Peet Archer didn’t know he would be dragged all over town with his 200 meters worth of 3/16 inch braided nylon rope trying to hold onto Toddles through time. “Whoa Nelly!” he exclaims exactly halfway between 23 22 and 22 23. “Down in the road she goes (*snap*?).”
The snake has let loose of its tail.
“So you see, Hucka D. The 3 cars closest to the portal represent the alchemical witches I just met over at your gym, with the 4th missing, just like the Citrinitas stage is often left out of the alchemical process.”
“That’s *us*,” uttered the witches in unison. “*We’re* the cars,” and then they cackled like a pack of hyenas. Flushing Baker Bloch, a skunk with a rash as far as they were concerned, had forgotten who he was speaking to. Certainly not Hucka D. “*Hardly*,” as each of them would say in turn, I’m sure.
But what of the 4th? The 4th could save them all. If she could figure a way into the X-ed out square. Picturetown. Those clever, evil witches!
“*Here* Mr. Archer,” she said, seeing one of the witch’s cars at last. “A temporal opening I can finally wedge through. You’ll have to stay behind, pull me out by the rope if needed.”
“Just like Niagara,” Peet said under his breath, looking down at her sweet, wee yellow head.
“I’ll warn you. I’ll be much heavier when I return since it will be 11 years later; you’ll have to hold tight.
He estimates his 200 meters of 3/16 inch braided nylon beside him should do the trick just fine.
“*Two* Beetles instead of 3 down the road now, Mr. Archer.”
Peet Archer considered requesting, “Peet please,” again, but decided against it. Toddles had somehow shrunk down to her “normal” diminutive size during the trip into the heart of this fine Canadian hamlet, warm on an early spring day. “Who have we lost this time?”
“Lennon, it appears. Must be the same, yes, as Lemon. The lemon tree went missing from Springfeld, Mr. Archer. Shelbyvale stole.” Toddles needed to rest her wee mouth again. She put her thoughts into Archer’s brain, as she did sometimes when this happened.
“So *what* is the equivalent to Shelbyvale for our Picturetown here?” he said. They both peered down the alley with Mary York at the increasingly diminutive skateboarder, almost out of sight now. Might as well say he’s gone. There: he’s gone.
“All blocked up, Mr. Archer. Someone has sealed off the passage to the interior, ‘X’ed it out in effect.”
“We didn’t come soon enough,” he said for her. “We better check the 102 alley for changes as well.”
“I was on the Diagonal next to the Not Quite Gazebo, named so because it wasn’t (quite on the Diagonal). The moon was made of cheese. I try to transfer to the tower which I *know* is on the Diagonal but can’t quite reach the center (Diagonal). Instead: on one of the edge seats. The moon is not made of cheese. I wake up, still looking from the point of the Not Quite.”
“And then the lane,” spoke [delete name]. “Cherry Lane.”
“No, that was something different. In the land of Hana Lei.”
“Which is a catch all name for locations that you don’t want to list out.” Silence for a second, as if Jeffrie Phillips was checking this fact (he was). “Yes… but no. I mean, it wasn’t Cherry Lane on the Diagonal. Instead a path through a clearly haunted or haunting woods filled with wolves, especially at the bend where the path or trail leaves the Diagonal. That was before the Not Quite Gazebo. I wasn’t Peet Archer. I wasn’t wearing the tuxedo to indicate I was Young Kane who was never called that (strangely).”
“Blue Thorn?” guessed [delete name].
“I can’t recall,” responded Jeffrie Phillips, thinking hard. He was pounding a fist into his skull three times. Then three more. He recalled. “Niagara. Peet Archer was at the top. I put him there. I was…” Again a stall. The 1898 room was powerful that way — squelched speech. He wondered again who was beside him in that room while he dreamed. Someone from Hana Lei perhaps.
“Go on, Jeffrie. Do you need some water? Do you want to continued another night? We can wake up at any time. I clap my hands three times, and then three more.” He clapped his hands three times and then three more.
“How are we going to get up *that* thing, Mr. Archer?” Toddles said in her wee, cute voice, so full of hope just moments before. Then they heard the roar and remembered. They’d forgotten for so long. The obstacle.
“How are you with barrels?” Archer returned, thinking of a solution. Toddles would go up first and then lower down a rope or something.
Toddles suddenly had a growing spurt, then another, then another to make 3 total. She was 5’10”. Then three more to reach the needed height to simply pick up tiny Mr. Archer (to her) and set him on top of the reverse falls along with the car, then step up herself via a large rock pictured above.
“Handy you can do that!!” he shouted up when they were back together on another rock.
“WHAT??” she replied from a great height, and then shrank down again.
“No need to shout now, Mr. Archer. I’m right beside you here.
“Please… call me Peet,” he requested, seeing her quick dry herself as well. She had shrunk down three but not the remaining. She remained a pretty big girl. Pretty grown up. “We’ve been through a lot.”
At the “Picturetown 30 miles” sign he wondered if she was ever going to step back down those original three. She was not a toddler. In fact, she offered to drive after Niagara.
Toddles and Peet Archer were hopelessly lost in the Heartland of Canada. They spotted a fisherman screwing a hole in the ice and decided to stop and ask for directions. “Hellooo!” Peet Archer called when they neared the tiny fishing shack on the frozen lake. No answer. “Howdy,” Peet tried again as they got within about 15 feet. Still no response. In fact, the man hadn’t moved — wasn’t screwing into the pond at all.
As Toddles and Peet made their way back to the blue car stolen from that Tungaske residence seen in photo-novel 23, they realized he was just a symbol, a prop. All he really represented in his Maple Leaf hoodie was the Canadian flag and the country itself through it.
