A pop was heard. Sounded like one of Karoz’s guns with the silencer removed once more. There could be no mistake about it. She started counting backwards from 100. She would give the situation time to clear. But at 56 she could wait no more. Baker Blinker crept, tree by tree, back toward Collagesity.
On Meditation Knoll nearer the eastern edge of the forest (closest to Collagesity) lay sprawled the very red body of a humanoid alien being. It was Lockfry, wounded in the arm. Baker saw Karoz in the distance, scrounging around for something in her house. She edged closer and closer to the body.
“Just leave me alone here to die,” the being said in a bass voice (low so that Karoz couldn’t hear).
“Are you hurt bad?” Baker responded. “My you are red; hard to tell if there’s any blood or not.”
“No blood. But I will die here. Karoz is going to bury me alive and not know it. I can slow down my pulse. 10 beats per minute. 2… 1. And I’m gone to the world. A parrot that has ceased to exist. Like Karoz has in his apartment. Have you been to his apartment lately? He’s a sick boy. A sick puppy. Karoz deserves no more love than I do.”
Baker Blinker asked the next obvious question. “Are you *him*? I mean, it would seem you have to be. You’re on the spot where I last heard The Master speak.”
Karoz had found a shovel in the house and was heading back toward them. He stopped in his tracks when he saw Baker Blinker, but then moved forward again, more slowly.
Lockfry whispered “goodbye” to her as he approached.
So it was The Master, or the little man inside him who only wanted to be released from bondage, just like yourself.
It appears so. I’ve been tending to him for 2 days now. He was hurt more by the sudden transformation than anything else. I kicked ol’ Karoz out; he was basically mended up by then. So I just traded one wounded boy for another. They’re similar in other ways.
Do you hate Karoz for what he did?
Well, he had had enough, just like me. He was just defending me. But it was still wrong. He could have killed an alien being… another one.
But he didn’t. He unconsciously aimed for the arm. And he didn’t even kill the first Ancient.
I know that *now*. A bb gun! That’s what he thinks a real gun is. Bb’s!
Carrcassonnee could have added: “And a baker b. gun at that.”
“Karoz, where you been fella? Good to see you. Have a seat, have a seat. What will it be tonight? Still totaling the tea, or do you want anything stronger? Lockfry’s having a beer here, a Krings. Why don’t you join him?”
“No thanks, Karl,” replies Karoz as he moves past Lockfry to his customary seat at the far end of the bar. He inserts a coin. Cards appear.
“Any spades yet, Ka-roz?” Lockfry slithers.
Karoz doesn’t look at Lockfry but just shakes his head. Furry Karl disappears into the back room.
“Yeah, just sit there and shake your head. Shake head. Shake head. Hehe. Shak-ey, shak-ey.”
Karoz turns to Lockfry. “Your evil. Pure evil. Everyone’s going to see that soon enough. I’m going out there and get Baker Bloch back. Then we’ll see.”
“Ooo,” manages Lockfry, as Karl reappears with several framed pictures.
“Hey look, Karoz,” he says. “I’m going to hang your, let’s see, mother’s picture — right here next to your spot.” With some effort, he hangs the painting. Karoz doesn’t offer to help. “Okay, there, that should cheer you up. She was an awfully pretty lady, Karoz.”
“She wasn’t my real mother, you know,” says Karoz, not looking again. “I was given to her by gypsies. It’s a long story. But, yeah, she was very pretty. Sapphire was her name. When the Linden grid came she and Norum along with her were erased.”
“That when you started hanging out with Peter?” asks Karl innocently. Karoz sneaks a glance at Lockfry. “Maybe.”
Karl hangs the other picture. “And what about this one behind the bar, even? Ah, that might be too much. But that’s both his father and mother now, Lockfry. That’s the only picture Karoz has of both of ’em together. And I think that’s the only one you have of your father, isn’t that right, Karoz?”
“That might be too much, Furry Karl,” Lockfry reinforces. “It’s like Karoz has the bar all to himself again, like in the old days. That’s not true any longer.”
“Just shut up,” Karoz spouts. The caged Ancient suddenly squawks.
“Now now, it’s my duty to make you guys happy and content,” Karl inserts here. “All that shooting bb’s in the arm thing is behind us. It was just a frigg’n bb, a toy! And the other Ancient is doing well, Lockfry.”
“He’s not a parrot, Karl”, responds Lockfry. “Why do you keep him in a cage?”
“Because we don’t know what he is. We don’t know what *you* are, yet.” He laughs nervously.
“The Devil”, Karoz answers plainly.
“*Karoz* seems to think I’m evil, Karl. Just because I’m red. Like you know who.”
“Santa Claus?” deadpans Karl.
“No,” says Lockfry firmly. “The other one. The one who lives inside the Sphere Earth instead of on top of it. The hole at the North Pole leads to him, however. That’s what your Admiral Richard Byrd found out and Non-Admiral Floyd Bennett tried to keep from the world until his deathbed. Then he whispered it to his wife and children gathered around him. “I know where hell is, and I’m going there. Now.” Then he died.” Lockfry snaps his fingers here. “And he’s still there in hell. Locked away inside a cage, just like this poor, crippled Ancient.”
