The Senica tale – A Geo Mystery

by Daniel

I saw that Google Earth was now doing web searches through .kml files. Interesting thought I. For some reason, the first thing that popped in my head was “I wonder if someone has pinpointed where Apocalypse now was filmed.” When I typed that in, the only result Earth returned was an unnamed kml (map) file found on quikmaps.com. It was a group of waypoints, numbered as though demarcating a route. Attached to waypoint 1 was this:

The lone sliver of sunlight that came in through the blinds was enough to cut through his sleep like a razorblade. Unaware of what woke him, he sprung upright in bed, panicked and wet with sweat. Blood bounced through his head and his heart filled his chest cavity. His throat was constricted with last night’s vomit and he felt like he was drowning. Slowly, the shape of his bedroom came into place: the dresser filled with athletic medals and a gun, the pile of clothes at the end of the bed. Something stirred under the blankets next to him and for a moment he thought that maybe it was a monstrous python. Maybe he wasn’t really awake but living a dream inside of a dream. With care‚Äìas if he were delivering a baby on a bus‚Äìhe lifted the covers to a find a nude woman in his bed that very obviously wasn’t Zlatica. He let the blanket fall back on the woman. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” he said aloud. “This is going to be some God-damn day.”

Then I said to myself ‘Web 2.0 is fucking nuts.’ This group of waypoint was in Slovakia, in a small town called Senica. The story ungracefully tumbles into a Dubliners-type tale set within 17 placemarks. Each placemark contains about two paragraphs of text. This is strange on a number of levels.
I’m used to seeing waypoints in Google Earth where someone points out a lighthouse or their grammas house… but this is an actual bit of creativity. I was fascinated. The mystery writer (all I know about him/her is that they published on quikmaps.com) created a story that walks you through one man’s day, laying out his hopes, suspicions, habits, and desires. To read it yourself, you can simply open this file. If you do not have Google Earth, I highly recommend you download it here and open that golden nugget of mystery.
The unnamed story reads like a story written by someone who’s read a lot of stories. Sadly, he forgot the first rule of writing stories: You need a catchy title. I think he meant to call it ‘Brewskies for the Huskies.’ And so it goes. Waypoint 17 is titled ‘Four Beers’

Four Beers

Fero sets four beers on the table. Each is a half-liter. Brewed in Topalcany. Golden and diffused like sunlight shining through a muslin curtain. The head is so thick and white with foam that a one Krown piece would easily stay afloat on top of it. The four of them stare at the beers. Petey runs his tongue across his lips, raises his eyebrows and smacks his hands together and begins to rub them like he is starting a fire. Palo laughs at Peter. “Here we go again, baby. And Dave reaches for his beer, the beads of moisture wrap around his fingers and he slowly draws it towards him. Jim is the last to take his beer. It is heavy in his hand, comforting, a feeling he has grown used to in three years and one he will miss in the years to come. They lift their glasses, touch them, look each other in the eyes and in that moment that will stay with them, the moment laced with possibility and the descent into joyful drunkenness where all decisions are good ones and all women good-looking. There will be a few bad nights, nights soaked in double vodkas, nights when they will question (God, purpose, country and themselves) and nights of boredom where they will empty pack after pack of Petra cigarettes. But those nights are few and this certainly will not be one of them. The moon is bright and they are young and coming through the gate are four women–blondes and brunettes, tall, short, but all soon to be beautiful. Palo is the first to say “na zdravie” and the other three follow. Fero is on the porch bathed in the light pouring out of the door from inside the bar. His wife calls him and he turns and disappears into the light.

Oh there’s more didn’t you hear?

Occasionally he reminds you that…

On his way there, like every day, he stopped at the corner market to buy a pack of Sparta cigarettes and a single bottle of Trnavan beer that he drank on the way to work.

I really don’t care how bad this story is, or where it will take me. I just want to know why someone chose to input all these wacky paragraphs into a map. I’ve had no luck trying to uncover anyone who’s mentioned slovakia, senica, or quikmaps.

Reading those first sections had me thinking that it was actually a personal diary of a lonely internet geek who was dramatizing his day. Then I read this:

By chance, though not a big enough chance to save Vlado’s life, the ambulance squad was half a block away, tucked in behind the clinic. Paul ran out of bed and into the hallway before he was fully awake. Pan Doctor grabbed his arm and pulled him out into the already warm summer morning. They were both on the scene before Tomcat had a chance to pull the ambulance out of the garage. A small crowd of mostly Trencin bound bus passengers and workers from the nearby market circled the body‚Äìafraid to touch it or check for pulse for fear that death is contagious. Paul and Pan Doctor pushed through the circle. It wasn’t easy to look at death but Paul was getting used to it. Last week in one of the smaller villages a man tried to commit suicide by placing a shotgun under his chin. Just at the moment when he went to pull the trigger, the gun slipped, blowing the front of his face away. “Unfortunately,” Paul thought, “he lived.” He prayed for steadier hands when his time came. He had not been to many death scenes, but the ones he had been at contained certain ironies that were not lost on him. Near Vlado’s crushed skull lay a broken beer bottle and just out of reach of his twisted hand was a cigarette that would burn longer than Vlado’s life.

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