Friday, 13-Oct-00 18:00:07
The green and yellow eye slid out of view, and, just after, a rumbling began as Darwin and I suddenly found ourselves rising into the returned blue sky, the brown reality that formerly enclosed us falling away in slow motion all around, like pieces of shattered window panes. Correspondingly, the formerly undifferentiated brown ground beneath us gave way to what appeared to be a huge metal hand of some sort, cold and roughly corrugated. Turning around, I was shocked to see the source of the hand: a giant robot-like creature, perhaps several thousands of feet high and made almost entirely of the same polished metal as the hand, towering over us and glinting brightly in the noonday sun. As I continued to stare dumbfounded, it dawned on me that, taking into account the distorting perspective, the thing looked amazingly like the Tinman from the original illustrations of L. Frank Baum’s *The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.* The obviously perceived differences were two: the aforementioned yellow and green eyes, which stared fixedly down at us, and the raised letters W-A-K-E prominently displayed in a half-circle across its chest, in the style of old-time basketball jerseys. As I continued to stare and study, no change in the giant’s expression was seen, and outside of the slow upward movement of its hand, no life at all was displayed.
I looked at Darwin, as usual, for an explanation. Darwin was looking at me and not the entity towering above us, as if gauging my reaction to it. I didn’t like this at all; it made me feel like some kind of pinned butterfly in a collection. It was then I noticed the shape, if not the color of his eyes were eerily similar to that of the robot’s. Breaking away from his silent stare, I cautiously walked over to the edge of the metal hand and scanned the valley we were slowly rising from. We were about 50 feet above the waterfall with the wooden viewing platform now, but I could see no evidence of any type of hole nearby signifying our rescue from the brown underworld, nor any damage to the platform we were on when entering that strange dimension. I did notice now from this better vantage point a second larger waterfall just downstream, larger and more cascading–not the straight drop of the one directly below. Remembering the pacing Lion and Tiger on either side of the stream in-between these waterfalls, I strained to see if they were still there, to no avail.
“It’s no use searching, they’re gone,” Darwin said, finally breaking his silence and, once again, guessing my thoughts. “We’re in the 2nd corruption now. Hence the wake up call. He nodded toward the giant behind us, apparently referring to the letters on its chest. “He’s what you could call the salvific force, the top of the triangle.”
More Pythagorean psychobabble, I thought frustratedly. “What’s next then?” I asked. “Do just keep going up and up slowly into infinity?” My tone betrayed weariness at the continual bizarre twists and turns we had faced. It seemed we had been away from the Satie tribute concert several weeks now, although in reality it had to be much shorter. Still, I was tired, and hungry. Very hungry, I suddenly realized.
“Well, it’ll take us a while to get to the moon, that’s for sure,” said Darwin. “It’s waaaay up there, maybe, um, even two miles or so. Maybe even a little more.” He look at the moon, as if trying to determine its distance from us with the naked eye. “Several days travel at least, perhaps as much as for the Apollo astronauts.”
I quickly explained to Darwin that the moon is, of course, much much further than that from Earth, and that we’d certainly never get there in our lifetime at this slow pace. “You’ve got to remember we’re in a different dimension here,” he replied sharply. “The old rules don’t apply.” He then became silent again, his attention riveted by the face of the impassive giant looming over us. I got the suspicion they were passing some kind of secret information between their eerily similar eyes. I leaned back against the high part of the palm, trying to relax a bit.
“Hey baker!”Darwin suddenly shouted after a long dry spell, shocking me out of my cat nap. Once more he was uncomfortably staring at me. “Let’s play a game!” he continued loudly. “Just to pass the time you know…while we wait. We’ve got quite a long time to kill as I said before. Do you like 20 Questions? I love 20 questions. I’ll go first…just to warm you to the game. Let’s also just play with people and not places or things, to make it easier. We should have played this back in brown world. Didn’t think about it for some reason. 20 questions! 20 questions!!”
After fleetingly wondering what sponge would taste like, even if uncooked and without any seasoning, I relented. “What the heck,” I said. “Shoot…give me your worst.”
