“Just remember that you are water and you’ll be fine.”
She said she didn’t mind but I’m not sure how she made it all the way over here in that position from upper Nautilus. Darn near 5 miles! Of course the different alien physiology allowed her to be balled up like that for a longer period of time. Humans would be turned into sardines. “Ruby, are you there?” I spoke down after opening the multicolored storage container which slipped through Grayling Airport that grey day in early May. “Ruby?”
“Yes,” she said in a watery voice, more than usual since she hadn’t used it in a number of days.
On the other side of her: Billie Jean Kidd; unseen to Alysha; checking to make sure herself that Ruby was okay after the grueling journey — grueling, again, to us humans if we had to do it. Ruby was fine. Being scrunched up like that helped her arthritic neck, actually. She caught up with her long behind self cleaning. She texted old friends with her mind in her otherwise idle body. She finally solved that math equation involving Dark Matter and the Milky Way and the Black Hole at the center of it all. She fell into the Black Hole for a while so she could dream. She woke up refreshed, pure and white as the driven snow. She texted more friends. She revised another equation. More self cleaning. She decided to grow hair and then decided against it, shaving it all off (with her mind, of course). She slept. She woke up. She slept. She woke up, did some more stuff. She slept. She: here.
“Is she okay? Is she damaged in any way?” Billie Jean Kidd knew that Alysha couldn’t hear her but she asked anyway, being nervous and momentarily forgetting her invisibility. She pried her eyes away from tested Ruby and moved them to Alysha, noticing the flowers on the faded blue jeans. “Oh,” she realized. But Alysha answered her anyway, talking to herself as well.
“Looks like she’s been to Jael. And Miccall: she’s a Tilist (!). Thought Martians where always Pentagonalists. And, just there (she checked another part of the rotating glowing blue cube before her): *mermaid*. And jellyfish!” This particular specimen was proving to be more complicated than promised. She’d have to complement The Master on his research as soon as she sees him again. Which should be yesterday’s tomorrow if today’s clock is right.
Ripped Windmill Man, as they called him, was assigned the role of night guard for Ruby the green grey Alien, currently holed up down at the fire station for further protection from those darn psychic kids. Half policeman half army man, he was more than equipped to fulfill the duty — overqualified, Ben Bolt said, eager to get the job as well to support his own troupe of kids, 2 psychic and 1 mundane from an early marriage (the former Mary Bolt, now married to Alfred Reynolds the shoe cobbler). His ripped body wouldn’t fit through some of the doors there, he argued. His half policeman half army man training made him all bastard, he tried. Jim Wells, father of Alice Wells who Ben was also trying to woo along with the job, would have none of it. “Windmill’s a fine man. He has 3 ripped bodies that he can strip like a snake or lizard or something if needed to fit through any door. It’s *just* a night guard job, Ben,” he said to a potential son-in-law he didn’t want. “Maybe you should aim a little higher, hmm? How about — manager of the day care; help keep an eye on those psychic toddlers, make sure they don’t get into trouble *too* early.” Because Jim Wells knew it would come to trouble later on as they aged a bit, spontaneous fires being only one potential hazard. “The firemen, the policemen, heck the *army* men can’t do anything about them once they reach a certain age, some say 5, others: 7.”Jim Wells realized he was making a case for ripped Windmill Man to take the day care managerial job instead of Ben Bolt and stopped. His future son-in-law — if it came to that — would *not* be a night guard at the fire station, no way Jose.
Ripped Windmill Man stripped his 2 outer ripped bodies so he could fit comfortably through the door and look in on Ruby. “Everything all right in here?” he asked, checking the corners of the fire station’s storage room again for bugs. He was sensing something but didn’t know what.
“Tell him everything is okay,” commanded unseen Billie Jean Kidd from the side. Turns out Ruby had already been compromised and the firemen, the policemen, the army men couldn’t do a darn thing about it.
