“You really missed quite a lot at LEA11, Musician. Blackout Poetry… *music/sound*. You and your aural sensitivity. Such an odd condition for one who *makes* sound all the time.”
“I found a lot. I found enough. I had to get back to my music.”
Wheeler thought of the Harrison cutout but didn’t query about progress. “Where’s Art?” she asks instead. “Will she be joining us?”
“No, it’s not Art. Just an artist. Painter.” The Musician pauses. “Like you.”
Wheeler scratches her head. “Where’s our coffee? Service here is as bad as over at Perch.”
The Musician checks his watch, taps his fingers nervously on the round table. “Should be any moment.”
“I hate to say it, but I’m just not a big fan of Second Life images in virtual art. People especially for some reason. Landscape’s better.”
“You just don’t like people period, Wheeler.”
“Should we go back?”
“Nah, she’s not going to show up.”
“Can I be The Painter instead?” Wheeler looked over at the slanted Musician.
He breathes out, relenting. “Oh all right.”
She sat silent for a moment, then: “What was her name?”
“Chuckey,” came the reply. “Yeller feller.”
“Hmm. So she’s you too.”
“Seems that way Wheeler.”
“It’s you trapped in that Ear Canyon. Camping at the top. Assimilation — full swing. I’m not who I thought I was.”
Well… we’re in this together and that’s a trap. Fact, I mean.”
“I made it. So this is the spot.”
“97, 97,” says The Musician. “The poisonous violet-black building in plain sight. Towering over us at this point if I remember correctly. Yes, this is the point. And now… this picture. I don’t remember it before from this gallery, which has expanded into the territory formerly its back yard. What’s the name?”
“Um, ‘A Precarious Geisha’.”
“No,” replies The Musician. “The name of the gallery, not the picture. Hold on…”
“‘Finely Torn Id’, Wheeler,” The Musician says after remotely finding and then taking a snapshot of the gallery’s entrance.
“2015 for the painting’s date. This must be The Painter.”
“No,” says The Musician. “It was suppose to be someone else. Chuckey. Yellow. Head like Charlie Brown. Assimilation. Pineal. Pine cone. Fred Cone. Pineapple.”
“Hmm,” states Wheeler. “This (picture) must contain a code. I like the colors. It’s close to a picture of the other side of the wall. Where I landed when you tried to teleport me directly into this spot. We were on opposite sides of the wall.”
“Are you a geisha, Wheeler?”
“Why is it precarious?” asks Wheeler back, dodging The Musician’s question.
“Look, Musician. A piano over there. Why don’t you disengage yourself from the wall and play us a tune. You said you had hundreds of thousands.”
“Hundreds,” came a muffled voice from inside the wall behind her. “Or maybe thousands.”
“Well play me something, then. How about that ‘Fire Ants’ you go on about when you’ve had a few too many. The one that literally blew the roof off Barney Rubleboro in West Virginia that summer. Coal *everywhere*.”
“Hold on…,” the muffled voice said once again.
“Hmm. Wall again. And I had just turned yellow.”
The piano would have to wait.
Yellow and green (mysteries continue)
And that is most definitely Wheeler.
Back in Collagesity, The Musician persuades Wheeler (a.k.a. The Painter) to watch a longer Youtube film by SL resident Zarrakan about the LEA 11 “Glass Jars” installation. To Wheeler’s mild irritation, he then creates a running dialog with the film, stating how the two examinations of the sim differ and how he did things better overall. Afterwards, Wheeler wishes to watch another suggested Zarrakan film about wrestling, one of her numerous physical passions, right up there with dance and exercise. The Musician waves this off, however, saying at one and 1/2 hours that particular video is too long, and states they should instead view a short animation that acted as partial inspiration for “Glass Jars” entitled “The House of Small Cubes”. Wheeler relents (my how she’s softened because of the most recent Assimilation!). She understands that continued development of The Musician is very important. Besides… well, never mind that right now.
