“Ahh, I must admit it’s good to be back Baker Bloch. Collagesity North has been reborn. A lot of characters have or will be returning. But there’s still the matter of Tronesisia and Bendy. I can’t wait to meet her. Hasn’t she been in Collagesity before, though? The name rings a bell.”
“No,” answers the male Baker with a lie. He wants to erase the robot’s seedier origins in Collagesity and other towns like Bennington. “She’s worked for Pitch and Buster for a long time.”
“More new faces. But: exiled vampires from VHC City? I thought that city was supposed to be sort of a mother to Collagesity, kind of like Chilbo.” Baker Blinker pauses and puts her finger to chin. “But I guess Chilbo didn’t work out either as a whole. We’ve been there 3 months and our story hasn’t even begun. Karoz got tired of waiting — said he needed to return to his Temple of TILE, his school, his rocket. Most immediately, his rocket.”
“Yes, we need to get Tronesisia and maybe Mary up to Muff-Bermingham asap, whenever she shows up.”
“Which should be soon,” Baker Blinker adds.
“Yes.” They both look up the road into Collagesity North but nothing appears.
Pitch Darkly was the next to arrive in Collagesity. Baker Bloch excused himself from greeting him in person, saying he still had to tie some things up in VHC City connected with the rentals there. But Pitch had instructions. “Just go down the main avenue of town now from Robin Lane — head directly south — and keep looking left for your *old* house,” Baker said. “Your new one will be directly behind it. You’ll know it’s yours. Trust me.” Baker then said to pardon some of the mess around, and that he and Baker Blinker are still working on Collagesity North.
Pitch followed Baker’s notes. “Soo… this must be the place. Looks promising!”
Pitch loved it already.
But he didn’t know who Peter was. Maybe this sign is part of the stuff they need to clean up. He found the small graveyard behind it rad, though.
Time to go inside. He opens the wrought iron gate and then the ebony front door.
“Yes, this will do very nicely. Most of the stuff here will have to go obviously.”
“Must be the secret door into the Blue Feather Club Baker told me about. How cool is this? I wonder if they have musical groups playing, or some other type of entertainment?”
“Three floors to the house. Three floors!” Pitch thought this might be a good children’s room, hehe. Mary should be arriving soon with Tronesisia. He can’t wait to show her the house. Much better than the Sister abode! he thought.
And Baker suggested that, being much smaller, Buster Damm could stay in the same, set up just outside. Buster had always admired this structure. Pitch will obviously have to remove his own portrait from within.
Pitch decides to explore the rest of the town.
Woody Woodmanson stepped out of his key shop teleporter and onto the green mainland terrain of Collagesity North. Like Pitch, he’d never been to this area before. But, as he told Lou, rent was just too expensive for his Bermingham house. When an opportunity to stay in Collagesity North free of charge came up, he jumped on it. Baker Bloch, who he knew now was the same as Snowmanster, would never be far away; a great buddy to have around. Things didn’t work out in Purden in terms of being immediate neighbors. Maybe here they would.
Baker said for Woody to look for snow. Like Pitch, he’d know immediately which dwelling spot was his. And like the vampire, he fell in love with it at first sight.
Snow, but not *everywhere*, he cooed. “Just around the house. *Just* right.”
“And a snowman. Howdy snowie! What’s your name?” No answer. “Must be one of the static ones,” Woody rationalized. “Hmm, maybe we can take care of that later.” He continued to talk to the inanimate object. “Would you like to be a real live snowman, just like I became a real live toy?” Woody definitely saw promise in the figure. And at 3 prims (as he subsequently checked), he’s a steal of a deal.
He goes around the big rock and enters the house from the porch. Also like Pitch, he was warned that clutter would be around, and that if he didn’t like some of the provided decor, there was no problem in switching it out.
But what *wasn’t* to like so far? Woody thought while settling back into a Victorian steampunk chair. Okay, so maybe the space monkey will have to go, he admitted to himself, not knowing this was famed philosopher and art critic Cardboard Derek Jones, “away” at the time.
Upstairs: a bed and a computer table. View of the entrance to the Great Linden Wall. “Lovely.”
Tired from his day of moving, Woody gets some well deserved shut-eye.
