The alarm clock exploded in the blackness Friday morning. I surged out of bed, grabbed my luggage, jumped in the car and raced to the airport.

Hurrying into the main lobby at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, I glanced at the clock — 6 a.m. Just in time. I took a seat, turned on my laptop and barely moved for the next 32 hours. It was time for Christmas at the Airport, a multi-day marathon of extreme writing.

I sat in the lobby, laptop plugged into a big monitor displaying my writing in real time, and wove real travellers’ tales into a fictional short story about a man spending his 10th straight Christmas at the airport.

The first 12 hours were easy. I felt like Lucy in Peanuts: The Writer is In. People hurrying off to and from everywhere else in the world would stop and unload a tale, from husbands running off with salsa dancers to a 15-hour meditation in a Japanese monastery. I blended the facts into my fictional world and updated the story on my blog.

The first day lasted until 11 p.m. I was back at my desk shortly after 6 a.m. and finally ended as Dave’s (the lead to the fictional story) flight departed at 2 p.m. But was he on it? Check out the final story at Wednesday afternoon.

In the end, 10 true tales punctuated my 5,600-word story. It was an extraordinary adventure, a chance to be the motionless part of a perpetual motion machine. The monitor acted as a spiritual X-ray, revealing glimpses of the souls passing through the airport.

Thirty-two hours after arriving, I left the airport in the same clothes, exhausted, in pain and with that drunken exuberance that marks the end of any journey. I may not have left Halifax, but I sure got somewhere.

Jon Tattrie is the author of Black Snow, a novel of the Halifax Explosion, and a regular contributor to Metro.

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