COLLAGESITY 2017 LATER
Mr. Babyface used the sandcastle portal again to reach Zebrasil and the nice beach he liked. This time he brought a guest.
“Better lather up for the sun,” he suggests to Caucasian Tommy Brade while applying yet another layer of suntan lotion himself. “Ozone hole’s not getting any smaller, ya know.”
But Tommy just sat awkwardly in his own beach cot and stared at his throwing hand. “I remember bees,” he finally managed.
“Good,” said Mr. Babyface. “You’re progressing, Tommy. Slowly but surely. Soon the big picture will fill in for ya. The impossible Super Bowl win that year, the role my nephew had in it. Everything.”
Caucasian Tommy Brade then stared directly into the sun for a full 5 minutes, but it didn’t hurt. He was the sun.
Moving to the other side of the island to get away from the heat, Mr. Babyface realizes that Tommy Brade may be no good for him now. He has to hatch a second plan, perhaps even a third. He thinks back to his conversation day before yesterday with Tronesisia. The Boss. “A certain building added,” she said several times. Gazing toward mainland, Mr. Babyface wonders again what it might mean.
Greg Ogden can’t figure out how to start the painting he wishes to do. It’s all so beautiful as is…
One thing he knows for dead sure is that it *won’t* be a watercolor — oil is his choice of medium. No opening exposed for that Greg with the extra “g” to return to the picture. Stay back in Gaston you old varmit!
Gauging the sun and understanding he can’t delay any longer, he pulls out his tube of Winsor and Newton Permanent Green and gets to work.
The next day he does the same.
Mr. Babyface wasn’t much of a swimmer, much less a diver. But he figured he had to give it a go since the board was here in — wherever this is. Little Chicago? Middletown even? Or a remnant thereof.
The beach of the city was small but cozy. Mr. Babyface could sometimes spy passing warships in the distance. Because, yes, there was a war going on. Apparently the Axis and Allied powers of WWII never really made peace, but just moved their battles to computer games and virtual realities. He may get involved in the fray as well soon, but he has to choose a side. His grandmother was a full blown German, but his old dog Pogo he loved so much came from Kansas, USA. Mr. Babyface himself hailed from deepest Africa; neutral territory in the Great War. His half aunt on his father’s side was Japanese. Could go either way.
The Shamon Palace, he thought while looking across the water and cleaning nacho fragments from between his teeth with his tongue. He’ll go there tomorrow. Someone to meet in the bowels of the island, he’s been told. Caucasian Tommy Brade has been sent back to the woods to be with pals Satan Santa, Cookie the Crumbler, and the rest. Someone new again. Billie Jean Kidd had told him this.
Billie Jean Kidd seemed to know everything about everything.
Deep in thought, he almost misses a passing ship. “Ahh, there’s one,” he says, spotting its motion as it glides beyond the island from his perspective. “Looks like the Rising Sun.”
The last of town’s apple trees would have to be moved, along with the last amphibian (Brazilian Bill).
Richard and Paula too.
The town Rodeo could be slid over to the old Appalachian Spring. For Billie was coming.
Baker Bloch was aiming for a 2 week stay but it might be longer, Gods willing. Mr. Babyface had already come from across the sea. Greg Ogden as well. How about the upper 8 floors beyond the 4 inhabited ones? Kidd Tower has a fairly long history in Collagesity and, before that, VWX Town. It had its beginnings in the Sikkima sinkhole — late 2012 or early 2013. Buildings also remember their history. And now one has come alive as a flesh and blood creature. We’ve lost Terry, true, but another fills his footprint. Not a man, not even a big boy. Not even a boy.
“Golf course. Par three. Hole in one. 1967. (pause) 28064212. (pause) LOST.”
“Bozo,” I said. “Boz*oo*.”
“Nepotism,” he followed quickly. “Nephew. New.”
“But not you.”
Richard vanished. Another took his place.
“To some. To a few,” the young man said.
“Is your name Peter?”
“To most. To a lot.”
“Are you well known?”
“Why do you keep flashing my name above your head.”
“*You* are well known.”
“Hmm. What are you doing here? In this palace?”
“It’s a hotel,” Peter replied. “Can you read?”
“… the land description, yes. (longer pause) So it’s *real*.”
“Kind of,” he said. Peter sat up, exposing less white legs beneath sinking bathing trunks. He was quite sun baked. From Hawaii he was.
“Why do you receive favors?” I continued.
“From Uncle Babyface?” he returned, already knowing my answer. “It’s a nephew thing.”
“I know that. Why are you here? What is your relationship to The Kidd over in Middletown, just across the strait from here? Your uncle can see your place…”
“*My* place?” he questioned, then was gone.
I took off my hat and scratched my head.
I sat there for a long time afterwards reading a book about squirrels.
Mr. Babyface was having that dream again about being submerged in lava. He wakes up.
Upside down again, he thinks. Better get some coffee on.