“Mary! What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to help you, Ms. Wheeler Wilson. You’re being clowned.”
“Just remember I’m always here to help you. Just remember that.”
“I will. And: thank you. I’m beginning to feel better.”
“Angling, my dear. It’s all about angles.”
“And percentages. 25 or 26 tops for the clowning. Can you do that?”
“I’m not sure. It’s so much fun. And I love my clown costumes.”
“Clowning is here to protect you. But like with any effective defense, you can become overdependent.”
“You work on it,” Mary said, standing. “I’ll let you go. See you in Collagesity!”
“Sometime,” Wheeler admitted.
After having finished inserting the Fal Mouth Moon Gallery into Collagesity North to basically complete the initial process of consolidating my town in the direction of the Great Rubi Woods, co-creators Baker Blinker and Baker Bloch had to do a double take at their available objects. 475 for each. The Bakers are equal in that respect.
Bakers was historically known as Bakers Station and Baker. A post office was established as Bakers Station in 1875, renamed Baker in 1882, and remained in operation until it was discontinued in 1922. The community was named for a member of the Baker family, the original owner of the town site.
Baker Bloch and Baker Blinker then had to call in Wheeler to straighten up a portrait of Ted in Castle Knight across the street. Baker Blinker excused herself, saying she needed to check on Karoz.
“Oh Wheeler, what are we going to do with you?”
Without reply, Wheeler turns and fixes the portrait of Ted. “There, that should do it. And you mentioned something about a key shop?”
“Yes, just outside,” Baker Bloch directed.
“There,” Baker pointed out.
“I assume the rest is behind the wall.”
“Yeah. We were just in there. Finished up in the basement. Remarkably easy move for such a large and cumbersome structure. Tough to select some of the wonky prims it has. But isn’t it a beaut?”
“It’s unusual, I’ll give it that.”
“61 collages within. The largest (series) I — my user made. Our user. Falmouth.”
“Hmph,” she says, and twirls around in place again. “Tronesisia is overdue, I’ve heard. Maybe she’s changed her mind again about coming here. Happened once before on that bridge. Maybe it will happen again.”
“No. Mary will keep her on the straight and narrow this time.”
Wheeler laughs. Her nose even honks a bit. “Yeah, Mary is good at that. I’m glad she’s going to be around.”
“And how about *you*?” Baker then asks. “And The Musician of course. You guys started this whole (novel). Are you going to finish it together as well? Oh… speaking of which, I have something else to show you while you’re around.”
Wheeler didn’t get a chance to answer. Baker was on another tangent. “Follow me,” he said. “It’s easier to reach by flying down Old Cannon Road into the Rubi Woods and then circling back.
“Hold on. Let me delete the key shop real quick.”
“Very nice, eh? And fully furnished, just like it was up in Muff.”
“Coolie,” she says. “That’s very sweet of you to set this up. But don’t I technically still own the *entire* Blue Feather Club we’re hovering over the property of now? I believe I do. Am I correct?”
“Well, that could be. Depends on if you wish to return.”
“Big decision looming. The Musician is lost in the Chelsea, in effect. Trapped in the story of Nancy which didn’t take place. Strange that Ridgetop Tennessee used to be called Nancy. And that Bakers is just outside, the place where…”
“Another Syd and Nancy story happened,” Baker Bloch finished for Wheeler. “Except even more tragic.”
“Let’s go hang another portrait in my Castle Knight.”
Tronesisia and Mary pulled in about midnight on the 6th. Baker Bloch was there to greet them in front of Darkly Manor, Mary’s hopefully new home. He couldn’t wait to show them around town.
But what immediately caught Mary’s eye as she got out of the pink mini was this portrait of Ted in the middle of Castle Knight. “I know that man,” she said, continuing to stare. “He use to work for me.”
She turns right. “And that *woman.* What is this place?”
“Castle Knight,” explains Baker Bloch, walking up. “It’s one of Wheeler’s projects mainly, although we’re helping — the rest of us. Nancy’s involved.”
“Who’s Nancy?” asks Mary.
“We’re not quite sure yet,” admits Baker Bloch. “All this stuff, or most of it, use to be in the Muff-Bermingham Room of the VHC City Underground.”
