It was impossible to confuse the approach of Bendy with anything else. It sounded like a bunch of jostled kitchen drawers combined with a broken, pulsing blender. But he was so close to calibrating the distance between the double stars Adelphia and Freedom. One more run through the computations might do it. So he pretended for several minutes to not be there when Bendy started calling. “Hellooo! Jack!?”
Jack gave up. He had to remember the value of true friendship over scientific pursuits. He would set that passion aside for now. He actually had a lot of free time, he reminded himself. No more 9 to 5 for him. He opened the door.
“Bendy! My good friend. Come in to my very humble abode. I had my earphones on. I’ll just put them away… come in! How are things going on the fake moon over there. Did you have any problems with the leap this time?”
“Three point landing, Jack,” Bendy replied, squeezing himself into the blue Na’vi’s cramped quarters. He noticed the overturned celestial globe and the red pins sticking in it. “Still working on southern hemisphere, I see.”
“I’ve completed almost all I can for now. I’ll have to go over to Lily’s to finish it off — my globe complete. As you know, only from her position at the south pole can I observe the remainder. But I’m not sure how that’s going to work out.”
“Yeah, we need to talk about that, but first things first: I brought you a present. Another Collagesity relic. It’s a magic disc called a quarter. You use it to audio-communicate between distant points without the need for direct teleportation.”
“Well thank you very much, Bendy. That’s wonderful. And sparkly! Did you steal it from Jan and Dean again?”
“Who? Oh, you mean the Mulholland twins. Yes, I did, actually. Oh, and we have a *visitor*. Karoz Blogger is his name. He’s from Collagesity.”
“Well *that’s* very interesting. How did he get to the fake moon?”
“Rocketship. Crashed into the middle. Can’t get off. Stuck with the banana splits. That’s something else we must talk about.”
“Of course. There any many things we must talk about and we must catch up. We will begin now and continue into the night and day and night if needed. Then we will go see Lily. She will be super pleased that you are back. You are her precious tin can of fish. We, her and I, get along better when you’re there with me.”
“Oh I can’t wait to see Lily. I hope she is doing well.”
“She’s finishing up “Spellbook 2.0”. And she’s working on contacting the moon’s dead of course, an ongoing project. She conjured up the ghost of Peter Frampton the other day. He was “in” her, hehe. Next up in her alphabetical list: Peter Gabriel.”
“Nifty,” replied Bendy. “I always liked the Rolling Stones. Even through their Maharishi period.”
“And we’ll pack a David Lunch,” quipped Jack. Both laughed. There was no food on this satellite, a critical flaw for Bendy. He must return soon enough. If only they could grow something on this stone!
It was well into the next day before Jack and Bendy caught up with each others’ stories. They ran out of gas at about this point where both were sitting on Cardinal Tree at the eastern edge of Jack’s north pole domain. The two were trying to delay the compulsory next step as long as possible, savor the moment. It was always unsettling to shift to different sides of the moon. They’d have to completely lose contact with the ground to reorient themselves; already to reach this tree Bendy was neck high in the drifts. Jack contemplated the four fold nature of the moon, the square like design.
“It was this way since time began. The moon of Second Life is actually older than Second Life itself.”
“Older than this tree?” asked Bendy, who was now climbing to the top of same.
“Older than this tree,” Jack reinforced. “Older than life itself.”
“I can’t see anything over there yet,” Bendy proclaimed, looking east and down from the tree’s highest point now.
“Careful up there,” said Jack looking up. “You may fall completely off the moon itself. Remember Nectar!”
“Oh right. Must be careful about that, yeah.” He quickly scrambled back down to the lowest limb again. “But have you seen anything?”
“You can clearly view Lily’s eucalyptus trees from the east pole. And I can look down at this tree from there too. But being bulkier I dare not climb up to where you were, although I am taller. Theoretically, I suppose I could see maybe the pointed top of the east pole. The short answer is that I don’t know, Bendy.”
“Good enough,” Bendy responded simply.
“Being lighter, I can fly completely around the moon,” chipped in Molly the Parrot, perched on the end of the lowest limb to Bendy’s right. Cardinal Tree was her home. “But I have to stay low to the surface. It’s not worth the risk any more.” She thought back to how her mate Ginger the Budgie didn’t come back from just such a trip around the world. She had lost someone in a similar way to Jack and Bendy.
“Yes, and you’re the only other living thing on this pole with me. Without you — and Bendy — to keep me company, I would be completely lost in my scientific thoughts. And that would be a bad thing.”
The three sat silent for a moment. Jack realized he was getting low on energy. It was time to think food into his stomach, a trick Molly taught him as well. He didn’t mention this to Bendy of course. Jack thought this thought to Molly, who thought back that she’d distract Bendy during the process.
