“Were you seen, Jupiter?”
Jupiter? But Groover remembered who he was at the core. Jupiter, yes. “I don’t think so.” He thought back to the visit by Tickie this morning, intent on finding him and taking him back to an aspiring cryptozoologist in his hometown for study and perhaps fame and fortune, or so the Undertaker said. For he is the illusive, the one and only Knob Noster! Well, there were three of us, counting the wife and the kid. He needs to send them a postcard.
“What about the other fellow, the Man About Town it said in his outfit description? I wonder: *what* town? The same as Tickie’s? They didn’t seem to know each other that well. Did they?” She turned her scowling face toward Groover, wishing reciprocation.
“MAT, yes. I mean, no. They didn’t seem to know each other that well. He must be in on it. Why would he come to the Game Room to meet with him otherwise. Certainly not to play *Pac-man*.” Jupiter/Groover here makes an imitation of a pac-man gobbling up ghosts and the like with his pac-man-like mouth. Understanding the Anti-Bart reference, Olive Oylstick still finds it only mildly funny. More is afoot now. She stares out again at the… tree? Is that what this is in the space formerly occupied by the House of Joy?
Groover gasps. “There it is again (!). Sideways.”
Olive Oylstick had an insight. “Do that thing with your mouth again you just did.”
Barry DeBoy stares at the blank canvas he knows he must fill in soon. CITY, a concept that must be born if the city itself is to be saved. Almost a 90 percent chance of it now. He’ll take the odds.
He pinches himself to make sure he’s awake (he is). Wearing the red tie has made him nervous about that down through the months — before, he was always dreaming when he had it on. No more. Something happened: a reversal, a change of heart even, he senses. Miss Graham has given it back. But why?
“It was me,” Hucka Doobie spoke at a nearby table. Come on into the picture. PICT ON PICT. Come on,” she urged.
“What’s he doing?”
“She. But that’s what we have to find out. Temple.”
“Wheeler. Of course.”
“I suddenly have to go pee, Hucka Doobie. Better pull off at the next convenience store. Need gas anyway. This Post is bigger than we thought! Like traversing a whole country in a microcosm, I suppose.”
“Lots of ‘P’s’ along the way for certain,” offered Hucka Doobie, tired of driving and listening to toddler-like Baker Bloch complain. Perhaps if he drives he’ll have more to occupy his mind. But she likes the company. An excuse to spend time with him. Always nice if sometimes irritating in the same moment. She instinctively feels the top of her head with a free hand. Antennae hadn’t grown back yet. Maybe they never will. Maybe they’re gone for good. She’s human through and through now. Perhaps that means…
“There!” Baker Bloch barked in his back seat driver kind of way even though he’s in the passenger seat.
But it was a consignment shop and not a convenience store. Bake’s bad.
Hucka Doobie makes a sharp turn, surprised she could drive the car all the way to the store and not have to park in the road or something.
Baker gets out, checks the sign. “Stripes,” he says, seeing red all around. “Seems familiar.” He then holds the crotch of his pants with both hands while his knees knocked.
“Better get you inside before it’s too late,” said Hucka Doobie, chuckling a bit. But she too thought there was something odd about this store. And when they went inside and found apparently blood stained designer dresses on a rack in back their suspicions were verified.
“Marty says he’s leaving Urqhart and that his new house is too ugly, Hucka Doobie. There’s also a wall between him and his neighbor who owns Urqhart Hill — this Rhiannon or Golden Josephine I suppose. Remember when the Tower card came up in a reading for Collagesity in Urqhart, Hucka? Seems now it may come to pass. The Collagesity tower will be destroyed by lightning, casting out the 2 owners of the town, Wheeler and me. Does this not seem to be what is happening Hucka?”
Baker Bloch looks about but broken-hearted Hucka Doobie was nowhere to be found. She had already moved on.
Baker was still hanging around but barely.