She turns left. “And, oh my God, there’s *Chuckles*. My namesake. I’m remembering. I’m remembering a lot.”
Mary was coming out of her shell.
Later that night, after she and Pitch had, er, reunited in Darkly Manor, Mary lay in bed dreaming.
A boy approached. “Hello future mother. My name is George. I’m glad you’ve come to Collagesity, our home. It’s time for me to enter your stomach. It’s time. It’s time.”
Tronesisia was thrilled that Mary had taken to Collagesity so quickly, but she had her own mission to deal with now. She and Baker Bloch dropped Mary off at Darkly Manor to a waiting Pitch and then proceeded straight into the heart of the village. House of Truth.
“Bendy was standing about here when he disappeared from my side and went into the stomach of the rocket ship. Stomach? Why did I say stomach? You know what I mean.”
“I do,” returns Baker Bloch, staring up at the tip of the rocket launcher as well. “I too stood beside someone who disappeared into the ship. Karoz Blogger. The mad scripting genius.” He checks his watch. “It’s early in the morning. We need to get you settled in somewhere. Baker Blinker and I have come up with just the place.”
“This is Baker Blinker’s home, but she’s decided to stay with Karoz at his Bodega market apartment until we can get you up to Muff-Bermingham. Karoz says he needs to triple check everything connected with the ship and launcher, and then triple check them all over again. He says 2 or 3 days will still do it. Grumbled something about a key calibration being off by one when he got here. He called it the Baby Monster, a tiny but huge step at the same time. Don’t get what it means, but apparently that was the opening he needed.”
“Interesting,” said Tronesisia. “We’ll talk about it further tomorrow. I don’t want to keep you any longer. But where are you living since we’re back?”
Baker didn’t know. He ended up sleeping inside a tree.
Woody had justed booted up his computer when he saw it outside. “Hmm, I don’t remember that being there before.” He went out to check.”
“Come over here Snowy Snowmanson. See what you can make of this.” The recently animated snowman complied.
“Another key world, you say? Just what *I* was thinking. It says ‘sit to enter’ in the text on the top. Shall we?”
“Whoa, Snowy. Where are we *now*??” Woody looks around at the landscape between the buildings. “Is this *Mars*?”
Woody next took Baker Bloch up. “No, it isn’t Mars,” he expresses. “I think it might be Muff. Wheeler has given me some graphic details about the place she and The Musician were trapped in for a while last month. This looks like what she was talking about. Sealston, eh? Maybe another world within a world.”
“Snowy thinks a key is here. We have an opinion.”
Baker Bloch glances over at the snowman, taking its recent animation in stride. Woody has powers, yes. “Please share.”
Woody begins. “The central avenue — not boulevard — of the sealed sity heads directly to the big cave mouth, yes?” Baker didn’t know this, but agreed anyway. “Yet you cannot reach the mouth because of the force field surrounding us. Sealston is named for a reason. And there’s another, different building next to the cave, gray as well. You cannot reach it either. We are inside. They are outside. But if you look closely — here, better walk over and I’ll show you. Snowy, you stay here next to the entrance point and alert us if anyone else comes up.”
“See, this avenue –2nd Avenue Snowy and I are calling it — ends at the outside building. The next one over, 1st or Main or Central — Snowy desires Central or Main, I say First…”
“Go on,” encourages Baker.
“… is the one that leads directly to the cave. But this building is sealed up as well. If you look closely, the rocks around the cave seem to block up its only entrance. So what does that mean?”
Baker didn’t know. But he did understand that this “cave” could be the portal back to Bermingham, as Wheeler also described. Tronesisia might not need that rocket ship to find Bendy after all. Better break the news gently to Karoz. He’s worked so hard on it the past week.
It was also Woody who discovered what was, in effect, the keyhole of the cypher city. One of its buildings stood out from the rest, being isolated inside its own small square of surrounding road. The wooden man figured that if you unlinked the berg and then, in turn, touched or sat upon this building, the surrounding force field would be removed and you could reach the portal. But only one person should be up here when this happened, because you couldn’t just stand/un-sit and get back to Collagesity afterwards. Tronesisia was the one.
