Tessa (for study only!)


NOVEL 09


no narrow escape

Dr. I.C. Yourinsides knew that this narrow boat would never make it off the wide New Island beach. The magnetic attraction of the place had snared another one.

For the moment, Tessa laid the blame somewhere else. “Oh no, Grandpa. What have you gone and done *now*?”

Sh-t, he thinks from the back. Can’t steer this thing worth a lick!


alchemy

“We should tell Tessa the truth, Monsieur Gold,” she spoke after finishing her meal.

“You mean that we are actually brother and sister as well as husband and wife, Madame Silver?”

“No — although that may be handy later on.”

“That the killer sharks she is so fond of are actually whales?” he guessed again.

“No, not quite yet on that one either. She’s having so much fun with them, and she detests whales as you know. Considers them noisy.”

“They should have never bought her that Engelbert Humpbackdinck record at such a tender age.”

“Right.” She picked up her sterling silver fork nervously and then set it down again. “No, I think it’s time to talk to her about the experiment, Monsieur.”

“The one that went right, or the one that went wrong, Madame?” he asked.

“The latter.”

“Ahhh,” he uttered, thinking back…


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

“What do you think Baker Bloch?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s the ‘wrong’ part about it.”

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

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

—–

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

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


futures

He looks down at the Orion’s Vale sinkhole and dreams of a Corsica continent that could have been.

But perhaps the dream contains pathways of possibilities yet.

Back to future Yd Bay:

Yes it got worse for Grandpa Gold and Tessa Fish. Especially Tessa. North Yd: a post-apocalyptic town not to be played around with.


“No. Uh-uh.”

Grandpa Gold knew that if they didn’t get out of there by sunset there may be no escape from the darkness.

“Grandpa. Get *down* from there. No playing around!”


N. Yd

“Tilers, Tessa. It marks this place as safe after all, despite the surface malignancy.

But we can’t take a chance anyway this time — fog rolling in; darkness too. We better ascent that tall ladder over there to higher ground for the night.”

“I’m *more* than ready to get out of these lowlands,” Tessa offered, staring back at the pirate ship from whence they came. Shark references everywhere. And not in a good and beneficial way. *Those* signs are there too, and in much more profusion. Tessa thinks that her Grandpa Gold puts way too much stock in these Tilers he goes on about at times. Left their signets here, dropped their talismans there. Sanctified grounds, he states and walks forward. Nothing malicious has happened… *yet*. And this is just the kind of place to break the lucky streak.

“We’ll come back in the morning if possible,” he says. “If Tilers were here then there is surely more to look at and study.”

“Whatever.”

—–

The next morning, on the same spot:

“Oh the weather is *much* better now,” Tessa voiced sarcastically. “I can barely see 20 feet in front of me.”

“The tile here indicates safety, however,” her grandpa reinforced. “Safe to split up, then. You examine the buildings that way,” — Grandpa Gold points behind Tessa — “and I’ll work my way around from this end — counterclockwise — until we meet up somewhere in the middle. Is that okay?”

“If you say it’s safe, then I suppose it’s safe,” says Tessa, doubting the words coming out of her mouth but also putting her trust in who she assumes is a wiser and older being.

“Saves time that way,” he adds without verification from the child. “See you in the middle.” He turns away from her and walks toward the first structure in his direction. Tessa begins on her side.

—–

“Freak show eh?” Tessa speaks aloud at one of the westernmost structures of the compound, thinking back to something called the Elephant Man, she believes. Nothing to make fun of! But is this an octopus who has the features of a man or visa versa? Anyway — not alive. Taking a picture and moving on…

—–

“Nothing in there either.”

“Oh, there you are already, Grandpa. We meet in the middle, I suppose. Anything on your side?”

“A church,” he states.

“Tilers?”

“I think so. The right colors. They were indeed here. But first: let’s look in the last house of all. Together.”


slenderman

“How long has it been, Tessa?” an older Grandpa wheezed. He was the more valuable platinum through and through now.”

“4 years. You’re old, Grandpa. You need to rest here a while.”

“Is my tie on straight? Can you tell my teeth from my face still?”

“You look great,” his grand niece lied.

“Send her in, then. We must get the pricing over with.”

Liana the owner enters her heavily windowed coffee shop and immediately begins hanging tapestry. This was not who they were expecting. Where’s Sally?

Looks like Grandpa will live to see another day.


Middle House

“Who are you?”

Tessa suddenly understood. “Um. This is not good, Grandpa.”

“Don’t get up sir.”

Too late.


NOVEL 12


rat tales

Dr. Brown knew a thing or two about sniffing out mysteries. He’d been doing so most of his life, especially a particular one involving the Cult of the Three Suns. Clues had been flying in from all directions recently. And now another had fallen in his lap: a pregnant Pat or Patrick Starr, connected with *North Yd* of all places (pronounced like “North Wide” just so you’ll know). Tilers, he thought from his secret underground lair, far far away (spatially and temporally) from the simpletons at Eotia Village. Squid people. Opposite sides of the circle, one dead and stuffed, the other living and breathing and… preaching. Vicious cycle — no, not vicious — *natural*, a comes around, goes around sort of idea. But now he had to find Tessa. She was the key.

Less than a half year ago; North Yd:

“The tile here indicates safety, however,” her grandpa reinforced. “Safe to split up, then. You examine the buildings that way,” — Grandpa Gold points behind Tessa — “and I’ll work my way around from this end — counterclockwise — until we meet up somewhere in the middle. Is that okay?”

—–

—–

I could spend the rest of my life staring at these walls and learning nothing else. I can’t believe all of the months from my past I did so. Nascera, he thought bitterly. Turns out nothing’s here. Nothing atall.

Even Reginald appears to be gone.


the fruity one

“128, 128, Mr. Baker. I had to come out and talk to the tree.”

“Really, Ruby Fantasie?”

“*Noooo.*” But: yes, Ruby Fantasie had to come out to get further instructions from the tree. At the centre of the sim (Fruity Islands). She wasn’t going to let Baker know that, however. She splits in two.

“Let’s go back inside now,” she ordered after receiving.

—–

“Come on, come on, hurry it up.”

In a poof of pollen the vines part!

—–

“A choice here, Mr. Baker. I’ll let you choose.” For that is what the Ruby Tree told Fantasie to do.

Baker walks left.

——

“This pool is where we came in from the waterfall. Those torches over there mark the entrance. We’ll never be able to dry out today. Good thing it’s so hot; but not down here.” She sneezes. “Catching a cold, I believe.”

“Just beyond that bend behind the fruit bats, Fantasie,” Baker declared while pointing ahead, obviously in The Trance now. He doesn’t shiver atall.

—–

Inhabitants! thought Fantasie. Dear, lordy me. I’ve never seen *this* before. The tree was right!


Tessa.


robots don’t dream

She was having that nightmare about blood spilling out an elevator.

Later, she really wanted to eat that piece of chocolate raspberry cake but didn’t have the stomach.

“You can have it Tess.”

“I ain’t hungry neither this morning, Mabel. Mud again,” she summarized her own nightmare.

It was all Robert’s.

“Gimme, gimme, gimme,” he cried while reaching.


nexus

So after finding her Grandpa had turned fully platinum from gold, Tessa ran screaming through the north gate of North Yd and into the cave without even thinking, destined to be trapped perhaps forever inside its seemingly endless passages.

Until Baker Bloch and (Ruby) Fantasie showed up.

“Hi.”

But Tessa couldn’t see or hear them yet. All she noticed was a cooler breeze which made her shiver.


B.

Ahh. Theere she iss, crossleggedd in the middlle of thee roadd. Just liike Bakker said shee would bee. At Bbb.

Affectt the locall languagge againn, Ruby Fantasie thought. “Are you alright child?”

The girl indicated the house on the other side of the road.

Ahhh, Sam *Bee*, she. And soo thiss must bee Tessaa (!) “Don’t you worry, child,” she then comforted. “I’ll handle the man.”

The girl nodded in understanding (she had witnessed the appearance of these tiny cars several times before; knew what they meant) and Ruby Fantasie continued down the road, already beginning to plot some lessons for her black magick practicing friend. She knew he saw her too.


one way

“2:01, Mabel. Who do you think will come through today?”

“We can only hope,” replied Tessa’s likewise observing Martian friend, bracing for the “norm”.

