“*There*. I’ve finished. Now *you* can decide if this is her or not. I think it is.” He turns the easel with its charcoal pencil drawing toward Toothpick (Filbert). “Mind you this is from memory. But I have a good memory.”
“I remember that you have a good memory,” returns Toothpick in jest, taking a gander.
“It’s when I first saw her in the club,” he explains more upon seeing the puzzled look on his friend’s face. “Before she fully turned her back to me and I knew it was her. But this memory is stronger for some reason. Maybe I just didn’t want to identity the body with Aunt Fannie.”
Toothpick scratches his bald head. “I can’t tell, Mr. Z. Maybe if you’d make a picture of her actual *fannie*, hmm.”
“Yeah, I know. You can’t see the eyes in the back. But this is…”
“… what I remember, huh,” completed Toothpick for Mr. Z. After a moment, he turns away from the picture and stares out over the deck rails at the sea, chewing on his dangly straw and thinking of Elberta. His sister. Soon to be perhaps more. Soon he’d see her in positions like this if the family had their way. “Listen, um, Z, I have to head to the canal now. I’ll be back before sunrise, er, sunset.”
Mr. Z looks at the sea as well. “Beautiful time of the day here at Mercury Rising, yes. I’ll be waiting. I’ll try to make a better drawing before you get back.”
“You do that, hmph,” he says while half smiling. He gets up from the couch. Time to go meet the better half.
“It’s good, isn’t it?” asked Appleyon about his hot specialty tea. The cup he holds disappears after a well timed last sip. “All is good here. All is positive.”
“Yeah, thanks for that,” still sipping Baker Bloch replies. He was really grateful for getting such a quality hot beverage vending machine for the low low price. 10 lindens! Basically giving it away, he thinks satisfactorily. His cup also vanishes, but he wasn’t quite finished.
“You have to stand 2 feet from the machine, the cup disappears after 30 seconds and can’t be rerezzed, and it’s only stocked for today. Goodbye for now!” Appleyon disappears himself after these rapid fire declarations. Baker is left alone in his new bakery, pondering what kind of deal he made with that devil of a guy. *Was* he really his friend? Or an old old enemy rearing its ugly, mean spirited head again?
Baker Bloch goes over to the machine and orders another hot beverage.
Probably a mixture of the two, he thinks while starting to sip again. Ahh, so good!
“Come on. Pick up, pick *up*”
“Says here, Baker Bloch, that the Corona-V pirates have come back and are now focused in on Arkansas. New reports are coming in all the way from Mountainsburg to the west, Formosa a little to the north, Kate to the east, and, let’s see, I can’t read what’s south of Arkansas.”
“New Orleans,” spouts Baker Bloch, not in a good mood because of the news. He’d just posted a rant about it on Facef-ck.
The Arab squinted further. “New Something, that’s for sure.” As hard as he tried he couldn’t make out the second word of the printed name in the article, like something trying to fade from existence or hide itself somehow.
“They’re such *dummies* over there,” Baker Bloch further groused.
Amanda finally heard the ring in her purse.
Professor Young Harris, son of Elder Harris, also a professor at the university, hated when his prize pupil turned her back on him, no matter how cute she looked laying over there. He continued his urgings.
“You’ll get on with your studies, dear. What is it? Astrophysics?”
“Astro*mystics*,” she corrected. “It’s *your* major. That’s the only reason I *came* to this crappy school, hmph.” She pawed at the floor below her.
“Oh. Right.” He couldn’t even remember what he taught at this upper central virtual New York university. *Mystics* not physics. How could he have forgotten — that? Yet another sign it was time to go. Aries probably, or a fire sign anyway.
“I must leave, Astrid. For Stranger Island. The sim skipper that will whisk me there from this location is due to arrive at dusk.” He looked out the window at the ever-calm bay, even though dusk was several hours away still. They had time for one more “study session,” he calculated. “I think we should go over that final chapter before I leave. ‘Departure’.”
Joan rolled over and faced him, a good sign (Sagittarius). “Only if you call me by my right name.” He had only one shot at it.
He was reaching a peak. He remembered. “Joooooaaann!” And then he was done — outta here. Leo had arrived.
“Goodbye Astrid!” he waved from behind.
“They’re ready for you Ms. Rebl.” Hidi then noticed that the cat-person lawyer was using her hands for a brush and her attache case as a pallet. “What, pray tell, are you painting, ms.?”
“Like any good lawyer, I’m painting a scene,” came the logical answer.
Case still in hand, she follows Hidi down the Hall of Fear to the Chamber of Utter Unspeakable Horrors.
