Category Archives: The Cross^

Tesseract Inn continued…

The dead will return to their graves, the bats will fly back to The Void, and the orange lights on the fir tree in the center of it all will be replaced by anything but as Halloween season shifts inevitably into Christmas. Shelley decides to bed down for the night on the comfy couch by the fire as the fog rolls in, another product of the lingering evil. The “Big Red Machine” being finished as far as she can take it, she shifts back to her standard tablet for more reading. Always 1 or 2 or 3 pages in at this time of night and she’s ready for sleep; can stash the tablet safely away beside the bed — or couch in this case — its main job accomplished. She likes to read about dreams anymore, but still has problems remembering her own. Society offers little in training for that, unfortunately, with the emphasize instead being placed on “out there”, or the manipulation of physical objects and the achievement of material goals. How much do you have in your bank account, Shelley? Not enough, society might answer. Focus your energy on investments, financial planning. But the dreams, she might protest in her mind. What about the *inner* wealth. No answer for that.

She’s spacing out instead of reading. Time to shut the eyes. She doesn’t have her special neck molding pillow but, oh well. Next time she’ll be sure to plan an intercontinental trip better; this one was rather impromptu in nature. Plus, well there are the shifts in time/location to deal with. The Cross, pheh. And now she’s trapped, in effect, in one of its quadrants, let’s say, as it divides the continent into 4 fairly equal sections, with one remaining unfinished — not the one she’s in, though, this Mountain land with its many shiny granite peaks and ridges. Must be the mica.

“Goodnight Spider!” she calls as she rolls over, using her hand as a makeshift pillow.

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Spider

The town was rather a jumbled mess of buildings, but Shelley didn’t stay there long, taking the path of fellow Klancasterians Dixon One and Dixon Two before her and heading to Omega mountain country for purity, cleansing, or so they attempted. One came back but the other one (Two?) didn’t. We still don’t know which, thanks to the built-in ambiguity of these here photo-novels, 35 in a series of 35 so far. And last we saw of bride to one of ’em, Snowwhite Well, a mutual cousin, she was living with giant chickens over on the Maebaleia continent, as old as her Maw now — the Dixons’ Aunt — and just as aged of skin. She thought visiting monarch Greyscale Kimball was a tithe collector and was going to sic Gander, the biggest of the fowl, on her. But turns out they had a common love for reading, and a special fondness for the epic novel “Moby Prick”, so famous in that land where it was set, uniting the highest and lowest of classes in this case.

Point is, the Dixons were searching in these mountains for treasure that was right in front of them all along, smack dab in the middle of their hometown: Snowwhite Well herself, as she tried to explain to them in Vain (a suburb). Now, I don’t think Shelley is looking for treasure as well, at least this version of herself, but she found some anyway, in a tavern in Morgan about as Oriental and far away from the Occidental West as you can get. This was the Tesseract, this was the Hypercube.

She turned away from it at first, not believing her eyes. It was dressed up like a circus dog and set inside a display cage. The 4 repeating numbers over his or her head had been removed. Why would Roberts do this? she thought. She had to get in contact with Arthur again somehow, make that Lemont somehow. She was not on The Cross but she was still trapped, East becoming West and North becoming South every other day and every other week respectively, as she soon found out. She had jumped from the fire back into the frying pan but it remained hot as hell in here. Then she began to hear them, soft and sloow. “Two.” “One.” “Three.” “Zero.” A human-like feminine voice, surprising her, with a bit of a hiss in it, like a serpent. No barking or yelping detected. Then it started again. “Two.” “One.” “Zero.” “Three.” A bit of a break and then again: “Two.” “Three.” “One.” “Zero.” And again and again. She had to listen to them all, the 24 permutations of those 4 cursed numbers. She finally turned after it was over, sweat dripping off her body, making her long shirt-blouse wet at the stomach, neck and back.

“What *are* you?”

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new angle

“So you see, babydoll. You *can’t* leave The Cross right now. Right there in the contract you signed. You’re part of the club now.”