(to be continued)
Sugar McDermitt should have seen it coming. In fact, he did. “Those *kids* are up to something over there,” he mutters to himself, standing outside the soon-to-be destroyed Lost Boys Bar and Grilling. “They keep glancing over here and snickering. Damn kids,” he cussed, sorry he had 11 of his own. He doesn’t even give them names any longer, just numbers, starting with Ten. “Ten come here and polish my boots; Ten come here and wash the dishes for your old man.” That kind of thing. He and the current missues (a number herself by now — five) told the prying neighbors who watched him toil and sweat away the day, unable to play with their own kids because of constant work, that he was named for an Aunt Tinny. But really it was just pure laziness and convenience. “Albert!” loudly insisted wife #4 before she ran away to join a circus for clowns. But then the 5th that soon followed on her heels didn’t care — preferred numbers for better tracking and convinced Sugar of the same. “Why don’t we just smack a bar code on their rears and keep up with them that way,” she suggested one day in early May after 2 breakfast daiquiris and 2 brunch tequilas. Prisoners, then, they really were. Number Eight (formerly Jack) would soon have his revenge. He had a robot friend whose father Claude Sit-on was an expert in building demolitions.
Meanwhile at the playground:
“By the time I get to the bottom of this slide,” spoke the friend Claude Jr., golden hued like the playground equipment he perched at the top of, set to go, “something will happen. Ready? One, two, and sliiiiiiiiddde”. BOOOMM!!
“So as you can see, Billie, we’ve had a bit of excitement in town since you’ve been gone. But it’s all cleaned up now. Your tower scrubbed up nicely. The only thing damaged was a couple of house plants which were dying or dead anyway. And, oh yeah, this is where Kolya had his head damaged.”
“I was wondering where that happened,” she replied in her child’s voice from the chair, this youth that was not young atall. “The encounter with God.”
“We should have never erected that giant golden *cow* in the middle of town, Billie, and you know it. We have been frowned upon.”
“Claudette is there for a reason.”
“*This* reason?” Mr. Babyface questioned, wondering if the idolatry had come to this. Fire.
“God must show himself,” she reckoned. “Or else…”
“… all be damned, yeah I get it.” Mr. Babyface didn’t get it but he didn’t want to seem stupid (again!) in front of the precocious child. So prescient. I’m sure she saw all this coming and that’s why she was away at the time. And she probably also spared me, he rationalized, by organizing that rant rave by my nephew that afternoon. It was all in the book, all in the pattern. The Oracle book and/or pattern.
“How was your comedy show, by the by?” he decided to deviate.
“How was yours?” She knew it wouldn’t be as good. She had chosen the freshest act and left him with the leftovers.
“You know,” he said. “A nephew is a nephew and needs support.”
“Nepotism, yes. I enjoy a Skippy Bittman too but only as an act of an act, a step beyond; meta–.”
Skippy Bittman? “*Anyway*, I suppose you know Marion Star Harding was here as well.”
“I had a feeling.” She didn’t see this! Time was changing again, infinite becoming finite as inflammable separated from flammable. She could see the edge of the plane but not beyond. And the beyond was becoming here, plain and simple. Marion Star Harding. Not since Rose Heaven, for him and Phillip Strevor both. Maybe Phillip is around as well, she rationalized, perhaps down at the church cemetery trying to cover himself up with dirt. It would fit.
(to be continued?)
Marion Star Harding flew over the town, not knowing what he was looking down at. The South. The Opposite. Phillip Strevor instead of Trevor Phillips. And he being the new guy in town, so to speak. And shapeshifter Heidi Hunt Ives or whatever she calls herself these days tagging along as well, controlling each of the paired gangster types in a different way. Good times all around. But now he had more responsibility; was a respected pilot up in the Starfish Lake or Sea area; had a different kind of clientele to deal with. Hole headed Kolya wanted off of this “2” continent back to “1” and he was bound and determined to help him, given the right price. He use to say money wasn’t an option but he’s changed his tune, perhaps changed his key as well away from middle C to a different one, maybe D Flat. A small but significant difference, the same adjectives that apply to the town below as stated in that previous post here. Diminutive yet important.