He pauses on his way to the tiny kitchen to reflect again on lava.
“Ichelus,” he mutters, and moves on.
Ahh. Better, he thinks, downing a fresh brew. His nipples hurt this morning for some reason. He’ll buy some of that ointment at the store later on his aunt recommended. She had the same kind of problem, but in a larger way.
He stares out the mostly transparent wall at the many windowed building just beyond. Definitely not Collagesity this morning, he ruminates. The Kidd will be there. Can’t get too caffeined up before chatting with the precocious child. Third eye she has, he remembers. All seeing most likely, like the one that use to be in Collagesity. Mr. Babyface can’t quite recall the name of the broken deity, a mere idol these days at best. Kazzkark he thinks incorrectly, but for a reason.
Nothing upstairs now. He’ll make some beans later on. Will The Kidd fulfill her promise and bring the rest of her tower to what he knows now is truly Middletown? He thinks that would be cool.
He sets his coffee cup down on the table beside Big E and heads downstairs.
She was looking at the blog again. She always seemed to be doing this. Mr. Babyface wasn’t sure that was a good thing.
“I see you’ve been dreaming about lava once more,” The Kidd began. “Do you know who I am yet? Northeast and southwest. Around the building. I’ll pull up another picture to show you. Give me a moment.”
While waiting for The Kidd to change the page, Mr. Babyface looked around the corner to check if his toilet was still gone. It was. “Have to use the sand again,” he complained softly.
“Done,” she then called. “Come in here and look and I’ll interpret. This Mr. Hucka Bumblebee did a good job before but he left some material out. Can you guess? You try first.”
Mr. Babyface stared at the picture which he knew to be a baker b. collage. He’d seen it in the small gallery above the Bodega Marketplace. Ointment, he thinks again. Must — remember.
“Go ahead,” she urged. “The title is ‘Duncanfollower.'”
“Yes, I can see that,” he said, slightly annoyed. He felt she could be condescending at times. I suppose she can’t help it, he then retracts. She’s not really all that human. Hu-man.
“Try,” she repeats.
Mr. Babyface plunged in. “Let’s see, there’s Woody Allen in the middle…”
“Oh for Pete’s sake. That’s not Woody Allen. Let me go ahead and do it. It’s *Woody*, then *Allen*. Raziel — Rael — is standing behind… purple robe. Purple rose. All this is positive, exposed — third eye stuff; fourth wall. Northwest. But *behind* the square building, and it’s a perfectly square building, is what The Bee called the Malefic. That’s me as well. Positive and negative. They’re in everybody that way. You included, Uncle Babyface.”
Why does she call me uncle? he ponders again. He sees a safe avenue. “I like the way that Duncan fellow is wearing the same black outfit as Woody… Woody *and* Allen.”
“Good,” The Kidd emboldens.
“Same reverse numbers,” he observes. “Well, not the same numbers but reversed nonetheless.”
“Nonetheless,” repeats The Kidd. “I would have used notwithstanding there.”
Whatever, Mr. Babyface thinks, getting slightly irritated again. He falls silent for a bit, hoping she’ll pick up the thread now. He knows she’d have trouble seeing the details of the collage. And she can’t get up from her chair, else all of this would cease to exist.
She leans forward. “This building is me and that’s all I can say about it today. Tomorrow may be different. You should explore the small city now. Leave me to my musings. Another visitor awaits this morning. And Greg Ogden is already down at the docks starting another painting of Treasure Hill. They found a diamond there, you know. Olden days. Largest diamond ever discovered on the continent. Peter knows.”
“Who’s Peter?” queries Mr. Babyface.
Karoz thinks while waiting: *I* need a mask.
20 minutes later, he’d switched over to the booths, trying again to figure out what these crazy typing style animations mean. Only one animation per booth, only one *seat* per booth. Bad designing, he thinks. A place just kind of thrown together. Baker Bloch could do much better here. Kidd Tower is a seed.
So involved was he with his animation that Karoz didn’t notice Old Grey slipping in and sitting at the front counter. “Bucket of blood,” she requests to the lone attendant. “And put some nails in it.” Karoz recognizes the voice.
She never received her drink. This wasn’t a bar. But she and Karoz caught up. They sat at the counter together.
“Baker Blinker is in Collagesity helping Baker Bloch with some apartment rentals,” he said to the old woman in disguise.
“How’s your love life,” Old Grey asked straighforwardly.
“Why are you here?”
“I’m suppose to meet someone, Old Grey. Uncle Babyface. Why are *you* here?”
“I live here,” she said. “In this sim. Kidd Tower… I’m The Kidd. Billie. Here, stand back and I’ll show you. The dress could poof out in the transformation and put someone’s eye out.”
“Okay.” He hops off the chair and takes a couple of steps away from the counter accordingly, not understanding that Old Grey was joking.
“I just thought of the hair,” she said after changing. Grey to black. Young Black, hehe.”
“It’s quite appealing,” encouraged Karoz Blogger.
