“Whoa Nelly, Wheeler!” Mary exclaimed. “Got another one, phew!”
“Coolie,” said Wheeler, still thinking about the events of the day. “So… Tronesisia figured out that Aspinwall, the snake pet that came with (Allen Martin’s) gas station, was the portal animal needed to cross over because of Woody’s clue. Because it had grown larger recently. She had to move it from a matchbox to a cigar box about a week back?”
“I think so. (That’s) what Baker Bloch told me.”
“Snakes and dogs,” she continues. “Wonder what other animals could be used?”
“Birds, I’ve heard. But you have to get a walking one. Like, say, an emu.”
“Or a dodo,” Wheeler offers, but then remembers that particular species is extinct, with the walking aspect actually helping to do them in.
“No dodos,” Mary replies.
“Yeah, I recall now.”
Mary suddenly gasps. “Or *is* there?” She turns toward Wheeler with something different on the end of her line. Not a perch this time.
Wheeler was still thinking of possible portal animals. “I wonder if you could, say, just stick a perch in your pocket.”
“Look!” Mary commanded.
It was also Woody who discovered what was, in effect, the keyhole of the cypher city. One of its buildings stood out from the rest, being isolated inside its own small square of surrounding road. The wooden man figured that if you unlinked the berg and then, in turn, touched or sat upon this building, the surrounding force field would be removed and you could reach the portal. But only one person should be up here when this happened, because you couldn’t just stand/un-sit and get back to Collagesity afterwards. Tronesisia was the one.
And if Woody’s theory was wrong? Tronesisia would be stuck here until Karoz could get his rocket ship launched for a rescue. After speaking with Baker Bloch on the matter, the robot lady decided it was well worth the risk, a quicker and, in all likelihood, safer way into Bermingham. Baker confided to Tronesisia that Woody is probably the one who set all this up in the first place, and then just conveniently forgot he did so. “How did it just show up one day outside his front door?” he rationalized to her. “How does Woody seem to know how it works so well? No, this was another aspect of his split nature, like how he regularly brings inanimate objects such as Snowy and others to life. He goes *into* them. Just like he has already gone into this world, this Bermingham. He’s merely forgotten; it’s what he does by nature,” Baker reinforced. Tronesisia nodded, remembering how Snowy use to sit static beside Woody’s house when she first arrived in town.
But there was an additional problem to tackle: the issue of the portal animal needed to actually pass through the gateway. Wheeler stated to Baker Bloch that The Musician held a fox to effect the transition (but which we later find out is really a dingo resembling a fox — still a portal dog). And then a bit later in our story we learned that snakes such as Old Colin Hiss could be used for the same. Woody asked his key about the matter and received an answer. “Such an animal has already been given to you by one no longer with us,” he says to Tronesisia. She goes back to Baker Blinker’s Gloomy Gus to ponder on this, and then received the Eureka moment about 3am in the morning. “Aspinwall!” she cried.
The next day Tronesisia phoned up Baker Bloch and Woody and declared that she was ready. They meet at the smaller version of the sealed city outside Woody’s house. Snowy doesn’t join them this time. “What’s in the cigar box?” asked Baker Bloch, but then realized what it had to be. He looks at Woody who gives him a wink back. “She’s figured it out, my main man. She’s figured it out.”
Tronesisia passes through.