buddy

“I can still make this role work out,” Wheeler said to herself while standing before the scrying mirror between representations of the sun and moon at the real Clare Nova’s Crystal Cottage in Hooktip. “I will summon forth a helper from the shadows dark.”

Pitch Darkly suddenly appeared in the yard outside the door, with friend.

“Damm,” she uttered.

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out of joint

They’d made it to the Telea-Rustic Bridge and were sipping coffee at Garage La N in Hagen, the sim between namesakes Telea and Rustic containing the middle bulk of the span. This is the same cafe that, earlier in the month, Tronesisia and Bendy had (to her) fallen a bit in love with each other on their way to Collagesity and the rocketship he said would take him back to his real home in the skies. Pitch had insisted Mary/Chuckles accompany Tronesisia for what he called this “insane mission” to find Bendy on The Moon of The Moon and try to talk him into “being lovers or something.” It was a good move on his part; fate, we could call it. For Mary revealed something in that cafe which began to change Tronesisia’s mind about the trip. Let’s listen in.

“I’m pregnant, Tronesisia,” Mary proclaimed 2/3rds the way through her cup of Oil Change espresso.

“Please,” the shocked robot gasped, coffee dribbling out of her mouth. “Call me Sissy!”

—–

About 15 minutes later, a fisherboy came in from the pier and washed his hands in a nearby sink while Tronesisia watched on. Facing forward again, she found that Mary had disappeared. The boy then took her place at the table.

“We need to get off this bridge,” he said, sitting on top of the chair like kids sometimes do. “Time’s not right here.” He looked toward the door. “Halfway between Collagesity and VHC City. Which one do you choose?”

—–


Mary and Tronesisia heading home.

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Sissy and Prissy

The Rose Moondreams cottage and grounds in Tussock represented quite the idyllic setup. Tronesisia had been rewarded well down through the months and now years by Pitch Darkly and Buster Damm for her services. Enough to additionally buy the town gas station when the chance arose recently. Enough to purchase Bendy’s inherited mini coop from him and, only today, have it painted pink at a local body shop. Its arrival in the late afternoon had triggered the weight of guilt and longing again.

Everything was kosher according to the ‘Book of Blood,’ Pitch kept reinforcing to her. All was moral and above the law. Yet this particular killing hit home. Bendy was a robot, just like herself. Bonded to Fry through a rigged chess match, yes. Obviously stolen from his rightful masters. But was her situation *that* much different from his? Was *she* with her rightful masters? It mostly felt that way before, but now it kind of didn’t. Seeing Bendy fly off in that Collagesity rocketship changed her, she realized. Freedom. The ability to return home to a loving mother and father figure.

It was getting chilly on the porch. She went inside and sat in front of the fire. She studied the picture above the hearth. Idyllic parents. That’s what she needed.

A thought suddenly crossed her mind. She could hop in her newly hued auto and drive back to Collagesity in the lower part of Heterocera. It hardly took 2 hours before with Bendy, even dealing with the wonky Second Life physics. Tronesisia especially enjoyed driving across the wooden Telea-Rustic Bridge spanning the atoll sea. She thought she might have fell in love with Bendy on the bridge, even, when they stopped at that little Japanese cafe for lunch. She couldn’t quite recall the name of it. Something “Garage”. They briefly held hands; Tronesisia told him to call her Sissy — all her real friends do. Her given name was a mouthful at times, she admitted. But her parents had their reasons.

Her parents. Peter and Lily. Another Lily even, just like the name of Bendy’s adoptive mother. “Maybe it’s fate we get together,” she flirted at the cafe. But Bendy insisted he already had a gal on his Moon of The Moon. Priscilla… Prissy.

Tronesisia remained confused. She decided she had to find out how Bendy truly feels about her, now that he’s returned to his home and this Prissy. How much chance was she taking, really? Physically speaking, since she was a well built robot, there was only a very slim possibility that the flight would damage her, even if she went up into space and then just fell back to earth, target missed. Bendy told her that all you have to do is sit on the rocketship once you’ve touched and lauched it. But you have to be quick. As *soon* as you see it clear the house you must sit, else the ride is missed. “But that’s no problem with us robots, with our super sharp reflexes, eh?” he added. It was almost as if he knew she would follow him.

She paid him for the mini and reluctantly said goodbye, driving back to VHC City and her suddenly lonely cottage. The launch went according to plan, she assumed. One minute he was standing by her side in the small Collagesity green, then, after touching the rocketship and lauching it, he wasn’t. On his way back to The Moon of The Moon. She had learned much of his home in their short time together.

Tomorrow she would phone up Pitch and say she needed a couple of days off. No, a week. “Maybe longer,” she would tack on at the end, making him think about possibilities. Tronesisia didn’t want to lose her job, however. A week would probably be enough. She should get some rest.

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Realm of Orange?

While in the heart of VHC City, Baker decides to redraw his Sphere of Influence map accomplished earlier in the day with a new and hopefully better center in mind: Sister 64/128. 1/4 the way across the sim. 1/2 the way up.

When he subsequently displays the resulting texture in his new Saturn abode, Baker sees something. He revises the map again and adds a line.

Opposition.

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Returns

“This Eclipse wine is pretty good, Hucka.”

“Yeah, you’re certainly woofing it down, Baker. Thanks for meeting with me tonight, even if in character — as the Orange King?”

“Still working on it. He’s from Saturnia. But we better start calling that (sim) simply Saturn. Like the place the guys who run this coffee shop are from apparently.”