Through a combination of grogginess and lack of interested on my part and obscure choices on his part, I admittedly did not come close to guessing any of Darwin’s selected people, although he extended the questions way past the allotted 20 in each case (at the same time, reminding me *exactly* when the traditional 20 were up in his gloating, sarcastic way). His answers were, in order: General Henry Robert, who wrote a parliamentary procedure book called *Robert’s Rules of Order;* retired basketball forward Larry Nance, formerly of the Cleveland Cavaliers (“the sidekick,” Darwin called him for some reason); 19th Century American naturalist writer Hamlin Garland; and then, most obscurely, what Darwin called the Fouke Bigfoot Monster from Arkansas. I told Darwin that I should get a turn now thinking up people in his looser-keeps-guessing game, since I’d never heard of the monster and I doubted it was famous in the least…not to mention it wasn’t really a person. After arguing back a bit, saying that several popular movies had been made about it, he relented. I gave what I thought might be a tricky one to begin, Judy Garland, since Darwin had already used her last name in one of his answers. Much to my bafflement, Darwin had it in two guesses as follows: “Is it a woman?” and “Is it Judy Garland?” Stunned, I told him I should have given him my second choice instead, movie monger Ted Turner. “That would have been my guess if it was a man,” he quickly replied . At that point I threw up my hands in surrender. Darwin was not very fun to play games with, I concluded.
After this failed attempt at entertainment, the rest of our journey passed mostly in silence, although there was a period quite a bit later where Darwin explained all his labyrinthine theories about the Paul-is-Dead Beatles hoax. Although he knew I wasn’t really listening, Darwin went on and on about it, going through the evidence in each successive Beatles albums, and then through the majority of the *solo* Beatles albums, most of which I knew he was making up by that point (I was *really* beginning to long for a taste of raw sponge then!). But by that time it was evident that Darwin didn’t fib about the moon being much closer, and that cheered me considerably–gave us a goal. Despite our slow pace, it now loomed quite large in the sky, with its craters clearly outlined. Contrastingly, the sun hadn’t appeared to move from its relative position, even though many hours had obviously passed and, logically, it should be setting or have set. This also seemed to corroborate Darwin’s theory about us being in some kind of slower dimension. As for the giant, at the time of Darwin’s Beatles monolog we were about level with its head, and although its eyes had followed us through our entire ascent, outside perhaps a slight dilation in its eyes as they turned more toward the sun to follow our upward progress, no discernible change in the placid facial expression could be detected. The times I brought the giant up to Darwin, he waved it off, stating it was merely a launching device and not important in itself.
After another day’s travel perhaps, one of the craters began to separated out from the others as we continued to zoom into the moon. The crater, more square shaped than most, also harbored within it an odd x-shaped mountain, presenting the appearance of a target almost. In coming closer a dimple was discerned in the middle of the x, which gradually resolved into a bowl shaped indentation, perhaps 500 feet across. At its center was what appeared to be a small pool of some sort of liquid, although I knew no such liquid was suppose to be found on the moon. Still the hand that held us, perhaps extending itself about as much as it could now judging from the full extension of the robot’s arm, kept pressing upward toward the pool.
About 50 feet from its rippled but clear surface, I was flabbergasted to, once again, see our doppleganger figures–Darwin and I that is–staring back at us from just inside the pool, as if they were leaning over to peer at their reflection.
This time the transference happened almost instantly.
Helen Keller Afterglow
Thursday, 19-Oct-00 11:09:43
The hike into the cave was harder than anticipated. The journey to the center of the x seemed to take forever–cave miles I guess you could call it. In places the passage dipped steeply, making it necessary to grapple on rocks to descend. Water often flowed along the passage as well, which made me curse the fact I hadn’t worn waterproof footwear. In other ways, however, I was more prepared: I had an extra flashlight and batteries in my pack, as well as an ample lunch.
About an hour into my hike, having descended into a deep pit, I thought I was at the center. There was a small pool of water at the bottom, as the park brochure described would be at this center, but I could find no side passages to mark the other arm of the x, despite much scrambling about the surrounding rocks. Frustrated, I pressed on, determined to turn around if I didn’t find anything within the next 30 minutes or so. One thing I knew for certain is that I didn’t want to get lost in there; this particular cave was not the most popular destination in the park, and chances were good I wouldn’t be rescued for awhile, perhaps days.
About 10 minutes past the false center I noticed a faint light ahead of me. Thinking I had somehow circled back to the entrance of the cave, I picked up my pace, actually relieved that my mission may have to be aborted. The whole idea of finding some kind of escape from my predicament at the cave’s crossroads seemed rather silly now that I was in the midst of enacting it. But as I passed into a room where the light was much stronger, a pool appeared before me, perhaps 25 to 30 feet across. I knew instantly that this was the real center of the cave. Queerly, the light seemed to be emanating from inside the pool, as if from underwater spotlights such as one would find in public fountains. The whole central room was dimly illuminated by the resulting light. I then I noticed two figures against the wall to my right.
