Group picture: “The Great 3-n-1”
“They’ve been out there a long time, Golden Joe. I wonder if the deal will go through?”
“Have you ever thought about traveling to the center of the sun, Marion,” she deviated in her deep, metallic voice. “It’s actually quite nice.”
“I remember Philip mentioning that concept once. Philip something.”
“Alright, I won’t split hairs any more, Cooper. We’re both tired; 50,000 lindens it is. Now spill your contents on the table here and let’s count it out.”
“The more I look at Greenup 03, Broken Heart, the more I think it is about Spica just above the celestial equator turning into Vega and igniting brighter in the process, like, um, an ant being burned by a magnifying glass. Tonya Two Egg — the close Spica binary star — is stuck like unto a frying pan in the Horizons-Spica sim which is actually the Horizons-Vega sim, unable to remove herself from intense scrutiny. The ice fishing shack is a time and space portal. Can she reach all the way back to VHC City and heal the wound?”
But Broken Heart is instead staring toward Greenup 02 on the opposite wall, thinking: This is you, Jacob I. my friend, my comrade. Prince Martin. Will you be able to heal *yourself*?
“All the dreams reaffirm the same location and the same needed action, Mary,” Pitch speaks from the viewing platform after parking the freshly stolen orange beetle at the appropriate spot down below.
“It all makes sense now: apple, orange, yellow fruit — banana…
… and then the giant lime on Merlin’s Mound — thank you Wheeler Wilson!”
“This is clearly ‘Floydada’, the start of ‘Pumpkintwisters’ analysis.”
“Nifty,” Mary replies while beginning to eat a peach.
“Well, okay we’re still waiting for Hucka Doobie to show up. Let’s just read some of Baker Bloch’s — Baker *B*’s writing at the time.” Wheeler Wilson starts reading from the screen. “‘Continue to view Pumpkin Twisters at least once a day, usually twice a day.’ — this was before you adopted the compound word title, hmm –.”
“I guess so,” Baker Bloch replies from across The Table. “My user, you mean.”
“‘Very addictive,'” she continues quoting, “‘but this is the pattern for all my synchs. After a week or three, I’ll get tired of this constant viewing and move on to another project. But right now I’m still dominated by PT’. Um… ‘Keep thinking about how I can continue to further the field, new movies to try, new albums, new techniques and tricks of tiling a synch, theorizing about the process of tiling itself and expansion into other hypothetical synchy arts.’ So that’s the beginning, Baker… guys. Should I just spot-read more ‘Pumpkintwisters’ related stuff in ‘Apple’, Baker?”
“Let’s see, then just down the page: ‘The only synch where 2 movies, not 1, is used, is Pumpkin Twisters, definitely a unique quality for it. This actually also occurs in Kansas City Life, a direct predecessor of sorts for PT, but I consider this earlier synch to be a more minor work than all others listed here.'” She looks over at Baker Bloch. “Do you want to explain ‘Kansas City Life’ to the group, then?”
“Not really… go on…”
“Okay.” Wheeler Wilson scrolls down. “Lot’s of stuff about *other* synchs here…” She continues to scroll. “All right: ‘I’ve talked quite a bit about the structure of my finds so far, but one could go much further in this. I’ve only talked about it in terms of tiles and tiling. It would be interesting, for example, to study the perceived *centers* of synchs. For Pumpkin Twisters, to give an example, the obvious center is the selection from the secondary movie 200 Motels, overlapped with 2 tracks from the Kinks’ Preservation Act 2, and this is also the place where the synch is most obviously [quote unquote] “synchy”, or, in other words, there is an obvious match or synchronization going on here. The center of Billfork is the ark scenes and the aforementioned — in the last post — heavy *video* editing in this center…'” Here Wheeler Wilson stops and turns away from the media feed. “Ahh, I think we’ve read enough of your old writing, Baker Bloch. Time for the new. Are you ready Tin S. Man?” She takes her customary seat at The Table.
“Ready, Wheeler Wilson,” the gentle giant replies. He has become his much larger self since returning to Collagesity from Gaeta V. Glad he was about leaving that bland land. But Wheeler insisted mistress Tronesisia had to remain behind. Soon enough they would reunite, he knew. Very soon.
“We’ll give Hucka Doobie about 5 minutes more, then.”
