00300314

Ah yes, much better match. Even if she did wear an ill fitting mask. He’d give her a lecture later on, after they knew each other a little better. Ah, heck. He’ll do it now. It’s the holiday season after all. She’s trying. She won’t be offended, he figures.

“Phyllis?” he starts.

“Berta, actually. Remember? Phyllis is my twin sister.”

Shoot. Wrong holiday girl after all. Back to the drawing board.

“It’s okay,” she says to the obviously downcast Chet. “We’re really clones, you know,” she confesses. “Basically one and the same. We just use the sister story to throw the police off the track of…” She hesitates. She doesn’t know him well enough to talk about Dr. Mouse yet. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe never.

(to be continued)

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choices

I sit down, trying to gather some local color. I brighten up the place (smoky blue sky).

Tulsa was taking orders from a white couple nearer the front door. I could tell there was some tension — a bit, but noticeable, at least to me. Peggy and Wanda played with their cell phones at the table nearest me, not engaged in conversation at the moment. I tried to glance at what they were looking at, Peggy at least, who had her back to me. Some site about jobs — they were looking for jobs in this town. They were tense. No: just more focused. The other white couple in the room: well, they were all just kind of normal.

I decided to manufacture a friend for Wanda and Peggy and have him sit at their table with them. Let’s go with Chet. Chet was dressed to the hilt for the holiday season, anticipating December 1st like it was his birthday or something. Wanda had known Chet since college. Peggy was Chet’s girlfriend for the moment, at least until he dumped her for Phyllis. But that was in the future — no more going forward into the future which is also the past. We are *here*. Chet walks up. Ah, another core — not me. I can stay seated; I can still listen in.

Wanda giggled in Peggy’s direction after he sat down. “Isn’t he so cute with his mask and all.” Of course I’m wearing a mask, thought Chet. There’s an f-ing pandemic going on. He had the urge to leave. He wasn’t being respected, like he was some kind of Christmas dupe instead of their friend. He decided then and there: he was going to start dating that girl Phyllis he’s had his eyes on as soon as possible, as soon as he gets out of here. He’ll give it 30 minutes. Peggy didn’t say anything back to Wanda’s little remark. She kept playing on her phone. She wished she’d brought a mask herself now. She didn’t want to get sick just before the holidays (!). Chet was thinking about the holidays, in contrast — all along. I’m going to celebrate it like it’s f-ing Halloween, Christmas and Easter rolled into one (!), he decided on Thanksgiving Day, watching Uncle Bert come down with it afterwards. Then Aunt Jermima. Then Cousin Lute. And with a new baby’s sex to be decided — they weren’t up for it! Uncle Bert never got back up. He was 82 and more susceptible than the rest, having married beyond his age. He went to the emergency room; said his cat bit him. Infection spread; virus weakened the immune system. Gone in 2 days. There was a wake but Chet didn’t go. Instead he went upstairs in his house and decided to wear Christmas garb for, I don’t know, until Arbor Day maybe. Yeah, he got the tree out as his mother demanded, but he got a lot more out of that closet. I can’t really say he snapped, because about a 1/3rd of our great country is bonkers now and at least he wears a mask in public places. Tulsa was uncomfortable with the white couple she was serving because they also weren’t wearing masks in a public place and it put pressure on the owner to say, “don’t wear masks,” while serving them; “makes them uncomfortable and put-off,” he decided. He’s gone over to the dark side, Tulsa thought. She has about 30 minutes on her shift. Won’t be coming back, she punctuates the post.

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Meat

“F-ing complicated!” he said about the map he stood upon, and all the pins dotting it. Nautilus. The 1st continent. The last continent. Where the Outside gets In.

“Calm down, calm down,” she said from the side, just around the corner. “You know about Marilyn and the alternate national anthem. You know which US of A is peering down into the translucent cube — hypercube, actually — from the Outside. It’s one that has been frozen in time. You have your pattern,” she finalized, looking steady into his eyes now, fully emerged. I couldn’t tell her hair color. I’m going to go with white (for now). I knew this was a 3.16 situation and that a return to Squared Root City was up soon. “Give it some time to mature,” I said, trying to calm myself this go around. Unable to keep stabilized, she receded. I moved forward — past Collagesity. Forward into the past, perhaps.

I start a new folder for my inworld photos and pin it to my Quick access. (photo #) 1950. Here we go!

—–

Ah yes. Starlight.

