I kept staring and staring at the Oracle in Henrietta until I became something else.
Now perhaps I can start to understand the thing.
“Tilers, Tessa. It marks this place as safe after all, despite the surface malignancy.
But we can’t take a chance anyway this time — fog rolling in; darkness too. We better ascent that tall ladder over there to higher ground for the night.”
“I’m *more* than ready to get out of these lowlands,” Tessa offered, staring back at the pirate ship from whence they came. Shark references everywhere. And not in a good and beneficial way. *Those* signs are there too, and in much more profusion. Tessa thinks that her Grandpa Gold puts way too much stock in these Tilers he goes on about at times. Left their signets here, dropped their talismans there. Sanctified grounds, he states and walks forward. Nothing malicious has happened… *yet*. And this is just the kind of place to break the lucky streak.
“We’ll come back in the morning if possible,” he says. “If Tilers were here then there is surely more to look at and study.”
The next morning, on the same spot:
“Oh the weather is *much* better now,” Tessa voiced sarcastically. “I can barely see 20 feet in front of me.”
“The tile here indicates safety, however,” her grandpa reinforced. “Safe to split up, then. You examine the buildings that way,” — Grandpa Gold points behind Tessa — “and I’ll work my way around from this end — counterclockwise — until we meet up somewhere in the middle. Is that okay?”
“If you say it’s safe, then I suppose it’s safe,” says Tessa, doubting the words coming out of her mouth but also putting her trust in who she assumes is a wiser and older being.
“Saves time that way,” he adds without verification from the child. “See you in the middle.” He turns away from her and walks toward the first structure in his direction. Tessa begins on her side.
“Freak show eh?” Tessa speaks aloud at one of the westernmost structures of the compound, thinking back to something called the Elephant Man, she believes. Nothing to make fun of! But is this an octopus who has the features of a man or visa versa? Anyway — not alive. Taking a picture and moving on…
“Nothing in there either.”
“Oh, there you are already, Grandpa. We meet in the middle, I suppose. Anything on your side?”
“A church,” he states.
“I think so. The right colors. They were indeed here. But first: let’s look in the last house of all. Together.”
Also the next day, a fully returned Mary made an announcement to the citizens of Lapara’s Malone Central gathered around the boob tube. “From now on,” she declared, “my name is Mary Tyler and our group will no longer be called Peter, Paul and Mary but Lamb. No argument.”
Everyone nodded their heads, just glad that Mary had put down her fishing rod and joined the living once more.
The great sim battle begins.
The heavily dreaming Musician was finally inside the great hotel, staring up at a painting of Bob Dylan by avatar Phil Strang. He wonders to himself why he doesn’t appreciate this particular musician more. Everyone intimately connected to the Chelsea seems to adore him. He greatly and heavily prefers The Beetles, though. John and George, but Paul and Ringo also. He’s looking for a particular place to sing “Julia” by John to wrap things up. But it won’t be here. “The Blue Angel is probably the better fit,” he says to himself. “John’s already there.” He ventures south out of the hotel, avoiding the Lil Magill room for now who everyone knows as Nancy. Misdirection.
Speaking of Dylan, on his way to the Blue Angel, The Musician passes a gallery rented by Angelina Dickenson, the very same “police woman” who just drove out the last of the vampires from town. The present exhibit involves an artistic reinterpretation of lyrics from Dylan’s song “Hard Rain”. The Musician would have to visit and absorb later. To the Blue Angel next door…
The Musician pretends there is an audience. All the women he has dated and loved are there. Helen, Audrey, Susie, Ethel and Pearl to the left. Bettie, Ginger, Ruth, Edna and May on the right. And missing Julia at the center of it all. “This one’s for you John.”
“We missed him,” Wheeler says to Baker Bloch, staring over at the bloody bed and hovering ghosts from her corner seat in the famed Chelsea room. “The Nancy story will have to wait.”