“Bloody fairy,” uttered Tessa disgustedly, spotting the wings first. “Put her across the tracks with the rest. I don’t even want to speak with this one.”

“Me neither,” echoed Mabel, still not over the incessant babbling of the impossibly exuberant Bubbles.

She points for the confused newcomer.


Joining her brethren.


HF

“Sure you don’t want next game, Grandpa?”

“No, Tessa, thank you.” Because he was looking for someone.

Within.


HF 02

“Hoomer. Hoooomer. It is I. Carrcassonne. Come to take you back. You come back, I come back.”


unraveling

“I had to get rid of the doll house, Mssr. Gold. We were getting too close to the truth.”

“That’s all right Mr. Platinum. I know where to find another one.”

—–

Across the room…

“Our view has changed. Our *castle* has changed, Norris.”

“I don’t like it. I don’t like it one *bite*.”

—–

In the other room (the *only* other room now that Murdock’s castle has shrunk)…

… Petunia begins manipulating documents so that the correct reality might return.


Vortexville

She thought the new thing on the tracks looked like a ballerina but knew it wasn’t. This one was without heart.

“Oh hey guys. Already time for another fairy watch?”

“Don’t touch it, don’t touch it,” they implored.

“Oh I know.”

—–

They didn’t know what to do with him after he just appeared out of nowhere in the heart of Collagesity. Right in the ballerina. He seemed to like popcorn, but kept feeding the little heads attached to his body instead of his own head. He claimed to be from a place called The Great Fracture. On one side: him (he explained). On the other: Nevermind or Nevermore, names which he exchanged freely. Then to the right a person called Hidi or Heidi or Hayden (something) — again when we asked to clarify the spelling it never came. The “direction left” he couldn’t talk about yet. That would remain a “stalwart mystery” as he put it in his tinny, warbling voice.

—–

“I can’t get these dal garn chips open, Bauer. I’m just going to have to bites through the bag.”

“Alright Jethro.”


Ruby Fantasie: savior

“It’s so beautiful Zoidboro. Just like you said. The trees would grow, the water would go. I’m ready to name my baby.”

“Jackson, then?” guessed Zoidboro, steeling himself for disappointment.

“No, a compromise. If our son is very special — say, can do 6 butterflies in a row…”

“What’s a butterfly?” queried his cephalopodic partner while watching yet another shooting star cross the sky.

“That’s right. You never went to dance school like me — sorry. It’s a cartwheel where your hands never touch the ground. Anyway if he can do 6 of those as opposed to, say, 4 or even 5, we will call him Jackson. Otherwise: Daniel. Danny will be a good boy, I’m sure, but not special. Jackson is reserved for Special.”

“Like Jack’s son.”

“Yes. I wish 100 times over that he is special, but we must love him equally either way.”

“Agreed,” Zoidboro quickly returned.

Patrick turned away from the sky and toward his partner, his ally. “And now, it’s time, to go, inside.”

—–

“I have found them! In the heart of the Pineapple Island. My intuitions are correct!”

“And across the street: another tiny car! This must be the controller.”

“I’ll go inside.”

—–

“Ahh. Should have guessed. Tessa.”

“Who are you??”


arrival 02

“Philip! Come here!”

—–

“She said her name was Edwardston. I figured that was code for something.” Billy Jean Kidd had an opinion but bit her tongue for a change. “She said she was waiting for spring to arrive in Rosehaven before properly returning. I told her the snow’s melting, melting, melting as we speak — shouldn’t be long. She said she had to wait until it was good and gone because she didn’t like snow one bite. ‘One bite’, she said. Not ‘one bit’.”

“A byte is 8 bits,” offered Philip to one side. “I learned that in my computer science class.”

“The one you failed. Speeding through your assignments all the time and not paying attention to what you were doing.”

“How about you?” Philip countered to his old school chum Marion. “Always high. Always slow… to learn.”

“Admittedly it was a blur. The whole school thing… but — anyway — getting back on subject, Edwardston said she knew all about the Oracle.” He paused here.

“Well?” urged Billy Jean Kidd on the other side, finally showing her impatience again. They had a 15 minute window here at the Vineyard cafe to talk about something serious, very serious, in as clear a way as possible. And it was 5:36 now. They were 6 minutes in — almost halfway into this theoretical space. Rainbow space. BJK indicated their time limit to the others.

“Aww, that’s just something you made up,” insisted Philip to her left. “It’s not like at 5:45 I’m going to get up, go to one corner, pull out my dime bag of cocaine, line it up neatly on the table, and then take a straw and sniff, sniff, sniff — very quickly.” Philip imagined how pleasant this would be, and the resulting state.

“Yes you will,” states Marion plainly. “You always do. 15 minutes after sweets. Always the same story.”

“5:39 now,” issues BJK, pointing to the watch still not on her wrist.

“Anyway,” continues Marion. “She said the tiger pictures were placed at the end of the tale on purpose. And then — get this — she said she came from *between* the two of them.”

“What’s that mean?” inquired BJK.

“I asked the same thing to Edwardston and she didn’t respond. Instead she got up: ‘Walk with me,’ she said. There was another part to explore. The large balcony was just the beginning of the end, she said. ‘Walk with me,’ she repeated.”

“5:42, now,” implored BJK, sneaking a glance at Philip. His forehead had begun to perspire. So little time left!

“We rounded a corner of the large room and entered another one, with a window facing the opposite direction — toward the north instead of the south, I believe. A man named Pat sat on a couch surrounded by cats.”

Philip gets up from the table.

“Time’s up,” BJK declared, throwing her hands in the air.


arrival 03

It took them half a day to reach another of those clear spaces where they could make enough sense to each other for more of the story.

“A railroad oval. An engine runs into a caboose. Tale before the tiger,” Marion explained. “A race between beginning and end, she said. Tale wins.”

“Maybe tails win,” Billy Jean King said while sitting on a small bed in the corner of the otherwise almost unfurnished and undecorated cabin. “As in a coin. Flipping a coin — heads and tails.”

“Maybe.”

“What else?”

“She said to always pay attention to the blue roses. They always indicate something. We looked west now. Two thrones — blue roses to side. She said these were the Prince and Princess of Rosehaven, but only when Caledon is Caledonia.”

“See?” BJK nudged Philip sitting beside her in the ribs. “I *told* you it was Caledon. Maybe we were in the wrong place to start with.”

“No,” insisted Marion. “We were definitely in the right place. Caledonia. And then — get this — they removed their, er, masks. Actually the Prince had on some rainbow swirly globe or something — over his head. The princess just shed her golden skin, like a snake. ‘Let the waters rise,’ they said in unison, then. I looked around but didn’t see any water, let alone water rising. But something had changed. I could feel it.”

I also noticed there was a tiny bit missing from the Prince’s fin-foot, like it was bitten a little bit.”

“A little *bite*,” BJK insisted. She turned toward Philip knowingly. Philip just stared back blankly.

“The Princess’ shoe was right there.”

“Achilles heel?” BJK offered, visualizing it backwards in her mind.


NOVEL 17


Mood:

Isolated.

He heard someone over the waves. “Aww, you got me, Baker Bloch. Remember Mabel? Your old Martian pal?” The voice faded, to be replaced by another. “And me? Tessa. We’re still in the cave! Find me, find me, find me…” the second voice echoed, as if in a, well, cave.

He was ready to step off Dog Island and come back to mainland.

Or at least the bigger, less isolated island in front of him currently.

—–

Then he found *her* as well. The ex. She spoke without turning while dancing on a west facing patio. “You find *them* or I’ll find *you*. And you know what I’ll do to you when I do!” She faded as well. He was starting to sweat coldly.

A smoking gun dropped from the sky, barely missing him.

Still hot to the touch, he picked it up. He realized he would need this gun to get to the cave. A person would be in his way. And that person was…

—–

“Herbert. Herbert?

Herbert!!”


truth too

A warning, Miss Ruby. Princess Merry Gouldbusk has forgotten who she is again and is about to enter the cave system. Rose–”

“Don’t say it,” interrupted Ruby Fantasie, tired of the word.

“Yes ma’am,” acquiesced Rules of Rose. “Anyway, Baker Bloch tried to wake up while there but couldn’t.”

“Yes, but Baker Bloch must be close *now*. Else I couldn’t talk this way.” She eyed Rules of Rose, who had just flittered in through the portal, more closely.

