He’d been living in the woods for weeks, maybe months. The only friend he had was Dr. Blood. The only structure he knew was the TILE Tower. The woods, the friend, the tower: these were his new center. Dr. Blood said this was all that’s left of the world. “Deal with it,” he’s replied quite a number of times now to Homer’s complaints about the rest going away. He had.
Then suddenly one day, on the east horizon, appeared to Homer a town of a single spire, still forming but becoming more and more complete with each ticking moment. He ran into the heart of the woods, searching for Dr. Blood. He paused where the Tinbaby sometimes manifested, circling around an impossible triangle. “Dr. Blood!” he called. “Something has happened. Something has *appeared*. I think… I think it may be a way out. A way home. Dr. Blood! Ohh. Where is he?”
He then heard a small (final) “pohc pohc pohc” on the far side of the forest and moved toward the sound. Dr. Blood had just finished reverse chopping the 75th green cypress back into life. He propped his cold axe against the streaked, brown trunk of the newly reborn tree as Homer approached. He took into account his friend again. Bulging, blank eyes. Balding. Protruding stomach from consuming too much junk food and beer down through the years. Slobby. But he had grown to admire the man. He was totally dedicated to his family and hell bent on finding them again.
“Ah, Homer. Excellent timing.” He waved his arms around. “Only 1 more to go now and the woods will be fully restored, all 200 trees back in their proper place. You know, there’s a pattern to all this. Took me eons to find. So what’s this about a mirage again? Did I hear correctly? You know the tricks this place can play on a man. If it was the day after tomorrow I might have believed you. Possibly.”
Homer was convinced this time. “Well, I’ll show you and then *you* can decide. Come with me.” They both walked briskly to the open space in the forest where Homer spied the city to the east. Dr. Blood was shocked that he could see it as well. Collagesity had returned! He checked his heart clock.
“Time is moving forward again, Homer. It must… have been 199 trees instead of 200!”
“It’s Dr. Blood, right?”
It use to be the Tin Woodman of Oz. But not the Tin Woodsman as it is often pronounced. Some called me just Tinman.
You are also known as Dr. Blood in Collagesity; that’s how I’ve always known you. But you don’t remember me.
I do now. Starting just a couple of minute ago, when I first laid eyes on you.
And you remember being in Baker Blinker’s house taking a shower.
I do now. It’s all kicking back. I was trapped in the woods that time forgot until this very morning. When I was a flesh and blood man — just like you, Homer — I chopped trees as a function. Nick Chopper I was called. I fell in love with a village maiden servant whose master did not approve. She bribed a wicked witch from the east to enchant my formerly trusted axe. I started hacking away at my own extremities one by one. An arm in January, a leg in March. Even my head at the end. Ku-klip the tinsmith replaced each with a tin replica as they went away. So I still thought, still breathed, still acted. Yet he forgot to make me a new heart. And I’ve never loved since. And so, to me, I’ve never *lived* since. Trapped until today.
This story seems familiar. You’re not the Futurama robot?
Dr. Blood (patiently):
I’ve told you this story before, Homer. How I got caught in a shower and became immobile?
We’ve all heard portions of the story, Mr. Smipson. You have “The Wizard of Oz” film in your Springfield, don’t you? Some form of it is available in all planes I know of.
Is that the one those Pink Floyd guys did the music for?
In one dimension, yes. How did you two meet?
I found Homer in the meat of the forest surrounded on all sides by the transparent, hyperdimensional Tinbaby, the one who gave me my exterior heart from the future.
Futurama, see? Told you.
Ahh, the vortex opens. Collagesity citizens have seen the Tinbaby too.
It is me in the future, when I get younger.
But you’re getting older, like all of us. I’m 415 now. Last year this time I was 414. And the year before that: 413. And so on back through the eons. Is that not how it works for you?
It didn’t. But it does.
Stop your stop talk. I want to do a test now. Go up that ladder just behind you Dr. Blood and see if you pass through the door at the stop. Top, I meant there. Stop top? We’ll see.
“It will take a while for Tinman to break out of that crack in the Multiverse,” said Carrcassonne. “*If* he makes it. In the meantime, Homer, I have a surprise for you. Turn around…”
“Lisas! I mean Lisa! What have they done to you? You’re all multiple, like that Dolly sheep.”
