Baker Bloch marveled at the constantly changing furniture in a VHC City store called Prim Possible.
Wheeler mulled over multiple realities surrounding the death of Allen Martin while sipping expresso at News and Views across from the famous hotel.
Snowmanster kept spinning around and around in his CB Dylan Dresser at Bemberg Towers Apt. #6, unable to enter this dimension.
Across the tracks in a tiny two story house, a fly got stuck in Pitch Darkly’s wine red nightcap.
Wheeler was tiring of the chit chat. “You said you had something important to tell me.”
Wheeler looked down at
Baker’s Pitch Darkly’s extended hand. “If you mean wine, I’m good. So spill.”
“It was such a good name I couldn’t wait. Hope I didn’t interrupt anything over at… where did you say you were?”
“Oh all right.” He put his hands behind his head and made the announcement. “It’s Silver. I’m sorry (!): Sister.”
“What is?” Wheeler asked.
“The sim. The name of the sim we, I, couldn’t determine before. It’s really clever. Want to hear my logic?”
“Oh sure. I’m here. Drinking suspiciously viscous wine with you.”
“Well, first off, the sim in question is kind of the sister to Bemberg. Together they hold about 80, maybe 90 percent of VHC City. The town’s kind of split between them. Brother and sister, maybe.”
“Ok, that’s understandable I suppose.”
He removed his hands from his neck and leaned forward. “Now here’s where it gets really clever. Take the last six letters of the actual name, rearrange them — not adding or subtracting any letters — and you, voila, get Sister. Go ahead and try it.”
Wheeler worked the problem out in her head; took her a moment. “Okay, that’s kind of cool, admittedly — starting to make more sense.”
“And there’s more. Has Chuckles told you about the Seven Sisters yet?” He nodded his head in the direction of the perpetually reeling fisherwoman outside.
“I don’t think so,” Wheeler said without turning around to look as well. “What are they?”
They’re pools in the sim I’m rather insisting we now call Sister. You have to go through the blue door. The Musician may have already found them. Anyway, you pass through that door and soon you are upon an inundating, grassy plain dotted with these small pools. Trouble is, there are only six pools out of seven present now. The seventh is gone. The seventh *sister* is missing. Where is it? is what I’m asking. What is it? Can you guess?”
Wheeler scrunched her mouth up, indicating she couldn’t.
“Black horse. Oh, drat, sorry again, black *hole*. I’ll quote to you from a famous music song directly related to all this. Let me make sure I have it right — wrote it down in preparation.” Pitch Darkly pulls out a piece of paper from his ragged black coat and reads:
In the constellation of Cygnus
There lurks a mysterious, invisible force
The Black Hole of Cygnus X-1
Six stars of the northern cross
In mourning for their sister’s loss
In a final flash of glory
Nevermore to grace the night
Pitch Darkly then stabs the paper on the table several times with his forefinger. “The Oracle indicated this.”
Meanwhile, The Musician had moved through the pools called Seven Sisters and up a sewer ladder giving access to a green wall marking the southern line of the property formerly known as Pitch Black. “What was hidden by Harrison Head before is now exposed,” he said in a confident voice, looking at this similarly green picture at its east end and thinking back to the new collage called “The Point of It All” he had seen earlier in Bemberg’s Clown Central.
“The monster swallowing its own tail; perpetual. Cardboard Derek Jones was right all along (about Greenup).”
Going all nova.
She had a right to know. She *created* all this. Who is this Baker Bloch upstart? Vampires, pheh. There are no vampires in VHC City. [Work] like this could give her town a bad name. Best not to confront him directly yet. She decides to instead track down The Musician. Not hard — he had fallen asleep on the couch of his Ear Bar, exhausted from playing pinball all evening. He was at the green wall. Sikul Himakt. Summerhill roused him from his dreams. “What’s all this about,” she immediately started. “Vampires? Black holes? How do you know Baker? Who’s this Wheeler you run around with? Answers, please.”