“We found the gun,” Rules of Rose continued. “Inside the game. Benny Right Horn…”

“Benny *What* Horn?”

“You know, the fat– er, more weight challenged half of the Horn Brothers. Like in Twin Peaks.”

“*Tessa* is from Twin Peaks, or very close. Aren’t you Tessa?” Ruby Fantasie squinted across the tracks but still couldn’t make out Mabel and Tessa in the darkness over there. If they even were there.

She returned her attention to Rules. “Well it was a ridiculous story, true. Me in Rose– that place — in the winter. Bahhh! Only in the spring at best and when the blog isn’t filming me. And *Norris* here. Does he look wee to you, Rules of Rose?”

“Not atall,” agreed the elven fairy with the high doo, looking beyond Ruby Fantasie to the far chair of the group.

“No, this is who we are,” declared Ruby. “And we’re here now. What is this place again?”

End of Time, ma’am,” proud she could say the name this time. She looked toward the glowing entrance, white with light.

“We wait,” commanded Ruby Fantasie, knowing the question in her mind.


boats

She just had to get out of that cave system for a while. She’d just learned about the death of Mssr. Gold (again). Her grandfather! Tessa ruminated about the good times driving around that old, clunky narrowboat. Taking it here, there, *everywhere*. Anywhere her grandfather could dream about. And now he’s gone (again).

Oh well, she thinks while getting up out of the old boat and walking toward the cave mouth. He’ll probably be back tomorrow or something.


different tracks

“Ahh. *There* she is, Rules of Rose. Hitting the tracks again.” She tries to call over once more, a little softer than before, knowing the futility of it. “Tessa. Tessa, honey. It’s me. Your Aunt Ruby.”

“She still can’t see or hear you,” states elven fairy Rules of Rose beside her. “It’s — different over here.”

Ruby Fantasie folds her hands over her lap, leaning back. “I know.” She sighs.

“It’s because of me.” Rules of Rose puts her hands to her eyes, beginning to cry (again). “I’m so sorry *sob*”.

Tessa makes her way back into the heart of the cave system, seeing/hearing nothing.


Bellisaria

She walked and walked, further than ever until the one track became two, as it always was. And always will be. She sat down in the middle of the split to remember who she was/is/will be.

I am Tessa from in or near Twin Peaks, she told herself. Old and yet young here. Between the red and yellow in front of me…

… and the blue and green behind.

Split. Like realities.

She will not move until someone comes and helps her choose.

But then a scary bug appears beside her and makes her choose anyway. “Shite!” she exclaims while jumping off the bench onto the wrong track.

The year: ’42. She heard distant bugles. A faint smell of burnt copper was in the air. She knows which reality she’s in. And it’s not the right one. The Realm of Fear.

End of Time was a *sanctuary* she realized. Once she stepped back in the light, all was exposed for what it is.

But she must forget all this and get back to the cave. It was only an experiment, see, a dream even. Trouble is, she was heading the wrong way.


Bellisaria 02

It was already night. She needed to bed down for a while. She decided to approach one of the innumerable Victorian houses near the railroad to get information if possible, perhaps beg for a place to rest. Just a while, she rehearsed. Just to get my bearings. She was choosing realities just on instinct. Good.

Then Tessa spotted what she thought was a lake behind the house and went there instead, noting the bridges on opposite sides of it, about equidistant from each other from this vantage point. She sat down to meditate on the subject. She later learned her lake was actually an estuary, lying between mainland here and a queer, curly island over there. Eventually the name of the island, for her, became Curly-Cue, usually shortened when writing to Curly-Q. She also understood the Q stood for Queer, because it was.

3 other islands existed in a small archipelago with queer Curly-Q: one almost as large but much more regularly shaped; another, also curly shaped but simpler — not as bendy-twisty — and about as large relative to the second as the second is to the first; then the smallest, about 1/4the the size of the 3rd largest and containing no houses atall unlike the others. That was the one that she eventually chose as “home” in this strange land beyond the cave system she had stumbled and bumbled upon by accident, just by sticking to the tracks and thinking she could never get in trouble that way. She wasn’t as lucky as fellow cave dweller Guyd, then. Because Guyd avoided the tracks.

There was no need to look further.


“Home”


end 04

Before heading over to Kowloon, Jer Left Horn makes a stop in VHC City to pause and reflect on the recent death of the user behind longtime Virtual Hotel Chelsea manager Enola Vaher. Although I didn’t know the avatar (or user), VHC City, centered around the huge hotel, figures prominently in my mythology through, primarily, The Diagonal, which is now one (Head) of 2 (also: Heart) I’ve found spanning the Heterocera continent. I hope the hotel can carry on beyond this blow, and certainly the rental situation there continues to be healthy and, most likely, self sustaining for a while. Many musical events go on all the time there as well.


Jer Left Horn at Enola Vaher’s “Finely Torn Id” gallery in what I call VHC City.

—–

Moving on to Kowloon, Jer Left Horn decides to first stop by Fish Head’s bar to catch up with all the latest news. The first thing he notices are the bent stools in the back.

“Fight in here, Head?” he questioned while sitting down at the nearest, upright stool, becoming suspicious off the top. He had his knife at ready in the belt under his jacket just in case.

“Oh, you know. Typical Tuesday night. Some of the Queen’s gang letting off steam.”

*You’re* one of the Queen’s gang, Jer Left Horn thinks to himself. Why the separation between you and them? The hand slides down to grip the handle of the knife.

“Like who?” he tried to ask as calmly as possible. “Norton Wise Turtle?” He forced a smile here. Everyone knew the big man-turtle was a first rate troublemaker.

“Yeah, him. And, let’s see — Space Ghost!”

“*Space Ghost*?” Jer Left Horn turns left. Then: nothing for a long while.

——

He wakes up in some kind of pod swimming with shrimp, it appeared. He keeps his eyes frozen, military training snapping into action in a moment of crisis.

“You’re getting old again, Space Ghost. Better head back to the time machine,” requested likewise observing TronAxis. “The shrimp have almost extracted all the information they need.” TronAxis returns his attention to Jer Left Horn’s floating form in the cylinder: the still frozen eyes, the glazed over look. Shouldn’t be long though, now, he thinks. Is there life already in that face?

The cylinder shatters. Jer Right Horn steps out, dry as a whistle, knife ready. The shrimp flip and flop helplessly around the floor amidst the spilled yellow liquid and broken glass, task unfinished. Now old Space Ghost knows he’s no match for the young prince and hobbles away from the scene as fast as possible. TronAxis stands steady, light disk at ready. He knew of Jer Left Horn’s military background — should have taken more steps to ensure his secureness. Hindsight is golden I suppose. But this is the way it was suppose to be, he adjusted to the situation. Me versus him.

A narrow boat materializes before the fleeing Space Ghost in the middle of the pool of water just beyond the pod room: Tessa, sans her driving challenged grandpa this time but still a dreamer. And this is the aforementioned Kow Pond, also known as Loon Lake. Indeed the center of it all. Thanks to Tessa.

“Gentlemen!” she called back into the shadows behind old Space Ghost. “Set down your arms!”


end 05

They continued to talk while Herbert Gold, dead again, danced frantically at the bus station in the background, obviously in a dream trance. Tessa looked over, convinced that grandpa finally wasn’t going to come back this time. Platinum through and through he was now, with wife April Mae (not related to Tessa except through marriage) truly a widow. The vision made her point more important.

“We *must* set aside differences to explore what remains of Our Second Life, gentleman.” Tessa was wise now, thanks to what happened in Bellisaria, which we’ll get to in a minute. “North — South — it doesn’t matter. Whatever is left of the World of Lemon must be chronicled as best as possible while there’s still time to find traces of it here and there.” She indicated the surroundings with her hand. “Like right here in RustpORt in Heterocera’s Pond District. Why the OR emphasized in the name to highlight the sim here (Or)? Why the water levels at 65 instead of the regular 20 — an anomaly common in this area? Such broad mysteries, ready to be explored, must not remain unanswered or our overall mission has failed. Gentlemen, this is the test, the challenge. Lay down your arms. Stop bickering and look all around you — observe. The fight you have is small compared to what lies all around. There are still *traces*. Traces can be used to sketch out a broader picture. You *must*–”

“Yes, I know, I know. My military style knife must go,” butted in Jer Left Horn to her immediate left. “TronAxis’ *frisbee* must go. ”

“How *dare* you,” Axis to his left returned. But with a smile now. Indeed the child before them had warmed their hearts, opened their minds with her stories and information. The Bellisaria island she stayed on after leaving the cave system the key to seeing Our Second Lyfe as a globe, a sphere? Incredible! Pode and Anti-Pode: it was the only place — well, the south slice of the island that lay in the sim of Grote — to resonate with land on the opposite side of this world. New Amsterdam revealed, which then became New York but bombed back to New Amsterdam conditions in the year… well, better not reveal that yet. I’ll let Rebl do it later on, who is the same as Parasol. Shame she couldn’t join these avatars in Or for the end of the current Collagesity photo-novel.