“Lisa thought you’d understand better this way. She’s sorry she can’t be here in person but that’s not the way it works. Ask a question to Lisa and she’ll answer. Let me turn out the sun.”
“Which one?” asks Homer, standing before them. “Oh, all my beautiful daughters, all the same age, all as lovely as their mothers. I lost Marg too, you know.”
“Soon you will be reunited. Ask a question, any question.”
“Is it really you Lisa? Is this my little daughter?” The Lisa flattie including Homer lit up.
“See how it works now, Homer? Ask another one.”
“Why am I trapped in this horrible place? Well, it’s not actually that bad. Actually…”
“The Lisa representing freedom lights up now,” said Carrcassonnee. “That means you are not trapped but free. Right now. You are three dimensional. Do you remember when you became so? Recall that Lisa has you holding up a doughnut in the previous answer, hint hint.”
“Um, I guess it goes back to that hole in the closet of our house. I got all stretched out, then I fell through it and into a garbage bin next to a doughnut shop. Bart — poor, little sweet Bart — tried to save me with a rope but couldn’t. Is that what this is all about? That stupid hole?”
“The Lisa dressed up as Alice in Wonderland lights up now, Homer, the famous fictional character who indeed fell into a hole, a rabbit one. Yes this is about the hole, or that’s where it started. I’m not sure how you wandered from the real world into the Rubi Woods but that’s how you got here. You’re not like your family any more, Homer. You’ve added a dimension. Do you remember The Before, when you were an animated flattie?”
“Kind of, I suppose. I can move better here. But I miss my Lisa, my family. Do you miss me too Lisa?”
“The sad Lisa is illuminated now, Homer.”
“Oh Lisa, Lisa,” cried Homer. “You were always the smartest of all of us. You have to find a way to help me. Please, please, please! I don’t want to be alone.”
Carrcassonnee ignites the sun again; the lights come up in the room. “You are not alone, Homer,” she says. “You have us.”
Carrcassonnee dare not tell Homer the full truth here: that she was Lisa all along. She’s always been the real Lisa (among other things).
“Tinbaby, eh?” Karl says, shaking his head. He still can’t believe this man of metal sitting in front of him is the Tinbaby all grown up.
“But reversed,” reinforces Dr. Blood, aka Tinman. “Time flows backwards. Except now it moves forwards. I can feel my heart again. How about you Homer?”
“I’d like to feel my hand slide around another one of those delicious Krings, Karl, is what I’m thinking. Hit me again.” Homer points to a small, bare spot on the bar counter in front of him.”
“Boy you can sure hold your beer pretty good, Homer Smipson,” says Karl. “Well, I’m glad the woods aren’t haunted any more, I really am. I’ve made my money off my book deal. I’ve got a nice spot here for the bar in Collagesity. Things are looking up.”
“That’s great, Karl,” says Dr. Blood. “My heart feels your heart and the joy it has. We are all good and one in Collagesity.”
Karl looks toward Homer. “How about you, Homer? I guess you’re still missing your cartoon family, eh? Carrcassonnee told me yesterday that she’s actually your girl Lisa. She can do things like that. Go way back in time and inhabit tv characters, even animated ones. You may also know her as Fitz the Mouse from the short lived but brilliant ’12 Oz Mouse’. I’m in that one too!”
“Karl, you’re making about as much sense as this scrunched up, empty beer can. Now — hit me.”
Dr. Blood moves in closer to Furry Karl and shields his mouth. “Um, I don’t think a certain you-know-who is suppose to know that information yet,” he says in a low tone, pointing to Homer.
“Oh oh yeah, right,” responds Karl. “I forgot”. He reaches into the cooler for another beer for Homer, hoping to distract him from these truths. “Here ya go, Homer. Pop away. Let the beer help you forget. Carrcassonnee blabbers a lot of nonsense. Who knows what she’s talking about a 1/3rd of the time.”
“Right, Karl,” chips in Dr. Blood, backing up his story. “Why– why just the other day she referred to me as a parrot. A parrot!”
Yeah,” says Karl, getting in the flow. “I saw her walking around the woods the other day completed naked, without a stitch of clothing. Bonkers, I tell you. Muttering something about running out of paper towels. Like the woods are going to provide her with paper towels. And she’s always going on about, what’s his name Dr. Blood?”
