Gaston


COLLAGESITY 2017 LATER


Gaston Terri

The Musician tries to remember where his studio apartment is in this maze of streets, stairs and alleyways.

Eight, nine… He believes his was 5.

Squalor. He thinks for the thousandth time that he must remove himself from this environment. But he’s been inspired (!). The Musician has some new songs. “Terri,” for one, a love ballad.

He found it. Down by the harbour.

How’d he get so lucky?

But he’s got his eyes on this 2 story yellow house 2 doors down. The place remains unlocked, and sometimes he and Terri meet here and jam.

Yesterday he received a telephone call from Wheeler. They caught up. Wheeler said she’s probably heading back to Collagesity in a month or 2, and that some things remain to be tied up in Olde Lapara Towne. He, in turn, tells how he got to Gaston from VHC City. It was pleasant talking to her again. Afterwards he thought of the good times back in their Safe Plaza, where they first met up. The Ear Bar. Yes…

He looks for the landmark. Takes him a while…

Key shop… close enough.

There it is. The Musician almost forgot how to find it.

Ear.

Bar.

His favorite pinball machine inside — still broken.

“Howdy Percolator,” The Musician calls toward the bar counter. Percolator is a sentient clown machine.

The red doors across the way were no longer locked. Underground open to all. No OD needed!

He could still stay here. Crash on the upper floor’s couch just like old times.

But there was Terri to think about now. He imagines him sitting in the chair next to the couch, his twin sister Chroma illuminated in the background.

Chroma wishes to be a matheamatician, but is limited because she only likes group theory. “0 1 4 9 4 1”, she might randomly say. He can’t recall any other of her rows right off. Chroma’s graphs she calls them in total. She’s red for a reason.


color row

One day, after a particularly intense jamming session the night before, The Musician woke not beside Terri but *as* Terri. Although his name was now Earie. Some people called him Chuck. He lived in the Yellow House — been living there for a pretty good while.

Siblings Chroma and Improvio resided in the same row of houses, but remained in cocoon form, chained to a more basal music. He was the first to emerge.

He gives Improvio next door in the Blue House a ring, knowing he wouldn’t be up, hehe.


“Don’t answer it.”

Chroma (Red House) was usually down at the waterfront by now, studying symmetry in objects washed up on the beach. She jots down a lot.

Right this moment she happens to be scrutinizing an old waterlogged book found floating underneath a rickety pier.


name game

Earie woke up in a strange place once more. He felt like he’d been drugged. But he recognized the rusty lighting all around. Still Gaston-Berry, he realized. For there indeed was a Berry too, as legends told.

Now where was home again in all this mess?

Ahh, the ocean. He must be close. There’s Stewart’s ship out there. A landmark for his confused mind.

He sits in the worn wooden chair on the pier and tries to remember what happened the night before.

Audrey was her name? No… Leona. Leona Lei. And her sister Hana Lei. Or at least they always wore leis (traditional Hawaiian garland of flowers). But wait — he’s remembering the horrible details now. It was only his siblings Improvio and Chroma, dolled up like women of the night. What was in that weed Jacob sold them last week?? And those wacky glasses (sunglasses?) they passed back and forth between them, with one lens red and the other blue. Yes, he must track down Jacob, who resides downtown somewhere. He remembers an initial for a last name but not the actual name. Jacob I. Maybe that will be sufficient.

But first, to find home.

Easy enough.

He must pay more attention to his surroundings.

—–

Meanwhile, downtown:

“So little grass, Broken Heart Jackie.”

“And so much paper.”


punks

Earie (The Musician) realized there were still many mysteries to be resolved concerning VHC City — like the relationship of this Sipvicious logo found in the Quincey Educational Building and the famous punk Sid Vicious who stayed in the town’s grand Hotel Chelsea. Chroma and Improvio, being rooted in a basal nature still, desired to visit the infamous Room 100 where Sid killed Nancy. The All Nancy’s ghost found in the Grand Lapara Hotel more recently is mere reflection of this tragic event, they’ve determined. The Grand Lapara Hotel itself, they say, is a reflection of Hotel Chelsea, in that both are modeled after real life New York City hotels. Earie, who has evolved beyond them now, he feels, thinks otherwise. But his main concern right now is not VHC City nor Olde Lapara Town. It’s Gaston-Berry, and finding Jacob I. and attempting to get him to explain what the heck is happening to him currently. Chroma and Improvio made up like hookers? Red and blue lensed glasses? The Lei sisters? It’s a head scratcher, he realizes while scratching his head. So it’s back to the Yellow House to prepare for a downtown visit.

But first, he must dress more appropriately for the location. Some purchases at historical Blackburns Store in Alabama or Georgia aid him.

Did he go too far with the blue eye? Yes, he determined. He did. A bit too alien, and the new landlord specified in her short rental note: NO aliens.

Good enough.

Eat your heart out Improvio, you old skunk.


searching

Red, yellow, blue, he thinks. Is this *us* again somehow?

And across the street: same colors in a row. Right order according to their houses, even. He peers through the window.

Someone shooting up. Grim town.

Nope. Not here either.

There was just a lot of f-cking places Jacob I. could be.

He decides to retreat back to the safety of his Yellow House and try again tomorrow. Too dangerous at night.

Oh no. He’s lost again.

Is that the burning barrel from the night before? He’s unsure.

A scream from the shack down the plank walkway.

Red and blue glasses thrown through a window. He’s close! But so dangerous here. He senses it all around. Maybe he should put on his blue eye again — look tougher. Or crazier may be good too.

Totally lost. “Shoo cat. Ain’t got time for you.”

But the boney feline persisted. “RreeRRW!” it said. That translates to “follow ME!” in cat language.

