“Green hand light, Musician. Timmy’s side is in control.
No stopping now.”
It appeared in VHC City’s underground Muff-Bermingham station on the second to last day of May 2017. The four stars strung above the entrance — red, green, blue, yellow — were a dead giveaway to who dwelt inside. It could only be Spongeberg the Destroyer, similarly bedecked with the same four colored stars. But where was he? The caravan appeared empty.
But suddenly Wheeler was there, walking out the entrance in the most outrageous clown costume yet. Was that Spongeberg attached to her body??
No, it wasn’t. Should we send another avatar over to get the story? Baker Bloch is a logical choice. Maybe The Musician. But, no, here comes The Musician out of the caravan on the heels of Wheeler. He has a clown costume on as well — not quite as extreme as Wheeler’s, but pretty full frontal still. Noises inside. Appears there’s actually a party going on now where before was dead silence. At least 4 clowns within by my counting. One manifests at the door. “Hey Musician, where you going? Your turn to dance.”
The Musician moves closer to Wheeler, saying just above a whisper, “I don’t want to do that.” He’d seen the others. He’d seen *Wheeler*. He didn’t know how she did what she did.
“No choice, Musician,” returns Wheeler in a loud whisper herself, out of earshot of Johnson. “We’ve gone this far. You dance, you’re in the group. Spiffy, Jumbo, Percolator, Stingray, Johnson, and us. This will make my cover complete. You’re here with me now. Allen Martin has gone to a better plane. Go ahead and dance for the guys and gal. All you have to do is be goofy as hell and you’ll be fine. Nothing *serious*.”
“I’m not exactly sure how to do that,” admits The Musician. He was a serious artist. No comedy in his act.
“Think about what you usually do when you dance and do the exact opposite,” suggests Wheeler. “Pretend that there’s an anti-Musician, one who isn’t serious at all. A clown, a buffoon. He’s a walking laugh elicitor. He can’t walk down the street but for people doubling over all around him, rolling on their sides even. Laughs and guffaws, Musician, when they see you. I know you can do it.” She brushes aside his projecting green hair and gives him a kiss on the cheek. “The key is not to think at all,” she says, holding his arm. “Just let go. Let *everything* go. Let the other side take control.”
She grasps his shoulders and turns him around to face the caravan and Johnson. Then she gives him a swift kick up the rear, making the clown at the door clap his hands with glee. He meets the reeling Musician halfway and escorts him up the steps. “Bozo coming through,” Johnson yelps as they enter the caravan to an eruption of cheers.
Wheeler stays outside and listens, letting it soak in. The four stars above the door disappear as the event reaches a tipping point. “Spongeberg has no power here now,” she says to herself. “We move forward.”
“Show me the map,” requests Hucka Doobie to Baker Bloch.
“Yes. Christiansted. Surrounded by monsters. These could represent the 4 true Munsters: Grandpa, Eddie, Herman, and Lily. Grandpa is Grandpa obviously. Fangs could be Eddie, who also has them. Or Lily even. Then Herman is Herman. And Munster could be Lily or Eddie, once more. What is the name of the ordinary Munster, the one who doesn’t count?”
“Marion,” guesses Baker incorrectly.
“Marion. So Timmy Duncan, greatest power forward in NBA history, was born and raised in this Christiansted capital city.”
“Correct, Hucka Doobie.”
“When Hurricane Marion destroyed the island’s only Olympic-sized swimming pool in 1989, Duncan was forced to swim in the ocean, where he quickly lost enthusiasm for the sport because of his fear of monster attacks — sharks in this case. He turned to basketball, which was destiny, fate. He went through a conversion.”
“Yeah. But I’m checking on the phone now, Hucka Doobie. The hurricane’s name was Hugo. Marion came 6 years afterwards, a somewhat milder affair. But, in looking closer, that hurricane’s name was Marilyn. So Marilyn must be the ordinary Munster. The perimeter which is the center of it all. Duncan was already a star at Wake Forest by then.”
“A star is born. Let’s go back to SoSo now and study further. I just wanted to see what you had set up in this secret Muff-Bermingham station.”
“This collage 17 of 2007’s Oblong series depicts a later Duncan, after he won his first championship as the somewhat lesser of the twin towers formed by himself and fellow future hall of famer David Robinson. And this is where your personal WBA ends and the general NBA continues. Zircon Zappers Tom Casey and Robert Jones were the parallels to this twin tower situation in San Antonio.”
“Yes, I’m almost positive of that, Hucka Doobie. Duncan later excels beyond Robinson. I didn’t have that.”
“(Collage 17) is another great 3-n-1. And where we also ended an Oblong analysis from, what was it, way back in 2008? LINK”
“I don’t know, Hucka. Pretty long time ago,” Baker Bloch agreed.
