She was still sleeping when the sun rose…
… the book of dreams opened up behind her.
What would it have in store for the great Horned being today?
Alysha had that dream where she was stuck on the moon. Back to reality, yikes!
“Sure you don’t want a shot at riding the bull, sweety?” asked handsome Field who had ditched his hat. “10 seconds and we’re in.” This was an audition, she understood. A role in an important important film yet to be made, yet to be thought of, even. ‘All hail the Wild White Whale,’ she recalled, and now kind of knew more about what it meant. This was no bull.
Black cat Gar looked on, understanding the same.
“Is this thing even working? Testing, testing…”
Good thing she’s a multi-instrumentalist.
While Lena Horned sang the entirety of her new album “Creepy Alley” inside for an exclusive audience…
… manager Zach Black danced on the deck with the less affluent people, although almost all of them had gone home by now.
7 o’clock in the morning. And he and Lena had to do the same thing tomorrow night, starting at 8. PM, that is. Mr. Low’s orders — he’s always one to give commands and not receive them. But the pay was grand, and they needed it on their whirlwind tour of the Nautilus continent, back on since the Maebaleia army declared war on its own navy in another surfacing of the ever-present North-South tension down there. They decided to amscray off the continent to protect their neutrality. Besides, Zach was an old air force guy, and, like many of his kind, didn’t know where he fit in with the conflict. “We’ll take the army boat out and the navy boat back in, just to placate both,” he said to Lena as they were pulling out of Cassandra Bay in the dead of the day hidden behind a bale of hay. It was the only way (he reckoned).
“How was the party up at the yacht tonight?” asked wife Alysha to Jeffrey Phillips as he *finally* reverted and returned. “Good, I’m assuming. It’s 8 o’clock. *8* *o’clock*. I get up and you go to bed. Typical these days.” Julius was now 3 years old and playing in the palm shaded sand outside the beached submarine they live in. His sister Julia was nearly one herself. Tomorrow was the 4th anniversary of their marriage and hopefully it would get off to a better start than this one. They would be heading back to the same yacht, sans Mr. Low. Because he had his own tight itinerary to hold to. He was heading inland with his new wife of 3 years, following the high central beige ridge of Lower Austra and then the low green western coastline of Upper Austra. Bound for the north in a plane with military insignia both right and left. Just in case.
(to be continued)
He stares from the rock while listening to rock. *His* rock. Can he actually listen to what The Mann says this time?
From this perch, he’s looking for the plane or at least the boat, but they weren’t that easily spotted. The pink plane may be totally out of sight (man). The small boat may *just* be visible, he determines. Another floater. Another 6 inches. If he could just fix the engine and move it away from here all would be well. The boy might be his.
It was time for Zach Black and Lena Horned to leave this place. The Maebaleia red white and blue battle flag keeps flapping and slapping, ouch ouch ouch. Duty calls; Nautilus continent tour aborted. The red hand scratches.
Lena Horned takes one last float like the boy and is gone.
This place is way too small, Lena. Why are we even here?”
“You know why,” she spoke just beyond the wall. “Another continental conquest…”
“… this time Nautilus, I know.” He simmered a bit more, wishing Lena would finish up. When she did they switched places. Physically relieved, he calmed down some. He didn’t have it bad now. At least they were away from the cursed continent where the Horns resided. They had their newborn King to deal with. They’d be busy for a while; not bother them. Lena and he could take their time. Maybe even start up — dare he think it — a romance. In this small boat on loan from the Maebaleia navy, they were practically living on top of each other anyway. Might as well complete the deal.
“How’s ‘Creepy Alley’ going?” Zach decided to ask. Always the question about the song/album around 10 o’clock. Just before breakfast, for him usually Toasty-O’s, dodecahedron style these days. He can’t get enough of the new shape and taste. He ponders whether they might actually use some kind of drug to make the stuff more addictive, but then remembers sugar is its own drug. He promised Lena he’d try to ween himself off of it. Wasn’t working yet. Pressure of touring not helping the addiction. Better pop in a Mars bar to tide me over till lunch, he thinks at 11.
11:30. Lena’s morning yoga. Sugar rush going full strength, Zach looks on very interested.
Practically — on top of each other (already).
Oh. The song and same named album is going along swimmingly, she said back there, which was then next for Lena, Zach still tagging along like a lost puppy. Poor Zach. He’ll never know what hit him in the Black.
“Gall darn flag,” he said when it slapped him during a random wind eddy while he stared, not understanding the foreboding.
“I think I’m going to like it here back on this Nautilus continent, let’s see (he studies her), Lichen?”
