“Today, class, we’re going to talk about a historic event that happened right here in Toppsity. It was 11 years ago. No doubt many of you remember what I’m talking about.”
“Oh, I know Mrs. Orchardsity. Was it — The War?” Abigail always wanted to be the first to guess one of Mrs. Orchardsity’s queries. Most often she was wrong, like this time.
“No Abby,” — for that’s what she wished to be called now. Abigail was too formal, and she told the teacher and other students at the beginning of the semester this in no uncertain terms. “The War was further back in time. 1873-1874.” Catalina Orchardsity knew that it was really 1873-1873 but tacking on that extra year sounded better to the ears. Catalina Orchardsity was not a strickly “go by the rules” teacher. She bent the rules. She bent history a bit too. Because she knew it was malleable in the first place. Her ultimate goal was to eliminate The War altogether. Stretch it out in time until it was too thin to exist. Right not it sat fatly in the middle of 1873. She knew it had to start moving in order to lose weight, lose significance in time. This is what the coven taught her.
Bert Bright who always sat up front, second chair from the left next to his best bud Bud Dimm (2nd cousin to Dimmy Gene who we’ve already met in this here photo-novel), spoke up. “The Witch Trials.”
“I was going to say that,” grumbled Bud Dimm to his side. He always muttered this to one of Bert’s bright answers.
“Now, now, Bud. You know Bert is *much* smarter than you. Take it like the little man you are. Chin up!”
Bud raised his chin up. He liked being reinforced that he was much dumber than Bert; gave him an excuse for his lack of answers. He was satisfied with the brain that life had provided him and wanted no further advance in society than a low paying, menial job. He had been taught well.
(to be continued)
He had acquired the list of Pipersville landmarks and was checking each one individually. No sign of life at the old Weston residence out on Sandpiper Lane, and the house itself seemed to have mysteriously shrunk. Or maybe he was just gaining weight, he rationalized — or… height? He was still a growing boy after all, merely masquerading as a soldier man. At least he wasn’t tin like his friend from the sticks, way out in the woods. He always forgets his name, though. Johnny Something. From Somewhere. South Something. Johnny South — I believe that’s it. Cpt. Americus might know. If he wasn’t dead in his grave from that atom bomb dropped on the town only last year. Seems like two.
This Grove place just south — South again — of Sandpiper Lane still seems interesting. Hobbits, pheh. Lt. Salt hated Hobbits, even more than mustard (gas).
He finds a couple in bedroom cutting some small z’s and shoots them dead, blowing the smoke away from his gun hole at the end in satisfaction of a good day’s work. And it’s only 2 in the afternoon, he thought, checking his white watch to match his snowy outfit. Two again, hmph.
The woman hobbit’s name was Grabby, because she did from the male, a Chestershire example named Givey. Givey Witherspoon, hence Grabby Witherspoon, since Hobbits didn’t really get into modern marriage things like the wife keeping a given surname. So in that one respect she *wasn’t* a Grabby, I suppose. Accepted what was given to her by the husband. But the name was about it; all else was taken, including the family heirloom silverware the husband wanted to donate to the unfortunate wee ones from their coastal region eating by sea monsters each year. But I diverge. We must return to Lt. Salt and his exploration of old Pipersville links, eventually leading…
… to the Pipe Room of course. The Room.
He hears footsteps outside: Jim A. and lover Sweet Alice, ready to pose as Venus once more. Nowhere to hide!
“Always looking for love, aren’t you Marcus Fox Smartville. I have an aunt down in SIFton. I’ve heard the rumors.”
“Well, ahh,” I attempted to explain. “You know. Things happen. I sometimes get a little carried away.”
“And you’ve still got that primmy rose with you. Primrose… primmy rose. That’s where it all started for you, right?”
“It was, let me tell you. YOUR SIM 01. Neither North nor South. Then the second (02). That’s where you found *me*.”
Ah ha. A clue! I thought. Thanks Sweet Alice! Now I just had to finish out this awkward meeting. She stared steadily at me. A member of the church choir she was, and also the prayer group meeting immediately afterwards. Was this…?
“No,” she answered, as if reading my mind, shocking me. But then I remembered we were already talking about the Room before the rose diversion. She was just answering a question I’d already asked about 2 minutes ago. Might as well be 20 years ago. Then she did it again.
“20 years. *Not* 12 as some think. Give me credit for aging well! It was a long time ago now. I’ll give you this before we — both of us — move on. The retaliatory strike was at Golden City, in case you didn’t know.”
“I knew that,” I replied.
“Golden City to Golden Sink. The Truth Brothers wiped out.”
Ahh. The Truths! Both of ’em. Such horrible luck. First the house with the fire, then the house they were replacing it with by an even greater fire. Nuclear. Was this what Biff Carter meant by the second gun?
“No,” she answered. She’d done it again. Time to move on.
Sweet Alice waited for the Magic Bus out of Pipersville. Sweet Alice asked for marriage to Jim A., who she knew as Jim A. Brown, owner of the Diamond Club and keyboardist in the resident band The B.’s. Her father unsurprisingly said no. Hence the birth of the Gno King legend and the entrapment of the fair maid inside the Indecypherable Tower until rescued by Master Ben Bolt five long years later. Only he could break the code.
“What reason do you give *now* for the ‘no'”, she begged before leaving the town perched on the edge of Sink X. Everyone was starting to feel the radiation effects, either directly or indirectly. “Pipes,” he plainly put it to her from his soon-to-be-established Kingdom, which was actually anywhere he physically stood. “Pipes, table, door, bars, um… do I need to go further?” Sweet Alice automatically assumed a modest pose where she covered he clothed body with strategically placed hands. He didn’t need to go further.
He offered her a rose and promised he was going to get her out of this backwater place.
But for right now, they were just off the map.