The stillness was abruptly broken by a sickly sweet electronic melody. Part Daft Punk, part Lesley Gore, the tune gradually increased in volume until I reached over and silenced it.
It was 3:30am, and my iPhone was reminding me that I had a long, eventful day ahead or me, and that I had better get started.
I had a warm can of generic energy drink at the ready, to help things along. An impulse buy at a grocery store, the day prior, had provided the illusion that I planned ahead, but even this was unintentional.
My brain stirred to life as monochromatic vision slowly gave way to color. My eyes were only beginning to adjust when my phone silently lit up with a Telegram message from Torben. He was running behind on production, and would not be ready for at least 30 more minutes. “If it wasn’t for the last minute,” it is often said, “nothing would ever get done.”
I had met Torben only a few months prior, at a Eurofurence 24, in Berlin, and now I somehow found myself traveling the world with them, visiting the subculture conventions of multiple fandoms. They were a vendor, and I was an adventurer. They needed a driver, and I needed an excuse. So, off we went: Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, England, Scotland.
Now we were on our way to Stuttgart, Germany, a city I never heard of, to attend Furvester, a convention I never heard of. It seemed like the kind of place I would meet the kind of people I like meeting.
My registration number was 125, and the public directly appeared to claim that I would be one of only five Americans in attendance.
Torben, by coincidence and by accident, had managed to enter into a room-sharing agreement with one of the other Americans: a Buddhist Monk and Navy Master Blacksmith from New York named Enrico. I always manage to meet the most interesting people at these events, and things were off to a great start.
I arrived at Torben’s place at about 4:30, in a car owned by neither of us, already behind schedule. The signs of a frantic all-night printing effort were laying about: mousepads, laptop sleeves, and keychains — all bearing newly created and freshly pressed anthropomorphic designs of a handful of random artists from around the world — were rapidly being shoved into tattered boxes in the half-random way you would expect of a sleep-deprived autist.
He paused at seeing me, and retrieved from the kitchen a plate of freshly prepared eggs. “Here,” he said, “I made you some breakfast.”
I knew today was going to be a good day.