“Well, it looks like this is it, Grassy.”
“Grass, please.” Grassy would never get over that he’s a child-like Mmmmmm through and through and will never “progress” to the current state of his cousin Opp — True Opp or Tropp, that is. He’ll never be X-ed out in other words. The shortened name of Grass would never stick. “Yes, I will miss you my old friend.”
“And you my friend. But I’ll return for the weed if nothing else. You certainly haven’t seen the last of me, ha ha.”
“Yes: ha ha. Ha ha ha.”
“Ha ha ha ha ha!”
15 minutes later:
“Would you like to see the painting, Grassy? Er, Grass. Grassy… Grass… can’t remember.”
“Whatever,” Grassy Noll submitted, having given up on correcting her about his name, at least for tonight. “Oh, sure. I totally forgot that’s why you can leave now.”
“Plus the payoff to that loathsome Philip Strevor. And the payoff for, well, everyone that lives here in the swamp village, but most importantly perhaps, Roger Pine Ridge, the great variant. And *you* can leave too, of course.”
“No, my place is here. Waiting for your intermittent returns.”
“Fine, fine. I thank you for your service. I hope the new apartment is to your liking.”
30 minutes later:
“So there it is Grassy. A beaut, isn’t it? And it’s all because of that ring Ellen gave me — the power. Catvas here likes it too.”
“I do!” meows the winged feline from her perch just behind.
Grassy moved closer to study the painting more carefully. “Lovely indeed.” He put a finger to his lip here. “But I think I see one detail you missed. We better go check it out.”
“Now?” Bill almost shouted. “But there’s *people* over there. Lots of people. You know I can’t stand people.”
“Most of them are just bots — no one really inside, you see. But let’s go beneath the Mermaid Tavern for a beer beforehand to loosen up your nerves. I’ll buy.”
“You talked me into it!”
“See, Bill? Just one of those silly bots down here. Usually there are a number standing around like zombies.” Grassy’s eyes glaze over here. “And only a handful more right now at the temple according to my inworld map. Perfect time to go. Fate, we could call it.”
“All right. I’ve drunk almost my entire chug-a-mug. One more gulp and I’ll be ready.”
“No, we’ve checked around the whole structure — like the back of my hand now, Grassy — and I can’t see anything I really missed of importance.”
“Look again,” the green Mmmmmm requested. He indicates toward the epicenter of the temple.
“The dancer?” They then jointly stare at the child going ’round the world.
“And that’s it, Sidechick! We’re done with ‘Collagesity 2018 Early’.” They were standing beside Nascera’s Meadowbrook ice cream truck where it all began.
“Just like that? It was sort of an abrupt ending.”
“Bill can paint,” Magus Ellen counters. “Annie can paint. We will assume Mabel can too because of those paint splattered jeans Axis gave her. The great 3-n-1. It’s complete.”
“What *about* Axis? You said time and
beach space were altered because he got Baker Bloch to discover Magellan’s broken teleporter one day too early.”
“If you haven’t guessed, Sidechick my friend, my understudy, Magellan is me. I broke the teleporter. But on purpose. It was the only way we could get Opp to come here in the first place and fill the center up with his blueness. Otherwise — all for naught.”
“I’m not understanding. What about, for example, the golden orb?”
“There’s a black and white opening beyond Braynard’s Place that doesn’t concern us. This would be New Eden. Does it stay coupled with New Island through the castle or does it begin to move independently? This depends on a number of factors, including what happens in the haunted Artist Point colony. But it’s a story for another day, as they say.”
Sidechick Corea tries process all this information, then: “What now for us?”
Ellen smiles mischievously. “I have a surprise for you. Still holding his own ice cream cone in his right hand, he expertly whips out another from his left pocket and hands it to his faithful assistant. “You’ve earned this.”
Now let’s leave the 8×8 behind and walk up the road to see that bridge you’ve been talking about forever.”
END OF “COLLAGESITY 2018 EARLY”!