Then, gazing at Earie’s turned face, it changed and stood up on two legs. “Blue red,” Broken Heart spoke with an eerie, child-like voice. “Blue red blue red blue red.”


name game 02

Broken Heart led Earie through a series of backyard passages where they met several colorful characters. I’ll get to that story more later. But true to her word they were here outside the Joint Joint, with Jacob I. supposedly within. Broken Heart had further explained that the I. stood for nothing. “Think Harry S. Truman,” she said while striding over some old tires on their journey. Seeing Earie not reply, she added, “or U.S. Grant.” “So his full and legal name is Jacob I.,” Earie replied back, dodging a broken coke bottle. “Formerly Jacob the Lawnmower,” he furthered, alluding to earlier conversation. By this time they were passing through Old Lady Bedford’s clothes line in another tight spot, being careful not to get, well, clotheslined (caught in the neck). At 96 she represented the town’s oldest prostitute, but her only remaining customer was Billy Tokesalot, a nonagenarian himself. Sometimes it took them 10 days.

In the present moment, Earie tried the door to the establishment. Locked. “Don’t knock the knockers,” Broken Heart ordered from below. “He’ll come.” Nothing happened for several minutes. Earie glanced over at the policeman standing beside them a couple of times, but his gaze remained fixed on the window. “Nice night,” Earie finally offered. The policeman didn’t answer; focus unchanged. At 4:45am Jacob I. opened the door, and stared at each figure in front of it. “Broken Heart,” he said, nodding down to the cat-person. Jacob then came back to Earie. “I thought I told you to stay away, Chuck.”


continuation

Turns out Jacob I. had mistakened Earie for another punk with a queerly similar mohawk who came in earlier that night. “Chuck,” Jacob said, thinking back to the meeting and shaking his head. “Must have been a clown dressed up as a punk. They do that.”

“Tell him to take off his hat,” purred a tinier Broken Heart, sitting on it. “You know you want to see.”

“See what?” Earie asked.

“The I., of course,” replied Broken Heart.

“Oh he’s not interested in that thing, Jackie.”

“Don’t call me Jackie,” said the bone cat.

“Alright.” Jacob looked to the punk presently sitting with him. “How’s that grass treating you, hehe.”

“Pretty good,” said Earie, taking another toke. He’d finish this joint and be done with it, he decided. Has to walk home still, he knew. But how to navigate that whole backyard journey again? Maybe Broken Heart would escort him. If she did, then perhaps he could partake in at least part of another joint. “Good stuff; starting to see Hawaii, haha,” he finally replied to Jacob’s query. “So… what were we talking about? Oh. I have to ask the bone cat something.”

“Hat,” persisted Broken Heart. She tapped her little paw on Jacob’s straw chapeau for emphasis.

Jacob exhaled a lot of smoke in resignation, raising his eyebrow for Earie while setting his joint down in the ashtray on the table. “She’s not going to give up. But I’m warning you. It’s intense.” Broken Heart jumped to the floor and he removed the hat, laying it carefully on the couch beside him.

Looks like another Big Reveal to me.


Centre

The at least part alien Baker Bloch disguised himself as an apple tree before teleporting into the very center of the Gaston sim.

Just like Earie/The Musician indicated to him. The sim’s so-called Central Park is not a name be taken lightly.

And whoever sleeps in this Wastelands Bed next to it holds great power.

Baker then decides to teleport over to the site of Leona’s rehearsal last night. Or are they called The Blackstars? Anyway, another sky island…


Pretty Man

Basically like clockwork, Earie passes Jiff’s abode a couple minutes beyond total darkness. 7:30 tonight, but winter is coming and the days are getting shorter. Tomorrow he should pass at approximately 7:29, the next day 7:28, and so on until time turns around or he leaves the sim. One day Jiff will follow the punk to see where he goes, but right now he needs to get some sleep. Jiff’s usually in bed by about 8 and rises around 6. Sometimes he even sees Earie pass the other way. Then it’s off to work at the Gaston-Berry Police Station as staff psychiatrist. A new and troubled male inmate has just arrived who goes by the name of Wilson. Pretty face, though. Maybe that’s the screw’s turn, Jiff ponders, knowing other information. Maybe this town demands too much from its citizens.


trailers and chairs

Earie was walking past the red, blue and yellow chairs positioned in front of the art trailer when he heard Pretty Man snoring. At first he couldn’t tell what the sound was, but then a loud, pig-like grunt firmly indicated to him the presence of another human being. He moved toward the trailer’s dark interior and watched the folded body on the dirty mattress and rugs within heave up and down a minute, sometimes with a twitch. This guy was obviously in deep dreamland. Shame to wake him, Earie thinks, and decides to move onward through Central Park to the Joint Joint, where Jacob I. and Broken Heart Jackie were most likely waiting. But with an even louder grunt, Pretty Man then rolls over on his other side and opens his eyes. “Don’t pull a knife on me, friend. I ain’t dangerous.”

“Sit up, then, and let’s take a look at you,” the pink haired punk commanded. He didn’t have a knife on him currently, but two pistols were tucked in the back of his belt. Pretty Man sat up and started looking all around, as if in a haze. “Art is everywhere,” he then said. “In the sky, in my hands.” He looked at his hands. “In your hair.” He gazed at Earie’s mohawk. “*Especially* in your hair. Where you from, fellow dude?”

Earie had concluded this person was obviously stoned on something. He definitely *wasn’t* going to tell him where he lived in town. So he made up a place. “Butcher shop,” he said. “Upstairs.”

“Ah, Wanesa the Slasher. And I didn’t know her shop had an upstairs… thought they cut that off back in the 30’s.” Pretty Man stared at Earie’s head again. “Your mohawk thinks you’re lying,” he said, and then laid back down on the old mattress in the trailer and started to laugh, face upwards and arms spread. Earie wondered if he could tell just by the tone of his voice or if he’s one of those true psychics. Their services are more expensive than the whores. Sometimes you can get a two for one deal at a discount, but he’s only heard about such things; Earie doesn’t engage with Gaston’s Berry imports if he can help it. And, gandering at Pretty Man’s current pose, this led to the another thought: that this *man* in front of him could be a woman in disguise. He’s never heard of a male psychic. Or a male prostitute, at least around these parts.

“What’s your business, here, partner?” Earie inserted amidst the continued chuckles. He voiced some of his suspicions. “Man whore? Man *psychic*?”