“If you were a boy of 10, would you ask me out for ice cream?”
“You were never 10,” she joked again. “You were born old. Old and green. Old Green.”
“Just because I never had a mother doesn’t mean I wasn’t born.”
“Immaculate,” whispered The Kidd. She turned toward Karoz and looked at him squarely. “Jesus. You’re Jesus.”
But Karoz didn’t know that name and told her so.
The Kidd tested him further. “Do you know Superman? Aquaman?”
“Of course,” replied Karoz.
Karoz whirled around and looked at the poster behind him. “Obviously,” he said while staring at the superhero’s mask again.
“Then you are like the Green Lantern,” cooed The Kidd. She clapped her hands rapidly together and squealed in excitement. “And with a ring!”
Karoz didn’t get a mask that day but he got something else even better — from The Kidd. She just pulled it out of a secret pocket on her babydoll dress. The ring wasn’t exactly legit Green Lantern style but he thought it quite cool anyway and wore it home to Chilbo. Later that night, the town’s giant central tree caught on fire and burned to the ground. It would take weeks to grow another one.
Peterstown 02 (Ladd)
Before leaving Middletown yesterday, Karoz briefly stares at the red, blue and yellow newspaper boxes on the very western edge of the city, picking up an eerie resonance.
The next day, Peter Ladd stares at the same boxes with more knowledge.
He then goes over and squarely stands on one of Main Street’s yellow rubber lines, contemplating Treasure Hill just across the bay.
He reaches into his pocket, pulls out the ring, and puts it on.
Turning back toward the Middletown skyline, he vows never to remove himself again.
He is Peter from now on.
Baker Blinker would scratch her head if she had a free hand. “The treasure map says it’s suppose to be right here Other Baker,” she calls across the property line to her male counterpart.
“Some kind of phantom prim is keeping us apart. It must be the treasure!”
“Could be just the terraforming taking time to kick in,” offers Baker Blinker. “Usually the effect is over after a minute, though.”
“Hmm, I already tried logging off and then back on.”
“I’m on my side and you are on your side,” resigns Baker Bloch. “But we’re unable to join each other here. At the ‘X’.”
Olde Lapara Towne’s Rocky Raccoo hasn’t quite given up on the idea of moving to Collagesity, despite his cousins Racket and Sport setting him up nicely with that cabin high up in the Lapara hill country. He can work at the Grand Lapara Hotel, but doesn’t have to live in his old crawlspace area there — quite yet. Life is pretty good. Still he sometimes pops down here in the middle of the night to take a look at the apartment and ponder on the life that could have been. And there’s also the fact that winter is coming. Winter is almost here!
My name remains on the mailbox, Rocky thinks. Bookworm must not have used the town’s postal service during his stay.
There it is. The Hana Lei portal. Baker Bloch worked quite hard on all of this Grassland re-creation. Baker Blinker too.
Portal’s still warm, he says to himself after walking over and feeling the sand castle’s walls. Someone’s used it recently. He’s sees the glint of the green jewel. Hmm. Dare he?
First he decides to take a look upstairs.
I bet you this Bookworm fellow didn’t even meditate, Rocky continues. Scripted Dr. Who throw pillow and great view squandered!
But *they* can look down on him. That was a big factor in his decision not to come here, although he didn’t really express this drawback adequately to The Bakers. Kidd Tower renters could see everything that goes on. And no drapes! Although I guess I could have asked for some. Lots of things happening at once, though: loss of my market, switching jobs, switching places to stay. I didn’t have time to think all the possibilities out. The Bakers promised that I could run Collagesity’s Bodega Supermarket as well.
It’s right down there. I could see everyone that goes in and out from this perch. Advantage. I wonder if this window could be tinted black at night. Kind of a Wall of Jasper effect.
Through the opposite window, there’s a view into the 4th and last apartment in the SoSo Mall complex. The Bakers says it’s rented by a biker guy and his cybernetic lady friend. So that’s more potential spying neighbors. But at least on eye level this time. Still: pretty good view of Collagesity North and the newer part of town next to the Rubi Woods.
Rocky goes back downstairs to the table beside the dune portal and begins making a checklist. Kidd Tower neighbors can see in: negative. Winter is coming to Olde Lapara Towne: positive. 4th Apartment renters can see in at eye level and indirectly: negative, but less of one. Winter is coming: positive.
Rocky puts down the notepad, starts shaking his head. “Winter is coming,” he repeats aloud and looks over at the sand portal. “This will be the final test, then. How far it will take me; how much grass and weed I can find out there in the Great Beyond.”
He digs the owl’s head ring out of the sand in the widest castle turret and places it on the appropriate finger. One twist should do it. Right or left this time? he debates. “Let’s try counterclockwise.” He twists the ring with his body still touching the castle.
“Well this is different.”
Must admit this is cool. But where’s the wacky weed?
Nice. Where’s the grass?
“Grass? Any grass here? Well be that way then.”
