With all the going back and forth in time it’s always good to remember the present, the gift that keeps on giving.
Merry Christmas from all the toys at “Hello I Must Be Going” Aloha! (it’s still there!)
Baker Bloch wonders where he lost his cowboy hat. He remembers visiting the antique village of Lips or One Pink with it — heard both while there. Then: here. Without.
Oh well. I’m sure he’ll track it down. He’s here for a reason on this stand alone peak, unusual for a continent dominated by long ridges. Not to ponder more about his supposed missing hat (in truth it just hasn’t rezzed in yet), but about Nautilus in general. He deems this place Point Zero, a new beginning for him and his family of core avatars. He figures they have to start over somewhere. Why not here?
Now to invite others to tell them the good news.
“Wheeler,” he texts. “I’m here on Cedar Mtn. I wasn’t banned this time (unlike you before). I think if you just stay on the property with the mountaintop and don’t fly over other parcels in the area you’ll be fine. I’ve been here for, I don’t know, 10 minutes now. I’m just missing my… oh wait, *there* it is.”
He feels the hat now around the crown of his head. He sees the brim in front of him, senses the air cool a little around his ears. Wheeler shows up.
And then immediately disappears. She texts afterwards: “No, no good Baker B. I’m still banned. 2 hours. But it might as well be forever. Someone doesn’t want me there, pheh.”
Pheh, he thinks. Typical. They’ll have to look elsewhere for Zero. Maybe Enzor still. It’s in the name after all. Enzor it is.
“Meet me at 128 128 Enzor,” he texts back. Poor Wheeler, he thinks.
Such a promising place too.
“I wonder what it’s like to be without a heart, Wheeler. To… try to figure out what heart even means.”
“I don’t know. And I don’t think I want to find out.” Good answer.
Enzor it isn’t.
Mrs. Ordinary drank red wine at 3 PM in her kitchen, trying to numb her nerves and pondering how to get rid of her aunt who was suppose to stay through next Wednesday. She couldn’t take it any more. Tomorrow they would hike into the mountains of Yellowmoon and she would tell her. Get a room in town or leave. Sucking on teeth in the middle of the night, snoring, getting up early and staying up late watching cartoons on TV. Yosemite Sam, pheh. How did we come from the same gene pool? I need my 9 hours beauty rest and she needs like 5!
She awakes at 8:25, a bit before the 9 she usually does. Elvira of course was already in the living room watching the boob tube. The sound of an especially loud cartoon explosion stirred her. Seems like Bugs pulled out the atomics in a desperate attempt to win the mayoral race from Sam this morning. He planned to get rid of all insects when elected, and Bugs had no choice but to try to stop him. Atomic cigars — that should do the trick. But, no, here comes Sam again, all blackened and without hair or clothes but still quite alive, ready for yet another battle in the war that will only end at the ballot box.
“Elvira, could you please put on some clothes, hmph. And what’s that all over your face, dear? You look like a golden statue.”
“Avocado mask. For the man who is suppose to enter my life today. My horoscope predicted (!). Here.” She picks up the Daily Toilet and rustles it in front of her naked body, then offers it over to her, which Liza (Mrs. Ordinary) reluctantly takes as the TV explodes again. “There… take a look at Scorpio. You’re Taurus… you may not understand, being from the Earth and more grounded with your own life in general. Scorpios need relationships. Scorpios need…”
“Don’t say it, Aunt. Not after last Friday when you brought that town bum Otis back and kept him all night on the couch with you. I know what you need.” Doctored watermelon this time, but of course Sam emerged okay.
Hiking today. How could she possibly meet a man way up there in the grey nothingness where no one hardly lives? But she did. Another Ant, but not the human kind. It’s like they both fell into the TV set after putting on their walking shoes and came out in Looneytoonville with Bugs and Sam and the rest. And perhaps they did.
She took one last look at the TV before switching it off. The cartoon had changed. She hesitated, then sat back down on the couch with her aunt, the paper still opened up to the horoscope section between them. Expect a tall, spindly stranger to enter your life today, it said. She studied the small orange castle on the screen, noted the pixelated cartoon man pulling the cartoon woman toward him with an impossibly long and wavy lasso, then entering the castle gates with her, the assumption being they got “married.” Over and over this happened. It did not get boring.