“So… Bendy. I heard you saying that the love birds over at the fake moon have a cafe now.” Jack cleared his throat loudly. “Er, what I mean is that things are appearing over there from Collagesity. What will be next on top of the vegetable garden? A prominent collage gallery of baker b.’s? It’s interesting to chew over the possibilities.”
“I know what you’re doing,” said Bendy. “Jack’s thinking food into his stomach and you’re trying to distract me. And doing a *horrible* job of it, Molly.”
“Yes,” agreed Jack. “And I’m finished.”
Bendy crosses his arms. “I know you have a cracker or three always squirreled away in a hole on this tree. Because I bring them to you. Time to cough one up.”
Molly looks at Jack and Jack looks at Molly. “Din din time,” he says to the parrot. “Start thinking!”
“We’re going to have to move off this tree sometime. Might as well be now.” He was examining the bends of his legs.
“Now is when it might as well be.” said Jack in reply to Bendy’s suggestion. It was a game they liked playing. Rearranging the words of what the other says to mean the same thing. They had quite a number of such games.
“Wait until daylight,” Molly the parrot wisely advised. And so they did.
The next day brought a visit from their good friend Tony Tiger, who travels the moon from side to side instead of up and down, like Jack and Bendy. These so-called “Sidewinders” have numbered only 3 as far as Jack could determine. There’s Tony, Jim The Eel, and, um, Nectar, who no one likes to talk about because of that terrible day they all had to watch him float off into space, never to be heard from again. Trampolines were never seen on the moon after that day as well, as Jack ripped apart the only known one piece by piece with his bare hands.
Among the two groups of moon travelers — horizontal and vertical — Bendy and Tony were especially close. Both were pets, for one thing, although Tony liked his master while Bendy did not (if you count both John Lockfry and Dr. Mulholland as one master, as Bendy started doing a while back when speaking to Tony and others). Tony talked endlessly about Lisa, and Bendy listened in rapt amazement. “She’s offered to send me to to college next year since my grades were so high among my class,” said Tony to Bendy this time in a new wrinkle. “Ringling Brothers school in the Earth state of Florida. But I had to turn her down. I’d miss *you guys* too much. And Lily. All the things I love about the moon.” Despite the differences in treatment, Tony, like Bendy, craved freedom in his heart, and escaped from his own master-pet existence back to the moon when possible. He entered through a portal and not a leap, however.
The below snapshot finds Tony and Bendy playing chase while number crunching Jack keeps a watchful eye on them from his shed to make sure things don’t get too roughhouse.
Afterwards, Tony gives Bendy more tips on his golf swing while Molly and Jack look on. Bendy dreams about turning the whole moon into a 6 hole golf course. Now all they need are some clubs, and a ball that won’t fly off the low gravity world when you hit it any sort of distance.
The next morning Tony bade Jack, Bendy and Molly farewell as he continued his (to them) sideways journey around the moon, soon to be over, he claimed, as he circled back to the portal to his home world located in the next section called Farside. After watching him disappear into the drift that makes up the edges of any particular moon side, they moved toward the Cardinal Tree again and stood in front of it at an angle perpendicular to that of Tony’s exit. Both knew the time for dawdling was over.
Molly the parrot spoke up. “You will contact me, Jack, after you reach the next side. Tell me how Bart is. Tell me if Lily’s eucalyptuses are still visible just over the next edge at the South Pole. Tell me what is found on Minoan Radio. Yell and I will hear you. We may not be quite able to see each other but we will hear each other. If we speak loudly enough.”
“I will,” promised Jack. Molly had become what is called a “fixture” element, unable or unwilling to move beyond the side they had settled upon. Molly and Cardinal Tree: perhaps united forever now on the North Pole of the moon as an animal-plant composite. On the opposite side of this pole, across the divide of Big Crease, Jack was and still is in danger of becoming the same with his work shed, his celestial globe, his skynoculars. Animal elements attach to inertial plant and mineral elements through imprinting archetypes. Jack’s particular Achilles heel is the passionate pursuit of star mapping above all else. He cannot see a small part of the sky situated above the south pole on the opposite side of the moon and that is his saving grace. This would be directly above Lily’s residence; this drives him on. Once in motion around the sides of the moon you cannot stop until you circle back to the beginning, as in the Ouroboros. And Jack must always move in one direction and one direction only. North to east to south to west. Going against the grain of the moon’s built in physics leads to inevitable danger and extinction. Nectar, Ginger and others had learned that the hard way.
Jack and Bendy nod at each other and then walk forward in tandem. Molly watches them as their legs, torsos and finally heads disappear below the ground before they reach Cardinal Tree. “Goodbye Jack,” she says as tears drop from her eyes into the sand below. “Circle back as soon as possible.”
