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filling

“Shop’s closed,” Judd offered from the stairs, staring at the back of his sister Eldwina, who was dressing more and more like a little hooker each passing day, he thought. Maybe she would join the City Squad soon.

The coffee shop just down the walk was most assuredly not closed — perhaps the kids were talking about another place (they were). Charlene Brown the pseudo-punk was washing her hands when I came in, looking for stories.

“Be with you in a minute,” she calls as she counts. 16 Mississippi, 17 Mississippi… almost done. 19….. done. She turns.

“Oh it’s you. Haven’t seen you around in a while.”

“Yeah. Almost forgot how to get here. And then those kids…”

“Aw, jeez. Don’t get me started (about those kids).”

“Yeah, the one on the stairs…”

“He’s *always* sitting on those stairs.”

“Yeah, he said you were closed up.”

“Nope. As you can see. Maybe he was talking about the old Same Coffee Shop. It’s a basic duplicate of this one. Except: closed. That must be it.” She studies him more. Maybe a little grayer around the temples. Maybe a new wrinkle here and there. But not much change. For all the passing years.

“I’m here again.”

“Oh?” A twinkle in her eye. “She’d just dumped her 5th boyfriend in 5 months. There was the age different but… he was still attractive. She liked the gray. Distinguished, as they say. “In Black Ice?”

“No, but just up the road.”

“Apple’s Orchard?” she guessed again. “Neptune?” She paused. “Marwood, even?”

“Marwood, that’s it,” I decided. “Up at the new temple. I stay in an apartment in the air.”

“I don’t get up there that much — the northern part of the city.”

“Now now,” I reprimanded. “You’re not suppose to say that word any longer.”

“City?” she provided and then smiled. “It’ll change. We just have to get rid of the *other* cities clinging onto the main one. Like…”

“Meat City,” I proffered. “Zen City — well, that’s *already* gone, poof.” I threw up my hands in a poor imitation of a miniature atomic blast but she smiled all the same. Always laughing at my mainly lame jokes. Good ol’ Charlene. I decided to ask about Charlie. I wish I hadn’t.

—–

“It was Halloween night. Just day before yesterday, then. Out in the pumpkin patch. He didn’t listen to his pseudo-girlfriend’s brother about the demon that always showed up there that night. Neither of them made it. Just a blood patch now.” She starts to cry again, tears dripping into her cup and on the tablecloth. I didn’t know what to add. I’d said I was sorry several times now. I desired to leave, frankly — this wasn’t the story I was looking for. Oh look, though, she’s holding my hand now. She’s looking deep into my eyes with that twinkle again. Maybe this will work to my advantage. The last time we saw each other I was obsessed with another. But I’m older now; she’s older, although you’d never know it. It’s like time stood still for her. And maybe it had. Did she make a pact with someone, ho?

And what about that ill placed vending machine over there we got our hot beverages from? That’s new. Just then, Jeffrey Phillips’ cup vanishes into nothingness but Charlene’s remains. She knew how to replenish it automatically and bridge the gaps.

—–

In the closed duplicate coffee shop, Apples 02’s chair turned sideways and she knew lover Appleyon’s plan had worked. Now to get back to Somerset and try it on Apples 01. The bastard.

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Filed under **VIRTUAL, 0022, 0612, Apple's Orchard, Black Ice, Marwood, Meat City, Neptune, NWES Island^, Somerset

Somerset 03

Before she left the double peaked mountain, she said goodbye to next door neighbor Oranges, who you may remember as Appleyon from our last photo-novel. He’s switched sides: he lives on the east part of the west side of the double peaked mountains. There’s significance there. Apples and Oranges in one basket.

“I — have… nowhere to go!” she cries between sobs, hoping for the obvious. She knew Oranges had fancied her for the longest time. She’s playing her final card.

Oranges looks on, slightly sympathetic but mostly amused. He offers her a drink from his demonic vending machine blocking the nice view down the mountaintop. “Jedi tea?” he says over. “It might help to cheer you up, Pumpkin.” It was an old game they played with these names, always (an) orange (object) for the green one and green for the orange one. “Okay, Lemmie.” She couldn’t help herself and changed a sob to a giggle in the moment. But he had no intention of letting her stay. Or did he? It was a Somerset dilemma. Another one.

Apples’ plan hatched next door was working perfectly. Or was it? He stares at the teapot hoping for an answer that never came.

Maybe he should ask the apple tree suddenly appearing outside instead.


“Well well well. What do we have here?”

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Somerset 02

—–

“I can’t steer this thing at all!” purple alien Apples thought while struggling to land his spherical craft amidst the cherry trees atop the western half of Somerset’s Double Mountains.

—–

He walks into his new base, carefully avoiding a rickity looking, boarded up pump well. It’s the little things that often end those of his type, he’s wisely learned down through the centuries. Don’t show off, don’t take chances. Focus laser-like on the task at hand: world domination, ha ha ha.

Apples Too waits pensively at the window.

—–

“Heck of a year so far, eh Apples?” he speaks over. But she had nothing to say, since she knew he felt she was responsible for most of it. Apples was here to take over. Apples Too to her but not to him. Not any more.

“*Now*. Let’s discuss what’s happened since I last saw you.”

“Oh okay.”

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Filed under **VIRTUAL, 0022, 0107, NWES Island^, Somerset