“It’s time to take one of you observing 88’s to the room to see what went missing. Maybe both of you. Yeah: both.”
“First, a little wine before we start. Sorry you can’t have any, guys.” (sip)
“Guys? Can you hear me?”
“So tell me about this place, Baker B.,” requested Hucka D.
“I don’t know,” I replied through Baker Bloch. “The Moon. Er, over there’s the Wild (White) Whale used to audition new avatars. And then back there is the White Whale Restaurant or Lounge or something where the winners gather afterwards, the avatars who are eligible for new parts.”
“Hmm. I see. Why not just audition them the regular way, say, to test their acting skills?” It was a logical question.
“In my estimation, accing is 99% perspiration, so they need stamina above all else. The Wild Whale tests this. Garfield, I mean, Hatfield failed, for example. 3.3 seconds out of 10, even on two tries. We give everyone a second chance. But it was 3.0 seconds the first time, and only a slight improvement for the second ride.”
“Kind of makes sense, I suppose,” Hucka D. replies. “Who do we have so far, then?”
“Colored TV — he won out over Black and White.”
“And Kate McCoy — she’s the real McCoy since she’s all grown up. Still listening to the patterns in her headphones, a trait carried over from childhood when she was just little Katy Kidd.”
“Is she married?” Hucka D. offered.
“Uncertain. But we have a location for her to employ her accing skills at. A house filled with dots.”
“Cool. And the others?”
“One we call just Chicken-Man now. Then, um, Dark or Black Elvis — Elvis Black I suppose. Then Kind of Messed Up Cat. The idea is that Kate McCoy will team up with this new cat now that Garfield — *Hat*field — is out of the picture.”
“Didn’t pass the whale ride test, yes.” Hucka D. paused to look around his surroundings again. “Any more characters coming up?”
“Oh,” deflected Baker Bloch — or me through Baker Bloch. “I want to show you something before I forget. I was scouting out the White Horse Village today for a reason.*
Hucka D. was thinking that she didn’t know he was scouting around White Horse Village today but didn’t say this aloud.
“Let me turn on the map first.”
“Nice,” exclaimed Hucka D. “And the pins are from the Blue Feather Sea locations from the previous novel. 14 isn’t it?”
“14’s a lot. Maybe it’s best to stop while you’re ahead.” A logical request.
“Well, 15’s already started. *We’re* in it. I have to see at least that one through. And, in truth, I think there’s going to be more after that. Moving Collagesity to the Nautilus continent and renaming it (7 Stones) was a key to continued evolving. That’s we’re we are *now*, of course. This skybox might not have been possible in Collagesity due to more limited prim amounts.”
“I believe they call that land impact amounts these days, Baker B.”
“I’ll still call them prims for simplicity’s sake.”
“As you wish.” Hucka D. points upwards. “I know that’s the Earth over there but what is this? Obviously the Blue Feather Sea remade as a cube, or the 6 composite sims folded up as a cube. But is it real? Looks kind of transparent to me.” She keeps peering upward, seeing stars through the predominantly blue cube. A triangle of stars, actually. She’s connecting the dots again.
“That’s what we have to find out next — or soon. Karoz’s ‘E’ found at the bottom now 10 years ago Earth time could be a key. If we could just figure out a way to land inside…”
“How about those stars,” Hucka D. then points out.
* What I through Baker Bloch forgot to show Hucka D. White Horse Village: directly under the White Whale Restaurant now.
Where am I? Oh, I teleported to the center of the wrong SIF. One of two instead of two of two. But what’s that ahead of me? A light. Could this be another possible clue uncovered by pure synchronicity once more? I moved forward…
… and eventually came here to the edge of a rather large if redundant pine forest illuminated by the dawn’s early light. “Horns,” I speak aloud, looking at the teleporter design in front of me. “The devil inside: this must be another stepping stone.” I decided to call in Wheeler Wilson since I’d already talked to Bracket.
“Why are we here, Baker Bloch?” she asked after teleporting in.
Baker Bloch? I think. I’m… then I realized she’s right. I remembered who I was. Then I told her why she was here.
“Well, she began again after shaking her head a bit. “I wouldn’t call us exactly *friends*” She then called me a thing I cannot write here for reading. She had me (in a pickle). She then took off one of her shoes and made a phone call on it, something I understandably wasn’t expecting, even though I am *Smart*. The person on the other end? Someone named Eighty-eight. She prefaced the call (and the pulling off of the shoe) by stating she was phoning up her *own* friend.
“Eighty-eight?” she asked the person on the phone, whom I soon realized had that name. “Where are you?” Buzzing on the line. “I have Baker Bloch here. He’s trying to reach The End again.” More buzzing. “14th, I think.” Buzzing. “I know. We weren’t expecting it this soon either. He’s just going around trying to phone up friends, kind of like what I’m doing to you. Perhaps it’s catching.” She smiles at me with this. A sweet smile, surprising me. Hmm. “Meet us in Cassandra City,” she closed. “At the Grey’s House.” Hmm, again.
Eighty-eight soon phoned back (shoe again pulled off; answered), and told Wheeler that she just realized she had an appointment with an astrologer this evening and that they’d have to postpone a trip to Cassandra City for another night. So with that I took my leave of Wheeler and teleported over into the 2nd (and final) SIF sim, the one where Sweet Alice’s aunt has dealings with. I knew who this was now. Your Mama.
Maybe I should put down the flower.
It was the more unusual of the buildings at the X marking the center of X-City. Well, what was left of it. Orange it was, and elongated. With circular sides ghosting a circular front in my opinion. For I’ve surmised what this building actually is. We’ve seen the address before.
The X marks the portal between Real and Second Lyves. Sign.
I knew who the mermaid inside was at the bottom of it (bottom writing). But she was something else. Not a whale, although that’s part and parcel of the legend. Not quite a jellyfish, but that was closer. Squid? I haven’t quite connected the dots. Dot dot dot…
If only she could tell us herself.
There was only one other character I could introduce to attempt to put a face on it. We’ve seen *him* before.
It’s a matter of time. Does the face remain (2) full and smiling or does it become (1) smaller and then (3) wink out, leaving us with nothing.