Heterocera (“Collagesity 2018 Middle”)


COLLAGESITY 2018 MIDDLE (PART 1 of 2)


holy 02

By the time The Bill had returned to Collagesity, Pitch Darkly was already well into his Russian phase. He had recreated Maebaeleia’s Russian Matrix in the town skybox, a Second Lyfe landmass he insisted on calling the *Russian* continent and not the Japanese Continent, although the latter was its most common nickname (Just to be clear here, many consider the continent’s primary name to be Satori and not Maebaleia, but let’s don’t go into that right now). “Look at the Jeogeot-Maebaleia Rabbit Hole,” he would argue with Buster Damm and others who expressed confusion about his terming. “The Maebaleia end is in Ubab… Ubablab…” “Ulyanovskuly Oblast,” Buster might correct Pitch on any given night. “Yes, the oblast or politcal region where Lenin was born, true,” he might say. “That’s the only way it worked,” Pitch then could continue. “Russian… or actually *Polish* in that movie with the 47 Room…” “‘INLAND EMPIRE,'” Buster Damm might accurately insert here. “Yes,” Pitch could reply, “the Jeogeot-Maebaleia Rabbit Hole is the same as the hole or portal in that movie, caused by pressing a lighted cigarette through a folded piece of cloth. That way you become Rebus Caneebus and fall in. All the way to Russia. Or Poland.” “‘Back in the USSR,'” Buster might tack on in an attempt to wrap the topic up and move on to other things.

The Ulyanovskuly Oblast side of the Rabbit Hole had long been smoothed over, but once it looked like this:

The other side of the hole, in the sim of Blackmount in what I call the Sunklands district of the Jeogeot continent, remains intact quite amazingly, thanks to the faithful stewardship of long time owner Alyx Sand, with whom I exchanged a couple of messages over the subject some years back now. As I recall, she inherited the hole, and made the obvious connection that it was a rabbit variety leading to parts unknown. Pitch has since followed up on my initial contact, asking if Alyx ever fell through the hole when it was actually and truly operable. Before the time of direct teleportation between two distant points in Our Second Lyfe, in other words. She indicated to him that it no longer served that function when she purchased the land in 2007.

Pitch has made several pilgrimages to the Blackmount hole in the last several months, falling in on purpose each visit just to see what would happen. No “bottomless pit” this time leading to another “dimension.” Only immersion in a small pool of Linden water at the terminus of an approx. 100 meter fall. Try it for yourself!


“Hmmm, a WWII American fighting plane on the extreme corner of the Sands property,” Pitch thinks. “An F4U-1D Corsair, vers. 2.5,” Buster Damm might clarify here.


Darkly Manor matters

Mary sometimes couldn’t sleep at night. “Do you really have to wear that hat to bed, Pitch,” she might declare, waking up her vampire spouse. “It sometimes flaps over into my face.” “Yes,” Pitch would always reply. “I’m Russian through and through now, even while sleeping.” “And I thought vampires sleep during the *day*,” Mary added one time, receiving an answer so convoluted she never brought the subject up again.


“Pill, sir?”

“I only need one color.”


blue

Okay, so Alice 02’s landscape paintings of New Island tended to be a little glamorized or accentuated, granted. This triptych, which she chose to hang in her new Meanderhead apartment across the lake from her aunt’s house, depicts fabled Fishers Isle at low tide in the center, with Mt. Sondra, the highest elevation of the island but still hardly at mountain atall, poking up in the background. She has more trouble with vegetation than water, so she tends to negate the former in her work, like here.


Alice 02 sitting atop 42 meter Mt. Sondra in ’66, looking toward Jim’s Isle, a park at the time but now on private land.

Alice 02, whose real name was Adelaide, didn’t need the apartment, but it was so cheap and spacious she couldn’t resist.

She also had a peculiar attraction to the cigarette ad hanging on the wall outside, a beckoning she only grasped presently on a deep, intuitive level. “Come to… Marlboro.” Soon she would understand more about all that while puffing on a different kind of cigarette.


infiltration

From the folds of her gown, she lifted a green metal cube about fifteen centimeters on a side. She turned it and Paul saw that one side was open – black and oddly frightening. Paul slowly put his hand into the box. He first felt a sense of cold as the blackness closed around his hand, then slick metal against his fingers and a prickling as though his hand were asleep…“What’s in the box?”

“Pain.”

From Dune, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Putnam in 1965

Sister Martha Lamb has her eye on all the degenerative art of Collagesity for certain. But most of all she has her eye on the Cheese. The Great Cheese.

She expects many more seekers to pay for the privilege.


infiltration 02

“It is indeed,” Sister Martha Lamb muttered to herself while studying “Bullrocks” (Falmouth 08) and seeing the phrase “Copyright Protected Image” adhered to the mason jar with the fake bull moose inside. But she couldn’t help being intrigued by all the intertwined legs and shoulders — bull in jar, bull outside jar, and that ridiculous Mr. Bean man Rowan Atkinson involved as well. Aliens, hrmph. She couldn’t stand them. They didn’t exist in her world. The World of Cheese. “This one will go first to prove my point and to cut the heart out of the resistance at the beginning.” She turned. “Now… the hand.”


Lo point

“I am the 9th, Mary.”

“That’s great. Are we done (with the snapshot)? Let’s walk over to the insane asylum, if so. Let’s go see Adelaide.”

“Alice’s (Alices?) nowhere to be found. We reside in the Ukraine now. Russian is sooo yesterdays.”

“Let’s just *go*.”

“Oh all right,” Pitch Darkly relents and gets up to head westward. Into Russia territory again. New Island, pheh.

—–

The portal entrance to Lake Tethia. Pitch allows Mary to get all angley and fish for perch a moment, with immediate success.

She schemes to make a list of Pond District pools and their angling potentials. Would Pitch allow her to complete the project, though, given this is “Russian” territory now? And what’s *wrong* with her husband? Would he return to normal after all this “Number 9” stuff is done?

Unable to get through today, however — the property seems blocked. Did they do this specifically to keep Pitch out of their village? These Ruskies? He hates them now, whatever the actual facts.

Northern side here: he’s just not having much luck. Pitch black blocks him again.

He decides to teleport back home and try again another time. Mary, of course, follows him there. What a lamb.

—–

Later, in the consulting room at the Collagesity branch of Fries with Cheese…

“You must leave your husband. *Immediately*.”

“I’m over here,” the distressed Mary beckons.

“I’m sorry,” Sister Martha Lamb apologizes. “I can’t… seem to turn my head… to the left right now.”



bunnehs

“Baker Blinker. Come here. Quick!”

