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© Frank Westcott, 2017. All rights reserved. 

In 2017, THE HEAT WAS UNBEARABLE was published in the anthology CLI-FI: Canadian Tales of Climate Change, Exile Editions, Toronto, Canada.

NOTE TO THE READER: Please read as pregnant pauses the irreverent placing of periods and commas. To YOUR heart’s content. No aborting punctuation planned as it is written. Ah… the blessings of the high-tech texting world transvere-sing skies and sigh-burr-rr-rr, cyber zones to destiny anew, renewed, de-glued after all was said. Done undone and done again. Now to the story…. When the heat came it was unbearable…


The pigs are reeling, wiggling their butts in extremes of pancakes and bacon, shaking and bake-on-ing their ribs in time to moving jagged patterns across his, the writer’s, screen. The pigs are winging it, flying like no other pigs he’s ever seen. They are in my space too, but invading his inner and outer lives where he would like to go, to either or both, and beat the heat or get his feet cooled, moving in air like the pigs, cooling their hooves. When flying.


They said it would come. The heat. Neither they, nor I knew when. But it did come. Sooner than expected. It looked a bit like a glacier of chocolate melting.

When it did, come, the thermometer outside my shell broke. Glass shattered. Temperature rose. Red steel became redder. Like it was cold. But it wasn’t.

On TV I saw one bridge sink into the earth, melting the sand it was so hot. My sanity fell away. I slid into some other universe like I was in WasVega Beach trying to be Wasaga and sliding to Toronto. Then back again. I watched more sand melt. Then harden. Then fill Lake Ontario. A beach without a lake.

I watched the TV for news. My shell’s window fogged up. The shell got warm. Warped slightly. Time seemed to warp too. Air streaming through the universe. My shell universe. Streamed and de-streamed inside then out. Digitized air control.

I thought a poet once said, “It is in the air we breathe we find ourselves.” It might have been Ralph. Not sure. I hoped I kept breathing. I wanted to find myself. Somewhere. “When all was said and done. Or undone.” I thought I heard a poet mutter that one time too. And this, “The life we are living is the most important one.” That might have been Ralph too. Not sure.

I wished I could time travel forward… or into some other future tense. And Off-Earth- Myself, early. Before the future comes. Came. And was present. 

And tense.


The pigs are climbing staircases without wings now. The staircases can’t fly. But the pigs do. So the staircases think they can, too.


I see a blue tube coming from my TV. The heat expands inside my shell. Everything staggers. Even the heat in the sun which I am not supposed to see. I realize I am seeing this on TV. I watch. The sun melts icebergs, fridges and chocolate. People mostly kept their fridges outside their shells. Small shells. Mine was a deluxe. Kept my fridge inside.


This heat came. It was number two. Or three. Can’t remember.




The pigs are real. Now. They are wiggling. Doing yoga curls and looking like bacon frying in a pan. There are screams. Destiny emerging. Being released. I wish this was a future tense for the writer’s sake. At least this, his point of view, would be over. The density of space in his shell is becoming overbearing. It is increasing. He is finding it hard to breathe. I sing softly. No breath too deep. To conserve air.


Everything is metric now. I have trouble reading metric. I wonder what wild-wonky-eyed number system will exist in my future, when, if, I get there, and I am not just past. I think of wild-eyed numbers. A mix of ones. Twos. Threes. And their cousins. Change shifting things. Even the counting system. Heat rising inside my shell reminds me my thermometer is broken. I remember back to the 70’s, or thereabouts, and how the government way back in Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s day changed Canada to the metric system. Secret files released. Before the first melt. Said it was all to make the heat seem less when it got here. When it came and was unbearable. Fahrenheit makes higher numbers. The fact is, it was getting hot-hotter-still no matter which way or how you looked at it. The numbers. The Celsius. Or the Fahrenheit.

I watch the heat swirling on TV. It is surrounding everything like swords of fire eating. heating, raging itself on the original anvil’s flame.


I watch monkeys in a soup commercial. They become pigs. They escape their moment. Like musicians fine tuning their instruments in the hallway, missing their turn. The pigs the monkeys become are decadent. Manifesting a sparkling odour out of the soup. It comes right out of the TV. I smell the soup. The odour. And the sparkles tickle the writer’s nose. Something is burning. The writer tries to turn off the TV. It does not shut off.