“Call me Blondie,” she requests. “As in ditzy.” But he knew this wasn’t true. She was just a comedian. “Watch this,” she then said, waving her hand toward the grill. “Fire.”
“Nifty.” A witch too.
“So Lichen is involved now. This must be 1942. But where’s Fern; Wendy? Is she…”
“Questions,” W warned, who may be Wendy herself. “Gambling boat,” she answers about Fern at least. “Dixie Belle. See you there.”
“Well that looks like it, gentlemen. Last hand: I win the boat.”
“I don’t understand what happened,” shocked Jim A. Brown to her left managed to utter. “All I had all night was clubs and diamonds.”
“And…” sputtered similarly baffled Zach Black opposite him. “Me? Hearts…”
“… and spades,” Fern Stalin finishes for him. “Yes, yes, very peculiar. What are the odds.”
“Odds doesn’t begin to describe it,” says Zach, trying to figure out how he’d ever win his Jazz Attack band back from this, this… *witch*.
“Time to bring out the girl,” she then declares.
Jim A. Brown and Zach Black look across the Belle on the table at each other. “Lena?” They weren’t ready for this but what choice did they have?
“No no no no no, the other one. The red haired one. The one we’ve been studying… collectively. Wait… don’t tell me. Is she dead? Like Maebaleia (continent) to us now? Let’s go with the boy, then, the Indian. But not Asian. Half and half. Is he still in his pod, bubbling away? I need to see the studies Rose produced, all the figures. Bring them… *now*.”
Her rapid fire delivery left Jim A. Brown and Zach Black drained of blood as if they were dead. And perhaps they were. Gambling debts gone wrong sometimes end that way. At any rate, they disappear from the scene, leaving Fern confronting… I suppose this is Wells?
(to be continued)
Lisa was such a good writer there was little to correct for Alysha. The one truth, she thought while staring at the end paragraph of her newest text. “Cowabunga” was first uttered by her brother and used commonly after that. And *Bartholomew*… more corrections, much more. He laid in the hammock outside while waiting, eager to get the news about his own stuff. He knew there would be red line after red line, but — more time with Red (!).
“Bart,” she called through the open window, tired of having him follow her around like a little yellow puppy. “Why don’t you go see what *Lena* is up to today. This is *not* your day off, you know.”
“Oh, *pheh*, she’s looking at barns, saloons, anywhere that could possibly act as that studio she wants to make her comeback album in. And, anyway, Zach’s there for her.”
Zach, of course, she thought. Lena has Zach, I have Bartholomew. Two dogs for two masters. “I just finished your sister’s. Could be a while is all I’m saying. Why don’t you go prepare the sink. I want to dye my hair again this afternoon.”
“Blue?” He was eager to see that if it happened, but it was only red again.
She was done. Bart had hardly started. So much red!
“First off, Carumba is not a word. It’s *Caramba*. And that’s the title (!).”
She heard the alley whispers.
She knew she had to go back to Creepy Alley, where *it* happened. The falling of the pipe. The raising of the voice. 3 notes now she could sing that she couldn’t before. The town (Pipersville) even welcomed her back.
She felt like a mannequin, stuck there until I told her she could move forward. I sensed she hated me for that; didn’t like to be controlled. I moved her toward the alley. I’d done this before.
Still there. Perhaps expanded, even. There was a confusion, a mix-up, involving Your Mama and herself dealing with this alley. She always knew this. She dreamed about it often, this so called Creepy Alley. The only… the only way to deal with it is to make a song about the place, she then thought, influenced by the energy, creepy or not. She remembers Zach Black owning a (Texaco) gas station along it, with a back door importantly without an eye in it — he made sure of that. But then, yes, Marion “Star” Harding, Cowboy for life, bought the station, although he didn’t really *buy* it. Said money is no option. She recalls that as well. Then Jim’s Diamond Club right across from her here. She remembers… she sang… Here she looks down at her fur outfit. Why do I *wear* this all the time. Must be a dream. And indeed, here comes Jim, now Jim A. or Jim Brown or Jim A. Brown (altogether now), walking up the hill toward her, dead flesh still in place and not fallen away.
“Jim,” she says, but remembers she shouldn’t call him that. Or she needs to *add* onto that. “Jim A., Jim A. Brown.”
But suddenly he was walking away from her, as if forward had switched to backwards in an instant, a blink of the eye. “F-ing cursed alley,” she cursed.
I have found you again stone well. Well well well, as they say.
“Who is that girl over there,” said Zach Black in a low tone across the table to Lena Horned. “I’ve seen her before… somewhere. Maybe a fan?”
“Maybe,” Lena said between bites of food, not looking over for fear of *him* again. She knows he’s lurking.