Pretty Man’s laughter petered away, and he dismissed Earie’s guesses with a wave of his hand. He sat up again. He stood up out of the trailer, looking in the direction of Earie’s Yellow House. Does he know already? Earie pondered. He briefly goes around the trailer’s corner and comes back with a cup of coffee, steaming hot somehow. He sits down in the red chair. Earie just stares at him, wondering if he should take a seat as well.

But then Pretty Man pops back up and states, “this isn’t the right chair,” and then looks at his coffee. “And this is not the right drink, pheh.” He spits the beverage he just partook of out on the road beside him. Pretty Man goes around the corner of the trailer again, returning with a beer bottle this time and hops back up in the trailer, leaning against the wall. “The red one is not mine,” he reinforces. “That’s… what’s his name?” Earie gets tingles. He *must* know.

Pretty Man moved to the edge of the trailer again and looked directly into Earie’s face. “Chro-ma,” he pronounced distinctly. “Sit down in your *yellow* chair, and let’s have a talk Earie,” he then said to the stunned punk. “And of course I’ll take my blue one.”

Improvio.


center>centre

“Uh huh.” More buzzing/squeaking from the floor. “I see.”

“What’s she saying?” asked a slumping Broken Heart from the other couch. She was pretty stoned.

“Hold on a minute.” Tina speaks again in her minute, tinny voice, understandable only to Jacob I. in the room. Perhaps it is because he’s closer to her, however, or just actually paying attention. The lawnmower continues to interact with the tiny being. “Alright, I guess we can do that.” Tina replies. “No, we don’t have the equipment or manpower for that, Tina.” After a small pause, Tina squeaks and buzzes for about 30 seconds more. “You take care as well, friend.” She scoots rapidly across the floor and out the door.

“So… what’s she saying?” queries Broken Heart again while remaining in a slumping position. She didn’t even realize Tina had left the scene.

“Jeffrie Phillips, that’s what,” replied a frowning Jacob I. “Centre,” he added.

—–

15 minutes earlier in Gaston’s Central Park, Pretty Man puts on the green ring. Everything changes.

“Over here, punk,” he calls to Earie Chuck after the deed is done. “I made a small detour.”


out

“Well. It’s finally happened, Broken Heart Jackie.”

“Don’t call me that,” Broken Heart the bone cat reprimanded for the umpteenth time about the name Jackie. “And now I really *do* have a broken heart.” She makes a clumsy motion on her chest of two things being ripped apart.

“Last of the grass… weed,” Jacob I. laments. “We’ll have to call up Leaf Erik’s son over in California, Pennsylvania for more — it will take weeks.”

“Months,” Broken Heart extends.

“Years,” Jacob I. finalizes, and then heaves a long sigh. “Darn that Jeffrie Phillips. Darn that stolen Centre.”

“Or we could go over to Leona Lei’s place in Hilltop. That will require changing into mechanoids. The last time it took us weeks to revert.”

“Years,” Jacob I. emphasizes again. “Sheer hell.” He looks down at his feet and wonders if they are really flesh and blood yet. Then, staring over at Broken Heart’s red and blue glasses, he gets an idea. “But the *sister* could work.”

“Hana? Is she still alive even after her death?”

“It was just a shish kabob skewer.”

“I though it was a ladle,” Broken Heart says. “You know, for dishing out soup and stuff.”

“I know what a lapel is. Did I say lapel? haha. That’s not even emphasized the same.”

“Label,” Broken Heart then says. But she accents the wrong syllable for humor.

“Labelle,” Jacob I. utters. “Patti Labelle!”

“The singer, actor, magician?” perks up Broken Heart, but then remembers the truth. “Man, we’re really baked.”

“Baker!” Jacob I. spouts, seeing the white opening once more. “Cook… Baker. That’s what we were trying to figure out.”

“I’m going to bed.” Broken Heart falls asleep while not even moving an inch from his spot on the couch. Jacob I. leans over and folds her bony hands over her little red broken heart.

“Night night, Jackie,” he ends while slipping into dreamland himself.


spurred on

Jacob I. wakes up in an unfamiliar place. All-time great NBA power forward and recently retired Timmy Duncan looms dead ahead, a ball in front, a ball behind.

Jacob I. does not follow professional sports. He doesn’t know who this gentle giant is. He seems to speak. “Jacob, Jacob, down here.” Jacob I. ponders why a man so large has such a small, feminine voice. Tina recognizes this after he doesn’t look down. “Not Timmy, stoopid. *Me*.” Still no proper response from Jacob I. “Down *here*. It’s Tina.”

Jacob I. finally locates the source of the voice.

“Tina,” he calls down softly, knowing her ears are sensitive to what we would consider normal volume speaking. “It’s very good to see you old friend. But where are we?”

“Behind the wall. Jasper,” her tinny voice shouted up. “It’s the same as marijuana. I’m so small I fell through the cracks. Then I was able to bring you here as well.”

“Am I dreaming?” Jacob I. logically asks.

“Yes. We need to get you through the wall, and quickly. Before you wake up. We’ll have to make a run for it. Get up. Quickly. Follow me.” Tina turns and runs. “Get up quickly and follow me!” she calls back, halfway to the blackness already.

Jacob watches her as if just behind, then wakes up.

—–

“I was left behind,” explains Jacob I. the next morning to an analyzing Broken Heart.


Sugar House

“See?” encouraged Baker Blinker. “It’s very nice here. I’d recommend turning up your RenderTreeLODFactor under Show Debug Settings in the Advanced Menu to, say, 10 instead of the default 1. That way the trees will fill out better in the woods.”

“Are you allowed to hunt?” the raccoon queried. “Or shoot atall?”

“No. I’m afraid not Mr. Racco.”

He put his paws on the table. “How about pot? Is it legal here?”

“I’m not sure, Mr. Racco.”

“Rocky, please.”

“Rocky,” Baker Blinker complied. “Do you want to sell it or just smoke it?”

“Both,” he replied rapidly. “That was my plan in Lapara. Before The End.”

“I’m sorry about your bar, Rocky. I’m sorry about Terry more.”

“One and the same,” he said softly, looking down. He paused, then, wiping his eyes, raised his head back up and stared intently at Baker Blinker. “I wish to see the body.”