Ooo. No way around the island or whatever it is from *this* direction. Don’t want my feetsies getting toasted!
“Anybody home?!” Rocky yells after going through a gap to reach the eastern side of the island. “Any grass around?! Any at all?!”
His calls echo around the volcanic mountains. More strange, non-communicating creatures appear.
He walks to the shoreline and looks out across the expanse of water. “Is that mainland?” he asks himself now. One way to find out.
“420,” curses Billie Jean Kidd two stories up, sitting in her brown suave chair as usual and glancing over the latest blog post. “Someone is (already) here.”
two spots in one
He transforms and walks two floors up.
“Oh. It’s just you Karoz,” says a relieved Billie. “What are you doing here?”
“Playing with my ring you gave me.”
“No. I mean, what are you doing *here*? In my spot?”
“I was just parking my ring, er, my truck at the most logical spot in town.” He turned and looked at the latest post as well. “Nifty, eh? Found it on the SL Marketplace for free. But — strange thing — I found it through Casey.”
“Who’s Casey?” asked Billie Jean Kidd
“I white out in that direction,” Karoz admitted to the child. He looked around. “So this is where you live.”
“Yeah. Kidd Tower. Lower 1/3rd anyway.” The Kidd, who is not really a kid atall, tries not to stare at his Green Lantern underwear also found on the marketplace for fear of giggling. “So you were just parking your truck, eh?”
“Yeah. And your house came crashing down on me. I could have been killed!”
“Not possible.” Billie finally couldn’t restrain herself and bursts out laughing. Karoz was standing just too close.
“What’s so funny?”
Newly formed Roger Pine Ridge decides to sneak by snoozing Cyberpaperdoll on the lower floor and go visit friendly, understanding neighbor Tammy Whatammy in her cabin across just across Old Cannon Road to tell her the news. But Tammy was nowhere to be found within. The entire cabin had basically been cleaned out — no sign that she had ever been there.
Only one object remained: the town’s generic media player. And on it, the Sunklands post had changed once again.
Greg Ogden was trying to ignore all the commotion going on behind him in order to focus on his painting. The subject matter, as always it seemed: Treasure Hill, now about 200 meters north of his chosen perch. To its right, Middletown lay just beyond his draw distance from here. He liked it that way. Treasure Hill alone and without tag-along berg, just like in olden days. Pre Gulf War days, he thinks while listening to a new round of shots from in back. Then a fierce explosion rocked the land, totally ruining an attempted first brush stroke. Greg Ogden had decided to give up for the day when Rocky Raccoo reached his perch from the ravaged camp below, smoking gun in hand.
“Axis or Allies?” he called toward the harmless artist. “Choose or be shot anyway.”
“Lost your girl, eh?” Like any good bartender, Furry Karl was trying to empathize with a treasured customer.
“Yeah,” said Roger Pine Ridge. “Literally.” Roger wished he had a joint to smoke instead of a Marlboro. He stated this desire to Karl.
“We’re working on (the marijuana) license,” Karl encouraged. “Should know by the end of the month. Town council voted on it yesterday. One problem is the flow of grass coming into the village. Some say it should naturally be from Hana Lei. Countering this, some say Jeogeot and the Gulf region, despite the escalating war there. Depends on which way you twist the ring, see.”
“Ah… the ring. And where is our precious ring presently?” Roger Pine Ridge was itching to use it himself and investigate these supposedly grass laden lands.
Karl reaches under the counter and pulls out a magically generated log sheet only he and several others can read. “Let’s see, according to this Rocky Racco presently has the ring. That’s my boss now, apparently.” Karl pauses here to shake his head but doesn’t say anything that will put him in jeopardy. He collects himself while pretending to have something in his eye, then looks down again at the log. “And he’s, um, in Jeogeot.” Karl blows out air. “With The Kidd.”
Actor Tom Casey was enjoying an outdoor bath at his Middletown house when he got the call from The Kidd. She ask him to set her tower up per usual and she would come over as quick as possible and sit in the chair. She also had a surprise for him tonight. His acting abilities were finally to be employed! Oh, and The Kidd wanted him to ring up Karoz in Chilbo.
“I’m glad you ditched those ridiculous pants, Karoz.”
“What are we looking at tonight?” He wanted to get on with it so that he could return to his meal of asparagus tips and potted mincemeat with Baker Blinker in Chilbo. The call from Casey came mid bite.
“Settle down, settle down,” Billie Jean Kidd encouraged. “Get into the role again. Middletown role. You’re not in Chilbo any more.” Karoz received the message. Billie understood that his Chilbo existence was real and that this was merely a dream. But was she right? He stared at the changing picture.
“No, that’s just us,” Billie then said, also looking. “Give me a moment.” She began to browse through past posts. “You have to watch the appearance of those mirror worlds, where you stare into yourself staring into yourself staring into yourself and so on. That came up with 11111 recently. 5 is usually the limit, but enough!” She’d found the appropriate picture. She zoomed in.