Mr. Babyface had fallen asleep again studying the Big E on the top floor of his Collagesity apartment. Awoken by a large thud, he quickly turned over while remaining in his sprawled position and peered into the higher stories of the Kidd Tower — the same view he was looking at when he dozed off.
Everything as before, pheh, he thinks. Depictions of the Jeogeot Gulf sims representing the letters A-L on the east side and O-Z to the west remained intact. The missing M and N at the top: MaN. What it all spelled out, he realized, was another boring day in Collagesity for The Face (himself). But what about the thud?
Then in sitting up and turning around from the table, Mr. Babyface saw something totally unexpected. He jumped out of his chair. A familiar Middletown skyscraper loomed just beyond his window!
“Holy Jesus!” he exclaimed, toking rapidly on his still lit pipe. “The Kidd really did it this time. The tower is truly and fully *there*. But there is here!” And he knew this meant the The Kidd would in all likelihood be sitting in her beige chair on the floor below his apartment, in what use to be Greg Ogden’s spot. But maybe Greg has returned too. He better get down there posthaste.
200 feet above all this, Tronesisia heads to the top-of-the-line Italian refrigerator to retrieve another of those strong German beers (Brewmeister’s Quarterly).
But in glancing outside the window to her right, she saw the tower too! All the old, repressed memories came flooding back with the sight: Pitch and Buster’s killing shack across the tracks; Bendy heading to Muff-Bermingham in the Collagesity rocket Karoz built and her attempts to follow him; Mary’s pregnancy with George. And she’d been wasting all her time wallowing in the idiotic glories of war! Axis and Allies, phmph. There never was a war, she realized. She had been sleepwalking all along.
Fully awake now, she locates the red phone hidden behind the bed that would connect her directly with Baker Bloch. She remembered that piece of the puzzle too. “Call me when the transference happens,” he said while handing it to her over 2 months back. “You won’t remember me again until then. Nor I you. Good luck!”
The phone rings in Baker Bloch’s back pocket. “Excuse me, everyone,” he says, turning slightly red. He never seems to get calls any more and simply forgot to turn it off before The Table meeting. “I’ll just take this over to Perch…”
Tin S. Man smiles broadly as Baker walks past, and Wheeler catches it. “What are you up to giant?” she queries, scrutinizing him. “Besides the 20 foot mark, I mean. Why hasn’t Hucka Doobie shown up yet?”
In thinking how the sentence “Why hasn’t Hucka Doobie shown up yet?” translates to German, Wheeler then realizes who must be on the phone.
“You’re not suppose to be looking in that direction,” scolds Arale to her sister perched on top of the Bluebird Cuddle Van. “We’re not suppose to know about such things.”
“I’m not. I’m looking over there. At the sunset.”
“The *water tower* is blocking your view of the sunset. Why do you care anyway? We’ll never have such monstrosities attached to our bodies.”
“Well… *you* won’t. You’re a robot.”
“Hey. Watch with the bad mouthing.”
“Well, you are. I built you when I was 6.”
“No you didn’t. I’m a child just like you.”
“But you never grow older. Do you?”
“Then that’s unusual, wouldn’t you say? How many inches have I grown since we’ve known each other?”
“17.3859.” Arale became aware that she is acting too robotic and backtracks here. “Approximately,” she tacks on, although she knows the figure is correct.”
“Alright, alright,” relents Tonya Two Egg. “You’re my sister. Flesh and bones.” She jumps off the van and hugs Arale tightly — suggestions of the metal parts within but not so much as to break the illusion. It was a top of the line kit, she remembered. The last present her real parents would ever give her.
They often used the vacated house formerly owned by their Uncle Dick as a base for exploring Mt. Tom, like today. “Sunset is over, my blood sister,” spoke Tonya Two Egg. “Time to go see what Harry is up to.”
“61.58…” Arale said, then realized she was unblurring the boundaries again. “… 34”, she couldn’t help adding on several seconds later to complete the calculation, though.
The sim changes the man in this case. Or makes a boy into a man, as it were.
And not being 13 certainly had its advantages.
“I wonder what’s behind the starred man on the striped couch?” asks Hucka Doobie about the most recently hung Bodega Gallery collage, killing some time while waiting for The Table meeting to start over at the Blue Feather.
From behind, thought-to-be friend Tammy Whatammy then pushes the bee person *into this collage*…
Marion Harding sees those red and greenish lights above him again, but in a different location.
