“Watcha checking out on those interwebs little lady?”
“A car,” Wheeler/Jennifer stated plainly. “I’m going to buy one when I get back.”
“Back from where?” asked puzzled Norm, a local resident. “I know of the Before and the After. But there is no Other. There is only Here.”
Great, another MISTY MO religious nut, Jennifer thought. “My home is in Collagesity. On the Atoll continent. Heterocera. Surely you know your continents. Did you not take geography in the schools you went to?” She looked over at him, noticed the rivets in his forehead, his hands. Mechanoid, ahh. That could explain it. He is programmed to know no other place but here.
“I took high school in geography. Does that count?”
Wheeler Jennifer pondered what could be a riddle. Story within story again. “Maybe,” she decided to answer.
He continued his information. “Before is the establishment of Fairview Alpha. Sometimes it is called the Big Mess. Too messy. Water everywhere. So many trees and plants and bushes. Clutter, if you will. After is Fairview and Alpha separate, as they should be. One in one place and the other in another. This is also known as the Plane of Martin and the Plain o’ Allen. Fairview is a fair view of the world, as it is, plain and uncluttered. The great bird flies in the sky but always lands here. Here is here. There is no Other, except for the Abyss.”
Jennifer took in the strange, new information. She shut the laptop, put away the visions of a speedy, glossy auto for now to concentrate. “I came here on a plane,” she said, thinking back to the one that landed on the edge of the Rubi Woods, the plane specifically sent by MISTY MO Inc. to take her to their homeland. Far far away from mainland madness, one flight attendant said of it. Brainwashed, she concluded. They’re all brainwashed into thinking this MISTY MO is somehow separate from the rest of Our Second Lyfe. Better, she concluded. Much better — some place *new*. Could this be?… no, she must put away thoughts of ever finding Ultima Thule. She spent the better part of her 20s and 30s looking into that black hole of an idea. The idea that she could purge herself of her demonic origins, pheh. No such luck. But still, there was the recent vision of the Demo Lake. She decided to ask about it — maybe Norm would know something. But in a roundabout way…
“Plane of Martin — that’s the plane.”
“Yes,” stated Norm. The sun was setting, the glints on his metal constituents fading. Was it safe here with this mechanoid being, Jennifer thought? She decided it was. The lodge brochure said no crime had ever been committed in modern MISTY MO. At least after the wide scale manufacturing of clothes.
“And this… Plain of Allen.”
“Plain *o’* Allen,” Norm clarified, pointing at Jennifer at the same time. “Like a possum.”
Hmm, Jennifer thought. I think his name might be Bob instead.
“What did you say your name was?” she tested. “Norm, right?”
Norm didn’t answer directly. “We better get you back to your lodge and me back to my lake. The night is full of owls and beaks that speaks. The Abyss returns.”
“Lake? You live in a lake?”
“Next to a lake,” Norm answered.
Jennifer didn’t have to ask *its* name. She knew it was Black. Where the demons lived.
Jennifer woke up, the sound of falling water swiftly returned. Midday. No Norm, no nobody. She had fallen asleep while daydreaming of fast, shiny objects. But the dream was like reality. She then realized there were much fewer trees and undergrowth in the “place” she had just been with Norm… Bob, Norm. And no water. *Was* it a dream?
She opened the laptop again and set the screen on mirror, held it up to her face, noted the DEMO stigmata again on her own forehead. 7610: DEMO.
Yes, it was a dream. A *reflection*.