“This is what Roger Pine Ridge was staring at, Karoz, in a recent post. Through it he knew he was new and that Waters was old. I have a feeling he’s going to be listening to a lotta old time radio downloads of comedians Lum and Abner during his stay in Collagesity. Better get himself a nice audio system, because those files are not the best quality. I should know. He needs to listen carefully.”
Karoz looked at Waters on the map, at New. His attention was then drawn to Ogden and also Gaston to their right. He recognized the names. He recognized the *map*.
“David Bowie as Jeffrie Phillips sits on the Twin Peaks inspired couch,” Billie Jean Kidd continued, knowing what Karoz knew. “Alive and well. He is only pausing. Whitestar.”
Karoz turned and stared at Billie Jean Kidd. “Who are you?”
“You know full well who I am, Karoz. Will we contest for the future of Collagesity once more? A *tennis* match this time instead of a wrestling match? Only you can save Collagesity at any rate. You and Baker Blinker.”
“I… we don’t plan to fully return,” replied Karoz, hands on hips.
“One more on the map and we can talk about that. We just move directly east, to the eastern side of the county. Recognize *this*? It plugs directly into the other 5×5 here as well as the Wizard’s Cube for emphasis, which is also a “W” in this spot. My spot. This is what we need to explore, Karoz. Obvious, isn’t it?”
Casey the Alien wakes up inside Middletown proper.
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.
Peter Ladd didn’t know whether to take Billy Jean Kidd totally serious or not about a winner-take-all tennis match for Collagesity, but he decided he better practice up anyway. He finds a passable court at TT-Sports. Unfortunately his chosen playing partner Uncle Babyface could even hit the ball back to him most of the time. Not a lot of practice accomplished this day.
Ooff! Another wiff by the uncle.
Alex and Albert 02
“Let me out of here,” he cried in his high, wispy voice. “I’m Gregg Oden! I drink… I drink Baileys from a shoe.”
“Not until you choose a side,” a gun toting Rocky persists. He didn’t have the heart to shoot Greg Ogden on the spot several days back so he just bought a small freebie jail to hold him in. Then *this* happened shortly afterwards — red to green again. Inexplicable.
Rocky stared west from whence he came. “What else might come through that cursed sand castle portal over on the volcano island?” he asked himself.
“You don’t understand little raccoon man. I haven’t painted a watercolor of myself or Baileys in a week. I’m dying for lack of art. Gregg Oden needs art to live,” he insisted.
“Shut up with your yammering,” Rocky voiced, tired of hearing the poor pitiful creature rant on and on about basically nothing. “I need to think. We’ve been on this perch long enough. There’s a war going on!”
“I know Alex,” Gregg Oden then said more mysteriously after a pause. “And Albert. They could help you with your little war. Could help one side or the other win. I hide them in a special place.” He looked down at his tutu, then back up. “I can help you out raccoon man… if you help me out.”
Just then, Rocky spots a ship passing in front of the Zebrasil-Ichelus island. He employs remote viewing, sees the flag, and decides to go after it.
Lucky for Rocky, because he was about to be manjinaed by Gregg Oden just like poor Terry and others before him.
Rocky found that when he tried to sit on the destroyer in order to plant the bombs and, er, destroy it, he seemed to *become* the ship. No deployment of explosives possible. Eventually the Japanese ship that Rocky has merged with passes another of the same nationality, and Rocky unsits and tries his luck with that one instead.
Same basic situation: he can’t sit on the ship because it keeps moving and he does not. Several times he tries, but keeps falling to the ocean floor behind it. He gives up, and wanders to the top of a nearby underwater hill, laying his long cooled gun beside him.
He looks around; scans in every direction. Nothing, he thinks. There is nothing here. No war, he realizes. No sides to choose from. It was all a dream. I’ve been living a dream ever since my webbed feet touched mainland and I entered that battle camp. Rocky looked at his gun, which he’d named while practicing target shooting in Olde Lapara Towne down in Grasslands last month, the last time he would do so in that location. “Time to go home, Terry,” he addressed it.
Rocky goes back to Middletown and sets monstrously green Gregg Oden free from his small prison. He immediately becomes red clad Greg Ogden again, planning out his next oil painting of Treasure Hill (*not* a watercolor). Rocky sees an army base nearby and decides to turn in his resignation. Since entering the war 4 days back, Rocky had risen to the rank of lieutenant, soon to be captain in several more hours. It was time to end the insanity before he climbed to the very top of the ranks and was in charge of the whole kit and caboodle. He didn’t want to be trapped in that!
“Wrong side,” he said while looking at the wall behind the central desk within. “Oh well, it’s all games and pretend anyway.” He then saw the name on the typewriter at the desk. He sat down and studied it to make sure his eyes weren’t deceiving him. The brand name: Raccoon.
