“So, um, what brings you to the Town Diner Dr. Blood?”

“I’m waiting for Homer Simpson and Carrcassonnee so that we can go on another camping trip into the woods, Karl. We had so much fun the last time. You should join us.”

“Hey, I ain’t going anywhere near the middle of those woods still.” Karl looked down at his suddenly rounded and less furry hands again. “Hey, Dr. Blood,” he began again. “You like that book you’re reading?”

“Oh it’s just something I’m browsing through while I’m waiting. I don’t really understand it.”

“Dufus, that’s the one with *you* in it. I was sitting over there earlier reading it. Checked it out of the library to make sure it was the correct edition.”

Dr. Blood takes a closer look at the tome; turns it around to read the cover he’s neglected to do before. “Blood Curdling Tales of The Forest,” he says aloud. “Oh, I didn’t realize… but what’s this about a Peter SoSo?”

“Never mind that now, speaking of unobservant. Do you notice anything different about *me*?”

Dr. Blood peered over at Karl sitting at the table alone. “You look sad. Your heart is low.”

“Always talking about *feelings*, oooh,” came the response. “Just *look* at me for Pete’s sake.”

Dr. Blood examines Karl from top to bottom as far as he can see and makes a determination. “You may look… a little bit less hairy.” He didn’t add that Karl also looked like he’s put on some weight.

“Bingo! I’ve lost my frigg’n beautiful fur, Dr. Blood. And I’m, on top of that, hello, *three-dimensional*. I woke up like this this morning. I tried to ignore it while setting up the bar, but I kept knocking into things. Thought the hair might rez in and everything would be okay. But it’s midday now, and The Hole in the Wall is due to open in 5 minutes. I think I’ll just have to close for the day. I’m sick. I’ve rung up my flattie cousin Crash — you know, Down-on-the-Coast Crash — to see if it’s ever happened to him. But look at me!”

Inside his compassion Dr. Blood had additional insights. “I sense in my special way that you have done something that has come around the bend to surprise you from behind. I see — a secret portal, a secret window to the soul.”

This makes Karl think back to a particular event from yesterday involving not a spiritual window but a very physical one. Then Dr. Blood inexplicably starts doing something on the striped pole in front of him that brought back a lot more memories, Ancient in origin.


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