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 Shelley 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 Shelley’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 Shelley.
Cory watched the flames licking out the top of the building, thinking it didn’t have to be this hard. Why I could have blown the place up with my mind easily enough, he thought from his position at the corner of the sandbox. All I need is a pretty good night’s sleep (for energy). Indeed, most of the kids attending Paper-Soap school, merged since ’71, were psychic to a high degree. They didn’t need primitive *physics* to destroy anything. Claude Jr. was behind the times, but he was a robot after all, mere mechanoid. The other kids tried not to make fun of his clunky, nay *dense* ways of thinking, but it was difficult, being kids too after all and not having the moral compass of a fully mature adult. One of their “sloooow” projects in class, as they called it, was the atrophying of the swamp down in the town’s southwest corner. In fact, Cory’s study group had brought up the swamp from lake to sea back down to swamp a good number of times now, and recorded the reactions of the residents living around it. The kids were experimenting on the adults. The kids were in charge. As a sea it flooded the sewer tunnels. Dinah’s bartender Stumpy wondered why he could never get rid of the black mold in the bathroom down there. He ended up just having to derezz the thing.
“Can you point me to the restrooms,” a somewhat tipsy customer asked him in tomorrow’s today. “Just go in the sewer outside like everyone else,” he commanded, wondering if he should bring the issue up to the town council, a council also controlled by kids of course. Their powers were ever-present.
Shelley Struthers knew there were too many birds and other creatures in this *TILE* location to make an unified decision on the matter of Kolya and his holey head. She’d have to look elsewhere for answers. Her thoughts turn toward the castle that will soon perch on an important peak to the north. *Her* castle.
There’s already one in the area, and at about the same altitude on its own, nearby peak. Spacious and beautifully landscaped grounds surround it, which we’re eager to keep exploring. This won’t be the case with Shelley’s castle due to much more limited space to work with but we’ll try our best.
And in the past, another roosted on this higher peak to the northwest. The legendary Rust Never Sleeps.
Jacob I. the lawnmower is still on the same northern peninsula. “Wake up,” Shelley whispers while prodding.
Mine all mine. But what to *do* with it?
Maybe meet the neighbors if possible. The twin castle to mine!
And papa told me to guard this sword with my life. It can’t move! I suppose that means the castle will be derezzed with the sword, since they’re interconnected. Stabber of Lemon, he said. Told me the whole story once when I was small. Oh how I wish he were here to tell it again! My poor papa.
I will make this my room, my home base in the castle. I can look after it better that way.
I need friends! Oh… the other castle… on the peak almost equally as high as my own. Might as well say they’re the same. Papa would know all about it, I suppose.
I will *make* friends in the meantime. Up in my head, I mean. And then they pop up in reality. Like you. Who are you?
“My name is George,” he said to her with his newly minted lips, reading her mind of course. Since it was his mind as well. “And I am your future husband.”
I can’t see the castle on this peak either, Shelley.”
“Silly. There *is* no castle on that peak. Not any more. Not for a long time. The reason you couldn’t see it on the other peak we just looked at is because your draw distance was too short. Don’t you know *anything* about Our Second Lyfe, tee hee?”
“That’s where Ruuster’s castle use to be, though. Some say he was an actual rooster, a creature. Some say he was called that because he *roosted* on the peak, like some kind of bird, rooster or no. My papa taught me that. Said sometimes there’re multiple ways of looking at the same thing and sometimes none is right but at the same time *all* are right. Do you know what I’m saying?”
“Suppose,” he repeated. Shelley started wondering about his brain, and maybe she didn’t finish the boy properly — left holes where thoughts should be, rationalization. “You say… we’re suppose to get married.”
“Um huh.” He was still staring at the empty beige peak, perhaps 50 meters higher than the one they are on. He was staring at himself.
“Can you elaborate? I mean, it’s rather shocking that you know that.”
“I can see the future.” He turns. “You can see the future. We are all angles.”
“Angels?” She purposely misheard him but he didn’t laugh, didn’t get the joke or just didn’t care. Maybe both are right, she realized: angles *and* angels. Are *they* angels?
George turned back to the beige mountain seen through the diamond paned window. “Roost never sleeps. It’s an ironic name, then, because that’s what birds or roosters or whatever are suppose to do when they roost. Sleep.”
Maybe his brain is alright after all. Those are pretty deep thoughts he’s thinking there, she thought, pondering the irony herself. Her daddy had said the same thing. Roost never sleeps, corrupted to rust never sleeps.
George looked down from the peak to the green grounds below. “Well well well, if it isn’t the Wells.” Why did the boy say *that*? Is someone actually approaching? Or was this just more word play?
“They’re trying to find the front door,” he then said. “Better go down and help them”
“The… neighbors?” she guessed. He just stared at her again and then extended his arm. “After you.”
(to be continued)
“You know that’s (*yawn*), my castle up there, Hoppy (stretches arms). This place is soo relaxing.”
Windmill Man, named to be changed soon, realizes he has a lot of time to learn the ins and outs of this here Rooster’s Peninsula, since he plans to stay a while. Does this mean the end of Fordham’s Collagesity down in Lower Austra? Could be. He must confer with town leader Jeffrey Phillips and right hand man Man About Time soon. Couple of weeks. But first…
… the Prog Rock museum down at the neck of the peninsula, and where Shelley (daughter?) recently woke up Jacob I. and allowed him to return. The sleeper has awoken; Roost Never Sleeps.
3 2 1
One year and 2 1/2 months. Herbert can do it.
Jacob I. had fallen asleep once more at the Prog Rock Museum located on the neck of Rooster’s Peninsula. Herbert’s neck hurt again… Anastasia, he thinks. Alysha. Things have changed. She gave him a ring and he gave her one back. It was the only way to end the madness.
He thinks of the Diagonal across the Chalet sub-continent of Bellisaria, as it’s called by many if not most. Snowball in Hell at the center, but heading to Scratchy — reality. Not in a Second Lyfe any longer. Retirement. Wholeness; fulfillment. Perspective.
Collagesity will remain… across the Diagonal and into the Great Beyond at the end. I will not keep Shelley’s Castle on the peninsula, although it’s a perfect *perfect* fit. Hmm.
NOPE. Collagesity should remain.
He extends his draw distance and spies the castle in the distance. It’s the wrong one, but that’s okay. It’s fitting only 1 remains.
resident but perhaps not evil
He waited for the security orb to kick in but it never did. He was INSIDE. Triple number for Hooktip, or close enough — 1 off.
Who to celebrate this occasion with? Why his wife of course: Martha Lamb. Or maybe (since animations are limited)… Shelley. Yes: Shelley.
She was, as usual, speed reading the famous or infamous red book, take your pick. It’s also flame retardant she’s heard.
“Hi Shelley. Sorry to hear about your castle.”
“That’s okay (read read read). There’s another one already there (read read). And Jacob’s I. (read) is asleep back on the bench at the Prog Rock Museum (read read read read read).”
“So I’ve heard.” Sid wanted to ask the obvious. Was this his daughter? ‘Nother one?
Sid was gone. Shelley was all grown up, having been through her Firesign Theatre period (“Piera”) and loving it. “Uncle Meatwad” — soo funny. Queer as well, but mainly funny. Both at once. It was all in the book…
… which was in her eyes now.
(to be continued)
“The Neat Town moss people never received that big squid or octopus and so the red and white lighthouse remained on the green, no one else able to move it, not even jointly,” Kick-ass Boos recites from the top bunker again, joint still in hand, although almost small enough to require pliers. “Dwarfed, they were,” he finished.
Well that’s a nice story, thought Axis-Windmill from the lower bunk bed opposite him. But it doesn’t explain my dream where I lost my hands!
Claude looked over at Paul, realizing if he bent his will there might be no leaving this place, ever. The 20000 lb. lighthouse could not be budged; time to call in reinforcements.
“Sorry I’m late.”
5 til 3! she thought while looking out at the big Hooktip clock tower with her red and white umbrella peepers. I’ve got to get going!
I put on the garb of a white mage tonight, trying to act like I knew what I was doing. I was able to sit down on a diamond shaped plot of good ol’ actual Linden grass in a mainly artificial terrain constructed by the land owner of this little forest here, one Clare Nova. Remember her? Anyway I was smack dab on the Diagonal, at, let’s see, 36, 35. Close enough, as they say. One off of any of the two (or three) numbers is okay — difficult to tell any difference in the, um, energy, quote unquote. “It’s often not what’s right on The Diagonal,” I say to myself almost religiously, “it’s what you *see* from it.” Like that clock in the background Shelley Struthers up in the middle of the sim might be looking at at the same time. Actually, nope, in checking she’s put on that long Pepper shirt she likes now and is starting to brush her luxurious blonde hair (to her) in front of the vanity mirror. One stroke, she counts, two… three. Always 30 and she’s perfectly beautiful, almost as much as Ginger Granite down the lane. She can never get her bearings in this sim for some reason. What was its name?
She splashes water on her face and prepares to face the world.
Today is the day she’s going to get up the nerve to speak to Tommy Tailgate, maybe goad him into asking her out. Goad? How about “guide”? She wants to get better at doing such things. Like Ginger again.
*Shelley*. That was the name of the lane. Like her!
There. Picture perfect.
By 9 o’clock she had him sweeping the floor while she kept reading recipes, trying to decide. One thing she knew, butter would be involved — not glisteny enough now. She floated some toward her from the table.
Peter Cotton wasn’t surprised, because of the hat and all. And he’d heard rumors in the village about witchcraft up on the hill. So when Hatti propositioned him in the streets of VHC City after his shift at the mill he thought he’d give it a try — something new. His current girlfriend Frieda Friendly wasn’t hacking it for him in the bedroom right now. He desired something a bit more, um, magical? Maybe. Different anyway. He didn’t know, he wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he wanted change, and change he would get. If he wasn’t killed first by the dinner.
