Category Archives: Muff-Bermingham

Outlier

Seeing the front porch of Woody’s house appear to the right from behind some raised, pointed green terrain, The Musician decides to jump down from the blue path and head toward it. Keeping straight would quickly lead to the sky islands. He didn’t need to go there quite yet.

The front door of the house is open. Figures appear in the far corner of the single room floor, all gathered around a circular, white topped table. Seemingly not yet noticed, The Musician listens in on the conversation in progress.

“Well, Osborne, in the late 1970s McKay told John Conway, the inventor of the Game of Life, you know, that the coefficient of 196884 was precisely one more than the degree of the smallest faithful complex representation of the monster group. Conway replied that this was Jack Daniels style moonshine, in the sense of being totally wacko nuts.”

Woody stops speaking and turns toward the door. “Oh, howdy Musician! Welcome to physics night at Woody’s Outpost. I hope you like vertex operator algebra.”

“I’m not sure,” is all he could manage, then, looking to the left, added, “I like your tree,” to be more cordial.

“Thank you,” replies the wooden toy-man. “It was a house warming gift from a dear dear friend who still lives over in the quarantined section of Bennington. Sector R I believe they call it nowadays, don’t they Osborne?”

Osborne doesn’t answer, but just appears to keep reading his book with the queerly tentacled creature adorning the ancient cover. Another monster.

“Well, anyway, come on in,” Woody says. “Just pass through the twirly whirly Jaspery thing so we can check out your core being. Then you can join us here at the table. Just a simple test, you understand. We need to know who you really are, deep down. The area around The Table must remain sanctified, right Osborne?”

The Musician began to panic. Who *was* he deep down? He’d figured something out at LEA11 about his true self but then quickly forgot. What if he simply *vaporized* — had no inner core.

“Oh don’t fret,” Woody reassures, seeing the worry on his face. “Everyone has a core, Musician, whether they know it or not. Here, I’ll go first and show you. That’s only fair. Osborne just remains Osborne. Pretty boring.”

Woody gets up and moves into the center of the swirl. He quickly contracts into a sort of meatball, then reconstitutes. Woody’s core.

Then he contracts and expands again to return to his wooden toy self.

“See? Nothing to it. Now your turn.” Woody steps back toward The Table.

The Musician saw no way out. He entered the swirl.

“There,” comforts Woody. “That wasn’t so bad.” He turns to Osborne. “Look, Osborne. A ghost. The Musician is a tall ghost at the core. Cool, eh?” Osborne keeps reading. “Let’s check the name out. Ohh, a Jupiter, eh? I knew some Jupiters over in Farmington. You’re not related to Jeb and Stewart by chance?”

The Musician shakes his head. “How do I get back?” he asks. Would he have to stay this way *forever*?

“Takes a little longer for first timers,” Woody explains. “Just give it a moment. Try not to move too much.”

And then The Musician was back. Woody pulls a chair out at The Table and offers him a seat. “You can sit beside me. We have much to talk about. We need to get you reunited with Wheeler and heading to VHC City pronto. Bad juju going on there. We can use the key shop as a teleport device of course. I know you’re familiar with it.”

Ah, The Musician thought. So Wheeler was right all along.

—–


10:15PM: Heading back.

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Blue

At the beginning of the blue path near Osborne’s Woody’s house, Sikul Himakt The Musician spotted him, sitting alone on a high perch overlooking the Magenta Sea.

“I had it all, Musician,” the figure spoke without turning. “A fantastic new woman in my life, a faithful son now free from possession. Investigation over. No one died. And then it was all taken away. Woody became Allen, and the 4th wall was erased, just like in the hit film ‘Purple Rose of Cairo.’ Ever heard of it? Stars a man named Baxter, but not Ted. I don’t think.”

The man never turns around, but The Musician knew who it was, of course. Recently deceased Allen Martin.

“Jasper is waiting,” he said cryptically to end his dialog.