They emerged from the drift in front of the famous spool table containing the Minoan Radio. A tinny version of “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day” by Jethro Tull was playing — nothing really unusual there — but the recording was stuck on the “skating away” lyrics of the chorus, which repeated over and over as in a broken record. Corresponding to this, skateboarding Bart Smipson was himself stuck atop the iris opening implanted in East Pole’s epicenter.
Jack pointed toward the figure. “Look Bendy. Both stuck. Bart is usually darting back and forth and all around this side of the moon when we come here.”
“Yeah, I always half expect to get clobbered by him when I arrive,” adds Bendy. “Skateboarders, pheh.” As they contemplate the meaning of all this, another figure emerges from the drift to their right. It’s Tilie the multi-colored, morally responsible moon maintenance robot. He passes the broken radio without nary a glance and heads straight to Bart. He begins to repeatedly touch the figure with an extended arm. Each time he does, his body changes colors.
He stops when his body only shows 2 colors instead of 3. He mutters a curse. It is only then he sees the still mostly submerged Jack and Bendy on the edge of East Pole. “Oh, beg your pardon sirs,” he says, and then bows in greeting. “I will erase my curse from time and space.”
“It’s no problem, Tilie,” responds Jack, waving the moral mistake off while moving toward the figure and likewise fully emerging from the edge drift. Bendy follows suit. “How is everything? How’s the wife? Ounita isn’t it?”
“Correct,” replies Tilie, wiping his red brow. “She’s fully functional, yes. Recently polished. I can’t even eyeball her in the sun. Blind. How are you fine gents? Bendy, it’s been quite some sidereal time. Maybe since the whale and squid debauchery at West Pole?”
“Yup, I believe that may be it,” Bendy replies, thinking back on that awful day. That’s the last live eating he hoped he would ever witness. And so large and up front!
“The wife Eldwithel didn’t like Jim the Eel whisking him off to Mars on a daggle hunting trip without her consent, ha ha ha. First she sucked his eyeballs away and then took her tongue and… but I can tell from the charged expressions on your face that I’m going too much into fine detail for good senses once more. The woof and warp of a maintenance bot’s lives, eh?”
They all sit around the spool table facing the radio and catchup with each other. All goes well until Tilie attempts to explain what’s wrong with this pole. “It’s the sun and his shiny cache of roman’s numerals, two and seven and seven and two. It’s the lemon, sweeter than normals with pits for eyes that make you jump back and screech ow without complaint. Sky lumber jacks mustard into thin air. The lady sings fatly.”
Jack stares at him. “So that means we can’t stay here for any length of time.”
“No bleeping still life way you can’t! Hamlin Garland realism in a cussword genie bottle. Apologies once more!”
“It’s no problem again, Tilie.” Jack turns to Bendy. “Well, that looks like it.” Jack stands up from the spool table and motions Bendy to do the same. “Tilie, we bid you farewell, then, and wish you luck on your repairs.” Tilie rises and bows in parting without speaking further.
“What was *that* all about?” Bendy queries after they reach a certain distance and begin to enter the drift again. “Mustard,” Jack responds, holding steady to the seam. “Mean and mad.”
Both are safely within the drift and aimed toward South Pole when Bart’s yellow head blows up like a fish.
… back on the *fake* moon, Karoz Blogger has taken to sleeping on its edge and away from the creepy John Lockfry/Dr. Mulholland pairing at the Collagesity Diner. His favorite spot is pictured below, where he has that great vantage point for look at the rapidly spinning *real* moon Jack and Bendy are circumnavigating at the same time. Mind you, Karoz cannot monitor their progress from his viewpoint. The moon is but a blur for him. But still he finds comfort in knowing that, in all likelihood, Bendy is still there, and is visiting a homeland. It gives him hope that he too can find a way home.
On this particular morning, simulataneous with Jack and Bendy completing half of the journey around True Moon as they transition from East Pole to South Pole, Karoz awakens to find new Collagesity elements appearing on Fake Moon. A railroad track now seems to completely surround the diner, cutting it off from the rest of the surface. Karoz later understands it is actually an exact semi-circle, also 50 percent complete but still performing the essential separation. Karoz would never see the John Lockfry/Dr. Mulholland duo again.
To his left he spots a ghost image in the sky hovering directly above an illuminated cactus. He recognizes it as the Boos gallery sign.
Karoz correctly wonders if a gateway is forming back to Collagesity. He might be able to go home soon! Back to Baker Blinker and the others. For now the prickly cactus still bars, though. It’s up to Jack and Bendy to do the rest.