Like Tronesisia, Leeman or Leemon has also become mobile enough to make his way over from New Island to Fishers Island and its Wallytown.
But he’s only seeing half the story so far about Bottle Mound, etc. He’s stubborn like that.
On weekends, when business was brisker, Ruby Roo worked as a receptionist for the Tina Queen Photographic Gallery, located almost exactly a city block west of her multi-story treehouse house she still resided in. But former housemate Tin Tin was no more to be seen, and Ruby suspected that he may have been drafted for the most recent version of the Trojan vs. Durexians war over in the east mountains where Timmy was from. Poor Timmy, she laments. Not born to exist in the harsh environment of Meat City — ideally should have stayed put in the hills supported and nurtured by a loving foster mother and father. But wars do that; separate loved ones from loved ones. She misses Tin Tin, but not nearly as much as Timmy.
Ruby puts on a brave face and continues inventorying the most recent batch of photos her boss Tina had taken during the week.
A very prolific snapper she is! But Second Lyfe will do that to you; so easy to take pictures here. Ruby herself, inspired by Tina and also the more abstract work in the Roads Gallery across the, well, road from this one, has taken up playing around with art a bit. Here’s an example of a computer sketch she made for a sculpture tentatively titled “Scratch”:
Here is a related work-in-progress she might call “Itch”:
Marvelous indeed. The more she becomes immersed in an artistic journey of her own, the more she finds herself attracted to rural and bucolic New Island for setting up a potential future studio — maybe at Mabel’s old house? But is the island still there after the Limekiln Catastrophe? Perhaps it depends on if she *wishes* it to be so. And she’s starting to think she does. She does indeed wish it to be so.
Maybe a switcheroo is needed: Fishers Island exchanged back with New Island. *Fishers* Island is destroyed, perhaps by that new burny fellow who just biked across its westward bridge.
The eastward bridge would then open and allow refuges to return to their former homes there, radiation levels subsided.
A mysterious object appears along The Diagonal at 193/195 Miata. Oscar the cat is *very* curious about what’s inside.
Once again, Golden Jim knows more than he’s letting on.
“Gonna be a cold one tonight, Bendy. But you make a great stove — quite toasty.”
“Thank you. I try.”
Fisher thinks this could be one of those nights he also employs Bendy for that other thing they don’t talk about much. Sure wish Lisa V. was here, he laments. I wonder how she is — way over there on the Corsica continent in her big ol’ houseboat. *Alone* hopefully.
Lisa the Vegetarian Smipson just found out about David Jaspers and her best friend Linda Halsey. That’s *it*, she steams. I’m leaving this stupid cartoon town and *never* coming back!
Madame Silver’s yellow figure is stuck no more, thanks to the fix by recently promoted Doll Pedlar Inc. employee Herbert Dune.
However, he appears to be in the doghouse with her tonight…
… but it’s actually just another, larger dollhouse they’re testing out.
She’s done with him for now. He knows this ensures another sale, though. Rich rich rich, up up up!
A mysterious stranger appears in Adgatetown knowing the whereabouts of Lisa’s missing brother Bartholomew.
“New Island, Rocky; Mid Hazel’s place to the right. If you cross that bridge, go down that road, you may never come back.”
“I hear ya, sister. Let’s go back to the night club. *Our* night club now. No renting any more. Don’t dwell on all this bad stuff. Turn your back on it. Literally… turn around.”
So Tronesisia takes Rocky’s advice and pivots away from the bridge to face full on the island that is truly home now. Her new New Island. Or at least Fisher’s.
She has become mobile again and will not return.
From the first time she saw it in the northeast corner of the sim, Young Ruby knew this was her church. Somehow it wasn’t the Maxites per se that caught on in Collagesity. It was more connected to the Cult of Oo’d then, obviously. But the only way the true story would unfold is if she signed the contract. She’d met Madame Silver yesterday and understood the basic terms. Fishers Island progressed from New Island; Tronesisia as art-clay centerpoint brought back to life. Eels. Right now it was Silver’s empire to rule, but she was the understudy, destined to be top dog soon enough. She asked how long she had to make a decision. She wanted to explore the other river islands more to make sure she was picking the correct reality to manifest. Other islands represented other array points (!). Fishers Island had to be named carefully and with much consideration and deliberation. Quality over quantity this time around, Ruby thought, face unwincing. Sucklands to Sunklands. Time
capsule castle opened.