They still had a fur piece to go to reach Picturetown way over in Ontario.
“Very funny Mr. Archer.”
Hidi-as-Wheeler was and wasn’t All White. There was also pink, another All Noise come to think of it. She had been essentially banned from Bellisaria’s Hideout because of this (noise). She needed to turn back, then. Home. But first, Wheeler-as-Hidi did a little more checking on the Rosehaven Thornwood Diagonal, resisting the urge to change. The rotunda Peet Archer found centered at 223, 223 had been removed. Wheeler/Hidi quietly stands in the middle of the remaining platform, trying to ascertain how far to go in this direction. Rose Heaven? Wonder Years? Pre-MIST? Fire Tree? Something to do with a grown up Toddles who seems to be All Orange. She *wonders* if orange could be another type of noise.
Tessa danced with Chimera a while to prepare for the question. She was a blue hologram but appeared kind of green against a yellow background. More colors (noises). “Ray?” she responds to Tessa’s inquiry, sort of taking her aback. This was the real name of the Blue Thorn? Or was it the Blue Rose. Tessa asks this too. “Ray,” blue and also kind of green Chimera reinforces, a 2n1 herself in the moment.
Besides the addition of the Thornwood sim, not much seems to have changed in Rosehaven since my brief residency there last winter. I left because of a seeming misunderstanding. I had overlaid a mythology on top of one already in place. My princess wasn’t their princess, who I talked to a bit. My queendom-kingdom wasn’t theirs. Merry Gouldbusk (my princess) doesn’t wish to return now and is resigned to remain with Sandy and perhaps other lovers in NWES City and NWES Island as a whole. She might be the same as All Orange but it is difficult to tell — certainly she is gold or amber in skin tone and that’s pretty comparable in color and may be close enough. What of Breeze and Wendy, who also hang around Sandy: collectively, the “Breezy” archetype? Merry Gouldbusk seems also to be the same as them — maybe. And what about her donning that red, MAGA-style cap before the election results were finalized and that side lost (yes, they lost: congratulations Joe!)? When we saw her wearing it she was heading across town to Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer’s Red Rose building, which he rents from Peet Aries, who is similar but also different from Peet Archer, a new-ish character in this here blog and photo-novel, 23 in a series of 20. But we know similarly red capped Barry DeBoy, the abstract artist featured in photo-novel 22, also resides or at least use to reside in this building as invited by Baumbeer. He saved the town with his art created there, specifically through a design called CITY, a combination of triangles and squares to tile a picture without internal gaps. TIGER may be another word for it but, again, unsure; we are not privy to the details of the saving so far. But my point here is that Merry Gouldbusk, in the moment, may have also been the same as Barry Deboy through that cap. We’ve only seen him once in the current novel, and in a different location more on the east side of town than before — across the highway, but not in Meat City, although (that suburb) is across the road from the main part of town as well. Sorry: *city*. As usual, we are dealing with many mysteries at once, and with blurring of plot lines and involved characters. The city and overarching island is a labyrinth to be solved, if not a maze. Let’s go with labyrinth, because mazes are designed to confuse and labyrinths aren’t — one path in and one path out for the latter. And we have our center now: All Orange. We just don’t exactly know its nature yet. Aldebaronian? Powerful witch Mid-Hazel thinks so. She also wrongly thinks All Orange is dead now. She believes Rosehaven, which she’s changed to Rose Haven to hide it from the locals, is up for grabs. Her assistant cat-witch Esmerelda is not as certain. She thinks it could be a plant.
“That was a nice song, I think I’ll write another now.”
“It was a little toddler. Just like you Toddles. In fact…”
“Don’t say it,” she requested while having another spurt. We had just finished up the 3rd game of pool after she sank the Homer ball — as we started to call it in game 1 — for the win. I retrieved the yellow sphere from the side pocket and placed it back in the center, along with all the others. Losers have to rack. I kept pondering while I did. Toddles was now about 5′ 10″, so not a toddler. I was wrong in that, a loser once more. 3 feet to start, then a little under 4 1/2 after the second, then this. How much would she grow? I thought back to broken Big Boy at the entrance to the abandoned and clearly haunted park with the baby holding a doll. This tall? I fairly easily made it between the legs, but clearly an error to enter.
“Continue your story,” she requested while bending over to break the triangle (*crack!*). 6 balls sunk right off the bat; odds are stacked way against him to begin. With height comes increased skills, seemingly. I decided to appease her.
“Kite flying Jimmy Jackson and fly fishing Johnny Jimson were down at the pier, absorbed in their pastimes and trying to ignore the stench of the bodies that had freshly washed up on the shore that morning.”
“‘Ahh, there’s our old friend Reader perusing the octopus book’, I said, peering around the pier more, ‘perhaps looking for a smell spell to end it all.'”
“Octopus? Where’s this going?” she asked. The 7 ball was sunk, then the 2, then the 6. Did she even have any left; had she already won once more? He checked: not the Homer ball this time, but the orange, the 5th. It seemed to smile at him, telling him she was the one, the only. Here was All Orange in the flesh. The pool stick lowered, aimed…
“… annnd *CUT*!”
The Mist was heavy in this part of Thornwood, a new Rosehaven sim formed since he last frequented the queendom/kingdom this past winter. He wondered if he had lost his way again.
He glanced at his coordinates. 181, 181. He’s okay. He’s on some sort of Diagonal again. Good ol’ Diagonals. Now perhaps to take further advantage of it.
223, 223: Yes, most definitely something to this (!). Better report back to the others.
It’s often not what’s directly on the Diagonal but what you see from it. I’ll keep that in mind.