Baker shook her head. “It’s not a good idea.” She thought back to how Baker Bloch removed Terry from the ceiling with a spatula yesterday. It didn’t happen in one piece.

“Alright,” he said with a sigh. “Let’s talk neighbors… citizens.”

“Well, there’s Baker Bloch of course, then Wheeler Wilson…”

“Who I know from Lapara,” Rocky interrupted. “But explain the clowning. Never understood that. Does this have something to do with Levi Clownski (owner of Olde Lapara Towne along with mate Shoshi)?”

“No, (the clowning) predates the family being involved with that town. It stems from VHC City. Something about The Underground there. Something about the story of Clare Nova.”

“I’m all ears,” Rocky said, leaning forward.

Baker Blinker instead suggested they walk up Old Cannon Road to the apartment and talk along the way. Rocky gleaned the truth.

“You don’t know why she’s clowned. Do you?” Baker admitted she was hazy about all that. Rocky shifted in his chair. “Then I want to see this Gregg Oden, the killer.” His tone had become harsher. “Is *Gregg* a clown?”

“No,” states Baker Blinker plainly, taking it all in.

“And you’re sure?”

“Positive.” Rocky shifted back. “And I don’t think it’s wise to go over to Gaston looking the way you do,” Baker Blinker continued. “All raccoon-y. They forbid aliens there.”

“Aliens smaliens,” he huffed. “Let’s go to Gaston. I have all the time in the world to look over your town. I want to see this *old* Gregg. Gregg with the extra ‘g’, pheh.”

—–

“I thought you said he was green.”

“He *was*,” Baker exclaimed.


Sugar House 02

“Are you all right in there Gregg?”

“I’m Gregg Oden,” the green being replies. “I drink Baileys from a shoe.”

He’s all right, Baker Bloch thinks. I’ll have to have a word with Baker Blinker on what she *thought* she saw here. Red instead of green, eh? Greg Ogden is scheduled to arrive back in town tomorrow. Better clear all this confusion up before he gets here.


small

Mr. Babyface arrives at his apartment entrance after a so so meal of perch at Perch. He had but a small word to his (headless?) garson about the blandness, so small that it passed unnoticed.

Speaking of which…


aim backwards

There he is, Tiny Tina thinks. The miserable sod. Time to get him out of here before it’s too late.

Tina approaches. “Mr. Oden,” she pronounces clearly upwards. “Mr. Gregg Oden.”

Gregg looks down, spots her. “I’m Gregg Oden. I drink…”

“Yes, yes,” Tina interrupts, hands still on hips. “Is that all you have to wear out of here?”

“I have some watercolors. Would you like to see?”

“Can you *wear* watercolors out of here?” Tiny Tina chirps acidly, making Gregg pause. She blows out a minuscule puff of air. “This will have to do, then. Get up. No time to lose.”

“I’m Gregg Oden?” he says while rising off the jail bed.

“That remains to be determined. But we have to get you out of here. If they found out what you *really* were there would be tests after tests. And we don’t want that.”

She sprints across the floor and back to the open door of the cell. Gregg takes steps to follow. “You’ll have to move faster than that, Mr. Oden,” she shouts upwards and forwards while waiting. “Burt’s on a coffee break. He always takes a coffee break at 3:45am sharp. He always returns at 4:00am sharp. So *move*.”

“Too late,” Tina whispers as loud as she could, peering down from over the top of the stairs. “We’ll have to kill him.”


back to

“You know you’ll have to return, Jeffrie Phillips.”

“I know. Blackstars.”

“Garson on the impossible stairs. Leading you nowhere like you were outside.”

“I *was*.”

“Police take turns.”

“Art and crime together,” states a third.


sugar houses

“The sugar house on the corner of William Street and Duane Street in lower Manhattan was used as a prison by occupying British forces during the American Revolutionary War,” states old-time cop Ricky Bendicky, originally from East Bennington. “Out of 2,600 prisoners of war captured during the Battle of Fort Washington in November 1776, 1,900 would die in the following months at makeshift prisons. At least 17,500 are estimated to have perished under substandard conditions of such sugar houses and British prison ships over the course of the war, more than double that of casualties from battle.”

“When did it become the police station?” asks rookie cop George Carver Washington, Gaffer George as his fellow officers had started calling him after he accidentally shot himself in the arse last Thursday.

“Built in 1763 by William Rhinelander,” continues Ricky, “the sugar house was a five-story brick warehouse originally storing molasses and sugar next to his own residence. The old warehouse was replaced by the Rhinelander Building, which retained part of the original wall from 1892 to 1968, and received reports of ghostly prisoner sightings. The site is now occupied by the headquarters of the Gaston-Berry Police Department, near which one of the original barred windows was retained.”

“Fascinating,” coos young George. “And how about Utah?”

“Sugar House Prison, previously the Utah Territorial Penitentiary, was a prison in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City founded by territorial governor Brigham Young in 1852. The 180-acre prison housed more than 400 inmates. It was closed in 1951 due to encroaching housing development, and all of its inmates were moved to the new Utah State Prison in Draper. The site is now occupied by the headquarters of the Gaston-Berry Police Department.”

George pauses, then: “And that’s where Hidden Village comes from?”

“Yes,” answers Ricky.

“And Greg Ogden and Gregg Oden?”

“We’ll see.”


sacrifice

Third time’s the charm, as they say. He was up and running considerably quicker this go, right on the heels of Tiny Tina. He would not let her beat him to the dark wall again and send him back to the grass free Joint Joint, awake and cold sober. Jacob I. was going to the other side tonight.

He made it!

But not without losing a valuable friend and ally in the process.

Flies

They were told to stay close to Gaston’s Central Park and act like flies on the wall. Pretty Man disobeyed one morning and wandered down to a side patio beside Sugar’s House, thinking he would be concealed there behind a tall fence. But he was almost immediately spotted by BitterAlmond1995 and propositioned. “Cure for your ails,” she claimed about herself through the intervening walls. Quickly teleporting back to safety, Pretty Man wiped his brow, seeing he wasn’t followed. He was not an alien, true, but what cost for surface beauty? Sugar’s Berries (their slogan: “ripe for pick’n”) stick pretty tight to her house, just like he and his fellow escapees Gregg Oden, Chuck Cheese, and Maury “Jiff” Monroe should keep close to the park, the calm eye center of a storm which contrasts to that eyewall location of greatest sound and fury.