Peter Cotton was best friends with Tommy Tailgate, who also got propositioned in this merry month of May (or August (or October)). He was also on a date. “Excuse me while I go powder my knees,” said Shelley Struthers later on at her Top o’ the Hill Hooktip apartment containing that ultra mysterious and perhaps ultra powerful triple number of the sim: 135, 135, 135, highest on Heterocera’s Diagonal as a whole, with an old name of Head. There was no Heart now, so the additional description of Head wasn’t needed no longer. There was only one. Art’s place along with the proximate heart is gone. Abandoned land. “You just sit there on the ottoman,” she requested, knowing it would eventually work its magic if he stayed still long enough. 135, 136, 135. Very close. Close enough, as indicated.
Shelley stared into the bedroom mirror and it mysteriously cracked. Didn’t seem like a good omen. Maybe she should have a rethink about her vanity, she rationalized. Go tell Tommy to move from the ottoman to the couch. A calmer, cooler date to begin, yes. And go out to eat as well.
domesticity (Cotton-Tailgate Industries)
By the next spring’s fall we were married, Shelley and me, and even had a realistic looking baby to tote around by then. It was 2 months old and we still couldn’t decide on a name. We didn’t even have a sex for the kid, since those kind of things could also be chosen back in the days before severe power outages ended all that. Afterwards it was deemed best to select before birth, whilst the child was tucked safe in the womb. Sex Stealers didn’t exist then — hard to imagine now since they seem to be around every street corner, peddling their ware. Apples and bananas, that’s all it is these days. The Orangemen some called them, because that’s what each and every one of us had in common and they couldn’t touch, not even on the navel. That was our saving grace all along, although we didn’t realize it before the Big Change.
We were able to acquire a full time, realistic looking chef as well, although he had nothing to cook at the moment. I made good money at the cotton mill, since I owned it now. Part time owner. Along with Peter Cotton himself, the inventor of the world changing cottonpicker by then. Some say we worked our laborers too hard, but his likewise-wife-by-then Henrietta “Hatti” Wilson wanted it that way, said that made them sweat and glisten to her liking. She often sat outside in disguise on a bench at the front door watching them leave the mill after their shift was over and get in their cars to go home to their mostly indifferent wives. Indifference, she sometimes ponders as they all motor away from her, leaving her alone again. It will eventually destroy the Earth and perhaps its Moon along with it. But maybe at least the Moon can be saved — she’s working on it. Malyshkin. The rebirth of Crabwoo.
“Dear, dear, you’re spacing out again. That’s enough milk for today.” Indeed, as I focused and looked down, the toddler’s navel was white with overflow. Better drain a little out before bedtime or else we’ll be up all night again. Oranges and milk: who knew they were the perfect pairing. If only it would have remained that simple.
I looked down then and there. “Julius,” I decided. “Your name is Julius.”
“What was that?” Shelley was still reading the magazine featuring the chair she was rocking in, a kind of mirror world. Now was the time.
“Nothing dear. Just the baby burping.”
She didn’t even reply this time so distracted she was. She was putting herself in that place.
“I had that dream again where your name was George,” she offered at the breakfast table. Toasty-O’s this time. New shape: hexagons. And licorice flavored, yum. Something different, something to spice up the palate. Last night it was fried red tomatoes. Night before — he couldn’t recall. Something with spaghetti and yogurt. Afterwards: salmon flavored ice cream. A lot of times it was all about color, warm mixed with cool. Just like (orange toned) Julius. He gurgled and spat out more milk — happened a lot these days as well. “We’ll have to ween him off the stuff soon,” she said, looking over at the white stain enlarging on his baby blue bib. Because of course Shelley knew now as well. This was a boy. She just didn’t realize when it happened. Like unwanted pregnancies this was an unwanted sex. But it was too late to abort (the name). Julius it is, although Shelley would have preferred a Julia. Sometimes the man still rules the house. Especially with a wife so vain she stares a little too often in the mirror. He can trick her, he can distract. Now what *next*, he ponders from his side of the breakfast table, staring over as she picks up another magazine. He’s planted them all around the house and beyond. Henrietta had taught him well, ha ha. Hehe. Ho.
“Who?” he asked innocently, knowing exactly what his real name was, one he hadn’t revealed to Shelley except in the deepest depths of night.
It was a coastal afternoon sort of day. He tried his luck with a passing fairy who spoke two octaves above him. “Crabwoo?”
“What was that?” she buzzed, and was gone.
“Darn.” He shakes his head. “Fairies,” he utters. “Everyone says they know everything but I haven’t seen nothing yet from the lot of ’em.” He imagines spitting on the ground, this *dreamscape*. He wakes up.
Shelley made it no secret that she wanted another baby. She tried provocative pose after provocative pose for enticement, even buying this giant cat-girl scratching post to aid. “Dear,” she called over to Tommy, reading another magazine at the top. Herself again, of course. “Yes, what is it?” He mixed a dab of indifference into the tone. Hatti’s influence again (of course). She’s a genius at recipes, he thinks often, especially deadly ones. But just plain harmless tasty ones too. Half and… “Dear,” she prompts again, seeing she’s losing him to the dreams. Snores would soon follow if she wasn’t quick. She assumes a different pose to change the scene. She puffs her stomach out to appear like it’s got another baby in it already. This time he takes the bait. But that was his plan all along. Julia here we come!
Out in the yard, the mannequin shuts her ears and eyes, having enough of babies. Where was her own? She didn’t care; she put it out of her mind. Eyela erupts from the ground behind her, another spat-upon fairy.
The front doors remain locked.
It’s time to bring a new character into the picture: Jennifer Lane, twin cousin to our Shelley Lane, right down to the all seeing umbrella eyes. She remembers the bombing, the underground, the… flight.
“Another one, sweetie?” Lichen Roosevelt asked from behind the counter, presently cleaning a glass, perhaps the one she would pour a new drink in for Jenny.
Grasshopper? she thought. No: too obvious.
“Just another stack of potatoes.”
“We can do it too. Go ahead and sit down, honey. Let’s talk.”
“I hear the Toasty O’s are very good here in the morning.”
“Talk,” she requested, not wanting to dilly dally around. “Spill.”
“Cube. We found the cube. In Hook Tender.”
Her mouth became an O. “My… *home*?”
Star trees, he called them, because they had little stars in them, all white of course, add in a little pink.
This was handy, but what about the box that was suppose to be here?
She wore the Pepper blouse-shirt and the Pepper blouse-shirt wore she. The apples inside were hers. She always lamented they were too small. They were exteriorized before she met Lichen. Stalin she was after that. Fern Stalin. And then they found Wendy who turned into Red. They’d analyzed her. They knew what she was. Mirror. And: the cake is a lie.
“Lisa, it’s time to come inside. Mom has finished baking her stack of potatoes. And afterwards: turkey — for the rest of us. Come on and be a good girl and go clean up.” He leans his head down. “I’m sorry for what I said before. You can skip the turkey, we’re all okay with it.” He saunters back around the house.
akin to Pandora’s
I was always the smartest girl in school. I was always first to raise my hand to answer questions from the teacher. But my *brother*… we didn’t know until much later his special special talent. He *couldn’t* be edited. Let me state that again: He *couldn’t*… be *edited*. No wonder he got frustrated by his 2 dimensional family, including me (me!). He was 3d all along, working on a higher plane than us. A *channeled* plane, true, but still: highly psychic, more than the rest of us. I had to step out of myself and turn into Jennifer Lane to understand better. Before, I was Jenny Lane, a kid at Forest Hill School for psychic children. Jacob I. was there a bit later — he went over to Hillside on the other
hill side of town for his elementary years. Now I was grown up; all weedy. But I didn’t smoke pot to get high. Grown up — but I felt my apples were too small. I wanted to exchange them with another’s. Harrison Ford Jett seemed a perfect (imaginary) candidate. I was always a Star Wars fan growing up, not even learning about Star Trek until the 11th grade, almost done in school. My classmates called me Spock but I thought that was because of my glasses, before I got my (umbrella) contact lenses and could read with my eyes. The library remained a far away and fuzzy edifice after that, shrouded in distance producing mists by then. I proceeded forward with my new life with Tommy beyond academia. Family became priority.
A child is born, a child is given. Julius, although I wanted a Julia. Sex happens. Then the second: a mini-me of sorts. I projected into her. When I got my new eyes (in effect) I realized we were the same deep down, where it counts (166). We made a pact: she *became* me and I became her. Then we hid this fact to others in a carefully placed box. Where was this box? (Borneo) We had both forgotten where we hid it. (Borneo) And the umbrella design has a story of its own as well.
Oh dear, that will be the neighbors, the Wells. Rosie or Rose, my sister from another mother, as we say, then Indian — love of my life until I met Tommy over at a tailgate party. Tommy Tailgate he was after that. I became pregnant that night.
Whiskey… he said to meet him in a place called Whiskey. But I searched the sim of Whiskey again and again and: no sight of my father. My papa! I haven’t seen him… since that day. In The Room.
I went across the icy bridge into the next sim called Clarksburg, to the north. Not as icy once I got across. Snow had receded. Bridge across a great chasm of whitened granite. The place stank of coal or some other fossil fuel. Maybe just gas — I had eaten too much on the plane over. Landed at
Hookton Enceladus several sims north west, which would be my introduction to the Snowlands. I wasn’t stuck here yet, but I was close. Just over this bridge: Whiskey into Clarksburg now.
Back in Enceladus (after the flight):
“So touching that that little girl might be meeting her father for the first time since childhood, Cowboy.”
“Stop calling me that… Indian. But: yeah.”
“Zach,” said the third one around the small table. “Call me Zach. Or Black. Whichever.” He was very excited. He thinks he’s found a studio for his beloved Lena, maybe allowing him to keep her forever as his own.
Ahh. Whiskey! (stuck!)
Now to go inside (*shiver*).
“I was stuck,” Keith B. tried to explain about The Room. “I was caught.”
“Yeah, by *me*.” The cube is the sphere is the sea is the whale. The flip style notepad and push style lead pencil remained unsheathed this time but Jenny knew. Jennifer now. The Mann emerged from a plastic cocoon. It was in all the books, a running motif. Keith B. was stuck in more ways than one. 29 now, beginning HERE.
“It’s just what The Mann does. When the Wo-mann is away. Look at Marion Star Harding, still dreaming of dead Heidi in his own way. When the (new) director does her shoots up at Cass City.”