Rocky found himself typing. And typing and typing. In a matter of hours, he had unfurled his whole story from Olde Lapara Towne, Collagesity, and Middletown. The stack of paper by his side kept growing higher, yet he went on. Future adventures. Collagesity and beyond. Mushroom house in the Adirondacks. Must keep going higher. Higher. To the top.
Two days later he was finally finished. He had risen to the rank of 5 star general, overseeing the whole Gulf engagement. He sent word to his lesser generals. Put down your arms. The insanity is over. There is no war any more. There never was.
COLLAGESITY 2017-2018 WINTER
The war over, Tronesisia pilots her Pink Baron back to Middletown to begin civilian life again. Her wheels touch down precisely on the 2 yellow rubber lines of Main Street just beyond Treasure Bay. Perfect 3 point landing.
But she hadn’t earned the moniker of flying ace for naught. 20 Frenchmen alone shot down! She returned a war hero, with all the accompanying accolades. She was a baroness now, due to marry Lord Bendington on the 25th (Christmas Day).
What about former lover Peter SoSo you may ask? Left behind in the ashes of battle bombs. Unable to extract himself from the high life in Hana Lei. Tronesisia desired more for her own life than just wobbling around stoned all the time. She desired accomplishments… medals. Badges signifying significance.
She strides powerfully into the skyscraper with her penthouse apartment. Surely soon to be renamed Baroness Towers, she thinks. Or some equivalent. “Hello, Ms. Tronesisia,” Bert the doorman says at the entrance. “Welcome back.” After she passes, he rushes into the work room to tell Timmy, Ben, and Wanisa to fetch her luggage out of the plane posthaste. Word spread fast through town. “Ms. Tronesisia is back, Ms. Tronesisia is back!” She was loved and feared by the citizens of Middletown.
“Ahh, good to be home!” she exclaims on her patio while sipping strong German beer and looking out across the sea. Soon she would be surrounded by royalty. She imagines them sitting all around her now, talking of her war glories and helping her take steps to make sure her celebrity status pays dividends in the marketplace of what surely will be a post-war boom.
Finished with her beer, she heads inside to retrieve another from the top-of-the-line Italian refrigerator. She pauses at a certain point, sensing something different… new.
Tronesisia doesn’t see the bottom 1/3rd of the Kidd Tower just below her this particular night. Billie Jean Kidd had been unsuccessful so far in bringing the remaining 2/3rds to Middletown to make it clearly visible from this window of the penthouse apartment. But soon she would. And then Tronesisia’s dreams of life as a post-war baroness would all melt away.
She would remember who she was, at the core.
“At the core,” Billie Jean Kidd echoes down below.
Mr. Babyface had fallen asleep again studying the Big E on the top floor of his Collagesity apartment. Awoken by a large thud, he quickly turned over while remaining in his sprawled position and peered into the higher stories of the Kidd Tower — the same view he was looking at when he dozed off.
Everything as before, pheh, he thinks. Depictions of the Jeogeot Gulf sims representing the letters A-L on the east side and O-Z to the west remained intact. The missing M and N at the top: MaN. What it all spelled out, he realized, was another boring day in Collagesity for The Face (himself). But what about the thud?
Then in sitting up and turning around from the table, Mr. Babyface saw something totally unexpected. He jumped out of his chair. A familiar Middletown skyscraper loomed just beyond his window!
“Holy Jesus!” he exclaimed, toking rapidly on his still lit pipe. “The Kidd really did it this time. The tower is truly and fully *there*. But there is here!” And he knew this meant the The Kidd would in all likelihood be sitting in her beige chair on the floor below his apartment, in what use to be Greg Ogden’s spot. But maybe Greg has returned too. He better get down there posthaste.
200 feet above all this, Tronesisia heads to the top-of-the-line Italian refrigerator to retrieve another of those strong German beers (Brewmeister’s Quarterly).
But in glancing outside the window to her right, she saw the tower too! All the old, repressed memories came flooding back with the sight: Pitch and Buster’s killing shack across the tracks; Bendy heading to Muff-Bermingham in the Collagesity rocket Karoz built and her attempts to follow him; Mary’s pregnancy with George. And she’d been wasting all her time wallowing in the idiotic glories of war! Axis and Allies, phmph. There never was a war, she realized. She had been sleepwalking all along.
Fully awake now, she locates the red phone hidden behind the bed that would connect her directly with Baker Bloch. She remembered that piece of the puzzle too. “Call me when the transference happens,” he said while handing it to her over 2 months back. “You won’t remember me again until then. Nor I you. Good luck!”
The phone rings in Baker Bloch’s back pocket. “Excuse me, everyone,” he says, turning slightly red. He never seems to get calls any more and simply forgot to turn it off before The Table meeting. “I’ll just take this over to Perch…”
Tin S. Man smiles broadly as Baker walks past, and Wheeler catches it. “What are you up to giant?” she queries, scrutinizing him. “Besides the 20 foot mark, I mean. Why hasn’t Hucka Doobie shown up yet?”