She tried to see better through the tears. The girl in front of her couldn’t be see-through. Could she? Unless…
“Frankie?” she almost whispered. “Frankie — is it — you?” She struggles some more against the pipe, then looks again. The apparition persisted.
“There is that aspect,” Jenny allowed. “I am not dead, though. I appear through *time*.” She let that sink in.
“Time?” Marsha “Pink” Krakow was crying harder again. Jenny knew she was in danger of losing contact. She exposed more. “Not space, because it essentially happened in this very spot once more.” Did this help? Marsha looked like she was going to fall into a black hole, never to be found. An emotional hole inside of her kept whirling everything she knew and understood into itself. This is what Jenny must save her from.
“Options, Marsha,” she exposed more. “You are a *Star*. You *can* be reborn from the Great Void. Think, Marsha, think. Dwell on your future. See yourself drumming like you’ve never drummed before, in front of a large, *worshiping* audience. *See* yourself there.”
Marsha “Pink” Krakow fought hard against the Void. She entered a time, a space, not yet recorded, not yet known about. Tom Banks couldn’t find her here, she realized. She entered the club…
He picks up the central 128 line on the other side of the World Wide Heroes Institute Building from the “egg”.
He pauses to take in the scenery. Tall, futuristic buildings still block his view of the centre from here. From the past he was destined to enter all along. He continues…
… to quickly come on this centre, also along a wall separating off a parcel from the rest of Fearzum-town, like he just passed. But this was different. This *hole* also contained objects. Past objects, Ancient even.
He stands as close to the actual centre as he can get and looks inside.
Hold on. What’s *this*? He reads the description: “Etoile”. Star in French. What is a *star* doing in the middle of the past?
“The Queen is happy and sleeping in her royal bed,” recites Tronaxis (new name!) at his virtual reality game command center. “No stopping us now, right Cpt.?”
But then Tron revamped Axis remembers that he bagged and gagged Cpt. Americus earlier in the evening and left him hanging to dry. And the turtle (Norton Wise) had been turned into soup. And Fish Head’s head would turn since he’d been bought off. I will be the champion! he inwardly crows.
Purple mutt Ralph, a non word-processor, keeps guard and growls with every slight movement. The Cpt. within has learned to stay still and not eat the remaining white and grey matter in his magically replenishing bucket. Because he has a plan. The first, true, has been stolen and appropriated by (Tron)Axis but the second, the new one, is even better. He will *help* the Heart Queen in an about-face. Kick his traitorous ways down the road a bit, biding his time. If only he can get out of the current situation. Come on, white and grey matter, he urges, knocking his head with the drumstick still in his hand and inciting another growl from Ralph.
“Everything all right over there Ralph?” Tronaxis didn’t need a smart dog, only a loyal one. That’s all he demands from any of his subjects. Obedience; loyalty. The Heart Queen and he are too similar in that way. Eventually, ultimately, one or the other had to go. He hopes it’s her.
If only he had an ally — a human one this time and not an obedient mutt like Ralph. Tronesisia? No, she’s not an obedient robot/gynoid any longer, having broke her programming. Peter? But Tronaxis still didn’t really know who that was. Besides being a clone of Peter Gabriel of “Lamb”, etc., fame. Oh wait — there’s Randolph.
Just down the alley.
“Help Tronesisia. I’m stuck between the floor and ceiling!”
“Get down from there, Duncan,” she pleaded again. “You’re going to hurt one or both of your keyboard playing hands (!).”
Alice Farrowheart walked into the psychedelic records store looking for her husband of 40 years. Ignoring Duncan Avocado doing a one handed stand on a bicycle seat — she’d seen enough of those kind of circus acts this week over at the bot cafe — she spotted the small, grey alien sitting on the opposite side. Oh well, she thought. At least he’s upright. I’ll ask him instead.
“Excuse me, sir?”
“Oh, ahem, what’s that?” Ingo pretended to shake himself out of a daydream, but he knew full well where he was and what he was doing here.