Resurrect yourself in the the daylight of the night before when the heat comes.” Who said that I wonder, hearing it again. “Resurrect yourself in the daylight of night in climate change, when you know it is too late, and change has already happened. Tragedy in change is the metamorphosis occurring when you rely on nothing else… but what is.”

I wonder more who is saying this.

“Or more…” I hear, added to the previous, still not understanding.

Then I hear… “It resonates and knows itself You are yourself in the more of heat exchanged in energy out of control, especially when you rise into your future tense. There is no climate button to control the outcome. Or shut off the outcome. Or your TV, for that matter. Or push the button of you to the you, you seek in your tomorrow. Time’s button is released. It has been pressed.”

I Off-Earth in my mind, escaping and wishing for a climate-change-stop-button. It is hopeless. In my shell, it is already over. I have to wait it out. Feels like fragments torn from time, dancing into some other existence I cannot see or want to. I am hopeful to manifest life, now, itself, now. I am living in a past, yet it seems like a present I wish could be a future so I would be happening then, now. Not yet gone.

“We – do – have – a future – if - we – only – allow – it,” a robotic voice says. “You – do – not – have – to – live – in – a – future – passed – or – a – present – futured – only - now.”

It is always this way, I think. It is like when a miracle happens and my blood swims in my veins faster, as if dripping my very heartbeats onto a canvas of solace and soul I cannot fathom. Fully. I cannot see it. But I do. I pray for the mother and father of gods to Mary-Joseph themselves and Jesus out of aborting bastardizations to canonize themselves. Pretending to be saints who walked among us. The past cannot move forward, regardless its hold on you, just like the future cannot backtrack to now, to set you free. A child out of wedlock, even if you call him Jesus and make a god out of him, is still a bastard. And I remember how they called Barabbas Jesus. Too. He was Jesus of Barabbas.

The heat melts across time, melting chocolate crosses at Easter time and chickens hatch out of brown-worn eggs, so we can eat in the cannon thrusting us into space, our shells intact and our destiny mortalized. Immemorial. I know I am not. I wait for the second coming. Of the heat. And realize it is the third I am waiting for. I remember it is. The moment between two and three I want. The one I want to be back for. I am no longer scared. Or sacred. Melting gold crosses have already occurred outside my shell. They call them churches. Albatrosses around necks until the last melt when people adorn goats and false gods, and seem to walk out of cheese boards and cheese. And knights light candles at round tables in historical moments, flashbacking to then, themselves farther back in time than anyone ever realized, out of context with what, who and where we are, and what is happening now. The heat.

I think knighted, sainted or tainted… it is all the same. Adornment of one kind or another. Redemption bastards in heat. Time ticking. Now. In seconds replete. And the TV blinks and smokes. I know what is burning. The wires. Rubber coating. That is what is smelling.

The heat gets to you in strange ways.

Good thing for the wafers. Else, I would go hungry. They are brittle. I think I see religions floating in time’s carcass in front of me. But it is only Lake Ontario blistering Hudson Bay, and flashing it on and off my flickering TV screen. The Fraser River bolts. Boils. And redeems itself. And so does the TV.


“Well, would you look at that?”


I recognize the voice now. It is Ralph.

I long for the days of penny stocks and haypennies, imagined in haystacks when you can’t find any needles, but have a penny in your pocket. It is like reading cereal boxes when there is no cardboard or box for that matter. Just the cereal in a bag. Only the memory of the box. As you look at the bag and try to read it anyway. There are no words on the bag. I chew on the wafer. I offer a piece to Ralph.


“Don’t eat,” he says.


“I forgot,” I say. “You seem so human…”

The heat is making my thinking unclear now. Not that it ever was. Clear. Things too. Fuzzy. And it is foggy in here. Transitions required. Translations required too. Of some kind. From what to what I do not know. Maybe I am looking for a conversation conversion like metric to imperial, or Fahrenheit to Celsius and back again. I would like to convert from pre-heat to post-heat. My lift off is not working. I have got to get separate the cups for my half full ones and my half empty ones. They are hard to see when your brain gets heat and water-loss-wobbly, and you to try to put litres into cups that measure ounces and cups too, and everything gets very scary confusing.