—–

“Just because I have the ring doesn’t mean I necessarily have to go back to Collagesity and be queen. Does it?”


form in back

“You’ve gone too far this time, husband of mine. And you better get home — you’re changing over again.”

“So can I keep it?”

—–

“I recognized him immediately, The Bill.”

“Bill will do. We’ll think about the royal appellation later.”

“Okay. But it was definitely Smelly Santy. You remember — from the Mission. The eggs, Bill. They must have killed him (!). The Bennington experiments.”

“Nasty place. Even I would admit that.”

“And then you would meet another Bunneh on your way here. Bunneh 01 and Bunneh 02, then. Maybe it happened the same night even.”

“It did,” assured Bill.

“Baker Blinker thinks it may even be this Leeman or Leemon who designed the other New Island. I almost said ‘more real’ but caught myself.”

“Right. Both New Islands are equally real. And there’s a third we haven’t talked about.”

“Russian,” Baker Bloch stated, ignoring mention of the third for now. “Before independence, his New Island was Russian territory. I’ve been reading the relocation guide. I believe the place is as real as Australia, as New Zealand.”

“India,” Bill added. “Indonesia.”

“But not any more real than, um, our New Island.”

“No, not really. Because we, you and I and anyone else who cares, can *go* to our New Island. Physically for us; virtually for our users.”

“But one is latched onto the other. They are — not two plants from one seed. What (expression) am I looking for?”

“They are like babies from the same mom. Which begs the question: who is mom?”

“Mum,” Dwayne speaks in sync from the side. “We’re so sorry. The chef has burnt the tuna. Would you like to substitute perch for the entree?”

“Perch, perch, perch,” complains The Bill, back in form. “Perch at Perch, go get the perch at Perch. The perch is the best dish at Perch. Always pushing the perch. Well…” and she sends a riveting stare at Sidechick Corea’s brother, formerly out of a job and down on his luck in Heroin Town, “serve me the tuna, burnt or not. Serve!”

Dwayne scurries back to the kitchen, retrieves the burnt item, then tells the chef to pack it in — he’s done cook’n too. We’ll catch up with the chef’s story (Angus Nuffin) later, for he would get his revenge.


harey

“All right, I have *two* four-handed librarians sitting at *my* Table now. Surely we can figure this out together.” No one around The Table says a thing. Curled Paper keeps staring inside the book he’s always reading. Tin S. Man stands unmoving in the corner. “Hazel… Hazelhurst. A Mrs. Hazelhurst came out of Philip Strevor’s office over in Iris just before I went in. But I didn’t see her. This *must* be Mid-Hazel.” No one says anything. “Mid-Hazel makes things go ’round and ’round, entrapping them in a bewitching circle. New Island is her ultimate creation, perhaps.” Nothing said. “Leeman’s or Leemon’s — mind you, we can only speak in Oracle terms here — anyway, Leeman’s or Leemon’s Hazel is the beginning and ending point for his fictional story nested inside the now totally and completely filled out factual story.” She indicates the screen displaying a map from the book. “He inserts *himself* inside the story, and first goes from Hazel to the Hazelhurst (Ruins) to complete his first, er, virtual watercolor… within the story. This becomes first person, not third. With advantages and disadvantages–” Bill/Wheeler throws down her hands on the table. “Okay, *someone* has to help me here. Librarian 01, I order you to speak.”

Librarian 01 thinks a spell, then offers: “eight.” He elaborates after a shorter pause. “It must have been something he ate.”

“Carrot,” speaks up Librarian 02. “Glasses.” Everyone falls silent here.


*up* the rabbit hole

It was the first time Adelaide (Alice 02) would meet with the head doctor over at Mosh on the Main Continent, as employees of Baumbeer Enterprises liked to call it. On the way up, Adelaide pauses to consider some maps on the wall. She recognizes her present “home” sim at the top. Or sims, since it looks like the hospital owns land in both Tethia and Orr around Lake Tethia. Interesting.

But where was she *now* on this lower map, hmm?

No time. She was summoned. There wasn’t a place to sit in front of the doctor. But — he’s a *rabbit*?

And a white one at that. Rings a bell.

Surprising Adelaide again, Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer then unfurls his life story for her, starting with his birth at Braynard’s Place (chronicled in the last Collagesity novel) and extending through Gene Autry Mortuary School, The Carter Center for the Study of Bodily Fluids, and then here. “Fluid,” he emphasizes while taking a steady sip of milk (he had hid his glass of beer under the desk upon Adelaide’s arrival). “It’s what took me from place to place to place. Up and up and up.”

Adelaide wondered when he would get to her psychiatric evaluation, but it never happened.


overhears

Bill didn’t remember anything about the middle-of-the-night visit to the single wide trailer behind Obscure’s Blue Star Gas Station until Ragdoll filled her in later. She overheard everything from her bedroom she shared with Indigo, who appeared to sleep through the whole event. She didn’t.


$4

Ragdoll watched the dogs play outside her trailer for the longest time, it seemed. Newte was so bad about not coming upon being called. And she’d given up training Jaspo in *anything* when he was not much more than a pup. What was the use?

They’re collecting at the door, she thought. Pops must be inside rattling around keys, getting ready to close up for the shift. Ragdoll knew Alma would be here any minute in her old, beat up blue Chevy truck to relieve him. She was reliable but testy, and could shout the skin off of any man alive if needed. More than once, her daddy had been the victim of scattershot, both of a verbal *and* a physical variety. Former bo Justice will be needing that specially made seat cushion for a while, haha. But it wasn’t a laughing matter at the time; Ragdoll thought that Alma had killed him. But Justice was just naturally a heavy bleeder, and all that blood covered much tamer wounds than spectators of the scene could imagine. Then there was the other time… oh, there’s daddy. Pops. At least *he* comes when called.

Upon exiting the building, Angus Nuffin petted each jumping dog individually. “How’s my Salt; how’s my Pepper?” (those were his nicknames for the mutts, bought for 2 lindens apiece from Gingus Kind Jr. after the death of his father). He then spotted his daughter sitting on the warm blacktop, waving brightly. Although not planning it, she finds herself jumping up as well, mimicking the dogs’ admiration of the man. But she resists running toward him and giving him a big hug. She had other things on her mind today. The Diagonal. Ragdoll had been plotting her dinner grilling strategy while waiting and watching. Again in both a verbal and physical variety, for she was the designated cooker as well tonight.

Meat Wednesday. That’s another thing she needed to talk to her daddy about when the time was right — about her vegetarian leaning ways. But for now, as a kid of 12, beef and chicken and the rest tasted okay still. Remained pretty delicious, except when she came across one of those hard parts that was probably, *hopefully*, a bit of bone or cartilage or something. Fish, she thought again. One day, not too far off, she will only eat fish as a meat. Snapper, flounder, perch. Mmmmmm, she thought. But for now, her mouth still watered a little for beef, for chicken, for the rest. But not ham. Never ham. That was a firm rule for Meat Wednesday since she learned that pigs might be smarter than some men. *Obviously* Alma’s Justice, hehe.

