So much more could be written about the continent of Maebaleia or Satori, the focus of the current Collagesity novel, 15th in our continuing series. It was also the focus of the 14th — bookend works, as I’ve described them previously. But we must soon move on.
I believe now that the continent represents the closest approach Our Second Lyfe ever came to Earth. This virtual reality was at its peak when the large and long landmass was forming. Greed bred by the success even permanently scarred its landscape by creating an artificial division between North and South via severed, main highways — arteries originally designed to connect and culturally bind the two into one — eventually resulting in the short but still rather devastating Maebaleia-Satori Civil War we’ve been talking about so much lately. Who won the war? For us in the Real World, it was the North, as our American Civil War best resonates with this virtual conflict. But in Virtual Reality *below* Real Life if you will, the situation was turned on its head. The *South* there had the principle burgs, the most resources despite less area. And they were the ones who developed the Bomb, thanks to the time traveling A.Team historically based in Cassandra City. A bomb was launched from near Regaltown with little effect on its destination of Chip Shot. Although wiping the city out, almost everyone who lived there was currently in another location for various reasons. To this day, no one knows why. And then a different kind of (retaliatory) rocket-bomb from the North hit Golden City at or near the original’s launch site. Apparent loss of lives this time, although, again, details remain fuzzy. The South negotiated with the North. The North, like ours up here in the US, seems to win. Then novel 15 took up the story from 14 and we understand that Golden City and resulting impact crater of Golden Sink was not exactly what it seemed. Neither was Sink X (bomb crater for Chip Shot, which became Pipersville after the war), but not quite in the same way. A new strategy for winning the war emerged from this confusion over time, space, options. Bit by bit, outlined in this novel 15, the South regained the advantage over the North and eventually enacted a victory with a direct strike at the X, the crossroads, the heart of X-City and, indeed, the heart of the North as a whole.
Axis married Teebestia; heart turned into a spade. The menacing black figure in the skies will always be there now, like a modern day Death Star. It has the surface appearance of a Mickey Mouse silhouette to novel 15 producer/director Eraserhead Man, true, but more: one of the ears (especially) withers down and turns into a droopy dog’s. A corruption is revealed in the center of Florida, directly etched into the land (again). The South wins the war through a central black hole that inverts the left hand into a right hand. This black hole was placed by smart Southern scientists, engineers, managers in the center of Golden City. It was a counter-weapon to the Bomb. This black hole eventually became the silhouette. Takes two to know.
(to be continued)
Inertia had finally found her. Wonderful, smart, pretty, dedicated Teebestia, love of her life. A *castle* at that, she thinks. I knew she’d go further than her dead end lawyering job in Olde Lapara Town. But, trouble is, does this also mean she’s *married*? One way to find out; hope she’s home.
She came one day too late. Axis had already seen this probability and taken steps to avoid it. The gay life of Inertia and Teebestia, happy together, would not play out now. Shame: such a good match, a *positive* relationship. But Axis had won the battle of the heart. You cannot outbrain him.
“Finally found a place to hang my painting, Teebestia.
I think — I’m home.”
“Lovely tea, thank you,” Axis compliments after taking another sip. “So tell me more about yourself. Tell me more about this Omicron City you are from. Fascinating story! Serial killings and a demon. What was the demon’s name?”
Well, *he* sure cuts to the heart of things, Teebestia thinks, rubbing the front of her own exposed heart reflexively. But that was a name she dare not utter. Does — Axis know something about all this? How did he get so quickly to the unspeakable center? “I can’t recall,” she instead answers. “Something like Aspartame.” It was a joke name concocted during a particular drinking binge in a particular bar. With a particular person. Another seer, although in this case not also a seeker (of Truth). It served the purpose.
“Ahh,” he answered innocently (or tried). “Like the sugar substitute. Very clever. That always makes me nauseous — don’t know about you.”
“Oh I stay away from all that. Because of the name, see.”
“You’re smart.” He takes another sip. His voice was as bass as Baker Bloch’s. Teebestia’s was, how to put it, musical? She hits all the right notes for him at least. He looks at the heart again.
“And you? Tell me about your search for the heart of the X.”
We synchronize! “Well — a particular person at the heart who is also the heart.” He stares again. He *knows*.
Her room sealed it.
“Ahh. Good to be home.”
“What is that enchanting music, eh?”
“And how are you tonight, Ms. Teebestia. Long time no see!”
“H-how did *you* get here?”
“And good to see you too(!). I got here the same way everybody does. By logging in and changing clothes if needed.” Axis inspects Teebestia more carefully. “But, hmm, I see you don’t have that need. The logging in, I mean. You are just a prop!”
“Shhh. Baker Bloch is listing in.”
Axis turns toward the piano; sees a large, pale, somewhat blood splattered vampire playing the tune he was so admiring before and after entering the castle. So captivating. He must ask the name. But: Baker Bloch?
He calls over to the vampire. “Baker Bloch?”
The piano playing screams to a halt. Literally: a scream, a very high pitched one and nothing like Pitch’s actual voice. He was channeling a certain spider, but the spell has ended. He doesn’t know how to play the piano. He lifts his suddenly non-talented hands away from the keyboard. Pitch Darkly no more.
“W-well. What are *you* doing here?”
“Exactly what I said,” Teebestia quickly followed.
“Well,” Axis replied after a pause. “Aren’t *we* a fine 3-n-1, eh?”
“Still not here,” Axis lamented, blue curse purse painting propped to one side. “She must still be at the school. A short drive from here, despite the name. Yet — I think I’ll visit Teebestia first. Something inside me, yes, says to tick that off my list first.”
He stares over at the modified artwork again. “I was such a beautiful little girl before becoming such a handsome man, hehe.”
“Should be just over there.”
In the large room immediately below Reggie’s bar…
… Axis the Tin Tin Soldier Man and evil sidekick Clubby watch another training film preparing them for the war to come. The wall between The Waste and the other, more savory dimensions is becoming thinner and more ragged. The Bar at the End of Time on the SW corner of Burnt Oak represented just the beginning. Now there was End of Time’s Kob Curtain and his newly acquired taste for meat from The Waste, then cave dweller Tessa’s contact with Fruity Islands… the list goes on and on actually. The antimatter leak at the ruined Church of Extreme Tilers over in Wastoria to name another.
Axis and Clubby knew the walls were slowly closing in on them. And now, so did Jackson Bloch. Thanks to the natives’ lack of understanding about the martial arts. Hand held weapons were the thing around here.
He takes another sip of his rancid beer and contemplates the next step.
“Damn this fairy dust just isn’t washing off today, Axis.”
But Absinthe’s partner’s attention was drawn elsewhere. “Says here that this wrecked ship in the water before us was called Nevermore. After the Poe poem I assume. Funny that. Poe… poem. Like he was born to write ‘The Raven’.”
“I always forget,” says the showering girl, “whether the bird beats the bug or the bug beats the bird. ‘(The) Gold Bug’. Short story.”
“I remember.” Axis continues reading the sign aloud. “‘Lost to the sea — in 7-4-53 — by the grace of Our Dear Lord — whose boats are all adored.’ Another poem, Ruby.”
“Absinthe,” she corrected, still washing and showering and cleaning with all her might.
“No mention of the Trojan-Durexian War, though.”
“Oh it’s to blame all right.” opined Ruby, finally back in form. “Too close to the edge, see,” she explained while drying.