But Sugar herself, being of greater vision and knowing all such storms have such centers, knew why they were there. Her counterpart Jacob I. had escaped in a larger way, with accomplice and experienced jail breaker Tiny Tina trampled under foot. These dudes and dudettes had nowhere to go, like caught in paper.

I will be a fly back at them, she thought the morning of learning about Pretty Man’s intrusion into her territory. They are in my vision and will not leave. I know where they are. There’s a secret parchment, secured by sealing wax, which might allow her control of the *other* “Sugar House” in town, the one now called the Gaston-Berry Police Station. Because there was no Berry to patrol. Berry did not exist except as a concept. This was her secret weapon.

Rolling the dice, she unrolled the parchment.


in the dark

The place was way too dangerous for George, so Duncan had a go at it alone. He teleported into the very center of the sim just like the characters in the blog suggested — this Central Park.

But it seems George might have already been here! Duncan thinks, looking at what he supposed was a child’s fort. It wasn’t.

Duncan unwisely walks into Main Street from his concealed position in the park. Now if I remember correctly, he deliberates, the police station will be up here to the right.

It was a little longer trip than expected in risky territory, but then he was upon it. Potential sugar house! Hard to even tell it was a police station from the ground level.

Qwirty21 smiles at him from behind some walls. Best to get inside as quick as possible, he realizes, and walks through the main door.

But the barred entrance to the inner sanctum of the station was locked. Duncan decided to wait in the reception area until a policeperson or other employee showed up, so’s he could hopefully get some of the story behind the structure.

Brushing aside a couple more propositions from the outside for the next hour, Duncan then watches Sugar Dumpling enter the station in a huff, beating her rolling pin repeatedly against an open palm.

“I’ve been waiting for one of you to show up and stay a while, ” she started. “Where is he? What have you done with my Jacob?!”


supertramp

“Why did I come here Casey?” Duncan asks of his colorful fellow inmate next door. “Why oh why oh why?”

And a quick jail break wouldn’t be happening now that Tiny Tina is dead.

—–

Luckily for Duncan Avocado he was only dreaming, his actual location being just behind the police station in Central Park. And fellow homeless person Casey, before he got too drunk and passed out, had filled him in on all the details about Gaston’s 2 sugar houses past and present. More soon…


back to the ward

The tutu wearing sack of sh-t has returned, Gaston-Berry Police staff psychiatrist Maury “Jiff” Monroe thinks, staring over from his cubicle at Gregg Oden passed out across three chairs against the west wall. He’s going to be sent up the creek a loooong time for this one.

Something’s different about him — it — though.

Of course: the hair.

—–

“(There’s) something about that police station,” speaks Billie Jean Kidd while studying former blog posts from her tower chair.

—–

“Who are you?”


rebels

“What are they doing over there now?” demands Wilson from inside the room. She was a man still, but getting prettier by the day, it seemed. Soon she may have to change over again. Hold on to those eye scars as long as possible!

“Nothing,” answers her most recent invention Sidechick Corea as he keeps gazing across Central Park toward Main Street.

“We could dig deep into the Jeogeot Gulf/Korean Channel with this one,” she said when finding him as a freebie demon on the SL marketplace. “Mr. Babyface has a decision coming up. Axis or Allies? Does he go with his half aunt or his little dog Ttoo? No, that wasn’t the name of Mr. Babyface’s dog. Poo, she thinks incorrectly again. Li’l Poo Poo. But then she remembers the actual name and lets it drop.

He turns from the window and stares at Wilson instead. “Still hanging around with men, Sidechick? I know you are because I made you that way. You’re hanging around with *me* aren’t you? I am a man still, you know.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he answers. “I mean, yes man.”

She manifests the two rolling pins on the table from her inventory. “Well, anyway, it’s time for me to figure out these objects Sugar Dumpling brought with her to the police station over there. Best guess: they’re not rolling pins but scroll rollers. Jump out of that cheap costume and get back on my shoulder, Sidechick. I need some doubled up third eye thinking for this mystery!”

—–

20 minutes later…

“Jasper and Newton, hmm? I agree. Good work!”


Alex and Albert

“Still no pot here,” complains a peering Chuck Cheese, out on bail for an hour from the Gaston-Berry Police Station. “Where *is* Alex?” She pauses. “Or was it Albert?”

Quickly checking the world map, she sees a green spot moving toward her own green spot. “Someone is coming. Could have been tracked. Bail time’s up anyway. Got to head back.”

—–

“Good. You’re back on time this time I see. But what happened to your hair?” asks Maury “Jiff” Monroe, the police staff psychiatrist.

“I sometimes take it off at night. Bed time, right?”

“Wrong. Interrogation time.”

Chuck blows out air in exasperation, rolls her eyes, and flings herself down on the cell cot. “15 more minutes down-time? Pleeeasse?”

An acquiescing Jiff goes back to his cubicle waiting for 10:15, when the grilling will resume. First off, he needs to find out about this Alex or Albert. Each bail period, Chuck spills a little more of the beans. It’s almost as if she’s doing it on purpose. Is she? he asks himself.

—–

“Why did he steal her color?” asks a studying Billy Jean Kidd over in Middletown.


COLLAGESTIY 2017-2018 WINTER


no break

“I did what you told me Casey One Hole. I befriended the bee person and got the scoop on Hunt. It has started.”

“You are my eyes, ears, throat in Collagesity now, Tammy Whatammy. Furry Karl was a much loved figure. Don’t let me down.”

“I won’t!”

“Now if you’ll excuse me,” he continues in his robotic, emotionless manner, “I must return to my dream of playing golf on the back nine of my course. I’m about to tee up on the 17th. I think an 8 iron will do it this round for yet another hole in one. I’m feeling more energetic all the time.”

“Cool.”