The Musician understood who this was after his head cleared, but could give no really satisfactory replies. They were just existing in VHC City as best they could, he explained — just getting by. He and Wheeler now lived in Allen Martin’s vacated apartment. Summerhill also knew about Allen Martin. “Well, what happened to him?” she asked, thinking back to the supposed murder or death (something) at another place she knew well. “Heart attack is all I know,” The Musician attempted to explain. “Wheeler was with him at the end. She said it was fate that he passed through the gate there. Something about seeing a monster blasting through a wall. Didn’t say much more about it. (She’s) clearly upset.”
“Is Wheeler still at the apartment?” Summerhill continued grilling. The Musician nodded. “Let’s go see her. Maybe she has the answers.”
So tonight was when Summerhill Nova learned about Pitch Darkly. It was actually this: Pitch Darkly *pretending* to be Baker Bloch pretending to be Pitch Darkly, as Wheeler explained while they shared a pot of coffee. She had just learned this herself. The vampire was very real. He had existed in what later would become VHC City for a very long time. Hundreds of years. Maybe over a thousand. This from the mouth of Pitch Darkly himself, now living on the other side of the tracks. Chuckles Greentop partially backed up the story, what she remembered about it. Pitch Black was his property. “And he was also friends with Sikul Himakt,” Wheeler then said.
“I think I know that name,” The Musician piped up on the couch opposite them, becoming fully awake again.
“Well of course you do,” replied Wheeler.
dead and alive
But Summerhill Nova certainly had her own issues apart from all this new stuff. An estranged sister front and foremost. “Why did you have to go away?” she asked while staring over at her ghost in Eastside Park. They had played here often as children. Baseball was the game then. Dead ball era. She always took the role of pitcher Baby Ruth. Her sister was Butterfingers, an ironic name because she was best at catching. Always hanging around home.
Across the tracks, Pitch Darkly became lively again.
Using his universal pass-through, the littler vampire entered the house. “BURST-er Damm as I live and breathe, ha ha.” Pitch was use to his free comings and goings.
“Morning wine, Pitch?” Intervention Buster queried, looking at the bottle and full glass in front of him.
“Oh, this is just left over from last night,” Pitch explained. “You know how I am about cleaning up.”
“Who was the dame?” Jealous Buster asked with an edge, taking a seat opposite his bestest friend in the world. “Not that laconic bee woman again? I thought you two were Spitsville.”
“It’s Splitsville,” Pitch corrected. “But, no, it was Wheeler. You know, the lively one who bought the Key Store from Chuckles outside. Not a beaner. However she doesn’t own the shop any more. A wooden man bought it from her. Toys in VHC City, Buster. What’s next? Elves?”
“Hmm. What did you two guys talk about?” Had Jealous Buster skipped over a line? Didn’t matter. Pitch was a super duper pal and would play fair instead of foul if so.
Pitch hurled his morning spitball. “Sister.” He paused.
“Sister?” asked Stifled Buster back.
“Sister. Everything you see around you.” He waved his arm, indicating the house and its windows to the outer world. “There’s a place we should visit on the edge. Let’s call it that. The Edge. Won’t take long at all. A baseball field away at best.”
Nosey Buster had started scanning Pitch’s latest jottings, attempting to understand better. He reads aloud now. “The future fisher lives on the edge. Chuckles knows identity but won’t spill. Got that he owns a slavebot who is bent up inside. Coins. Squid and whale.” Shaking his head, Thursty Buster reaches over and grasps Pitch’s glass of viscous wine, downing it in one take. “Let’s hit the trail,” he said, wiping his tiny mouth with his little black cape. No stain remained.
“No one home, Buster,” Pitch says after calling. Curious Buster wouldn’t be denied. He deployed the universal pass-through again.
back seat dyer
“Ahh, so you two are back already. How was Zoidberg again? How’s the folks?”
“Um, fine I guess,” Fisher the driver of the mini replied. “Who are you?”
“Tronesisia,” the gleaming silver robot lady responded. “New owner of the gas station. Old owner, or his son at least, told me all about you. From the future, eh? Don’t get a lot of those around here.”