“Baker!” I shouted in disbelief, my voice echoing loudly through the cave’s corridors, “…and…Darwin!?”
“Hello Willie,” baker replied, nonchalantly waving his hand. Darwin, although staring intensely at me with his bulging cartoon eyes, remained silent. Again, I wondered how someone could possibly fit into a costume like that, especially given those thin legs.
“*Well*…what in Sam Hill is going on?” I asked, dismayed at their presence. “And just *who* is that?”
“You know Darwin don’t you…from the funeral.”
“I *know* that,” I said. “Who’s in the costume I mean? What kind of elaborate joke are you pulling here?”
Baker merely shrugged. “You’ll have to ask the ringleader,” he said, thumbing toward the man-sponge to his side.
I was about to protest some more, when Darwin suddenly spoke up. “Go to the pool,” he commanded, his fixed stare, which I knew had to be part of a mask, giving me the creeps anyway. “That’s what you’re here for after all…isn’t it? Go look.”
So I went to the edge of the pool and bent down. I could not tell exactly what I was viewing at first because it was so surreal. Although the water was exceptionally clear, I couldn’t make sense of what was on the bottom: it looked like some kind of tiny colored insects next to a large rippled blue rock whose surface seemed strangely unstable. Then the correct perspective suddenly kicked in as my eyes adjusted, and I knew what I was staring at….the ocean! And the tiny colored dots…people! People at the beach! In figuring this out, two objects on the beach, however, still puzzled me, both large ovoid shaped yellow platforms of some kind containing green circles for centers with smaller black circles in the middle of these. Rationalizing them as some kind of oddly shaped and colored buildings or perhaps tents, I then noticed a rope ladder to my immediate left, the near end of which dangled about 30 feet below the surface of the pool and the other end out of sight far below. The ladder was ascending slowly toward the surface of the pool…I had the feeling that when it broke through, I could use it to climb down and escape this entrapping reality. I realized this is why I came here, to find this door out of Carter County. I had no idea *why* it was here, but this is what I was attracted to. Somehow I *knew* it would be here.
“Like what you see eh,” Darwin said slyly behind me. “Well, perhaps this make things even clearer.” Upon turning around to see what he was talking about, I saw some kind of small pink lozenge whizzing toward me. My fumbling attempt to grab it failing, the lozenge splashed into the water, sinking and spiraling down toward the beach while leaving a pink trail behind as it began to dissolve.
“Butterfingers,” Darwin said reprovingly, and walked over to me holding another of the objects, this time planting it firmly in the palm of my hand. “Suck on this and take another look then,” he said. I put it in my mouth, noticing that baker seemed to be happily gnawing on a lozenge of his own. I turned back to the pool.
The scene had completely changed. The two yellow and green ovoids that had puzzled me before turned into the yellow and green eyes of a giant robot-like creature, impassively staring at me. The ocean and beach had given way to an even deeper, greener landscape, perhaps a mile down this time, which the robot appeared to be standing on. In contrast, its outstretched hand was just beneath the pool, huge in perspective in taking up about half the resulting view. The robot’s hand and arm were in the same place as the ladder had been before, and, like the ladder, they were slowing moving toward the pool’s surface. At the center of the hand I could just make out what was apparently the same pink lozenge that had fallen into the pool, a small whiff of pink smoke alerting me to its presence.
As I continued to stare at the lozenge, something even stranger happened, the thing I dreaded most actually. I separated in two, becoming both one with the lozenge and standing above it in the cave. I simultaneously visualized and was the same as some kind of fixed pattern of umber and cream colored images inside the lozenge, each one rapidly replacing the other, as in a slide show. This rapid transformation seemed to be tied into the fact that I did not want to *choose* or *fixate* on any of the single images–I seemed to be causing the rapid flipping in other words. The same two images reappeared over and over: a tuxedoed man playing a grand piano and a 1960s style Plymouth car–but in two different colors of umber and cream, with these different colors also reversing the position of the image in respect to each other. Thus four images altogether. The patterning was some kind of code, binary code, that was accelerating. Somehow I felt this acceleration as four stages of doubling numbers, which were simultaneously 1-2-4-8 and 1-4-16-64.