Shelley studied and studied the thing but couldn’t find a way out. Biff Carter was the same age as her or older than her by 2 decades. If the former, then *they* may be destined to be married — Biff — Mr. Carter — must know this too. If the latter, Mr. Carter — Biff — could be her father.

But she has a father. Newt, yes. And a mother: Wheeler. She tells Biff/Mr. Carter this, along with being engaged to George already, who, turns out, he knows by another name.

“Oh I know about Arthur,” he says in response to all this. “I don’t think you’re really engaged to this… *Musician*.”

“Am too,” Shelley tried to defend, but knew it was hopeless. Says right here: Shelley Struthers will be stuck on The Cross until the end of novel 35, where she’ll make a choice between 3 lovers. She knows two. Here could be the 3rd — has to be, I suppose.

Biff knew she couldn’t weasel out of this. The Umbrella Club has spoken. “Satisfied?” he ended.

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different

“I really liked the old office,” she answered Lemont Sanford, playing the role of Arthur Kill currently, “but it was too laggy. Kept crashing. You know how it is.”

“Yes I remember.”

“You were there in the underground for a while. Training.”

“Yes.”

“After Wheeler raised you from the dead (nods from Arthur). After Tessa killed you. We buried you, the firm, but you wouldn’t stay down. You went to Tennessee.”

“Yes, Tennessee.”

“You were looking for a spider, an 8 legged being, but you eventually figured out it was a dog. Spider is a dog.”

“Right, yes.”

“You retrieved it, brought it to me for safekeeping.”

“Yes. (pause) Do you have it?”

“Of course I have it, Arthur. Would you like to see?”

“Yes, please. I mean, I have the money but… actually, nah, I’m good. You’ve given me the money. I’m happy. Wheeler and me, I mean *Shelley* and me, I, can retire in comfort.”

“Is she still wearing purple?” Roberts questioned from her opposite chair. “Or has she moved beyond that?”

“Moved beyond I think. Last time I checked.”

“Ask her to wear something purple and see how she responds.”

“She seems okay with it,” Arthur reinforced. “She’s changed, she said.”

“Are you convinced?”

Arthur paused just enough to indicate he wasn’t fully convinced. There was, well *Roberts* now, for one thing. How surreptitious they run into each other again (!). But, deep down of course, Arthur knew it wasn’t coincidence. The Gods have further plans for them, which means The Void has further plans for them. They work hand in hand on this.

Roberts leaned back, folded her arms behind her head. “So strange that Franklin was spared. I’m overjoyed of course, but whether Black Jack, Kentucky or Black Jack, Tennessee, the helicopter that acted as a plane in the moment purposely missed her, swerving to one side or another. If only Mantell could have done the same — I think he tried, I think he saw the, um, irony. Do you know the case, Arthur? It’s quite famous, at least in UFO circles. Cradle links to grave, creating an uroboros scenario. The Cross (in the middle) is eliminated. That’s the point. I’m sure you understand, Arthur, given that you’ve been there now — you rescued Shelley from there. The Cross can *trap*.”

“I think I’m still on The Cross,” Arthur admitted. “I never made it back to Nautilus. I never made it back to here, then, this office in Towerboro on the Jeogeot continent.”

“Oh you’re here,” Roberts countered.

Arthur saw a spider on the floor behind her. He then saw 5 others, 10 others maybe, all lined up like military rank or file.  Roberts didn’t glance around, seemed oblivious to them. But Arthur knew she wasn’t. What was this psychic-detective up to?

“This is where it starts, Arthur. The agency. I want to know who tried to kill Franklin. In a strong probable reality she is dead. Only the actions of a rebellious, artificial pilot, a Mantell wannabe, saved her. He broke the pattern. Cradle to grave was unlinked. You were there too. You saw — how close.”

“Yes.”

“It was either the boat on fire or the rose colored cottage on fire.”

“I remember the boat.”

“And I remember the cottage.”

—–

Now where is that receiver?

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00350311

She came from The Void — above. And judging by this introductory picture she may have been formed by The Void, or be a manifestation of The Void itself, sent here to straighten out a pair of misbehaving whippersnappers far below, pheh (she gets into character). BEH.

