Yes, this will do nicely, Ellen thinks. I’ll send Sidechick Corea and his Boy Blue over to explore more.
“So you see Campbell O’Pine — I mean, *Opp*, Magus Ellen states this is as close as we can get to center in Nascera right now. What do you see?”
“I see… blues.”
“Are you ready, then? Remember to change over.”
“We’d like to negotiate a price for Gus, Eraserhead Man.”
“We have a spare 4 handed Librarian to give to you, but my guess is that won’t be enough.”
“I don’t need another librarian,” replies the pencil being in his somewhat tinny voice. “We have enough of those back in the closet now.”
“Then how about another movie deal?” asks Axis, smooth like a serpent. “‘Billy the Mountain’ meets ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. ‘Frank’s Moving Mountain’, in summary.”
“What would I do with such a thing as that you are describing? Invite Annie and Karl over for a party?”
“Do what you wish with it. Play it for entertainment and amusement during posh Hollywood parties.”
“Like I said…”
“I know, I know.” Axis removes his hand from his chin. “No Hollywood parties. I get it.”
“I just sit at home mainly and meditate or cook. You’re invited over for 3 cheese lasagna any time.”
“I mean it. The new guys (Annie and Karl) can come over too. *That* can be our party. Robot too, of course.”
“Well… how ’bout it, then?” Axis stared steadily at him.
Eraserhead Man lit up a cigarette without asking permission. “I have some questions,” he responded while puffing away.
“He asked about the Mission, ma’am. What do I tell him?”
Sire, these 3 smaller houses appeared shortly after we transitioned over here from the center of Nascera, blocking our direct access to the beach park.”
“Beach access is important,” states Ellen. “And the time to spend on them.”
“I should clarify to be totally open: a renter *can* walk the sand in front of the houses to get to the park still. But it becomes more… inconvenient. A sign, I would ask you?”
“Seems to be,” agrees Ellen, licking his ice cream all the time. “I don’t want to stay too long but let’s take a look at the parallel houses in Gaston.”
“Thank you for agreeing to accompany me back over there. I know you have a rendezvous tonight with Wheeler.”
“Let’s not call her Wheeler in the blog. We’re being recorded, Sidechick.”
“Oh, right.” He looks down at his white tuxedo shoes, then up again. “I don’t want to invade privacy too much, sire, but notice if you will that the yellow house has already been rented, remembering that Earie rented the yellow house in Gaston. And someone has positioned 3 chairs — red, yellow, blue again — right in the center of that house.
“I see them.” Neither mentions the picture of the red clad woman hanging on the wall. “But we needn’t linger here any longer. Opp should confine himself to the Mockingbird House over there still if he desires to come to Braynard’s Place and use the, er, facilities.” Ellen indicates the larger house just down the beach to their south.
“Shame about the access,” Ellen reinforces.
“Shame,” Sidechick Corea echoes.
“Ooo, so sluggish here,” Ellen complains. “Let’s not stay long.”
“But notice that the houses are on the sea again. West edge of the island sim instead of the east.”
“I get the gist. Let’s go back.”
Back on the beach, a transfigured Campbell O’Pine (Opp) manifests in the Bluebird Cuddle Van there, eliminating the need for Karl to do so. Now Annie can paint properly, or at least that’s the hope.
Eventually he heads southward through the arch again.
Axis stares vainly into the mirror and thinks what a beautiful man he’s become after being such an adorable little girl.
“In my opinion, sire: it’s a trap. The blue house is both rented and not rented. He shouldn’t enter.”
“He can’t stay on that beach forever, though. He’ll have to move back through the arch again sometime. And all the other houses around it have actually and legitimately been rented, including, now, the Mockingbird next door we originally had such high hopes for.”
“Alice, then,” replies Sidechick Corea to his boss Ellen, knowing he had the right answer. “Coming and going, past and future, etc. Alice’s restaurant,” he then adds, but with less confidence.
“Yes, you are correct Sidechick.” The Magus flashes an approving smile. “She’s already taken his place in the Bluebird Cuddle Van, lights set to blinding. We’ll simply have to begin again.” Ellen gets up from his meditation mat, sensing it is time to leave. “So let’s go, you and I my friend, back to Iris and see if we can set all this up. Bill’s opening move, Pawn to Queen 04, should be revisited, especially in light of that altered ‘Curse Purse’ painting Axis used next door in the yellow house.”
“The train being used by Lewis Carroll in ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ as a metaphor for a pawn’s ‘fast’ opening move crossing two spaces, as opposed to the usual one.”
“Right, Sidechick. You’ve done your homework. You have come far. You will take my place some day. I know it to be true.” Ellen pats him on the back, then waves him up as well.
Sidechick tries to take all this in, then asks after rising from his own meditation mat: “Is it there? With that, er, Alice in the van? Blue Girl I suppose?”
Ellen could feel its power even remotely. “Yes.”
Walking through the arch once more, Opp traveled far from Braynard’s Place to a 4 sim land some call Eden itself.
Whilst sitting against a log beside a grove of nice, pink trees, he is inspired to write a song about New Island’s Pipewold and being X-ed out.
But he was not alone. For the Alices were there.
And the Rabbits.
And some others.
All in all, a Grand Old Time was had of it.
“I’m neither one nor the other, Animaid-X.”
“Maybe you can dance it out of you like that spinning girl over there.”
“I shouldn’t be out here with you Axis. It’s like we’re beyond Pluto or sumtin.”
