The bridge is derezzing behind me. No time. No time!
It’s my worst nightmare.
“He should’ve stayed, you know. We would have gotten him some linden plants around here. He didn’t even ask.”
“Shush, Jeffrie. I’m reading. The book is being written again.”
Of course the treasure is here, fools, escaped prisoner Casey One Hole thought from his perch while staring toward the simulation. One comes with a snowy peak, one doesn’t, duhh. And now it’s all mine to find since the Klancaster Dixons are out of the picture.
He peers upwards. Hmmm, snowy from a distance, but even higher up close. Artificial rock on top.
And between the decoy treasure and this peak is that treehouse over there — an actual house in a tree. Perhaps that’s where it is. Simple as that.
“I don’t *need* the treasure,” he says to himself while descending toward it. “But I certainly *want* it.”
“But what will I do without Duncan?” George asks Baker Bloch between sobs.
“You’ll move on son. Forward. But not here.”
“I wish we would have never found that book, that rule.”
Mission accomplished, thought spy Potty Steve while watching another Hidi observe from a smaller island. They only show up when they do.
Duncan A. crosses the bridge.
“They’ll really and truly send you up the river for this one if you don’t cooperate, Duncan. Pin the murders on you one by one. Go down the list, create justifications. Is that what you really want?”
“Of course not. I didn’t kill Ruby!”
“Keep it down, keep it down,” he implored in his cool, grunge voice. “That one we can remake through the leg. Legs are like 11, but, taken apart, 1 apiece. Cloning abilities. But the 12th? Gone.”
“I know — pipe it down. You didn’t do it. Well… that’s the price you pay for being a member of that silly Pot-D. People can use you against your will. You wake up in jail, you wake up in a mortuary, you wake up on a beach, you wake up inside a whale’s mouth. No rhyme nor reason for it. But now there’s a reason. And that’s what *we’re* here for. Pan-Z. Horizontal and vertical are the only directions that will counter diagonal. The Straight is a subsection of The Cross. This is where they meet: this tree lined lane and then the island just beyond. It’s the Mason-Dixon Line all over again. Are you ready to cross into Dixie?”
Duncan glanced over through the cracked rear window of the bus stop. “I do like tree lined roads, granted.”
“Good. Then it’s settled. When you see me again, I won’t look like this.” Then he was gone; winked out.
Duncan thought back to the terrible, horrible revelations Colonel Flagstaff just spoke about on the border of Harrietsville and Arkendale — where The Straight and The Cross supposedly link energies with each other. He could be the 13th. He could be pinned for it all. He could be in the pen forever and ever. He must sign the new contract with a blood filled pen or else: pencil him gone as well.
Fallout Guy spoke into the Pipboy 3000 attached to his right forearm. “No additional synchromystic activity noted on the Magenta Girls’ peninsula at The Straight.” He pauses, then: “One additional note. The sim the peninsula is located within is Girenzi, which in Our Second Lyfe is presently followed by sims Girl and then Girls. The property at the tip of the peninsula is called Bad Girls. That is all.”
We do not pretend to know what goes on inside the red curtains.
Nor the pink cube.
Kevin (“Fire”) and General Hooker (“Smoke”) lounge outside The Mermaid, waiting for Axis and Ruby to exit.
In the background: Vilania’s Safe Hub once more.
Last clients of the day (bi-weekly meetings, pheh, both think).
Afterwards: Talking about Philip Strevor’s new conditions while re-donning seasonal appearances at Holiday Flats in the midst of it all.
Suddenly, down by the bay:
“So here we are. But it’s Hidden Village, with the two l’s like the others. And also: Hilltop Road.”
“Interesting. Let’s see how far down this road we can go.”
“Proper. The green journey ends here, where (inferior) red takes over (once more). See the mushroom cloud? Literally. This is what happens at the end of a world.”