“What happened to the old owner? Doggie, wasn’t it?”
“Doogie — the son. Tragic thing,” spoke Tronesisia solemnly. “Father passed away. Son decided to pull out the stake driven into his heart and move on. Took his marshmallow man with him. Now I’m all alone here, without help. Either of you need some dough? I have hours.”
“Not really,” replied Fisher. “No, we’re good,” mumbled Bendy at the same time.
“So fill her up?”
“Sure,” said Fisher. “And you probably already know, since you seem to know all about us, but it takes regular. Premium’s too rich for this old baby.”
“It is a pretty car.”
“Blue like your eyes.” Bendy then flirted, seeing an opening.
“You’re cute mister,” Tronesisia giggled, moving closer and pretend-pinching the fellow robot’s cheek. Bendy rubs it and grins.
“Gas, miss?” Fisher prompts, checking the sun.
20 minutes later, Tronesisia had sold them on the idea of staying overnight at Old Martha Ball’s available shack at the eastern edge of Sister. Furthest away from the town’s vampiric activity, she claimed. Safely tucked away in a small wood on the other side the tracks, she furthered.
Boy was she telling a whopper.
“Soo… are you really Baker Bloch playing the role of Pitch Darkly or Pitch Darkly playing Baker Bloch? Enquiring readers want to know.”
“It’s to be determined, Hucka Doobie,” answers the man in question. Baker liked staring out at the lively action in front of the giant, virtual hotel, but he had another role to play tonight and Hucka needed to be seated in the forward facing chair to effect the setting. Because they were not alone tonight. Tronesisia sat on a stool at the coffee bar, pondering what she had just done.
Her new vehicle was parked in the middle of the aleyway behind the shop. Aley-way.
“Should we go up and talk to her?” asked Hucka Doobie, waiting for Baker Bloch to make the next move.
“Pawn to King 4,” he said, and walked straight to the bar, sitting beside Tronesisia. Hucka Doobie then joined them.
No one Everyone ordered drinks. It was a sober affair.
“There’s something about this place,” exclaims a flailing Pitch Darkly. Gravity all nonsense now, I suppose. Are we about done?”
“Yeah, 10 bottles for you and 10 for me.”
“That wasn’t the agreement. If you haven’t noticed I’m considerably larger than you. I’m 200 lbs. and you’re 50 soaking wet. So we’ll graciously say it’s a 4 to 1 ratio. That’s, let’s see, 4 for you and 16 for me.”
“12 and 8,” Buster Damm bartered in turn.
“14/6. And that’s my final offer.”
“Done.” Buster Damm spits in his hand and extends it to the flying Pitch, but the larger vampire’s dead ball era days were long gone. He’d take Buster’s word for it.
“That’s disgusting Buster.”
“Thank you. Better go get rid of the car.”
“68/68/93”, The Musician as Sikul Himakt began. “Almost knee deep.” So that was the Diagonal Pool written off. The first, the cuing point, as it were. The rest, the dreaming Musician found out, didn’t really count in the matter (Big, Deep, Oblong, 2 unnamed). Except for the fact that there were 6 pools instead of the indicated 7. The sim of Sister is born.
He decides to follow The Diagonal above ground. It crossed these stairs between 38/38 and 40/40.
It passes through this colorful, abstract painting of Montego Bay, Jamacia at 65/65, perhaps 66/66. “Hmm, almost directly over the Diagonal Pool here,” ruminates the dreaming Musician. “Should it instead be named Montego Pool?”
The Musician as Sikul Himakt moves upwards. 88/88. FTI Gallery confronted.
100/100: FTI Gallery exited. He spies the spinning logo of News and Views just visited by Hucka Doobie, Tronesisia and Baker straight ahead.
And then The Diagonal passes through the right edge of the far picture of roses at 140/140 (he sits on the bench here at 136/136).
151/151: More flowers. I believe that might be even another rose to the right (excuse me miss!).