And he’s wasted as hell from the pot recently purchased from drug lord Santa God at The Octopus Ink.
“Who *are* you guys??”
“So we need to talk, Harry,” spoke Tonya Two Egg to the bleached face man sitting across from her. “About Annie. About a lot of stuff.”
“It’s not safe here,” he replied, then glances over at the giant bong to his right.
But no one was there.
When it got dark enough, Tonya Two Egg’s two egg shaped eyes “turned on”. She’d had this ability since infancy, according to family members. It also gave her special vision to see things that weren’t *quite* there in reality but actually really were still.
Like Marion here, crashed out on top of the couch formerly occupied by Harry. Uncle Harry he insisted she call him at the end of their conversation, which was refused by the wise child. Just because he was one of a *number* of suitors strung along by her 18 year old sister Anorexia — Annie — doesn’t give him that privilege. She had only one uncle she knew of: Dick. And he had moved away when she was 8 to distant Mimosa (so they said), several years after Arale had been constructed. And not too long after the mysterious disappearance of her parents. Couldn’t be coincidence, she had concluded while pondering the odd conjunction down through the years now. Dick must have known the whereabouts of Ruth and Benjamin. And then there was also James and Fuschia, Billy and Donovan, Jackie and Ona. And the strangely cool yet confusing Sis brothers. All flesh and blood family members. All gobbled up by an unknown force between the times of June 2010 and October 2013, she’d decided. She even had a name for it now: JERRY. All caps. Tonya Two Egg was bound and determined to uncover the nature of this, in her eyes, malefic entity.
13 Annie was at the time. *Just* old enough to act as their legal guardian under Horizons laws of the day. Upheld during a 2015 hearing involving 23 such guardians under the age of 18 — grandfathering in the old law the judge had called it. And now she herself would be 13 in 2 weeks, old enough to be on her own according to the same exemption. And Arale too — they could move. She was already secretly scouting out locations away from the prying eyes of her older sister. The ice fishing shack near their house acted as a dream portal.
Arale was so excited for her sister… was planning a big birthday ta-do, which Tonya Two Egg had discouraged but also had become resigned to participate in. Cousin Rufus was flying in from Mobile, Alabama. Ted and Jemima from Jacksonville City. Bob and Wanda — little Utah village of Indiana County in Pennsylvania. Never mind that these were more robots created by her own robot, and that, outside of Annie, no one knew the whereabouts of any of her real family. Mechanoids were her true kindred spirits now. Tonya Two Egg has even pondered that she herself may be a very well made robot sent back to our present from the future.
And this turns out to be spot-on truth.
bank on it
“No turning back, huh?”
“No,” replied Billy Jean Kidd, who was no longer playing the role of Heidi Hunt Ives. “Gaeta V, and perhaps Grand Theft Auto V along with it — left behind. We must move forward, beyond mainland.”
George looked around. “But what *is* this place?”
“Unsure,” she answered. “Could be Hana Lei. I suppose it has to be in one way.”
“And all of this because of the sandbox.”
“Yup. Must have been deleted on the other side, the Capitol City side, the *Gaeta V* side. And now all that is gone, I am feeling… sensing.”
“What of Marion?” the boy queries. “What of your friend Philip? Wasn’t he suppose to be your new daddy or something?”
Billy Jean Kidd paused, looked over at George. “Where did you say you grew up?”
“Beaver City, Oklahoma. My father practiced law there. I told you this already.”
“I just wanted to reinforce the, er, oddity.” But before George could ask what was so odd about it, she followed with another question. “Did it have a giant beaver statue?”
“Um, not that I recall. There was a giant beaver, but he was on a float. You see, Beaver City is host to the Annual Cow Chip Throwing Contest. The big beaver held a big cow chip in his hands. Now about the oddness…”
“And dunes,” Billy Jean Kidd interrupted again. “You said there was sand. I dreamt about sand night before last.”
“Sand dunes are there indeed. I use to play in them. Before the coming of the bugs. And then afterwards a bit. But not like before.” George scanned the surroundings again. He was eager to explore this city, whatever it was. “We have to leave the playground sooner or later,” he urged to the girl, tired of speaking about the past. He thinks of his father, and how much he misses him. But George was a special child and had another role to fill beyond family ties.
“Alright,” Billy Jean Kidd relented.
Hand in hand, they walk out of the playground and into the brave new world of… wherever they are. Could be Cleveland for all I know.