Back in VHC Town, The Musician gives “The Painter” back her time.
She stood there for 5 full minutes before The Musician looked up from the computer screen and spotted her. Nonplussed, he resumed researching the Muff-Bermingham planet while muttering through the window: “Very funny Painter. Now come in here.”
The Painter soon realized she was not alone in this town, this world. There was also a
She waits for Bowie to come back but instead got Björk.
Neither Here Nor There
Wheeler paints a picture of a cat while The Musician plays Bowie’s “Andy Warhol” to help restore.
“That’s very nice Wheeler.”
“Thank you. It’s a cat. It’s Bowie.”
“Yes I thought I recognized it. But it’s time to stop painting cats, Bowie, I mean, Wheeler. I found some doors.”
“I don’t know Wheeler. Doors. Leading to you know where.”
“Let’s just go. You can return to this project.”
“Red doors,” says The Musican, stating the obvious.
But they didn’t go through immediately. The Musician returned to the chair beneath the Ear/Bar sign, testing out if he could see the doors from this perspective. He could not. However, upon going inside the bar and sitting down on the couch, the doors were in plain sight.
“Wheeler,” he calls through a window again. “Wheeler! Come here. I have more information perhaps.” Wheeler heard “Wheeler!” but that was enough.
“I’ve seen these doors before recently (but not recently). Portal. Neighbor. Portals, actually.” The Musician takes another sip of his red cosmopolitan. The Painter does the same with her blue hypnotiq.
“Show me,” she requested. “Put the image in my head along with accompanying metadata. Like we trained for. The Before.”
“I’m going to spill my pretty drink all over this expensive demo jacket if you don’t tell me about those doors.”
The Musician sent another picture to further explain. Opening. Red door. Doors. Reds.
“Octopus jar,” he then said, confusing the lot of us.
Wheeler was not mad any more. She had put one and one together and then broke them apart, eliminating the right. Or left. “I found a shop that could help. Key shop. I knew something was up there but only reduced it down presently.”
“Let’s go,” requested The Musician eagerly.
“I wish I could remember where the two ones were that I eliminated the first. Or second.”
“Purposeful mistake. Think hard.” The Musician stared at her, encouraging. She then remembered that the page had been edited, not the post. She returned to the post. It was the room with the colored brain.
The Painter started heading the wrong way but then got her bearings right. She walks by the Ear Bar again, past the furniture store and the Baha Bullet rezzer straight into the next plaza which they were told not to enter. Her hands trembling, she looked west south-west. Key store.
But they had been here before. That alleyway.
Nothing had happened. Where did she get the idea that this place was verboten? There was nothing to fear. She would walk into the key shop, get a key or perhaps even two (one for The Musician as well) and then leave, going back to her safe bar and accompanying plaza. Something had happened in the meantime, she realized. It was the cat. Or cats. Bowie. Bowie was missing. Björk instead. Then painting the Bowie cat over and over in order to restore. Hucka Doobie karma. The Musician said that Hucka Doobie was sending good vibrations over to VHC Town for healing. Hucka Doobie forgives Wheeler for turning into a bee that Halloween night and almost killing her in her classic bee avatar form. She couldn’t walk straight for weeks. Karma. What else was in store for Wheeler? She had done wrongs, she knew. Printer? Is Printer another 13 pack of karma coming ’round the bend?
She waits for the keymaster. “Where’s The Musician?” she says to herself. “He was suppose to be right behind me. Maybe the doors weren’t locked after all,” she then speculates. “Maybe he went in without me.” But then The Musician was there, appearing around the corner after checking out the alleyway again where they had sat the day before. He puts another image in her head.
Wanderlust Bench Art Cafe, 04/29/17.
March/April exhibit described here.
Safe means safe.
“Nice catch, mister. Know anything about Mister Lock locks by chance?”
“It’s ms., actually,” returned the lady fisherman. “Do you view fishing as a masculine sport young man, er woman?”