Angus Nuffin walks toward her and she couldn’t resist any longer. The big hug came swift and easy as Alma pulled in. “My little Zero,” he says, holding her tight.


Charlie on the spot

The witnesses sat around the pit containing the crucial and central psychiatrist stand, two to the right…

…two to the left.

All were reading and not seeming to pay attention except one. The true witness: Norris, also known as JERRY or Harry. For he had seen much more than the others on his couch of stripes (etc.) and was curious how this would all turn out for Bill.

No one was looking at Norris now so Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer’s evaluation could begin.

“So, my queen. Let’s get right to the point.”



Tale of Two

“What you writing there b-b-boss?” asks Marty Claflin, formerly known as Pot Head.

“Oh just some ideas about our business,” replies Jay Woodhull, formerly Sheriff. The Sheriff. But his law upholding days are over for now.

“M-Mabel coming back tonight?”

“Oh, I doubt it. She has to sing at the Cult of Oo’d in Collagesity tomorrow. She told me she’d most likely be staying over there tonight to save prep time in the morning.”

“G-g-good.”

Jay puts down his pen and stares at Marty. “Why’d your studder come back? Hey, look over there… out the bay windows,” he says suddenly while pointing. “Someone’s coming.”

Marty’s heart began racing. “W-w-where?”

While Marty’s head was turned, Jay took the opportunity to knock the crap out of it with his metallic left hand. “OW!” he yelled, but with no studder. Jay’s quick remedy had worked.

“Thanks,” Marty managed after a moment of rubbing. “I think.”

“No problem, Marty.” He began writing on his notepad again. “Now about that business plan…”

—–

Meanwhile in Mabel’s duplicate (and original) Scarlet Creative Sylvia House in Collagesity, she sits on her DaD Design knitted pouf freebie and stares out the front window into the woods, trying to spot Unch, an old game. It’s good to be home, she thinks while continuing to peer and squint. Too bad I can’t stay.


The Point of Barnaby Point

“The 3rd, Baker Bloch. Er, Pitch Darkly. Maybe you should just *turn into* Pitch Darkly since you seem to like the character so much. Right Mary?”

“It might be nice,” Mary said from behind them. She then hunches over further so she can see the Wisconsin map with the proximate New Island and Fisher Island better. “Do you think this will convince this Leeman or Leemon? There’s Sunset Beach in the lower right corner (after all).”

“His childhood home,” Bill finishes. “Well, it’s obvious something is going on in this and that other Wisconsin location at least.”

“Outagamie County,” Pitch Darkly adds. “Leeman there as well which is also Leemon, mirroring the Leemon in Missouri. Only other one.”

“Right,” reinforces Bill. “You getting all this Mary?”

“I… think. Where’s the Wisconsin Leemon? Do we have a map of it as well?”

“Of course,” declares Bill, returning to the Oracle home page and looking up ‘Leemon’. Only 2 hits, as she stated: Leeman, Wisconsin (which is also called Leemon as a variant, at least according to the Oracle) and Leemon, Missouri. She clicks the appropriate link and adjusts the map.

“Just a placemarker,” continues Bill. “But perhaps an effective one. Subtle but effective. It’s in his home county, you see. The new one.”

“Oh.” Mary scratches her head. “So Fisher Island is right next to New Island in Beaver Dam Lake, Wisconsin…”

“The two biggest islands of 22 in that lake,” Pitch tacks on. “And that’s the only New Island in America besides the one in the big swamp in Georgia. Probably doesn’t count.”

“Fisher Island is a blog invention,” continues Mary, slightly irritated at her train of thought being interrupted. But she gets over it quickly — fascinating subject for her. “New Island is also a blog invention but… connects to Leeman or Leemon’s New Island through Barnaby Point. Barnaby Point exists in both.”

“Correct, Mary,” replies Pitch, proud of his studious spouse. For he had married Mary on March 25th of this year in the Cult of Oo’d Church, the only place of worship in town at the time. One could say they were still in their newlywed phase. With all the attached highs and lows, of course. Tough dealing with New Life situations; but they were managing. Now that Pitch was out of the thick of his Russian phase. Still… the statue… “Art gallery laden Barnaby with its Barnaby Point in *his* New Island also being near the Sunset Beach of *his* New Island,” Pitch states. “Couple of miles apart.”

“Artist Point,” utters the freelancing Mary. “‘Artist Point Interactive’… that’s the *Hazel meeting*. Mentioned in Pot Head’s and Sheriff’s new business blurb in the ‘New Island Gazette’ *Our* ‘New Island Gazette’.”

“They are no longer Sheriff and Pot Head in this blog,” corrects Bill. “They are Marty and Jay or Jay and Marty — take your pick. They are too stoned at any one point — get it? point — to care which of their names comes first, I would venture.” Bill was known for her bad puns, but at least she has a bit of a sense of humor now. Unlike olden times when she first came to power in Collagesity. She’s softened. “I’m tired,” she suddenly declares. “This meeting is over. Go back to your Darkly Manor and think of things to discuss in *our* next meeting. Which is tomorrow. And I expect *you two*” — she turns and points to the two 4 handed librarians sitting around The Table — “to contribute as well. And not just ‘carrot’… and ‘glasses.’ Something substantial and with meat that we can lay out on the table and feast upon. Beef or chicken. Or at least fish. Can you do that for me, hmm?”

The librarians stare at each other, knowing they can’t.


mum 01

He was staring at the test pattern on the television, wishing MTV was on this late at night, when the soft knocks came at the door. He checked the clock on the wall to his left: 2:01 am on the nose. Heart beating harder, he knew this could only be one person given the precise timing. Ragdoll and Indigo had both gone to bed around 11, he reckoned; most likely fast asleep. Because he knew what the conversation would be about and there was no need for his daughters to be involved right now.

Even then, with only this brief prompt, Angus Nuffin started making assessments of his property, started planning how to get from this place to another place. For The Diagonal here had been losing energy for a considerable amount of time now. There was hardly anyone over at Lollygagger Lane these days for instance, although in its heyday it was one hopping place. Like a perpetual bunny hop, and he inwardly laughed at his joke. Because this meant the person at the door had also visited the psychiatrist over there already. She would not remember the contents of their meeting until later, maybe not until after the move, he speculated. He might even have to be in disguise for a while wherever they ended up.

