“So is this it?” he asked. So innocent and mild-spoken, not like in the Big Dream I had. I’m reassured by his physical presence. This is not a monster before me (!). It was all imaginary; unreal. Like with that girl in the 1898 Oz movie.
“Yes, Man About Time — MAT.”
“Thank you,” he replied about me adding the way he likes to say his name. Like someone named Matt in our world — *your* world. “Welcome MAT!”, and so on. It reminded me of something else.
“Do, ahem, you remember Marcus Fox Smartville? I believe you may have met him on News Years. Not this year but maybe one back.”
“Of course.” He twirled around in place on the edge of the road. Highway 14, the compliment to Highway 13 on the other side of the peninsula we live upon.
“Explain your relationship — if you don’t mind.”
“I am he,” he said plainly, flinging his arms about again. He looks up at the colorful sign, continuing talk from before. “So this is TILE.”
“TILE indicator, yes. The gallery across the road pointed it out. One Barret Darkfold. Interesting art within as well.”
“And you’ve contacted him?”
“Yes. Because his is the closest registered gallery to Collagesity as I found out last night, and also that our names are alphabetically next to each other in a member list of the Virtual Soho group, which I just found out tonight in looking up something totally different. I told him I thought it was funny: these two found juxtapositions of ourselves in two nights.”
“It’s the bridge,” he suddenly said. “It points right to the sign.”
I looked north. “Bridge of the 7 Chickens?”
“Yes. It points directly to this… TILE substitute,” he reinforced.
The individual tile numbers are not exact but the colors match in two different ways, red for L and blue for E, just like in the letters of TILE. But this is LOVE, of course, so the O and the V don’t match the letters. But they match the remaining colors of green and yellow. This is TILE.
“Shall we go see the art?” I asked him after nothing else seemed to need adding about the sign.
As we started walking, 2 pods flew by us and pulled into a small station just ahead. We took it as yet another sign…
… then I found another pod across the bridge. I hopped in, leaving MAT behind.
MAT decided to check out the Darkfold gallery by himself. “Didn’t even say goodbye, hmph,” he muttered about my quick exit while passing through the multi-arched entrance.
Ahh. Quito’s Garage. The place Karoz Blogger got married way back in novel 2. And I was just here.
Soon I was back where I started. The pod had suddenly decided to turn around in its journey not far past the garage. As if it was all about that.
“How was your trip?”
“How was *yours*?”
“Colorful,” he replied over.