“Guess so. Maybe I just wanted an excuse to talk about locks. Because I know who you are. You are the keymaster, perhaps on a permanent break. ‘Gone Fishing’.”
Meanwhile, The Musician had given up attempting to play the nearby odd piano. Spilling water for keys. Stringy plants for piano strings. The American Standardbred horse Enola EM looks on amused.
He walks over to the small pond. “That her?”
“Yeah. What’s your name missus?”
“Chuckles. Like a clown. I was in the circus before earning the rank of keymaster. Keymeister is how we call it in the trade. But I can’t seem to teach the laypeople that. Would you like to see my clown face?”
“Oh sure,” replies Wheeler. “Wouldn’t we Musician?”
“Wouldn’t we what?” He had been distracted by the VHC Town skyline, trying to figure out where their “safe” plaza was in all that complexity. How did Wheeler find the keymaster out here so quickly?
“Take me back to your Collagesity and I’ll show you. Just send me a teleport invite after you return home. Now skidaddle.” Chuckles returned her attention to the wriggling fish she just caught. “I’ll bring this perch along as well. Maybe you can find someone to cook it for us over in your town. I can’t cook worth a lick. Can catch fish all day and all night but, you know how it is. Compartmentalization.”
“Sure, that’ll be fine Ms. Fisherman,” states Wheeler.
“Ms. Greentop,” the fisherwoman corrects. “Irish,” she adds.
“We have something to show you over there as well,” states Wheeler. “A painting we found near your shop. A puzzling one. Perhaps you can answer some questions.”
“Yes, in your town yes. Not here. Too many ears. Ears are in hears.”
“Which one bought her?” The Musician asks in confusion. He begins rummaging through his inventory.
“Me, of course,” returns Wheeler. “Who has all the money around here?”
“Yeah, I don’t see it. And I suppose you have the painting as well. That one was free, though.”
Wheeler checks. She has both. She makes sure the right group is activated, then rezzes. “Stand back,” she playfully warns.
“Oh wait. I have a funny one,” she then says, rearranging the objects. “Haha.”
Chuckles Greentop awakes, looks around. “That an actual honest to goodness Linden forest out there?” She points her rod toward the transparent front of the Blue Feather Club.
“Sure ’nuff is,” responds Wheeler. “And full of demons and other oddities. There’s even a fishing pond on the southern edge. Would you like to see?”
“Musician, go over there to Collagesity West and change that Gloomy Gus into convex hulls. That should do the trick.” She returns her attention to Chuckles Greentop. “25 prims, Ms. Fisherman,” Wheeler scolds. “You come at a pretty price!”
“I’ve been around,” Chuckles Greentop responds.
“Ahem,” The Musician coughs. “The painting,” he prompts.
“Oh right. Well Ms. Greentop. Do you know anything about this painting beside you. The cat looks through a red door, but yet there’s a red door already opened. Two red doors, when there logically should only be one, it seems. We know you know about doors and how to get in and out of them. You must know about the red doors.” She looks over at The Musician, who stares back approvingly.
“It’s time to show my face,” Chuckles Greentop says instead. “If you look behind the door, you will see.”
The Musician took a closer look after the change.
“Lame” was what he was thinking. But then the rest of the face transformed as well. They were frightened all the way back to VHC Town and their safe plaza. Lesson learned!
thin blue lines
“So this is where you’ve been hanging out lately, Wheeler. Wondered where you were.”
“Yes, Baker Bloch. VHC Town. Or is it VHC City? With the C at the end of VHC, it seems something redundant to add City to the end. Like the C could stand for City already, except it doesn’t.”
“Technicality, Wheeler. I prefer Town.”
“I do too. Just had to speak all that out loud to know.”
“Right. But we’re not here to talk nomenclature.”
