Two hours later, a warning message comes over the intercom. “Moon impact eminent, moon impact eminent. Contact in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2…”, and then a violent thud. But Karoz, strapped in tightly, avoids harm. Successful landing on Second Life’s sole satellite!
After stepping out of the embedded spacecraft and dusting himself off a bit, Karoz finds something totally unexpected looming before him: the Collagesity Town Diner. “Why is *this* here??”
But he feels it has to be the one and only moon because there’s the cube shaped world of Second Life hovering near the horizon that Karoz *was* expecting. Beautiful indeed. Now — the diner.
The interior looks exactly the same as the Collagesity version as far as Karoz can tell. It’s a virtual duplicate.
He hears movement upstairs; people talking, one male and one female, although he can’t distinguish what they’re saying. A teleporter is right beside where he’s standing, but he decides not to head to higher stories — doesn’t want to invade privacy. Instead he goes to explore the surface more.
He sticks his hand in the pool of water just outside the structure. Cool to the touch, but he dare not drink it yet, despite his thirst from the long journey.
And then in the very center, Karoz finds a mist filled passageway leading into the moon’s interior.
“I wouldn’t go in that place yet, Karoz Blogger,” warns John Lockfry, appearing around the corner of the diner and in his wheelchair now. “There be monsters.”
Karoz Blogger blinked, and John Lockfry appeared to spring out of the chair and stand in front of it from his angle. The voice that issued from the figure now was obviously female, however.
“You know there’s no monsters down there. There *use* to be. We had to unlink the whole moon to get rid of them; delete the scripts from the objects in question. Now it’s all clear.”
Karoz walked closer to make sure his eyes (and ears) weren’t tricking him. But as soon as he started striding toward the figure, it was back in the wheelchair, seeming to answer… *himself/herself*!
“You keep saying that, although I don’t ever see you go into the interior.” The masculine voice was switched on again.
Karoz was upon them by now. He watched the transformation happen up close this time.
“Why don’t you back up a bit so I don’t have to stand in this cold water to answer you.” It was clearly Dr. Mulholland now, whom he met on Baker Blinker’s porch several days ago in an awkward situation. “Always bickering about this confounded moon, we are. What Karoz Blogger must think of us.” She turned to him…
…and then popped back in the chair. The long hair instantly shrank back into a bald head, the figure filled out more, but otherwise everything else seemed the same except for the sitting in the wheelchair part. They wore the same outfit, had the same toy robot perched upon their left shoulder. Karoz was only mildly surprised on top of everything else when it too spoke in turn.
“He thinks you’re *nuts*,” the robot said in a small, tinny voice.
Karoz was about to refute the robot’s brash statement when the wheelchair bound man turned around and started heading back toward the diner’s front door. “Come along Karoz. I’ll tell you my side, then I’ll allow my doctor wife to tell her side. You can decide which one of us is truly nuts, then.”
“You *both* are,” reinforced the robot on his shoulder. “There ain’t no moon!”
After watching a ravenous Karoz eat sushi especially prepared for him by his wife (his favorite food), John Lockfry then prodded the moss being for questions as both sipped wine. “You must have many about our situation here,” he said.
Avoiding the obvious one, the elephant in the room as it were, Karoz asked why the Collagesity diner appears intact here, seemingly unchanged. He kept waiting for John Lockfry to spring out of his chair again, turn into a woman, and then pour himself another glass of wine. That was cool.
“It’s not completely the same. One picture is unstable compared to back in your Collagesity. It’s the one behind you on the wall there, the Warhol print.” He indicated it with his free hand. “Another Warhol print keeps forming behind it, and then receding. What do you think?”
Karoz Blogger got up and studied the work, swirling the wine around in his glass while contemplating. “It’s both a picture of a gun and a car,” he said plainly, and waited for more explanation.
“Yes, but the car is a *lemon*, you see. Backwards lemon. Like the word “redrum” in that famous movie whose name always escapes me.”
“Shiny Hare?” offered Karoz.
“Yes, that’s the one. The one with the soundtrack by Story Room. How is Story Room anyway, Karoz? You’re best buds with the lot of ’em aren’t you?”
“Kind of,” came the answer. He sat back down at the table. “I was just thinking about them, actually, on the flight up here.” Karoz started to explain how he plans to go into a particular baker b. collage set in Stonethrow, England to attempt to recruit the 3 members of Story Room again as teachers for his new school, but decided it would be too drawn out.
“And the movie begins with the same vehicle, colored yellow. Like a lemon. It’s traveling through high mountains while a high Tom Petty sings about driving toward a mystery leading him on.”
“You seem to know quite a lot about “Shiny Hare”.” Karoz eyed him suspiciously.
“It’s a famous movie by a famous director, after all. We have a large screen tv upstairs in our bedroom. There’s not a lot else to do.”
“*Their* bedroom?” Karoz thinks, and then speaks aloud. “I must ask about your situation here. Um, with your wife and your… what do you call that, er, object on your shoulder?”
