“I think green means go, Lou.”
“And no Inky Man to deal with this time.”
Morris scolds Bendy for getting drunk in the corner of the room and missing Tronesisia pass through the portal outside into Bermingham.
Lou admonishes Tronesisia about being so proud of herself for figuring out the portal animal situation and forgetting to check the sealed Muff building indicated by Woody.
For Osborne Well, everything was going exactly as planned.
Baker Bloch knew something he could do to perhaps help immediately. There was one too many of the same color within the sphere. He transformed into King Orange and teleported over to his house in Saturn. Greater Malefic, opposite Tronesisia’s positively charged Rose MoonDream cottage. Realm of Oranges which should be just Realm of Orange.
He takes one last gulp of wine through his forehead and begins the process. The King knew Orange Nova usually woke up about 7 and headed over to Muscle Madness to begin his daily 10 hour workout. It was 5 now. This was a window.
He goes outside. “Eclipse nightclub,” he thinks, staring in its direction. “Damn fine goblets of wine.” He then peers further, just around the corner. White house.
Orange — the *fake* Orange — would be sleeping upstairs in its only furnished room. *Barely* furnished. This should be simple.
Goblet raised, King Orange strikes.
And strikes again. And strikes again and again. And again.
Orange Nova turns from blue to white. At 7 sharp he walks out of his house toward Muscle Madness, chained to a routine even after death.
He can’t pick up weights. He can’t sit on the benches. He can’t do anything.
Morris shows up.
“I’m the last person anyone wants to see in their lives,” he admits. “But it has to be done. Come with me Orange Nova. You’re time has arrived.”
Morris changes into a wolf and leads him through the portal to the Great Beyond.
After the others had turned in at the village, Morris, ever the night owl, decided to poke around his sister’s realm more to find out what she’d been up to since his last visit. He found a formerly unknown crack between the two worlds, their realms, in one of her waterfall apartment rentals, and directly atop part of the Jagged Sea, former home of MOA (Most Ancient One). Couldn’t be coincidence. An impossible wash of red and green together on the walls gave it away, two colors which simply don’t blend well except on that one special day of the year. Their birthday.
Finally feeling like he’d found a place to rest, Morris falls asleep and dreams of former times.
“I’ve forgotten how beautiful it is down here on the lower level,” coos Colon, pausing to take in the scenery on river deck despite Morris’ warning to keep moving. “I’m so limited in my world up on the rock. To the store for eggs, back to the house. To the waterfall behind the 3rd cottage for a bath or wash, back to the house.”
And just like that The Musician had fallen asleep again. Looking over, Morris cussed the f-word and immediately began ruminating about Plan B.
The Musician woke up as Sikul Himakt, Bermingham native gone rogue for city life but returned to his bucolic origins to make amends. “Why are we not in the village?” he demands. “I distinctly remember entering the village and the general store.” He looked in turn at Morris, who he didn’t know, and Colon, who was an old friend. “Colon, I’m glad to see you.”
“Same here,” says the big snake honestly.
“But who’s this red headed dude?” Sikul asks.
“Just tell him the truth,” Morris suggests. “Just tell him who I am.”
“Uh, okay. You sure?”
“Yeah. We’re in desperate situations here.”
“Um, this is Morris, Sikul. Morris is Lou’s brother. Osborne Well is their father.”
“I *know* Osborne Well. He’s retired and lives up at the place on the edge of the world, beyond the high waterfalls. But Lou has no brother.”
“Yes. A brother. Outcast. Kind of like you. You think Bermingham is alone as a world. Intertwined all within it, however, is another world, a — less beautiful realm.”
“Oh come on, Colon,” complains Morris, arms folded. “Give me a break.”
“Anyway, this world, Sikul, is called Muff. Does that ring a bell at all?”
“No,” says Sikul, looking over at Morris.
“Morris rules Muff,” Colon continues, “as Lou is the owner of Bermingham now as passed down from Osborne. This is written in the ‘Sacred Book of Leaves’, but in symbols… code. The red and the green. Stop and go. Lou will tell you all about it if you asked, I’m sure.”
“No she wouldn’t,” counters Morris. “She wants The Musician — Sikul — here for good. She wants to eliminate the Muff half of the equation. Too arid, she complains for one part. Too cold and icy for another. These smaller, more numerous microcosms plugged into her own *uroborous* realm here are always quite not to her satisfaction. Yet this was what I was left with. My *inheritance*.”
In shock, Sikul looks at each in turn, absorbing the truth of it all. “Why has no one told me this before?”
“I’ve told you many times,” says Morris. “Again and again. Over and over. Yet you always fall asleep again and are in *her* realm. There’s only one way out of this now. We have to go to the place beyond the high falls.” He speaks to the snake now. “Colon, I thank you for the attempt but I’m afraid you’ll have to clean out your stuff from Sikul’s house and return to under the rock. Then we have to take Sikul heavenward. I’ll stay in the 3rd cottage with the, ahem, ghost. We’ll set out early morn.”
Sikul of course knew about the ghost. Mary. Known for her eerie chuckle. And red nose. But he personally had never seen her.
Morris’ tentacle laden plan worked. The Musician woke up inside the dream that is the Bermingham side of the Muff-Bermingham planet. For a bit.
In preparing for all this, Morris knew he had to have a portal animal at hand right after the rousing. Scotty, being in the possession of all-too-clever Lou on the other side of the gateway, remained inaccessible for the time being. Lou herself could do the trick if she hadn’t sworn off portal dog duties after the accident with Tom the Booker November before last. Too bad… she was the best and smoothest of us all, he thought. And then, of course, there was himself, which he quickly ruled out for similar reasons. We may get to that story later on. So, slowly but surely, it dawned on Morris that he’d have to try to recruit the formerly significant but now substantially diminished transdimensional talents of old Colon Hiss, a large grey snake who lived beneath the rock supporting *Sikul Himakt’s* former cottage on the edge of his village. There was really no other suitable alternative that he could think of.
It was last Friday when he first approached Colon with the idea. Teleporting into the center of Sikul’s “village,” Morris walked north until reaching the taller green grass near the rock. He had to be careful not to get too close, else he’d fall to the forest level immediately below after crossing a sim line. He called Colon’s name repeatedly. No answer. Then the large snake was suddenly behind him. “You’re blocking the way to my home,” he said. “I need to get to my home. My eggs are getting warm.”
Turns out Colon had become tired of living under the rock and decided just to move into Sikul’s old cottage sitting above it instead. They talked further inside. “There’s a refrigerator,” the snake explained while putting his eggs purchased at the general store into it. “And a tv. The village now has cable beyond the Static Channel.”
“Come on, Colon. You know there’s no village.”
“What can I say? I like to dream.”
“Which is why we’re here. Sounds like you kind of have a vested interest in not wanting Sikul to return to the village. Because you know if he did, he’d want to have his house back. *Lou* would want that.”
“Yess,” hissed Colon, just getting this part.
So the motivated Colon was there when The Musician woke up inside Sikul’s dream at the entrance to the faux general store. He slithered beside him from his hiding place in the grass. Morris’ tentacled friends, having done their work, were now dispatched. It was just Morris, The Musician, Colon. All three awake and aware.
“Wheeler is still waiting on the other side of the portal,” spoke Morris to The Musician while walking between him and Colon. “We must hurry.”