Jennifer looks around, still confused about the location. This could be Cass City, this could be Pipersville… or Storybrook. But instead: Whiskey plus Clarksburg, Whisclarkseyburg, then (maybe). Whiskey *inside* Clarksburg. She was stuck!
She stopped looking around, spacing out. “What… is the name of this place..?” Should she call him daddy, papa, Keith B.? She decided the last.
Keith B. didn’t look around. He knew where he was. And it didn’t work. He’d been uncovered, as if from a secret space.
Former private detective Wendell “Biff” Carter, back on the beat, stopped redding the read book and looked over. That was her all right, he surmised, seeing the eyes. Mrs. Know-It-All.
(to be continued)
Lengthening their draw distance a bit as Keith B. recommended, they both stared out at Clarksey from this low granite summit to the north.
“It’s big, Shelley.”
“Jennifer,” she corrected.
“It’s big, Jennifer,” he began again, then backtracked a bit to “…biggish”. “Ambitious,” he started once more.
“I get the picture.”
“It’ll get more people.”
“Hmm,” she declared. “How many now?”
“Five, I think. Wait: four. Clovis fell into the gorge the other day. Decided it was too dangerous to stay what with his drinking problem. Flew away from Enceladus day before yesterday. You just missed him over there, then.”
“Nice people over there,” she replied. “This one guy, Marion Harding, a Cowboy, even offered to drive me over here from the airport.”
“Who was the pilot?”
She wanted to say Indian but she knew that wasn’t possible. Indian was her brother — 1/2 brother — from another mother. Like Rose — full siblings those two were. “Can’t remember,” she decided to utter, trying to mask the hesitation. Memory gap! ‘Nother one.
“Did anyone follow you?” Strange question from her old Papa. But there *was* someone, someone black. Check that: someone named Black. A, um, black man. Doubly black.
“No,” she issued. “No one. Strange question from you actually.” She took drama in high school. She could still act a bit if necessary. But she’s remembering (!). A trio of men: Cowboy, Indian, Black. And behind them: still fuzzy. Maybe someone named… Frank?
(to be continued)
job change every 3000 miles
“Fill er up, Burt.”
“You!” I exclaimed beside my old Papa.
Marion Star Harding stared into me while still strolling toward us, taking his time. I knew I shouldn’t say his real name. I’m remembering!
“You know this Bozo?” Papa also stared over at me, but with puzzlement instead of secret knowledge.
“No.” I looked between the two. “No, I was mistaken. I thought this was the man–”
Marion stares again. She’d said enough. She stopped.
“Thought this was the man what?” Keith asked, still with furrowed brow.
“I thought… this was the man who offered to drive me to your place,” she decided to allow. “Before you picked me up.”
“Burt?” uttered Keith B. “A *pilot*.” He started to laugh. Jennifer join in with him a bit — nervously. Then Marion Star Harding: just a chuckle and a smile. Because Keith B. would only expect that from the silent type guy.
“Whadda ya say to *that*, Burt?” he said between guffaws. He turns to Jennifer. “I’ve known Burt since he was a little boy. He can’t tell right from left, heck, up from down. Right Burt?” Laughter again all around, Keith B. the most, then Jennifer, then Marion. “He… he he… he once tried to build a submarine on top of a mountain and fly it into space (giggle). You remember that old wooden sub, Burt? (grin).”
Marion Star Harding remembered the sub. And indeed, he got it to fly into space, deep into space. But only at night when no one was looking and the stars were out. Because he had a particular Star in mind. His own.
(to be continued)
I asked her when it would end, all these transformations.
“It will never end,” she states plainly back, finality in her voice (obviously).
We were in the shack seen in back of that photo up above, Liz and me I suppose. The Loch Ness Monster could still be seen lurking in the distance. We were in a make-believe land, but not Hana Lei. A plainly stated one: Paper-Soap. I wondered what spirit Liz represented, since we are really all alive and dead at once, at least according to [delete name]. I’m starting to remember dreams a little better. It doesn’t seem that hard, and will have a chance to work on it more in 1 1/8 years. But I shouldn’t wait I can hear [delete name] say. We turn into Jennifer Lane…
“Bad juju over at the beach,” Fook Mi chef Kim Lee explained. “Bodies not washing up properly; turning black too soon; Suds and Bubbles can’t get to them in time.” Jennifer wondered how the word “black” here would affect Liz. She decides not to further this albeit interesting conversation in front of her.
The monster seems to stare back at her. Cherry branches sprout from her frizzy hair. She understands collage a lot better than us. We decide we’ll keep her around (for awhile). Caretaker for the moment Jennifer brings sushi from the bar.
“Sisters?” she contemplated the question posed by Shelley or Jennifer Lane beside her. “I suppose we have to be in a way.”
“Like Oz? You know, ‘Wicked’?”
“I don’t know the plot. Anyhow, I’m sorry I manipulated your husband into putting all those magazines around your house. We had to have a boy; that was the whole point. I’m sure you see the point now.”
“Julius,” she exclaims, staring up into the grey sky. “First born. I didn’t have a say.” *No*, she wouldn’t get over it just like that, just because she knows the reason. She was manipulated! By this… *witch* (!).
“What about Julia?” Shelley wanted to ask why *that* was allowed, at least later. Then she remembers earlier talk about astrology and the position of the Sun, Moon and Earth relative to each other. Each in its own season. The Moon and Earth had already been equated or something, the black clad, blue haired one said beside her — made the same. All they had to do now was cut the Sun down to size. Sun becomes son. Julius, cooled down by the milk and only the milk. They had to feed it through the navel day and night. It was laborsome. She may never get over being tired.
“‘Julia’ was perfect or almost so. The son, obviously: not so much, at least on the surface. But just underneath the exterior…”
“Self editing,” Shelley/Jennifer said as her lines demanded it at the time. “So what now? Is Bart(holomew) just going to wash up on the beach here, waiting for rebirth?”
“You don’t understand,” she said, looking forward beyond the cooler of Budweisers. “Julius and Julia are the same.”
“You better get back to Liz. *I* better get back to Axis-Windmill.”
She stared up. “How’s he holding up?”
“You know, it’s tough. Staring into the mirror and realizing who you are.”
“Right.” The sky lighted up and she looked away.
She wasn’t f-ing around any more. She owned the Dixie Belle gambling boat and all the characters that had passed through this here photo-novel, 29 in a series… Just: 29 in a series. She had complete control, *not* Alysha. Alysha was left back on Maebaleia — I’m not sure why but there you go. Now we have blonde Lichen Roosevelt. And, with her, dark haired Fern Stalin. And then the 3rd, but not red headed Alysha (or Wendy). Fern originally thought it would be similarly red Indian Wells, 1/2 brother to Rose Wells and the one she was studying for the Crabwoo Revitalization Project or Blue Feather Reinvestment Initiative or whatever the f- they’re calling it these days. Buster brought in Duncan to protect, then changed his mind and assigned White Mage to the case, but has, again, changed his mind because of Dixie (Belle). Duncan indeed does have karma involved. He pulls out a fish taco to eat on a break from acting. It almost reaches his mouth before he remembers the boy. George! I left him back in VHC City to fend for his own! He must be, jeez, 17 now? Maybe 18. I believe his birthday is Tuesday (of last week’s month). Oh (relief!). He now remembers he left the boy with his Aunt Clare, his *sister*. They didn’t have the same mother but it was close enough. Last time he spoke to him George was having more dreams about Yelloo. That’s where we should head next (Fern directs — former director Percy Pierce assigned to another “film”). The border between granite and snow. The ultimate division between Tennessee interior and Kentucky exterior. Like Static…
“I see,” she muttered after turning page 15 and starting to read 16. “Cowabunga *is* a misdirection, interesting.” 5 seconds later she turns another page.
He came in on a tulip plane from Maebaleia (continent), vowing never to return. “Black and white tv’s,” he complained to the airline reservation agent whose name he didn’t catch and then regretted it later. Raspberry colored, she was, at least in dress — complete with seeds, ha. An idea is planted. A secret revealed. “Greyscale, even — that’s the name of the *leader* for Christs sake.” He’d received a free ticket to the capital city of the South from his cousin Vinnie. He should call him — right here and now at the airport — give him a piece of his mind about the recommended vacation spot. No *wonder* the lout gave up his ticket, he thought. Nothing there but chickens. And worse!
Only much later would he learn that Maebaleia is the same as Satori, and that he’d neglected to visit the much nicer North in his travel. Vinnie provided him with another free ticket — even went with him this time to make sure he didn’t stray too far south. They stood on the edge of the Guy Linden owned Gangkhar Rabbit Hole and marveled at its unicorn nature. Once there were two such things, on either side of X-City, King city of the north. For the king had risen again to compliment his southern queen. The black menace with two protruding round ears still hung in the sky but they’d learned to make peace with it by eliminating capitalism. Communism or at least Marxism has its advantages.
“Mae Baleia. My name is Mae,” she said more distinctly through her thick (Russian?) accent when he returned this time. *That’s* where the confusion all started. This gall darn agent (!).
He’d landed in the right spot. Now to end this.
You’ll have to excuse our friend Square. He hasn’t caught up with the book yet.” He looks over, notes the blonde hair. “I see you’re turning into Jennifer Lane again. Good one. Veyot likes that one.”
I took another sip of of my 4 shot latte and wrote: “Yes, I further said it was a real place, and *now* — since I spoke to her — (the maturation) means something else. Retirement, the library becoming an increasingly far away and fuzzy edifice after that. I proceed forward with my new life, my new eyes. I will have no need for physical books any longer. I am my *own* book. I am beyond my Firesign Theatre period, having absorbed the Piera (“Billfork” through “Uncle Meatwad”). I am even beyond the positive carrcasses (“Cpt. Mouse” through “Shiny Hare”). I enter something different.
“Good, good,” he said. “All and well.” He becomes Square and makes another collage.
“These…overlaps,” he says, now studying, now reading the physical book again while turned away, “are becoming interesting. Comings and goings. Dr. Mouse arrives at the same time he departs.” He turns the page. 5 seconds later: “And *Zach and Lena*. Aren’t they a couple already?”
