Neepawa was of interest to no one but its few thousand inhabitants before the Creole, Isaiah Lassiter, fell into Hamilton Street.
Afterwards a few tabloid reporters came.
A podcaster showed up.
I was one of the witnesses to his fate, standing on the corner by the municipal library when Isaiah Lassiter came out of the bank, looked both ways and took a long step into the street.
His boot, however, did not find the firmness of asphalt—but sank right into it.
Indeed his whole leg soon disappeared. Then he lost his balance and fell forward, flapping his arms, yelling, before face forward he went and was no more.
I saw a man go overboard a fishing trawler once and it was like that.
Maybe thirty seconds went by and there were his arms, above the surface of the asphalt, waving and splashing like a drowning man’s.
The few of us present wanted to help him, but nobody wanted to get too close on account of the weirdness, and Isaiah Lassiter couldn’t swim, so he drowned, if that’s the right word for it, though why wouldn’t it be.
Soon after, the cars parked on the side of the street fell into the asphalt too.
The police came and taped off the street, and for a time the weirdness was confined to Hamilton Street, but eventually people started noticing it in avenues, parking lots and driveways, then it expanded to other streets, until most of the town’s asphalt was liquid, and some Toronto newspaper called Neepawa the Venice of the prairies.
Tourists and adventurers came.
No one could explain it, but someone must have been daring enough to try taking a dip because somehow we found out it was OK to get in and you could go swimming in it, up and down the streets, through the dark, warm liquid so much like denser water.
People splashed, soaked and went boating.
It was a few months after that, at the end of summer, when the killing happened. Some families were in the asphalt in Tupper Avenue near the park when the shark came, looking like asphalt too but having the fin, which cut the road lengthwise before leaping with its black jaws open and swallowing the Peters boy whole.
I can’t describe the chaos that followed.
Maybe half the people got out.
The rest died in the asphalt and we never saw them again.
Nobody went into the asphalt after that, except a few divers lowered in a shark cage trying to measure the depth of Hamilton Street, but we never saw them again either.
There are more sharks now, and things with tentacles and sometimes a wind blows making waves only on the asphalt, and it keeps expanding. There’s liquid cement and liquid wood, and Mary Cheevers said she saw a grove of liquid trees.
What if tomorrow we wake up as bodies of liquid self, able to swim in one another—
What monsters will find us then?