“Yeah, that’s a nice story Lockfry. You’ve got a bunch of nice stories and I love hearing all of them. And I don’t think you’re The Devil just because you’re pure evil… *red* I mean there. Red. I’m sure Karoz doesn’t think that either. And certainly Baker Blinker doesn’t see it — *believe* it. Jeez.” Karl thinks to himself: “Stop screwing up your lines! You’re going to get *yourself* sent to hell”.
“Karl”, says Lockfry icily. “Don’t I deserve another free Krings for that? Hmmm?”
Karoz grudgingly agreed to a private meeting over at the closed town diner. It was about 1:45 in the morning. Lockfry didn’t want Furry Karl or Baker Blinker or any of the others to overhear what they might speak about. Karoz didn’t care one way or the other.
“Listen, I’ve given you my apartment, my *woman of interest*”, started the moss being. “I have nothing left in this town. I sleep over under the red lights of the town museum with the flattie elephants and guerrillas.”
“Over under?” exclaims Lockfry, stretching his arms above his head. “Sounds like my kind of place, though. Have the guerrillas played mind games with you? I hope so. That would be cool.”
“So, what, you’re going to try to talk me out of leaving? Why would you do that?”
“Look, this is hard for me…” spoke Lockfry more honestly than before to Karoz. “We’ve met before. I know Peter SoSo.”
“That’s impossible.” The sound of squeaking and rattling was heard from the door. It was Winnie the Pouh and his honey cart, passing by on the rocky road outside (Cannon Street). Karoz noted the sound but couldn’t see the famous bear from his angle. Lockfry acted like the noise didn’t exist.
A longer silence ensued as Karoz tried to assimilate the revelation. “So you’ve been to Crabwoo?”
“I was enrolled at the college for 3 years, until they kicked me out for cutting the head off that dame and eating her lover. But, heck, we all do crazy things when we’re young and away from the home for the first time. Just kidding about that, by the way. You can take your shocked look off your grassy face.”
“The college stuff or the killings? Because I’m much more inclined to believe the latter.”
“I’m Peter’s friend Dave. We knew each other. Devil Dave, remember? I was pretty evil back then as well. And devilishly handsome of course.”
“Dave?” Karoz scrutinized Lockfry’s face closely for perhaps the first time. “Yeah. Yeah, I can see it. You *are* Dave. A considerably redder Dave, but you were quite pink in those days, so I can see the progression. Trace it back.”
“So you believe me.”
“I guess so.” “Dave,” Karoz repeats after a pause, and then looks at Lockfry again. “How?”
“Heck, everyone who was anyone back then went to Crabwoo to study. It’s not *that* odd.”
“Have you seen Peter recently?”
“Not since the [Linden] takeover. Most of us Ancients lost track of each other in the confusion. The days of Lemony Goodness were over. But, ahh, Crabwoo in its time was something, wasn’t it? Beat the [socks off] Chilbo. But of course there was the curse put on it. The Purse Curse.”
Karoz knew his Crabwoo history. He came to the Maebaelia continent city when it was sliding downward — considerably after the curse. But it was still something to behold. Two sims abuzz with excitement, all nuzzled up to the Blue Feather Sea. Like Lockfry said: everyone who wanted to expand their horizons went there. To study, to experience, to *know*. Know the higher truths. That’s where Karoz was introduced to the concept of TILE and tiling. Dave, if he recalled correctly, was 4 or 5 years older than him. So he could have seen the carcass sprawled out in the central mall, before they hauled it away. Peter talked about it as well, but he remembered the lingering smell more than anything. They couldn’t get it out of the air; it permeated *everything*.
The rattling/squeaking noise was heard again, as Pouh passed by from the opposite direction. Something else was in his honey cart, changing the timbre. He stopped in front of the diner door. His umbrella was both inside and outside the structure at once.
Baker Bloch paused from speaking to his Past Father and turned around to see what the rumbling was about. The reality including Karoz and Lockfry had shifted over.
“Sounds like rain,” said Past Spaced Ghost.
Writer/director/producer Baker Bloch of the Collagesity Blog Series filming a test scene where newcomer Lockfry (played by Devil Dave of Crabwoo, etc.) is about to enter an enlarged version of the magical Blue Feather Cube bordering Central Stream, never to be heard from again in the town. The scene was later cut in favor of…
… Lockfry taking Karoz’s place in Castle Jack under the red lights (his favorite color, after all) and allowing the latter to return to his 2nd floor Bodega market apartment and take back stuff formerly stored in Furry Karl’s bar (such as pictures of his parents, his now empty parrot cage, and so on).
Baker Bloch envisions Lockfry working part time in the bar, gradually saving up his money so that he could buy this travel trailer and set it up on the extreme western edge of town above Confluence Pool. This way he could stay close to Baker Blinker — Bloch wants to keep the romantic triangle between Lockfry, Ms. Blinker, and Karoz strong in future installments of the series.
