They’ve been telling me it’s an “inversion” but that’s too clinical a term to describe our situation. Tonight I can’t see twenty feet because the smog is so thick. I was corrected by a student at 4 O’clock in afternoon when I greeted him “good morning”: the seventh-floor view from Anděl over Nový Smíchov is so thickly shrouded that it looked like early morning fog. On my way home the Vltava River is so deeply blanketed in the haze that it becomes as endless as the River Styx; Prague castle, which normally sits so proudly against the night sky, is lost in murky clouds swirling about my tram. Where you can normally see for miles, from the top of Vitkov Hill, you now can’t even see it’s bottom.
None of the old Praguer’s remember seeing the city like this. It’s an unearthly phenomenom forecasting gloomy events for us all and the final irony is that sitting somewhere above the city is a layer of warm air holding the frigid weather down, trapping us all in cold, smog-filled tomb.
For three days Prague has been bitterly cold but alive with cinematic mystery. At night, what little light is visible from the street lights is solid as a block of ice for the few feet it penetrates. The miasma lurking in the narrow alleys of Old Town creates a palpable sense of drama. It feels as if you’re walking through a set of a low budget horror movie, smoke machines on high, and an axe-murder ensconced in the gloom nearby.
Tonight is no different. Tonight is a night for Jack the Ripper. It’s a night for the creeps and hobos; for the thugs and miscreants; for the weird, uncanny, and crazy to come out and dance – naked and unseen – in the streets of the city. Those of us normal enough to sit home writing do so in a pall of uncertainty. What am I missing out there in the ghostly shadows? Do I want to know? Could I handle it? Probably not.