Uh oh. Running out of gas. He’d forgotten to fuel up at Borneo, the last stop outta here. He’d have to make an emergency landing, but the place appeared to have no landing strip that he could tell. Small — too small now. He’d have to crash into a building to halt forward progress. He donned his inflammable airsuit, thinking it would protect him being fireproof and all. In the same way he use to think infinite and finite meant the same thing. But of course inflammable *does* mean flammable, so when the plane burst into flames upon impact so did he. Filled with pure oxygen it was, with no nitrogen or any other neutral gas anywhere to be found. The abbreviated Kidd Tower, highest in town despite being only 3 stories high in this incarnation, was the unlucky target. Tower resident Mr. Babyface didn’t make it either, nor namesake Billie Jean Kidd. Wait — I’m getting indications that Mr. Babyface was down at the town arena listening to one of his nephew’s rant raves so was spared. Same for Billie — back up in the Lost Angels bar for her, also listening to a comedian but of a much funnier ilk, or that’s what the raucous audience leads us to believe. And Marion Star Harding, then? Spared, because in *this* dimension inflammable actually means flame retardant, as it should in any dimension it exists logically. But as compensation infinite and finite are the same here, which explains why he couldn’t pilot the plane off the, well, plane (of existence). Because the plane is endless.
“*Kolya*,” he exclaimed upon entering the arena from the crash site, smoking hot. “Forgot about Kolya!” But the damange had been done, with a permanent big 2 in his head. Happy birthday!
(to be continued?)
“See? I can do this *too* (!).”
“Wonderful, child. We’ll make sure that nasty bug doesn’t return tonight so you can perform more.”
Heidi absorbed what this meant. “The… stage? The *big* stage?” She glanced over, seeing the empty platform — except for the wee Lost Angels all lined up in a row of course, flashing on and off as they do. This was their club. They could do as they wish. Soon they would combine again into one giant statue and move in a diagonal across Lower Austra to that other place, their other spot. Diagonals are powerful in this realm. So much so they have spread to other realms, namely Earth: Our US of A; Our Iowa; Our Ringgold County of Our Iowa of Our US of A. I remain pretty amazed: Fife in the middle of it all. And “Dune” famous Frank Herbert was a resident of Fife in another state. We found him in the dunes.
Now we find him onstage? No, it’s Frezied Fred instead, a different collage element performing solo again while the rest of his Purple Bunch band is in drug rehab. FF is frantic enough already. He doesn’t need speed, coke, or any other enhancement for his body. He’s a natural at his act.
But what’s this? (“HOW BIG WAS IT?” the crowd chants back, setting up the punch line) A *comedy* routine??
“When they finally stop laughing, you can go on, kid,” off-camera Todd A. states. “But it could take a while.”
Sometimes — just to mix it up again — Mr. Babyface and his nephew Peter dine in the old, abandoned spaceship. Today the topic of discussion is the Peopleeater of their new hometown directly below (skybox 02) and his hatred of its stick people residents. Assisted by Big Baby Jane, he’s declared war on them in essence.
“He hides out in that purple building in the smallest block of town, which *isn’t* purple when he’s out and about.”
“Must be the same as the building, then,” speculates Mr. Babyface alongside his nephew, hearing their voices echo in the big empty chamber, a full half of a sim from front to back. Big enough to carry a town the size of Collagesity to a new location if needed. If it were finished. Perhaps it is: maybe it’s just suppose to be an empty hull until utilized.
“Heidi’s gone again,” Mr. Babyface then ventured. “Said something about the North. She said she’s sorry she didn’t make your rant rave.”
“‘Tis okay. *You* were there. You are the important one.”
Mr. Babyface stopped eating, took in his nephew seated across from him. Subtract the freakish babyface, a medical condition, and he’s kind of the spitting image of himself at that age, down to the Hawaiian trunks and sunburned skin. Always in the sun he was. “You’ll turn into a prune or raisin you’re sitting out there in that sunlounge so much!” he recalls his Mom yelling at him from the window of her cool, dark kitchen. He can’t imagine how it was at his birth with that big, fat head of his. She complained about it
not at all all the time. “You’ll never imagine,” she described the pain in no uncertain terms.