“A sim skipper you say?” George states, looking out at the boat moored in the small harbor beyond the broken windows.
“Yeah. That Joint Joint appears to be part of a regional chain from the looks of it. We must be close. That’s where you’re from. But my current theory is that you’ll be grown up there. You won’t be the same as here.”
George stands up, makes a proclamation. “Then let’s not ever go. It’s nice here. There’s the Joint Joint, like you said.”
“It’s better than I originally thought,” admits Billy Jean Kidd, speaking about the town they’re in. “But this is not really Hana Lei. This is not where Marion’s high priced pot is. High Money Pot. The bee fell into the collage for a reason. We must find the bee and bring him home. It may take, um, several novels.”
“Novels?” queries the boy.”
“Wish I knew how the heck to start this old, beat up sim skipper,” spoke Duncan Avacado across the sea with a sense of urgency. “I’ve got to get to those kids before they get to me!”
work for me
“I see you out there Georgie Porgie!” screeched Sugar Dumpling from the rickety pier. “You can’t run away from me! None of them will work. I made *sure* of that!”
George Duncan gives up finding a functioning sim skipper for the day. Maybe forever. He might as well go back into town and enjoy the advantages of being grown up, pheh. What he understood of it. Only in his Abbey was it safe to be himself. A boy of 10 to 13 and back to 10 in an endless loop. Sometimes he glimpsed 18 on sunnier days.
But there was another way out, he knew, impossible as it sounded. Find Jacob I. and bring him home to Gaston. Back to his Sugar Dumpling. Then he would be set free… and only then. It seems I simply have to give it a try, he thought to himself while clambering out of the boat and exhaling loudly. I can’t go on with this. And I feel I don’t have a lot of time left before The End; the Abbey will ultimately be found out and then cease to exist. Like a bug extinguished with a magnifying glass.
“Get back to your apartment and do some real work for a change!”
He was staying with Thimble these days, another dancer. Not that their relationship was all that serious of a thing to him — when was it? — but her second floor apartment’s view toward the Gaston-Berry Police Station put her top shelf over the other Berries.
And, yeah, The Berries really dug Duncan. He was different, unique. No, I’m not really talking about his singular status as a male African-American in Sugar’s employment. It’s just that they could see the inner boy within, the core innocence, unruined — unlike the case with about all of them. It attracted these kind of women like flies unto maple syrup.
But tonight we flip sides of the record. He had to dance for a dude. Alright, cool, cool, he said to himself when learning about the assignment. It’s all for the art form — good to keep practicing and staying limber. And he gets to keep all his clothes on; no funny stuff there. Sugar said the guy also requested that he doesn’t look at him. “Just focus on the dancing,” she ordered. “Don’t make eye contact. Just interact with him in as minimal a manner as you can get away with. He’s probably self conscious because of the damage to his face. I don’t know what happened to him — don’t really care. He paid good money and that all I need to know. And you too.”
Midway through his first sequence, the bleached face man spoke. “You don’t even know who I am, do you?” But Duncan kept to his routine per Sugar’s instructions and didn’t answer.
the evolution of the couch
“So we’re at the couch now, Mr. Babyface. Do you know who the ring is yet? 450,000 lindens worth of the ultimate 500,000 remain to be paid out. Do you want to be a wealthy man or a poor man, Mr. Face?
What’s this precocious child’s end game? he wondered while puffing rapidly on his pipe. Red Dragon, mmm. So soothing. But, Collagesity to Middletown — it really happened! She really did it. “Wealthy, I suppose,” he then answers.
“Then find Leona and her village full of mechanoid people at the hilltop lakes with the lone star shaped swimming pool and ask for Flo. And also: go *with* the flow. Synchronicity.”
“All right.” He was trying to keep up with her pace, or at least pretend to.
“(And) take Greg Ogden with you. That’s her husband after all. Good cover for you as well.”
“Didn’t know that fact. But: will do. I’ll take Red Boy.”
In fact, Mr. Babyface and Greg Ogden had become quite close during their stay in the Kidd Tower. A common heating system can sometimes bring people together.
Duncan Avocado had prepared and was about to teleport into the center of the Gaston sim when he looked at the map. Someone was already there in that Central Park at 128/128. Never seen that before. He teleports in at a safe distance and remote checks… another black man!