“Could be a connection, even,” offers Hucka Doobie. “We must explore every angle and then discard mercilessly. Tough going ahead to finish (the novel).”

“Jupiter mentioned in the last (blog) post,” adds Baker/Orange King. “Jupiter and Saturn. Opposites.”

“Greater benefic and greater malefic,” furthers Hucka Doobie. “But back to Clare and Wheeler. She came back to VHC City to play that role. And now it’s snapped away from her?”

“The real Clare Nova seems nice enough. And her spots in Saturn and several other sims around the area are nature and beauty oriented. I think that swayed me into telling her I’m writing fiction about greater VHC City. Just tonight. Just a minute ago.”

“I suppose that’s a good idea.” Hucka Doobie tries to look out the 4th wall again but can’t quite find it.

—–

Wheeler awoke to the smell of familiar dampness. She knew she was back immediately. Tears formed in her eyes. She never thought the Underground would look this good.

—–

The Musician had returned to VHC City via the key shop several hours earlier. Pilot Woody Woodmanson was nowhere to be seen upon “landing”. He soon found his feet walking toward his old haunt, the Safe Plaza, and its Ear Bar. But his beloved Dr. Who pinball machine there seemed to be broken. Malefic Saturn already in action?

He found an old friend to chat with on the bar counter. “I wonder where Wheeler is, Percolator?”

Percolator told him. And about the potential loss of the Clare Nova role. And about the new Orange King of Saturn. The perpetually caffeine filled mutant clown was noted for being quite the gossip machine.

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Outlier

Seeing the front porch of Woody’s house appear to the right from behind some raised, pointed green terrain, The Musician decides to jump down from the blue path and head toward it. Keeping straight would quickly lead to the sky islands. He didn’t need to go there quite yet.

The front door of the house is open. Figures appear in the far corner of the single room floor, all gathered around a circular, white topped table. Seemingly not yet noticed, The Musician listens in on the conversation in progress.

“Well, Osborne, in the late 1970s McKay told John Conway, the inventor of the Game of Life, you know, that the coefficient of 196884 was precisely one more than the degree of the smallest faithful complex representation of the monster group. Conway replied that this was Jack Daniels style moonshine, in the sense of being totally wacko nuts.”

Woody stops speaking and turns toward the door. “Oh, howdy Musician! Welcome to physics night at Woody’s Outpost. I hope you like vertex operator algebra.”

“I’m not sure,” is all he could manage, then, looking to the left, added, “I like your tree,” to be more cordial.

“Thank you,” replies the wooden toy-man. “It was a house warming gift from a dear dear friend who still lives over in the quarantined section of Bennington. Sector R I believe they call it nowadays, don’t they Osborne?”

Osborne doesn’t answer, but just appears to keep reading his book with the queerly tentacled creature adorning the ancient cover. Another monster.

“Well, anyway, come on in,” Woody says. “Just pass through the twirly whirly Jaspery thing so we can check out your core being. Then you can join us here at the table. Just a simple test, you understand. We need to know who you really are, deep down. The area around The Table must remain sanctified, right Osborne?”

The Musician began to panic. Who *was* he deep down? He’d figured something out at LEA11 about his true self but then quickly forgot. What if he simply *vaporized* — had no inner core.

“Oh don’t fret,” Woody reassures, seeing the worry on his face. “Everyone has a core, Musician, whether they know it or not. Here, I’ll go first and show you. That’s only fair. Osborne just remains Osborne. Pretty boring.”

Woody gets up and moves into the center of the swirl. He quickly contracts into a sort of meatball, then reconstitutes. Woody’s core.

Then he contracts and expands again to return to his wooden toy self.

“See? Nothing to it. Now your turn.” Woody steps back toward The Table.

The Musician saw no way out. He entered the swirl.

“There,” comforts Woody. “That wasn’t so bad.” He turns to Osborne. “Look, Osborne. A ghost. The Musician is a tall ghost at the core. Cool, eh?” Osborne keeps reading. “Let’s check the name out. Ohh, a Jupiter, eh? I knew some Jupiters over in Farmington. You’re not related to Jeb and Stewart by chance?”

The Musician shakes his head. “How do I get back?” he asks. Would he have to stay this way *forever*?

“Takes a little longer for first timers,” Woody explains. “Just give it a moment. Try not to move too much.”

And then The Musician was back. Woody pulls a chair out at The Table and offers him a seat. “You can sit beside me. We have much to talk about. We need to get you reunited with Wheeler and heading to VHC City pronto. Bad juju going on there. We can use the key shop as a teleport device of course. I know you’re familiar with it.”

Ah, The Musician thought. So Wheeler was right all along.

—–


10:15PM: Heading back.

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Blue

At the beginning of the blue path near Osborne’s Woody’s house, Sikul Himakt The Musician spotted him, sitting alone on a high perch overlooking the Magenta Sea.

“I had it all, Musician,” the figure spoke without turning. “A fantastic new woman in my life, a faithful son now free from possession. Investigation over. No one died. And then it was all taken away. Woody became Allen, and the 4th wall was erased, just like in the hit film ‘Purple Rose of Cairo.’ Ever heard of it? Stars a man named Baxter, but not Ted. I don’t think.”

The man never turns around, but The Musician knew who it was, of course. Recently deceased Allen Martin.

“Jasper is waiting,” he said cryptically to end his dialog.

The Musician glances behind him, wondering where Colon was. But the snake had vanished, just like Morris before him. And then, in turning around, Allen Martin had disappeared too. The Musician was alone. Time to find Woody.

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