“When Magnetic Poles Shift”

By Sam Mossler


December 26th, 2010

Amid the peak of holiday travel, at the insistence of the FAA, a runway at Tampa International Airport was closed for repainting.  The coordinates that determined the placement of the yellow lines that reflected visually the varying degrees of 'North', in the magnetic sense, were no longer accurate.  Had they been?  Yes.  And they were no longer?  No.  So these visual depictions of 'North' as dictated by magnetic vibrations emitted from the Earth's core, which were once accurate enough to base a commercial airliner's navigation, were now...not?  That's correct.  In other words, the magnetic North Pole had moved.  Shifted.  Changed position to enough of an extent that it was noted, addressed, and adapted to before much comment was made on the phenomenon by the general public.

Meanwhile, 5000 blackbirds were making their annual migration when one of the five thousand suddenly asked itself, "What the Hell are we doing in Arkansas?" And as the breadth of the scenario began to make itself known to this oddly sentient avian, a sudden explanation was presented from the day's series of odd circumstances: the unseasonable chill in the air, the stiffening of wings, the frosting-over of the nostrils.  He flapped his wings frantically and took and outside route to the front of the formation.  But before he could reach the guide bird, his glands seized, his buoyancy began to vanish, and suddenly his helpless descent began in earnest.  And he was not alone.  Four thousand, nine hundred, and ninety nine of his comrades fell with him, in glorious unison, to lend a subtle odor of decay to a Walnut Ridge Winter.