“If you get stuck at any one point, you can always go back to the Old Country to regroup,” the Man About Time softly spoke over to Newtonia Kashkow, who could barely hear what he says across the circle. Is this another time distortion? she thought. No, it’s just *him*. So mellow and meek for someone so important. Must be the effects of the travel.
“Collagesity,” he spoke more, “should become a focus again.”
Newtonia Kashkow took this in. “I know you are the same as Marcus Fox Smartville and so we are related.”
“True,” Man About Time admitted after a small pause.
“And you are *not* a sucker.”
“Only in the mind of the beholder. On this turf (Our Second Lyfe): no.” He sat confident in his tannish/goldeny brown, throne-like chair. This was his moment. He steps in to become the knight in tan armor. Or was that aroma. The smell of something hot. And unpleasant. No, that was just an anagram. He sits back up from a naturally slumping position, mind focused again away from the morass. That particular sometimes light brown substance will not play a role in this.
Oh, if she could only see what he felt. But the War between Mind and Senses wouldn’t allow it.
I reappear. I attempt to get more information about this place from a computer terminal.
A man appears out of a blue box wearing a blue rose when I press the letter “q”. A doppleganger.
He kills me. I have not been the first to attempt to understand.
Luckily my true head remains to reconstruct me after the murder. Perfection makes up for failure. I kill in turn, decisively this time. The threat has ended for now.
“You think he’ll go back?” asked Philip Strevor to his partner in crime Marion Harding, wearing his Gaeta V shirt for this particular shoot.
“He has to,” quickly came the reply. “He has to find that demon that killed our little girl.” His voice was becoming anxious, murderous even. Philip had not smoked any pot to take the edge off the racier drugs he was currently imbibing. Marion, in contrast, only did the marijuana. So much here! Mixed in with red wine per usual; balancing the red and the blue as he liked to say. Easier said than done. Like tragedy and comedy in life as a whole.
“Philip,” Marion tried to calm him, “have you ever thought about how we got from Gaston to here. I mean, *really* thought about it. The chain of events that leads from one to the other.” He looks around, at the other hippies milling about the place. Well, *he’s* a hippie. Philip definitely was the odd man out in this bunch. So much pot, so much booze. But the racier drugs were few and far apart. This wasn’t Philip’s place in the end. Corsica really wasn’t his continent. Gaeta V suited him better. But Capitol City and its Capitol Hill were no more. Returned to the swamp they arose from. Flattened back to the pancake prairie it started as. Pancakes… Laboratories. Marion suddenly had an idea.
“Philip, how would you like to return to Gaeta V? Just for a bit.”
I’m just going to have this red wine but you eat as many pancakes as you like, Philip.”
He heard someone over the waves. “Aww, you got me, Baker Bloch. Remember Mabel? Your old Martian pal?” The voice faded, to be replaced by another. “And me? Tessa. We’re still in the cave! Find me, find me, find me…” the second voice echoed, as if in a, well, cave.
He was ready to step off Dog Island and come back to mainland.
Or at least the bigger, less isolated island in front of him currently.
Then he found *her* as well. The ex. She spoke without turning while dancing on a west facing patio. “You find *them* or I’ll find *you*. And you know what I’ll do to you when I do!” She faded as well. He was starting to sweat coldly.
A smoking gun dropped from the sky, barely missing him.
Still hot to the touch, he picked it up. He realized he would need this gun to get to the cave. A person would be in his way. And that person was…
“We’ve got to get into this place, Kevin E. Kevin A.’s depending on us(!).”
“Yeah,” responds the other Kevin at the registration table. “If only — we could read like him.”
“We’ll have to fake it,” answered the somewhat smarter Kevin C. to Kevin E. after glancing back over his shoulder at Baker Bloch (a.k.a. Arnold). “Uh, you take the straight letters and I’ll take the squiggly ones.”
“Um.” Kevin E. didn’t recognize the first 3 letters on the application form.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
“Uh. Yeah.” He spots his first one. “‘L’,” he mouths, jabbing the appropriate letter several times with his finger. “That’s definitely an ‘L’.”
“Very good.” He pats his hatted lover on the back.
