In Hallucination in Hong Kong by Rohan Quine, sliding from joy to nightmare and back, a plane-flight frames a journey into Jaymi’s and Angel’s polarised identities and perceptions, where past and present merge in an obsessive fantasy of love, death, horror and apocalyptic beauty.
As their plane takes off, Jaymi is warmed by the presence of his beloved friend Angel beside him. They are bound for Hong Kong, to perform a grand concert of unearthly music from a stage set high on the Peak. Jaymi starts to doze … and enters a fog of horror in seeming to remember that this concert lies in their distant past, not their imminent future: it happened nine years ago, and straight after that triumphant occasion there occurred unexpected disaster and the permanent catatonia of Angel. Those terrible events were rendered all the more poignant by the idyllic chapter they had experienced upon first meeting and falling in love, which he now recalls in great detail.
In reality (it would seem), Jaymi is on this flight alone, on a mission to put a compassionate end to Angel’s life, in view of his continued catatonia. And in an atmosphere of escalating nightmare and disjunction, incongruously set against the beauty of night-time Hong Kong as seen from the Peak and the Midlevels, this grim mission of euthanasia is accomplished – perhaps. That nightmare atmosphere is magnified by the obsessive flicker of Jaymi’s mind through complex permutations of his own possible guilt at betraying Angel, and the latter’s possible knowledge of this guilt … because hadn’t there actually been a mirror on the ceiling above the bench where Angel lay supine years ago, unnoticed by Jaymi at the time but in fact revealing to Angel certain things about Jaymi’s movements that he hadn’t known Angel could see?
Sliding from joy to nightmare, then back to a joy stained by the flavour of vanishing nightmare, Hallucination in Hong Kong explores those hellish possible events lying beneath the surface of our present and future, always ready to break through into reality if they become so inclined. In this journey, it conjures up from Jaymi’s and Angel’s polarised identities and perceptions an obsessive fantasy of dark androgyny, ironic horror and apocalyptic beauty.
Keywords: literary fiction, magical realism, dark fantasy, horror, gay, Hong Kong, catatonia, plane flight, The Peak, concert, imagination, transgender, contemporary