Oh wait. There she is.

“1926,” she answered cryptically to the camera, still with one red and one blue eye. The underwater operation was a success. Or was it a complete failure?

END OF “COLLAGESITY 2019-2020 WINTER”!


NOVEL 23


a lala 02

For Tessa Doom, the oh so brief whale song The Mann experienced on Pickle 02 wouldn’t stop.

“No no no no NOOOOO!”


00230515

It was in the 4th valley, or perhaps it was the 5th, that Jeffrie Phillips actually found something solid and concrete and pertinent to his mission. He kept staring at that tree in front of the rock wall: something wasn’t quite right here. A cave! he intuited with his enhancing Pan-Z mind conditioning. But hidden — someone or something is doing the hiding and he’s going to find out. This is where he will camp. Too bad about Sammie, he laments again, not knowing her ill fate. He was luckier than Tickie in that way. One ambulance turned into two as the night went on. Jeffrie heard them, but the sirens blended in so well with the distant whale songs that he couldn’t tell one from the other. Ah yes, those whales, confirming he was a lala. Tessa Doom came to him in a dream that night, a dream so real that it could be Earth, like New York but in the past.

At 2:01 am, in the middle of the dream, the portal opened.

“Grandpa?!”


NOVEL 24


Spotlight Kid


Cow>Loon

Cow Pond, which I had planned to use for a filming location, has suddenly been dug out and deepened, with this mysterious structure positioned inside. The owner implies in her description that it can’t be figured out, so I won’t try. Plus the property is restricted at least for the moment. But this *is* Cow Pond, or *was*, now turned into a lake. This must be Loon Lake (too). And, appropriately, *Tessa* has returned to this here blog and attached photo-novel, 24 in a series of 20. Because Part 02 of “Sunklands Winter 2020-2021” will be its own novel, separated from Part 01. This is a little different than what I’ve done before, but the pattern of 6 sections of about 17 posts apiece (add on a couple of posts at the end as a coda to make a 7th section often) will hold true, I’m assuming.

Last we checked in on Herbert Gold’s oldest grandchild she was going a little la la over in a middle part of a larger Bellisaria island some have started calling Manhattan, because of the similar shape, I suppose, but also because it has a central park of sorts: Millgate. Alright, I just made all that up, but the island is real, and Tessa has definitely associated it with New York (City), close to solving a mystery herself. But — here we go — she was *banned* from this oh so central section as pond turned into lake, deepening the mystery. We have to switch over to a new novel for further development. So here we are: the present.

Tessa has no choice but to walk back up Cow Road to Cow Hill at the other end to meet those responsible for the banning, and an explanation. Plot of photo-novel 24 coming up!


and a leopard too

Carolin saw her approaching the hill from the road. “Up here Tessa!” she called from the designated meeting spot, sacred in the long game. Cow Hill. The Man About Time finally made it. And Tessa’s old cave friend Carolin, whose circumstances we haven’t really delved into yet, with only one post devoted to her so far. Here’s where that changes: novel 24. (Wheeler thinks) we need a new (important) female character, and Carolin is a good fit, helping to fill out the overall macro-picture a little bit more. One novel at a time. One post, one section, one novel. When will it end? What is at the end of *that* particular road? Another too deep mystery with ban lines all around? Let’s see what Carolin adds to the now very big equation, with a large blackboard needed to contain.

Ahh: appropriate. A big blackboard.

And I guess that leaves Man About Time out of the picture currently since his seat has been taken. He missed again! On with the show…


atmospheres

It started in earnest on that first night Tessa saw snow flying. She turned her small head round and round, taking in the wonder of it.

Wheeler seemed to have kind of ended her travels. Now was the time to focus on the meaning of Cow as a whole. Her own half-brother!

She looked up to him, giant for a day.

—–

Meanwhile, at 181 181 Rosehaven Thornwood:

“Peet Archer must have missed the big amethyst cluster because of that blocking tree.” She walks over.

“Quite pretty, and right on The Diagonal of the sim (188, 188).” But Wheeler/Hidi can’t stare directly at it, distracted by the eerie mist all around. Better get back to the Blue Feather for a reset.


Another, more visible crystal cluster at 174, 174.


The Land of Blue and Purple

Hidi-as-Wheeler was and wasn’t All White. There was also pink, another All Noise come to think of it. She had been essentially banned from Bellisaria’s Hideout because of this (noise). She needed to turn back, then. Home. But first, Wheeler-as-Hidi did a little more checking on the Rosehaven Thornwood Diagonal, resisting the urge to change. The rotunda Peet Archer found centered at 223, 223 had been removed. Wheeler/Hidi quietly stands in the middle of the remaining platform, trying to ascertain how far to go in this direction. Rose Heaven? Wonder Years? Pre-MIST? Fire Tree? Something to do with a grown up Toddles who seems to be All Orange. She *wonders* if orange could be another type of noise.

—–

Tessa danced with Chimera a while to prepare for the question. She was a blue hologram but appeared kind of green against a yellow background. More colors (noises). “Ray?” she responds to Tessa’s inquiry, sort of taking her aback. This was the real name of the Blue Thorn? Or was it the Blue Rose. Tessa asks this too. “Ray,” blue and also kind of green Chimera reinforces, a 2n1 herself in the moment.


00240107

It was still snowing profusely. Tessa was almost up to her knees in it. She stares at the setting (rising?) sun and wonders what star it is. Arcturus? Could she be home again? No, she realized. Too yellow. Arcturus is an orange giant.

Or was it Aldebaran?

—–

According to her sensors, someone named Sunny who was also a star stood in the shack at the end of the pier over there. She also had a number: 7. She might know. But grandpa always told Tessa not to approach strangers in Our Second Lyfe without good reason. Was this a good reason? And was this even still Our Second Lyfe, a shared virtual reality that is real to us permanently inhabited avatars?

And as I was typing this, Sunnystar7 disappeared, leaving only boomboom 2020 in the sim with her. Well, there was certainly a lot of boom boom last night at the (baker b.) house in reality reality. In bed by 11 but woken up at 12 as the boom booms persisted until 12:30. But what is time in a pandemic. Hard to keep track of the days, with weeks and months ahead. Forget time. Forget them all, even years. 2020 can go to boom boom hell for all she cares. She lost her beloved grandfather!

(to be continued)


The Land of Blue and Purple 02

He emerged from the 1898 room, unable to speak.

Tessa (Brown) was waiting for him.

—–

Earlier:

“Where shall we split to now?”


G G Club

“I don’t know. I guess I tired of sitting on the Thorn Throne all day. I combined the name into Thron, without the ‘e’, and had a chuckle. I became bored again.

I don’t know. I guess I started some wars because I was bored, sorry.”

“Wars that are still going on *now*,” Tessa said to his side.

“Yeah, suppose. I said I was sorry.”

“How did you become *Ray*, Blue Rose Thorn?”

“Just Thorn. I chucked the Rose with the throne. I don’t know.”

“Stop *saying* that.”

“I — I guess, I suppose, I *realize* — now — it started in Tennessee in that mine. It was my mine. The Blue Rose. I was royal blue at the time.”

“So like now.”

“Suppose.”

—–

Later:

“He’s linked to Winterfell all right. The past of Rose Heaven…”

“… when it and Caledonia to the south were linked.”

“Links all around.”

“Golf?”


00240110

“Just a minute, Tessa, I’m watching Gigi (pause). Okay, she’s gone. Go ahead.”

“I’m trying to *simplify*, Stumpy. I’m trying to become punkish, I guess you could put it.”

“Like being stuck on the 4th side of a mid-70s art rock concept album, yeah. I get it.”