And at 150/150 on the other side of the wall: definitely more roses (!). All of these are from different Sister galleries.
And then The Diagonal ends its upward passage through the Sister sim in the center of this *diagonally* placed marker, complete with a microcosmic map of the area. Quite synchy I think you’ll agree.
The Musician awakes satisfied that The Diagonal still has power in this sim, despite the loss of 97/97/97. But there’s always Rubi for that. 🙂
here and there
“So you’ve decided to play the role of Clare Nova, Wheeler. Third Nova sister.”
“Third *found*,” she said. She takes another sip of her Cabernet Sauvignon wine. “Somewhere in this store is the appropriate avatar. A step up from (Summerhill) and (Golden Bee-ing), true. Something with a little more meat and flesh. Maybe the ancient alien.”
“Study up more on the real Clare Nova,” Baker Bloch suggested. “Find out additional stuff about her land and its relationship with The Diagonal. We’ve already discovered that obelisk tucked in the southwest corner of Hooktip right on the line…
… and then an accompanying leaf screen in *Leaf*roller to the immediate south.
Synchy stuff still going on.”
“And the multiple rose pictures The Musician found in Sister galleries,” reinforced Wheeler. “In his dreams.” She turned toward her Musician, now fully awake and tinkling the ivories of a nearby piano. The tune for the day: David Bowie’s “Alladin Sane.” Third take was the charm.
“Where’s Baker Blinker?” Wheeler suddenly asked.
“You know where they are,” Baker Bloch responded.
“Oh yeah. Chilbo.”
“Where’s Wheeler?” Karoz suddenly asked.
“You know where they are,” Baker Blinker responded.
Greater VHC City
“Catsocks (Catalpa-Tussock) sinkhole, Buster. This is where VHC City and its Chelsea hit a new low.”
“Deal with the etheric Plane of Vampires.”
“Plan-*et*,” Pitch Darkly amended. “Planet of Vampires.”
“Or just (an airplane) full of vampires,” Buster tacked on. ‘Or all three or any combo of two of the three.”
“Or none at all,” added Pitch Darkly.
“I always thought it to be a planet sized meteor, Pitch.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Buster.”
On the opposite side of VHC City from the sinkhole, Wheeler was attempting to sit on a bench in a small Saturnia park with little luck.
On a large, smooth rock beside the bench she found a jar of fireflies and a book describing what appeared to be a town in the Lapara sim, also located on the Heterocera continent but considerably north of VHC City. Owner of the book (and town?): Clare Nova.
While she studied the text and photos within, Wheeler heard and then saw a tautly physiqued shark coming up the hill toward her from the direction of Saturnia’s Muscle Madness store. Not Clare but Orange, the brother. Yet another Nova.
Wheeler stood her ground and got ready to transform. Would this work?
pulling a sis-bro
There was a second death in the Underground. A dreaming Wheeler had foreseen the event. It involved herself.
It took her ages to figure out the correct clown costume to wear. It had to be extreme enough to be believable — she had definitely been clowned. But not too over the top. Not at this time.
The shark-man lumbered up for their prearranged meeting. “Claribel: greetings. That a new outfit? I thought you didn’t like dresses.”
Must ward off suspicions at the start, Wheeler thinks. “Oh just something I threw on.”
“Threw up on, haha.” Orange was known for his bad jokes. “And your face. You look redder. You sick or something?”
“Ah, who knows with me,” and then she pretend retched but only ended up spitting on the ground beside her.
“Good one, Clare. There’s my little clown-face coming through.”
Wheeler’s plan seemed to be working. Chuckles Greentop had provided the keys. Just dumb down all interactions to a crude minimum and let the feigned clowning disease do the rest. Not-so-bright Orange Nova was becoming comfortable; any doubts about identity abating. Perhaps this wouldn’t be the day she perished.