“No, we’re here to talk business.” Wheeler pulled out a map of the involved sim from her coat and unfolded it on the circular table between Baker Bloch and herself. “We’ve identified at least 5 hot spots that can be used for dramatic purposes, Baker. The most important one for you is the [delete name], which could be a new place to set up The Table.”
“That *is* dramatic. So is [delete name] turning into your new Blue Feather?”
“Not quite that. Check the sim remotely as it is on the map. You’ve joined the appropriate group now.”
“Yes. [Delete name].”
“Then most lines will be blue. *Except*… the one next to the key shop. That shop is a portal (!).”
Baker increases his draw distance, unrenders volume, and then checks remotely as Wheeler requested.
He compares this with the map in front of him. He renders and unrenders volume several times. He zooms in as needed. He mentally ticks off each of the 5 highlighted locations. Satisfied he can locate all in the town, he returns his attention to Wheeler.
“And you’ve said you have a duplicate of the shop. And you own the, um, owner.” Baker was trying to feign calm to balance out Wheeler’s obvious enthusiasm, but he too was getting pretty excited. Possibilities!
“*Former* owner. I wasn’t as scared as The Musician. But, then again, I didn’t see the (clown) face full on. He’s still getting over it. He’s resting upstairs on a couch.” She points up toward the bar’s sign.
“What’s all that about?”
“Circus related possession — not uncommon as I understand now. But anyway, I bought the shop. I own the key shop. 250 lindens. Chuckles Greentop has been semi-retired since 2012. She was glad to get rid of it. Said the taxes had gone way up in the last several years on the small parcel. So I own it. I own it!”
“Hmm, so you said.” Baker Bloch removed his hand from his mouth. He’d been hiding a smile. “Should we go look?” He then scanned Wheeler’s map, jabbing the appropriate spot.
“You’re pretty good with maps, Baker Bloch.”
“I am. So let’s go.”
“Quick. Before The Musician comes down. I want to surprise him with the news.”
“Best to not tell your Musician about all this right now. Until the memory fades about that face.”
“Yes. Best just to slide it back under there. For now. Did you get the planchette?”
“Got it,” responded Baker Bloch.
“Don’t lose it this time!”
“I thought we’d try this out tonight Hucka Doobie, since Wheeler and The Musician are away getting food.
Hucka Doobie was observing the planchette. “It’s spinning.”
“Yeah. Freaky. I thought we might have to hold the planchette but maybe not. Should we go ahead and ask some questions? Why don’t you read down through the list. Take your pick. Use your bee intuition to choose the correct direction.”
Hucka Doobie unfolds a piece of paper in her lap. “Alright. At the top we have… ‘Who is the owner of the Key Shop?'”
The planchette spin transforms into a back and forth movement across the length of the board. Then it goes to “YES”, and then the “O” of OUIJA. Then it moves to the center of the board and stops.
“‘O’ owns the shop?” Baker Bloch queries. The planchette returns to “YES” and then the “O” and then back to center. “That doesn’t really make any sense to me, Hucka Doobie.”
“Nor me. Let’s try another one. First off, can we identify who we are speaking to?”
The planchette spells out, more rapidly than the two expected, “THE DEAD”. It returns to center.
Baker stared over at Hucka Doobie. “The dead of VHC Town?”
The planchette hesitates, then moves to “YES” again and then more slowly back to center.
“Do you have a collective name?” asks Hucka Doobie.
“OD,” came the response after a small pause. But the “O” used was that in the word OUIJA again at the top of the board, and not the one that’s part of the 26 letters below it. And the planchette moved back and forth between this “O” and the “D” to its lower left a number of times before returning to center. Another thing: the “O” was lingered over longer than the “D” in each repetition.
“What do you think, Baker Bloch?”
“OD. The letter ‘O’ and the letter ‘D’?”
The board answered affirmatively.
“Maybe it’s initials, Hucka Doobie.”
The board then spelled out “OD” again, using the same motions as before.