With the completion of the last and, by far, the fastest stage, 16-64, the gap between my two selves suddenly snapped shut and I found myself back in the cave. Backing away from the pool as the dissolved pink from the lozenge bubbled violently to the surface, the robot hand, now melded with the lozenge, shot into the pool as one of the four images physically manifested: the cream colored 60s Plymouth. Water spilled out of the pool with the sudden displacement, temporarily flooding the cave. Dazed (and cursing my lack of boots again), I watched agape with Darwin and baker as the waves died down and the car stabilized its bobbing.
“Time, I guess,” Darwin then said shakily, “to make the *correct* deposit, the one unfulfilled–*unfilled*–before. I’ve dreaded this moment, postponed it through our journeys in the Great Valley, but it had to catch up with me eventually as four became one again.” He then turned toward baker. “It was a fun ride to be sure bake, although terribly short. But I thank you for the company and for putting up with my eccentric ways.” Darwin then turned toward the car in the pool again, and, before my very eyes, transformed into a purple martin bird, the very type that his twin cousin Martin Allen was wearing a costume of at his mock funeral (twin cousin I remember thinking then…what an odd concept). Simultaneously, the trunk of the now stabilized car in the pool popped open to reveal a blinding white light coming from inside. Faint piano music could also be heard–Satie’s “Vexation” again. The bird then flew from its position in-between baker and I directly into the light. I watched as it glided effortlessly in the encompassing brilliance, the music repeating the same tune as the figure gradually diminishing in size until disappearing altogether.
Very abruptly, the trunk then slammed shut. The room was now totally and utterly dark and lacking in sound; this lack of sensory input frightened me much more than anything I had experienced up to that point. Terrified, I groped for the extra flashlight in my pack, still not hearing anything even with the resulting rustling that should have been present. It was only when I turned on the flashlight that sight and sound (the clicking on of the light) simultaneously reappeared. Turning my light to the pool, I found no sign of the car anywhere, and I also noticed that the floor was completely dry now as well, which would be impossible given what just happened. Shifting the light to my right I was relieved to find a strangely composed baker still standing against the wall, silently engrossed in counting something off on his fingers.
“Carolina, State, Wake…” I heard him then mutter, seemingly oblivious to my presence and touching his fingers again in order, beginning with the index. He paused to look toward the dark pool again, his counting finger hovering expectantly over the fourth, his pinkie
“…Duke,” he then said in a higher, enlightened register while firmly grasping this last appendage.
I want to immediately relieve what I know is your panic over the disappearance of your son Rupert. By some incredible coincidence, he is with me, having followed the human twins David and Permele to my cottage here outside Marien after leaving your community. Rest assured that he is tired but perfectly fine otherwise. I am sending my fastest martin-bird to deliver this to you posthaste.
Unfortunately, temporary poor health makes a personal journey with Rupert to your village inadvisable at this time, to deliver the boy directly into your hands. My guess is that Hobart will want to come and pick him up himself anyway. I am at the same cottage where you visited me before, just off the Old North Road. If Hobart comes, I will be glad to see him again–we can catch up.
On another matter, I would like to present my case that when Hobart or perhaps someone else arrives here, they also take David and Permele back to your village as well. Fall Equinox is only a couple of months away, at which time the polarities of the Portal will reverse, allowing the human twins to return to Earth if they wish. The appearance of Rupert at my cottage, while seemingly a very unfortunate act of youthful indiscretion, may actually be a blessing in disguise in this matter, for I feel that the twins will stay with Rupert until your party arrives, giving me perhaps the needed time to talk them out of his quest to find Brainard. The headstrong David will be the tougher sell; Permele worships her brother and will most likely agree to whatever he decides.
I know that you and Hobart, as well as the Bobos in general, believe that people only come through the Portal to Mayland because of a supposed summons from Brainard, and that they must heed this call and seek him out. As you well know, I’ve never fully bought into this idea, and grow even more skeptical about it over time. To support my views on this matter, I would like to point out that large, scholarly works on the proposed senility of the Brainard head have been published recently in Altana (scandalous material indeed in some quarters!), as well as for the existence of Brainard-like creatures on other planets in our galaxy arm, especially in the Vega-Lyra system. In other words, support among our intelligentsia continues to wane for the idea of Brainard as a unique entity–a God, as the Bobos believe–and wax for the concept that he/it is merely what may be the last of an ancient race of highly psychic, incredibly long-lived, but nevertheless quite mortal creatures. I would also like to point out that these published articles can be found on the Academie de Marien limited I-Net site, as I assume the higher Bobo educational facilities have access to. I myself have taken part in the study of the Leo Petroglyphs translations found only about 15 miles from my cottage, which play a role in supporting the aforementioned Vega-Lyra connection [I-Net site address deleted]. I will be glad to share more details of this research with you at any time, or with others of your tribe for that matter.