And if Woody’s theory was wrong? Tronesisia would be stuck here until Karoz could get his rocket ship launched for a rescue. After speaking with Baker Bloch on the matter, the robot lady decided it was well worth the risk, a quicker and, in all likelihood, safer way into Bermingham. Baker confided to Tronesisia that Woody is probably the one who set all this up in the first place, and then just conveniently forgot he did so. “How did it just show up one day outside his front door?” he rationalized to her. “How does Woody seem to know how it works so well? No, this was another aspect of his split nature, like how he regularly brings inanimate objects such as Snowy and others to life. He goes *into* them. Just like he has already gone into this world, this Bermingham. He’s merely forgotten; it’s what he does by nature,” Baker reinforced. Tronesisia nodded, remembering how Snowy use to sit static beside Woody’s house when she first arrived in town.
But there was an additional problem to tackle: the issue of the portal animal needed to actually pass through the gateway. Wheeler stated to Baker Bloch that The Musician held a fox to effect the transition (but which we later find out is really a dingo resembling a fox — still a portal dog). And then a bit later in our story we learned that snakes such as Old Colin Hiss could be used for the same. Woody asked his key about the matter and received an answer. “Such an animal has already been given to you by one no longer with us,” he says to Tronesisia. She goes back to Baker Blinker’s Gloomy Gus to ponder on this, and then received the Eureka moment about 3am in the morning. “Aspinwall!” she cried.
The next day Tronesisia phoned up Baker Bloch and Woody and declared that she was ready. They meet at the smaller version of the sealed city outside Woody’s house. Snowy doesn’t join them this time. “What’s in the cigar box?” asked Baker Bloch, but then realized what it had to be. He looks at Woody who gives him a wink back. “She’s figured it out, my main man. She’s figured it out.”
“Whoa Nelly, Wheeler!” Mary exclaimed. “Got another one, phew!”
“Coolie,” said Wheeler, still thinking about the events of the day. “So… Tronesisia figured out that Aspinwall, the snake pet that came with (Allen Martin’s) gas station, was the portal animal needed to cross over because of Woody’s clue. Because it had grown larger recently. She had to move it from a matchbox to a cigar box about a week back?”
“I think so. (That’s) what Baker Bloch told me.”
“Snakes and dogs,” she continues. “Wonder what other animals could be used?”
“Birds, I’ve heard. But you have to get a walking one. Like, say, an emu.”
“Or a dodo,” Wheeler offers, but then remembers that particular species is extinct, with the walking aspect actually helping to do them in.
“No dodos,” Mary replies.
“Yeah, I recall now.”
Mary suddenly gasps. “Or *is* there?” She turns toward Wheeler with something different on the end of her line. Not a perch this time.
Wheeler was still thinking of possible portal animals. “I wonder if you could, say, just stick a perch in your pocket.”
“Look!” Mary commanded.
Morris scolds Bendy for getting drunk in the corner of the room and missing Tronesisia pass through the portal outside into Bermingham.
Lou admonishes Tronesisia about being so proud of herself for figuring out the portal animal situation and forgetting to check the sealed Muff building indicated by Woody.
For Osborne Well, everything was going exactly as planned.
They had to bring in Woody Woodmanson to translate. He slowly slid the “Necronomicon” upwards out of Osborne Well’s clutching hands and replaced it with “Floydodo.”
“Well?” Pitch Darkly demanded after a 1 minute wait. “Anything?”
“Shhh,” Woody said. “He’s still reading, still absorbing. Nothing like the ‘Necronomicon,’ you see. He’s having difficulty.”
2 more minutes passed by. “Well I’m going to get some milk out of the refrigerator. Anybody else want anything?”
“I’ll take a coke,” requested Wheeler. Mary gave her a dirty look and she changed it over to milk as well.
“Milk all around, then?” asked Pitch. “Everyone mumbled agreement. “Okay, I’ll be right back.”
1/2 hour later: “This is getting ridiculous, Woody,” Pitch declares. “Maybe the moon is in the wrong phase or something.”
“No, I’m getting a, er, reading now. Something about black and white, up and down. Red all over.”
“Um, that’s a newspaper, Woody. What we have here is a book.” Pitch pauses. “Isn’t it?”