“That’s my pet Bendy, not to be confused with another pet called Benjy. He’s different. Isn’t he Bendy?”
“No,” came the tinny answer.
“How improper of me. I’ve been attending our honored guest and forgot about your needs. Do you want a cracker to gnaw on. Obviously we can’t give you wine. You know what happened the last time.”
“Yeah,” the robot answered. “Sick.”
“But you’ll be polite with the cracker and not spill *too* many crumbs.”
“Let me finish talking to Karoz and then we’ll go upstairs and I’ll feed you and let the wife take over.”
“Yup,” the robot responded.
John Lockfry turns his attention back to Karoz. “So… more questions now.”
“We’ll, I was asking about your situation…”
The robot loudly belched. “Pardon *me*,” it said, and covered its mouth with its small metallic hand.
“You’ll have to excuse me, Karoz Blogger,” John Lockfry then said. “It seems that Bendy can’t wait for his din din.”
“Nope,” the robot answered.
“We’ll have to let Dr. Mulholland take over early and then I’ll return.” John Lockfry sprang up from the chair and again transformed into a woman. She sat down at Karoz’s table and poured herself another glass of wine.
“This is what *always* happens,” Bendy complains again from her shoulder. “I haven’t been fed in 2 weeks!”
“Stuck here?!” He was incredulous.
“I’m afraid so,” replied Dr. Mulholland, now on her 3rd glass of wine. This didn’t count the stuff her double John Lockfry 02 knocked down earlier. Karoz wondered if the alcoholic effects accumulated between the two of them or if it was wiped clean after a transformation. By the looks of her state, he’d guess the former.
“Tea, madam or sir?” It was the Selenite butler Karoz was introduced to earlier, seeming to sense a need to maintain a certain level of sobriety. The last of the true monsters, Dr. Mulholland claimed. Tamed and harmless as a little kitty now, she explained, and then even purred like a cat to reinforce the idea. “No thanks, Alberta,” he said. “Nahh,” slurred Dr. Mulholland in turn. He dutifully retreated back into his hidden corner of the diner.
“Don’t you think it’s cruel just to keep him tucked away over there until you need him?”
“Nahh,” she said again, and made the wine in her glass more turbulent. “So what do you think? What’s the arrangement going to be?”
“Arrangement?” Karoz querried.
“I mean, right now it’s me and the hubbie, Alberta over there, and then Bendy. H-how do you fit it?”
Karoz was firm. “Hey, I’m not staying. I’m going to get off this rock somehow.” He was starting to talk more like the locals.
“How? It’s all unlinked. We had to do it because of the monsters, like Alberta. Hey Alberta?” she shouted toward his hidden corner. He immediately came forth.
“Yes, madam? Tea madam?”
“No, I was just wondering if you could tell our guest Karoz about your kind, the Sele–nites. And how we tamed you and took out all those wild, murderous bits.” She snarled at him this time and clawed the air.
“Yes, madam. My people are Selenite warriors that come from the inside world. We numbered 7. We battled the Selenite isopods, who also numbered 7. We killed each other off many times over, but always came back to life at the Bright Lites. Until you and Mr. John Lockfry deactivated the Bright Lites and set me free. I am the seven who are one.”
“He means the rezzing crystals,” explains Dr. Mulholland, “the ones that are brighter. I’ll show you sometime. Heck, let’s go now. I’m tired of sitting around this place night and day. Well, night. The hubbie never wants to go down there. He’s crippled. Oh, what I mean his mind is crippled as well as his body. Come here, come here.” Dr. Mulholland waved Karoz closer to her. He leans over the table toward her, careful not to spill his wine. “He *is* the moon now. How about that?”
“I don’t understand.”
“The moon became crippled when we unlinked it and extracted all the monster codes. My husband became crippled at the same time. It was an arrangement. One of us had to go back in that chair. It wasn’t going to be me.” She looked at him with fire in her eyes.
“Going back to Collagesity, you said you woke up in the woods and found your way to Baker Blinker’s house.”
“Gloomy Gus, um huh.” She swigged another gulp of wine.
“You had a pocketbook.”
“Unch, right. The key.”
“Baker Blinker said it had money in it. And a note from Old Kent, the shark you know.”
“I know. The shark told us to give it to you. The shark said you were the most important person in Collagesity now, but you can’t change. So we brought you here. You’re *trapped*. We didn’t die in a firey explosion. That was just staged.”
“Staged,” repeated Bendy in a smaller voice from her shoulder.
Karoz Blogger just shook his head at this. He didn’t believe a lot of what she’s saying. He was eager for another transformation to take place so that he could talk to the male side, get another slant on events.
Dr. Mulholland wiggled a finger at Karoz. “We had to keep you away from her. The evil Baker. We can’t even allow you to have a quarter to call her. Oh, what the heck, here’s a quarter. Give her a call; tell her you’re okay. That shark is probably crazy, after all. Tell her you’re on the moon, we’re here, and everything will be okay.” Then she says this in a lower tone, more to herself: “Except it won’t be okay.”