Eventually, Lockfry might build a house like the below one in the berg, complete with a galloping porch horse.
Bloch even tested out the idea of the red being constructing a whole castle where the Toxic Art Gallery presently sits. He could use a steampunk balloon ship to travel about, careful to avoid colliding with Collagesity’s network of sky tunnels.
But the most practical and believable of the end options, for now, seems to be the travel trailer. Baker Bloch revises the script to say it just mysteriously shows up one day, stocked to the hilt with Krings beer and sporting a tv that picks up all the local cable channels.
“I still can’t see you Baker Bloch.”
“I heard Baker Bloch came by earlier and tried to speak to you but remained hidden. Can you give me a time frame for his return?”
No Baker Blinker, I can’t. Next question please. Do you want to ask about Otis?
Um, I don’t know. Do I?
No. Ask what you wish.
How about a report?
Lockfry is still in town, despite making plans for his own exit. He lives in a travel trailer on the western end, not far from my house atall. I’m not sure I like this arrangement. I’m going to ask him to move it. Plus… I think I want him out, period.
That’s not what Karoz thinks. Karoz believes you are in love with him and that you are already a couple.
Not true! There’s a certain — attractiveness to him. As I said he reminds me of Karoz.
You better sit down and tell Karoz all this.
Meanwhile, Baker Bloch, behind the scenes of course and working as writer/producer/director again, prepares Collagesity’s House of Truth for a potential visit by Karoz and Baker Blinker. Karoz will confess to her (probably in the town diner next door to it) that he now remembers Lockfry as Devil Dave from Crabwoo. They will go to the House of Truth to take in pictures of Karoz’s discovery of the Big E in the Blue Feather Sea, called, at the time of their snapping in 2009, a dramatic re-creation of an ancient event.
Baker Blinker and Karoz arrive at the House of Truth to find that town graffiti artists have already vandalized an upstairs wall. “I tell you, Baker Blinker, we *have* to hold another town meeting soon or all will descend into chaos. People are still rumbling and grumbling about the Spongeberg speech. Thunder is on the horizon, soon followed by rain. The town will not forget his ‘sick’ remark.”
“Uh oh,” says Baker Blinker, head pointed heavenward. “Where’s that dratted red umbrella when you need it!”
Soon enough they would find out.
The rain certainly brought out some interesting characters from the deep. Like Shark. Like Gentle Giant Fan. Like Little Reading Light, who usually sits just outside the bar dangling her cylindrical feet into Confluence Pool. But the pool was higher than the floor of the bar now, and still rising.
You do not remember me, do you Furry Karl? You are not Furry Karl? Are you Furry Karl? Karl?
Who are you? Do you remember?
Hey Lockfry, can you see this creature home from… whereever he comes from. Where *do* you come from Mr. Shark?
Old Kentucky to you. Or Old Kent.
Hey, thanks for the free cable subscription by the by. Great to meet you in person.
You’re welcome Strangler.
Cool. (looks to right) And what are you reading Little Light? “Winesap”, as usual? Haven’t you finished that book yet? Can I borrow it from you?
Mmmmmm. Brrr. Whick. Yuppie. Yup-ie.
Little Climbing Light isn’t much of a talker, Lockfry. Best to leave her alone to read her book. I suppose she’s only inside to escape the rain. Never seen her sit here, although she sometimes comes in and buys a whiskey sour and takes it back outside to her pool. Hey, Little, they’re going to name that pool after you someday.
Mrrr. Bub. Cliip.
And how about the last person at the bar. Looks like he’s lights out for the night.
Rode in here on the shark. So I suppose they came from the same party. Hey Fanboy. Wake up. Bar’s closing in 10 minutes. Let’s see if you’re able to walk home on your own. Hey… (claps hands together) You in there? Come on. You can do it.
(Gentle Giant Fan raises his head from the bar and looks around.)
Oh, Kent. Glad you’re still here. Can you give me a lift home?
Sure. As soon as Furry Karl says he remembers. Remember Karl? Furry?
He’s talking about R110, Furry Karl. The secret society that tried to keep Linden Labs from taking over Your Second Lyfe. Shark’s from Arkansas, from Roostre’s county.
That totally incorrect, er, Gentle Giant Fan Boy.
Old Kent (answering):
Yell. As in YELLING (he yells the word). As in YELLOW mustard. Needing more. Corndog. Corndroid. Surely Karl remembers the *true* bar. The bar where I killed him.
Furry Karl, actually I’ve made enough money from umbrella sales during this storm to buy your bar several times over. And I have already — paid your boss Norubi Turtle for it earlier.
Wha-what’s that mean??
It means as of right now you’re exiled from your bar and Collagesity as a whole. Unless you can answer Old Kent’s question correctly. *Do* *you* *remember* *Shark*? Think; think as if your bar, your status as a citizen of this ragamuffin town depends on it. Because it does.
And I’ll finish it off by biting your head off.
Hey hey hey. Half of me is gone again!
That’s close enough, don’t you think Old Kent? Reveal the New Guy.
The rain stopped.