“Your milk and honey is on the other side,” Ralph says.

“Hope so,” I say, hoping to get fresh cups there too, full ones, that hold a litre or a bunch of ounces no matter what language I want to count in.

“Time passes out of honeycombs of hair and rinse brushes, brushing back follicles of sound, when you REALLY want to drink the honey bees make in their honey-tomb-combs. Shells,” Ralph says.

I wonder what he is getting at now that I know who is speaking. And wonder how he got to be such a poet.

“Destiny is but a morsel in time,” I hear Ralph say. “The happening will happen whether you are William, or Tell or even Shakespeare, shooting arrows at apples on foreheads, or on barrels you want to shoot fish in.”

And Ralph has become a philosopher too.


There are pigs shaking now, glued onto dough-like cookies. They seem to want to make money in restaurants in capital cities, shaking too now, and baking franchises in ribs and Glory Syrups. Syrups from Canadian maples drip onto pancakes flooding where water used to be. No dykes present or thumbs poking holes. The dough is hard now.


“All get out! The heat is coming. Everyone out of Earth’s oven,” I hear someone call from outside my shell. I know it isn’t Ralph because he is in here with me.

I move across my own screen and look like a pig wiggling, winging itself, wobbly in the air, flying to Certainia, like no other pigs have ever flown before. I wish the heat would go away. It won’t. And I think I smell bacon cooking.

The BIG picture comes. I am glad they didn’t take the seconds out of clocks, even though they talked about it. I want to know when the last second comes.


Ralph starts singing. “Goats are on a cheese spread ~ Spreading time and destiny ~ With no monkeys in sight ~ They are climbing trees ~ You would not know if they were ~ They are not in sight ~ They are flying pigs ~ The melt comes ~ The people stop measuring ~ Distance ~ Everything comes together ~ It is a Vegas spending spree ~ Melting my everything ~ And shortening things ~ Ratcheting time ~ And tables roulette-ing foreign destiny ~ All numbers covered ~ Balls bouncing off wheels to floors ~ Wiping everybody out ~ Wasaga Beach comes to Toronto ~ Again ~ The Prairies slide to New Brunswick ~ The CN tower is in plain sight ~ Where Niagra Falls falls now ~ From rooftops boiled over ~ Fleeing back to Ontario-on-the-Lake ~ Spinning Huntsville over to Winnipeg ~ And Sudbury nickel-belts melt into silver linings ~ Plate-ing mushrooms in wild soups ~ For molten pleasures ~ Monsters Science-Fiction-Flicking-Realities ~ In the melt of chocolate ~ Morphing into cellophane dolls ~ On sightlines lost ~ Where poets read trademarks and tread-waste ~ On E-lines lost ~ Morphing been gone and wents ~ Outta here’s and there’s ~ To laughing moments ~ Gone awry ~ Nobody is there to tell a joke ~ All listening grown deaf ~ Growing wheat out of chaff chaffing on the St. Lawrence ~ River ~ Bubbling porridges in heat ~ Destiny wanting and awaiting a changing world ~”

I waited for the after- melt, after the second one, before I came back. I saw how it, the melt, moved train rails making distance disasters on shorelines and drying up diverse rivers. Lots of water got stored for the melts.

“Chickens crossed the egg to get to the road on the other side, and Jack and the bean stock monster fell out of the sky and a two story building wanting to be truth, but became monsters instead, sound and heat mixing film vibes in the melding (not melting) together, creating flicks to Off-Earth in or go to L.A.” Ralph adds.

Ralph is being Ralph again.

The pigs are flying in a rare formation now. They are holding court in clouds of time before it is all over. I see them spread their wings. They are out of fry pans now. They are cooking in flight, it seems, baking penance moments beyond angels singing, wings golden again, blowing remorse signals out of whole moments, returning to dog-shells as whole-angels resurging out of disasters awakening, to sever destinies’ connections, so they too, can fly in formation now, and into their own lives. Steel wings work well together too. Dancing in their flap-flap and wishing they were not wings with pigs, but could be pigs with wings.

And I see I am poetic-ing too.

“It is all in the figment of the perception flap,” Ralph says.