Who was he waiting on, if anyone? Was this a potential ally or foe? Could it possibly be someone investigating prison corruption in the sim like himself? Another dancer Sugar sent in, perhaps to taunt him? Speculation goes many directions. But his presence is real. He better lay off Gaston involvement and send another avatar from the core over here. Or, better, just use another core…
What a mess.
The time to act is now, he then thinks. “I must do what I planned to do. Tonight.”
The End 01
They sat in the attic of House Greenup with its transparent roof, set up several weeks back on the edge of Cloudmont near the center of the Snowlands part of Sansara, Second Lyfe’s oldest continent.
“It’s a lovely view, Broken Heart.”
Jacob I. paused and looked over at his friend. His only true friend. “Why did you say, thank you? Are you claiming to create all this beauty?”
“No. I’m saying thank you for not calling me Jackie. My paper days are over. I am so sober now that I cannot even change into my animal form. I remain a tiny.” He repositions himself in the arm chair. “Fun fact, Jacob I.: the famous circus dwarf Charles Stratton, better known as General Tom Thumb, had a specially adapted home in tiny Thimble Islands, Connecticut where he lived with his dwarf wife Lavina. A specially designed thimble can be made for the thumb. Additionally, the word thimble and thumb have a common linguistic origin. Why would this man made famous by P.T. Barnum choose these particular islands to live? Yet another circus gimmick or trick? Or was there some deeper reason tied to his core being. Was he tapping into, I don’t know, a higher flow?”
Jacob I. ponders over this. “Must have been,” he concludes. He looks again at his friend. “You better change, Broken Heart. The end has come.”
A tiny, dark figure appears high on the slopes of the looming, white mountain. Heading downwards.
Jacob prepares to greet him.
The End 02
“But how??” Jacob I. couldn’t believe what he was seeing and hearing. Core-alena had returned to the center of Second Lyfe!
A red handed Duncan Avocado begins his confession. “Lovely and beautiful, yes,” he said, echoing some of Jacob I.’s earlier talk about Snowlands and Second Lyfe overall. “But ultimately doomed to failure, just like Laura in the Twin Peaks enterprise. Unless I restored the center. There was only one way to do it. Move Wheeler away from the tree at the weakest point of her existence. Which was right here. In Cloudmont, just before she arrived at Purden Castle. Do you remember? She was with Snowmanster, who is also actually you again at the core. They had walked a great distance and Snowmaster was purposefully draining her of energy. She had to jettison the Old Grey avatar and become herself again. Lovely and beautiful, yes, but subject to decline and death in that moment. *This* is the ring.”
“You killed her,” spoke Jacob I., staring at Duncan’s red extremities. “You murdered her with your own bare hands. That kept her away from the tree (Core-alena), in the first place. Woody Woodmanson warned us of her aberrations that very night in the castle. It was all set up.”
Duncan Avocado allowed Jacob I.’s inaccurate theories to thread out before responding. “*Jeffrie Phillips* set it up. He appeared in the center of Gaston tonight, right where I was attempting to teleport in. I didn’t recognize him at first. He was a black man, like myself. But there was no murder involved. Just a movement. My hands have always been red. It’s a medical condition.”
“Interesting.” Jacob I. shakes his head. “Jeffrie Phillips.” He then begins his own confession. “Broken Heart and I have tried and tried to stabilize Collagesity through various gimmicks since arriving through that portal last October. Each one doomed to failure: Wheeler and The Musician — doubled bed trick failed. Spookmobile — stolen once again and then again; no ‘Pumpkintwisters’ meeting finalized. Then Hucka Doobie was pushed into the first Hunt collage which was not the first Hunt collage before this happened. Collagewold,” Jacob I. emphasized. “He’s inside now. That was the way out all along.”
“Yes,” affirmed Duncan. “You must go back to Gaston and set me free and allow me to do what I just did in the past and future as well as the present. Else it is all for naught. Your precious Sugar Dumpling awaits you. All the Berries. You *do* miss that life there, don’t you? Broken Heart can accompany you back, of course. And there’s *pot*. Pot galore, thanks to Leona Lei and the Hilltoppers.”
“Leona! I knew she’d come through.” Jacob I. whirled around in his tracks. “You hear that Broken Heart?”
Duncan disappeared from in front and Broken Heart appeared behind. “I hear ya!” She was already counting how many times she could get high in one day.
END OF COLLAGESITY 2017-2018 WINTER!