“Um, I don’t know.” Dr. Blood couldn’t think of anything to make up at this point.
“Sure you do, the guy on the big cross. Wappo Jack, yeah. Says he’s going to send the whole town to hell for all that’s going on now.”
“Yes… hell,” states Dr. Blood, thinking Karl needs to reel in the surrealism now.
“Yeah, she’s pretty nuts, Homer. Pret-ty nuts. I wouldn’t believe much of what she says.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” blurts out Homer as he pops open the tab of his 13th beer. “Marg is… lost in the woods. Without — paper towels.” His head sinks to the counter.
“Hey Tinman, I think it’s time for our boy to go home and sleep it off. Where are you guys staying?”
“I suppose we’ll go back into the forest,” answers Dr. Blood. “I want to help Carrcassonnee find those towels!”
Baker Bloch realizes he’s probably lost his home next to the forest. But it’s not a sad moment for him.
Karoz still lives in his apartment above the market — not an option. There’s the old Norum Gallery, Baker remembers. He use to have a room on the bottom floor when it existed in Collagesity, Noru. But also he could just stay in Collage World for a little longer: keep talking to Past Father (aka Past Spaced Ghost), enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Lake District or Wiltshire County in England, hop over to Tungaske, Canada on a lark, or even visit Blue Mountain’s Whitehead Crossing pictured at the end of the Falmouth series. Spongeberg, for now, has decided to stay in The Crossing at his teepee. Baker has also spoken to him several times since being sucked up into the Red Umbrella vortex. He’ll certainly have some interesting stories to tell us all soon.
In other news, Carrcassonnee actually *did* walk out into the woods from the town stark naked, as Karl thought he made up. He’d really heard it from Karoz at the bar late the previous night, forgot it, and then twisted up the facts the next day in relaying what he perceived as a fictional story to Homer Smipson. The energy from the woods still has a way of scrambling your brains like that. In truth, Carrcassonnee (who is *always* “naked”, by the way) was testing out the new town shower set up by The Bakers in the 7th spire of Castle Jack right next to Karl’s bar, a most sacred place indeed now. It was a tight fit for the great olive being, but she managed to jam in and enjoy a most pleasurable shower indeed, the best she could remember. But toward the end she’d gotten some soap in her eye and wandered out of the spire through its now phantom prim and into the woods to the west, searching for a towel. Karoz saw her from its edge but was tied up at the moment, unable to help.
The next day, Dr. Blood and Homer find Carrcassone frozen in space and time not far from the beating heart of the woods.
Just a few spoken words breaks the spell she’s under, and afterwards, they sit around a campfire set up more in the northwest corner of the forest (away from the strongest spots of energy) and share stories of far away lands and incredible journeys. A good night indeed.
And the best news of all: Carrcassonnee’s eye was not damaged in the incident. If the eye goes out, that means all of Collagesity winks out with it. And we don’t want that. More is at stake now…
Baker Bloch has deeded over the Gloomy Gus house to Baker Blinker. All his items within have been deleted. Last object he returned, just to clean under the chairs and sofas as it were, was Karoz’s “Birth of Venus”. How appropriate. Oh, and there was one other magenta sphere he had to return to Karoz a little later on. No one else should have the key.
Baker Bloch, at his core, has always been a wanderer, an explorer of terrain: mountains, islands, forests. He has become displaced because Second Life doesn’t offer much opportunity in this area. Mainland has becomes essentially “Maistland” (mainland + wasteland). But wastelands also have their advantages, and that’s how we move forward. I, though Baker Bloch, Baker Blinker, Hucka Doobie, Karoz Blogger and the rest, have decided to stick with Second Life up to the bitter end, whenever that occurs. And Collagesity is, I’m pretty sure, a permanent installation until then, my mainland oasis along with the attached woods.
What’s next for my virtual burg? Well, Karoz is setting up his apartment above the Bodega market as a low key command center for the revitalization of a town college or “center of learning”, like he had formerly in Collagesity, Noru-style (Sam Parr State College). Inspired, his mind burns diamond bright. He knows now that he can enter Collage World like Baker Bloch — learned it in Noru as well, where he, for example, recruited members of the experimental rock band Story Room from UK’s Stonethwaite village to teach music and art at his school for its lone, academic semester.