“Huh?” I say, and ignore him… it... So much evaporated in the first heat. And the second.

The pigs are still flying that rare formation. Geese are trumpeting, wailing like a dizzy Gillespie wall of sound making their horns play loud and louder still. Their mouths blow as they fly to new heights, their bills breathing nose holes singing everlasting songs, joy moments winning one more time. Joy sounds like that when it comes from a goose and out if its mouth called bill.

I feel the left over heat between the second melt and the third. My memories cloud. Recompensed poetry makes songs out of words sung in a future I cannot see, but want to. And my TV is off now.

Ralph says, “And the chorus rang true. If pigs could really fly and do it horizontally too, they would be able to move sideways in the air above the sky, blue, but they can’t. So I wonder if pigs can really fly. Sideways. Or front-ways. Or any other ways.”

My empty glasses are not half-full or half-empty. They are just empty. Wholly-empty. They rock and rattle on tables shaking and tipping, and melting in the heat. They melt hot under my fingers.

“Running bees wax springs eternal under fingers of time, melting too, in the paradox of memories’ hearts’ beatings, and half-full glasses aren’t reality either-or, they are betwixt and between, and it isn’t Valentine’s Day yet, but Earth will be massacred, everything melting. Better get off. Earth,” Ralph says.

I ignore him. It. Still. Tired of his poetic new-found ways.

The heat is climbing now as I speak. Write. Sweating now. Back to Fahrenheit in my brain. No Celsius conversions. Direct to Fahrenheit.

They said there were three heats we could live through. There would be the first. Then the second. The third, if we were in our shells or Off-Earth. They said the last one would be the sixth. We would either be gone or dead by then. Hopefully, we would have Off-Earthed to Certainia before or between two and three. I got two round trips because I was a writer. I wanted to see the melt from two to three. And tell about it. Write about it. Then fly in my shell back to Certainia.

You had to stay on Certainia a minimum four days before you went anywhere else. But they let me leave after two, since I was going back to Earth to write about it. Before leaving Certainia, I jogged so much in my shell, I lost enough water to not boil back on Earth. That is why they let me go back after two days, too.

I thought I was returning to now, but got then instead.

Ralph laughed in the density of distance I travelled in time and out of time, all the while in step and out of step, with the step of the universe, wanting to be on Earth one more time, but avoid the melt that time. And live on in my future. Tense, I was.

I was amazed. My T.V. still worked when I got back. To. Earth. I just had to plug it in and wiggle the wires a bit. My old residence shell worked. My transporting shell got me there. I called the TV spot my Rabbi-Zone. Had rabbit ears for reception. Reminded me of rabbi-ears.

“Ecumenical viewing,” I think I hear Ralph say. But it sounds like it is outside my shell.

“I guess,” I say, not knowing who I am saying it to. For sure.

There is a knock on my door. Shell. It is Ralph. It was Ralph’s voice I heard.

“Hi Ralph,” I say.

Ralph is a robot originally programmed to be whoever I want him to be. Got screwed up in the first melt. Now he is whoever he wants to be. Talk about having a screw loose. I guess he is an it, but if you hang with Ralph long enough, he starts to seem like a he.

I look around my shell. It seems to be moving. Rolling. I feel like I am rolling. A rolling doughnut. As if my axel is spinning wobbly in its hole. I wonder if I am blob-streaming to another existence.

“Nope,” Ralph says. “Heat does that. Heat does that to you,”

“On the verge of a melt, I think,” I think and say. “So what’s up, Ralph,” I add asking.

Ralph is built not to burn until at least the fourth melt. I’ll be Off- Earthed permanent-like by then.

“How much time we got?” Ralph asks.

“Lost my seconds, hand, watch… after the second… second minute clock evolution. No minutes left counted in seconds. Got me when it comes,” I say, Ralph bringing out the friendly in me.

“When will it all end?”

“Don’t know. I told you that. When it does, I guess,” and say too, feeling happy for some reason.

“Do I get to stay?” Ralph asks.



“Don’t know,” I answer, waiting for his next question. I wait while he programmes himself a bit.

“It’s gonna melt. BIG,” Ralph says. “I can tell.”


“Like chocolate.”

