The Casey/Jones Reunion
“I want to show you something now,” said Darwin, looking into the viewing machine and simultaneously adjusting a dial on its top. “Yes…there it is. Come and look.”
I went over and exchanged places with Darwin at the machine. What I saw appeared to be another wooden viewing platform, very similar to the one we were on, and also with a similar binocular viewing machine, turned in our direction. The platform stood on the lip of what appeared to be a waterfall that faced away from us. I backed away from the lens and tried to spot the platform down in the valley with the naked eye, to no avail.
“Did you see them?” Darwin then asked.
I looked blankly over at Darwin, who then said, “You have to be here in the moment. This Point in time. Here,” he said, handing me a small pink lozenge. “Suck on this; it’ll probably do the trick for now.”
I took the lozenge and put it in my mouth, almost instantly feeling a sense of centeredness long forgotten, like someone had turned up the lights in a room that had unknowingly been too dark.
“Ok, *now* look through the machine,” Darwin said, sensing the needed effect had kicked in. In returning my attention to the view in the binocular machine I now saw two people on the platform, one looking through the machine at us and one, shorter and having an odd square shape, beside him.
“It’s us!” I said, amazed, recognizing the figures. Shocked, I pulled away from the machine and looked at Darwin.
“Yes, the receptors. The valley is actually holographic, and, knowing the tricks, you can travel through it almost instantly, riding the energy lines. This is the real purpose of this machine, although no one but me remembers it apparently. The Great Jasper Plague still in full effect you see. That lozenge helps combat it. Now look through the machine again and I’ll show you how it’s done.”
I again peered through the machine at our small figures, who looked back at us in like fashion.
“Still there?” Darwin asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Ok, then making sure that you have one final really good look at them, swivel the whole viewing machine slowly until you are facing the exact opposite direction from where you are now.”
I scrutinized the two figures intensely, studying their clothing, the way they postured themselves, the rapt expression on Darwin’s face as he looked at me. I then began to turn the machine slowly around, and the platform became a blur of color. It then refocused itself as I fully turned the machine around in the opposite direction. Remarkably the same figures on the same platform returned–the same clothing, posturing, etc., but the setting was now different: the platform was now perched on top of a large rock wall facing us from the side of a mountain.
I instinctively took my eyes away from the machine to see what had happened. Remarkably, the view in front of me was now that of a range of high mountains far in the distance. Furthermore, in turning around, I found that instead of being on top of a rock face overlooking a vast valley, we were at the top of a large waterfall that offered only a limited view of the stream in front of it. Two animals were pacing in opposite directions on either side of the stream below the waterfall. I recognized them as the Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger of Oz, now separated at the hip.
“And I am you and what I see is me,” Darwin said enigmatically. “Pitcher becomes catcher. Round becomes round becomes round.” He made a circular motion with his finger. “The Uroborous.”
I looked around, trying to regain my bearings. I could tell the effects of the lozenge were helping me with this. The pacing animals below the waterfall interested me most.”
“Those guys,” I said, pointing to them. “They seem, um, agitated.”
“They are!” exclaimed Darwin. They’re mad because Hip has been replaced by Stream, specifically Jordan’s River. It is the result of the 1st Corruption, the creation of Oz…the half world where Lion and Tiger remain separate creations.”
As I continued to stare at the pacing animals, the scenery suddenly blurred again, just as in the binoculars. But this time, it was rotating as well. I blinked my eyes several times to make sure this wasn’t an aftereffect of our incredible transport into the valley, but the view remained blurry while, at the same time, increasing in rotation.
“Ok, *not* to panic” Darwin said in a slightly shaken voice, apparently experiencing the same phenomenon. “I knew was going to happen, but I had forgotten…I didn’t *want* it to happen, understand, but I foresaw the possibility. It’s Willie’s influence, from the other post. Because he’s viewing *us,* it’s breaking down our reality here. But this time the effects are spherical–another dimension added. And you know what that means. Crazy dream hermits dead ahead!”
The rotation of the landscape kept accelerating all around me, no matter which direction I looked. At a certain point, however, after a peak of vertigo where I felt like I was going to faint, the rotation became so fast as to transmute into static calm, like the acceleration of blades when a cooling fan is started. At this point the landscape dissolved into uniform brownness. We appeared to be in a formless void.
“All right, calm down Darwin,” Darwin said to reassure himself. “Calm, calm, calm.” He was beginning to look very pale. “After all,” he said, ” it’s not like we’re dead or anything. A sad state indeed but not dead.” He looked up at me, laughing nervously. “We’ll just have to wait for one of *them* to come rescue us.”
We waited for what appeared to be hours, maybe days. All the time, Darwin kept checking his watch and mumbling to himself, something about Santa and a guy named John, and how he didn’t understand why they couldn’t get along. Suddenly, a flash of metal exploded above us as a giant slash was created in the brown void, revealing a portion of the overcast sky once more. Then, seconds later, a giant eye with a green cornea and yellow iris slid into view in the gash and centered itself, peering down at us.