“‘What would Peter do?’ And that kind of thing.”

“Yeah, yeah, I have some advice for you. I’m a good bartender like that.” He shifts from bartender pose 3 to bartender pose 2 to better explain.

“Yeah, what is it?”

“Sorry. Just raising my elbows out from inside the counter. Right. Here’s my advice.”

(to be continued)


end of the tale

“I was still just a young guy at the time. Young Kane young guy.”

“They called you Kane?” Tessa tried to clarify about Jeffrie Phillips’ past. He’d regained the ability to talk and she wanted to try to get as much info as possible out of him before a potential recurrence.

“They called me many names. Sometimes Kane, sometimes Old Kane, even though I wasn’t — as stated — and then…”

“Young Kane?” Tessa ventured.

“No, never that. Odd in retrospect. Then Kane yielded to Spankey yielded to Michael yielded to Clark yielded to Woody. It was a whole county full of names, really. And, yes, now I recall about the Kane name. It was short for Hurricane. My actual name was Rainey, and I had a stormy personality.”

Tessa looked at her watch, felt the back of her tired neck. “We better get to the Borderlands again.”

“Right, so I was standing there, in my tuxedo which I always wore in my younger days, clutching my Philip doll — as always, or as usual.”

“We might get into that later on. About the trail…”

“Bunny trail, yes. So I saw one carrot, and the one carrot led to the next carrot led to the next carrot… kind of like the trail of my names from the past.”

“You said something about the Blue Rose,” Tessa said, trying to speed things up. “About *that* particular name.”

“The carrots led right by them. I was on my way.”

“To… where?”

“The Bunny Trail leads…” He suddenly ground to a halt. Someone was preventing him from speaking further about this subject!

He remembered, but he couldn’t say.


Unhappy

It all started again with the formation of Thornwood. Thornwood exists: I exist, the Rose be damned. But that was the problem. I couldn’t find the roses again because of the thorns. This was an existential dilemma. Rosehaven also did not exist now. Instead: Rose Heaven. Witch Hazel *must* be suppressed (!). She could destroy this queendom-kingdom with a single, steely glance of those evil, dead white eyes. Powerful.

I clutch my Philip Linden doll even tighter. I miss my daddy, *sigh*.

“Don’t you think,” I can hear Tessa in my head (if not in reality, at least currently), “that the truth lies in the ruined village now partially in Thornwood?” I realized this was just me reflecting back to me, but it helped.

The background sound of static. I knew I was back in Room 1898, sleeping in that oh so comfy bed of ours. Tilists — always with the static at night. I wake up (let’s say). Who is beside me? Charlene the Punk? Probably not — (she was) several girls ago. Probably that girl Gigi who hangs around the bar all the time. Just like me. Whatever’s handy at the moment. But I mustn’t wake up, must dream a little longer. I unclutch the doll pillow and turn its face toward me. “What would Philip Linden do?” I ask it. Slot Mountain! came the answer in my own enlarged skull. I hadn’t thought of that slitted peak and attached haunted castle in a long time. Not since…

Time is all mixed up for me now. I know I’m dreaming but it’s even worse than that, because when I wake up, it will still be all wonky, like Willa. Hey, I could use that (expression) in my memoirs: Wonky like Willa. Slip in some more comments about chocolate and sweets in general to balance things out. Maybe delete that section about arsenic; too much of a downer, like the barbiturate section I eliminated previously. But here I am, wasting precious dream time on my memoir planning. I try to see who is in the bed with me. I’m clutching my Philip doll again, still in the dream.

Behind me, the square piece of land representing Illyria slides up and Thornwood appears in the gap, but brown instead of white like the others. Winter hasn’t come yet, at least not here in the yarn shop. Yarn Shop! Rosehaven? How did I get here?

Wormholes. Must — control — the — wormholes.

I can’t see Green at all now.


End

“Hi Tessa!” Carolin called from above while waving. “Ready to go back in the cave?”

Was she ready? Then she remembered the blackboard, the missing center of the equation. Q. Someone named Q.

She recites what she knows in her head. She is on Crow Island at End of Time. Crow Mountain is above her, the Climax. Meditating Freddie — yes. Bakersworks. They are in a Baker B. work. But… someone is missing. Man – About – T…

—–

“Time,” Carolin finished for her later at the blackboard, writing out three identical numbers in a row, the number of the beast from The Bible. “Now… if we extend this infinitely, what do we have? We have a *7*. So we might as well say it with a 7 instead of a 6 for that third. 667,” she finalized, and wrote it on the board. “Who is…”

“Sepisexton,” Tessa answers, getting smarter all the time, and she was pretty sharp from the beginning. She recalled the capital of Olive, the one before Tin separated and became its own principality, the 7 from the 6. Boy we are really ranging far and wide in time now. But I sometimes write that as far and yd. The man comes out from behind the curtain (4th wall). He is a Woo Woo. He believes in ghosts, cracker jacks, and cereal circles with a prize inside. Q.

“Q.” Carolin points. Red Point. Buick. Boss who is green like Bixby. Canada. They are traveling across the frozen Heartland, trying to reach…”

And that’s the one thing she couldn’t remember that Man of Time did. We are done now.


not soon enough


Green *Yarn*

I dreamed the snow was butterflies.

Wake up, wake up, wake *up*.


occupied

“We’ll have to stay in the caves tonight, Tessa. They’re having some kind of party over on Crow Island in the treehouse.”

“But… I need a new home! I’ve been kicked out of Heaven!”

“That wasn’t heaven, that Green Yarn. Change the name, change the attitude. They don’t deserve you.”

“I’m *not* staying in these caves again. Cold!” Tessa shivers here exagerratedly in her sleeveless shirt.

“It’s not forever.” Carolin stares down the tracks, wishing she saw a ballerina figure instead of a heartless dummy.

Then she was gone.


time-slip

Back in her own camping spot in the caves, just up the tracks from Carolin’s, Tessa was reading a biography of 19th Century German composer Robert Schumann before turning in, and had reached the part where the author was discussing his first major work called “Papillons”, which means butterflies. Tessa recalls the dream again with the snow-as-butterflies, her *last* at Green Yarn, pheh. Kicked out! Just because Jeffrie Phillips slept too long in the 1898 room with his safe, comforting tv static. “This is not a homeless shelter!” she could hear the owner or owners of the sim say upon seeing him in bed. “Banned! And the girl with you.” Another biographer I am, she thinks here. The story of the Blue Rose Thorn.

Oh well, Tessa considers. It’s not too awfully bad in the caves if you have some good books to read to pass the time. And good friends — like Carolin. Too bad about Mabel. Tessa tries not to think back to that awful day in early May when… but she couldn’t help herself. Let them eat cake: she’ll never forget. Mabel saw the passageway and she didn’t. Then: gone. Darn heartless dummies!

—–

Tessa wakes up at 2:01 am with an epiphany. “Q”, she whispers, open Schumann book still in hand. “Curly Q. The island down the tracks!” She couldn’t wait to tell Carolin; morning was too late.

Groggy Carolin didn’t think much of the idea at first but when checking Santa’s list on the blackboard the next day came to understand the significance of it all. We’re going back to New York, she thinks while packing her knapsack for the journey. I’m going… home.

—–

“Carolin?” She turns. “Carolin!!??”


not soon enough remix


00240412

Those black, white (yellow) and red ladies said I didn’t have to stay here that long and that’s probably a good thing. A little too grown up here, in that things are too *big* for me… like this chair. Can hardly see over the edge of the table!

But those flowers are nice in front of me, although they make me do weird things when “touched,” like touch my toes — touch for touch. Maybe I don’t want to touch my toes, I say back. And then they quickly relent — they always do — returning me to my sitting position in the chair. Strange also that they don’t have a vase.