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purple mountains

“Shame about the queen being kidnapped and all,” Brend spoke to Alysha one floor below where they learned about the news. “But it’s not of our concern.”

“Except for the Samhain,” she corrected, feet finally getting warm now before the fire.

“And the witches,” he added, also attempting to drive away the cold of the library stone.

“And the Abbot I suppose.” She sighed, resigned to the fact that it is every bit their concern. Except for the queen. Because they knew this was about Marilyn at the bottom of it. The writing could now not be seen.

—–

“Funny how they spelled Dairocha wrong in that newspaper article. It’s like the powers that be are hiding something.”

“Hmph.” Alysha knew she was hiding something as well. Knowledge at the castle core that Brend had “conveniently” forgotten about. The “l” was changed over there.

—–

In Enigma, Marilyn began the national anthem.

“O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain…”

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00300310

“New in town?” Bart the bartender asked, wondering if she heard him over whatever was playing in her headphones. He had to try. She was so cute with her blue-green skin and orange tipped antennae, just typing away without a seeming care in the world. He’d dated a Venusian over in Tinsletown and considered it a once in a lifetime opportunity. Now he may have another (he dreamed). But… no answer. Headphones must be blocking. And she hadn’t taken them off yet so no chance of non-filtered chit chat. Been sitting here playing on her notebook, jeez, I guess going on 2 hours. Slow night, Bart the bartender thought. Wish I could get *something* out of it… no tips coming in. He again studied the orange tips of antennae. She glanced up with those big orange eyes to match, sensing the stare, but then quickly down again, absorbed in whatever she was typing. He could say he’s closing up, but in reality he had an hour left on his shift, before the bar shut down when the musical group started playing. The Rolling Joints tonight, fresh from a gig at the Progressive Rock Museum’s place over on Roost Peninsula, or so he’d heard. Yeah, you’d have to be smoking some joints to believe they were progressive, he thought humorously. Another one of those 3 chords and the truth sort of bands to his ears, what he knew about them.

It was a club that catered mainly to colored people, but “aliens” of all kind were welcomed. “Bigots not allowed,” read a big sign outside the establishment. Northern Nautilus, as a whole, was progressive in that way. Take the Rolling Joints, whose music was kind of foreign to the complex rockers over on the peninsula but invited anyway. Takes a tapestry to know the world, he was always taught by his forward looking mamas and papas in Donutland just off the west end of Highway 12. He’d heard differently about other parts of the mainland, especially Jeogeot and southern Maebaleia. And, of course, Lower Austra, but not quite the same way. Bigots only to the northern parts of the continent and their ways. Tolerance in other parts of the metaverse was acceptable. Strange folks those Lowers, he thinks here. And the Uppers have their own peculiarities. But us *Northerners*. us non-Austrans — we’re the best (!). Can’t be beat. If only we’d stop building and then tearing down all those castles we’re peculiarly attached to.

The band’s entourage starting moseying in the front door, preparing to set up all their needed gear. The Rolling Joints, he thought, marveling at the sight. Maybe pretty soon we can attract The Beetles themselves, or at least a John Lemon solo act. The door has been opened with this lot, bless their at least progressive hearts. More can come in.

Then lead guitarist George Timebomber arrived and the game was *really* on. The Venusian immediately shut her notebook, appearing to sense his entrance without turning. She removed her headphones and walked over. They kissed. Darnit!

—–

“I’ve been listening to your new album all night, waiting for you,” she said to him in her dry, Venusian way, as if her mouth had been filled with cotton. “I *love* it. I’ll print my review tomorrow in the ‘Daily Castle’. I think we’re looking at an…” She hesitated saying “escape pod”, thinking of her own way of getting here. Now she can help another with a kind of parallel problem. Three chords and the truth, pheh, she could have thought here. She’s counted at least six on track one alone! He belongs here, not touring the metaverse that is our world, Our Second Lyfe. He needs to turn local, which is every big rocker’s dream after all. In olden days (she’s heard), it use to be the opposite. Queer times! she thought here. Who would want to acquire *fame* and all the attached trappings??

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… cross(es) to bear

They called it the Cross Arm of the Starfish Lake or Sea (or whatever) because of the balance of the 2 castles, Princess to the right and Dairocha to the left, coupled with the twins on the vertical axis, north and south, talking and debating about such on opposite coasts. One was right and the other was wrong. Then the situation flipped at the arm: the right one was wrong and visa versa. It all evens out if you figure in the castles… and the Marilyns. “Dot dot dot,” I can hear the opposite say in my head. “Enough with the dots.” And perhaps he was right (not). Also: “Enough with the parentheses.”