“Bout darn time,” Darwin said, checking his watch again.
X Marks The Spot
Okay…my new suspicion, becoming more justified with each passing day, is that baker doesn’t intend to send my wife and dogs up to live with me at all now. I’m not saying that he didn’t originally plan to do this; it’s just he’s changed his mind somewhere along the way. For one thing, he seems to be dragging his feet on getting that promised rental unit over in Olive Hill, for me to be closer to the caves (as of today, I’ve been living out of my office for 3 weeks now!). Perhaps it’s because he wants me to work in isolation on this whole Sophie project–the purity factor, as he likes to call it. Perhaps it’s because I refused another name change for my wife, and therefore she doesn’t fit in with the rest of the county conjunctions of Willard, Beetle, Sophie, etc., etc. Whatever the reasoning, I won’t go for it, and I think baker is beginning to realize that now.
On my actual work: although I certainly still respect “Sophie’s No. 9,” the synch admittedly wears a bit thin upon watching it over and over for weeks at a time. And my computer analysis of it and the inclusive *Sophie’s Place* hasn’t turned up much of anything either…no solid leads, at all, into how the S.M.S Project got started from all this. This project is, after all, my *real* interest in moving here in the first place. The required reading and subsequent self-dramatization of “Dump,” which stars the original Willard, among others, didn’t turn up anything either. Perhaps a total waste of time, to be honest, and, besides, I think baker’s higher octave BTA is quite a bit better, combining fiction *and* fact, the 2 sides of his creativity. But the numbers crunching has not halted on these hypothetical S.M.S. grass roots projects…I’m still looking for new angles of research as of now.
Against Baker’s wishes, and probably due to the frustrations listed above, I’ve admittedly begun working on my Jordan shorts again, symbolically rejoining the Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger and removing Oz/Altoona from the picture. Baker found out about this transgression through the psychic alteration I caused in his 2nd Darwin post–how was I to know I’d change the posts simply by pulling them up on my computer and reading them! In attempting to compromise our creative realms, baker surprised me last night by proposing a shared web site, stating our respective Jordan synchs could be viewed as complementary instead of antagonistic. Overarching this idea would be the framework of two friendly, neighboring counties, specifically Carter County and Elliott County (his and my Jordan groups), with the essential bridge being Elliott Carter, specifically his music–two county names joined together as one, as it were. One problem: like a lot of bakers ideas, it’s just too darn loopy. Another stumbling block: from what I’ve heard of it, I don’t even really *like* the music of Carter–too cerebral and modernist for this down-to-earth kind of guy. So I’m going to have to turn down the idea down. I don’t know if it’s the last hope or not for baker and I to meet on some type of common ground, but I’m turning the offer down anyway.
I miss my wife and dogs. I miss laying all weekend on the beach under the hot Georgia sun. Bottom line: I’m starting to feel like I want out of all this, this whole storyline. I think baker senses my despondency, and may be downloading corrective options into future S.M.S. programs in case of my departure. In his last communique to me he mentioned that one of the local Carter Caves is, queerly, in the shape of a giant “x.” There’s an old saying that “x marks the spot,” and I think this may be true here as well, especially given the resonance with Darwin’s Planet X obsession. I know it sounds odd, but I have a strong hunch that the “x cave” has something to do with baker’s aforementioned portal to the ocean, the one legend claims lies within a Carter cave. I may find out soon enough if the myth has any type of reality to it, for I plan to camp out in the state park over at Olive Hill and explore the cave this weekend Perhaps I can look at some local rentals while I’m over in that side of the county as well…but I know my heart won’t be in it. I think I’ll just skip that part, come to think of it.
Perhaps it’s boiled down to the cave or nothing at this point.
Top O’ The Falls
The twins enjoyed playing croquet in the warm afternoon sun, and were much more receptive to Hitchcock’s ideas upon returning indoors.
Htichcock took as his new starting point the game TILE, which he entertained the twins with directly after a delicious supper of baked fish sticks and spice rice. The children found its basic set up similar to monopoly: in both games one’s piece travels in a continuous loop around a board over groups of brightly colored squares or “tiles,” the object being to capture or acquire these tiles and hopefully form a monopoly of the groups via trade-offs or other strategies. However, in TILE each of these individual playing tiles represents not property, as is the case of the playing squares in monopoly, but successive letters of the English alphabet, grouped together in a certain way to spell out, in giant letters across the board, the word T-I-L-E, with each of these overarching letters colored one of the four rainbow colors. A difficult board to describe, so I’ve provided a picture of it here.
Each tile in the game is “captured” by giving an example, within the parameters of one chance selected subject, that starts with the same letter as that of the tile one lands on it, for example, “dog” for the tile “d” in the subject “animals.” This is the rudimentary idea of the game anyway. Although Hitchcock and the twins used the same alphabet (Hitchcock would explain this oddity to them later), being from different worlds they shared a limited number of proper nouns, and this made the actual playing of the game a little cumbersome, with many rules broken or bent along the way. Still the twins greatly enjoyed playing, continually making remarks, for example, about the interesting board design.