I check his pronouncement with my already changed eyes. “Yes. Too much information,” I decided. “We must end and then begin again. Clean the slate.”
He switches sides of the couch again. “Downstairs first,” forward looking Circle requests. “We must speak with a few more people in this one.”
(to be continued)
She looked over. “You are one again.”
“And so are you,” he quickly replied in his higher register voice, exactly one octave higher to be precise. “Jennifer Lane through and through, switched out from twin cousin Shelley Lane, aka Shelley Struthers (in Part 04). Marvelous.”
“And who,” Jennifer asks, “is this?” She looked to his left, but to an onlooker the chair would still be empty. We’ll thus withhold a picture until the end.
“Biff Carter,” answers Triangle between both Square and Circle, absorbing them. “You’ve met before, remember?”
“Maybe,” she shot back, getting defensive. Why was she getting defensive?
“I thought it would be best to end with the 3 cores getting together again. We should do this every once in a while. Catch up with each other. It’s taxing to the computer, but… the new one: not so much. Good you got a new computer during the pandemic.” He takes a sip of tea, ready for the other one (core) in the room to speak. Better prepare him. First we have to minimize a window, then log in the third… shouldn’t be long. Oops, he’s naked. Better get him some clothes, ha. And some tea.
“You!” Jennifer exclaimed about the manifestation. No collage needed for this one. 3 cores. Nifty. But it wasn’t Biff Carter.
“Pocket cup,” Triangle declared, moving his tea cup up into his shirt pocket to lighten the mood. We weren’t quite done yet.
The principal seemed to take a shining to Dimmy Gene but in truth he just wanted an excuse to hang around Marilyn more. She had that effect on men, made them do bad and irresponsible things. Like letting Dimmy use his expensive computer for his supposed homework. “I know you like souped up things,” he said to the dim witted man-boy after his sex history lecture at the main auditorium below the Pear Room. People need to know how their sex is chosen and make wise decisions about it, he offered to school district superintendent Jonathan Petri Dish one day in early May. He thinks back to his own childhood. Not even a week old and they decided he would be a boy. All the aunts and uncles hadn’t weighed in yet. Cousins usually got a vote too. But, no, his old man, his old pops couldn’t wait. So while his mother Doris was busy reading her fashion and furniture magazines one day, engrossed in the moment, his father decided for all of them, each and every one. He was still king of his domain, he rationalized, not knowing there were other pieces on the chessboard of life that made it all work in unified peace and harmony. It took Doris several weeks but she finally realized. She’d been focusing on the navel and feeding the blasted thing day and night before then, navels being common to us all, whatever sex. The milk had to be *just* the right temperature else the navel rejected and they’d be up all night again. But one day, while he gurgled out more white on his blue bib, she understood. There was a hair on his upper lip, a single hair but one is enough to know. 3 weeks later they had to start shaving him as well. Oh for the old days, when sex was determined in the womb, way before birth. Now there were so many choices — well, two. But two very important options I think we all would agree.
Where was I… oh yes, Dimmy and the principal’s souped up computer, just like he had a souped up car now and drove all over his new town with Marilyn normally by his side. She’s normally with Gene they all agreed, which in time — but not too much time — was shortened to Normal Gene and finally Norma. Because they had gotten married and she’d acquired her first diamond ring on her left hand, which, since it was pretty small in comparison to the rest on her right, she wore on her pinkie, and joked all the time about having Dimmy wrapped around her little finger, usually to a gusto of laughs from a crowd of admirers. People, well, men, flocked to her everywhere. She grew tired of it. “Dimmy,” she requested one day in late May. “Drive me out to the country. Go fast enough where my hair will be billowing in the wind at a 1000 miles an hour. Go fast enough that it will *never* return to its normal, lackluster appearance. I want to be billowy… *forever*.” And she had her wish.
(to be continued?)
silver and gold
It had advanced beyond black and white. This was an all read situation, book in her eyes. Jennifer Lane I suppose. She wore a raspberry beret but this wasn’t her first time. She was indeed an experienced woman of the night but not quite that way. It’s complicated, more than you can perhaps imagine. Call it, just like these here photo-novels, 30 in a series of nothing: an experiment in complexity. Coral-like it keeps growing. We’re back on Nautilus, link to the outside world broken, perhaps beyond repair. The Oracle, the connection, has been damaged in at least 2 ways, rendering it practically useless for time-space transport. Borneo remains a past-future barrier. A box. But what are the contents?
We have come so far, all the way to the edge. We peer inside, waiting to see the bottom writing, like looking through stacks of translucent paper. Reality.
(to be continued)
“Live around here?”
“Nooope. Pietmond,” he said. But Sunklands’ Pietmond had been destroyed long long ago. Something was up.
“Live around here?” she tried again just around the corner in a “secret” nook.
“Naah. Just here to study,” the long haired man across the loaded down table said hoarsely, as if he’d just sang a rock n’ roll concert for a 100,000 people.
The other sitting there even turned her back on the child, not wanting discourse and hoping her Goth father was about ready to split this boring town. So that takes care of Pietmond Boy, Osborne Well, and Lou…
… moving us into the opposite corner of the new Collagesity library containing an estimated 100,000 books, a book for each person at one of Osborne’s concerts to put it another way. Here: Tronesisia.
“Live around here?” she tried once more to the former pleasure bot turned tame, this child named Shelley who had given up her castle to construct this building, be with these people. But blue eyed Tronesisia was having a vision and couldn’t answer immediately.
Where had she heard this before? Blue *and* green. It didn’t compute: something was ill fitting; broken even.
“Arkansaw,” she said softly, starting to figure it out. “Arkansaw,” she said again, one blue eye changing, seeing beyond the other, seeing North beyond South.
In the center, Missouri appeared — Miss Ouri. The new librarian.
(to be continued)
Kactus tries out reality amidst will o’ wisps. He points and mutters in his drunkenness, “I use to *live* there, he he.” Man About Time should have put an end to him while he had the chance. Now he’s been let loose upon *our* world. US of A/Iowa/Ringgold County. Should have never let the link happen. Fo fo fo.
“*Duncan*,” George cried in the shack in the forest. “Duncan is dead!”
The boy decides to do something about it.
“Who are you?”
“My name is George,” he said to her with his newly minted lips, reading her mind of course. Since it was his mind as well. “And I am your future husband.”
Scroop’s closest one-to-one name match in the Oracle is Scrougeout
Spider guides. Wheeler’s new fashion design business highlighted by “accident” (foreground) on my big Nautilus map in the sky. Nearby Strutter sim’s steampunk village Rugburns with the cat-witch and her own tuxedo cat (“Pheh! Tuxedo?” she uttered disgustingly when learning she couldn’t get a solid black one) is gone now, disappeared back into the pixels it came from.
Strutter’s closest one-to-one name match in the Oracle is Struthers, reminding us of Shelley and her Lebettu Castle where I just came from, me being Newt, formerly Axis-Windmill and with last name yet to be determined. Perhaps it is Newton. Heck perhaps it is Struthers, and Shelley is my child, hmm. *Our* child?
Anyway, Spider is back and I’m glad of it. Less work for me to find the next meaningful association to continue the blog posts being churned out one-by-one, like Struthers to Scroop here where the two-dimensional, numbers uttering chihuahua with a name of a different animal species altogether stands upon. Sim, that is…
… and diagonally on it in addition. Let’s follow this.
I miss it.
Let’s see, I have to fit the Duck back in here somewhere.
“Yes, put on a robe, stay a while,” said Pauline Silentghost by her side, still assuming the pose of a master (channeler). “How’s your knee doing?”
“Fine,” Wheeler said, taking all the shifts in stride per usual. She doesn’t remember changing into the purple-ish robe but here we are. In… Sansara? Yes, but a special part, she realized. An artsy fartsy sub-continent to the immediate east and south. It’s a place she doesn’t think she’s ever been before until now. Thanks to Scroop, or Scrougeout as they call the Nautilus sim in these here parts. So says Pauline. The Oracle rules all in this out of the way, edge of the world type of location. Perhaps it’s just the distance from everything else that makes it so.
“You know who has to show up next.” Stares.
“Do I?” Wheeler tired of meeting the gaze and looked down at her robe, examining the texture. The finest cloth, she saw (and felt), perhaps cashmere. When she looked up: this.
“So who’s this fresh piece of hell?” she queried, but then knew the answer, which instantly became another question. “Daughter?”
It was Shelley Struthers with a, er, Scrougeout t-shirt, another duck.
“She is the owner of the castle,” replied Pauline, wiser than ever. Rust Never Sleeps becoming Roost Never Sleeps again. She turns. “Aren’t you dearest?”
“My name is Shelley,” she spoke plainly.
“Yes, we know your name,” replied robed Wheeler sitting across from her. She stared into umbrella eyes.
“My husband is George. We own the castle. Together.”
Shelley was much too young to be married. This was a future vision obviously, Wheeler realized. “Timeline, please,” she requested as politely as possible. “You’re a *child*.”
“I am *your* child.” Stares again all around. Awkwardness. Wheeler suspected she had a daughter for several years now, perhaps many years. The spaceship.
“I’m telling you, Newt. She’s *real*.” He’d suspected as well. Black and white, male and female, on and off. Clone? Possibility.
(to be continued)
Silentghost sure is pretty, thought Liz from her meditating position, curious but not looking over again. They were talking about rumps before, she heard — that’s the word they used for it after she showed up, materializing from where Wheeler stood just prior. “I better get back to my Newt,” she heard her say, like waking up from a dream, “and you better get back to your Liz,” she spoke to Shelley just before vanishing. So here she is. Pauline Silentghost warmed to her quickly. “You will stay here with me for a while,” she said. “I’ll teach you much about Nautilus, both the shell and the continent. Shelley too — no accident about her name there — and also, also…”
“Wheeler?” Liz offered in the gap. Pauline Silentghost had been having trouble saying that name ever since Reno. Shot a man just to watch him die, she’d heard, or at least the Wilson version of her did, the male aspect. Black and white, on and off, dead and alive even. Liz had answers, Liz was gifted. Just like her Mom.
