Monthly Archives: January 2018

to make it all work

“Well this is a wonderful setup Philip.”

“Yeah. Dish pointed right to the Corsica east coast station. Linked to the computer inside. Ring research complete. Now — like you said — just to weave it all together.”

Now if I could just see Spica with this darn, loopy telescope copied from the annex, Philip thought to himself. Soon, though. If everything goes as planned.

Marion backtracked a bit on the property. “But what’s this over here? Looks like a demon, haha.”

“Well, um, it kinda is.”

“Hmm. What do you mean, Philip? Is this some type of joke?”

“All I mean is that it’s something I had to do to, you know, make all this *work*. For the kid.”

“Heidi again,” Marion gruffed. “Should have known.”

“It was just a simple sacrifice. An oo’d or something. Sometimes we have to do the sacrifices for the greater good. You told me that when we first formed the gang, Marion. We had to kill off Timmy, for instance.”

“That was a mistake,” Marion replied sharply. “He fell into a well by accident and that is that.”

—-

6 days earlier…

“Don’t kill me sir, whoever you are! I have so much to live for!”

“Shut up clown. Make your peace with The Lord.”

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3 4 2

“I told you to always shut the door behind you when you come in here, Philip.”

“Oh… sorry.” Philip Strevor touches the treehouse door and closes it. He looks back at Marion Harding, at the ring.

“Why can’t Heidi join us?”

“You know why, Philip. She’s a distraction to you. We need to *focus*. It’s time to start deciding what to do with this… core.”

“Is it?” Philip began asking, then hesitated. “I mean, is it really the source of all? Our Second Lyfe itself?”

“Beyond,” answered Marion religiously. “Beyond Second Lyfe. Beyond even Virtual Reality.”

“But… Virtual Reality is *everything*,” Philip protested. “There’s *nothing* beyond. No life could exist in the void.”

“There’s the users,” Marion explained. “The ones in heaven looking down on us and controlling us like puppets.” He leaned forward more, green ring growingly glowing in the fire light. “I want to cut the strings, Philip. I want out.” But, again, he thinks of the Horizons-Spica fishing shack and settles back in his seat, intensity diminished.”

“How, er, did it escape obliteration in the Ichelus volcano again? It’s like that book over there: ‘Lord of the Rings.'” Philip pointed to Marion’s right from his angle. “Caucasian Tommy Brade threw the ring into the volcano, thereby destroying them both.”

Marion blew out air. “Listen, Philip. You did an excellent job of sleuthing about the ring on the illegal interwebs feed out in Minkowski. The dark skies allowing you to connect to the Corsican east coast satellite. Brilliant.”

“Booker’s widow played a big role in that. Give credit where credit is due, I always say.”

“Nice. But we’re not bound to any one path of manifestation. We’re taking different strands and weaving a rope — something different and new. Take Casey One Hole stuck over there in the Gaston-Berry Police Station jail. In ‘Twin Peaks’ his double, this Dopple Coop, was released from Yankton Prison to continue his murderous ways. Casey One Hole will, however, remain in his cell, keys thrown away. Actor Tom Casey didn’t expect this. He expected his role to be larger. He won’t be paid the sum of money he desired. That’s where Anorexia comes into play, and ‘Pumpkintwisters.’ Poodle Doo too.”

“Man this is making my head hurt,” responds Philip. “Any Asprind around here?”

“Aspirin?” Marion alters. “We won’t need any aspirin where we’re going Philip. Because we won’t have any heads.” He stared at Philip, letting the acute declaration suck in the air all around them.

Heidi Hunt Ives suddenly bursts into the treehouse, breaching the vacuum.

“I’m booored. Are you *grown ups* finished with your big boy talk? Let’s go get ice cream. Rey Wisa has a special running until 10 o’clock. 3 triple dip cones for the price of 2. Let’s go! I’m booored,” she reinforces.

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another angle

Roger Pine Ridge kept looking at the flickering white glow beneath the water that he knew was Anton. Shoes stolen; mission accomplished. Like finding the ruby slippers of Oz, he thought. Anorexia’s gonna be pissed off as hell.

He looked over at the green robed woman beside him, face harshly illuminated by the glare of the flashlight she held. Scars. “I’m just waiting for the significant other to finish up inside,” he explained from his chair. “How about you?”

—–

Cyberpaperdoll walks out of Fae’s Boat House with 50,000 lindens in hand.

“Come on, Biker,” she said just above a whisper toward the closest Pine Ridge chair. “Time to go.”

“Don’t forgot to sign the guestbook out there!” Jim the Pirate Bartender called from within, a request they most definitely ignored while leaving.

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I am Kelp.

Yvonne — not there.

—-

Doflia (formerly Doreena): check.

—–

Cerdunk… submarine??