Meanwhile, Wheeler and The Musician were studying menus at a nearby sushi bar, oblivious to the oddity of the picture on the far wall.
“Sorry to get you up Musician, but I thought you might like to see this. I ran across it purely by accident.”
“Really?” returns The Musician. “How?”
“Looking for a faces in the holes prop for the next scene. Looks like you have, eh, 30 minutes to complete the hunt.”*
“Not enough time,” says The Musician. “It’s a complex sim, believe me.”
“Well, while you’re up… shall we?”
But The Musician was too tired for posing…
… so Wheeler sent him packing and had a go at it alone.
Does she know? Has she guessed?
* Turns out it was *12* 1/2 hours to complete the hunt, but The Musician, being very tired, still slept through the event, pheh.
“Wrong side again.”
She stands up and gets her directions straight. Yes, to the right should be the safe plaza, or underneath it. She’ll head that way first. Taking a deep breath, Wheeler begins her exploration of VHC Town’s vast underworld.
Just pass the doors to the basement of [delete name], she found this: what appeared to be a water filled opening with an actual stream flowing behind it. Boldly, she strides inside…
… to find herself not underwater atall, but instead on dry land beside the seen water flow. She looks upstream. “Is that a coffin?”
Yes. A coffin. And room for two on top, it seemed.
Oh, this isn’t good. She stands up and tries the other poseball.
Yes, not as bad. What *is* this place? Is it the River Styx? Certainly seems like it. Heels in water — she remembers something from grade school about a hero being dipped in that river for protection, but he was, yes, he was held by the heel and that remained unprotected. Hercules? No, Wheeler didn’t think it was Hercules. Paris sprung to mind. Then the correct one: Achilles. She decides, just because it can’t hurt, to immerse herself in the waters. But underneath was dry. Uh oh. A red door. She scrambles upwards over rocks to reach it.
Are these the *same* red doors? The ones accessible from the safe plaza that are locked?
She tries the doors: indeed locked. A passageway just beyond draws her attention. First she checks out the pipes that this River Styx emerges from. All closed off in this direction.
To the passage…
… a twisty-turny affair, and pretty long.
Another reddish door at the end.
Wheeler can open this one, but can’t pass through. She even tries to remove her tiny hat to see if that will help. Still no luck. Seeing no other means of egress, she’ll have to turn around and retrace her steps back to the river.
She then realizes there’s another opening the river flows through on the lower side. She jumps into the water again and walks foward.
She’s out! And right behind the building where she started, sitting almost directly west of the Graphic Artist portal, she reckoned.
Wheeler walks to the north side of the building and makes a phone call to Baker Bloch. Wait till he hears about *this*!
The golden being…
… tries out the coffin as well, finding it much more satisfactory inside than out.
… The Musician was finally up and about after a long and refreshing night’s rest. Barely noticing Wheeler’s absence, he’s suddenly become addicted to this pinball game on the ground floor of his Ear Bar.
The red doors can wait.
“I can’t believe how much taller I am than you, Wheeler. Okay, so show me how this works.”
“Are you coming with me, then?” she asks Baker Bloch, looking up.
“Nah, I’ll stay here and contact you through wegee if you can’t get out. You’ll be dead, you know.”
“Oh I can get out. Up the River Styx if needed. *But*: not the opposite way. One way in and one way out so far. But I’m looking for another.”
“This OD dude or dudette said the Graphic Artist cutout is the safe way in. You have a safe way back. *Bee careful.*”
“I just sit on one of those triangle things sticking out, aaand…
… I’m in.” Her voice echoed off the walls of the underground.
She stood up from her pose position. Walked confidently past the blue passage leading to her River Styx, as she’s named the water flow, Wheeler heads toward an opening in the distance and new territory.
This place is certainly big, she thinks.
Multiple ways to go. She decides to keep going south as much as possible.
… and then: a gallery, it appears. Has she already found another exit?
Doors to the left, stairs to the right. She chooses stairs.