She didn’t want to sit this close to him but Orange insisted. He sniffed her a couple of times during the conversation but that was the only signs of lingering skepticism Wheeler detected. They were now in the northwest corner of Bemberg, technically Summerhill’s realm, Orange said, but he liked the bench poses in this small, remote park of the city and would “take his chances.” The shark-man was helping Wheeler put the pieces together with almost every uttered sentence. Why the Novas were here in the first place, these *Super*novas as the locals under their subjugation once called them and still do at times. Orange was the 4th and youngest sibling, with last definitely representing the least in this case.
Wheeler just kept leading him through a maze of clumsily collected information. About an hour in, Wheeler figured she had enough to chew on and opted for safety. She excused herself, saying she needed to check the air in her shoes before an evening hike.
She walked south in the direction of Hooktip to complete the ruse, while Orange trod back north to Saturnia. His sim, he thinks while reentering the grounds of Muscle Madness. Or will be one day; Claribel be damned. The Realm of Orange.
“The Musician said he wanted us to check this place out, Hucka Doobie. Oh wait, he’s started.”
Look at me
Who am I supposed to be?
Who am I supposed to be?
Look at me
What am I supposed to be?
What am I supposed to be?
Look at me
Oh my love, oh my love
Here I am
What am I supposed to do?….
“I’m not sure I like it as good as News and Views for a hangout,” whispered the bee-person to Baker Bloch while The Musician continued his crooning. “Nice song, though. Who is it?”
Buster opened his lid to listen better. “Damn. What’s all that racket up there? Wednesday afternoon already?”
not clowning around 02
Pitch Darkly continued the formalities. “Nice of you to cease your fishing and come for a visit, Chuckles.” He was thinking she cleans up nicely.
“Please. Call me Delbert. No: Wanda.”
“Alright, Wanda. What brings you here this fine morning? And if you’re wondering, by chance, I’m not a vampire chained to a night and day cycle. I’m *weaker* during the day — certainly don’t do any large killings at this time — but I’m perfectly okay otherwise. I avoid direct exposure to the sun for long periods obviously.”
“Wheeler said there was news about the Novas.”
“There is. The, ahem, *immoral* person Tronesisia brought to your and Buster Damm’s Kill Shack the other day…”
“Fisher,” inserted Pitch Darkly. “But not a fisherman. I don’t think. Just a name. Yes, he was immoral and thus worthy of sacrifice as determined by the Book of Blood. The chess game was indeed rigged. His former slavebot Bendy has been freed to go back to his proper place in the skies.”
“Anyway,” Wanda/Chuckles continued, “turns out he was also someone else at the same time: Clare.”
“Clare?” Pitch asked. He pretended like he didn’t know who this was.
“Clare Nova,” Wanda clarified. And not an alt. A rebis. Like you and Baker Bloch. Something to do with the clowning disease.”
“Oh, Clare *Nova*. What does this imply?”
“Fisher is dead,” spoke Wanda, wondering how long it would take Pitch to get it. “And Clare Nova is Fisher…” she urged. “So what does that mean?” Pitch Darkly shrugged.
But he knew what it meant. Wheeler had just gone from understudy to star.
“Thank you for showing me this, Baker Bloch. I’m grateful.”
“You’re preparing for a big role shift, Wheeler. You deserve to know about Muff-Bermingham at this point.”
“And the corresponding pictures on this other wall? Is that me in the center?”
“Kind of,” responds Baker. “The title says ‘Chuckles’. Obviously our fisherwoman friend across the tracks.” Baker Bloch checks his watch. “Speaking of which…”
“Mary. You’re real name is Mary. Not Delbert, not Wanda.”
Mary meekly nods.
“Now tell me all about this Osborne Well.”
“He is his own grandpa,” succinctly explains Mary/Chuckles.
“How did that come about?” asks a nonplussed Pitch Darkly. He’d seen and heard about everything in his extended life.
“A concert. A bat thrown onstage. He thought the bat was rubber. He bit its head off, finding out it was a real bat: his own (vampire) grandpa. Their blood comingled. He became his own grandpa.”
Pitch Darkly stared over at the dark figure in the corner. “Is he alive? I mean, you’re alive and…”
“… mere mesh figure?”