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the evolution of the ring

“I’m just waiting for the significant other to finish up inside,” spoke Roger Pine Ridge from his *self named* chair. “How about you?”

But metallic green robed Junbug said nothing and kept reading her book of spooky stories. There were codes inside.

—–

“I’m glad the Floyd Man is gone, Owlshead, because my book is now not full of glitches.”

“Do you have *any* clothes around here that’ll fit me?” the small green being now seated opposite her replied, “because I’m f-ing cold as old mold, *shiver*.”

“Okay,” Junbug relented. “Hop on back up and let’s go see how Anton is holding out. This was just a test anyway.”

—–

“I’m thinking of changing my name again to Kelp, Sidechick… Anton. Whaddaya guys think?”

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Anson Anton

“Well? How’d it go?” asked Jim the Pirate Bartender about Marion’s exploration of Anson. He was nosey that way. Regular customers usually liked it. Strangers sometimes put off. Like Marion Harding. But he relented, wanting to abate rumors while telling the real, *checkable* facts as much as possible.

“Nothing much there except a hull,” he tested. “No autos within now for certain.”

“We *know* that, Mr. Hardware,” Jim said, speaking for the bar collective he felt he presently represented.

“Harding,” Marion corrected about his name.

“What about Anton? What’s he look like these days? Use to come in here you know. Alternated between a bloody bucket of nails and a naily bucket of blood. Rough drinks both. Usually dove back into the sea pretty wasted. Surprised he didn’t actually drown he was so sloshed.”

“You know that’s impossible,” Marion corrected again. “You know we can all breathe under the water. Above the atmosphere, under the water. Survive fire and flood — although there is that rumor about a volcano on the Old Continent where avatars could actually perish.”

“But look at your friend Stinky Brinkman you spoke about earlier. Riddled with bullet holes. You said you were there at the funeral and another gunfight erupted, with three more dead. Then at *their* funerals nine more dead. What was the total at the end?”

“138,” replies Marion in a level tone. “138 avatars killed so far. Chain reaction, yeah.” He shook his head, thinking about Stinky more than any of the others. “But they aren’t really dead, see. The *core* remains to rise another day. Actually,” he then reconsidered, “there is another way to truly die. You can deactivate yourself — obliterate the core. I’ve been told it’s possible but I’ve never known anyone to actually do it. The problem might be: when you deactivate yourself that way you rub yourself out of existence, so no one remembers anything about you, past or present. It’s as if you never existed in the first place. Working theory mind you.” He took another sip of his Brewmeister’s Quarterly, still being careful not to drink too much. Because that’s when he gets in trouble with the revealing.

“Well I never,” Jim replied, wanting to get back to Anton. He wiped the counter in front of him a bit and collected his thoughts again. “I’ve heard he’s only a beard these days. Anton, I mean.”

Close, Marion thinks. But then utters: “I didn’t see him. No autos, no Anton.”

“Impossible,” returns Jim. “There’s a green dot on the map up there. It’s usually there. It’s gotta be Anton. We’ve had ships pass over the wreck and examined their NAR (Nearby Avatars Radar). Anton: usually the culprit. In fact — let me check my own map right now (Jim’s face went blank for a moment) — well he’s not there now, but *usually* is. Sometimes, anyway.

A cyberwoman walks into the bar and settles into a stool two down from Marion, paper airplanes whirling ’round and ’round her head. Spy? he considers. Jim keeps talking about Anton. Marion wishes he would really shut his yapper now.

“Maybe he’s totally invisible. He use to be whole, like when he came in here. But then there were reports of just a beard and a coat, just a hat and some pants. Maybe he really is gone, man. Dead even.”

“Is this Anton a boy of about 10 years old,” Cyberpaperdoll then inserted.

“Um, no,” Jim answered.

“Well, never mind, then. Paper plane cocktail if you will.”

—–

What Marion actually saw:

Shoes buried in the sand — uncovered. And the left one holding something small and green and almost priceless he soon found out. About $500,000 lindens worth of almost priceless. Enough to leave Second Lyfe altogether if he wished. But, truth be told, he only wanted to get back to that ice fishing shack over in Horizons-Spica. He dreamed about it almost every night.

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play with me

“Thank you for helping me, George. Now we’re having double the fun.”

“Sun’s going down fast, Heidi,” speaks a concerned George, still working upon his own castle. He’d been at it for about 45 minutes now. “Maybe we better go look for Philip and Marion. They may have forgotten about us. Especially Marion, you know. And Philip gets sidetracked in a different way.”

“Oh, they’re not concerned about us,” giggled Heidi Hunt Ives. “They know I can take care of myself. *And* you.” She stopped her castle building for a moment and looked over at him. “13, you say?” George nodded, beginning to hollow out the castle door more. “You really don’t look any older than me, truth be told. But look around, George. Do you know where you are?”