She’s out again!
2nd exit found.
The man from the future known as Fisher pulls into the lone VHC Town gas station and beeps his horn for service. “Two and a 1/2 hours to get here from Farmington,” he complains to his riding companion, also from the future. “This car is a piece of junk, Bendy.”
“It’s not the car,” his robot friend returned. “It’s the world. Physics ain’t good here. Language neither. Equilateral gravity is better for locomotion. This is just loco motion. Get it? Loco… motion.”
“I get it.” Fisher feigned a smile.
“Yeah, my former masters got that right. Squaring the circle and all.”
“Well, you’re here with me now Bendy. I won you fair and square in that chess match, circles be damned.”
“You’re not called Fisher for nothing. But I still think the game was rigged. ‘Winesap’?”
“Cash or credit?” It was Doogie Martin the attendant appearing at their side, with head strangely transmogrified from his Collagesity North days.
“Cash, I suppose.”
“Fill her up?” Doogie returned. “Regular? Premium?”
“Yes to all except the premium, haha. Bendy, why don’t you run in and get those crackers you like. Get me a Mars Bar. Use the quarters I gave you earlier.”
“Vending machine’s broke,” says Doogie plainly while removing the gas cap and inserting the pump nozzle. “We have honey,” he offered.
“Honey, Bendy?” queried Fisher to Bendy without much enthusiasm.
“I’d rather eat the bees themselves.”
“That can possibly be arranged,” Doogie deadpanned back to Bendy. “Father’s trying to downsize. We’ll probably be out of here by the end of the month.”
“Oh. You don’t like, um, what’s this place called?”
“VHC *City*. Not town, like some say.”
“All right. What’s wrong with this *city*?”
Gas tank full, Doogie retracted the nozzle and put it back in its carriage without answering. “Comes to L$18.66. You did say you had money.” Doogie then raises an arm and snaps his fingers without turning. A squat marshmallow man squeezes through the door of the station and wallows up beside him. “Trouble here sire?” he speaks in a doughy voice.
Doogie keeps his eyes fixed on Fisher. “I don’t know, Marshall. Is there trouble Mr…?”
“Fisher. But not a first or last name. Just a name. Give them the money Bendy. Withdraw it out of your chest cavity. No trouble here, Mr… Mr…”
“Martin. Like the bird.” A sweating Bendy hands him a 20 dollar bill, which Doogie hands, in turn, to his muscle bound assistant. “Make yourself useful Marshall and go get change for these people while I keep an eye out here.”
“Sure thing boss.”
Doogie starts to look over the car better as Marshall reenters the station. “MK2, eh? Worth the jump up from the MK1 for the money. 1 second faster in the 0-60. Wider rear windshield; synchromesh gearbox. Exhaust system still leaves something to desire.”
Marshall reappears, hands Fisher a dollar and change. Doogie looks up into the sky. “Sun’s setting soon. You best be where you’re heading before dark. When the vampires are out, everyone else stays in.” He and Marshall walk off without saying goodbye, although he does throw up a hand in parting.
“Get the lead out, old chap,” requests Bendy to Fisher, who complies.
“If the vampires do get them, maybe they’ll sell us back that car,” Doogie says to Marshall as they speed away.
not clowning around
It was Wheeler’s 3rd trip into VHC *City’s* vast underground that she found Chuckles’ pal Renaldo O’Donnell laying in a pool of his own blood beside the Cursed Washers. “F–k,” she appropriately exclaims, trying to avoid getting her feet red and sticky. Being from the future and all as well, chef/inspector Petty, disguised as gas station attendent Doogie Martin for a spell, had foreseen many elements of the deed and began filling in the missing pieces. Although questioned thoroughly about her relationship with Ms. Greentop, Wheeler was dismissed early on as a suspect. No, this was an inside job, Petty quickly concluded. The people of the underworld who were dead and undead both. This would be a tricky undertaking, he thought, then realized his pun.