If you decide to come with Hobart then I suppose I’ll see you in a couple of days. It will be wonderful to talk again. If not, I will try to stay in better touch than I have. I hope you’re still working on the novel a bit; I’d love to see what you have now sometime.
Well, I guess I better get this note off. I’m certainly glad to be the harbinger of good news like this!
Hitchcock paused, then set quill pen back into its well on his desk. He thought of the little white lies within his letter: the claimed inability to travel, the forced reference to happiness in seeing Hobart again. They would see through these smoke screens most likely, but it didn’t matter. The bottom line was that he still loved Alma, even after all these years. Her marriage to Hobart was, in truth, totally devastating for him, and he knew the relationship with his old friend could never possibly be the same again. Alma was the perfect woman, and he should have been her perfect man, her Noz. What would she think of him now, with all this gained weight, he thought; the puffy, red face; the dark, sunken eyes. Would he still see a glimmer of love from her eyes, or would that be used up as well, without even the glowing aftereffects of the supernova that was and is Darwin.
Painfully, he returned to the defining moment, the place where perfection turned unexpectedly and irrevocably sour. He was there when Darwin emerged from her; it happened right before his very eyes. Upon the first horrific appearance of the deformed square head Hitchcock knew what had happened–the Rainbow Glance and the whole imbued philosophy of Noz gone incredibly wrong, creating not a fusion of Bobo and Icobian–a diamond-man or a perfect [Adam], as he and Alma had planned–but something vastly different, more monster than man. The wrong set of probabilities locking in upon the refracting passage from death to life, from white purity to colored time-space. Like a child replaced by his evil doppleganger. I hope Darwin is happy in whatever dimension he is living in right now, Hitchcock then thought. Perhaps, somehow, a greater good will come from all of it.
He then began to muse about Darwin’s half-brother Rupert, found outside his cottage window just yesterday, and while Hitchcock was showing David and Permele the holographic TILE painting no less, the one Alma gave to him for his birthday…a going away present as it turned out. Dare I tell Rupert about his brother? he thought. Certainly he is much too young right now, but perhaps when his mind and body grows stronger. Perhaps Rupert will seek out his brother to discover the truth of what went on…what went wrong. Perhaps *he* has the ability to become the Noz that Darwin and I failed at.
With this thought, Hitchcock settled back in his chair, a old, almost forgotten calm coming over him as he awaited the arrival of the summoned martin-bird. Rupert as Noz–it began to make sense to Hitchcock. One child replacing another.
Meanwhile, in the guest bedroom, part of Hitchcock’s plans were being foiled by the children David and Permele at that very minute, who were whispering their goodbyes to Rupert as they continued their journey toward Brainard.
“Remember Rupert, you promised not to wake Hitchcock until we’re a safe distance away, a couple of hours at least.” The bobo child Rupert, a full head smaller than even Permele, nodded silently, his big brown eyes shining brightly in the moonlight coming from the window. David extended his hand to Rupert, who meekly took it.
“Goodbye my friend,” David said. “Perhaps our paths will across again sometime.” Permele also extended her hand to Rupert, who was now crying. Although he’d only known the twins for several days, he felt very close to them…a feeling shared by the twins for him as well. One brief final wave and then David and Permele were gone. Despite their hopes, Rupert would never see David again, and although he and Permele would meet again in the far future, the human girl would be much transformed by her contact with Brainard.
“I…I don’t think you should go,” Rupert wanted to call as they were leaving–shout it from the window in fact, which he knew would also alert Hitchcock to their departure. “I think Fred is right, that there is danger ahead!” But his mind was still that of a small child, and he thought that David and Permele, even though they were also children, knew best since they were older. He sat in the moonlight at the window for a long time, thinking of where they were going, and then, more glumly, of his own predicament, and about his father’s inevitable coming for him. He became more nervous with this, and desired again to go to Hitchcock for comfort, but still managing to keep David’s request of a good head start foremost in his mind. He silently waited in the darkness, forcing his muscles into frigid acquiescence despite continued protests by native conscience and instinct alike. Finally, after what seemed like days instead of hours, he released himself, slowly moving first the fingers, then the feet, arms, legs, and finally rising up from the chair that had seemingly bound him and slowly heading toward Hitchcock’s bedroom.
Rupert regretted this delay of action for the rest of his life.