And certainly the *butterflies* all around are a perk-me-up in these dark dark times. I lost Carolin! I lost Mabel and now I’ve lost my next best friend, the one that remained behind and helped me through the first dark times. Robert! she remembered. I totally forgot about Mabel’s lime green robot stored away after her — not *demise*: disappearance. Carolin said he would be too hard to take care of now that Mabel is gone, thus the dismantling, the storage. But, oh Robert, I *do* need you now. You were the third best friend, after second, Carolin, and first, Mabel. But do I want to put you in the same jeopardy that they, unbeknownst to me, were in — just by association? How hard would it be to put him back together? Carolin said: near impossible, when she brought it up every now and then, especially when she remembered the most times small sometimes not as small difference between a second best friend (Carolin) and a first (Mabel). Third could help fill the gap and more. Why *not* try now — what’s to lose (except a 3rd best friend)? So when the black, white (yellow) and red ladies come back I’ll tell them. Maybe they can help with the reactivation, come to think of it. They do seem to feel genuinely sorry for my plight — kicked out of Green Yarn, a thought of *new* home, and then turning into a wanderer again, first at the End of Time caves like before, and then — kicked out again. The black, white (yellow) and red swooped down in their spaceship: set down the cow they had in their tractor beam and latched onto me instead; brought me up in their ship. I wasn’t scared, strangely, like I was use to it. I had nothing to lose. They offered me — hope.

Thus the stay in the treehouse. “You’ll be safe here — for a time,” they collectively said before whisking away back into space.

(to be continued)


Orient 01 02

Baker reading a popular history of the Trojan-Durexian Wars and contemplating the “what ifs” of a Durexian win, an alternate reality. What if… the voodoo spells were a little more advanced at the end; what if… the Southern Passage could have been secured 3 days earlier by Lord Duncan and his crew. Water under the bridge now, because the North defeated the South, although the Great East-West Highway represents a tangible barrier between the two still. So besides being split off, in essence, from the rest of Our Second Lyfe, the Omega continent remains kind of split itself, despite the unifying government. Lisa the Vegetarian played a role in setting all this up. Quartz was her game, and the Omega continent mountains centered around a large lake contained plenty of it. She was able to buy mountain after mountain, selling most of them eventually but retaining some, like the one where Tessa is temporarily staying in that treehouse with a strong butterfly theme. This is her half-sister after all (!). Why wouldn’t she try to help out, now she knows the urgency of the situation.

Baker here sits on the side of the same mountain, staring out at an old Durexian air base with a bamboo plane relic, a heritage site now. Because bamboo didn’t cut it in the end, despite the strong voodoo. Not strong enough anyway; later it got out of hand as poverty increased.


edges

She was told not to leave the mountain she was on. “Don’t go past the Easter Island head,” her half-sister rather commanded on the phone yesterday, knowing the Fall of Man lies all around. They chatted about mom. They chatted about… Bart. “On the lam,” Lisa states, acknowledging her fears. Never got over the Great Black Swamp. “Beware the Wheelers!”, then, “Beware Wheelers!” Or was it “Heelers”? — she couldn’t remember. All she knows currently is that Bart is in the swamp without the ability to TILE, to come back to the flock and rejoin his sister. She recalls the day her grandfather — poor grandad! — told her about the experiments, one that went right (sister) and the other which went wonky (brother). “The sister will be a good companion for you in future times of trouble,” he stated, listening to the ever-present sound of whales, which of course she heard as well but thought they were sharks. “She is older, she is wiser. You will see her every now and then and that is good enough. I’m estranged from Marg, and she’s blocked the visiting rights. But when the time comes, Lisa will make herself known to you. Bart as well, but: Beware Bart. He will be possessed by the Great Black Swamp by that time. The Soothsayer speaks.”

And so now she’s closer to her half-sister than ever, who rescued her from a sticky situation indeed. Kicked out of Green Yarn, a thought of new home where she could examine the whole Ray (short for Rainey) phenomenon in full and the inclusive 2 Barrys, who may be just one Barry now. Heck, Ray and Barry may be the same — the name of the former is included in the latter, after all.

But back to the half-sister…

(to be continued)


snowy peak again


00240505

It almost ended just off the mountain today but not quite; held it in. Back on the mountain tonight with Tessa (safety). “Don’t go past the Easter Island head,” the owner requested, and so she didn’t. But this allowed her to explore Bridge Town on *this* side of the gulf. As long as she didn’t cross the bridge, the one I *barely* made it back across, pheh. But should I have?

Maybe I should name this side of the small burg Necksity or Neck City but I’ll go with Fryburg. Because it is *actually* owned by a Frye, who I’m going to change to Fry, along with that small cemetery on the side of the RL mountain that Lisa the V. probably owns as well, along with Rich. Rich = snowy peak? It’s all coming to a head. In some fashion.

Tessa explores Fryburg — again, she is allowed this because it still lies on the mountain with the butterfly themed tree house.

It would be logical, I suppose, to find Fisher within, since Fisher is the same as Fry in the big picture, and also Fisher, as you may or may not recall (probably not) is *married* to Lisa the Vegetarian. All that drama happened in photo-novel 10. I thought 9-10-11 would cover the Omega continent, and we wouldn’t have to return for any length of time. I seemed to have been wrong. This mountain is important. Frys — all dead at age 65 or earlier. All living now on that mountain which was a blessing. And an impossible mid-winter sun flower just outside the cemetery indicating Lisa’s presence. How beautiful!

A bright idea comes to Tessa as she looks around. One of these, er, airships could be the way she’s suppose to escape the mountain. How about that largest one, that piece of steampunk *junk* over there. She’s good with Grandpa’s narrowboat, which is now hers (if she can make it back home). Maybe she can fix up this old thing to make it run properly.

Fisher within wondered how long it would take Tessa to figure it out. If she has half the brains that his wife did: not long. And so it came to pass that Fisher and Tessa soon made off for parts unknown, but not for at least several more posts. Probable destination: Castle Town, to meet up with the transmogrified Barry De Boy.

(to be continued)


the return of Lockfry/Devil Dave

The path through the gap between the two mountains was so inviting on the ground. Dream Tessa was sooo tempted.

But the air held a different slant. Red bridge. Warning, do not cross! DANGER.

—–

Tessa woke up in the treehouse, determined to fix one of those two old, docked junk ships down at Fryburg. She must resist till then!

But she ended up spending most of the day watching a man working in a small office on the other side of the burg, across the forbidden bridge. What could he be up to? He never paid her any attention. Red as a rose he was. Death itself, some would say.


WX(YZ)

A “W” has been inserted in X City between the 2 X’s that provide the sprawling Maebaleia/Satori crossroads metropolis its name, highlighting, as it were, the X shaped crossroads kind of in the middle of them, the only one on the continent as a whole.

Tessa teleports in, but only finds a smiley face there (Smiley, or perhaps MOM). She had to turn her back on it to get a good picture of the “W” on the inworld map and apologized beforehand, saying she meant no offense and that her directional shadow would get in the way otherwise. She made a note to send the round yellow being a copy of her Beige Magic book later on, because Black would be too dangerous, perhaps make her unhappy in the long shot. Best Beige for the chips and putts, and Brown at most for the irons/middle game. Black is reserved for the woods, the big gunns.

Here’s Tessa’s picture — she’s at the yellow dot in Zugspitze with the, ah, yellow dot, hmm. And, yes, I suppose she’s still dreaming all of this, hence the Brown, Beige, Black for a clearly inanimate object.

Tessa later figures out she is the smiling face: Smiley. And also her half-sister. Maybe even more the latter (hmm, again).


Mysten, 2015


leaving Fryburg

“You know more about the blue rose and the blue thorn, child, enough for now — enough for your understanding.”

“I… understand.”

“Now we must move away from this butterfly themed treehouse on this once quartz laden peak in the Mountain Lake District. We have learned all we can from here. Remember to pack your umbrella. It’s rainey season in the South.”

“I… shall.”


good luck?

You’ll have to dip more than your feet in this TILE Pool to get use to the South, Dream Tessa. Rains down hard there! The rain with the pain, ooouuuch.” Ghost Pac-man reminded me of someone. And also someone else yellow; a rivalry, yes.

‘*There*. If you’re submerged you can’t feel the pain. Let it go, let it all go, the tension, the weight of the world.” The pool was just big enough, head to foot. Like a fitted coffin. Let’s hope the analogy stops there.

Tessa wakes up, gasping and grasping her throat in an attempt to breathe. After she regained her wits she looked about the room and noticed the umbrellas. Lisa the Vegetarian had delivered, as promised. Time to go. No more dreams: reality.


X-City church 01

“Kate! I thought I’d lost you forever.”

“No. I’m here.” But her voice was weak, far away. She waves half-heartedly. She didn’t appear to be herself to Tessa.