“Whatcha doing future child of mine?”
A trio of men: Cowboy, Indian, Black. And behind them: still fuzzy. Maybe someone named… Frank?
“I’m remembering,” spoke Jennifer “Shelley” Struthers, turning into that Lane, seeing further than before, beyond the edge of virtual reality itself. Stinkerfoot.
Roll him over, look into his eyes. MENTION that the gnome had disappeared. Someone purposely took it. I looked all around the rocks it once inhabited in its 2 locations that we know of.
CRUX — think of relationship with Apostrophe album, the apostrophe itself according to Frank.
Did the Tigers get to him anyway, despite being taken away from the more prominent rock perch and tucked, hopefully safely, behind a nearby tree? The story of County Park basically ends there, as another location I had my eye on for a toy happening was blocked — someone else was already present, a nice enough bloke but obviously living off the land. I knew where he lived; he was telling me that, albeit unconsciously in all likelihood, unless he was an alien himself, ha. He filled my space quite effectively. He, in all likelihood, needs it more.
Back to virtual…
“We must pray for a return to Nautilus, Mother; Daughter. Pray with me please. Pray pray pray.”
It could work, Pauline Silentghost knew, if Shelly would quickly grow the hell up and away from her daughter. They can’t remain about the same age. Baker has a home on the Rooster Peninsula (Nautilus), and this has aided him in knowing he is a sleepwalker, like all or almost all of us regular human types up here in the Real World where I’m typing this. Easist thing in the world to let the thoughts just take you. Driving is super aggressive if we just submerge ourselves in it. Whole blocks of repeating ruminations about a family member who hurt you, or not getting your due respect from another. How different you are from a brother. Most of it is just fiction, or *inconvenient* to the fact that we all also create our own reality. There are all kinds of hidden connections if we could just open our eyes.
She holds the blue ball right side up and that seems promising. At least she is able to keep from spacing out all the time — understands the 8 corners of the universe and can see above and beyond. Channeler Pauline Silentghost could be the salvation of us all. And Carrcassonnee of course, the deity within that is also probably the same as herself.
“Hurry,” she urges from the top of the rock. “Hurry!”
far away from the old
“Wheeler says I got to grow up fast so’s I can married George, Milo. Whereever he is.
“So I took this job at the bar below the castle. *Pretend* job, anyways. I don’t know nothing about mixing drinks or anything, Milo. But it makes me appear *big*. In the eyes of others at least.”
Milo meows meekly, perhaps unconvinced, and moves himself and his two attached eyes on his little kitty flannel cap away from Shelley, hopping down to the ground in order to get to the milk bowl for a refresher. Suddenly she doesn’t feel that big; feels exposed again to the world with the pussy not directly in front of her, protecting her, comforting her. The castle is just out of view to her right, thankfully. She doesn’t want to think about marriage right now, nor the child that would supposedly be born from her loins despite the race difference, a child already *here* — future style. Speaking of which, here comes her first potential customer of
the day her career. Wheeler, wearing the latest postmodern beachwear from Germany. At least Liz isn’t with her, she thinks — probably left up at the castle with Newt or whatever he’s going by these days. Perhaps Man in Black still. Nah, she remembers, that persona was ditched with the return to the peninsula. *Her* peninsula they kept calling it.
Wheeler spots Shelley in the distance, comes over. “Oh hi, just heading down to the ocean to catch some serious rays today. You like?” She turns around, modelling the futuristic — thing. Purple force fields instead of cloth. Daring! And the *back*… She recalls the photo in the box, the one that caused so much trouble. Borneo.
“Yeah, sure.” Does Wheeler even know? she ponders. Suddenly she wished Liz was with her so she’d have someone to talk with about all that.
“Soo… what’re *you* doing down here?” Shelley comes out from behind the bar, chickening out of the role play. “Oh nothing. Just playing, heh.” She stands awkwardly in front of the outfit, wondering how all that worked. Plasma? Lasers?
Wheeler looks in the distance again, spots the place she wants to lay to maximize her time in Our Second Lyfe’s always bright sometimes tanning sometimes burning sun. Nah, best to move one spot over so she’ll be under the umbrella later on. She looks at Shelley again with this, notes the eyes through the reflected purple glow. Still ordinary brown, it seems — no books in them yet, nor the rest of the interwebs. That will come later. But it better come quick.
(to be continued)
“We’re struggling to get to the end, W.”
“We’ll make it — have confidence. Put the kids on the back lawn of the castle and have them stare at the newly resurrected Roost Never Sleeps up on the peninsula’s high peak. Make *that* the focus from now on. You are doing well, swell even. Don’t worry about the tangents. You are focused on the peninsula and that is good. This is how it’s suppose to be.”
“Sorry about your beach,” I decided to insert. Wheeler — W. — had been kicked off for head butting Newt (and visa versa), but a different kind involving the latter more than the former. Darn postmodern beachwear! But there’s more places to hang out here and stay true to the location. Now to those kids…
“It’s just as big as the old one, maybe bigger.” Liz Struthers, proposed present and future daughter, grandkid to Newt and Wheeler, I mean, Wheeler and Newt. “I’ve seen pictures.”
“Center of Our Nautilus for sure,” spoke projected mother Shelley Struthers. “Great Summer Project!”
“Summer?” questioned the little one who sprang from her loins in a future time, probably about as far up as Wheeler went to retrieve that bathing suit. Liz indicated this was Fall already, number of days in, actually.
Shelley was overjoyed. She’d skipped over a season. She was starting to age faster!
She’d check the downstairs works later.
Emboldened by the speeding up of time, Shelley remotely scans the castle on the highest peak of the peninsula and then teleports directly over through double click when she finally finds something more interesting. To her disappointment, the place seemed vacant of life and energy. Except for these bubbles. Perhaps they are the key — ‘nother one. She sends a teleport invite to Liz to join her once she figures out what they are.
“Whoa!” Shelley utters when assuming the pose inside the topmost one. “Far out, I mean, far *down*.”
“Whoops, I’m falling, weee!” joins in smaller Liz, finally receding from Shelley agewise. One whole season (!).
They try a couple more before settling on these two for another talk about Wheeler and Newt, the peninsula as a whole, where they’re heading individually and collectively. Photo-novel 34 was coming to a close, ending at this location (as stated). But more adventures certainly lay ahead for them in the future: the core avatars, Baker Bloch (Newt in the moment; also Kid Shelley), Wheeler Wilson (playing herself and Liz presently), and the rest. They are a family now, traveling through virtual space and time and even popping up in Our Reality once in a while, like Arthur Kill in Tennessee recently in order to retrieve Spider the Dog and bring him back to the metaverse. We must catch up with that particular storyline soon, maybe after we finish with the kids here.
“Wheeler is *beautiful*,” started Shelley again with the observing and hypothesizing. “Moreso than I knew. I hope I look that great when I…”
“… grow up,” completed Liz for Shelley. She was beginning to hope that both would remain kids from now on. She liked the companionship. Although Shelley kind of avoided her at first, when she learned about the whole mother-daughter aspect, Liz could tell she was treating her more like a fellow kid lately. They were going on kid-like adventures. They were having *fun*. She decided to tell Shelley this.
“Aw, man,” uttered the older girl to this. “You *know* I have to grown up so that I can produce *you*. I have to find George. I have to get married. I have to get, well, *pregnant* — by George I’m assuming.” Shelley said too much here, she knew. Why the different race for Liz? In her imagination where he was produced, George was not African-American. She’d had future visions. But this has happened before — she can’t remember, can’t put her finger on it.
“Tell me about your mother,” she asked over to the smaller one, finally broaching the elephant in the room.
“She was *beautiful*,” began Liz. Wheeler.
(to be continued)
“Oh *I* see, Mr. Robot,” she said, standing directly behind him and looking over his bent head. “You drew yourself, see, but you forgot to paint what is in front of yourself. You were too… self centric.”
“Who are you?” the brown mechanoid issued, not liking criticism of his art, however valid it was. “What are you doing here? Where did you come from?”
She realized she didn’t know the answer to any of these.
She was on a raft in the whirlpool now, art come to life. Around and around and around at a dizzying pace she went. She decided to phone a friend.
“Hello. Liz? Can you hear me over the *roar*? I’m in trouble! Come get me at 232, um, 222… dang I can’t remember where I live!” The whirlpool swallows her. She wakes up.
Another dream about the upper levels,” Shelley relayed to Liz later on. “Where I’m grown.”
“I see.” Liz recently felt she needed to put a stop to all that.
She was chopping down the beanstalk as fast as possible with the magic ax she purchased with her soul. Dreaming Shelley came up on her. “What are you *doing*? You’ll *kill* yourself. You’ll kill both of us. Stop it; put down the ax.”
Still-a-kid Liz kept chopping away, whack whack whack. At the 200th swing, the giant plant leading up to the top of the sky began to crack at its base. It was falling. “Look what you’ve done!” screamed Shelley still beside her. The thing unwound in the distance like a collapsed tornado. She woke up.
“Who is it baby doll?”
“It’s the *agency*.”
“Well, keep trying to smile.”
“Hello?” she says. “Yeah, this is him, well, his proxy.” She winks at actor Lemont Sanford, currently unemployed but not caring. They’d made so much on the dog.
A pause as she listens to the other party. Then: “Back? Kill van Kull? I’ll tell him.”
Lemont Sanford, best known for his role as Arthur Kill back there, picks up that there’s no one else on the line. This was all a sham. “You’re *synthesized* part is all lined up,” she said, putting away the phone — somewhere. He couldn’t help note the purple again.
10 days later they were back on the set in Middletown getting married to a new wedding theme, someone name Bodenheimer I believe. 10 weeks later the character played by the actress divorced the SOB. But not before something happened, something very important to the future of this blog and attached photo-novels.
In a word: Liz.
END OF “SUNKLANDS PHOTO-NOVEL 34”
That’s a Moray
It was the last outing with her friends before the big event. “George,” she called over, “do you… do you think I’m doing the right thing?” Funny how her best friend Debbie also married a George. Were they happy? Let’s just say there was always room to slide between the two. Like here.
“I don’t know, Shelley, sounds like a Debbie question.”