The soft knocks repeated. Better not keep *our queen* waiting any longer. He made himself get up off the couch and answer the door.

“I think you’ve been expecting me?”

Angus immediately spotted the large red ring on the strange woman’s hand. “Yes, mum. Please come in.” He waved her over to the most comfortable chair in the trailer.


mum 02

After the physical (dinner) grilling the next day, Ragdoll planned to start in on the verbal grilling while they sat on the porch and let their bodies digest all that heavy meat they’d just consumed. Beef and chicken and fish all! For they had expected Indigo and her new bo to show up, the same dad burn Justice that Alma had just gotten rid of. Ragdoll thinks her sister may be doing this just to irk everyone around her! But Justice complained that he still couldn’t sit in a regular chair for more than 30 minutes at a time, and they ended up having dinner in bed over at their own trailer in Tinseltown. More food for them, however, and Ragdoll had overeaten due to nerves. Yet she instilled zen calm within while sitting in her lawn chair pretending to doze, and was seemingly good to go after about 10 minutes.

“Daddy?” she began.

Angus Nuffin roused himself from an actual nap. “Yes, pumpkin?”

“Do we have, um… any pie left in the fridge?”

—–

Ragdoll just couldn’t do it; couldn’t get herself to talk about the conversation she overheard last night. Or mainly overheard, for there was still the wall that muffled some of it. She loved her daddy so much and didn’t want to hurt his feelings, and knew he’d tell Indigo and her when the time was right. But she was planning as well: she’d just herself started dating Tin Tin, a cousin of Justice actually (and how they met), but considerably smarter and nicer. She’d miss that relationship. But maybe something else as good or better would come up in this Collagesity they were heading to. Not far over the hill, Bill had said last night. Just a hop and a skip, as she put it — just beyond the wall.

While her daddy began dozing again, Ragdoll quietly got out of her chair and walked around the side of the trailer, “show property lines” toggled on.

The Diagonal, she thinks, staring at the northwest corner of the Obscure sim. So close yet so far. And in Rubi it would be a little further still, according to Bill. But the woods amplified — those were her exact words, she recalls. Ragdoll returns to her lawn chair, pondering what it could mean.


The Max

Ragdoll was the first person to point out that if you stand atop the Stairs Gallery (still vacant as of this writing) and increase your draw distance to just over 300 meters, the almost totally white Max Statue will appear to the northeast. It then became sort of a fad to have impromptu parties there on Friday nights to celebrate the mysterious, 20 meter high deity perched atop the Second Lyfe Railroad in that direction. But Sister Martha Lamb quickly snuffed out any chance for the get-togethers to develop into yet another rival religion in town to her own. She declared it idol worshiping, and threatened to write the Lindens (rulers of our world) to have the statue torn down. The threat worked: either avatars moved over to Ragdoll’s old trailer park to continue worship (these numbered three: 30something couple Richard and Linda Abingdon, along with octogenarian Steve Barker), or people stayed in Collagesity and conveniently forgot all about it, including Ragdoll. After all, by this time she had a new boyfriend named Jerry Richardson to deal with, an older man himself and well into his 50s when they shared their first bowl of Bumpy’s ice cream purchased from the new Bodega Marketplace dessert bar. Yeah, Collagesity is doing just fine these days, and another religion may have muddied the spiritual waters too much. But Max remains there for all to see from Stairs, and — if you increase your draw distance to the, um, *max* (512 meters) — from about anywhere in town within eye shot actually. Long Live Max!


The eyes of Max.


Max: Second Lyfe RR in front; Great Wall in back.


Max above Agnus Nuffin’s Blue Star Truck Stop.


2 weeks earlier…

“Tell me what to do, Max. Give me guidance.”


more effigies

Once again disguised as a girl of relatively ordinary height, Bettie/Tonshi Ashokan entered Collagesity from the west at sunset and spotted something different about this statue in front of the Town Diner, a 2d copy of Rodin’s “The Thinker”.

It was moving back and forth — barely perceptible but still obviously present. And the vibrating would both slow and increase in radius in the coming weeks until a climactic point is reached. Think about that, attached giant rock and spoon.

—–

“Ahh, my love! I thought I’d greet you by Pitch’s new statue so you’d know the way. Right across this bridge, light of my life.”

“Thanks. Back at you, Buster my sweets!” She changed to match him one-to-one before they crossed the wood plank bridge to their new home.

“Over here dear. It’s this smaller house.”

“Oh.”


COLLAGESITY 2018 MIDDLE (PART 2 of 2)


It’s official.

Roger Pine Ridge is back in town, and in his old apartment next to SoSo Mall formerly shared with old girlfriend Cyberpaperdoll, who, you might recall, ran off with a younger, hipper dude named Bandit Boy during his stint in Iris in the heart of the Heterocera continent. Roger says he’s tired of toying around, as he put it, with our user Baker B. up in the real world, and was itching to get back to playing a “less pressurized, less constrained” part in the still evolving “Collagesity mythos” — again his words. Here he poses with the cutout of another, directly related Roger at the town’s Blue Feather Club: Roger “Syd” Barrett, his fellow bandmember during the early days of psychedelic mega-group Pink Floyd and its original driving force. The mantle of band leader passed from Roger (Syd) to Roger (Roger) in early ’68, as Syd’s mind gradually turned to mush. But you see his fingerprints all over later (and more commercially successful) Floyd in such albums as “Wish You Were Here”, “The Wall,” and, of course, the masterpiece of them all, 1973’s “Dark Side of the Moon”, whose main theme is elements of the world (constraints of “Time”, pressures of “Money”, etc.) that lead one to go mad (“Brain Damage”).

Roger Pine Ridge had his way paid out of the Iris “swamp village” by newly crowned continental queen Bill — The Bill. He chose to enter the real world first, but now leaves behind the old, old disagreement of Missouri vs. Arkansas as the heart of our US of A to focus on “virtual frivolities”.

Again, his phrasings. Welcome back Roger!


The introduction of Pot-D.

“Thank you for waiting, Roger.”

“No problem… The Bill.”

“Bill, please. For now.”

“Well I’ll get straight to it. Since this is the only Fisher Island in Wisconsin (Roger indicates the map still displayed on the media feed of The Table Room), and then the only *Fishers* Island — plural — in the state is on a Hazelhurst topo map — that we’re talking about an exchange: Fisher or Fishers Island for New Island. I am such an exchange, after all, since I’m not Roger Waters but Roger Pine Ridge. And it has worked out all right for me. I’m here, aren’t I?”

“You are indeed,” affirms Bill. “And we’re glad to have you sitting at our Table. You are *The* Variant, as I might be *The* Bill. Interesting symmetry.”

“Is it?”

“Could be.”

