to the City. A performance enacted by robots under the auspices of the peak funding body draws bureaucratic applause, you flip open your mobile phone and place it before you on the table so that you can switch between the action on the stage and its tiny complement on the screen. Now you are walking through a long, bright tunnel, now you realise, with a sudden shock, that many of those around you are in fact aliens, their skin a rind of pinky-orange chain mail, very strange but non-threatening ... and how is it you can tell the human from the alien and others can't? They change back and forth without warning. Someone hands you a magnifying glass with which you can, they say, without fail, distinguish one from the other. Except it doesn't work, these creatures, whatever they are, have minds of their own and seem afflicted by an inability to control those inadvertent metamorphoses. So on you go, through the bright-dark corridor, surrounded by humans who might be aliens, or cyborgs, or robots, while below the faint outline of Kenneth Slessor Oval fades, washed by seaweed, scattered with the luminous bones of dead sailors, starred by pearls that were his eyes, consumed in a slow rumination of grazing sea horses.

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