F-ck, Roger Pine Ridge thought. It actually worked! But what to do now??
Sh-t. I’ve been spotted.
Poor, pitiful creature, Dr. I C. Yourinsides thought, returned to life from the ice cream truck catastrophe like the others. Only *one* eye.
Didn’t she read about a town over in the Atoll Continent that was ruled by such a being, though? She’ll have to look it up later on at her personal console.
Ah yes, here ’tis. Collagesity. Class 2 population place, which is more like a village. The continent also contains a class 3 pp named Olde Lapara Towne — logically: a town, then. And, wow, even a class 4 city (!), just a notch below the Linden controlled class 5 superburgs of Bay, Nautilus, Kama. VHC City it’s called here in this Baker Blinker Blog. But it’s, hmm, bakerbloch.com. Two Bakers.
Wristband monitor alert warned that her energy was running low again. Only 3 hours since the last regeneration. Continuing effects of the New Island catastrophe radiation seem to be worsening lately for unknown reasons. Unable to go groundside until the situation stabilizes. Wouldn’t make it.
But it’s not New Island below us now, she considers. It’s Fishers Island. She needed to study up more on the differences between the two, and what the consequences are for the SHIFT from one to the other. Given the shituation, this could obviously be bad news, at least for her as a strangely organed alien.
Another class 4 pp immediately below. Multi-sim. Dr. I.C. is manipulating the space as best she can remotely. Red and green banners indicating the continued presence of New Island witch Mid Hazel there. Bar Lemon, a link between past and present. Mr. Yellows too. Wrongful combination. Different kind of pp. A Moon rising against a far Wall, full of caged creatures as well. IT IS FULL. All of that last part due to the last true wizard possessing the Rainbow Sphere now.
Roger Pine Ridge finally found a place in Wallytown where he felt safe to manifest the sphere. Cul-de-sac; no interior to the surrounding buildings. He burned a hole through the fabric of time-space with his cigarette and prepared to look inside again.
He was disguising himself as a chatty alien to this town. Lucytown it could be called. We’ll see. Maybe Walltown. Or just: Wall. Wallytown.
“How did this Wall come about, Peggy? I prefer Moon myself. Better music, maybe better lyrics even. Did you know there is a Moon on the opposite side of Wall in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania? And Pennington County, South Dakota for that matter. And now: here. This proves that our — *my* music will live on in time. Past the 21st Century. Past more, hopefully. Moon is permanent, and maybe it can drag the interior Wall along with it.” He shakes his head, playfully adjusts his mouth, laughing. “Inferior I meant there, although a Wall certainly does have an interior… and an exterior. Inner and Outer. Do you know why they hang green and red banners along the exterior of the Wall instead of, say, yellow and blue? I saw a blue car parked beside them today, in the middle of the road. Got towed — I called it in. Do you like chocolate, Peggy? How about lemonade? How about rustling me up a freshly squeezed glass of lemonade? Or do I have to go to Bar Lemon for that? I will, you know. Just down the Wall and through the tunnel and hang a right.”
It was only then that Roger Pine Ridge realized he was talking to a mannikin all along. The other Peggy at the bar — Peggy 02: same story. Only Natali was real here, and she wasn’t in the mood for conversation. A day off is me-time for her. Talk to the hand all day today. In costume, she was, of course, our Molly Lustrous, a dancer at Bar Lemon Roger just mentioned, and a constant ride provider for Fisher, another town newcomer. That crazy robot friend of his, she thinks with a slight grin. And that yellow colored girl he keeps yammering on about all the time and getting in trouble because of it. He doesn’t even know about the secret stash of ammunition in Drugstore Orange just below that could blow up a, well, a town about this size.
“You have to click the keg at the end of the bar,” she finally managed. The still drink-less Roger followed her point. Soon he had a cranberry martini in hand, complete with lemon slice.
“Ah yes. Thank you, stranger. My name is Albert. Albert Halsey. I’m from Oregon, Earth, USA. I’m on the run; out of breath. You know: Time. Constraints that drive one mad and induce Brain Damage, Money not the least of them. Do you know about Money? Time, Money, Brain Damage? It will all survive the test of time. Well beyond the 21st Century. Maybe even up to the *31st* Century.”
Natali was thinking: how to ease out of this bar scene as gracefully as possible. After all, there were about a dozen bars in
Wall Wallytown she could visit by her estimation, and that may still be selling the burg short. Around every single blasted turn there seemed to be another one. Bar Lemon does a fairly steady business but it use to be different back in the old days. The days before the coming of the blimey Lindens. For this use to be a Lemony town through and through, Bar Lemon a link to that lustrous past. And herself as well. She could open up to this alien man sitting next to her and blow his freak’n mind. Give him a ride all over town and show him the sights, tell him where this and that use to exist and how it was mainly replaced by *inferior* structures and objects. Mr. Yellow knew too. Both of ’em. The town has certainly been pissed on by the Lindens. Yes, she could give him a total ear-full of info.
But it was her day off.
“Well it’s working for me Wheeler Wilson. Or are you The Bill still here in this new work?”
“The Bill,” Wheeler Wilson answered. “Sorry again to call you over. The interwebs just wasn’t pulling up for me tonight.”
“No prob. Good we talk and keep up with each other every so often. We are the two chief avatars after all, with 90% of the stuff. Bracket Jupiter is running a distant third at, say, 5%?”
“I wouldn’t give him even that. But I miss him still. Where is he now, Baker Bloch? New Eden?”