In thinking how the sentence “Why hasn’t Hucka Doobie shown up yet?” translates to German, Wheeler then realizes who must be on the phone.
the evolution of the couch
“So we’re at the couch now, Mr. Babyface. Do you know who the ring is yet? 450,000 lindens worth of the ultimate 500,000 remain to be paid out. Do you want to be a wealthy man or a poor man, Mr. Face?
What’s this precocious child’s end game? he wondered while puffing rapidly on his pipe. Red Dragon, mmm. So soothing. But, Collagesity to Middletown — it really happened! She really did it. “Wealthy, I suppose,” he then answers.
“Then find Leona and her village full of mechanoid people at the hilltop lakes with the lone star shaped swimming pool and ask for Flo. And also: go *with* the flow. Synchronicity.”
“All right.” He was trying to keep up with her pace, or at least pretend to.
“(And) take Greg Ogden with you. That’s her husband after all. Good cover for you as well.”
“Didn’t know that fact. But: will do. I’ll take Red Boy.”
In fact, Mr. Babyface and Greg Ogden had become quite close during their stay in the Kidd Tower. A common heating system can sometimes bring people together.
COLLAGESTIY 2018 EVEN LATER
“I’ll, let’s see, have a tequila sunrise please.”
“For God’s sake, Greg,” spoke store owner Johnny Thor. “You know this isn’t a bar. I’ve told you a thousand times now, a *thousand* thousand times.”
“That’s ten thousand,” utters Greg Odgen nonsensically. “That’s ten thousand!”
“No. And no! So do you want some coffee? Maybe a comic book? Comic book character (figurine)? Comic book character outfit? ‘Cause I got plenty of those. Just sitting on the shelf, in the rack. Waiting to be sold.”
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” muttered Greg. He turns to his roommate seated in a booth behind him. “What’ll you have, Mr. Babyface?”
Mr. Babyface keeps tapping the table nervously for some reason, like maybe he’s typing on an imaginary keyboard. “Say they’re out of tequila?”
“Um, yeah, I think so.” Johnny emits a sigh.
“Then I’ll just take a beer. Any beer. You choose. Johnny… you choose.”
“That’s it,” spoke an exasperated Johnny. “I’m out of here — closing early. Everyone out. Restocking again.”
“So — you wanna head to the beach next, Gregg?”
There’s something different about Middletown today.
But it’s not quite ready to be shown yet.
“Ahh. This is the life. Eh Gregg?”
“I guess so.”
“Time to oil me up.”
“I want to change further, Axis. I am not happy being me any longer. Look at the women Rhode photographed here. Beautiful.”
“You have changed, Young Ruby,” Axis advised. “You are now Fairy Ruby, a natural extension. And certainly quite beautiful. Natural beauty. Not like these more fake examples in my opinion.”
“Look at what I found on the marketplace,” Ruby declared, and then rezzed a new top. “Another natural extension?”
“No, Ruby. Put that foolish thing away. Fairy Ruby is quite satisfactory to me, and besides, we get to be married to each other as Mr. and Mrs. Claus. At least for a while.”
“Until the end of the season, yes.” Ruby persisted. “But how about this with the top.”
“No Ruby,” insisted Axis, staring at the manifested hair. “You are trying too hard. Let’s go to the upper floors, to the more abstract art. That will cheer you up and inspire you more. Leave these so-called realistic photos behind. They’re affecting your confidence.”
“Alright. But I’m going to test out my new look a little longer.”
“See Ruby? You passed this accident right by. Intermixed red and green again. Back of a Rhode work instead of a front. Sometimes looking at what’s happening behind the stage, for example, gives more information than the play itself.”
Ruby runs ahead, ganders at the front…
… then looks all around the floor. “Huh. I guess you’re right, Axis. Everything is separated out neat and tidy in front. Green in this one. Red over there. Then green with a bit of red but only in one distinct streak, then another two reds and then back to green over here. ‘Green Monster’. The one we talked about before.
“I’m not a monster, you know,” stated synchronized Gregg, sitting at the table opposite Mr. Babyface in their unfinished Middletown penthouse apartment. “I got’s real, true feelings. I like… Bailey’s in a shoe. I like watercolors. Watercolors of Bailey’s.” He pauses thoughtfully in his ranting. “I like you.”
“Oil me up, then.” Accompanied by a small buzzing sound, green Gregg Oden changes over to red Greg Ogden. Mr. Normal.
“Ah so.” But Mr. Babyface had been thinking lately that “normal” Greg(g) could do with a little more monster inside him. Might help their sex life. He dare not try all that out with the monster itself yet; not quite yet. Must keep using oil. No, he must think of other things now.
Has he done 2:01am? He tries to think down through the months.
Permanent Green’s dripping from the brush. No time to go back now.
Finished with his approx. 400th Treasure Hill painting, a satisfied Greg Ogden watches the moon set into the Jeogeot Gulf.