The Musician glances behind him, wondering where Colon was. But the snake had vanished, just like Morris before him. And then, in turning around, Allen Martin had disappeared too. The Musician was alone. Time to find Woody.

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High Falls

Sikul Himakt and Colon pause at the top of the ramp to look back at the green hump representing their now joint sod home on Big Rock. They’d bought a baby dragon from the general store to effectively seal the deal. Another mouth to feed.

Morris was called away at the last moment on business and couldn’t make the trip; took one last glance over at the crying dragon, mumbled something about a transdimensional leak in Sector R, and vanished again before their eyes.

Sikul Himakt and Colon then looked forward at one of the most impressive views in all of Bermingham: Ridge of the High Falls. The path they were on traversed the whole thing. They could just make out Osborne’s house atop the furthest falls from them. The key shop remained unresolved, however.

They continued their approach, crossing the sim line between the two sides of the forest here (original and doppleganger). The first of the sky islands rezzes in above the house from this angle.

—–

“10 minutes, Osborne,” exclaims Woody, ready as he’ll ever be, he felt. “10 minutes!”

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Close

Woody Woodmanson divined their presence long before he saw The Musician, Colon and Morris walking toward him on the wood plank path above the high waterfalls. His key told him.

“Not too much longer, Lou,” he said to his friend and landlord, seated on the opposite side of the counter. “They’re preparing for the journey in their village.”

“Remember to *emphasize* that village whenever you see an opening,” she says. “We want Sikul to stay in his old house. He must become a team with Colon Hiss. Scotty is mine now.”

“Magenta Islands,” Woody blurted out. He’d been trying to guess the location of the lost portal since he learned about the fabled opening several days ago. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Pretty sure of that.”

But Lou knew Woody was wrong. Morris didn’t think she remembered the Jagged Sea and MOA. She had information he didn’t. And she planned to keep it that way.

“Any hour now,” Woody said, still divining.

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red green red green red green…

After the others had turned in at the village, Morris, ever the night owl, decided to poke around his sister’s realm more to find out what she’d been up to since his last visit. He found a formerly unknown crack between the two worlds, their realms, in one of her waterfall apartment rentals, and directly atop part of the Jagged Sea, former home of MOA (Most Ancient One). Couldn’t be coincidence. An impossible wash of red and green together on the walls gave it away, two colors which simply don’t blend well except on that one special day of the year. Their birthday.

Finally feeling like he’d found a place to rest, Morris falls asleep and dreams of former times.

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Scratch

“I’ve forgotten how beautiful it is down here on the lower level,” coos Colon, pausing to take in the scenery on river deck despite Morris’ warning to keep moving. “I’m so limited in my world up on the rock. To the store for eggs, back to the house. To the waterfall behind the 3rd cottage for a bath or wash, back to the house.”

And just like that The Musician had fallen asleep again. Looking over, Morris cussed the f-word and immediately began ruminating about Plan B.

The Musician woke up as Sikul Himakt, Bermingham native gone rogue for city life but returned to his bucolic origins to make amends. “Why are we not in the village?” he demands. “I distinctly remember entering the village and the general store.” He looked in turn at Morris, who he didn’t know, and Colon, who was an old friend. “Colon, I’m glad to see you.”

“Same here,” says the big snake honestly.

“But who’s this red headed dude?” Sikul asks.

“Um… er.”

“Just tell him the truth,” Morris suggests. “Just tell him who I am.”

“Uh, okay. You sure?”

“Yeah. We’re in desperate situations here.”

“Um, this is Morris, Sikul. Morris is Lou’s brother. Osborne Well is their father.”

“I *know* Osborne Well. He’s retired and lives up at the place on the edge of the world, beyond the high waterfalls. But Lou has no brother.”

“Yes. A brother. Outcast. Kind of like you. You think Bermingham is alone as a world. Intertwined all within it, however, is another world, a — less beautiful realm.”