“You’re worried about Karl.”
“It’s like she doesn’t remember Karl, Animaid-X. She’s all about this Big Red now. And the Tennessee Colony.”
“Artist Point,” Animaid-X amends. “But we shouldn’t be here.”
“I don’t know who you are any more, Rabbit 02.”
“I’m *you* Rabbit 01.” He checks the fur on his arm. “Where’d the other Rabbit go?”
Sidechick Corea was in back preparing the lamaze pool, but there was no time for all that foolishness. It was to take place on the beach in front of the smaller white house that replaced the white Mockingbird sometime in the last day or so. Rabbit 01 meditated as Sidechick taught her to. The body didn’t foam and writhe as she had worried. Just calmness. Slow and easy…
And then: there he was. On the sand before her. Rabbit 03, the new love of her life. Or Rabbid as he would come later be called. If only Rabbit 02 was here to see this, but he had that conference in Wichita his boss wanted him to attend. Shame, though.
“Bracket, I mean, *Sidechick*, forget about that silly pool and come see!”
“Do you think you can manage to be happy today, Rabbit 02?”
“I’ll try Rabbit 01.”
“Rabbid… rabbid!” spoke the littlest, newist rabbit from his smaller seat at the table.”
“Aww, his first words! He turned rabbit into rabbid. How cute!”
“And so that shall be his name from here on,” decreed Rabbit 02. “Rabbid Rabbit.”
“Not Rabbit 03?” Rabbit 01 was puzzled. Rabbits always number their children.”
He looked toward the child, who was drooling on the upholstery. “We’ll talk about it later.”
“I just want to repeat that it was so nice of you to come Alices. And your little boy — Francis isn’t it?”
“It’s Paris,” spoke Alice 02 bluntly. She was tired of all this name confusion. Rabbit 01 had prattled on for what seemed like hours. But it was only 20 minutes ago that the party started.”
“And he’s — don’t tell me — *10* years old.”
“*12*.” Alice 02 almost shouted the number. They had gone over all their ages about 3 times now, to her counting. “I’m 15, she spoke plainly and levely, like you would to a child. “Alice 01 over there — in the *blue* dress, and with *blonde* hair — is 9. And our son is 12. We just divided the difference and… there he is.” Alice 02 effected a smile across the table at Paris, who brightly returned it. He was use to the temperamental nature of his mother and didn’t take it personally any longer, thanks to the counseling of 2nd mother Alice 01.
And how old is *your* son again?” started Alice 02 once more. “*5*?”
“1,” answered Rabbit 01 patiently, although she had answered the same question 2 times herself now. Not that she was counting. “1 day old.” She looked down and beamed at the tiny bunny beside her. “And he said his first words today! Didn’t you Rabbit 03?”
“*Rabbid*,” snorted Rabbit 01 harshly, then realized the social faux pas. “I mean, ahem, *yes*. He said his first words. And they were: *rabbid*.”
“Rabbit 03,” recited Alice 01, staring across the table at him sweetly, almost dreamily one could say. “What a cute name. I sometimes wished we’d numbered Paris.”
Alice 02 shot a stare toward Alice 01 with this, thinking: We *did* number Paris but you wanted a singular name. So we threw a dart at the world map and he became what he is. What kind of parents name their child after a French city? But Alice 01 said she had a niece who was so nice to her that use to name her children with that method. Moscow, Adelaide, and Brazilia they were called. Ridiculous. “If only the dart,” Alice 02 would say sometimes to Alice 01 — and she usually cried here a bit, then start again — “If only the dart would have hit Alice Springs, Australia all would be well in the world.”
Later in the day only the, er, grownups remained. Paris was playing with Rabbit 03/Rabbid down at the beach, making sure he didn’t wade into the water over his head. But he failed in his mission a couple of times. He obviously didn’t tell his mothers this.
Then lo and behold the table they were sitting at disappeared before their very eyes. All looked around at each other, all automatically standing now. Only a teapot remained.
Looks like the party’s over, Alices,” managed a rattled Rabbit 02. Thank God, Alice 02 rapidly thought.
“And his name is *Rabbid*” he snarled at them just out of earshot as they walked away.
There was no doubt that Sidechick Corea would have to tell Magus Ellen about *this*.
But which path to choose from the Centre tonight?
He decides on a direction (north) and sticks with it.
Spotted immediately he was after crossing the bridge — and welcomed by Braynard herself, up at the club watching the dancers from her corner.
So she was more than just a brain — she had a host body as well. Dare he join her and ask about The Rainbow Sphere this soon? Magus Ellen warned him about the possibility. Certainly not time to strike out on his own or deviate beyond the ordinary. Plus she had just admitted to the crowd that it was time for her to turn it in, eyelids getting heavy. Perhaps there would be another day, when both were fresh.
Only minutes later, the dawning sun was shining on an observing Sidechick, still standing just beyond the crossing bridge.
Ahh, beach access.
The beach. *The* Beach? He then spots them just down the cliff.
A Rainbow Sphere (!). And the Golden Orb, ruler of all.
Nothing else to do here but…
True Opp (Tropp) certainly wanted to pay a visit to the original Adam and his Eve up in ironically named Green Acres to console them about the recent loss of their child Oliver.
But such a long and winding road to get there.
Over Easter break, he managed to drive as far as the Mexico Flats Rest Area, still less than halfway up.
The Others had decided it was enough.