Peter was different, thank the Gods. Escaped the head gigantism that cursed himself, his father before him, and his father and so on — a male trait of the family. “Maybe it ends with me,” he remembers telling his Mom after Peter popped out with an ordinary nogg’n, easy as pie. You don’t know how relieved Marsha (sister) was at the time; she’d taken enough drugs in preparation for the birth to paralyze a small elephant. But here he was: Mr. Ordinary. Not Mr. Babyface or any other nickname that would stick with him through time. Just plain Peter. Peter Ladd. He continued with the Heidi discussion.
“Where’s (*bite*)… her partner?”
A good question indeed. Skybox 02 was created as a tribute to the golden hued, mechanical dominatrix but he never learned her name — Heidi, I mean, Billie never spoke it, saying it needed to be kept a secret. “Just keep calling her Golden One,” she requested. “Or Goldie — whatever — just something with Gold in it.”
Some say she’s the same as the big golden robot statue in the center of the town itself, ready to spring into action when needed. Perhaps her presence will spell the end of the Peopleeater-People War, or at least before it switches from blue (not very serious atall) to red (quite serious and worth looking into for solutions).
“Dunno,” he remembers to answer. “Maybe — you should make it part of your act. The not knowing anything much about her.”
“Tie it into the statue.”
“Exactly.” They were on parallel frequencies for sure. If only he could get the comedy.
(to be continued)
Mr. Babyface loads his pipe down with Red Dragon.
As he then happily puffs away he continues talking to the Kidd.
“I’m glad you brought me back, Heidi.”
“Billie here. In this location in this novel.”
“Okay, Billie, sure. But I promise I’ll take care of the city while you’re away on your journeys.”
“Big Baby will help you. She can patrol the streets; keep the various citizens and denizens at bay and under control. Along with the Peopleeater.”
“Cool.” More puffs. So satisfying. “Listen, are you going to stick around to hear my nephew rant and rave on his soap box over at the Arena tonight? He’ll be accompanied by the interpretive dance group Suds and Bubbles. In fact, I see they’re already warming up over there.
“Sure I will.” But Billie Jean Kidd knew she had another date and couldn’t make it. No need to let him down right now, though; dampen his enthusiasm for the new town and ruin his enjoyable pipe smoking. Next time she’ll buy him Blue Pennant. Billie then thinks Mr. Babyface is kind of like a cat: keep feeding him (tobacco) and he’ll always return. But you must mix it up because, also like cats, he’s a bit persnickety.
7 more puffs and Mr. Babyface is done, already tired of the flavor. Billie Jean Kidd ends up smoking the rest of the bowl herself; no need for waste.
Todd A. was next. We center the picture in the middle of the triangles sort of framing his head. He is like an infinite game of roshambo, hand on top of hand on top of hand. Pact with the Devil. Atomic Suicide. Todd A. was smart, management being his specific, chief skill, to add to the other’s two. Todd A. knew a lot about triangles and how they fit together. He went over to Billie Jean Kidd down the bar, recognizing talent when he saw it.
“That’s some kind of balancing act you got going on there.”
“Thank you. I also do cards.”
“Well…” He rubbed her head playfully, like an adult to a kid. Which she isn’t of course. She let the gesture go, knowing that Todd A. was old fashioned in that way. Because she knew who he was, even if he didn’t know her. She could see into the past present future. She knew this guy with his infinite seeing mind was trouble in a bottle, troubled water without a bridge, just blub blub blub. He later turned into an alcoholic to match his drowning mind. 1/8th of the brain cells gone, then 1/6th. Soon he would not be able to manage a diverse collection of bugs drawn together through a common plant.
“… aren’t you the clever one,” he finished, and sat down beside her, relighting his cigar. Billie Jean Kidd was use to cigars, being a stogie toking man in the assignment before last before last, the first without Philip and Marion. She had to admit to the new partner, a chain toting robot dominatrix, that she kind of missed them. “They were like… totally inept dads.” “Gay?” the mechanoid questioned back. “Hard to tell,” came the answer. “Extremely close *pals* at the least.” If only they didn’t bring out the worst in each other, all 3 of them together, she then bemoaned. It could have worked, perhaps. If only their promised Clyde was real.
“We better get you out of here, child,” spoke Todd A., seeing the warm up act appear on stage and knowing Certain Death was not far behind.