Through these trans-Second Life explorations via “portals” — collages, essentially — Karoz, Baker Bloch and perhaps other Second Life born characters can extend Collagesity into other realms and make it more attached to reality. That is the hope. Collagesity is a larger collage in itself, and one that now has a central heating system keeping it alive and safe. No more invasions from coldly intense, Ancient aliens. That’s all behind us. Now we still have e.t’s and old ones and other types of Lemony World entities in Collagesity, but they’re relatively harmless dudes and dudettes like Carrcassonnee, Furry Karl, Homer Smipson and Dr. Blood/Tinman, easy to love and with formerly harsh or jagged angles smoothed.
*We* survived the storm (“Intense Shower” as it will become known according to Hucka D.) and emerge fresh and revitalized.
“Someone is at the Fal Mouth Moon gallery. I heard the vortex teleport all the way up here.” They were sitting in Karoz’s apartment above the Bodega market, staring out at the green terrain.
“Yes, I hear it too once in a while,” responds Karoz. “Listen… I’m sorry about the suggestion. We are just starting out. We’ll make adjustments and move forward.”
“There will be some changes,” Baker Blinker says defiantly, thinking Karoz is talking a bit like an academic administrator again. “Baker Bloch has handed me the keys to his house. I would feel guilty if we didn’t have the same user. But you are somehow different in that respect. How?”
“I was born considerably after the original group you guys were in. I am from a specific place to start off with: Chilbo.”
“But you *aren’t* from Chilbo. Or Chilbol either.”
“No,” admits Karoz. “But I am from Norum and that’s nearby.”
“It’s time to tell me — us — the truth. Peter SoSo showed up in Collagesity to play in the celebration party after the Intense Shower. That’s what it’s starting to be called.”
“Yeah, I know.” He thought back to the embarrassing 7th Spire incident with the shower, obviously enough.
“But when you went up [to Peter SoSo] and said hi and started talking about the past, he didn’t seem to recognize you. Or was he being extremely cold to you for some reason? I can’t figure it out.”
Karoz doesn’t immediately answer, but instead stares out the window, looking toward the neighboring Sikkima sim. He points in its direction.
“Do you know Collagesity use to exist in that large sinkhole over there, Baker? Well, it was technically New Pietmond but same idea. It’s the only one on the oldest continents that we know of. Odd, huh? They say the Sylver Forest extended to at least its edge.”
Baker Blinker was again tired of beating about the bushes. “What don’t you like about my eyes?”
Afterwards Baker Blinker goes to see Carrcassonnee.
Baker Blinker (after putting on the glasses):
So what do you think? Do they help?
Very nice. Poets say the eyes are the windows to the soul Karoz wishes to stare into. Love is difficult. In the end, I decided to eat my last partner, Perch. Tasted like chicken. No, more like beef stroganoff. That’s [a] better [line].
I am very happy, mind you.
Of course. Talk to me some about Bogota, before he left. What happened between you two? That’s something I don’t know and I know a lot. Remember this is girl to girl talk and won’t leave my gazebo. Do you mind?
No, that’s fine. We went to… first base. Okay, we were heading toward second. Maybe we got 2/3rds the way there, maybe 3/4ths. Maybe. But I stopped it. Out at second; end of story (Baker Blinker makes a baseball out sign with her hand). Then he was gone. He invited me to travel the stars with him. Out there. Reinforced my confidence. But then with Karoz I hit a…
Carr. (eye raised to the door):
Homer! You snuck up on me and that’s another surprise. Come on in my boy.
Homer (speaking to each):
Hello Carrcassonee, hello Lisas, hello lady.
Homer, do you know Baker Blinker, the other white Baker, tee hee?
Didn’t I see you walking around the woods the other day — looking for a towel?
Ahem, Homer, that was *me*.
No, I’m pretty sure it was this lady here. At first I thought it was Marg. They look kind of similar in the shade.
It took several hours for Baker Blinker to get over *that* conversation. “Comparing me to a *bulgy eyed* cartoon woman with 4 foot hair!” she kept thinking again and again while thrusting back and forth in her new rocking chair.