Roger puts a hand to his naturally cracked lips. “Does this Ruby have to affect the change? Can you not do it yourself?”

“As you know, RPR, I am indeed queen of Collagesity, but only because Mabel is so involved in New Island that’s she’s rarely here. Once she returns — all this aberrant energy she feels is dealt with — then she’s back here and a battle shapes up. I need to know what side you’re on. I’d like you to stand with me, obviously. Not that your position at The Table is in doubt, it’s just…”

“So Mabel controls Ruby,” interrupts an engrossed Roger Pine Ridge. “Ruby, the girl of 15, of course, and not Rubi the Woods. No one can control the forest.”

“Not so fast on that, Roger PR, my aberrant friend. We have a plan.”

“We?”


new Max related graffiti found in still vacant Stairs Gallery

But who’s Ruby? observing Ragdoll wonders.


Also new: binocular viewer atop Stairs.


too soon

Mary usually talked to Ralph (horse) during her after-dark angling sessions at Rubisea, but tonight was different. Indigo, a night owl herself, made an introduction.

—–

Indigo was full of questions about her new home. “Why do you call it the Rubi Sea?” the blue woman asked in her deep, almost masculine voice. And with odd overtones to it.

“Ru-BI-se-A,” Mary pronounced correctly. “It’s just a joke name. It’s a little pool of water but we call it a sea, see? And of course Rubi is the sim it’s in — we’re in. Well, *you’re* in. Say you just moved in night before last?” She looked over at the trailer sitting on the southwest corner of the lot, perched atop the spring that feeds the pool. She was eager to go take a closer look but Indigo seemed to want to keep her distance from it, maybe so as not to wake kinfolk Agnus and Ragdoll inside.

” Ru-BI-se-A,” Indigo repeated, and gazed over at the water to her left. “And this *perch*, you say, is the only fish in it. Like the Perch restaurant daddy and sis and I ate at yesterday with the big, human head mounted on the wall — another Perch. And then to add to it we had the perch at Perch.” She pointed left. “From this pool?”

Nah, these little fishes are hardly worth the bait to catch him. The restaurant’s fish are imported from the big fresh water lakes over in the Pond District, I believe. Tethia and Sesea. Maybe Pruni too.”

“Tethia and Sesea and Pruni.” Indigo found that saying names aloud helped her remember them. Or writing them down — but she forgot to bring her notepad and ink pen out tonight. She was going to start taking notes on the position of all the trees of the forest. Her daddy said that’s how she can help best right now in their efforts. Ragdoll will focus on religion, he’ll focus on The Diagonal as a whole, and Indigo will have the woods. She’s started to read Karl’s “Blood Curdling Tells of the Rubi Woods,” a Collagesity classic by now.

“But tell me more about yourself,” Mary then requested. “I know you’re from Obscure just over the hill — beyond The Wall. But were you born there?” Mary was guessing not, judging by her colorful appearance.

“Bennington.” Indigo almost spit the name out. “Don’t want to talk about it,” she added clippingly.

So Mary thought of other things for potential discussion. “How did you get involved in this — Pot-D wasn’t it?”

Indigo reflexively found herself biting her tongue again. She had slipped up near the beginning of their night time conversation, so glad she was to talk to another human being besides Angus and Ragdoll. So she decided to erase the faux pas from Mary’s mind. Indigo began toying with the triangular red amulet hanging round her neck, with glints from its silver skeletal hands catching Mary’s eye now and then. “Beautiful, isn’t it. My daddy gave this to me when I turned 13.” Indigo then reached around with both hands and removed the necklace, laying it on the table between them and making sure the triangle faced Mary full on. The fisherwoman was already transfixed by now.

“Pot-D is a secret between you and me Mary. Collagesity will know in time what it means, but for right now you must keep it locked away in your mind. Locket. Locket. Lock-it.”

And just like that the deed was done. Indigo gathered up the necklace and said she had to get back to bed now since the sun was about to come up. Mary picked up her fishing pole and headed back to Darkly Manor, with the last thing she recalled about their conversation being Indigo’s hatred of her home town. Farmington, wasn’t it? Something “-ing”, anyway. Pretty sure.

“Goodbye, um…,” but Mary also couldn’t quite recall the name of the horse she had been friends with going on a year now.


external/internal

Facing threats to the south (Cult of Oo’d)…

… the east (Fal Mouth Moon)…

… the north (Stairs)…

… Sister Mary Lamb retreats into her fortress of cheese to worship the gateway gods. She chooses liquor tonight just to switch it up…

… but when fellow devotee Jack Richardson starts to sneeze and sniff beside her, she changes back to the standard fries on the opposite side of the prayer room.

Good ol’ fries. Never lets her down. Now if she could only stop stealing glances at Baker B.’s degenerate collages in the Fal Mouth Moon across the street and focus on the Great Cheese. That hand, that hand…

One worry: she’ll start to develop stigmata but of the wrong kind. Tell tale type.

It’s all leading somewhere but she doesn’t know where.

I might.


the “i” and the “y”

“We’re going to be here a long time. Aren’t we daddy?”

Angus didn’t know how to answer the pointed question by his daughter but he knew they were. The energy was just too strong here. Much more palpable than Obscure. True source revealed!

“It was those woods all along.” his daughter Ragdoll spoke again. “Wasn’t it?”

—–

When they had returned inside, Ragdoll asked her father if Rubi was spelled with a “y”, with a negative response coming back at her. Then who’s Ruby? she wonders afterwards. Misspelling? And why the attachment to the Max deity? She could sneak out of town and ask Max directly, she supposed, but that had become illegal thanks to Sister Martha Lamb. But… middle of the night. Who would be watching?

Sister Martha Lamb, that’s who.

—–

“Ssooo…,” Martha Lamb hissed from behind, startling her. “You’ve chosen Max (over the others). Looks like we’ll have to talk to the *Town Council* about *this*.”

And she hadn’t even received a clear answer to her question tonight.

—-

“Maybe (the graffiti) was all just some kind of elaborate trap set up by Lamb herself,” she theorized to her sister later back at their shared room in the Rubi trailer. She stopped typing in her journal and turned to face Indigo directly. “You’ve never talked to him. Have you?” Indigo just shrugs from her lying position in return. She’d almost always assumed the conversation between the two was just in Ragdoll’s head but rarely said anything about it out of politeness. Let the child have something to believe in, to hang her hat on, Indigo had thought down through the years now. We’re stuck in a trailer in the middle of nowhere. But, anyway, it was all leading up to this. The woods. The town. The religious battles between the Oo’dites, the Cheeseheads, and now, most likely, the Maxers who can’t be x-ed out. Ragdoll would soon turn 13. Old enough to know the truth. She will be initiated into the fold.