Sweet Alice’s father was King Null, obviously conceived before he became all jigsaw-y and stuff and was known merely as Richard (or Ricardo to some). This was the fault of Bishop, his closest companion now that the Queen was dead. Long live Queen Mae, fairest in the land, protector of the realm, instigator of none. But the Bishop — different alligator altogether. A crocogator, even. He pulled a Brutus on Caesar; took away his humanity; made him like he was. Sometimes likes attract as well, and this is the case here. King Null: only his now separated body pieces know the full picture. Let’s listen in…
“Move over,” Bishop commanded. “You’re in the center again.”
“Interesting, Wheeler. Roger summoned a demon while he was here and
he she can’t be erased now.”
“Yes.” Wheeler’s attention was instead focused on studying the so-called Dali butterfly ship, which, true to Roger Pine Ridge’s insistence, *wasn’t* a Dali, even though various versions of it show up in a google image search for “Dali + painting”. How did such a hoax become perpetuated? she pondered from her chair in front of the interwebs feed of the apartment.
And why was such a ship recently found by Baker Bloch in Blue Junkyards? From *Rosehaven* of all places.
Baker continued to stare at the demon, rainbow colored like the butterflies making up the sails of the ship. Was he becoming hypnotized?
Then suddenly he realized where it came from, snapping him out of his trance.
It had more to do with Roger’s hit single “Time” than anything else. Its *time* to be precise.
In erasing the demon, Baker saw there were no hands on the apartment’s clock. No time to tell.
Baker turned. “Who will live here now, Wheeler?”
Wheeler understood it could be herself. Roger might have taken her place in Collagesity. Just like that; snap of the fingers. She addresses this possibility to Baker. Both of ’em.
“128, 128, Mr. Baker. I had to come out and talk to the tree.”
“Really, Ruby Fantasie?”
“*Noooo.*” But: yes, Ruby Fantasie had to come out to get further instructions from the tree. At the centre of the sim (Fruity Islands). She wasn’t going to let Baker know that, however. She splits in two.
“Let’s go back inside now,” she ordered after receiving.
“Come on, come on, hurry it up.”
In a poof of pollen the vines part!
“A choice here, Mr. Baker. I’ll let you choose.” For that is what the Ruby Tree told Fantasie to do.
Baker walks left.
“This pool is where we came in from the waterfall. Those torches over there mark the entrance. We’ll never be able to dry out today. Good thing it’s so hot; but not down here.” She sneezes. “Catching a cold, I believe.”
“Just beyond that bend behind the fruit bats, Fantasie,” Baker declared while pointing ahead, obviously in The Trance now. He doesn’t shiver atall.
Inhabitants! thought Fantasie. Dear, lordy me. I’ve never seen *this* before. The tree was right!
Sidechick Corea appears from behind. “Magus Ellen,” he speaks formally. “The blue boy Opp is here.”
“Great, great. That’s really great.” He pulls the ice cream cone from his pocket and takes a thick, satisfying lick. ” Yes, put him in the middle of all this and I’ll be there shortly. Quick stop over at Iris first.”
“Very well, sire.” Sidechick Corea takes his leave to execute Rey Wisa’s orders.
Upon reaching the cave’s upper mouth — leaving The Musician behind in its bowels again while she scouts for additional, useful poses — Wheeler spies Willard and Harriet Miller dancing up a storm in a nearby gazebo.
Then something extraordinary happens. The couple instantly cease their gyrating, then Harriet appears to fall asleep on the spot. Like she’s “away”, as we say in Second Lyfe speak.
Another takes her place. Jimmy. The *bastard*, Wheeler thinks. He’s asleep too, for a moment, then springs awake.
“You can go now,” Wheeler can hear him say faintly from her position. He’s apparently speaking to Willard Miller, for just after this the husband of Harriet Miller vanishes — poofs out of existence.
“It’s time to come out of the closet, er cave,” he then calls in the direction of Wheeler. “It’s time for you guys to remember who you are. The upper 2/3rds of the infamous punk band Story Room, with me completing the trilogy.
Jimmy approaches the cave mouth, still quite red but now much taller. And also a woman.