“Three (Lake District) tarns. Three choices. River Derwent originating in Seathwaite Fell — SF — reaching Derwent Water through the finger-ish delta was a goal. Fox Tarn rock blocked, with Crazy Clown Head removed. But maybe Angle Tarn aligned with Duncan instead of Robinson succeeds, not the one in Langstrath but in Patterdale. But maybe they are also one. Tarn at Leaves. This (work remains) confusing.”
“But the clincher that this has to do with Muff-Bermingham, Hucka Doobie, is the presence of Herman Munster in the very next Oblong collage. 18. Two from the end now.
That Munster perfectly fills a gap between two mirrored images.”
“The beginning of Stonethwaite from Greenup,” Hucka Doobie adds. “You must return.”
“He is his own grandpa,” succinctly explains Mary/Chuckles.
“How did that come about?” asks a nonplussed Pitch Darkly. He’d seen and heard about everything in his extended life.
“A concert. A bat thrown onstage. He thought the bat was rubber. He bit its head off, finding out it was a real bat: his own (vampire) grandpa. Their blood comingled. He became his own grandpa.”
Pitch Darkly stared over at the figure in the corner. “Is he alive? I mean, you’re alive and…”
“… mere mesh figure?”
“I don’t know. Why don’t you ask him?”
So Pitch talked to the figure. “Hellooo? Mr. Well? Hell–OOO??” He looked back at Mary/Chuckles. “No good.”
“No. He is mere representation. He can’t do what I’m about to do now.”
Pitch watched as Mary/Chuckles got up and stood beside the window, outfits instantly swapped out.
He turned back to the Osborne Well figure. “Is that his grandpa there he’s holding?”
Mary/Chuckles sat back down at the table with Pitch Darkly, green outfit returned. “No, it’s just a microphone shaped like a bat. He holds a bat just like you use to do. But we should move more into who he is beyond what he is.”
“Can you guess?” asked Mary/Chuckles.
“Umm. Vampire from the etheric plane. Er, vampire from the Planet of Vampires. Or just a vampire from (an airplane).”
“All three, yes. Another great 3-n-1. Their plane or planet crashed or clashed over there.” Mary/Chuckles pointed behind her toward what Pitch understood as the Catsocks sinkhole he and Buster had visited just yesterday. “A deal was struck with Chelsea: Stay across the tracks from our hotel and attached developing city and we’ll let you do as you wish. Thus the killing shacks. Thus the creation of the multiple fishing holes. Like me, vampires, or at least this particular strain of vampires, love to fish.”
“*You’re* not a vampire?” Pitch Darkly logically asked. “But, no,” he then added more to himself. “I would obviously be able to tell my own kind.”
“Owen Grandpa,” Mary/Chuckles chipped in. “That was his vampire grandpa’s (ironic) name. But Osborne Well didn’t know his grandpa was a vampire until he bit his head off in bat form.”
“Interesting (developing) story. What happened to Osborne, Mary? I mean, since this figure really isn’t him.”
“As a living breathing dichotomy, Well soon became ill and died. So another ironic name, both grandson and grandpa. Other vampires moved in to fill the power void. I wasn’t around but I heard it from my grandma. I speak with her still sometimes.”
“Channeling?” guessed Pitch Darkly.
“No. Phone. She lives over in Farmington.”
A face began to form on top of the Osborne Well figure’s own, glasses intact for now. The facing Mary/Chuckles saw it and then asked Pitch to turn around. From his surprised expression she understood he saw the same. “The Protector,” she explained, face locked in. “Monsters all around.”
Well’s glasses faded as well, making Pitch Darkly revert back to Baker Bloch. “I know that face.”
“Thank you for showing me this, Baker Bloch. I’m grateful.”
“You’re preparing for a big role shift, Wheeler. You deserve to know about Muff-Bermingham at this point.”
“And the corresponding pictures on this other wall? Is that me in the center?”
“Kind of,” responds Baker. “The title says ‘Chuckles’. Obviously our fisherwoman friend across the tracks.” Baker Bloch checks his watch. “Speaking of which…”
“Mary. You’re real name is Mary. Not Delbert, not Wanda.”
Mary meekly nods.
“Now tell me all about this Osborne Well.”
Pitch Darkly continued the formalities. “Nice of you to cease your fishing and come for a visit, Chuckles.” He was thinking she cleans up nicely.
“Please. Call me Delbert. No: Wanda.”
“Alright, Wanda. What brings you here this fine morning? And if you’re wondering, by chance, I’m not a vampire chained to a night and day cycle. I’m *weaker* during the day — certainly don’t do any large killings at this time — but I’m perfectly okay otherwise. I avoid direct exposure to the sun for long periods obviously.”