“We can allow him to become part of the story again if you wish.”
“I’m having *loads* of fun, but…”
“We can do that,” Baker Bloch reinforced, turning over in his mind how that could work.
“Roger Pine Ridge,” spoke Wheeler Wilson, trying to similarly figure out a solution. “Could Bracket play…?”
“I don’t think so. Roger is a composite being. Composite avatar. He — let’s say he wishes to become one of the core avatars — one of us.”
“Let’s bring him in. I’ve got to change back to Pitch Darkly and fix Mary’s supper now. She doesn’t like leftovers.”
Baker Bloch paused, staring at the map again before them.
Or its right, Bill/Wheeler thought, looking as if from behind… inside. 1/2 and 1/2.
“Darn! It’s not working again.” She turned to her new guest.
“I almost forgot how to get a hold of you, Roger. Peter Soso,” she repeated his core avatar name for memory purposes. “Soso, Soso…”.
“Sooooooo,” Roger interrupted on beat. “Are you ready to hear my pitch?”
“I should be finished with journal 9 in 2 weeks or less, Robert Drake Johns. Then we will reassess the situation.”
“That’s great, Older Mabel,” spoke the tall, lime green robot seated beside her. His voice was nasal compared to most mechanoids of his type — Mabel designed him this way to appear slightly comical to her and help lighten the mood sometimes. Because the mood was dire in many instances. The Wastelands held nothing back.
“I’m wondering when The Monster will return,” started RDJ again. “Sally lives on the edge of the Deep Dunes but hasn’t seen or smelled anything in 2 weeks or more. The Axis powers may have won the war, but they haven’t been especially active conquerors… let us do what we please, when we please.”
“Oh they’re around.” She scribbles quickly once more. “Right now I’m seeing a narrow boat, mired deep in the high sands. Two children — no, a child and a man, actually an older man. Then another, observing man. No, sorry again, a woman but with many eyes, some which could be masculine. Actors and Observers again, Robert Drake Johns.”
“I miss my cousin,” said RDJ out of the blue. “I miss Cardboard. The character and not the substance, although that has disappeared too. All metal and rust now; little plastic as well.”
“And parchment,” added Mabel brightly. “Thank Gods for parchment.”
Turchin McGurchin was tidying up Mabel’s original Scarlet Creative Sylvia House when Ruby silently entered. “Don’t let me scare you old man,” she said to him from behind.” Turchin laid his broom aside and they hugged. 2 weeks was long enough to make a good friend.
“It’s so beautiful here,” Ruby spoke while staring out across the expanse of the Rubi Woods from her higher perspective on the tire swing.
Turchin nodded from his chair while trying to fight nodding off at the same time. “Yup. Sure ’nuff is.”
Ruby just sat for a while, taking in the calmness and serenity. “Shame Mabel can’t live here… in this one.” She glances toward the SCS house just to her left now.
“Mabel will be back soon enough,” Turchin offered in his countrified manner of speaking. Slow and easy. “Best she’s not here for a spell — till she fully gets over Buurb. Yup, I saw it coming, all along.”
Rubi looked down at Turchin, then, after a smaller pause: “Do you think they still love each other?”
“Hard to tell. Since Buurb’s a girl again…” He lets it go at that.
Ruby stares down at her crossed feet. “Of course.”
Turchin caught Ruby up with town news since her two week stay about a month back, a visit no one currently around remembered except for him. Maxism was on the rise again, thanks to the crafty graffiti he painted last Tuesday in the vacant Stairs gallery — and has added onto in the meantime.
Keep directing your stares toward Max, was the overall message he wanted to plant. Turn it up to the Max, was a related catch phrase he was tinkering with. “You can see Max anywhere from town if you turn up your draw distance to the max — 512 meters,” he explained to the 15 year old. “Fate,” he tacked on. Ruby asked about the other two religions in town and what would happen to them. “They’ll implode,” Turch said in uncharacteristic sharpness. “It’s just suppose to be Ruby — you — and Max.” But he was wrong about that.
In his reinstated apartment, smoking and observing Roger Pine Ridge waited for someone to reenter Collagesity from the woods.
“Thank you for waiting, Roger.”
“No problem… The Bill.”
“Bill, please. For now.”
“Well I’ll get straight to it. Since this is the only Fisher Island in Wisconsin (Roger indicates the map still displayed on the media feed of The Table Room), and then the only *Fishers* Island — plural — in the state is on a Hazelhurst topo map — that we’re talking about an exchange: Fisher or Fishers Island for New Island. I am such an exchange, after all, since I’m not Roger Waters but Roger Pine Ridge. And it has worked out all right for me. I’m here, aren’t I?”
“You are indeed,” affirms Bill. “And we’re glad to have you sitting at our Table. You are *The* Variant, as I might be *The* Bill. Interesting symmetry.”
Roger puts a hand to his naturally cracked lips. “Does this Ruby have to affect the change? Can you not do it yourself?”
“As you know, RPR, I am indeed queen of Collagesity, but only because Mabel is so involved in New Island that’s she’s rarely here. Once she returns — all this aberrant energy she feels is dealt with — then she’s back here and a battle shapes up. I need to know what side you’re on. I’d like you to stand with me, obviously. Not that your position at The Table is in doubt, it’s just…”
“So Mabel controls Ruby,” interrupts an engrossed Roger Pine Ridge. “Ruby, the girl of 15, of course, and not Rubi the Woods. No one can control the forest.”
“Not so fast on that, Roger PR, my aberrant friend. We have a plan.”