This is what Pot-D was about now: The woods. The town. And, of course, The Diagonal itself. Indigo will hide in the 125/125 tree tomorrow until the sun comes up. And she must remember to take Karl’s book with her for study and entertainment. Tinbaby, hrmph!


the 125 and the 125

Sunrise. June 16, 2018. Indigo returns to the trailer confident that the walking tree can be reasoned with. “Just polished off chapter 13,” she declared to her yawning sister. “‘Unch.'”


another night

—–

“What was it about that jar?” Sister Martha Lamb wondered for yet another time concerning Falmouth 08, even going so far as to rez a small couch in front of it for further analysis. “Copyright protected image; inside but also broken through,” she continued thinking aloud. “A weakness but also… hmmm.”

She still couldn’t quite put her finger on it.


trailfollower

Angus Muffin often took the form of kindly human father figure Sid Viscous when studying The Diagonal away from Rubi. Here he sits in what novel 4 (“Collagesity 2017 Middle”) deems the PCH Forest, former or perhaps even future (!) abode of recently resurrected Clare Nova, remembering that Clare is the literal flip side, as it were, of our Fisher. But what does this really mean? Sid ponders while sitting on a bit of projecting natural Linden grass in the woods at 35/35/100 Hooktip and staring toward Clare’s “Good Neighbor Commandments” obelisk also sitting smack dab on The Diagonal.

The PCH Forest hasn’t changed significantly since novel 4, as far as Angus/Sid can tell (I’ve given him permission to access this blog for his studies, warning him to quickly avert his eyes when encountering infinity points within). He thinks this *non*change is unusual in itself, given the several makeovers the forest went through during my more intense focus on it toward the end of that novel.

He stands up and walks toward the obelisk, situated on the southern edge of the forest. As always, he tries to follow The Diagonal in as straight a line as possible by keeping the first two coordinate points of his position the same at any time. Not as easy as it might sound!

So here, directly in front of the obelisk, for example: 4/4/99 Hooktip.

Tonight Sid finds what could be an important clue about The Diagonal in this area. He’s uncovered that an avatar named [delete] has a small, two story apartment directly on it who is a fan of Firesign Theatre, just like his user, and is part of a Second Lyfe group called Firesigntheatergoers. Never mind that the actual spelling of the famed comedy group is “Theatre” and not “Theater”. There’s still some pretty interesting synchronicity going on here. Check out the group in [delete name’s] list that comes after it: *Fishers Island* Yacht Club. And out of the 5 other members of Firesigntheatergoers, 2 are Baker Bloch himself plus his alt Bracket Jupiter. “How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All” indeed!

But for now, Angus/Sid has to get back to Collagesity to work his shift as a recently hired cook at Perch. He needs to devise a plan to get rid of that job. Asap! He has to have more time with The Diagonal. Fishers Island Yacht Club is an obvious next possible destination. And a friend request has been sent to [delete name].


Mr. Mistikitty.



doppleganger

Dismally pained Ruby suddenly found herself in a totally different place, observing and wondering who Max was through focusing eyes while simultaneously being overwhelmed by the pungent odor of cheese.

She was back in Collagesity. Drying her tears, she realized she had to find Turch and catch up.


proximate

2 days after Sister Martha Lamb hired Jack Richardson, son of Jack Richards, as a clerk at her Fries with Cheese branch church in Collagesity, he had to be let go. Constant sneezing, sniffing, and general unhealthy noises coming from his neighboring desk was the problem. Turns out he’s allergic to cheese, of all things. Looks like the Cult of Oo’d might have just picked up another devotee by default, unless the Maxites can steal him away. Whenever their status becomes official. For the moment, it’s just Ruby in Collagesity, but all that’s about to change. 3 times was the charm all along.

In the meantime, Martha Lamb remains covered up in paperwork.


stares

Turchin McGurchin was tidying up Mabel’s original Scarlet Creative Sylvia House when Ruby silently entered. “Don’t let me scare you old man,” she said to him from behind.” Turchin laid his broom aside and they hugged. 2 weeks was long enough to make a good friend.

—–

“It’s so beautiful here,” Ruby spoke while staring out across the expanse of the Rubi Woods from her higher perspective on the tire swing.

Turchin nodded from his chair while trying to fight nodding off at the same time. “Yup. Sure ’nuff is.”

Ruby just sat for a while, taking in the calmness and serenity. “Shame Mabel can’t live here… in this one.” She glances toward the SCS house just to her left now.

“Mabel will be back soon enough,” Turchin offered in his countrified manner of speaking. Slow and easy. “Best she’s not here for a spell — till she fully gets over Buurb. Yup, I saw it coming, all along.”

Rubi looked down at Turchin, then, after a smaller pause: “Do you think they still love each other?”

“Hard to tell. Since Buurb’s a girl again…” He lets it go at that.

Ruby stares down at her crossed feet. “Of course.”

—–

Turchin caught Ruby up with town news since her two week stay about a month back, a visit no one currently around remembered except for him. Maxism was on the rise again, thanks to the crafty graffiti he painted last Tuesday in the vacant Stairs gallery — and has added onto in the meantime.

Keep directing your stares toward Max, was the overall message he wanted to plant. Turn it up to the Max, was a related catch phrase he was tinkering with. “You can see Max anywhere from town if you turn up your draw distance to the max — 512 meters,” he explained to the 15 year old. “Fate,” he tacked on. Ruby asked about the other two religions in town and what would happen to them. “They’ll implode,” Turch said in uncharacteristic sharpness. “It’s just suppose to be Ruby — you — and Max.” But he was wrong about that.

—–

In his reinstated apartment, smoking and observing Roger Pine Ridge waited for someone to reenter Collagesity from the woods.


Darkly Manor

“Looks like no one’s coming to our little soiree, Osborne.” Pitch appears to listen to a nonexistent voice across the table from him, white hand to white ear. “What’s that? You forgot to send out the invitations to your 478th birthday?” Pitch settles back into his black widow chair. “Well, yeah I did, Osborne. Because I want to be alone with my thoughts tonight. And you my friend, with your batty, flying books, don’t count.

Main problem: His wife Mary had gone with Martha Lamb to the *main* Fries with Cheese Church over in the Pond District to meet the higher ups, she said, seemingly so excited about the visit that Pitch’s birthday was forgotten. Oh well, he tried to rationalize. It wasn’t the 475th or the 480th or any of the important ones. Pitch himself forgot his 321st, 351st, 378th, 421st, and 457th. But having a wife is different; in his mind, he was thinking she was suppose to remind *him* of such occasions.

