“You know something. Don’t you?
Now spill it.”
From the first time she saw it in the northeast corner of the sim, Young Ruby knew this was her church. Somehow it wasn’t the Maxites per se that caught on in Collagesity. It was more connected to the Cult of Oo’d then, obviously. But the only way the true story would unfold is if she signed the contract. She hadn’t met Madame Silver yet but understood the basic terms. Fishers Island progressed from New Island; Tronesisia as art-clay centerpoint brought back to life. Eels. Right now it was the lady robot’s empire to rule, but she was the understudy, destined to be top dog soon enough. She asked how long she had to make a decision. She wanted to explore the other river islands more to make sure she was picking the correct reality to manifest. Other islands represented other array points (!). Fishers Island had to be named carefully and with much consideration and deliberation. Quality over quantity this time around, Ruby thought, face unwincing. Sucklands to Sunklands. Time
capsule castle opened.
“Well, looks like radiation levels are finally low enough where we can return to the ground and feel safe, Ruby.”
Axis looks around the table, the room, as if waking from a dream.
“Ruby? Young Ruby?
Hmm. Not here.”
“It’s just going to be you guys and me for a while, Curled Paper and 2nd Librarian. And Gus, of course. The Power.
4 long, long years. But we’ll be *seen* before then. Oh yes. Sally will make sure of that. And New Island’s south central Wastelands will be expanded beyond anything we dreamed before. Manifest destiny. In the meantime, we have Mabel’s fascinating journals to entertain us, 3 being the latest. More will follow. Perhaps 10 total? That would be nice; keep us busy. Librarian, pick one of your favorite passages and start for us. But read it *sloowly*. We need to stretch out time to the max.”
“Give. Me. Some. PILLS!”
“Flying high are we again tonight Annie? And we’re also joined by Young Ruby. Hi Young Ruby!”
“Hellooo,” the 15 year old replied innocently across the table. The Table. She was also flying high but in a different way.
“And of course The Librarian between you. But let’s go further up tonight, guys,” Axis suggests, retaining a small, mischievous smile upon his lips, Mona Lisa style. “To the Hitop Pool of Undifferentiated Lovemaking. Love, I meant there. 1/2 and 1/2. And I believe its Hilltop. Let’s top, er, hop to it!
“Annie, you chose the red tube. That means you’re temperamental and undisciplined. Ruby you chose the blue one. You are even keeled and fun to work with. Your weaknesses are chocolate…”
“… butter pecan…”
“… and lemonade.”
“Sure ’nuff! Remarkable Axis.” Young Ruby was amazed over how spot on his on-the-spot psychoanalysis was. Axis was an evil genius for sure! And also: in that order.
“It’s time for me to turn into the dog.”
Oh goodie, both women thought as one. Their love of Tin Tin was only matched by their love for their weaknesses, but unfortunately he had his back to them tonight with not much to say.
The sun was rising on Hilltop Pool. The sun was always rising here, over wealthy and poor alike.
These days Young Ruby often sits atop the Rose 01 dune, aka the Blue Rose Dune, and meditates on her surroundings:
Eraserhead Man’s cottage to the south and its Rabbit Hole portal, now fronted by a small grove of palms…
… Axis’ supposed castle to the west…
… but then an even higher castle across Route 9 that Ruby speculates may his actual home in a bluff, this Man in the High Castle, after all. But maybe both castles are bluffs…
… since we also have the moving castle, the island’s Monster as some call it, including her Aunt Annie. It almost invariably appears to abductees/visitors in or around the Wastelands. More on that soon.
Poor Annie, Ruby thinks. Lost in a quagmire of undifferentiated pills, dance, and sex now. Like being covered in bees with no whirlwind plan for escape.
She should go visit Karl over in the Gloomy Gus after this; get a measure of how he’s holding up. That way she can also stop by the duplicate Scarlet Creative Sylvia House and see if Mabel is, by chance, home. She’d like to catch up with what’s happening over in Heterocera these days. And her doppleganger.
“A SPHEROID BEING, Robot! Just in front of Ruby’s BLUE ROSE Dune! TOP SECRET STUFF, right Robot?!”
“I guess so,” his mechanical friend and neighbor replies. “It *was*.”
“Like LAURA from ‘The Return’! Like BILL!”
An awkward pause ensued. Robot Derak Jones was hesitant to correct Eraserhead Man played by the great David Lynch on the name of perhaps his most infamous creation. Eventually one of the cameramen spoke up.
“BOB!!” Eraserhead Man then echoed around a good majority of central New Island. “How could I FORGET THAT?! Played by the LATE GREAT FRANK SILVA! THANK YOU, JIM!” he shouted toward the cameraman. He then faced Robot again. “I’m now going to TURN UP MY HEARING AID so we can SPEAK IN PRIVATE!”
“REMEMBER,” he said before adjusting the dial, “speak at a WHISPER from now on!”
“But that Eraserhead Man was halfway wrong about the situation. The sphere being lies *between* the two dunes, one red and the other blue. Both roses of course. We need to talk with whoever lives in that high castle in the background. He or she could have seen what happened.”
“Well…” says Annie to her faux niece Ruby. “*He’s* right behind you.” Ruby whirls. Axis waves innocently from the table.
“If only we could hear what they’re talking about right now.”
“Hold on,” Axis then offers. “I’ll rewind it and then turn up the sound.”