At any rate, we need to get back to the original Marilyn and the Monster book stolen from the Dairocha library by Axis-Windmilll and Alysha Mae Raspberry. Also: “Enough (…) of the crossouts.”

Jesus H. Christ writing is hard!

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fairy blue 02

Deals were being swung all day. Belinda Mae Appletree called her mom, asking for a raise in allowance from 5000 to 10. Dirk Besmurk wondered if he could even afford a fish taco from this central vendor after purchasing a loan on a Ferarri 5000 series from Jebadiah Bush, a former snake oil salesman at Barkley’s hired by the Princess to do her dirty work. And the Princess? Well, we’ve discussed the Princess of the Diagonal already in this here photo-novel (30) but apparently this one is different. No pictures this time — just rumors. Gossip has her as a ditzy blonde, centered by a pole that revolves around and around like a rotisserie chicken being devoured, bit by bit, by onlooking lingering eyes before its time. 15 she was when she inherited the castle from her aunt’s mom’s cousin, one Felicity Day Daghound of the Dartmoor Harbour Bay area — thereabouts.  She was just too young for the responsibility, in other words, to be thrust out into the world of Mann at such a tender age. It basically ate her alive; close enough.

—–

They caught up with each other, twin to twin. “Have you heard the latest about the castle?” the black and blue one said to the red and white one. “Dairocha?” the other spoke back. “I’ve heard about the incident in the library and the theft of the all important Monster book. Marilyn was not pleased.” “*Marilyn*,” the first said, “is at the Princess Castle. You mean the Princess Castle, right?” Wrong.

The book flips back.

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snow job

Could he pull this off? It was suppose to be a display car, crown jewel of the exhibit, but Vince Wonderboy had a big bright idea to lure Apri Cott in here, not the brightest of the new crop, and, most importantly, the wealthiest, or potentially so if all the family money rolls his way. “You won’t even *need* money for the tuition part of your education with this baby,” he pitched under the pitched tent this car would center if it weren’t for that darn pole in the middle. If only they could make (the object) invisible. “You’ll settle down on the bay or something with a rich heiress and whittle the days away sipping ginger beer and eating Toasty-O’s — I think they’re up to irregular shapes like strings and loops by this time,” he sidetracked. Back to it: “5000,” he said. “You get your own oxygen tank with it, right there in the center between the two seats. You’ll be really high up; you’ll need it. We’ll throw that in for free.”

“I’ll *take* it,” he rapidly said after the “free” came out of the car loaner agent’s mouth. Fish come to papa, Vince W. thought, imagining himself down on that same pretend bay with the same pretend heiress. One day…

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fairy blue

He kept waiting for the red book to right itself as he read it in the sand down at the beach. Someone approached: an opposite. “I will take over now,” he said confidently, as if his black and blue color demanded it.

—–

A new crop of students arrived at the Princess Castle School for Design and Wealth. You’d think they would have learned their lesson after what happened to Dimmy and Marilyn last semester down at the end of Route 12 but, no. The VW Beetles of the world would still in all likelihood have their backs turned toward them while the glitzier ones demanded all the attention. And the car loaner agents laughed all the way to the bank (by the cliffs (by the sea)).

“Rev it up and see what you think,” agent Scott Johnson said to Tommy Twostep within, fresh from the Outer Rim where fast and furious cars like this were few and far between. He was dazzled by the array here. Daddy would understand the extra cost, he rationalized while crossing 6K rpms heading toward 7.

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green beret

The handle on the library’s door flickering in and out, indicating irreality.

He knew what needed to be done. Alysha had already left, having to start her shift in the castle’s “core”. Rumor has it she was also a dancer in disguise, going by the name of Francis Wagner. If so, she twirled on yin-yang and did it well, or so they say.

He’d met her (in disguise himself) over on one of the levels below the club, selling sushi. “Two please,” he said, trying to blend in. She saw through it, being a masquerader herself. “Brend,” she said in return. “I didn’t recognize you without my hat on.”

The second “Two”, was strangely different from the first, as if foreign text had just floated in from the sky to roost on the various pages.

He felt his world turn upside down.

It was about time to play the piano to let off steam.

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