Yeah, right, Debbie thinks.
“But you’re a man. You know The Musician pretty well by now.” George again wondered why they always called him that. He plays an okay guitar, specializing in Lennon and Lydon, but he’s not a professional by any means. Instead he’s a cookie cutter at the local bakery. Why not Baker, then? Odd thought, he realizes.
“He loves you and that’s all I know.” George Smithson rattles his paper, a sign that he was eager to get back to it. Debbie was absorbed in her phone, checking the latest bets on the local dogs. One named Red Spider is 10:1 odds to beat another called Arrow. She might place a bet on that one for a particular reason we can’t quite reveal yet — perhaps never will admittedly.
Only Shelley is left without distracting entertainment right now. So she looks around the Real World, sees a woman selling flowers down the way, sees a fisherman standing behind her who had just pulled his boat into the docks, perhaps contemplating buying a rose for his sweetie who he left behind when heading to sea, maybe hours ago but maybe weeks, years even.
She sees a woman taking a selfie with her dog while a fish flops wildly on the back of the tricycle in front of her.
And then, further down the docks, birds flocking to a man reading a newspaper for some reason. Perhaps he just fed them in a pause in his reading. She wonders if he’s reading the same paper as George here, and then why George never seems to go out of his way to feed birds or really care about anything in the world at large, including his wife of course foremost of all. Does George — her George — care about me? she wonders once again. Will our marriage quickly — *devolve* to this?
She decides to test this George. “Looks like that nice man down the docks just fed those pigeons.”
George glances over. “Doves,” he says. They’re doves, Shelley,” then back to the reading.
“Still, it’s a nice gesture.”
George doesn’t say anything to this. He’s checking the stock market. Maybe he’ll buy into this company called Red Arrow coming up fast, a crypto-currency organization specializing in tax evasion. Eew, a spider suddenly walks across the figures! He quickly swats it away in one motion.
Shelley looks from one to the other, having her answer. She needs to talk to her dad, maybe her mom and dad together, about this whole *arrangement*. She plots how to get out from between them asap. “Guys, I think I’ll go back to the motel. My stomach’s feeling a little queazy.”
“It’s those grapes,” Debbie says to her, placing the bet.
“Yeah, the grapes for sure,” agrees George, hitting the buy button on the screen.
“Grapes,” mutters Shelley. Where have I heard this before? she thinks.
The next morning finds her twirling in place while flying, being repeatedly shot by Bob, the son of a fisherman also named Bob who was likewise raised by a fisher named Bob, if not his biological father. Bob Jr. Jr. hopes to break the pattern of slavery to the sea and its cresty, troughy ways by photographing it instead, putting distance between himself and the chaotic waves. “A little to the left,” he requests to the spinning what appears to be a mermaid or flying fish anyways in his eyes, beautiful and even glistening in the rays of the young sun. “That’s it.” Shelley had temporarily forgotten about George. Supposed bestie Debbie and and her own George had urged her to just let go here, be relaxed and free before getting tied down for the rest of her life, probably with kids of her own soon. She didn’t think so. She had other plans.
Just down the docks again:
“Will you look at him over there, snapping away like a turtle. He’ll never escape the sea.”
“Nope,” replied Ben, feeling a nibble. He hoped it wasn’t just another one of those shoes because he was tired of sole food. Heel let it go if so, bite his tongue of the catch to his hungry family. Think that’s it.
“Who ordered the early bird special of wavy worms?”
“I think that’s you, Jennifer.”
“Over here,” she called to
Debbie Angie from the dive down the way, if not the docks. There’s an alley in back there somewhere. Patsy and Melissa had found it earlier, just don’t ask them how or to recreate their steps. They requested: just bring it over to the fish stand by the sea where we’ll order the rest of our meals,” not liking the looks of the other stuff on their yellowed menus. Eels? Don’t think so. Eels cannot be fitted into meals. But the worms (fries) seemed enticing to light eating Patsy formerly known as Jennifer. Until she took a bite. Fishy as well!
Etherea was sweeping the stoop in front of her dockside apartment when she spotted more spiders, all red and in a row this time like military ranks or files. She warns the town of the invasion from afar, Ohio I believe, staying with her cousin
Angie Apples (Apples?) until the fumigators from neighboring Triggerfish did their tricks, trying not to use too many guns in the process although it made them happy to do so. Etherea was all for that to speed the process up from her afar position — grenades, bazookas, bombs even, whatever they had, although the townspeople always complained of collateral damage if so, like butcher Jim, like dentist Arthur, like author Butch who had just written a book about the sea from the perspective of an old man with scaly skin. Dabbled in oil too, applying it to his body as well as canvas because he was a painter alongside being a writer, and he also had rigs set up just over there in the bay until his untimely death in the First Spider War, as they called it afterwards. The spiders regrouped, having turned from red to even more menacing black in the great oil spill of ’32, and then forged forward with the second invasion, bringing an end this time through collateral damage again to James, Jack, and Joe, a tennis player, a basketball weaver, and a furniture leg remover from Uptown, Downtown and Sidetown respectively. All tragic losses the remaining townspeople felt for hours afterwards, maybe weeks or, yes, years. Years I meant. Hours to the spiders perhaps with their much shorter life, but they weren’t grieving until the end. Triggerfish. Atomic now. Boomb!!
And yet here they are, back somehow. Rosy red again, just like at the beginning, like nothing had transpired in the meantime, like all that effort, that suffering was for naught. Etherea screamed and dropped her broom to the ground, seeing black magic when it appeared in a new guise.
Shelley spent the afternoon with Bob, oblivious to the spiders, then returned to the motel to find this note from Debbie and George, excusing their sudden disappearance. “Uncle Jiffy has crabs. See you at the wedding!” They were just that desperate for good food.
a number of characters in a number of sims
“So nice here beside the fire. So, whaddaya think, Wheeler? Is Claude on to something?”
“I want to be independent right now.”
So Baker shared some links and let her go. Cloz they were here, Sporminore and its Roberts and Franklin (and Albert?) just north. Claude to the (Wild) West again, where’s he still under employment at the Umbrella Club where we first ran into Darla and Lois and those other girls, the purple clad one and the other one we haven’t revisited under the umbrella itself. Moray and the now bombed and destroyed Docks Town 2 sims to the east of us. Apples and Etherea — and now Darla and Lois again — about 400 meters southwest in Darter (Ohio parcel). Let’s see, Shelley, yes. Also in Cloz, having escaped the explosion by returning to the Triggerfish Motel. Ah yes, Triggerfish.
But first, Zander. Sorry: Codlet.
But that’s not Shelley on the beach behind the island shack. Liz instead, and we’re not quite ready for her story. Back to Triggerfish…
There. We start again. Apologies. Still no Shelley. That’s The Musician, her fiance, her soon-to-be husband if all goes well for him. Wonder what he’s doing here? Hold on, I’ll have to log Baker back in for this.
Looks like he’s getting at least semi-professional advice about his marriage, his life in general from Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer, who we haven’t seen in a while in these here photo-novels, 35 in a series of… well, we’ll see. Let’s listen in.
“Tell me 5 things you love about Shelley, George.”
“She has a castle.”
“Good, that’s one.”
She’s rich… apparently.”
“Pretty or beautiful?” the doctor tried to clarify.
“Beautiful, let’s say.”
“‘Beautiful, let’s say’? Or just ‘beautiful’?”
“Beautiful,” he then amends per this suggestion. She was! He knew Wheeler was underneath all that innocent exterior stuff, the goofy hair and all. He’ll dig it out soon enough.
“We have two more. That’s three.”
“Nice.” He waits for the last.
“I think that’s the same as intelligent.”
“Okayy. Sheeeeeeeeeee’s… ummmmmm…”
“Resourceful?” tries Dr. Baumbeer hopefully. Always a good one to plug in when a client is stumped here.
Dr. Baumbeer then hands him a card over the counter. “This is my meeting group. The Rabbid Rabbits. I’d like you — and your fiance hopefully, if she wishes — to join us this Saturday. Or the Saturday after that if you want. Some Saturday, let’s say. Sunday is right out, having merged with Monday to create Munday. No one does anything on Munday. And Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday I’m here.”
“Number’s right there beneath the logo of the rabbit eating his, I mean, its foot. Please join us,” he emphasizes, then gets up. George — The Musician — follows suit. Their session in what some call the Triggerfish War Room has ended.
This is how it began.
“5 cents please.”
“Is that white stick mellowing you out a bit?”
“A bit,” Shelley admitted, but still so anxious. Big wedding coming up. And she’d just escaped being blown to pieces over in the Moray Docks Town! If it wasn’t for George and Debbie over there being so booring…
“Good, good,” returned Wheeler, taking a toke of her own. “You know (pause) he thinks you’re me. Deep down, I mean. Remove the goofy hair –”
“Sorry. You know what I mean. You need to grow up more yourself to match Liz’s advancing age. She’s 17 the last time I checked, almost legal to be married herself. You’re, what, 23?” Wheeler looked over on the brown couch they both sat upon. The umbrella eyes would come soon. Then she’d be out of her control, automatically know more than herself. To impart wisdom before it happened was important, the locking in. Shelley *was* her. But she didn’t need to know that yet.
“How’s Newt holding up?” Shelley decides to ask. “I heard — he’s also trying to change The Musician to meet the times, get rid of his punk look and all.” Did Shelley approve? She didn’t know yet. That would also come with the locking in.
“Newt’s fine. Listen, daughter of mine, daughter I didn’t know I actually had until that last photo-novel.”
“33 isn’t it?”
“Jeez.” Shelley takes another toke, considers the length of the process. Her own story is quite complicated and that’s only one of a multitude, heck, one of a multitude involving Wheeler alone (!).
“Anyway, we need to review. Just like Newt did for The Musician.”
“Crap.” Shelley extinguishes the last of her white stick, preparing to get serious.
(to be continued)
on the old docks (continuation)
Girl of his dreams: blown to smithereens by the Triggerfish atomics, making them so so happy if no one else. And he’d only been gone three
minutes days! He never bought her that beautiful red rose — flower stand also vaporized in the bombing. He never told her he loved her, or at least liked her a whole whole lot. She never got to travel with him to the Wild West of Nautilus, where the best fishing is, where he constantly visits and leaves her with other companions, the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers of the world, opportunists all. The void will likely never be filled, he feels. Not fills.
