“Get away from me, get *away* from me!” But Elberta had only been dreaming. Something was after her, something that came up from the swamp, down that very path over there. She was in the middle of the swamp that use to be a lake and she couldn’t remember how she got here. She sheathed the knife she drew in the panic of waking up. “All a dream,” she said, trying to comfort herself and not doing a very good job. Something *was* here.
Category Archives: 0414
“Thank Gods that shaking is finally over,” Charlene the Punk declared to Harrison Ford Jett, still with those apples. “Getting on my nerves sooooooo bad, arrgh.”
“The sim below Brodovima we’re in presently,” Harrison recites mechanically. “And an expression commonly used in the famous Peanuts comic strip.”
“Arrgh,” she exclaims again to something different now. “No it’s not. That was ‘aaugh’. I should know.”
“Right. Being Charles’ brother.”
“I’m technically still a Brown. Jeffrie and I aren’t married yet. We may not even be engaged — hafta check. But *you* — you’re different sir, different indeed. She looks at his face, and then down at the apples again still in place in the blouse-shirt. “You’re…”
“Don’t say it.” He looks at her own blouse. He’s guessed what he is. It changes.
Charlene drinks alone now. Maybe she should wander up to the bar and talk to The Mann, also drinking alone. Might be worth a try.
And this is how Fern met fellow shapeshifter Lichen, with Wendy still in the future.
“Where’s the rabbit?”
“He’ll be up shortly,” Toothpick answers Supper Man. Both are getting married in 1-3 weeks. They have to decide what is first and who is marrying who. The latter should be easy.
“Dinner Girl wanted us to meet again, have tea. She thinks we can help each other. She doesn’t want a double marriage. She thinks we should go first. I say we should go second, see how it goes for you guys.”
“And Dinner Girl isn’t (also) your sister?” asked Toothpick, following up from earlier speculation.
“Listen, we’re not the same person.” He leans forward, but dares not touch any part of Toothpick’s body for fear of passing through. Invisible. Nonexistence, even. He’s worked too hard on his abs to fritter all this away. And now that his favorite restaurant has closed up shop it should be even easier to keep the lbs away.
Toothpick/Filbert looks left as a distraction. “The rabbit over there is indicating our old friend Certain Death, Supper Man. No running away from all that. But then there’s the 561 steps now leading from End back to Beginning and the 561 again. Through 24687531 we can be saved.”
“Bahh.” Supper Man even spits toward Toothpick a bit here while exclaiming his exasperation over the supposedly sacred (heart) number. The spittle indeed passes through Toothpick’s skin, muscle and bone, some reaching the back of the chair behind him.
“Why do you disbelieve the power of the even in a row and then the odd in a backwards row?” Toothpick then considered the 9th is involved. He’d seen it once or twice before. The counter to the Zero, perhaps the Zero Hero. “We are getting married in the Temple of TILE after all with the sacred book now open at the front for everyone to see. We have the story of the CITY. The CITY is TILE.”
Supper Man scratched his head. “You and *me* are getting married in the Temple of TILE?”
Back to square one.
Hi Mr. Baker Bloch!
I’m admitting it’s so scary to write you (insert wavery letters there!). I *adore* your Red Umbrella Gallery and all the ART within and am so glad it has returned to [NWES City] (!!). My psychic grandchild and I have already visited several times. You may have heard of the gallery’s relation to a murder last year in our fair weather city. That’s me (!!!). I was the one who saw the rabbit in the collage — let’s see, that was Sam Parr 08 I believe — and told the police about it. Ms. Tanner and her private dick friend Percy. You may know them by now. Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer I’m talking about here. His corpse was discovered in a sewer over in Apple’s Orchard. I don’t go over there much any more because of it. And to think at the time it was known as the “Mild East” of [NWES City].
*Anyway*, have to run. It’s *so* nice to write you, and a bit relieving as well. I’ve thought about your work *so* much since it’s come to [NWES City] and also visited your own village of Collagesity back in the fall while doing further research on the murder. The newest gallery of yours in NWES, Bogota, still, um — well, still exploring that one. But the Boos gallery beside it is prim-o! I love how the interpretations flow from one collage to another in [Sunklands].
Toddles is urging me we need to go to the store. I promise to write later (!!!!).
Your fan and secret friend,
Alice L. Farrowheart the 5th
Alice Farrowheart looks down on the letter she just typed on her old timey computer-typewriter and wonders if she overdid it with the exclamation marks. Perhaps so, but, after all, this is very exciting. She’s talking directly to a maker now (!!!!!). Now if she just has the courage to send it.
The cat is the room. The cat is (waving) the room.
