She describes the parcel. “Planet X, in the same sim of Icefyre as Mercury X. (Rising). And then the Mercury capsule just beyond in Neptune sim’s Neptune Bay. So many planets I see.”
“Icy planets, yes. Well: Neptune. Planet X I suppose as well, since it’s suppose to be beyond Neptune. I think.” Merry Gouldbusk’s sometimes lover Sandy Beech looks around at the sandy beach that represents the 512 parcel known as Planet X. Not much here. Just a couple of palm trees, couple of chairs and a “lounging boat”, a central patio fire, and several bags that use to contain men’s sandals before they were unpacked and put in someone’s inventory. Presumably the owner of the parcel, one [delete name].
“I suppose *this* is my queendom now. I can’t go back to Rosehaven. They already have a princess. I was just a (stunted) double for another.”
“True enough.” Sandy thinks here of his own doppleganger, a more cartoon-ish version of himself named Desert Knobb.
“Annnnd CUT!” Eraserhead Man calls offscreen in front of them. “That was great guys. Since Sandy is thinking of Desert here, let’s just switch him out. So Walter, if you would just change places with Herbert over there. Just say the same lines that Sandy was suppose to say in the script. Improvise if you feel the need.” The 2 actors switch places. “Annnnnnd ACTION!”
“Have I ever told you about the place I’m from? Great Belt? It’s very close to here: Icefyre. In fact they…”
“… may be one and the same,” Merry completed. Sandy was on his beach, Sandy was on his island. He can never leave. Just like me.
Santa wasn’t happy. I think he was about to run me over in his flying saucer, *ZZzzOOOOOmmm*!” I wake up.
“Another dream about the election dearest?” Wendy. Good ol’ Wendy. Always there during consciousness. Until the end.
In the next Marwood bot dream, Norm, another local resident, took over from Santa. “Sit down,” he commanded, indicating a chair in front of the guillotine I was beheaded with just the night before. And a donkey’s alongside it.
Red hat still firmly attached to skull, I sat under the Ace of Diamonds I posed beside last night before the beheading. I knew this because I was looking on as an observer rather than being a direct participant. “There is no Other,” he said to begin our conversation proper. “There is only *Here*.” I’d heard this before. I sat in the chair.
It was Miss Graham, formerly Jennifer M. Friend. She was then there, “DEMO” still tattooing head, which my mind started running again and again around the cap line of her skull, like a looped film. Faster… faster. Blurred… then suddenly stabilization once more. Slowing down. 7610 this time: clarity; focusing in. I stared again at Norm. We had been here before.
The tie was back. I had to get to work. Fast!
It’s time you learned the ties of TILE to the Korean Channel, young Kola.”
“Kolya, actually,” the young man, perhaps the young apprentice corrected. He turned to the red clad guy on the mat beside him at the pit fire. “Who are you, sir — really? I know you’re Santa and all but that’s just a costume, a disguise even, if you will.”
The man dressed as Santa chuckled with this, jovial in the moment. “I will call you Pepi Kola you young jokester. See, Pepi? The sacred islands spread out before you from this viewpoint. And it has a heart, a Sacred Heart.” He now looks up in the sky, channeling a trance it seems. “Pink is still with us,” he speaks after a pause, fire crackling louder before them. “And Brown… they haven’t left this plane yet.” He stares back at the sea, at the islands, at the *center*. “Resolution.”
“Well, that’s great and all — I don’t know who this Pink or this Brown is –”
The Santa man snickers again. “Oh you will, young man — young apprentice.”
“Apprentice?” Kolya questions. He has not bought into this Santa dude’s new name for him atall, but he does likewise stare toward what he’s been told are the sacred isles, looking for a heart. He is beginning to see.
“Jesus that was loud!”
“I know. And it’s just starting.” The plane flies into the ship. Pink and Brown are dead after all.
The Oracle predicted its placement over there in Diamondfyre but I’m still not convinced the temple will stay long term. The City is warming up to me but it’s not on fire yet, a brightly burning beacon.
But now that I recall, this has already happened, with even a bigger pop and a smaller one. Oesso. Continual window. We must think of bringing back Sandy for this here newest photo-novel which is numbered 22 in a series of 20.
The Invisible store has nothing in it, or else all the contents are invisible. Probably the former.
This nearby scrying mechanism is closed up.
Time to visit the bots?
“Heck of a year, huh Santa.”
It was always going to be us vs. them for control of Our Second Lyfe. Santa vs. Halloween (Jack) all over again.
Which of course worked both ways.
Let’s dive in.