Still twirling, Bob Jr. Jr. thinks from his snapping position again, but it’s just a helicopter now and not Shelley, part of the town’s recovery efforts. We were saved by the graces of the Gods! Wonder where the whirling girl of his dreams went after she left me that awful awful morning after that wonderful wonderful night? Must keep in contact with her. Despite the trauma.
“Will you look at him over there, still snapping away like nothing had happened, like the town was the same as before, all picturesque and stuff.”
“Hey, how did *we* escape the blast?” But then Al remembered going back to Luther’s place that night which was just out of the fallout range. Like Bob Jr. Jr. and Shelley, they were saved by love or at least a whole whole lot of like.
“Another 3 eyed one,” states Luther, reeling in his bite.
“Get use to it,” responds Al.
“Isn’t it beautiful, George?”
“Musician here,” requests George, who goes by that around other people generally. “Until we’re properly married anyway and tied the knot between us.”
“Oh George,” she said, and kissed him in front of the vanilla layer cake also tied with a knot, anticipating the big event. There’s no doubt they like each other a whole lot, probably a whole whole lot. But do they love each other? Now is the time to find out if ever.
“Now your turn, George.”
“Your turn, *Musician*, what? Your father is standing right over there.”
“My father has been dead for 10 years. That’s *your* father. Newt, remember?”
“Newt, right.” He remembered. He thought.
“And he’s been calling you George for I don’t know how long. Probably since we started dating. *Anyways*, kiss me again. Put on that new hud you got and let me have it. Newt’s too busy trying out the tea to pay attention. Plant a good one right on the kisser.”
Wait… that *was* her father. He said this to her as she puckered in front of him, making her think as well.
“Oh George,” she decided, “let’s not argue about relatives right here, right now. Let’s focus on us. Whatever family issues remain to be solved, we’ll be the stable point in the middle of it all — that’s the important thing. ” She then made the first move herself right when Newt — whoever’s father he was — put his own thing to his lips, synchronicity noted.
And let’s go with Shelley’s father. Too much lead up text to change if I don’t. It’ll work out.
(to be continued of course)
“I really like your giraffe, George. So soft — just like our kiss, tee hee. Say you rode in on it?”
“No, I never said that.” George also enjoyed the kiss but he remembers more a gap, a lack. Something had happened and he can’t quite figure out what. A confusing day, actually. First the thing about the dads and then this.
“So you flew in on that bird thingy you’re sitting on, right?”
“Also incorrect.” How *did* George, I mean, The Musician, get here? And was this an actual rehearsal for their wedding? Or were they just checking out the location, perhaps not even convinced yet this is the right place for their super important event?
“I mean, you look like you’re 1/2 bird yourself mounted on the thing like you are, a *bird* yourself.” She tried to laugh but found the utterances couldn’t quite reach her lips, her still warm lips, but cooling quickly, the memory of the softness fading.
“Oz,” he then said, remembering. 1/2 man 1/2 bird indeed. He flew in from his imagination. We’ll go there soon, but first the couple need to pay a little trip to Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer via his Rabbid Rabbits group. The Musician (George) explained it was necessary because of the gap he felt, which Shelley was also now experiencing. They had to resolve that before the wedding fer sure. The Musician was convinced that the doctor could fix their issues, family stuff as well.
They spent half the night arguing who Aunt Bernice belonged to, his side of the family or hers. This could not continue; something had to be done.
She/he went from the cross…
… to The Cross.
Page’s convincing portrayal of the “church lady” image of Aunt Esther was in marked contrast to the “blue” material of her stand-up act and record albums.
“What can I say, that’s my aunt.” “No it’s *not* (pause) Okay, yes it is. But…” “But what?”
thorns and roses
“Okay, Liz is your kid. I get it. Whether factually or fictionally — doesn’t matter.”
“I am Arthur Kill,” states actor Lemont Sanford beside her, also staring at the “Break the chain” statue by Eva, “but I am also me. We made love in both ways.”
“How do I approach *Liz* with this is what I’m wondering?”
“Tell her we have a common aunt that convinced you to go with me over George — The Musician if you will.”
“Oh, he will,” replies Shelley to this. “I’m kind of sick of the ambiguity.”
“Then tell him.”
“No,” she stands firm. “I’m done with it. The wedding is off. We will get married instead. Just like in the film.”
“Stop it, you know what film.”
“The film of our life?”
She sighs. “We have the same aunt. We are already married in a way, future moved to present. We have a child, 1/2 black and 1/2 white, just like us. *No* ambiguities. We are a couple, a team. I, I mean, *they* brought you back to play Kill van Kull, the sophisticated twin cousin of Arthur. You did swell — too much so, as character became reality, bringing Esther in the picture as well.”
“Act I, scene 7. How could I forget.”
“Cut back to the Inky Man from the Boulder Scene still hiding in the rocks, head in the sand — *cringing* (recoiling) instead of Fred. But it *wasn’t* Chaplin. Instead…”
“Keaton, Buster Keaton,” Arthur, I mean, Lemont finished the thought.
“They were heading for the church. I know where this is now!”
“Let’s go,” he deadpanned. No ambiguities any more. The Cross has spoken.
In this “joke” above, Buster recoils after realizing the potential bride he approached from behind is actually an African-American. Although this joke is overtly racial (one of the few in Keaton’s oeuvre), modern audiences may not realize that at the time it would have been illegal for Buster to marry this woman.
“I’ve watched it over and over,” Shelley says about the scene. “This is overt, *period*; this is a line drawn in the sand. No going back! Save the boulder sequence the rest is trite garbage.”
Lemont Sanford mostly agreed. They’d have to edit, they settled. He had a new role. Let’s begin again; technicolor; picket fences.
What am I doing here? she thinks while she smokes. Here in Eels with a man I really don’t know that well, a *black* man. Not that I’m prejudice, she also understands. It’s just… the world at large. They see an opening and they’ll go in for the kill, Arthur Kill in this case, or the actor who plays him. Poor, sweet Lemont Sanford, much more like his (Arthur Kill’s) sophisticated twin cousin Kill van Kull, as is often the case for the creation of secondary characters to balance a first. She was just reading recently that in the first part of the last century it was illegal to be doing what they’re doing. It could come back.
George, she then ruminates further. I *can’t* marry him. Arthur, I mean, Lemont — keep doing that — we have the same aunt, which means we’re destined to be married ourselves. George and I bickered and bickered over what family member belonged to who that night, never fully deciding on Bernice. Now the riddle is solved. I had to go top to bottom on the problem. Liz is the answer. Any questions or issues that arise along the way point to her.
Better get at it again, she thinks while taking the several last draws off her cigarette before heading back inside. Not bad here in Eels, she ponders. Nice light.
She then heard an actual bird, a rarity in Her Second Life. She couldn’t spot the source. She’ll ask Lemont if he heard the same. If she CHANGE could get out from under this Umbrella.
She tried to get back to the center of Linesville (ORACLE term) but instead landed here, a new place apparently. No more blue highlighted boulder but the location was still certainly blue, like Aunt Esther’s offstage act as Page. She had a new outfit that she just tried out here to success — suspenders — colored such, reinforcing the situation. She’d taken to buying men’s clothing because the women’s stuff didn’t seem to fit her. Darn weight gain during COVID times! But new lover Lemont Sanford, also offstage, didn’t seem to mind. They had a common goal. The creation and then overseeing of Liz — destiny. They were having fun with it on the dark side, opposite of what most consider The Cross to be. Yes, The Cross needs to be in the center of Life, the middle of the passage between cradle and grave. But this is certainly not what The Preacher envisioned. Or did he? (we’re similar in other ways — like the *ORACLE*)
This is the middle now. Is the wedding with George actually off, though? Despite this new, erm, complication? She keeps staring out as if trying to find the answers in the great beyond, past the buildings in the distance, past this Life itself.
She contemplates buying some weights or joining a gym to bulk up her upper body, because that’s where the fitting is looser on the new garb. Waist and hips — perfect. COVID, pheh. The changes it wrought seem to lie around every corner. People must adapt to the times or else be lost. Lemont is helping.
“It looks great, baby, don’t change a thing,” he said just yesterday here. She stares out again. Where *is* my costar in this film?
“Told you there was those type of holes on The Cross. Shall we?”
“Jesus, Shelley. You’re going to get us sent to the *Bad* Place with talk like that.”
“I think,” she ventured not too boldly, “we’re already there.”
“Right, heh.” After laughing nervously, he looked around, under the Umbrella again. Shelley applied more lotion. She did this every morning; said she always woke up with an itch. “How is it today?”
“Still there.” Legs now. In just a minute she’ll go inside and do the rest. Couldn’t wait until after breakfast. More bothersome than usual for some reason. Thought it was getting better.
“You really need to go to the doctor. How long has this been going on now?”
“2 months?” she questioned, trying to think back to the beginning. It was all her damn fault. And, yes, let’s blame the pandemic again. Laziness of hygiene for one. Folds increasing on the skin.
“Does it bother you when we…”
“No. No effect there.”
“That’s because we’re in the other Life. The Second one. If we were in the First, if we were real flesh and blood people, then…”
“Yeah,” she answered. “Guess so.”
“Alright I’m ready.”
“Just a minute, I’m checking the stocks.”
Men, she thinks at the doorway under the mistletoe. This is going to end just like with George. The Preacher continues to be unhappy.
fun with blue
Lemont Sanford, aka Arthur Kill aka Kill van Kull aka Lampton, parts ways with Shelley Struthers, his destined soulmate, he feels, his lover in marriage and death do us part, he desires. Trained instinct is leading him to a higher glory. When he finds it, he sends a teleport invite to Shelley to join him and give up the lower form. Thanks Laffoon! And, er, the other ones.
effort to get here
It’s always fun when The Woods gives you something that directly resonates with your writing. Witness this 14.3 pound Fit For Life weight found just off a path pretty far away from any house, and an object I don’t think was there about a month ago when I first hiked it. Brings to mind both the blue ball or sphere seen in the last post, coupled with the reference of Shelley’s desire to take up weight-lifting a couple of posts before that. Now I’m convinced she needs to — bulk up her upper body to better fit into her male oriented wardrobe now. We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for continuing to read this stuff my fellow adventurers! We stay on the Orient-like Omega continent for at least the start of the next section. Let’s turn the Page again…
Someone emasculated that poor statue over there, she thinks, then continues to read.