“I *saw* you, though. On the beach.” Tessa thought back to Kate face down in the sand at Elven Mist. And the perpetual atomic blast out over the water in the distance. Kate didn’t have on a mask. There was no way she could make it, which, given the ones who did and their actions, maybe was a good thing. Tessa realizes this wasn’t really Kate. Kate was dead. She turned to the other figure acting as a greeter in this X-City church, new in the last year and a half.

“And what is *your* name, sir?”

“Mann. Just call me A Mann.”

“A. Mann? A. stands for something?”

“No. Just A Mann.”

All 3 stood there for a bit, with awkward gestures from the 2 what Tessa now considered simulacra; forgeries of real people most likely; stand-ins.

Music was coming from the front of the church. Perhaps Bach but maybe Handel — Tessa couldn’t quite get a handle on it. She moved forward down the aisle to investigate more, leaving the two figures who she deemed useless for meaningful interaction behind. “Goodbye Kate,” she whispered to herself, not looking back.

But then in front of her appeared the figure of Kate, playing the organ and the classical tune she couldn’t figure out the composer of. Maybe not even baroque. But Kate again! Perhaps this was the real one this time.

“Kate?”

The tune of baroque or baroque-ish design went on and on as Kate didn’t respond to the outside world, engrossed in her playing, it appeared. And those mute singers with their blue choral books seemed so familiar. What was going on here? Ahh, Tessa realized. A dream!

(to be continued)


X-City church 02

“A marriage,” A Mann suddenly said behind her, unseen before and sitting in the front pew. Duplicates again!

“Marriage to who?” Tessa ventured, getting bolder now. She could punch through his face and draw back a brain if she wished. She’d done it before with a coke machine.

“A Womann,” came the response. Kate, or the thing that appeared to be Kate, halted for a moment, hands raised from the keys. Tessa half suspected the singing would begin now, but it never did, the chorus remaining frozen in their spots, blue books still open. She could go check on the name of the composition in it, she realized. Kate’s too — from the score on the organ’s music stand; if there was one.

There wasn’t. The blue choral books proved more fruitful. Handel it truly was! But which part of the “Messiah” was Kate playing? Not the same one as this more familiar bit here. Maybe from the Easter part?

The marriage was beginning. A Mann united with A Womann in holy matrimony. But where was the minister?

“Madam, I’m Adam,” said A Mann.

“A Man, A Plan, A Canal…” said A Womann.

“Panama!” they exclaimed together. Tessa woke up.


southward

Elvis Kannelvis’ small, pine dominated Linden forest, shaped like an arrow, points directly to the center of X-City: the famed crossroads of Maebaleia/Satoris and the symbolic heart of the continent as a whole. As the heart goes so does the land, but right now we’re dealing more with a spade (upside down/oppositely colored heart) situation. A Menace has taken over. Where will Elvis go now? Will he simply remain in this wood forever and ever, finding out more and more information about The Line through nightly dreams?

He’s seen Randolph the Bastard Pirate and Wendy Wheeler Wilson rendezvous almost daily at the Kingpost pirate bar. He knows what goes on there; that was the beginning, what set it all in motion. The Line begins. Then we have Aunt Ginger on the complete opposite side of the 28 sim long phenomenon with the Intrepide tinies, herself being miniature as well most likely. Tealy and Tillie are on their way over there as I type, attempting to figure out the where/who/why of the vast explosion they saw the smoke billowing up from the other day from their home on the shores of Rubisea (also on The Line). Red being Devil Dave is in the mix too but I’m not sure how.

And then there’s Tessa.


“Steady as she goes, Fisher/Philip Strevor/Devil Dave!”

END OF “SUNKLANDS 2021-2020 WINTER”!


NOVEL 25


South 01

It’s just as I suspected. Dopplegangers everywhere, *twins* if you will.

We must follow Tessa to this Castle Town in the South or else: be lost forever. There’s the green ship remaining, a basic duplicate of the one Tessa took to reach her destination. Now is the time…

—–


“Final f-ckingly. Set her down easy!”

Devil Dave was waiting. “They have arrived, sir.”

“Thank you, er, Bendy. Bendy is it?”

“Yessir.” Devil Dave thought he was blacker — because of the poster.


South 02

“But I *saw* you there,” Tessa later insisted at the terminal cafe with the great view of Grandpa Cliffs. Devil Dave waves at Grandpa sitting at the far table and Grandpa waves back, realizing he was exposing too much while locking his knees.

Devil Dave returns his attention to the just arrived girl. “No, Tessa. That was a doppleganger. I have experienced much the same thing here. Our Second Lyfe is breaking down… *has* broken down. The only thing holding us together right now is Collagesity. So we must *choose*, young lady. The waffle house could have manifested in Collagesity but it didn’t because you were led back to Fryburg and the missing junk ship which you had already taken to Castle Town: here. Someone is following in the green one left behind.”

“*That* old piece of crap?” she exclaimed while shaking her head. “They’ll never get it off the ground and in the air. I *tried*.”

“Nevertheless, that is another doppleganger, a ship in this case.”

Fern arrived with their food. Yet another one.


dominos

On a break, Fern rolled the prophecy cubes and then wondered who Tessa was.

She better get back to her shift at the cafe…

—–

“I wish I had better news about the twins,” Fern Stalin later exclaimed to Lichen Roosevelt at the Yalta Bar and Grill down more in the innards of Castle Town. Actually, where we saw Barry De Boy last, taking up pen and paper for the first time and setting down his palette and paintbrush. Actually: both; he’s both an artist and a writer. Just like me. We return to the present conversation…

“All in this spell book?” Lichen exclaims back, surprised at the results of the equation. Q, she thinks. Barry knew all along.

One of the twins walks in. I wish I could say it was the right one but I’m not sure.

Actually I am.


00250307

“Did you create this, Fern?”

“I had a hand in it.”

—–

“Tessa! And… Robert?”


and he had tried so hard

Tessa Doom opened the book before her at random and paper butterflies flew out. She wasn’t surprised. She leaned back, letting them do their thing.

“Think hard,” I implored from the other chair. Whoever I was. Wait, there I am. Not Jeffrey Phillips but someone new. Not Robert Drake Johns, the lime green robot she had restored to be her third best friend which has become the first best friend since the other two, Mabel and Carolin, were either dead or had disappeared, perhaps for good. Not Sandman, since he had left this particular part of Pickleland, the Moon part. Better figure this out, then… to the scene… Let’s just go with Devil Dave tonight, to limit the amount of characters we bring into this here photo-novel, 25 in a series of 1.

David from the well polished palace! Devil Dave and David A.B. are one? He continues: “Is that or is that not your grandpa up there on the balcony?” he reinforced.

The butterflies kept coming. “No,” she said, shutting the book on the lot of ’em.

“Rats”, he exclaimed, settling back as well.

—–

Tessa had long gone before God or God-like David A.B. exited the scene. The church; Sally, he thought, staring straight at it while walking out of the Once Upon a Time bookstore. Maybe he’s over there still.

But: no. He remained in the wrong time. Devil Dave had not been invented yet either.


butterflies

Before heading over to the only real grown up person in the room as far as I could tell, I studied The Munsters a bit more, puzzled by their red Rudolph noses. The mounted rats Rock, Paper — er, Paper, Scissors, Rock — I think — represented a riddle too, a cypher. Better ask the Grandma about it. If this was such person.

I approached. “Grandma?” I tested.

“Tessa,” she corrected in a wavering voice. “You’re looking in the wrong place.”


more Highcastle

Shauna never made it out of the static monster (aka snow monster) realm.

“Shameful waste of life,” spoke investigating Officer Bill Mustardgas over to fellow investigating Officer Michelle Roundup. “But also, wouldn’t you agree, a shameful waste of popcorn, nom nom nom.”

“Agreed! nom nom nom.”

—–

Tessa was nosing around the castle while waiting. “Grandpa?”

—–

“I hear that my step-cousin didn’t make it in from the snow today, Willa. When will it stop snowing? Will it be March?” *sigh*

“Pills!” exclaimed the Registered Nurse, a type of monster herself who had a whole bunch in her hand to cure any ail.

“Put those away and bring the girl to me,” she commanded, wanting to stay lucid if melancholy for the moment. “The Grand Niece”.

—–

“Stop looking over there, child. Stop touching things.”