“I don’t know. Why don’t you ask him?”
So Pitch talked to the figure. “Hellooo? Mr. Well? Hell–OOO??” He looked back at Mary/Chuckles. “No good.”
“No. He is mere representation. He can’t do what I’m about to do now.”
Pitch watched as Mary/Chuckles got up and stood beside the window, outfits instantly swapped out.
He turned back to the Osborne Well figure. “Is that his grandpa there he’s holding?”
Mary/Chuckles sat back down at the table with Pitch Darkly, green outfit returned. “No, it’s just a microphone shaped like a bat. He holds a bat just like you use to do. But we should move more into who he is beyond what he is.”
“Can you guess?” asked Mary/Chuckles.
“Umm. Vampire from the etheric plane. Er, vampire from the Planet of Vampires. Or just a vampire from (an airplane).”
“All three, yes. Another great 3-n-1. Their plane or planet crashed or clashed over there.” Mary/Chuckles pointed behind her toward what Pitch understood as the Catsocks sinkhole he and Buster had visited just yesterday. “A deal was struck with Chelsea: Stay across the tracks from our hotel and attached developing city and we’ll let you do as you wish. Thus the killing shacks. Thus the creation of the multiple fishing holes. Like me, vampires, or at least this particular strain of vampires, love to fish.”
“*You’re* not a vampire?” Pitch Darkly logically asked. “But, no,” he then added more to himself. “I would obviously be able to tell my own kind.”
“Owen Grandpa,” Mary/Chuckles chipped in. “That was his vampire grandpa’s (ironic) name. But Osborne Well didn’t know his grandpa was a vampire until he bit his head off in bat form.”
“Interesting (developing) story. What happened to Osborne, Mary? I mean, since this figure really isn’t him.”
“As a living breathing dichotomy, Well soon became ill and died. So another ironic name, both grandson and grandpa. Other vampires moved in to fill the power void. I wasn’t around but I heard it from my grandma. I speak with her still sometimes.”
“Channeling?” guessed Pitch Darkly.
“No. Phone. She lives over in Farmington.”
A face began to form on top of the Osborne Well figure’s own, glasses intact for now. The facing Mary/Chuckles saw it and then asked Pitch to turn around. From his surprised expression she understood he saw the same. “The Protector,” she explained, face locked in. “Monsters all around.”
Well’s glasses faded as well, making Pitch Darkly revert back to Baker Bloch. “I know that face.”
“Show me the map,” requests Hucka Doobie to Baker Bloch.
“Yes. Christiansted. Surrounded by monsters. These could represent the 4 true Munsters: Grandpa, Eddie, Herman, and Lily. Grandpa is Grandpa obviously. Fangs could be Eddie, who also has them. Or Lily even. Then Herman is Herman. And Munster could be Lily or Eddie, once more. What is the name of the ordinary Munster, the one who doesn’t count?”
“Marion,” guesses Baker incorrectly.
“Marion. So Timmy Duncan, greatest power forward in NBA history, was born and raised in this Christiansted capital city.”
“Correct, Hucka Doobie.”
“When Hurricane Marion destroyed the island’s only Olympic-sized swimming pool in 1989, Duncan was forced to swim in the ocean, where he quickly lost enthusiasm for the sport because of his fear of monster attacks — sharks in this case. He turned to basketball, which was destiny, fate. He went through a conversion.”
“Yeah. But I’m checking on the phone now, Hucka Doobie. The hurricane’s name was Hugo. Marion came 6 years afterwards, a somewhat milder affair. But, in looking closer, that hurricane’s name was Marilyn. So Marilyn must be the ordinary Munster. The perimeter which is the center of it all. Duncan was already a star at Wake Forest by then.”
“A star is born. Let’s go back to SoSo now and study further. I just wanted to see what you had set up in this secret Muff-Bermingham station.”