I think I see Ralph grimace. I am not sure. It is hard to tell if a robot grimaces. Or if one, he, it, can do it. Not sure what he programmed.

“To melt or not to melt,” Ralph says.

“That is the question,” I say.

“Or could be the answer,” Ralph says.

“Could be the answer, too,” I say. “You are right. Not bad for a robot.”

“Chocolate bar?”Ralph says.

"Sure," I say, wanting one.

“Everything is going to melt like a pawn in a chess-chef’s breakfast,” Ralph sounds like he hiccups and says. “Why are you writing this? About this?”Ralph asks.

“Somebody has to…” I answer.

“That is not the question,” Ralph says.

“It is the answer. Again. Somebody has to…” I answer and say and wonder why I am talking to a robot who just offered me, asked me, if I wanted chocolate. And I think of melting in a sea of chocolate factories melting themselves out of or into Lake Ontario. I wasn’t sure which. Getting bleary-eyed now. Heat getting to me. As it is rising.

“Why did you come back?” Ralph asks more.

“To write about it,” I say. “Like I said.”

“But if nobody is here, nobody can read it... And if you Off-Earth and take it back with you, nobody elsewhere’ll know if it’s true or not, so you could’a just made it up. Are you going to take it back to Certainia? They’d never know if you made it up or not!”

“Yes, I am going back to Certainia. As for your making it up thoughts, I do not want to be like a Chopin trying to do yoga, instead of play the piano. That is why I had to come back to write about it.”

“I’ve got you in hand,” Ralph says. “Here, have a chocolate bar and step outside for a bit. I don’t want to smell it or watch… it... you… the melt.”

I step out.

Ralph takes over writing.


“Pigs don’t fly you idiot,” Ralph writes.


I hear a pig fly by.


“Looks like an angel,” Ralph says inside my shell and to himself as he writes.


“Only if they have silver wings,” I say and watch a gold one fly. Pig that is.


Hi reader. This is me Ralph. Now. Writing without hesitation. Except where I put the periods. The writer, the frank guy, lost his way outside when he got into the chocolate.

I watch from the window. I see light bowling itself towards the porch. I watch him melt. Chocolate too. Hands go first. Then feet. Extremities. Lips. In mid-chew. Lake Ontario starts to bubble. He thought he was returning to Certainia. Was so relaxed about it all. But he was going to an afterlife. A destruction destination holiday. I push his shell button and bounce him Off-Earth where even a robot can live forever. A full moon bays at a dog.

I think in robot-think and ponder wagging my last lever-tail, ejecting myself to another planet to watch Earth burn and the heat get everything. I see the writer floating belly-choc-o-full-up in Lake Ontario, eating chocolate still and wondering what all the fuss is about. I watch the writer-guy rising like a New Testament starting to write itself, and the writer puts himself back into the story. He writes me out of it.


“Hi,” it’s me the writer. Robot’s gone. I turned his page with a flick of a finger. I am floating in destinies less travelled now. The prevailing winds of time are blowing stars out of dancers’ routines, where destinies cannot really meet, but only shine together. Water boils in the heat around me. But I am close to waterless and not boiling. Everything else is gurgling itself.
















I see there is a pig that looks like a fly in the oinkment. It flies by out of these words and destinies. I hear the command, “Bake on!” It becomes bac-on. I am in an afterlife. We all eat together reminiscing about flying pigs in a time where stories and heat came together under a one-lit candle, in a one-bake oven’s kitchen. Between mouthfuls the chef says, “Amen to that.” A robot named Ralph goes on rewind to get the story right. He says, “Grace.” And George Burns comes out of after-life retirement and past performing days and says, “Gracie, look-itt… a flying pig!” “Pigs can’t fly,” Gracie says. “That’s kinda what I thought, but that one is,” George says.

The robot laughs. I laugh too. You do too. We are all in this. One and the same.

A pig sits down to dinner, burps, dung-drops and digs into a beef meatloaf, looking chocolate-ee and taste-ee. The pig is glad it isn’t a cow, otherwise it might be eating itself, and it had already chewed its nails to the bone, and didn’t like the flavour. The writer passed on and out of Certainia into worlds unknown. He would write about them when he was gone long enough to get it right. They, the pigs, they say… pigs have wings wherever he went. And some are even learning to fly.

The End