Karoz thought, what the heck, and went outside, inserted the quarter, and dialed Baker Blinker’s cell phone number from the payphone beside the door. But it did nothing except ring itself, as in a perpetual loop. After throwing the receiver down in renewed frustration and starting to head back through the door to complain to Dr. Mulholland, Karoz saw colored shapes in the distance beyond the passageway leading into the moon’s interior.
It turned out to be a vegetable garden that had magically appeared in the span of a couple hours tops. No way he could have missed this before.
“You have your peppers, your beets, your tomatoes… lettuce. All the ingredients necessary for a delicious salad to complement your fish din dins.” It was wheelchair bound John Lockfry again, approaching from behind. “Magically sprung from the suddenly fertile soil of our little moon. A miracle. All because of a simple desire, a simple wish: “I wish I had a nice salad to complement this sushi. Then it would be perfect.” You remember saying that? And now it is so. That, my friend, is the power of this moon. A demonstration. You give and it gives in return, like a positive master.”
Karoz remained unimpressed. “It didn’t let me ring up Baker Blinker. It’s not letting me *off of itself*.”
“That is more difficult, my friend. You and Baker Blinker need to be separate presently. And Dr. Mulholland didn’t know about the phone. She upstairs right now sobbing into the bed sheets because of it. She dislikes true love being dampened. She is such a softie underneath that hard, exterior shell. You should see her at weddings. And we stopped going to funerals long ago. Luckily nothing dies here on the moon. It’s all recycled over and over. That’s another advantage[ of being here].”
Karoz was looking around him, distracted. “Why is it so bright all of a sudden?”
“Solar flare,” explained John Lockfry. “Enjoy the light while it’s here.”
“And where’s your *Bendy*?”
“Darnit!” said John Lockfry, examining his now Bendy-less shoulder. “We got too close. He must have made a jump for it again. Oh well, let’s go look. It’s just beyond that rock over there.” He cussed again.
By the time they reached the vantage point pictured below, the sky was darkening again, giving them a clear view of the bright object formerly hidden behind a wide rock on the edge of the moon.
“What is it?” Karoz asked, truly dazzled by the sight of the rapidly spinning asteriod.
“It’s the moon of the moon, the moon’s pet, as it were. Like Bendy is my pet. This is his original homeland.”
“The moon of the moon,” Karoz echoed as he turned around in his tracks to take another gander at the blue cube of Second Life.
10 minutes earlier…
… Bendy once again takes the big leap to reach Sane Moon, as he likes to call it. Thank goodness he’s been doing regular exercising when he can get away from those wackies on the other moon, the *wrong* moon. He’s home again.
(joined in progress)
I feel like it’s all my fault. Because I wanted those smaller eyes. To become more human.
They look very nice, Baker Blinker. And now you have changed your skin color back to pink as partial compromise. It’s all developing as expected.
Not quite as pink as before.
It looks the same to me.
That’s because we have gone back in time to create the backdrop of this meeting. It’s not as pink as it seems, Baker Bloch.
Karoz was all set to change a bit too. He told me the night before he left that he was going to defy Old Kent and his gifts and make an effort[ in that direction].
Well, you see, that’s probably part of the problem, then. You two had to be separated, at least for a bit. The whole thing was staged, really. That’s actually not the moon of Second Life. The surface is as flat as a pancake subtract the craters. You have an interior, true, full of 14 monsters that is now one bad ass [delete name]. He likes to be known as Sask. Remember we devoted about a week’s time to the discussion of it back in January, Baker Blinker?
Well, we did. John Lockfry 01 did steal the lemon of a space capsule. It both exploded in midair with him and didn’t. He reached the moon, but through a time jump into the future. About 2 years for him… them, but only 2 days for Karoz. Benji tells me these thing.
No. (recalibrating) I mean: yes. But at a price. He was split in two, like anima and animus. One was crippled like the monster-free moon itself. One remained standing. Both are as crazy as cats; Benji reinforces this to no end.
What about Karoz?
Karoz redesigned the ship to make it safer. He legitimately made it to this so-called moon in the correct time period. No jump needed. He encountered future John Lockfry there, who had already split… in two I mean. He didn’t leave the moon. But, an update by Benji just now in real time: Karoz at least knows about the *real* moon, the smaller one to him but which will become the same size as the fake one in no time atall. How about that? Real time updating taking place during our meeting.
Cool. Where do I fit into all this?
You are the town custodian. Not just for the college but for all of Collegesity. You clean up. [You are] okay with that?
Sure. But what if I had made the trip with Karoz? What would have become of me?
It was all staged, as stated. Karoz would go alone. Baker Blinker and he needed a gap between them. But now he can bridge the gap by making a leap not of doom but of faith. Will he do it? becomes the next door in our journey.
I can’t help but worry. I’m going to change my eyes back until he returns.
Might not hurt.