“This collage 17 of 2007’s Oblong series depicts a later Duncan, after he won his first championship as the somewhat lesser of the twin towers formed by himself and fellow future hall of famer David Robinson. And this is where your personal WBA ends and the general NBA continues. Zircon Zappers Tom Casey and Robert Jones were the parallels to this twin tower situation in San Antonio.”
“Yes, I’m almost positive of that, Hucka Doobie. Duncan later excels beyond Robinson. I didn’t have that.”
“(Collage 17) is another great 3-n-1. And where we also ended an Oblong analysis from, what was it, way back in 2008? LINK”
“I don’t know, Hucka. Pretty long time ago,” Baker Bloch agreed.
“Three (Lake District) tarns. Three choices. River Derwent originating in Seathwaite Fell — SF — reaching Derwent Water through the finger-ish delta was a goal. Fox Tarn rock blocked, with Crazy Clown Head removed. But maybe Angle Tarn aligned with Duncan instead of Robinson succeeds, not the one in Langstrath but in Patterdale. But maybe they are also one. Tarn at Leaves. This (work remains) confusing.”
“But the clincher that this has to do with Muff-Bermingham, Hucka Doobie, is the presence of Herman Munster in the very next Oblong collage. 18. Two from the end now.
That Munster perfectly fills a gap between two mirrored images.”
“The beginning of Stonethwaite from Greenup,” Hucka Doobie adds. “You must return.”
It appeared in the Muff-Bermingham station on the second to last day of May 2017. The four stars strung above the entrance — red, green, blue, yellow — were a dead giveaway to who dwelt inside. It could only be Spongeberg the Destroyer, similarly bedecked with the same four colored stars. But where was he? The caravan appeared empty.
But suddenly Wheeler was there, walking out the entrance in the most outrageous clown costume yet. Was that Spongeberg attached to her body??
No, it wasn’t. Should we send another avatar over to get the story? Baker Bloch is a logical choice. Maybe The Musician. But, no, here comes The Musician out of the caravan on the heels of Wheeler. He has a clown costume on as well — not quite as extreme as Wheeler’s, but pretty full frontal still. Noises inside. Appears there’s actually a party going on now where before was dead silence. At least 4 clowns within by my counting. One manifests at the door. “Hey Musician, where you going? Your turn to dance.”
The Musician moves closer to Wheeler, saying just above a whisper, “I don’t want to do that.” He’d seen the others. He’d seen *Wheeler*. He didn’t know how she did what she did.
“No choice, Musician,” returns Wheeler in a loud whisper herself, out of earshot of Johnson. “We’ve gone this far. You dance, you’re in the group. Spiffy, Jumbo, Percolator, Stingray, Johnson, and us. This will make my cover complete. You’re here with me now. Allen Martin has gone to a better plane. Go ahead and dance for the guys and gal. All you have to do is be goofy as hell and you’ll be fine. Nothing *serious*.”
“I’m not exactly sure how to do that,” admits The Musician. He was a serious artist. No comedy in his act.
“Think about what you usually do when you dance and do the exact opposite,” suggests Wheeler. “Pretend that there’s an anti-Musician, one who isn’t serious at all. A clown, a buffoon. He’s a walking laugh elicitor. He can’t walk down the street but for people doubling over all around him, rolling on their sides even. Laughs and guffaws, Musician, when they see you. I know you can do it.” She brushes aside his projecting green hair and gives him a kiss on the cheek. “The key is not to think at all,” she says, holding his arm. “Just let go. Let *everything* go. Let the other side take control.”
She grasps his shoulders and turns him around to face the caravan and Johnson. Then she gives him a swift kick up the rear, making the clown at the door clap his hands with glee. He meets the reeling Musician halfway and escorts him up the steps. “Bozo coming through,” Johnson yelps as they enter the caravan to an eruption of cheers.
Wheeler stays outside and listens, letting it soak in. The four stars above the door disappear as the event reaches a tipping point. “Spongeberg has no power here now,” she says to herself. “We move forward.”
“Green hand light, Musician. Timmy’s side is in control.
No stopping now.”