“I’ve forgotten how beautiful it is down here on the lower level,” coos Colon, pausing to take in the scenery on river deck despite Morris’ warning to keep moving. “I’m so limited in my world up on the rock. To the store for eggs, back to the house. To the waterfall behind the 3rd cottage for a bath or wash, back to the house.”
And just like that The Musician had fallen asleep again. Looking over, Morris cussed the f-word and immediately began ruminating about Plan B.
The Musician woke up as Sikul Himakt, Bermingham native gone rogue for city life but returned to his bucolic origins to make amends. “Why are we not in the village?” he demands. “I distinctly remember entering the village and the general store.” He looked in turn at Morris, who he didn’t know, and Colon, who was an old friend. “Colon, I’m glad to see you.”
“Same here,” says the big snake honestly.
“But who’s this red headed dude?” Sikul asks.
“Just tell him the truth,” Morris suggests. “Just tell him who I am.”
“Uh, okay. You sure?”
“Yeah. We’re in desperate situations here.”
“Um, this is Morris, Sikul. Morris is Lou’s brother. Osborne Well is their father.”
“I *know* Osborne Well. He’s retired and lives up at the place on the edge of the world, beyond the high waterfalls. But Lou has no brother.”
“Yes. A brother. Outcast. Kind of like you. You think Bermingham is alone as a world. Intertwined all within it, however, is another world, a — less beautiful realm.”
“Oh come on, Colon,” complains Morris, arms folded. “Give me a break.”
“Anyway, this world, Sikul, is called Muff. Does that ring a bell at all?”
“No,” says Sikul, looking over at Morris.
“Morris rules Muff,” Colon continues, “as Lou is the owner of Bermingham now as passed down from Osborne. This is written in the ‘Sacred Book of Leaves’, but in symbols… code. The red and the green. Stop and go. Lou will tell you all about it if you asked, I’m sure.”
“No she wouldn’t,” counters Morris. “She wants The Musician — Sikul — here for good. She wants to eliminate the Muff half of the equation. Too arid, she complains for one part. Too cold and icy for another. These smaller, more numerous microcosms plugged into her own *uroborous* realm here are always quite not to her satisfaction. Yet this was what I was left with. My *inheritance*.”
In shock, Sikul looks at each in turn, absorbing the truth of it all. “Why has no one told me this before?”
“I’ve told you many times,” says Morris. “Again and again. Over and over. Yet you always fall asleep again and are in *her* realm. There’s only one way out of this now. We have to go to the place beyond the high falls.” He speaks to the snake now. “Colon, I thank you for the attempt but I’m afraid you’ll have to clean out your stuff from Sikul’s house and return to under the rock. Then we have to take Sikul heavenward. I’ll stay in the 3rd cottage with the, ahem, ghost. We’ll set out early morn.”
Sikul of course knew about the ghost. Mary. Known for her eerie chuckle. And red nose. But he personally had never seen her.