Woody suddenly locks into gear:
At 1pm, Bland spots a British patrol near Osborne Hill, and reports back to General Washington, “I have discovered the enemy on the heights just on the right of two Widow Davis’ who live close together on the Road called [can’t read that] about half a mile to the right of the Meeting House. There is a higher hill on their front.” Panicked by Bland’s report, Washington quickly orders Alexander Stirling and Adam Stephen to Birmingham Hill three miles north to defend the vulnerable Continental right flank.
Woody ends as abruptly as he began. Looks all around. “Osborne Hill?” Pitch exclaims. “Bermingham?”
What they then found on the next page sealed the deal.
Baker Bloch has determined that The Millers of Castle Knight (so named because they’re always milling about the place) are actually Knights as well, one black and the other white. Unlike chess pieces, you can’t tell them apart by appearances, only by what color square they’ve landed on at any given time through predetermined rules. Both hail from Soso, but not Collagesity’s SoSo Mall (just unsealed and reopened!), although they might claim to be so. This one instead. Their common ancestor: Newton Knight, leader of the Free State of Jones who was buried in Jasper County Mississippi with its Ted (and Turnerville) and Baxter also. Right hand man when carving out his Unionist knightdom in the middle of the Deep South was also named Jasper (Collins). Newt’s story seems to have deep significance. Hole to another dimension.
Baker is also still studying the Nancy archetype, and has determined that the 3 US Robertson Counties play a role. Ridgetop, above Bakers in Robertson County Tennessee, was formerly called Nancy (post office name). On other side of this county — northwest corner — is an Adams, famous for a particular, bad witch. In the north*east* corner of Robertson County Kentucky we have an Abigail. East and West: 2 bad witches, he’s decided, just like with Baum’s Oz. Matched up and read together, Abigail Adams is the wife of the second US president and the mother of the 6th president. Mary Ball needs to study this early champion of women’s rights. Future son and original president George doesn’t learn a New York lesson and gets outflanked at the Battle of Brandywine. Political career scuttled. Own grandpa Osborne Well perched on a high hill, master of all British Bermingham. American Muff sealed off and compartmentalized.
And then the 3rd and last Robertston County in Texas: Seale, Headsville, Bald Prairie.
We are on the home stretch…
This is perhaps the only seal left in Collagesity now outside of collages, Hucka Doobie. Is this what Falmouth 59 was pointing to? This sealed off part of the train tracks?”
“I don’t know Baker Bloch. 4 posts to end. 3 if you count this. Sealsity — sorry, Sealston — will be reactivated one last time. Someone will have to go up again — rectify things.”
“Mary,” suggests Baker Bloch.
“Has to be.”
“Then ‘Floydodo’ is somehow another portal animal? Or subbing for one?”
“Can we squeeze more information out of Osborne Well before she heads up?” asks Hucka Doobie in return.
Baker follows with yet another question. “Are we not going to go through this picture into the sealed off area?”
“Are we never going to stop asking questions to each other without answer?” Hucka Doobie smiles. “Just kidd’n. Let’s go through the picture here. Won’t hurt.”
“What are we looking for, Hucka Doobie?”
“Not sure. What’s behind *this* wall?”
Baker checks. “Just the outside of Castle Jack. In front of Carrcassonee’s gazebo.”
“Hmm. Let’s return to collage 59. Maybe we missed something.”
Baker huffs, knowing this will take several more minutes of remote viewing to find. “Alright,” he relents.
Instead they then find themselves seated with The Librarian at the lime table, still inside the sealed zone. Baker Bloch stares at him, wishing he could speak. Hucka Doobie strains to look around the blocking 1150 Quatrains Pillar at the picture of Roostre on the wall.
“Did I tell you I saw Earl Dinkins at the Chelsea about a month back, Hucka? He hadn’t changed one lick.”
“That was suppose to be my line but I don’t think it matters at this point.”
“I wonder if the answer is in his quatrains? Happened before. LINK”
“Maybe if we sit here long enough,” Hucka Doobie offered, “the right answer will come along. But I still think collage 59 holds more info. Or perhaps Osborne Well. Can we summon him here?”
