pause

“The treasure remains safe for now, Breven. All things will be reset in the transition between 11 and 12. Are we ready?”

“Caaaaaaaaap.”

“What’s that, my flightless friend?”

“E.”

“Oh. *Cape*. Right you are!”

—–

Ruby finds more blank pages at the end. “And that appears to be it, my friends. The treasure remains safe; everything is wrapped up neat and tidy.” She pauses. “I suppose.”

“What about the Murderkiller?” inquired Indigo to her left. “What about *me*. I’m dead!”

“Yes,” points out Ragdoll on her right. “And I wasn’t even in this one. Disappointment!”

Central Ruby ponders on this. “Maybe — just this time — we can handwrite into these blank pages at the end. You know, create our own ending. Since we’re not quite satisfied with this one.”

“Unlike 10. Perfect!” remarks Ragdoll.

“And 7,” offers Indigo. “My favorite.”

“Right. Well… any ideas? Indigo, you mentioned the Murderkiller, and I agree. I was also killed, you’ll remember.”

“But then,” indicates Ragdoll in her more high pitched, youthful voice, “Axis, I believe, states you can be brought back to life through cloning. Your leg.” Ragdoll gestures toward Ruby’s wooden leg. “How *did* that happen, by the way? I mean, outside the books themselves.”

But Ruby refused to talk about that in detail, saying it involved a moment shared between Axis and herself and she would tell them more later. It would actually be much later. So they went back to the topic of the Murderkiller. Ruby summarized.

“We — being the user as a collective — originally wanted to call him or her the Alphabet Killer, since 26 deaths seem to be involved, same as the number of letters in the alphabet. But turns out this title had been taken by another sickie in the past. So Murderkiller was eventually chosen, because, you see, 13 beloved Christmas figures were *murdered* in Snowlands — perhaps all men if we admit that snowman Frederica is actually a transvestite named Frederick…”

“Interesting twist,” states Indigo.

“Yes. And then 13 women *killed* elsewhere, perhaps all on this Cross that is a central setting for 11.”

“I am the 12th.” Indigo points to herself. “And you are the 11th.” She redirects the finger toward Ruby. “Frodes.”

“Laffoon to Frodes, right. We should have never left the laughs and buffoonery of Laffoon, I believe the text states.”

“And that’s directly on The Cross,” added Ragdoll. “I’ve studied the Omega continent in the meantime. Lineside is in the middle. Like a dividing line between north and south.”

“Mason-Dixon,” agrees Ruby. “So much more could be developed, starting with that Bypass used to railroad captives back to Dixie.”

“Like Duncan Avocado,” declares Indigo.

“The 13th,” chips in Ragdoll. “But, queerly, not a woman this time. Maybe a switch with Frederica somehow?”

“Good. Good, guys.” An inspired Ruby goes around the corner to retrieve a pencil, then returns to the table. She begins to lay out the reality of an extended ending, qualifying the plan by saying they can always erase anything they don’t agree with.”

“So it has to be a consensual reality,” expresses Indigo. “All shared.”

“All shared,” joins Ragdoll.

Ruby puts graphite point to paper. “All shared,” she echoes. And begins to write…

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