“I’m here with you,” he replied smugly, still engrossed in sand sculpting. “In a playground. In Capitol City. On the Gaeta V continent. In Our Second Lyfe. In Virtual Reality. Does that answer your question?”

“Right on the last two counts at least,” Heidi said innocently. With this, George finally looked up, saw the snow-less ground all around the sandbox. Saw the surrounding brick wall peppered with graffiti. Stood up and stared at the tall, disrepaired apartment building behind him.

And then, in an instant, it was all gone, clean, snowier part of Capitol City returned.

Flushing, he turned toward Heidi. Only one castle was in the significantly smaller sandbox now: her own. “There never was a second castle, George,” Heidi explained straightforwardly while still crafting a turret. “Not yet.”

—–

“Do you hear that?” she whispered, strangely concerned now after all that went on before. Then George heard it too. Crunching, soft but unmistakable. Someone walking on the other side of the picket fence.

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pinpoint

“I’m afraid we have no power to control the theft of the haunted VW, town owner Baker Bloch,” responds Keat Owens Librarian beside the marked up Nautilus City map. “The Oracle has spoken; it will continue to be X-ed out.”

—–

“All right. Time to move.”

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“Well, we have a giant *beaver*. How’s that?”

Marion Harding openly admitted to having a thing about trees. Here we see him climbing up the ladder into a treehouse he’s fancied recently. The owners of the main house on the property were never around, it seemed. And there was a gas station nearby which provided a small bathroom and also a bed for his more basic needs. Then there was the nice view of *the* tree.

Most Ancient One (MOA)  was the most impressive thing in Capitol City to Marion. “Nothing like this in your South Yankton,” he told Philip Strevor the other day while petting its massive trunk. This is Gaeta V, *not* GTA V. And while bland and boring overall yes, there are still advantages.” He started to mention Heidi as well, but didn’t want to get Philip thinking along those lines again — about “retirement” in this Muff-Bermingham run by that tall, pale dame he’s described. The heist should be the main focus now. That’s what they were meeting about at the tree’s base. For even Philip knew the huge old growth had authentic power. Power to expose and power to hide. Whatever was in the hearts of men at the moment. And, through knowledge gleaned from his wacky weed and attached fantasy friends, Marion understood how to harness it.

They’d left the kid at the playground in the snowier part of town. George was looking after her. George swears up and down that he’s 13 and not the 10 or so he appears to be. And, anyway, both Marion and Philip knew that Heidi Hunt Ives could take care of herself for sure. It’s just the *impression* of caretakers they were after. Part of the cover.

Anson. He’d received the name from The Oracle that is The Tree. An auto, a *bug*, stolen and then stolen again. Formerly buried in the sand at the wrecked ship just north of Fae’s Boat House by Tom the Booker — Tom Booker — now deceased and buried himself somewhere in the eastern reaches of Corsica Prime. Car thieving was his livelihood. But this theft was special. Because there was something stashed in the exhaust system he didn’t know about. A 50,000 linden reward issued by the Purple Gang of the Black Lake District alerted him to the situation. Then the kid plugged her own ultra valuable information into the equation. This is *the bug* she stated more than once she was working on, beyond the old and middle aged women, beyond even the poodle. Not an insect, but at the same time, yes an insect, she cryptically claimed. A philosopher’s stone she termed it for him.

This is why he decided to bring her into their fold in the first place. The bug. And she claimed to have the power to know exactly where it was at any one time. And it would continue to get stolen, again and again. The money would keep roll’n in.

—–

“We’re gonna drive this car all the way to ‘Pumpkintwisters’ this time, Jackie.”

“Shut up and get starting.”

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breakthrough 02

The cavern passages were long and numerous. Pitch stopped to ask a gray woman directions, but she was just a statue.

A way out (!). But he dare not step into the sun for fear of waking up. He wasn’t quite ready for that.

He tried to orient himself by statues and other objects, such as that barrel in the background here.

Resting both brains and legs for a bit before continuing…

Then suddenly he was upon it: the source of the music from the former dream, although he didn’t realize this at first.

The birds perched on the keyboard urged him forward. “You are a musician like us!” they seemed to warble.

Now Pitch can’t play the piano worth a lick, but when he sat down on the stool and automatically thrust his hands forward, lo and behold he turned into a maestro. And fingering the same tune as heard before: the eerie, quasi-jazz piece with halting ebbs and flows. A composition by Rutherford “Booger” Hayes, he then realized. The first president of the United States that was never president of the United States.

After a couple of bars, he hunched up his legs and took it all in. He’d really and truly found the great 3-n-1 this time. Thank you Melvin. Thank you so much! He couldn’t wait to wake up and tell Mary.

And so he did.

—–

Mary, pack your bags. I’m pretty sure I can see, speak, hear again up there.

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