“Tell you what. Let’s go by Pitch’s place and see if we can talk to him there, and then head up into the Fal Mouth Moon. My neck hurts from all this remote viewing tonight. Darkly Manor is right on the way.”
Instead, another figure takes the place of The Librarian. Duncan Avocado. “I believe I was summoned?” he queries.
“There she is, George. Just like I predicted.”
“Who is she?”
“I’ve been thinking about that,” Duncan replied. “How long did you say you’ve been here now?”
“What’s time here? But 50 as of last Wednesday. *You* were there at the celebration.”
“Ever hear of mothersightings?”
“Of course,” said the younger boy in appearance. “But… *oh*, you don’t mean…?”
“That’s when we first saw her. Together. I’ve been spotting her fishing in various places for a while. We determined later it was the same ghost that haunted the village’s 3rd cottage — Osborne Well’s house back then, before he moved up the hill. He probably summoned her through the monster tome, we reasoned. That’s what we had nicknamed his heavy book of spells. And now she couldn’t escape this realm. But what was the spell? That’s what we had to find out next. Mr. Well always took a morning walk down in the lowlands: Path of the Circle River. That was our window. Literally. We entered his house through a window and not a door. George had just received a universal pass-through for his 50th death day, but we still dare not come in from the front. Very expensive in those days.”
“Doors?” Baker Bloch ventured.
“Pass-throughs,” Duncan corrected. “Buster Damm can tell you all about them. When he gets here.”
“Which should be soon,” Pitch Darkly said.
“Yes. The book was just laying open on the table, which should have been clear indication of a trap for us. It wasn’t. We were so proud that we’d found a way to enter the house in the first place. Vanity.” He shook his head. “The next thing we knew we were the same. I was him, I mean. Just by reading the passage in front of me. Rule 110.”
“Well, what did it say?” Hucka Doobie had been studying magic for years and was very curious about all this.
“We couldn’t remember. Neither of us.” Duncan kept something hidden here. “But that was the day we found out we had the same mother. And the same father. Osborne Well. Lucky us, eh? Osborne Well was our father.”
“Not Pitch?” exclaimed Baker Bloch.
“Nope,” Duncan replied tersely. “At least not until *now*. That’s why I’m apparently here. A summoning. Three days ago I was returned to my former self. Spell broken.” He wiped his forehead with his hand. “Thank the Lord God Almighty.”
“Rule 110, pheh.”
His stint as Surrogate George ended, Duncan Avocado returned to the PCH Forest bear cave one last time to do a general cleanup. Afterwards only items directly linked to Abigail’s humble abode remained…
… including this stash of Bearmalade which started the whole East-West spell war, of course. Both sides coveted it. With permission from Ms. Adams, he noms some down to give him needed energy for the return home. This was a magic elixir, part of the next generation of pass-through devices. Mana from heaven. The days of the enslaved portal animals will soon come to an end.
He then discharges his collected garmonbozia into the cave’s central pit, a long held ritual.
A series of transformations follow. First Baker Bloch, then Woody Woodmanson, then Pitch Darkly. Tempted one last time to keep this particular form, he thinks of Mary.
“The right George is with her now,” he speaks aloud. Returning to Duncan Avocado, he turns from the pit toward the bear behind him. “I wish to thank you for this gift again, Abigail Adams. I promise to use it well.”
“No problem Duncan my man,” the bear replies. “You better leave now. The witches will never end their battle.”
“Right you are.” He goes to the sacred fishing hole. Something is tugging at the line — something has always been tugging at the line, unhooked until today.
Mission 02 01
Because Karoz had put so much work into the rocket ship, the Bakers made sure Mary’s trip to Muff-Bermingham was a bigger affair than Tronesisia’s before her. Most of the town turned out for the event, with the notable exception of Karoz himself, along with mate Baker Blinker. Thing is, the exhausted moss being, working around the clock for the past several days in order to get everything right about the ship, had now come down with a nasty bit of flu, with the female Baker having to tend to him. Also absent was Wheeler.
“Where is she?” asked Mary to Baker Bloch in a loud whisper, disappointed that her clown possessed friend was not present to see her off. Baker just shrugged. “Why don’t you go ahead and start, Mary. I’m sure she’ll be along.”