Did he do something to offend her? he wondered. Let’s see, her birthday is February 25th. Checks to that — he got her a nice bouquet of roses, red and blue both. 1st Date Anniversary — also a check. White lilies this time. At least a half dozen, he speculated. “Osborne,” he pipes up again, “you’re good with counting. How many lilies did I give Mary for our date anniversary?” He listens to the nonexistent voice again. “12, hmm. Twice as many as I remembered. See, there’s no reason for her to be pissed off at me. It *had* to be an oversight.”

But his thoughts turn again to Sister Martha Lamb, a person he did not trust one iota. Mary has had private counseling sessions with her up in that stinky church of hers and always came home acting a little weird to him, like a distance had formed between them. She was quite happy and content to accompany Pitch to the services at the Cult of Oo’d Church before the coming of Lamb and her Fries with Cheese intrusion next door. Sure she was disgusted and angry that time some of the sacrificial blood squirted her way and ruined one of her Sunday Best dresses. They don’t sit in the front pews any more; problem solved.

A knock at the front door downstairs. Pitch looks hopefully over at Osborne. Mary! he thought. Rushed home to apologize.

But it was “only” his good friend Woody Woodmanson from up the road, large present in hands. “I’m surprised you didn’t have a party,” his wooden comrade relayed to him after the handoff. You know how many friends you have in town. But I guess you and Mary probably just wanted to be alone, hehe.” He tried to nudge his friend in the ribs, but just swiped air. Woody was not the most coordinated of avatars

Afterwards:

“This is not what I expected Osborne. He’s always given me keys before.”


main

“A clown?” Mary exclaimed upon meeting the Good Rev. Amos T. Sandman yesterday at the Main Church of Cheese over in the Pond District. “No *wonder* you hate the Cult of Oo’d so much!”

“Indeed!” the Reverend exclaimed back. “*Now*. Which of the gateway gods do you choose to worship today?” He shields his mouth with his hand and says in a considerably lower voice: “Say fries, say fries.”

“Um. Fries I suppose.”

“Good choice!” the Reverend said, returned to shouting mode. “Please join Sister Deni Stew Moore at the appropriate side altar.” He waves to his right. “You have 8 minutes, then must yield to another. As you can see, for a Wednesday we have quite the crowd here, and more are filing in — everyone needs a turn. And the fries are a very popular warmup before the main course here at the Main. Enjoy!”

When Mary goes to the side altar to join a woman who’s apparently been totally cheesed (Mary had been warned about such staunch devotees), she found she couldn’t bend her knees in the proper, reverential fashion and merely had to sit upon the provided pose ball.

“Psst. Mary,” the cheese being next to her whispered out of the side of her curdled mouth. “It’s me. Bill.”

“Wheeler?”

She whispered again, more urgently. “Keep it down, keep it down. And address me as Bill from now on. I’m the queen after all.”

“Sure you are, Wheeler… Bill. But what’s this all about?”


heart to heart

“I don’t understand why you want to do this, daddy.”

“The Diagonal seems to indicate it. And… I get lonely, Zero. You and Indigo are the best daughters a Nuffin man like me could possibly wish for, but….” Angus Nuffin trails off, trying to figure out the best way to articulate what was in his heart.

“You’re saying, Fatherhood isn’t the be all end all,” Ragdoll helps, her blue button eyes watering up a bit. “After all, *we*, Indigo and I, wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for mother.”

And now you might have a new mother, Angus thinks but doesn’t speak aloud. He shields his black dot peepers from the rising sun, now over the eastern palms.

“It’s like this island, pumpkin,” Angus says, using the metaphor of the moment. “Right in front of you but not there atall — off the sim border in the Nothing Ocean. You can’t reach it now; out of bounds. But someday, sometime, we all have to experience this island, admit its reality. We have to cross a line.” He flips over and changes.

“We’re going to throw you the best birthday party you’ve ever seen when I get back, Zero. Just day after tomorrow.”

Yippy, she thinks sardonically, still heartbroken. She’s not losing a daddy, just, maybe, gaining a mommy? But it didn’t sound right, and perhaps never would. She stares over at the island; Martha Lamb of all people! But I guess there simply wasn’t that many eligible women in Collagesity. And, like daddy says or implies, he has needs. She might just have to get use to the idea. Surely she can. Can’t she?

—–

Later that night…

“Say what’s in your heart, Sid. Speak to me. Here: take my hand.”


Diagonal power

“I looked good in my pink phase, didn’t I Rabbit 02?”

“Sure did Rabbit 01.”

“But that was before my pregnancy with Rabbid.”

Tired of all the blood rushing to his head, Rabbit 02 declared: “My turn now…”

They changed.

—–

“Definitely stronger over here at 176/176. You try, Martha.”

“Can I take my lemonade?”

“Of course.”

They switched.

“Ooo, yeah. I feel it a little more, I think.”

“2 meter makes a tangible difference. I’m at 174/176 now.”

“Right.”

“And The Diagonal then continues northeast right through that frog sitting beside us apparent…

… then through the 2 air mattresses over there, and to the tailgate of the old truck on the other side of this pool of water. Then it continues, of course, through the rock, the arch, down to Wash Town and beside the octagonal Joe’s Garage on that queer diagonal line placed directly upon it.”

“Oolala. I feel tingly!”

“Let’s switch to the mattresses.”

“Let’s do!”

“170, 172 for me,” Sid speaks. “How about you?”

“172/172,” Martha Lamb returns, checking her coordinates. “Even the fish seem attracted by it.”

“Yes.”

Martha points to the tailgate of the truck. “Let’s go over there.”

“Ooo, it’s so hot in here.”

“Yeah, I’m at 162/164. And you should be at 164/164 as I tested earlier with that pose.”

Martha Lamb couldn’t wait any longer. She planted a big wet one right on Sid’s lips. Keeping close to his face — uncomfortably close, perhaps — she then seductively asked: “How’d I test on that?”

After kissing a long time and doing some other stuff, they found popcorn in the cab and enjoyed the view.

Fisher then explains to Bendy over an early morning spliff that Lisa gave him the other half of the “Fractured Violin” picture just before leaving for Corsica in her house boat, saying he had done “good enough.” He explained that the kitchen appliances were missing because he had ordered all new stuff for their apartment with the money they’ll be making now, including an upgrade on the rocking horse. “No manual adjustments on the position any more,” he said. “Everything will be auto!”


back to New I.

—–

Bendy was showing off again for the Tronesisia statue at Artist Point Interactive in the middle of the night when he thought to check Adelaide’s “Fractured Violin” painting to see if it was whole yet.

“Nuts and bolts!” he cussed upon seeing the picture totally missing from the wall instead. “Either Fisher completely succeeded with Lisa’s request,” he rationalized out loud, “Or completely failed!” Either one could be bad news for him.