Her name… give us a second; we’re working on it. Mourning Glory is what I got now. MG.

Here on Holding Level 2, or what some call the Gold Room, our grandmother looking type person decompresses by soaking in a hot tub for 2 weeks a while, its stairs borrowed by Burt to check on a malfunctioning heat vent in hall 4 1/2 a couple of days beforehand. Budget is low for these sorts of places today; MG had to climb in, difficult with her frame and developing arthritis, lengthening the process. No one really comes down from The Void to Our Second Lyfe any more. Back in the golden, olden days it was different. Hence the choice of color here: to remind one of past glory. And I suppose the name Mourning Glory could be a reflection of this too. What did this MG know about such? I’m eager, and I hope you, the reader or readers, are also eager to find out. She keeps the red phone close in case orders change from above.

She’s finally out of the cleansing, relaxing hot tub, ready to get down to business. She checks her face in a handy mirror first. Not there still — she’ll work on it. Only a placeholder version of The Void behind her, which, of course, if she turned around she wouldn’t see.

To the file room.

Filed chronologically instead of alphabetically according to the labels, good.

But — shock — no files within the cabinets! She even checked the dumpster around the corner, *oof*, her back!

She needs to call the boss about the apparent theft but first things first: another go in the hot tub.

Calm, MG, callmmm.

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gloryous night 02

“Something happened in Belliseria, Johnny, I mean *Arthur* — DAMN: **Lemont**.”

“Yes??” Much like Mr. Ubermodel at the time, he was all ears. Where has she been???”

“Anyway, it was undone. The Orient, Johnny Arthur Lemont. Thing like that can happen there.”

“So… something *happened* in Belliseria and… *unhappened* in Omega?” He began thinking the obvious.

“Yes. I went a little — crazy.”

We’ll have to start over, he thought here. We’ll just have to move on and start over.

“Where are you *now*??” he said into the receiver in his house in Nautilus. *Their* house. If he can find her and bring her back and she’s okay after that.

She looked around. “Bus,” she managed. “Heading… um, don’t know what direction.”

“Can you see the Sun?” Lemont tried.

“No. Dark.” Void, she thought. Was she *there*? Had she been cursed through being so mean to Johnny?”

“Anyone with you now?”

She had to keep driving, but she glanced around the bus real quick. She wasn’t sure otherwise. “No,” she said after checking, returning her eyes to the road.

“Do you have another tracker on you besides the phone? Doesn’t seem to be working as such now — may be too far away. Maybe from that Umbrella Club you were at?”

Umbrella Club, she thought. She doesn’t recall an Umbrella Club. Then she remembered legs — removing them from the sun back into the shade. The torch-like sun. So hot. Did she have another tracker about her? She recalled… a photograph.

(to be continued)

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00350308

I was wondering when you were going to show up.

The duck, not the screamer, although they obviously could be related, especially since there’s a hand pointing from the former to the latter. Now to back up…

—–

“I’m going into The Void, Shelley. If my face is worthless then I want to do away with it. My rocket launches Thursday after next.”

“After next what?” she replied calmly, taking this new development in stride. She was expecting something drastic — just didn’t know what. Tension had been too high lately.

“More details later,” the ironically named Johnny Ubermodel responded. He was just making all this up. He simply wanted a reaction. Would she come? But (he though while staring at her) — why would she? Her face was *perfect*. Child-like and innocent but old and full of wisdom at the same time. “I bought The Void Machine on the marketplace. You can check if you wish.”

“I believe you.” She didn’t believe him. This was all about that comment with the TV. And, of course, the attached threat to leave this place, this lake with its forest in the sun and set out for — sanity?

“We could live at 7000, 100000, heck 1000000. Sky’s the limit as they say,” and he couldn’t help a small smile here on his goofy mouth too close to his nose and eyes. And that nose!

“Johnny. Johnny Supermodel.”

“Ubermodel,” he correct.

“Yes…” She’d heard about eels but couldn’t fit it in here. Irrelevant in the big picture.

“You’re not going. I know. You’re going to the bus instead, despite the lack of animations for what we need to do to make us happy.” Make *me* happy, he thinks here. Her: obviously not so much. “You can drive away into the sunset.”