We do not pretend to know what goes on inside the red curtains.
Nor the pink cube.
Kevin (“Fire”) and General Hooker (“Smoke”) lounge outside The Mermaid, waiting for Axis and Ruby to exit.
In the background: Vilania’s Safe Hub once more.
Last clients of the day (bi-weekly meetings, pheh, both think).
Afterwards: Talking about Philip Strevor’s new conditions while re-donning seasonal appearances at Holiday Flats in the midst of it all.
Suddenly, down by the bay:
A confused, naked Santa walks into a bar in Hogadon, telling the bartender a joke beginning, “What’s white and doesn’t swim?” He then does something totally inappropriate which bars him from the property altogether.
“Santas. All over the place. Either getting killed or driven stark raving mad. Hogadon Santy is the last example, body saved but the mind may never return. Useless for Christmas, you see.” He wraps himself tightly in his chair. “I could be next, Fairy Ruby. Sorry: Mrs. Claus.”
“Nah. We’re back on The Straight now. Seven never happened.”
Fairy Ruby Mrs. Claus realized she was being rude. “Oh… do you want a tart? They’re cherry.” Then she remembered the appointment. Already 1 day late. Casey One Hole will be in a bad mood. Which is not a good thing. Atall.
Santa-Axis suddenly found himself alone again, pondering on his ultimate fate. Perhaps another visit to the Vilania Safe Hub next door with all its harmless madness will perk him up. Make him jolly once more.
“Another one, Woody. The killings are increasing again!”
“I blame it on those goll darn cottages, Snowmanster, three in number. Probably four at this point — I haven’t checked. My key hasn’t checked either.”
Snowmanster turns to the large, wooden toy. “Woody. You *are* the key!”
Merely through this statement, Woody then realized they were on the precipice of the fourth, even if it hadn’t actually been created yet. More bad news for the day; seems Core-Alena, Purden, and all of Snowlands are really, truly doomed.
“Where are they, Santa-Axis? We specified 2:01 for a meeting.”
“Says here in the journal that they’ve found a dead Santa in the gorge over yonder. Probably within shouting distance, then.” Santa-Axis turns in the appropriate direction. “Woody! Woooo-dyyyyy!”
The snow fell harder as darkness increased.
“I don’t think he-she’s coming out of there, wife of mine. I think we’ve lost her-him to Utah.”
“Don’t always be so negative about things, husband so dear. Utah was chosen by all.”
They paused, considered. Then Fairy Ruby, who was now playing the permitted seasonal role of Mrs. Claus, spoke up again.
“I wonder if Snowmanster will show up to save the day? Like Superman.”
“Depends…” and they both say this in sync: “… if our user splurges the 400 lindens to make it so.” 4 again, I realize beyond the screen, like 40,000 but 100 times less. 2 dollars? I think I can manage it.
“I’m here to save the day!” an extremely, nay, *irritatingly* high pitched Snowmanster wannabe called from the edge of the compound.
“Cheapskate,” groused observing Santa-Axis softer to his wife. Then: “Okay, um, *Snowmanster*! Come join us by the fire for a powwow won’t you!”
“Don’t mind if I do! Don’t mind if I do!”
He was still yelling, even from a few feet away. “Well?! Who’s going to start!?” They stare, waiting for the change. Will it come? Hold on…
“Well Brevin. Time to face death square on.”
But upon teleporting in, Fairy Ruby sees there are no more freshly dug graves to examine. She logs out then back in to make sure all objects at the small cemetery have properly rezzed. No difference.
Just three remaining graves surrounding a Halloween Bat Tree. All have been around for a while.
Maybe I better talk to Axis tonight about all this.
“Still playing around with form, I see,” stated Axis after sitting down in the Winter Harvest Chair beside the red clad fairy. He notices the hearts. “I like it — but why did you change your hair from black to white?”
“Death will do that. Scare the color out of you.”
Axis glanced back at the shrunk cemetery surrounding the dark tree. “Did you know I was Halloween Jack before the merger? And Nick, and also Melvin, who is kind of Uncle Sam. The great 3-n-1. Would you like to see?”
Fairy Ruby finished her last bite of cherry tart. “Sure. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Axis focused hard, but found he couldn’t produce the needed entity. “Alright,” he said, exhaling. “That’s no good. Let me try the next one.”
“Melvin?” questions the girl.
“Oh. That one.”
“Yeah. Sorry it turned out a little hunchbacked.” He attempted to adjust his unwieldy arms so that they weren’t as much all over the place.
She looked him over. “Listen. I have an idea…”