He turns to his left. “Who is that starred man on the striped couch outside, Tammy? Did he come with you?”

“W-what man?”


silver hammer

Maurey “Jiff” Monroe, the Gaston-Berry Police Station staff psychiatrist, wanted it plain and simple today. “Well, Tom Casey. Or, if you prefer it, Casey One Hole.”

“I do.” Casey was ever the method actor.

“Let’s talk about motives. Why would you kill a beloved Collagesity bartender with one deadly swipe of your metallic Wilson driver?”

“He had information he wasn’t providing for me. I hate… dislike people who don’t give me the information I want to complete my mission of…” He paused.

“Yes,” Jiff proclaimed, seeing an immediate weakness. “Tell me about this mission. Hopefully it at least serves free gravy to the poor.” He attempts a weak smile which, of course, wasn’t returned.

“I’m looking for someone.”

By now, George was back in his secret hiding place, listening in. His abbey as he called it. I had been stupid to walk the road today, he vilified himself.


Collagewold

The sim changes the man in this case. Or makes a boy into a man, as it were.

And not being 13 certainly had its advantages.

—–

“I wonder what’s behind the starred man on the striped couch?” asks Hucka Doobie about the most recently hung Bodega Gallery collage, killing some time while waiting for The Table meeting to start over at the Blue Feather.

From behind, thought-to-be friend Tammy Whatammy then pushes the bee person *into this collage*…


Wastelands

Marion Harding sees those red and greenish lights above him again, but in a different location.

And he’s wasted as hell from the pot recently purchased from drug lord Santa God at The Octopus Ink.

“Who *are* you guys??”

“So we need to talk, Harry,” spoke Tonya Two Egg to the bleached face man sitting across from her. “About Annie. About a lot of stuff.”

“It’s not safe here,” he replied, then glances over at the giant bong to his right.


But no one was there.


beamers

When it got dark enough, Tonya Two Egg’s two egg shaped eyes “turned on”. She’d had this ability since infancy, according to family members. It also gave her special vision to see things that weren’t *quite* there in reality but actually really were still.

Like Marion here, crashed out on top of the couch formerly occupied by Harry. Uncle Harry he insisted she call him at the end of their conversation, which was refused by the wise child. Just because he was one of a *number* of suitors strung along by her 18 year old sister Anorexia — Annie — doesn’t give him that privilege. She had only one uncle she knew of: Dick. And he had moved away when she was 8 to distant Mimosa (so they said), several years after Arale had been constructed. And not too long after the mysterious disappearance of her parents. Couldn’t be coincidence, she had concluded while pondering the odd conjunction down through the years now. Dick must have known the whereabouts of Ruth and Benjamin. And then there was also James and Fuschia, Billy and Donovan, Jackie and Ona. And the strangely cool yet confusing Sis brothers. All flesh and blood family members. All gobbled up by an unknown force between the times of June 2010 and October 2013, she’d decided. She even had a name for it now: JERRY. All caps. Tonya Two Egg was bound and determined to uncover the nature of this, in her eyes, malefic entity.

13 Annie was at the time. *Just* old enough to act as their legal guardian under Horizons laws of the day. Upheld during a 2015 hearing involving 23 such guardians under the age of 18 — grandfathering in the old law the judge had called it. And now she herself would be 13 in 2 weeks, old enough to be on her own according to the same exemption. And Arale too — they could move. She was already secretly scouting out locations away from the prying eyes of her older sister. The ice fishing shack near their house acted as a dream portal.

Arale was so excited for her sister… was planning a big birthday ta-do, which Tonya Two Egg had discouraged but also had become resigned to participate in. Cousin Rufus was flying in from Mobile, Alabama. Ted and Jemima from Jacksonville City. Bob and Wanda — little Utah village of Indiana County in Pennsylvania. Never mind that these were more robots created by her own robot, and that, outside of Annie, no one knew the whereabouts of any of her real family. Mechanoids were her true kindred spirits now. Tonya Two Egg has even pondered that she herself may be a very well made robot sent back to our present from the future.

And this turns out to be spot-on truth.


skippers

“A sim skipper you say?” George states, looking out at the boat moored in the small harbor beyond the broken windows.

“Yeah. That Joint Joint appears to be part of a regional chain from the looks of it. We must be close. That’s where you’re from. But my current theory is that you’ll be grown up there. You won’t be the same as here.”

George stands up, makes a proclamation. “Then let’s not ever go. It’s nice here. There’s the Joint Joint, like you said.”

“It’s better than I originally thought,” admits Billy Jean Kidd, speaking about the town they’re in. “But this is not really Hana Lei. This is not where Marion’s high priced pot is. High Money Pot. The bee fell into the collage for a reason. We must find the bee and bring him home. It may take, um, several novels.”

“Novels?” queries the boy.”

—–

“Wish I knew how the heck to start this old, beat up sim skipper,” spoke Duncan Avacado across the sea with a sense of urgency. “I’ve got to get to those kids before they get to me!”


work for me

“I see you out there Georgie Porgie!” screeched Sugar Dumpling from the rickety pier. “You can’t run away from me! None of them will work. I made *sure* of that!”

George Duncan gives up finding a functioning sim skipper for the day. Maybe forever. He might as well go back into town and enjoy the advantages of being grown up, pheh. What he understood of it. Only in his Abbey was it safe to be himself. A boy of 10 to 13 and back to 10 in an endless loop. Sometimes he glimpsed 18 on sunnier days.

But there was another way out, he knew, impossible as it sounded. Find Jacob I. and bring him home to Gaston. Back to his Sugar Dumpling. Then he would be set free… and only then. It seems I simply have to give it a try, he thought to himself while clambering out of the boat and exhaling loudly. I can’t go on with this. And I feel I don’t have a lot of time left before The End; the Abbey will ultimately be found out and then cease to exist. Like a bug extinguished with a magnifying glass.

“Get back to your apartment and do some real work for a change!”


stripes

He was staying with Thimble these days, another dancer. Not that their relationship was all that serious of a thing to him — when was it? — but her second floor apartment’s view toward the Gaston-Berry Police Station put her top shelf over the other Berries.