Follow me, it commands. “Follow Charlie,” it follows me, specific about a name. Charlie was at the bottom of the stairs leading to the market. “I’ve never been to the market except that once,” I talk back, trying to remember the once. I had to publish privately and review…
“Take your time,” it meows. “What’s time in a town without time?” he purred philosophically, also thinking about the rapidly spinning town clock. Sometimes it slows down as well. That one time it stopped. All turned dark. And then, another, it was a blur. White all around. Then occasionally it mimics our sidereal time, closely followed or preceded by our *real* real time. They’re not that far from total agreement these two types of time are. I think they can strike a deal down the road somewhere; agree to all the numbers.
“Thank you for waiting, Charlie. Turns out I’ve never been to the market. Another (type of) false memory.”
“No problem. Time: again.” The cat yawns and then continues to stare. I understand that he is ready to ascend. *We* are ready.
“What do you see?” asked Charlie in a voice full of meow while stepping aside near the top.
“Um… the marketplace?”
“*The* center,” it pursues. “You stay here (long enough), you will meet *everyone*. Including the one you will. Are you ready?”
“Um, sure.” I walk up a couple more steps and there we are. Gemusy Market according to the globe/map over at the school that I remember from yesterday. Today (something).
I compare the price of berries, while Charlie talks to calico cat friend Fred about the ups and downs of town, not leaving out the good for the bad. I take a bite of strawberry just to test. Eww. Rancid. Then another: delicious. I see what they mean.
“Over here now, new friend,” spoke/purred/meowed Charlie that God-like cat, ready to step into the God void if necessary. If needed.
“I see you. Taking a break?”
“No. Have you seen enough of the market? Are you ready to enter… the director’s suite? Just over there.” He points his head over there. A dark and sort of ominous, luminous tunnel.
“Director?” I queried, picturing a beret wearing older man in a fold out chair labeled “director”. Not too far off, but not too close either. 1/2 and 1/2.
(to be continued)
Peter Esso walked right by it on the way the bookstore to look at that map of Michigan again in the old atlas he’d found the day before last Wednesday’s Sunday. Or something. He’d had an epiphany the night before. The two St. Joseph Rivers of that state are actually one St. Joseph Rivers, er, River. “Eureka!” he cried while climbing out of the bathtub, still soaking wet as he padded toward the computer and the map of Hillsdale County he left up on it, a *modern* version but still one indicating where the conjoined sources lie: Osseo.
Thus the purchase of the Esso t-shirt from the Marketplace, and also the old sign reinforcing to himself that he was indeed a tiger (see: Wheeler). And then the name change: SoSo to Esso, but the one embedded in the other thanks to Osseo, he understood.
Wait — he has an idea.
“I saw it,” he reaffirmed afterwards, sitting on Urqhart Hill looking over the valley, water filled in the dancing fire vision. “I guess the dam would have had to been at about Marty’s house here, then run across the gap connecting Urqhart Hill with, well, whatever that opposite peak’s name is over there.” He looks toward it as if Marty’s house was transparent. And perhaps it was in the moment, just in that instant.
Now let’s draw back and look at the whole thing, at about the same angle Jeffrie saw it in his fire vision.
Behold: the Indian Lake (Sox Pond) basin. 1919. The year fire met water and neither won.
Better get down to the bar and meet the others, he ruminated/thought/pondered.
He liked walking around town. It helped clear his head of all the thoughts. Plus the place is active: this map just appeared overnight, similar to the one we’ve seen in Black Dragon.
Anyway, as you can see, there’s a lot of green on this, which represents unrented units. Black, again, equal “rented” or “in use.” Golden Jim quickly locates the office of Dr. Baumbeer on the map, sees the black cube. Still rented, at least for this week. He better get as much work done as possible. Shame he couldn’t get here from Gaston before they cleaned up the initial crime scene. He checked his pockets to make sure he had the keys still.
Tattoo parlor across the street. Also something new.
Rented by the same person who runs this records store next door, which (mental note) always seems closed.
And then this strange path, or road actually, almost across the street. Dr. Baumbeer’s body was found in the sewers directly underneath the attached structure — with attached rats feasting on his blood and guts. This was not a good way to go.
He knew this building well by now, but — what the heck, he thought. He decides to walk up the road once more…
… and spy this particular section of NWES from a rusted lookout tower at the top.
He could rent on this side of town. Certainly enough units available. But he’s just starting to settle into his “cave” on the other side of NWES. Plus there’s other advantages to being there.
He heads down, stops at the top of the road.
Red cap again, he thinks, trying to put all the pieces together.
(to be continued)
“I think that’s the worst part of leaving the South for me, Jer my bro.” He stares at Bogart and Bergman on the screen. “No colored TV.”
“I hear ya.”
“I *love* black and white TV,” Cathy A. squeals downstairs at basically the same instant in time. “Reminds me of my childhood in…” She tails off here.
“In where, pumpkin spice? You mean…?”
Marcus Fox Smartville studies her sad face, so filled with joy just a moment before. Then he notices the rose.
Not the same hand, not the same color. Just with the insinuation of Crabwoo everything had changed.
“I’m remembering things,” she said.
“Anorexia?” he responds just a minute later. “What kind of name is *that*?”
“She goes by Annie.”