“Oh come on, Colon,” complains Morris, arms folded. “Give me a break.”

“Anyway, this world, Sikul, is called Muff. Does that ring a bell at all?”

“No,” says Sikul, looking over at Morris.

“Morris rules Muff,” Colon continues, “as Lou is the owner of Bermingham now as passed down from Osborne. This is written in the ‘Sacred Book of Leaves’, but in symbols… code. The red and the green. Stop and go. Lou will tell you all about it if you asked, I’m sure.”

“No she wouldn’t,” counters Morris. “She wants The Musician — Sikul — here for good. She wants to eliminate the Muff half of the equation. Too arid, she complains for one part. Too cold and icy for another. These smaller, more numerous microcosms plugged into her own *uroborous* realm here are always quite not to her satisfaction. Yet this was what I was left with. My *inheritance*.”

In shock, Sikul looks at each in turn, absorbing the truth of it all. “Why has no one told me this before?”

“I’ve told you many times,” says Morris. “Again and again. Over and over. Yet you always fall asleep again and are in *her* realm. There’s only one way out of this now. We have to go to the place beyond the high falls.” He speaks to the snake now. “Colon, I thank you for the attempt but I’m afraid you’ll have to clean out your stuff from Sikul’s house and return to under the rock. Then we have to take Sikul heavenward. I’ll stay in the 3rd cottage with the, ahem, ghost. We’ll set out early morn.”

Sikul of course knew about the ghost. Mary. Known for her eerie chuckle. And red nose. But he personally had never seen her.


Heading back up to the village.

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Colon

Morris’ tentacle laden plan worked. The Musician woke up inside the dream that is the Bermingham side of the Muff-Bermingham planet. For a bit.

In preparing for all this, Morris knew he had to have a portal animal at hand right after the rousing. Scotty, being in the possession of all-too-clever Lou on the other side of the gateway, remained inaccessible for the time being. Lou herself could do the trick if she hadn’t sworn off portal dog duties after the accident with Tom the Booker November before last. Too bad… she was the best and smoothest of us all, he thought. And then, of course, there was himself, which he quickly ruled out for similar reasons. We may get to that story later on. So, slowly but surely, it dawned on Morris that he’d have to try to recruit the formerly significant but now substantially diminished transdimensional talents of old Colon Hiss, a large grey snake who lived beneath the rock supporting *Sikul Himakt’s* former cottage on the edge of his village. There was really no other suitable alternative that he could think of.

It was last Friday when he first approached Colon with the idea. Teleporting into the center of Sikul’s “village,” Morris walked north until reaching the taller green grass near the rock. He had to be careful not to get too close, else he’d fall to the forest level immediately below after crossing a sim line. He called Colon’s name repeatedly. No answer. Then the large snake was suddenly behind him. “You’re blocking the way to my home,” he said. “I need to get to my home. My eggs are getting warm.”

—-

Turns out Colon had become tired of living under the rock and decided just to move into Sikul’s old cottage sitting above it instead. They talked further inside. “There’s a refrigerator,” the snake explained while putting his eggs purchased at the general store into it. “And a tv. The village now has cable beyond the Static Channel.”

“Come on, Colon. You know there’s no village.”

“What can I say? I like to dream.”

“Which is why we’re here. Sounds like you kind of have a vested interest in not wanting Sikul to return to the village. Because you know if he did, he’d want to have his house back. *Lou* would want that.”

“Yess,” hissed Colon, just getting this part.

—–

So the motivated Colon was there when The Musician woke up inside Sikul’s dream at the entrance to the faux general store. He slithered beside him from his hiding place in the grass. Morris’ tentacled friends, having done their work, were now dispatched. It was just Morris, The Musician, Colon. All three awake and aware.

“Wheeler is still waiting on the other side of the portal,” spoke Morris to The Musician while walking between him and Colon. “We must hurry.”

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