And, yeah, The Berries really dug Duncan. He was different, unique. No, I’m not really talking about his singular status as a male African-American in Sugar’s employment. It’s just that they could see the inner boy within, the core innocence, unruined — unlike the case with about all of them. It attracted these kind of women like flies unto maple syrup.

But tonight we flip sides of the record. He had to dance for a dude. Alright, cool, cool, he said to himself when learning about the assignment. It’s all for the art form — good to keep practicing and staying limber. And he gets to keep all his clothes on; no funny stuff there. Sugar said the guy also requested that he doesn’t look at him. “Just focus on the dancing,” she ordered. “Don’t make eye contact. Just interact with him in as minimal a manner as you can get away with. He’s probably self conscious because of the damage to his face. I don’t know what happened to him — don’t really care. He paid good money and that all I need to know. And you too.”

—–

Midway through his first sequence, the bleached face man spoke. “You don’t even know who I am, do you?” But Duncan kept to his routine per Sugar’s instructions and didn’t answer.


black men

Duncan Avocado had prepared and was about to teleport into the center of the Gaston sim when he looked at the map. Someone was already there in that Central Park at 128/128. Never seen that before. He teleports in at a safe distance and remote checks… another black man!

Who was he waiting on, if anyone? Was this a potential ally or foe? Could it possibly be someone investigating prison corruption in the sim like himself? Another dancer Sugar sent in, perhaps to taunt him? Speculation goes many directions. But his presence is real. He better lay off Gaston involvement and send another avatar from the core over here. Or, better, just use another core…

What a mess.

The time to act is now, he then thinks. “I must do what I planned to do. Tonight.”


COLLAGESITY 2018 EARLY


“When in Rome”


in-the-way

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.


couched

In a pot haze, Marion Harding waits patiently for the show to begin. He loves Elvis impersonators. Hucka Doobie tries to join him but finds she can’t.

—–

“Time to pull her out of that sluggish place,” Baker Bloch speaks about Gaston to Baker Blinker from their usual perch at the Perch restaurant. “Function’s basically used up anyway.”

“There’s the couch, still,” counters the female Baker. “Jeffrie Phillips — white star.”

“I can’t even find it tonight it’s so laggy. And I dare not log in Wheeler to help. My computer will crash, I’m sure of it.”

“Sugar house,” Baker Blinker then says. “Sugar’s House.”

“Alright I’ll give it another shot.”

“Give one to Marion as well.”

—–

“She does strike a good pose there,” Baker Bloch says, looking on remotely. “She seems… confident.”

“Put her with Marion. See what happens. Minimize windows as needed.”

—–

“It’s no use, Baker Blinker. Hucka Doobie just appears gray, like she’s in David Bowie’s shiny spacesuit from ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth.'”

“Precisely.”

—–

“Oops. There she is.”

“Have him walk. Have them talk. Plop Marion down in the plastic seat in front of Hucka Doobie. See what goes down.

—–

She’s wondering how much money is in that attache case, Baker Bloch. $50,000 lindens? Enough to get her out of this hazy, laggy place? Could be.”

“But how to strike up a conversation?

—–

Too late: looks like the show’s starting.”

“And that’s *not* Elvis.”

—–


here not here


COLLAGESITY 2018 EVEN LATER


one and two

“So tell me about this 40,000 lindens you were carrying around with you?” questions police psychiatrist Maury “Jiff” Monroe at Gaston’s lone sugar house now. *Former* sugar house. He’s unseen in the photo below because of his stature. But his mind, like Hank Graphite’s he’s grilling, is big and bright. This showdown could go on for a while.

“40,001”, answers Hank. “Because I had to bring *you* into being as well.”

Jiff pondered on this, then realized what it meant. “Describe me, then,” he decided to say.

Hank crossed his arms and settled back. “I don’t know. Small… *tiny*. Green — blueish green. Silly, blank expression on your face. I understand you have five. Show me another one.

So Jiff complies with smiley face, replacing the neutral one he had.

“There, that’s better,” Hank cooed. “Now we can maybe get somewhere.” He leans forward again. “Listen, bud… I’m not suppose to be here. It wasn’t suppose to be this way.”

Jiff giggled. “What *do* you mean?” he chirped happily, then decided to change expressions again. “What do you *mean*?” a suddenly surprised, almost shocked Jiff re-asked with different emphasis.

“I mean it was suppose to be *Villanow* I returned to. Not this sim.”

“Gaston? Just so you’ll know, there’s no Berry attached to the name now. Nor the police station.”

Hank waved this bit of information off. Jiff found himself becoming irritated…

… because the loss of Berry was big, big news around these here parts. But the disinterest seems to detach Hank Graphite from that fiasco at least. Loss of the actual Sugar House at the end of Main. Sugar Dumpling gone, taking all the Berries with her, taking Jacob I. with her, and then of course Broken Heart Jackie, who always tags along with his master. And that leaves, let’s see, *him*? Anyone else? He can’t think of one single being. Maybe the punk styled Musician in the Yellow House on the west side of town. We’ll see.

Will he even get paid for his job at the end of the month? The Berries poured in a lot of money, and that flow’s now dried up. He decides he’s now angry. Yes: *angry*. He’s going to demonstrate to this *Halfwit* exactly how important the other half *was*.

“I want to show you something, Hank Graphite,” he measured. “But you have to turn around and shut your eyes. Give me five seconds, and then open your eyes without turning back. Can you do that for me… *bud*?…” But Hank had already whirled around, shut his eyes, and started counting, “Five, Mississippi, four…”

Jiff acted fast. Change of shape, then a quick teleport.

“… one Mississippi…” Hank opened his eyes, then quickly stood up, nerves in tatters. Giant Angry Jiff stared down at him from outside.

Point made. Hank shakily handed him another linden when he returned inside.


berry sad

Poor, poor Berries, Duncan thought while scouting out the basically deserted Sugar House formerly owned and managed by Sugar Dumpling, sometimes wife of Jacob I. They decided to go somewhere else all together. But maybe one or two remain, perhaps limber, persistent Thimble. She was most likely his favorite of the bunch, or perhaps that was just because she rented the ultra-handy room across from the Police Station he was so interested in spying on in the days. The glory days of Gaston before the great exit.