Composing herself, Mary began. “I’d like to thank everyone for showing up. A special thanks goes out to Karoz Blogger, who couldn’t be with us today due to illness. We wish him a speedy recovery. Without his mastery of scripting, I wouldn’t be standing before you here, about to embark on a mission of utmost importance to a distant corner of our known universe. Collagesity is about to enter a new chapter of existence, another turning point in its already long history of change and evolution. I want to extend a heartfelt gratitude to the whole town for welcoming Pitch and me so readily into its arms, along with fellow newcomer Woody Woodmanson (Woody stands up and bows stiffly). I know that you will, so to speak, hold down the fort while I am away, which shouldn’t be long.”
Mary shuffles her feet, thinking of George, then continues. “As you all know, I’m not the first of our kind to visit this distant planet called Muff-Bermingham.” She clears her throat. “Most immediately, we have Pitch and I’s good friend Tronesisia journeying up to this place only 6 days back. We fear her mission of rescuing fellow robot Bendy has not proceeded as planned. A snag has been hit.” She looks toward Pitch and Baker Bloch for encouragement. “Our best guess… is that they have been separated on opposite sides of this world by malefic forces, Muff for Bendy and Bermingham for Tronesisia. My own mission is to stitch up the involved rift and make Muff-Bermingham whole once and for all. For that to happen, I need to introduce a new element.”
She begins sobbing here. Pitch gets up and continues for her. “Take a seat sweetie and rest for a spell.”
Pitch’s words: “I’d also like to thank the whole community for welcoming us, fellow refuges from the sprawling urban landscape to our northeast called VHC City. A sister city indeed still, firmly straddling The Continental Diagonal which also runs through our marvelous Linden woods to the immediate west and use to cut through an older incarnation of Collagesity itself. Help me out, Baker Bloch. What was it called?”
“VWX Town,” pipes up the male Baker.
“Yes,” resumes Pitch. “And there’s also a somewhat smaller woods near VHC City called the PCH Forest coming into play now. More on that later.” He shifts from right to left a couple of times, head down, figuring out what to say next. How to put it? Mary and I are with child? Mary and I are expecting? But who is the real father? Last night, Mary confessed to him about that vivid dream in the old house, just before they left VHC City. Could Osborne Well really have done what Mary described? It was something they desperately needed to find out. Perhaps not to save their relationship, per se (they’ve also decided to become engaged when all this Muff-Bermingham mess gets clears up!), but just to uncover the truth. Who is George really? What happened to him and Duncan all those years ago?
(to be continued)
Mission 02 02
During Pitch’s awkward pause, Wheeler walked across the bridge spanning Central Stream and took the empty seat beside The Librarian. “Hello you total bitch,” he says in a low voice without turning toward her. “Hello you complete bastard,” she answers back, also not looking in his direction. But both share a smile for a few seconds. Fences have been mended.
Mary turns around and whispers to her friend. “Where’ve you been?”
Wheeler holds up “Floydodo” for her to see. “I got involved,” she explains, shaking the book to emphasize what she’d been doing. “Lost track of time, sorry.” She looks toward Pitch. “Is he alright over there? Does he need help?”
“Why don’t you go up and say a few words, Wheeler,” Mary requested. “We’ve both had our turns now. You’re the town general, after all. Whatever you titled yourself.”
“Dictator,” Wheeler proclaims proudly. She stands and walks up to Pitch, then escorts him to the seat she formerly occupied. “Here, hold this for me,” she demands, picking up “Floydodo” and shoving it into his hands. He sits down with it. She returns beside the lamp post before the rocketship where Mary and Pitch had previously spoken.