“Well, looks like radiation levels are finally low enough where we can return to the ground and feel safe, Ruby.”
Axis looks around the table, the room, as if waking from a dream.
“Ruby? Young Ruby?
Hmm. Not here.”
“It’s just going to be you guys and me for a while, Curled Paper and 2nd Librarian. And Gus, of course. The Power.
4 long, long years. But we’ll be *seen* before then. Oh yes. Sally will make sure of that. And New Island’s south central Wastelands will be expanded beyond anything we dreamed before. Manifest destiny. In the meantime, we have Mabel’s fascinating journals to entertain us, 3 being the latest. More will follow. Perhaps 10 total? That would be nice; keep us busy. Librarian, pick one of your favorite passages and start for us. But read it *sloowly*. We need to stretch out time to the max.”
Young Ruby looked far and wide for her missing friend Shirley Boot, starting with Yd Bay on the far side of New Island, hoping to hell she didn’t find another bobbing head there like she did before with Trashy the Clown’s (she didn’t).
Another place to visit was Faux Aunt Annie and Karl’s Gloomy Gus on the west coast. Now the last couple of times we checked in — well, actually throughout this *whole* novel, looking back — it seems that Annie was in a heap of trouble with all these pills and incessant dancing and, um, the other thing. And she was! But the death of Trashy the Clown, although extremely difficult to get over at first, was a blessing in disguise. She cleaned up, with aid from loving beau Karl — locked up in the Gloomy Gus for going on two weeks. She emerged exhausted and dehydrated and still a little nauseous, but ready to move forward into the future without drugs and the other, attached things. Karl was her focus now, her beacon of light. So we have a happy ending to that part of our story, and an important one it is. But no luck for Ruby this day — no sign of Shirley there.
Mrs. Fogg and Ms. Frame, now moved in together for mutual protection, food, and liberty, hadn’t seen her either. That basically took care of the whole northwest section of the island, so active these two women were with their sailing and beach running and frequent picnics to the top of Mt. Sondra where they had a commanding view of that part of New Island.
Blue Jay Wade was dead, and his former chum turned complete psychopath Big Red Butler remained incarcerated at the Gaston-Berry jail, at least for this week. But neighbor Zettie Lamont the zebra-ass, similar to Fogg and Frame, had a pretty good view of the lower western part of the island from his perch atop Pimushe Isle. He relayed to the disappointed Ruby that he hadn’t seen the young girl either.
How about one of the houseboats or yachts at the Diamond Sailing Club? Possibility, but since Lisa the Vegetarian Smipson left for Corsica, she has no contacts there.
No one lived at Artist Point in the southeast section of the island. The east was dominated by Mid Hazel’s compound of buildings. Ruby felt that if Shirley had somehow gotten stuck over there she was doomed anyway. Lost to a powerful witch.
Which left center: Mabel’s house (Mabel and roommates Fisher and Bendy had seen nothing), Eraserhead Man and his Rabbit Hole house (nada again), and Robot Derak Jones (who said, check with Eraserhead Man, which she’d just done). Hmm, she thought, standing in the middle of central Route 9 dividing the island almost cleanly in two. She looked down at the buildings: Elephant Club, Axis’ Castle, Flossie’s, a new place beside Bumpy’s Ice Cream Village. “*Wait*,” she suddenly exclaimed. “The Village! I could ask Lavern Glam. She has eyes everywhere.”
So we head back to the ice cream truck, the sole component of this so-called village. Use to be bigger in the day, as they say. But Mr. Glam sold part of his original land to the Elephant Club, who turned it into their western parking lot, and then part to Oranga Black who built the Arcade in back. He downsized from a double wide trailer with indoor seating to the small truck we’ve already seen in that last post, whose cab also doubled as his daughter’s bedroom for a while. She didn’t mind: she felt she remained in the center of it all that way.
Ruby approached the truck. “You’re not Lavern Glam.”
“Yet *you* remain oh-so-red Ruby Roo,” spoke the alien behind the counter. “Exactly 15 1/2 today, this minute, this, um, second actually. Your anti-birthday.”
The island blew up around them. To those on the outside, those who survived, they describe the sound it made as close if not the same as middle C on a piano. Queer, huh? Too queer? We’ll see…