“Wheeler said there was news about the Novas.”
“There is. The, ahem, *immoral* person Tronesisia brought to your and Buster Damm’s Kill Shack the other day…”
“Fisher,” inserted Pitch Darkly. “But not a fisherman. I don’t think. Just a name. Yes, he was immoral and thus worthy of sacrifice as determined by the Book of Blood. The chess game was indeed rigged. His former slavebot Bendy has been freed to go back to his proper place in the skies.”
“Anyway,” Wanda/Chuckles continued, “turns out he was also someone else at the same time: Clare.”
“Clare?” Pitch asked. He pretended like he didn’t know who this was.
“Clare Nova,” Wanda clarified. And not an alt. A rebis. Like you and Baker Bloch. Something to do with the clowning disease.”
“Oh, Clare *Nova*. What does this imply?”
“Fisher is dead,” spoke Wanda, wondering how long it would take Pitch to get it. “And Clare Nova is Fisher…” she urged. “So what does that mean?” Pitch Darkly shrugged.
But he knew what it meant. Wheeler had just gone from understudy to star.
“The Musician said he wanted us to check this place out, Hucka Doobie. Oh wait, he’s started.”
Look at me
Who am I supposed to be?
Who am I supposed to be?
Look at me
What am I supposed to be?
What am I supposed to be?
Look at me
Oh my love, oh my love
Here I am
What am I supposed to do?….
“I’m not sure I like it as good as News and Views for a hangout,” whispered the bee-person to Baker Bloch while The Musician continued his crooning. “Nice song, though. Who is it?”
Buster opened his lid to listen better. “Damn. What’s all that racket up there? Wednesday afternoon already?”
There was a second death in the Underground. A dreaming Wheeler had foreseen the event. It involved herself.
It took her ages to figure out the correct clown costume to wear. It had to be extreme enough to be believable — she had definitely been clowned. But not too over the top. Not at this time.
The shark-man lumbered up for their prearranged meeting. “Claribel: greetings. That a new outfit? I thought you didn’t like dresses.”
Must ward off suspicions at the start, Wheeler thinks. “Oh just something I threw on.”
“Threw up on, haha.” Orange was known for his bad jokes. “And your face. You look redder. You sick or something?”
“Ah, who knows with me,” and then she pretend retched but only ended up spitting on the ground beside her.
“Good one, Clare. There’s my little clown-face coming through.”
Wheeler’s plan seemed to be working. Chuckles Greentop had provided the keys. Just dumb down all interactions to a crude minimum and let the feigned clowning disease do the rest. Not-so-bright Orange Nova was becoming comfortable; any doubts about identity abating. Perhaps this wouldn’t be the day she perished.
She didn’t want to sit this close to him but Orange insisted. He sniffed her a couple of times during the conversation but that was the only signs of lingering skepticism Wheeler detected. They were now in the northwest corner of Bemberg, technically Summerhill’s realm, Orange said, but he liked the bench poses in this small, remote park of the city and would “take his chances.” The shark-man was helping Wheeler put the pieces together with almost every uttered sentence. Why the Novas were here in the first place, these *Super*novas as the locals under their subjugation once called them and still do at times. Orange was the 4th and youngest sibling, with last definitely representing the least in this case.
Wheeler just kept leading him through a maze of clumsily collected information. About an hour in, Wheeler figured she had enough to chew on and opted for safety. She excused herself, saying she needed to check the air in her shoes before an evening hike.
She walked south in the direction of Hooktip to complete the ruse, while Orange trod back north to Saturnia. His sim, he thinks while reentering the grounds of Muscle Madness. Or will be one day; Claribel be damned. The Realm of Orange.
“Catsocks (Catalpa-Tussock) sinkhole, Buster. This is where VHC City and its Chelsea hit a new low.”
“Deal with the etheric Plane of Vampires.”
“Plan-*et*,” Pitch Darkly amended. “Planet of Vampires.”
“Or just (an airplane) full of vampires,” Buster tacked on. ‘Or all three or any combo of two of the three.”
“Or none at all,” added Pitch Darkly.
“I always thought it to be a planet sized meteor, Pitch.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Buster.”
On the opposite side of VHC City from the sinkhole, Wheeler was attempting to sit on a bench in a small Saturnia park with little luck.
On a large, smooth rock beside the bench she found a jar of fireflies and a book describing what appeared to be a town in the Lapara sim, also located on the Heterocera continent but considerably north of VHC City. Owner of the book (and town?): Clare Nova.
While she studied the text and photos within, Wheeler heard and then saw a tautly physiqued shark coming up the hill toward her from the direction of Saturnia’s Muscle Madness store. Not Clare but Orange, the brother. Yet another Nova.
Wheeler stood her ground and got ready to transform. Would this work?