“What’s the name of this one, Elvira?” The show predicted the future inside the past. Then they were *there*.
(to be continued)
The principal seemed to take a shining to Dimmy Gene but in truth he just wanted an excuse to hang around Marilyn more. She had that effect on men, made them do bad and irresponsible things. Like letting Dimmy use his expensive computer for his supposed homework. “I know you like souped up things,” he said to the dim witted man-boy after his sex history lecture at the main auditorium below the Pear Room. People need to know how their sex is chosen and make wise decisions about it, he offered to school district superintendent Jonathan Petri Dish one day in early May. He thinks back to his own childhood. Not even a week old and they decided he would be a boy. All the aunts and uncles hadn’t weighed in yet. Cousins usually got a vote too. But, no, his old man, his old pops couldn’t wait. So while his mother Doris was busy reading her fashion and furniture magazines one day, engrossed in the moment, his father decided for all of them, each and every one. He was still king of his domain, he rationalized, not knowing there were other pieces on the chessboard of life that made it all work in unified peace and harmony. It took Doris several weeks but she finally realized. She’d been focusing on the navel and feeding the blasted thing day and night before then, navels being common to us all, whatever sex. The milk had to be *just* the right temperature else the navel rejected and they’d be up all night again. But one day, while he gurgled out more white on his blue bib, she understood. There was a hair on his upper lip, a single hair but one is enough to know. 3 weeks later they had to start shaving him as well. Oh for the old days, when sex was determined in the womb, way before birth. Now there were so many choices — well, two. But two very important options I think we all would agree.
Where was I… oh yes, Dimmy and the principal’s souped up computer, just like he had a souped up car now and drove all over his new town with Marilyn normally by his side. She’s normally with Gene they all agreed, which in time — but not too much time — was shortened to Normal Gene and finally Norma. Because they had gotten married and she’d acquired her first diamond ring on her left hand, which, since it was pretty small in comparison to the rest on her right, she wore on her pinkie, and joked all the time about having Dimmy wrapped around her little finger, usually to a gusto of laughs from a crowd of admirers. People, well, men, flocked to her everywhere. She grew tired of it. “Dimmy,” she requested one day in late May. “Drive me out to the country. Go fast enough where my hair will be billowing in the wind at a 1000 miles an hour. Go fast enough that it will *never* return to its normal, lackluster appearance. I want to be billowy… *forever*.” And she had her wish.
(to be continued?)
“Awfully nice for you to come over and cook me dinner again, Alysha.”
Alysha, she thinks. *That’s* how he sees me now? “Sure, honey,” she says. “Anything for my number 1 man.” Number 10 at best she calculates to herself. She’s just that deep into it. Horns of Hatton, pheh. Manga, huh. She sprinkles spice on the meatloaf and asks him what he’s up to today, hoping the heck she wouldn’t be involved. But she does feel sorry about the hands. The Abyss will have its price, she thinks. And the Abyss is very close here. Very close indeed. About as close as that big whale circling around this treehouse.
“Business down South,” he answers from his rocking hammock. “Have to take Pricky.”
Thanks Gods, she ponders. “Oh? Big haul, then?”
“More marine life, yeah. Squid, I think. Or octopus — can’t recall right now. Anyway have to go to Cass City to pick it up; haul it up North somewhere. Meat Town I think it’s called. I’ll have to look it up on my map.”
*Neat* Town, Alysha thinks from the sink, pondering whether to add poison to the recipe to stop the whole thing. She knows why she’s here now. But not to kill him, she realizes. Instead: kiss; use her magical powers.
By the time they’d finished, Alysha had had a chance to alter the map. The whale ended up going the wrong way and never reached its intended destination. Roth wasn’t fired, but he never saw his precious, red headed Alysha again. Blonde Wanda filled the void, but Wanda couldn’t cook worth shite and had to be disposed of herself. Fed to the sharks, some say, although she actually just went back to Bombtown and eventually married a man with 3 eyes. Then came Sally. Or was it Shelley? No: Sally.