“I’m looking for Fred. That’s my husband.” She came closer to him. “About yea high; wears a cardigan.”
“Nope,” Ingo exclaimed. “Just us freaks in here today. We *wish* more people would come in and buy stuff. That would allow us to get better instruments, do more gigs. You see, we’re a band.” He pointed around the room, ending with himself. “Her, and him over there, and then me. I’m the drummer. You may have heard of me. Ingor Ratts. I was pretty famous back in the days.”
“No, sorry. I don’t think I have.” But she was more trying to ignore the large red rat that had just emerged from behind the counter. It reminded her of…
“Baumbeer!” she exclaimed while waking up. “Baumbeer was killed by the drummer!” She must get to Black Drake asap. Now where is that confounded belt?
“I can see it in my mind’s eye right now Ruby, er, Cathy. Right over there in that open part of the sky. A round, perfectly black head with round black ears to match. Don’t you see it too?”
“I’m, er, *prrr*, trying!”
“No need to shout,” scolded Eraserhead Man playfully. “Not when you’re around. We should get married right here and now, babydoll. Right at this crossroads. Save us a lot of time later on.”
Cathy A. laughs and twirls around in place with her blue rose, acting all ditzy as usual.
“Anyway…” EM stares back up in the sky. “That’s what I see. We’ll, hmm, probably have to alter it for copyright reasons. Maybe, um, *deflate* one of the ears; make it look more like a dog’s. A droopy dog ear, yes. Like that card I used in the other show.”
“‘On the Air’? *prrr*.”
“No, the other one. The less famous one.”
“Like *this*, actually.” Eraserhead Man holds up his coffee mug for Cathy A. to see. Indeed: droopy dog ears. She gets a little afraid at the sight, which EM senses.
“Yeah, I know how you feel. Anyway, that’s what follows Axis around, wherever he goes now. The North will have to surrender unconditionally to the high menace.” Eraserhead Man looks up. “The high menace in the high castle.
Now place your rose over there and we’ll start again.”
“Why are we stopping here, Keith?” asked Jim, concerned with time as usual.
“I don’t know I don’t know,” answered his riding mate, his maths buddy. “I just feel… a choice needs to be made here. Juncture.” He indicates the map of Satori to their left.
“No,” returns Jim A. Brown emphatically. “We *need* to keep going up Route 8 to Golden City so that you can get back to your daughter in time for at least a late breakfast. It’s already almost light. Wasn’t my idea to go on this joy ride.” But it was totally his idea. His and the Unholy Trinity as a whole. The Scarlet Triangle — the A.Team. Keith B. needed to be thrown under a bus. But since none ran this route, a sports car would have to do. A cursed car.
Still Keith didn’t budge. “Listen,” urged Jim B., intuitively sensing some sort of outside energy influencing current affairs. “We’re about halfway there. Let me drive the rest of the way. You just take a rest. Think of some more maths while you’re relaxing.” Like the theorems connecting Golden City to Golden Sink, dufus, Jim B. thought to himself. We need your brains one last time!
“You don’t drive fast enough,” replies Keith. “Your hair won’t be all spiked up like mine if you bothered to take off your cap.”
We will notice here a similar thing happened to another character’s hair earlier in our story, and for the same reason : a screeching and spinning car. Perhaps a type of Porsche as well, but probably not the same one since the earlier vehicle was painted red. We’re talking about one Craighead Phillips, who just happens to be Keith’s future son-in-law. If he lives long enough to get any further into the future than this weekend. I’d give it 1/2 and 1/2 at this point. Jenny may not even have a father when she meets Craighead a number of years down the road and then elopes to Nautilus for a quickie wedding after an unplanned pregnancy. Preston Weston, the first of three children for her. Jenny becomes Your Mama for real. But we must get back to the Fork of Bill. For that is what it’ll be known as for future generations, whatever happens next.