A few bouncers remain behind but they just seem to be aiding with the cleanup of the bodies.


break’s over

“So Duncan,” requests Sid (Angus) at the Blue Feather Table after taking a sip of milk. “Continue with the report on what you’ve found.”

Duncan stared at his right red hand. “Berry… disengaged from Gaston. Berries gone. Jacob I. and Sugar Dumpling with them, but still alive in their case. Thimble *might* remain.”

“Is that your hope? Or something based on solid conjecture?”

“Former, admittedly.” He thought of the great view again. ‘Nother Sugar House. “Oh, and The Musician too,” he remembered to tack on. “At least according to Jiff the police psychiatrist.”

“Good, good. So… Duncan,” summarizes Sid. You say these only two ‘Vila’ sims are directly linked one with the other. Core-Alena in her green car was able to successfully enter Vilania from The Straight…”

“I would like to correct you on terminology, Sid. If you don’t mind.”

“Go ahead, Duncan.”

“The Straight is shared between Reality and Virtual, so my conjecture is on the Virtual side it is the same as the 4 sims bordering Foothill Drive. This makes Utah’s Foothill Drive the east side of The Straight, and not The Straight itself.”

Sid turns to Curled Paper, who was taking notes (in his head). “Make sure in the minutes that The Straight is noted as being the same as these 4 sims, Mr. Paper.”

Curled didn’t nod, but Sid knew he would take note, as requested. One of the two librarians at The Table then spoke up, surprising everyone (even himself): “Gorilla. Mind Gorilla.”

All stared for a beat. Then Sid continued. “So…. next we have Hank driving the red car… and that’s good, Librarian 01,” he then realized. “You remembered the mate.”

[delete 1 exchange]

“Anyway,” started Sid again. “Hank, being less pure of heart, didn’t make it back to Vilania after the Fairy Forest heist but switched over to Vila… erm, *Gaston*.”

—–

Duncan suddenly recalled one other person that could remain. Heidi.

But where? Where could Heidi be hiding? At the Hideout? The intermediary Big Between?

Likely explanation. The Big Nope is the failed or closed portal, the lone “willow” at 2013.

Takes two to know, once more (1719). Safe Zone; Safe Passage.

1890’s Big Between is the observatory, neither here nor there. Core-Alena can see her-himself but not at the same time.


Vila 01

Her head hurt terribly from the transition. What year was it? 1920? 2120?”

She managed to recover and get up. Time to see if Jacob I. was truly out of here, taking his talking bone cat with him. She knocked the knocker.

“Jacob’s really gone, isn’t he G.G.?”

“Yeah.”

“Then who the hell is that??”

“And give me back my hat and hair,” Hank whispered louder while the knocks continued.


back to Snowlands

“We brought her back. She-he’ll just have to live with the changes (in Purden).”

—–

“It’s good to see the kids having so much fun at Christmas Season.”

“And the animals too!” tittered Tiny Tomita Thumb below him.

“Yes indeed Tomita.” Uncle Jack turned. “But we have a new guest tonight.”

“What to do with him, what to do with him?” Tomita trilled while Uncle Jack eyed the axe in the far corner of the kitchen. A small buzzing noise then occurred.

“Oops. See? Look at that. Happened again.”

“Terrr-if-ic!”


Gaston

“This use to be Chroma’s house, you know.”

“Don’t say.”

“Greg, that is. Ogden. Not the odious Oden fellow.”

“Green, yeah.” She pretend spits on the floor beside the couch. “Disgusting. Red, yellow and blue’s where it’s at.”

“‘Hidden Vilage.'”


Out of Gaston

“Original form, eh?”

“*Ghost form, yeah,” spoke Bracket. “I died quite a long time ago now.”

Treelor contemplated this. “I can barely remember my original form. Lost — but I remember where I was born. A place called Outlander.” She paused. “Outlander? Something Outside. Outlands? Anyway, it was very green and quite pretty. A valley in the middle of it all. That’s where I came from.”

“Corsica for me. Bracket Islands. Named after me. I was king.”

Treelor continued rocking. “Did you have a queen?”

Bracket Ghost recalled something about a hill. Fivepenny. “I believe so,” he answered after the memory. “But she was underwater.” He remembered something else. “Green. Half woman half fish. Merwoman I suppose. That’s who I was married to. And she… could play a mean game of crocket.”

“Cricket?” Treelor attempted to clarify. “Do you mean the game of cricket?”

“Croquet,” Bracket then corrected himself.” More memories. “Had a mansion.”

“Hmph.”

They rocked for about a half minute in silence, which Treelor then broke. “I suppose we should get somewhere tonight. Gaston is a logical choice. VW and all. Abbey Road and such.”

“Suppose. Awfully laggy there. We may not make it out, hehe.”

“We’ll have to take that chance.”

Bracket checked his landmarks. “Blue house okay?”

“Sure.”

—–

“Maybe we should start here by washing some dishes.”

“Right. Clean up. You better change over. No aliens. Remember?”

—–

“Where’d she go?”

“Crappy damn place.”


Vila 01 02

“Looks like we’ve found something, Mystic Girl. Seems we’re not done with Gaston after all. Better send Duncan back in.”

Police department, yep, thought synchronized Mystic Girl while turning. Knew it all along.

But she also knew that Duncan wouldn’t like what’s coming up.

—–


Oh no. I’m being used again.

—–

“You can’t go through that gate. But you *can*. Right Mystic Girl?”

“Mystic Girl?”


Fame

“Yeah, yesterday that woman came into the Rhino all wrapped up and shite. I thought she was a stripper or… exotic dancer, you know. But she just sat in the corner, kept to herself while the show continued. John Denver last night. We’re getting the big stars now.”

“Gr-reat. Thanks.”

All became quiet as Osborne Well walked out of the establishment.

“I see what you mean, Domino,” opined an impressed Duncan, watching him cross the road.

Then John Denver and his manager G.G. showed back up from the other direction. Zowie!


Not as big…

… but probably more important.