“Do you want some meatloaf on your spice tonight?” she called from the kitchen, preparing for the worse.
I can’t see the castle on this peak either, Shelley.”
“Silly. There *is* no castle on that peak. Not any more. Not for a long time. The reason you couldn’t see it on the other peak we just looked at is because your draw distance was too short. Don’t you know *anything* about Our Second Lyfe, tee hee?”
“That’s where Ruuster’s castle use to be, though. Some say he was an actual rooster, a creature. Some say he was called that because he *roosted* on the peak, like some kind of bird, rooster or no. My papa taught me that. Said sometimes there’re multiple ways of looking at the same thing and sometimes none is right but at the same time *all* are right. Do you know what I’m saying?”
“Suppose,” he repeated. Shelley started wondering about his brain, and maybe she didn’t finish the boy properly — left holes where thoughts should be, rationalization. “You say… we’re suppose to get married.”
“Um huh.” He was still staring at the empty beige peak, perhaps 50 meters higher than the one they are on. He was staring at himself.
“Can you elaborate? I mean, it’s rather shocking that you know that.”
“I can see the future.” He turns. “You can see the future. We are all angles.”
“Angels?” She purposely misheard him but he didn’t laugh, didn’t get the joke or just didn’t care. Maybe both are right, she realized: angles *and* angels. Are *they* angels?
George turned back to the beige mountain seen through the diamond paned window. “Roost never sleeps. It’s an ironic name, then, because that’s what birds or roosters or whatever are suppose to do when they roost. Sleep.”
Maybe his brain is alright after all. Those are pretty deep thoughts he’s thinking there, she thought, pondering the irony herself. Her daddy had said the same thing. Roost never sleeps, corrupted to rust never sleeps.
George looked down from the peak to the green grounds below. “Well well well, if it isn’t the Wells.” Why did the boy say *that*? Is someone actually approaching? Or was this just more word play?
“They’re trying to find the front door,” he then said. “Better go down and help them”
“The… neighbors?” she guessed. He just stared at her again and then extended his arm. “After you.”
(to be continued)
They were all dead now, these “monsters”. All except herself. She stared at the empty space that should have held her own picture, thinking back to the time they first discovered her superpower. She was called the ugly duckling, the unpretty one who instead seemed to be cut from the cloth of the ordinaries all around them, the mundane, the *muggles* to borrow a phrase from another supernatural mythology. Must have been blinded Uncle Sam on a town bender, they figured. But as they aged, she didn’t. They then traced the genes back to Great Great Great Aunt Selma on the father’s side, who was from a long line of immortals. Then they traced the whereabouts of Selma herself, living under a new guise in Cheeseburger, Wisconsin down near the city dump or city hall take your pick. “Of course she has powers,” Selma replied in a middle-aged voice about Sally’s seeming normalcy, at least judged by the outer world that we, us non-monsters, live in. “Why would she be staying with you otherwise, humm? Uncle Sam has nothing to do with this; she’s actually the oldest of all of us.” She addressed each of her visitors individually: “Great great grandson, great great great niece and nephew(-in-law), great great great *great* grandson. Meet your ancestor with a family name so long that it would take the rest of the day to pronounce. I’d suggest you just keep calling her Sally, then, but respect the hell out of her from now on and look to her for sage advice instead of just ridiculing her looks.”
Even Selma is dead now, since the great majority of so called immortals are actually quite mortal and only live to be a couple of hundred years old at the most. Sally is a little different, since both her mother and father were pure bred. But one day, still a long way down the road, it will catch up with her.
She had to say goodbye to each one, watching them fall like dominoes in time’s passage.
Jeffrie’s note came under the door. Without opening it, Sally remembers how she was slipped under the door, as it were, of her own great x 2,375 niece and nephew(-in-law)’s gothic Mockingbird Lane abode by parents long in hiding themselves. Marge and General Johnston I think they’re calling each other these days. She’ll have to look them up sometime. “Uncle Sam’s kid, yeah,” she presented herself at the threshold, luggage just behind. Stooping down in the present, she picked up the note and read.