Reversion could come any time. Always does after an oil work.
Flo waits patiently on the park bench below the big eucalyptus for her ex-husband to return to the Kidd Tower. Which one will it be? she wonders. Either way, she plans on getting her just due.
A to Z
“Why did you come here?” Greg Ogden queried his ex-wife Flo. “You know I’m with Mr. Babyface now. Oil me up and all.”
“I know. I’m kind of cool with all that actually. You and The Face. You and *you* and The Face.”
“Middletown’s where it’s at, Flo. Treasure Hill. We get oiled up, we paint, we gear down by looking at the bay, then the next day we start over again. Over and over. And over.”
“And when you’re finished… you’re the monster?”
“Sometimes.” He pauses. “Often,” he admits, which was a lesser lie.
Flo pondered this, guessing it was more than he let on. “You paint to stay sane, then.”
“Maybe,” he replied reflexively. Greg turned, stared at the apartment’s media input with Flo. “‘Hidden Vilage’ is you, you know,” he says, referring to his geometric work portrayed on the screen, completed almost a year ago.
“Red yellow blue perfection. But…”
“… there’s always green to contend with,” she finishes.
Banished to the upstairs apartment, am I, while he and the ex talk. Well (he sighs), might as well make good use of it instead of being all jealous and green eyed, I suppose. Study this Big E again — been a while. Let’s see, where’s Xilted on it again?
Ah so. On the other side. Must spin it around.
“I’ve decided I like this role, Axis, and will stay a while here in Middletown with Mr. Babyface and his two goons.”
Half-Axis considered. “You’re not getting back *together* with…”
“Of course not,” Flo cut off. “Banish that from your mind, love. I’m with you now. At least until Xmas. But you’re a changer too. Better go dance up in New Eden to get back to proper form. In fact, I’ll go with you. I need a little break from Cartoon Town.”
She yelled over the music (The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”) while dancing. “Ahh, this is the life.” She spun around again, then spoke directly over while facing him: “Cross your fingers (she crosses her own fingers here) — I find that treasure before you-know-who gets to it.”
He nodded and continued his frantic gyrations, but the Half-Tropp part remained in place. This was not the right core.
The HI and LO of it.
Oh God, she thinks. *That* one.
void to fill
Could be anyone in this corner where the Kidd Tower originally sat in Middletown. But let’s choose… Dr. Nightwing, a more interesting composite figure.
We could put him in a wearable pool with Paula Butterfly to enjoy the late day sun.
Appears they might be having considerable fun there.
Brazilian Bill (frog) looks on, hoping they’ll talk about town linchpin Tronesisia later on. Because he has some beans to spill.
Who else? How ’bout an apple tree in another corner.
The last one planted by Johnny “Thor” Appleseed in Our Second Lyfe, who, since he’s out of seeds now, is just plain ol’ Johnny Thor, purveyor of a local comic book store specializing in DC and Marvel comics — mainly Marvel. No renegade or underground comics in his place of business mind you. He leaves that for sinister lowlife Oranga Black, dealing on the wrong side of town. Away from the bay as they say.
And lastly: this person.
“So Karl (Karl!). What’s the story with the painting of the little girl with the blue purse?”
“That goes back a looong way, Dr. Superhero. With *blue* bowtie,” he adds on.
“Please, Mr. Bartender. Do tell.”
“I just did.”
He realizes the bowtie is the same as the purse, listening Mystic Girl thinks from the far side of the bar. Both tack ons. But does he realize he *is* the painting now? I created him. I should know.
“Something just happened, Karl.”
“Oh boy,” the furry bartender exclaimed anxiously, and quickly left the scene, claiming to be restocking in back.
Sans bowtie, Casey the Alien ran far far away from the new Middletown establishment hidden inside a native skyscraper, realizing he had been tricked into being.
He even ran into a tree and kept on running. All the way out of this sim.
green, green hills
Chip Westerhouse was the first guard posted at the newly built and still unoccupied women’s addition to the Cheri State Military Prison prison bordering Linden protected Xilted. His assignment required he not move from his post…
… but he did have this great view to contemplate while standing still for so long.
Supergal Flo looked on from afar, wondering how many alternate realities she’d have to manipulate in order to stay out of that hideous place for any length of time.
“I think I’ve lost my way, sir,” addressed Casey the Alien to serviceman Bill Pill. “Can you help me get back home?”
“First hall to the right, first door on the left,” Bill offered without needing further details. He’d seen all this before.
“I’ve lost my way, sir,” Bill repeated to the person opposite him, who was also the same as him. “I need to find my way back home.”
The other Casey leaned forward, staring straight ahead with black, smoldering coals for eyes. “I don’t *need* anything.” He kept staring until the other acquiesced.
“Neither… do I,” the Casey on this side then spoke. He was home.
Casey One Hole waits in his chair for the actual visitor today. A woman named Ruby. Something about a prison breakout. And cherry tarts.
The other prisoners wait patiently as well.