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Journal: Vibrant Dynamic Inspiring

Not yet.
Hudson's Bay Centre renovations (February 2002): When last we saw our friend the Hudson's Bay Centre (in Infiltration 18), the main floor and the office levels were in the midst of an intense fancification program which, posters promised, would render the megacomplex "VIBRANT DYNAMIC INSPIRING". This goal has not yet been met.
       I was, however, vibrantly and dynamically inspired to check out some of the radical renovations that are happening in the megacomplex's megabasements, so I quickly authorized myself and headed through a door in the basement of the mall area, quickly making up a dozen plausible excuses as I headed down the two flights of stairs leading from the area where one could conceivably be lost to the area where one is almost certainly sneaking around. I braced myself for passing the security office and making my way to the interesting parts of the basement.

New hallways lead to old, empty areas.
Amid mazes of stairs and hall, hints that one is on the right track.
       Once I arrived at the bottom of the stairs, however, I quickly abandoned my planned route. There was a whole new cement hallway in front of me! Walking through here, I came up into an older area of empty hallways and abandoned rooms. One of these was a very large room with an improvised bathroom stall in one corner and a old, bent metal ladder leading down through a hole in the floor in the other. Ignoring this for now, I looked in at an electrical room that was obviously in use, and was poking around in some other empty areas when I heard voices heading my way from behind me.
       Snap decision time: run, hide or come clean? I went for run, and chose to head down a cement staircase with very muddy steps that looked like it hadn't been used in a long time. A long hallway at the bottom of these stairs led me to an unlit storage room, where a sign on the wall informed me that the shelves were for "Coming soon posters only!" I supposed I must be somewhere near the old Plaza Cinemas, which have been abandoned for several years now, and resolved to find them.
       Up stairs, down hall, through doors, down stairs, down hall, through doors, down stairs, through doors, down stairs, down stairs, through doors, and I found myself in a newish looking area with cement walls that had recently been painted bright white. Up a few flights of stairs, I found myself in a large engineering room filled with gigantic EarthWise™ CenTraVac™ Water Chillers, where a mud-caked children's Cinema Seat™ let me know that I was on the RiteTrak™.
       As I was in the middle of photographing all the neat machinery, a meekish looking construction worker walked in and gave me a curious look. "Excuse me," I said, in my best "I'm-trying-to-be-patient-but-you-sure-aren't-making-it-easy" voice. He smiled humbly and left the room by a different door. (I hate to be a bully in these situations, but if the choice comes down to me being the heavy or them being the heavy, I'd rather it be me.)

The engineering room is filled with huge pipes and water chillers.
       Forced to choose between either following the employee, returning the way I'd come or heading through the door into the area the employee had come from, I decided to plunge ahead and hope I wasn't heading into a room full of workers, and here I saw something truly vibrant dynamic inspiring: the gigantic, stripped shell of the old movie theatre.

The movie theatre has become a construction warehouse.
       It was empty (aside from tons of construction equipment), so I took a lot of photos before heading out through the ramps at the side of the theatre.

Goodbye old walls! We've had some good times together.
Unless you prop the door open.
       I was back in known territory now, in the realm of the engineering tunnels, the security office, the storage cages, bad panoramaland and my old cave (the entrance to which is now totally blocked off by a new pipe). While it was good to see all these old familiar places, I was eager to take advantage of all the destruction and construction and see some more totally new areas. Propping open a "no exit" door, I headed back down to the basement, and wandered through a maze of whitewashed, dead-end riddled and thoroughly Kafkaesque tunnels, ultimately leading nowhere, for a period of time somewhere between 20 minutes and 20 years.


A Kafkaesque maze of hallways and dead ends three storeys underground.
       Stumbling out of this area in a stupor, I decided to head out by some stairs at the far end of the movie theatre. Once I got here, however, there was a tremendous hammering above, followed by a shower of metal and plaster all over the stairs. I paused, shook my head and started to head up, and just then there was more hammering, more metal, more plaster, more showering.

The route out.
       I headed back to the bottom of the stairs and waited for it to stop, but it didn't, so I wandered the other way. In a room at the other end of the hallway, I saw an old, bent metal ladder heading up through a hole in the ceiling. This was the way to the improvised bathroom! I climbed up and headed out, not encountering another employee on the whole route.

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