It was during the switchover between the two levels of the game, the introductory Mundane Level and the advanced Special Level, that Hitchcock again found an opening into the Brainard topic. David had just landed on the ending “e” tile of the big letter “I” of T-I-L-E, & correctly guessed the word emu in the rolled category of birds (emu verified for Hitchcock as a type of bird by his sister Permele).
“Okay, David…we have something completely different kicking in now,” Hitchcock then said. “You’re passing into the second level of play; you are…like the poison of croquet from this afternoon. Interesting coincidence, come to think of it.”
“Then…can I take my piece and go wallop Permele’s piece off the board?” David asked, glancing over at his sister and laughing.
“That’s not funny!” Permele reprimanded, thinking how David knocked her croquet ball deep into the high weeds behind Hitchcock’s house with his poisonous ball during the afternoon game.
“No, it’s not quite that similar to croquet,” Hitchcock said, smiling. “But as you become what we can call ubiquitous in poison, able to attack anyone at anytime, you can similarly move outside of time & space in the Special Level, able to travel *through* the dimensions that Permele and I still are trapped in.”
“Ubiquiwhat??” David asked, not understanding Hitchcock’s gist.
“Just like you were the first to finish the croquet game this afternoon,” Hitchcock continued patiently, “and were thus able to become ‘poison’ to the rest of us, so now you’re the first to capture the ending ‘e’ tile of ‘I’ and are similarly ubiq…uh, *ever present.* This is because this ‘e’ tile has now acquired all the properties of the larger ‘E’ on the board containing 8 such sized tiles within it. The flow of the board is now different for you than us. While we are still stuck in the mundane direction of ‘I’ to ‘T’ to ‘E’ to ‘L’ and so on, following the successive letters of the alphabet in order, you are now able to travel ‘I’ to ‘E’ to ‘T’ to ‘L’ through the 3 dimensions we’re stuck in.” Hitchcock punctuated his remarks by stabbing the indicated letters with his index finger.
“I mean I can ace a test with the best of ‘em, but I still ain’t gett’n what you’re saying,” David said, his hand balled up under his chin, trying hard to understand. Permele, slouching back in her chair, seemed equally perplexed. Noting their eagerness to understand, Hitchcock excused himself for a minute to go back into his sleeping chambers. When he returned, he held a large framed picture, dusty from many undisturbed years of storage. Cleaning it off a bit with a rag, he then propped it up in the seat of the chair beside him.
“Oh, that’s a beautiful picture Fred,” cooed the now attentive Permele. “But that waterfall…it doesn’t make any sense! The water falls…to the bottom and then somehow seems to flow down further but then–poof!–you’re at the top again with no warning.”
David was also studying the picture closely. “Oh, I see,” he said after a moment. “It’s a trick. The, um, column thing.”
“Yes, a trick,” replied Hitchcock. “But yet the waterfall actually exists…exist*ed*…in a valley just to the north of here, on a different tributary of the [Jordan’s] River than the one we’re situated very close to. Notice the bobbing colored letters in the current are the same as the four giant TILE letters on the board…they were actually there as well. This waterfall is, in fact, the true source of the game before us. It *is* TILE. But now it’s divided into two separate falls, to help curb the self-absorbing power of Brainard. You see, the waterfall also was Brainard, in a holographic kind of way.”
David was closely inspecting the letters now, watching as the blue ‘E’ made its way back to the bottom of the waterfall, at each bend of the channeled current losing another interior tile in its transformation through green ‘T’, red ‘L’, and finally yellow ‘I.’ Then, at the bottom of the waterfall, the yellow ‘I’ quickly zipped back up the fall, reacquiring all the tiles it had lost in turning into ‘E’ again at the top. A continual circuit that, although defying any logical explanation, made perfect sense in an aesthetic, emotional way.
“So you see children,” Hitchcock then said, getting to his main point, “if you see this waterfall as Brainard, you *can’t* understand him. Thus encountered, he would strip you naked, just like he strips the ‘E’ down to the ‘I’ in this waterfall. And at the very bottom you would become his. We, the people of Mayland, divided the waterfall, but Brainard himself still has this power, the ability to absorb everything that comes within eyeshot. He is able to travel through the dimensions, the corruptions, and make 4 become 1 again. Thus while we have to earn our way into the Special Level, he exists there continuously. He is the Uroborous, the taileater. You cannot battle him.”
David, having now watched the whole circuit several times while Hitchcock was talking, zoned in on what he considered its most interesting aspect: the transformation of “T” into “E” behind one of the topmost columns of the structure. The actual transformation between letters, however, remained hidden behind this column. I am this “E,” David thought as he imaginatively placed himself behind this column. I *am* this “E.”