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“Baker Bloch’s soo gullible,” spoke Hucka Doobie to our right, certainly *not* an insect in this situation. Instead: a full fledged woman, complete with all the working parts. “He thinks I’ve reverted. Why would I want to be a bee again? I gave that up ages ago, along with the attached masculinity. And I’ve been faking the transformation back for months, maybe years.”

“Yeah,” chipped in Barry Deboy, famous artist of the Yellowmoon peninsula with his latest series, “Adventures in Tintown”, being a much talked about hit and spectacle. Imaginary defunct tiny town on the outskirts of Mortons Gap, residents say, marveling and shaking their collective heads at the inventiveness. What will that genius come up with next? “He thinks I’m scared of the Ant Castle up here,” Barry continues. “Why… Ant’s one of my best friends (!).” He turns to his right. “Aren’t you Ant?”

Ant didn’t remember or recognize the fellow but he acknowledged the close friendship anyway. That’s the problem with running a business the size of a small banana republic. Lots of friends — hard to keep up with. He’ll take the guy’s word. “Sure, chum,” he said, hoping to catch his actual name later.

“And I guess he thinks you live over in Fearzom on that smaller mountain to the southeast. Good one, Ant.”

But Ant *did* live there. He didn’t live here, in the skybox above the location of his old castle. Back ran the castle and its grounds now, rebuilt from the ground up after the fire explosion of ’83. Ant actually didn’t live in Our Second Lyfe at all. He’s too busy with his business, with his many friends. Real Life we’re talking about here. In Our Second Lyfe he was just an ant, nothing less nothing more. An oversized one, true. And he invented the Bell telephone. Oops, there’s a ring now. The Devil probably, since we were speaking about it.

“Gotta take this.” Ant was hoping it was a call leading him back to the Real World. Exoskeleton costume starting to weigh him down. He answers with his free hand, Tom Collins in the other. Barry’s rock’n a Russian Roulette, and I believe Hucka Doobie holds some ginger ale. She’s not against imbibing but not on the job. And this definitely was work. Acting. With these Bozos. She wonders again if Barry is borderline autistic, so bad he was at it. She’s about convinced. The topo maps did it for her. But he makes up for it in other areas, she thinks (see: last paragraph).

“Hallo?”

Ant sets down his drink and moves away from the others after hearing the voice. Devil indeed.

“Iiii… didn’t expect to hear *back* from you so soon, he he.”

Answer.

“Comedian, yeah. Always. Soo… (he lowered his voice even more) have you made a decision about the girl? Will she be able to keep, you know… her *head*?”

Hucka Doobie knew what the call was about but she prepared to feign ignorance. Barry just wanted to get back to his collages. More fame, more adulation!  It was like a drug to him.

They were dating, by the way. Barry and Hucka. Baker Bloch had no clue about that as well.

(to be continued)

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