Bendy quickly returned to the top floor of Mabel’s Scarlet Creative Sylvia House where Fisher and he lived together…

… or formerly lived together, it seemed. Fisher’s stuff, including his rocking horse, his kitchen appliances, were gone!

Corsica, Bendy then thought, remembering Lisa and Fisher had been talking about it recently. Laverne Glam over at Bumpy’s Ice Cream Village might know what’s going on. She knows everything there is to know about that continent — between her and her father. At least the phone is mine; I’ll give her a ring.

“Hello, Lavern?” Twittering from the receiver. “No, I don’t want the usual triple dip — right now anyway. I have something to ask you: Have you seen Fisher?” More twittering. “Yeah, the orange guy… who’s dating the yellow girl.” While Lavern gabs more on the other end, Bendy happens to look to his left.

“Um, never mind Lavern. I’ll see you in a little bit for that ice cream, okay?” He hangs up, stares at the completed “Fractured Violin” hidden by a wall jut from the teleporter. Fisher enters the room.

“Miss me?”

Fisher then explains to Bendy over an early morning spliff that Lisa gave him the other half of the “Fractured Violin” picture just before leaving for Corsica in her house boat, saying he had done “good enough.” He explained that the kitchen appliances were missing because he had ordered all new stuff for their apartment with the money they’ll be making now, including an upgrade on the rocking horse. “No manual adjustments on the position any more,” he said. “Everything will be auto!”


“Let’s go visit that small town over there.”

“What do you think Baker Bloch?”

“It’s really interesting. Really is. Soooo… Bart Simpson is invisible now? Is, er, that the alchemical experiment gone wrong?”

Baker Blinker put her hands behind her head. “I suppose. We don’t really have to explain it. Things are implied.”

“I suppose,” echoed the male Baker, irking the female Baker with the implied language.

“We can write it over.” She was thinking: I’m *definitely* not writing that over. Took me 4 hours as is!

“Nah, it’s fine Baker Blinker. It really is. I get it. Bart Simpson is invisible on New Island and that’s why his sister Lisa couldn’t find him. He’s probably a fugitive of the law, and that’s why these Silver and Gold people decided they had the leeway to experiment on him — not registered, perhaps.

“Baker Bloch, I’m not sure if you get the basic gist. Bart was suppose to be a companion for Tessa, to get her mind off the killer sharks, ahem, whales and such. Like earlier in these Collagesity novels, Toyna Two Egg created robot Arale from a kid her parents gave her when she was just a kit.”

“Kit… kid. I recall. But why invisible?”

“That’s the ‘wrong’ part about it.”

Baker Bloch rolled up the paper in the typewriter a little more. “And this part below the line…” He turned to Baker Blinker in her hanging chair. “Ready to read yet?” he queried.

She blew out air. “Go ahead,” she relented, steeling herself for more veiled criticism.

—–

Future times. July 11, 2022. Yd Bay again. Much, much more has washed ashore.

Through the peculiar odor from what was cooking (stench, to her), East Bennington refuge Tessa Fish issued a declaration. “I don’t like this place, Grandpa Gold. I don’t like this place *one bite*.”


fired

Angus Nuffin was happy. He knew this would be his last night as a chef at Perch Restaurant. Last piece of tuna in the fridge — everything was set up. Yes, there’s his supervisor Dwayne coming round the corner after taking The Bill’s order.

“Nuffin, this is a *very* special customer. One grilled tuna for the new queen of Collagesity, *lightly* cooked.”

“Coming up boss.”

“And *don’t* sit around on the appliances if you’re not cooking. *Clean* or something.”

“Right you are boss.” Nuffin nimbly hops off the dishwasher and heads to the fridge.

—–

“All right Dwayne you bastard,” Angus mutters under his breath. “Just move along so that I can burn this baby to an utter crisp.”

“I recognized him immediately, The Bill.”

“Bill will do. We’ll think about the royal appellation later.”

—–

There you go.


daydream

“Okay. But it was definitely Smelly Santy. You remember — from the Mission. The eggs, Bill. They must have killed him (!). The Bennington experiments.”

“Nasty place. Even I would admit that.”

“Dwayne, a complaint from the customer at Table D.”


Achilles

An invisible cartoon boy, Martha Lamb thinks, studying Falmouth 36 once more on the 4th floor of the Fal Mouth Moon gallery. Hugged and loved by a visible cartoon girl with red shoes. Perhaps they are future lovers, or perhaps brother and sister. Maybe he has a defect that hides him from view — a malady — but is loved by his sister still. Odd that I think this, she ruminates.

Then over here, further away in a field, the inversion: girl invisible and boy visible. The “E” on the next collage over blinks on and off. This *is* love; mutual exchanging.

If I could just *reach* into the collage… somewhere about… here.

Or is it here?

Here?

—–

So close yet so far. How to get from there…

… to here. Swish away the pain into the ice and snow and make it all go away. Football successfully kicked.

—–

“‘Copyright Protected Image’,” she read from the picture in front of her. “And to think I was going to get rid of all this in Collagesity, Sid my dearest. But now I think it is a gateway to the Great Beyond, fries and liquor be damned.”

“You shouldn’t say that about your church,” Sid offered. “You were so devoted to it before.”

She turned to him. “The Diagonal changed me, made me into a true woman. I was like two-dimensional before. *You* changed me.”

“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that…”

“All that’s left is the hand and how to break through. Without pain. They say that there’s no gain without pain, but I’m thinking of something else.”

“Yeah, Martha. I need you to listen tonight.”

She went on. “It’s the 36th collage of this series all right. I’ve been studying it nightly for going on half a week now. The Diagonal is giving me energy to understand.”

Sid grabbed her hand in order to stop her. “Listen, Martha. We need to talk. About The Diagonal.” He let go of her hand. “We can’t use it in that way any more.”

“No?” Her voice was suddenly far away, as across a field.

“No,” he said firmly. “I need to tell you the story of who I really am, how I really got here. It all started with the firing.”

“Firing?” Tears formed in her eyes despite her efforts. “What firing?”


Rabbid 03

In the middle of the night, Rabbid Baumbeer types up his report on the unfortunate blue bird-man sprawled out on the table behind him. It took the wannabe doctor most of yesterday to sew the head back on, plus extract all the fluid he could. Precious bodily fluid, he thinks. One day my study of it will take me far away from here and such poor, pitiful creatures.

“Ooh,” he says, studying the data in front of him. “Says here there’s formaldehyde in there already. Looks like this big red dude was planning on keeping him well preserved, perhaps for future rituals. What a sicky!” Yes… far away from here.