Omega continent — might as well, ahem, bone up on the history since it seems she’ll be staying here a bit. Let’s see, Trojan-Durexian War… could have swung either way, interesting. Southern Bypass a key turning point, yes. She recalls that General Duncan led the charge for the Durexians, a black man.
Arthur Kill Lemont Sanford told her this — is one of his heroes, right. Died unjustly for a cause and all, like Joan of Arc, one of my heroes.
And here she sits in a park where one of the important battles took place, or so say the locals who make a decent profit off of selling war souvenirs, like ink died bamboo shoots for the kids, and bamboo bayonets and bullets for the older generations. According to their pamphlet they even have one of those old Durexian bamboo planes famous for their bombings, as in failings. 1/2 couldn’t get off the ground, but that’s what you have when you base your air force on *magic*, nay voodoo (she corrected). Take away 2 or 3 control witches and everything heads south, as in out of the sky and into your back yard. But, true, their voodoo power was waxing at the end of the war, and the Trojans were good to get out with their heads up when they could. 1942. Or was it 1492? She couldn’t quite make out the figure on the page before her, as if it was moving about like a spider. Strange effect; strange thought.
There really wasn’t much here. That rock over there with the waterfall is where they tortured and sacrificed the slaves who worked for the Trojans, just to teach them a lesson. Slave Rock, then.
The whole sim was named after another aunt, fascinatingly enough, Beatrice in this case, beloved aunt of a famous local, weightlifting sheriff back in the days. Although there have been other theories tossed around about the appellation’s origin that’s what most go with currently. Mostly Beatrice, then.
And then through Newt, I find the remains of one of those old Durexian wrestling rings where they fought their slaves, and then where the barely victorious but victorious still Trojans, usually without clothes (see: statue), fought the Durexians as their own slaves. I believe that might be the Sheriff’s Castle just behind, where Beatrice lovingly made him soup for breakfast and cereal for supper, etc., devoted Tilists as they were. And that’s what we have to bone up on next: the influence of TILE in the general area. Or General’s area, actually, as in Duncan.
Getting dark. Better head home soon.
Is that a key over there?
Damn. Forgot to log off again and dozed on this bench all night. Must have been influenced by baker’s convoluted text in the middle, made me dream crazy dreams. Like I was black and standing in the center of a sim while children all around threw ink died bamboo shoots at me, woke me up in fact as the pelts became more painful and more numerous. Perhaps I died myself.
She shakes off the haze, stares over at the emasculated Trojan statue again, peers out at Slave Rock, and then across the road toward the Northern Sea, the upper limit of both The Cross and the Omega continent as a whole. Better get up and start exploring again. “Keep moving” will be a theme today, she chooses. No loitering, or as little as she can get away with. Better leave Lemont out of the picture for a while, she understands. Because, together, they can get bogged down, Liz and all.
Learning a moral lesson from her supposed friends Debbie and George back in now destroyed and rebuilt Moray Docks Village, she decides to feed the birds before she leaves, starting the day with a good deed indeed. The sprayed popcorn attracts a colorful array of cartoon-ish looking fowl, with a unique white and colorless one originally perched on her shoe eventually hopping into her lap and announcing to the others that they had had enough breakfast and it was time to move on and let the little lady do what she was going to do today. Then he — the white bird — recited what seemed to be some religious verse about gluttony she wasn’t familiar with…
… and flew off with the rest, but not before leaving her a present. He was just that upset and angry.
“We got us a femboy here, Walter,” Chuck says, also indicating the chest while the other watched. “A frigg’n *fern*, yeah,” he now laughed. Chuck knew what that meant and Walter did too. Fern was code for “fun with blue”. They said this exact thing to Shelley, going as Scheldon today to more easily break into houses. What had she gotten herself into, though? She should have never worn that alpha on top. If they only knew.
“No, you don’t understand,” she attempted in vain. “It’s just the pandemic…weight gain…” All she could do was stand there and take it like a, well, woman actually. Franklin had one but she didn’t. Hers was fake as stated. “Just lift it up,” she said, “lift up the shirt and see; it’s all still down there still,” but they were having none of it this morning, needing a little bit of ball breaking to start the day off right — any excuse.
“You can put down the sign Johnny. We’re here. The South I suppose.”
“Awww,” he exclaimed with a voice between a man and a child. “No one honked at it. Not one single car or boat or whatever.”
Probably because you look like a total dork, Shelly thought from the front, glad for the failure. *She* certainly didn’t want to see it. Or, hmm, did she? “That’s too bad,” she said aloud.
“And I wore the pants with the loose zipper so I could get them down easier.”
What a *dork*, she thought again for emphasis, and realized the double meaning. How did I get stuck with this looser? She thought back. She was in the North, yes. She was being arrested. Then: black, I mean *blank*. White out, actually.
Johnny finally laid down that confounded sign and peered out the window. He could see water. He knew it was Linden because of the reflections — Shelley always had the advanced graphics on when she drove to see better. Nice here; a bit of shade — an actual wooded area, a small forest, behind of the bus now. Shelley knew where she was. But how?
There were several things Shelley wanted to do. She wanted to play the drums in back.
Check. “You sure play super,” spoke Johnny, falling a little in love with the young lass who picked him up along the highway about Linesville. About where the North and South meet. “South,” he said to Shelly about his destination. “Me too,” she said back. “How deep are you going?” “How deep are *you* going?” he questioned back. “Oh, a lake.” Then she drew a blank again. Someone had told her about the lake and given her a bus, apparently, but she couldn’t recall who. A lake with a forest and lots of sun, she remember it being described. The magic bus will get you there, she also recalled. She got there, yes, but it was as if someone or something else took over the steering wheel.
“Cool!” Johnny exclaimed about lake. “Can I come too?”
And here they are.
Second: the dance.
“You sure can dance swell,” said Johnny, watching on very interested. He was definitely beginning to fall in love. He could stare at her for days.
Third: smoke another joint on the side of the bus. Johnny joined her of course, tied with a tether by this point.
“Boy you sure can smoke,” he said while puffing away on his own, edging a little closer to her between the 5th and 6th tokes and again between the 11th and 12th. He’s starting not to make a lot of sense around the girl, so smitten he was. Compliment *everything*, he decided.
Then he showed off a little too much as he ran inside, honked the bus horn, and then held up a second sign different but similar in style to one he displayed all during the trip down. Would she? he pondered. Is she even going to turn around? Would she at least find it funny?
She did, lucky for him. Else: more ball crunching. But the bus had run out of animations for the poor, sex starved lad. Shelley and Johnny remained separate until 2 days later when something else happened, something out of the blue. At the same time, Shelley remembered.
“Look out below!” she called, her hair not getting wet quite yet. She wanted to add, “femboy above!” but caught her tongue. Why would she say something like that? Then it hit her OOOF! She remembered. Right in the
crotch stomach. Good thing she wasn’t pregnant!
They later talked about it in front, a looked over final animation. Then they’d have to leave the bus or else chance just repeating themselves over and over, however pleasant the experience was the first time around. She knew she loved playing the drums now — she could find others. She knew she dug dancing, and actually there’s a line dancing joint just across the lake they can go to for that. As far as living quarters and being able to sleep and do some other stuff via animations, they had found the perfect spot, also across the lake but a little further back from the water, behind that other interesting club which always seems to contain so many avatars. She went yesterday and looked them over. All AFK, all ready to serve their purpose while the owner was in all likelihood absent from the scene. How interesting, she thought. Kind of terrifying but still…
She had no desire to join in this kind of fun. She had Johnny for the moment. When they moved into the Big Boy Apartment, she always kept a hand over his face, though; imagined someone else’s over top of it if possible. Looks aren’t everything, she knew, but they were *something*, and Johnny had none really. But he was talented in other ways.
two to see
“Is that the guy from ‘Twin Peaks’?”
“Yeah I think so. You know… we’re not going to be able to stay here, you and I.”
“Oh yeah. Why not? Am I suddenly not good enough for you, Shelley?” He huffs a bit. He was expecting this sometime but was hoping to delay it until after football season. He enjoyed watching 2 games in one through this dual TV setup. He wouldn’t be able to afford 2 on his own.
What could Shelley say? That the sex eventually didn’t make up for the looks? Surely he knows about the hands by now, and the hiding of the face. And it’s getting uglier, she admitted, in the bright light of day. In the dark it’s easier to pretend. She hoped she could get use to it. Not working.
That night she dreamed she was trapped inside the stomach or innards of that big stuffed purple bear in the living room, ready for birth that never came. In the dark herself. Satisfied with the lot of her life.
But she woke up, ate her Toastie Oats cereal, choco chip dodecahedron style, and, staring out through the iron grid window at the magic bus from whence they came — parked down by the water still — understood anew that she needed to be on her own for a while. She looks over at Johnny’s mug. Jeez it’s worse than ever this morning. It’s like he was made to be disgusting. And, she then realized, perhaps he was… perhaps this is all… some kind of ruse. A test. She’d had flashes about who gave her the bus, who sent her here. A woman named Wilson who was also friends with a Fox. A person who — was much like herself, yes. A *mother*, she discerned, turning her table around to stare at the bear.
Birth is what you make of it. Cradle to grave, but in the middle, always The Cross. Which she’s on. She’d been absorbed in the Omega continent’s north to south arm! Somehow that made it both more real and more irreal at the same time. Birth, she realized. It is coming. Or: not.
“Dear, sorry, you’re kind of in the way of the TV.” That grating man-child voice too(!).
She stared at it now. “It’s a *test pattern*, Johnny. Get over it.” Just like this life she’s living here, she also thought.
“Oh. I thought it was a show.”
“So did I, Johnny. So did I.”
(to be continued)