Despite the name, there was actually a happy, feel-good vibe to it tonight. Things in this section of the photo-novel were being wrapped up in a relatively honest and decent way.
“Great Mother,” spoke Rebl solemnly while bowing at The Threshold (they called it). “I am honored.”
She just had to get out of that cave system for a while. She’d just learned about the death of Mssr. Gold (again). Her grandfather! Tessa ruminated about the good times driving around that old, clunky narrowboat. Taking it here, there, *everywhere*. Anywhere her grandfather could dream about. And now he’s gone (again).
Oh well, she thinks while getting up out of the old boat and walking toward the cave mouth. He’ll probably be back tomorrow or something.
“Feel the emptiness in the center,” the small snowman instructed his pupil Herbert Dune from the, well, center.
The first explosion happened, rocking this Northside building. The snow-being, named Hugh, fell off the puzzle table onto the cushiony, knitted rug, losing his bell. Then the second, smaller kaboom happened, making his head separate from his body. No more instructions tonight from the diminutive, white guru. No more instructions ever. The dream was over.
Actor Sandy Beech stood up, looked southward.
But too many buildings were in the way to see clearly. “That wasn’t in the script. That wasn’t in the script!” he repeated, a second outburst louder than the first (mirror). He turned around to find the director, the cameraman, the soundman, etc. No one here. Any evidence of Bob Waffleburg’s dystopian parody film had disappeared. Sandy Beech was on his own again.
Actor Alice Frame also suddenly found herself alone and without direction after the explosions, large and less large. The script she was reading for tomorrow’s shoot suddenly turned blank, nothing having ever formed or shaped out of these snow white pages.
We must reluctantly say goodbye to NWES, its four jigsaw like pieces unable to come together to form a story any longer. But there’s always the possibility for return within the larger arc of another tale. We must move, Grasshopper-like, forward…
“Well, might as well man up and say we don’t have a finish for the Regaltown section yet, Baker Bloch,” Space Ghost speaks to his son playing the role of Bullfrog here. “Just twiddling our thumbs, waiting for lines.”
“It’s the Horns of Hatton, dad,” his son tries to defend. “So laggy over there; it’s holding us down, impeding our progress forward.”
“If everyone blamed everything on *horns*,” Space Ghost replies firmly (presently voiced by the great Gary Owens!).
“Well — what’s your idea, then? How to go forward I mean?”
“White,” and here Space Ghost reveals the whites of his teeth. “Elephant,” he then completes crisply, making the teeth actually glint with an accompanying, tingy sound effect.
Just like that they’re somewhere else. Still on the same porch, but — at Horns instead of Regaltown.
“See how easy that was, son? You still have a lot to learn from your old man.”
“I don’t think the creature was a possum,” Gabby modified later in after-vision shocks. “Nor was it a cat named Peepee. Something else. Something in our future.”
“Go on,” urged Brother Amos, back to gathering as if his life depended on it. Because it did.
“I’m seeing… I’m seeing…” He briefly pulled up from his own gathering position. “*Seed*.”
“Tillie, we’re out of seed. Time to call Grasslands again.”
“Okay,” the 4 colored clown replies from the garden. “I’ll ring them up as soon as I finish weeding this row.” As if my life depended on it, she then thought. Strange — why did I think that?
“Oops! Holding hands again. You have to watch that.”
“So how do you like it? Great view down Old Cannon Road into the woods. You can probably watch Baker Blinker’s comings and goings. Make sure she’s not cheating on you, hehe.”
“Wouldn’t she?” You are, she thought to herself. 1/2 and 1/2.
“I like the apartment just fine.”
“Why — can’t you and Baker Blinker just live together. What’s this thing about the 2 separate places?”
“You know why.”
“I really don’t,” spoke Wheeler. “You had your one shining moment together. You should be happy now. Don’t mantis’ just make love once a year anyways? Aren’t you part mantis?” she teased again.
“You know I’m not.”
“Karoz, though. That’s Zorak backwards. And Zorak is a mantis. Space Ghost’s sidekick. That’s Baker Bloch’s father.”
“I know who Space Ghost is.”
“Where *is* Space Ghost? Oh, I guess I should be asking Baker Bloch that question. But *your* father. What’s all this b.s. about being Gene Fade’s son? Gene Fade doesn’t exist. Does he?” Wheeler was becoming curious again; doubts about his nonexistence creeping in once more. Karoz *was* here. He *could* be part moss. Probably more likely than being part mantis. And his mother — she must get more of the story about his mother. Both of ’em.
They stare into the post into the post into the post…