“Oh, okay,” Tessa agreed while lowering her hand, trying to stay compliant. She knew this woman — creature — before her had valuable information about her beloved Grandpa. Was it possible that he was still alive? She had to find out.

“Look at me, girl. Look me in the eyes.” Tessa did as she asked again. “Do you know who I am? Do you know why you’re here?”

Tessa said she’d heard that she was a member of the family and that she could come to the castle to live if she wished. She was told she could also take step-cousin Shauna’s room soon, and that Shauna was going away for a while and that she might not be coming back.

“That is correct, child,” then spoke the creature before her, who had decided to take the name Daisy Mae March as a sign of hope that the Realm of Snow will end soon. “The Grandpa is upstairs,” Daisy stated, knowing what was foremost in Tessa’s mind.

Joy! Reunion with the most beloved! But then the complete downer was revealed: Grandpa was still dead and only living in Grandma’s head while she herself remained alive. Grandma? Tessa then thought, puzzled. April Mae Flowers?

“Who are you?” she demanded, eyes boring into her now.

“So much pain, Tessa. Yes, you are most definitely one of us.” Joy in return.


confluence 02

“How did it go today, sister of mine?”

“She is *definitely* one of us,” Daisy Mae Flowers replied to Lou Ferrig No, not seen in this blog for a while. Not heavily since photo-novel 4, when she interacted with The Musician in her own, similar realm of Bermingham and took care of his pet dingo for a while, if memory serves — maybe still does.

“That’s great, yes. Can’t wait to meet her. Staying in Shauna’s room I assume?”

“Yes. The snow monsters have her now.”

“Nice — I suppose. I mean, the snow monsters aren’t *that* bad, I’ve heard.”

“They’ve killed 3 million people!” exclaimed Daisy Mae, pushing a popular myth about the actually quite decent blizzard creatures.

“Nah, not what I’ve heard. Do you still get your news from FOX?”

“Lets not go into all that sister.”

“I’m just saying, *dingo* is better — all small letters in that case. Small is for humble; truthful.”

Daisy Mae looked away from her sister, not wanting to start an argument that had no end and would most definitely spiral into the Abyss. She’d seen enough of the Abyss. Instead: “She’s met David A.B. here, the normal one. What I mean…”

“What you *mean*…” continued the sister, “is that he’s not the Devil.”

“No, he’s the God,” agreed Daisy now with her sibling. “At least he *thinks* he’s one.” Both titter with this. They act in unison again.

—–

It was a long time ago and it happened in the theatre below the castle. It was a round concavity full of something but not popcorn this time. Instead: brains, specifically the diamond like brains of David/Dave, who had not chosen a moral direction yet. The victim slumped opposite him. Keith B. most likely, who subsequently acquired his own new brain from… well, let’s just keep some things private for now. The man they called The Barber sings a tuneful song of familiar design while he works.


Pickleland end

He was near the start again, deciding which way to go and whether it was even worth choosing at this point. The house on the hill to the left remained a disappointment, with no Grandma inside except a kindly one named Tessa who was obviously not the horrible monster he’d heard about from several denizens of PickleSong now. But there also seemed nothing of real value or meaning to the right either: no real structures of substance. The red door loomed front and center before him. Dare he (despite the warning color)? There was nowhere else. Except retreat a little further back toward the Portal and thank Brunhilde for the bike, which he never did, and ask for his advice. He seems kindly enough as well. Yes, that sounds like a plan.

“It’s already been taken care of,” offered muscle bound Brunhilde about the door, helping Sandman more than he could know if confusing him in the present. “I’d go ahead and start over: go back through the Portal and start afresh tomorrow. Things will be different, trust me. And, oh, leave the bike behind. I need to pedal to the store up on level 5 today for some bread and eggs and some other stuff.”

—–

Jeffrey Phillips woke up back in the Blue Feather in Collagesity. He wiped the little bit of grit from his eyes (sand!), and looked around at familiar surroundings: the infamous red tie draped around his bedpost, his tuxedo hanging in the corner on an antique coat rack, his Phillip Linden doll beneath him that he’s cried into many a night before sleep. And, most immediate: Charlene the Punk beside him. “Put on a dress babydoll and get out of that babydoll,” he spoke over to the groggy punk. “We’ve got to go see Man About Time and pronto!”


NOVEL 33


dangerous

“It’s a beautiful land, this Dairocha. But ultimately it does us no good if the library still isn’t there. Central! Right Wheeler?”

Wheeler, having determined this some hours back, had already left the scene. She was ready to complete this here photo-novel section about the Nautilus North elsewhere. She was Alysha now, aka Helen aka a lot of other names. But especially Helen, she felt. The antique village of Lips or One Pink called.

Under the big cross at the top of it all, he too changed. Sheriff R.V. Trailer it is to end. Wait!…

Just below. Sweeping. Lots of it; multiple brooms obviously involved. It reminded him of another place he needed to go first.

Multiple sweepers don’t remain any longer at this southeast corner bar of Odie just off Route 12, to his disappointment. Then he met grown-up Tessa and things changed even once again. He was immediately attracted to her waist high tattoo of 2 six shooters. How clever, he thought. Pointer. She leaned over and said her new name in a low voice, obscuring the ink.

He automatically leaned in too (*kiss*), One Pink or Lips transformed.


00330216

He was back again. He looked down at his hands: fully white now. Return to his old self.

“How about you?” she said.

“W-what?” He looked around, remembered the sweepers. Witches. Witches did this to him. Now he’s returned. Fisher Rig, the dimwitted bottom half to his top, was gone. He was out of his cell, 7 day sentence over; free at last. That Poop file was deleted, if not the other. He still had work to do.

“You’re name, silly,” she said, grinning and shifting her feet around, suddenly shy, as if embarrassed about what she’d revealed. An act, I say.

“Oh. Edward. Edward Daigle.”

And he was. He looked up and recognized his cousin, the third person that was playing the fated Alphabet Soup game with him back in the 5th grade.

“Tessie?”


00330301

She said she lived in a motel just up Highway 12. That was a lie. She said she was behind on her payments. Another lie. She said she had a great view of Big Cedar from her room’s window. Guess what: another lie, a fib in that case but still a lie. Pattern of a deceiver.

All she was after, all along, was the big monster book about Arkansaw, stolen from the Dairocha library in what’s-its-number novel (one of the more recent ones). The one Wheeler/Alysha was still after but couldn’t find, even when she tried the invisible realm. Still not on the invisible shelf before her, no matter what kind of light partner in crime Baker Bloch used to illuminate the situation. If the library had been removed, they determined, then there was no real center to the hollowed out volcano village that is Dairocha and thus no use in hanging around there and creating more little stories and whatnot. They and their now *huge* collection of attached avatars and characters had to move on, although a return is obviously possible. Nautilus keeps surprising and surprising. Must be the outside energy of our grand US of A penetrating the whole hypercube structure. This will continue for some time. I have time. I must have patience. Relatively unyielding and begrudging characters like grown-up Tessa irk me. What happened to her that made her leave her family nest and move to high and dry Nautilus, full of basically abandoned beige ridges and better populated but heavily banned green ocean front properties? The search for Lemon World? Traces? That must be it. Holed up in a mysterious hotel in the shadow of a beige mountain obviously linked to the real world (Lemon World?). Hiding secrets in order to protect her identity and purpose. It didn’t add up to her recently-united-with cousin D’Eddy, who she knows as Edward and not Eddy. Eddy was the other cousin who was playing that fated game of Alphabet Soup to her, the one introduced at the beginning of section 1 of this here photo-novel, 33 in a series of (fill in the blank). Edward — *her* Edward (our Eddy) — similarly shows up at the beginning of section 2. And now: Tessa — Tessie. The third cousin. The most mysterious of them all. What was she hiding? The 33 year old woman didn’t live at the motel, she just stayed there.

For starters, she applies mascara one eye at a time just like the rest of them.


00330302

She finishes prepping her wig as Jeb drives up in his beat up old red truck. She knows him by another name but we know him as Black Bart. Dairocha has followed us, the reader and writer, here to this motel out in the sticks of Nautilus, one blending into another. This is (part of) the secret. That the inside has become the outside, flipped out and away from itself. Much like her bangs.

“Darling, you in there?” Grown-up Tessa decides that the reader and writer shouldn’t see her present lover, perhaps future husband. If things work out for her. A whole castle? She can get away from it all. (knock knock knock) “Darling?”