“Greetings fellow Collagsitians. Wheeler Wilson here, you’re beloved former leader, haha.” Some sour looks appeared amongst the crowd. “Ah, I see we have a couple who disagree. Well, I can’t say I blame you. I was occassionally a bit harsh with some of my orders. But, overall, I think I did a good job.” She pauses. “Let me put this plainly. Your old leader Carrcassonnee will and cannot return. The play or interview form of speaking to each other, between the Bakers, between anyone in this town, has been rendered obsolete. Perch is perched up there in *my* diner.” She points toward the indicated eating establishment to her back and left, behind the rocket launcher from this direction. “So where does that leave us, citizens of Collagesity? We’ve moved forward, yes? We attempted to become assimilated into VHC City. Didn’t work. Baker Bloch here became Pitch became Woody and it all went to hell. Duncan Avocado’s our hope in that direction now. He has emerged from the PCH Forest — has that been mentioned yet?” Baker Bloch nods to her, thinking she means the woods itself and not Duncan’s exit from it. “Okay.” She then points back to the left rear. “What is our focus, then, people? What should be the entire reason for our existence here? Can you guess? What is it?” The crowd looks around at each other, basically wondering what she’s on about. She answers herself. “The *woods*. The *trees*. That’s what this is all about. I personally recommend sealing the whole town up again until Mary returns from a successful Muff-Bermingham trip. I’ve been (myself). I know what she’s up against. There’s power there. Osborne Well still controls. I should know, being a controller myself. And then there’s his children, his twins. Morris and Lou. I know the former but not the latter. But The Musician knows Lou. *Woody* here knows Lou (Woody nods). Having taken on the negative characteristics of her father, Lou is not the best of persons, I’ve heard. She wishes for everyone to dream, to keep asleep. What is reality? she wants everyone to ask, confused about what’s right and left, up and down, east-west. We’ve lost Tronesisia to her. We’ve lost Bendy. I’ve lost my Musician.” She pauses, appearing to wipe a tear forming in her eye, an emotional display especially surprising the several with the sour looks before.
Woody Woodmanson raises his hand. “Excuse me Mrs. Wheeler. Do you mind if I say a couple of words?”
“It’s *Ms. Wilson*,” she says, sniffing. “But, yeah, come on up here Woody. I’ve said my peace.” Woody gets up and Wheeler takes his seat. “Woods, people!” she shouts in emphasis while settling in.
Woody displays awkwardness. “Do I just stand beside this lamp post here? Is this okay?”
“That’s fine, Woody,” comforts Mary from the front row. “Go ahead and speak your mind as well. We have plenty of time. No rush on the launching.”
“Well, okay.” He loudly clears his throat for several seconds. Very high pitch, startling a couple in the crowd, including the already nervous Mary.
“I am… *very* grateful to be here in Collagesity. You cannot know the extent.” He clears his throat again. “I am a refuge of several worlds. My original master, Old Kringles — a lukewarm Santa Claus — use to tell me, ‘Don’t get sick, don’t get sick,’ over and over. It made me sick. I was expelled from his Christmas village. My second master, Luke Purden, owner of a spectacular mountainside castle, gave me better advice. He said, ‘Don’t judge a book by the color of its cover.’ At the time, half of the books I owned were green and the other half white. I always wondered why I preferred reading the white covered books. Then it hit me like a humongous hammer.” Woody hits one wooden hand with the other here. “Someone else was inside me that preferred the *green* colored books. Another Woody.” More throat clearing. “Which brings us to Muff-Bermingham.” Leaning forward intently, he looks in the direction of Wheeler. “I both know Lou very well and don’t know her atall. As such, I can vouch for her decency and honesty. Yes, she wants you to dream, to wonder, to envision the impossible. There’s a village at the bottom of the hill. But there isn’t. But there *is*.” He straightens up. “And that’s all I have to say about all *that*.”
(to be continued)
Mission 02 03
No one says anything, not knowing if Woody is finished or not. But after about 30 seconds, it’s pretty obvious to all that he’s wrapped up his spiel. Mary takes his place, thanking Woody and the others for their words, then asks if anyone else wants to speak. She looks at Baker Bloch then at Hucka Doobie. Both wave her off, but then Baker felt the need to say, “We appreciate your supreme sacrifice Mary.”
“Then I suppose it’s time.” She turns to the rocket ship. “Goodbye all! I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“Goodbye my love!” Pitch cries from the second row. “I know you will. I have faith in the Gods.”
Sobbing, she touches the launcher, then manifests inside the firing capsule. A person was already there. It was George, seated beside her.
He took her hand. “It’s you and me now.”
24 years later…
“Do you not know me?” asked Mary/Chuckles to
Sikul Himakt The Musician.
“Of course I do mother.”
END OF “COLLAGESITY 2017 EARLY”!