“Johnny,” she tried to placate. “I know I made that comment earlier about your face, and how are you going to be a porn star and make money to redo it when you have it in the first place. I mean…”

“I know what you mean. I’m too ugly to get my foot inside the door of the business, even though I have talents — enhancement — elsewhere.”

“Yeah.”

“So you think I chose The Void over reality.”

“Umm.”

“Shelley.”

(pause) “Yes?”

“I’m going into The Void.”

—-

But he didn’t. He eventually got another job that paid even better than the porn one and got that face and went on to live a successful and happy life. But not with Shelley.

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00350307

Did you know a faceless, objectless Void begins at 4000 meters elevation in Our Second Life?

And physics starts to get a little wonky even as you approach. Eels can appear, for example, but not the kind you might expect.

Someone is pregnant. Someone shouldn’t be here. The bus down there is the way out. Take it.

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two to see

“Is that the guy from ‘Twin Peaks’?”

“Yeah I think so. You know… we’re not going to be able to stay here, you and I.”

“Oh yeah. Why not? Am I suddenly not good enough for you, Shelley?” He huffs a bit. He was expecting this sometime but hoped to delay it until after football season. He enjoyed watching 2 games in one through this dual TV setup. He wouldn’t be able to afford 2 on his own.

What could Shelley say? That the sex eventually didn’t make up for the looks? Surely he knows about the hands by now, and the hiding of the face. And it’s getting uglier, she admitted, in the bright light of day. In the dark it’s easier to pretend. She hoped she could get use to it. Not working.

That night she dreamed she was trapped inside the stomach or innards of that big stuffed purple bear in the living room, ready for birth that never came. In the dark herself. Satisfied with the lot of her life.

But she woke up, ate her Toastie Oats cereal, choco chip dodecahedron style, and, staring out through the iron grid window at the magic bus from whence they came — parked down by the water still — understood anew that she needed to be on her own for a while. She looks over at Johnny’s mug. Jeez it’s worse than ever this morning. It’s like he was made to be disgusting. And, she then realized, perhaps he was… perhaps this is all… some kind of ruse. A test. She’d had flashes about who gave her the bus, who sent her here. A woman named Wilson who was also friends with a Fox. A person who — was much like herself, yes. A *mother*, she discerned, turning her table around to stare at the bear.

Birth is what you make of it. Cradle to grave, but in the middle, always The Cross. Which she’s on. She’d been absorbed in the Omega continent’s north to south arm! Somehow that made it both more real and more irreal at the same time. Birth, she realized. It is coming. Or: not.

“Dear, sorry, you’re kind of in the way of the TV.” That grating man-child voice too(!).

She stared at it now. “It’s some kind of *test pattern*, Johnny. Get over it.” Just like this life she’s living here, she also thought.

“Oh. I thought it was a show.”

“So did I, Johnny. So did I.”

(to be continued)

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00350305

“Look out below!” she called, her hair not getting wet quite yet. She wanted to add, “femboy above!” but caught her tongue. Why would she say something like that? Then it hit her OOOF! She remembered. Right in the crotch stomach. Good thing she wasn’t pregnant!

—–

They later talked about it in front, a looked over final animation. Then they’d have to leave the bus or else chance just repeating themselves over and over, however pleasant the experience was the first time around. She knew she loved playing the drums now — she could find others. She knew she dug dancing, and actually there’s a line dancing joint just across the lake they can go to for that. As far as living quarters and being able to sleep and do some other stuff via animations, they had found the perfect spot, also across the lake but a little further back from the water, behind that other interesting club that always seems to contain so many avatars. She went yesterday and looked them over. All AFK, all ready to serve their purpose while the owner was in all likelihood absent from the scene. How interesting, she thought. Kind of terrifying but still…

She had no desire to join in this kind of fun. She had Johnny for the moment. When they moved into the Big Boy Apartment, she always kept a hand over his face, though; imagined someone else’s over top of it if possible. Looks aren’t everything, she knew, but they were *something*, and Johnny had none really. But he was talented in other ways.


Big Boy apartment.

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