They had finished their meals and were eating dessert by sunset. Hardly a word had been passed between the husband and wife all the time. Finally, after several spoonfuls of gelatin instant pudding: “Who’s in the cave with Mabel and Tessa, Herbert?” No immediate answer from her husband, so April Mae ventured some guesses. “Could it be… Jethro? Bauer?”
Monsieur Gold set his spoon down rather noisily on the table with this. No, not *Jethro*… *Bauer,* he thought, but also admitted to himself that he was blocked in that direction.
“I didn’t mean…”
“I know what you meant.”
They ate in silence for a spell again. Then: “I’m going to the cemetery tomorrow,” spoke April Mae. “I haven’t been in almost 3 weeks.”
“Suit yourself,” came the quick followup. “Make sure you fill the narrow boat-plane with gas before bringing it back.” He dare not request the other thing in his mind; that she *please* *please* be careful with it this time and don’t run into that God cursed dune again, which just happens to be jutting up in the middle of God awful nowhere for some reason. Away from the rest of the Omega continent summits.
“I think I’ll take the gardener with me this time.”
“Why don’t you do that.”
In Jethro’s dream, the peak of Bauerbridge had rejoined the rest of the Mountain Lake summits to celebrate the return of Timmy, reunited with his war torn family at last.
In a related story, Trojan-Durexian War vet Sam Bee lounges at a Fruity Island public beach, wondering if this is finally the year he’ll be able to return to the land of the living.
Friend Duncan says they’ve found a door — not yet opened, though. Sam knows voodoo; he can remedy that.
here’s the deal
“These fries smell a little off, Patrick.”
“Whadda you expect for free food, Zoidboro,” spoke the human across him more wisely than usual. He turns in his seat and peers at the stage. “When’s the band start here?”
“Oh, they’ll kick us hobos out long before the music begins, Pat. These are top dollar seats here!”
“Oh.” He then looks to his left. “So the Doc and his lady friends are just the first to arrive, huh.”
“Of course. Frozen Meat Waffles. A very popular band in Eotia Village, perhaps the most popular. We bought that ‘Human Flesh Zone’ CD back when we first arrived. Remember? Now I wish I had that money for some food, clothes, anything.”
“We can sell it.”
Zoidboro waves off Patrick’s again wise suggestion. “Ahh, I actually listened to it a couple of times while you were out on your walks. Knew you wouldn’t be interested. But it’s used goods now.”
“Nah. 5 (dollars) at best for a half dozen times played CD.”
“That’s a fresh Big Mike.” He glances down at the stale hamburger in front of him. “And a sloshie and some proper fries. This is the place to do it.”
Zoidboro wonders along with us, the readers, how Patrick suddenly became so wise. Then he realized: pregnancy. Coming to term. He was basically thinking for two now. And the baby must be smarter than he. Interesting. *I’m* smarter than he. More proof? He must induce that dream of Nevermore again. Or was it Nevermind?
The first band member to arrive sasheys through the front door.
By golly it’s Colonel Flagstaff. In a new disguise. Well, the same disguise we last saw him using over on the Omega continent, but in a quite different setting. And peddling a quite different commodity this time.
He approaches the pair in the booth; speaks in his cool, grunge voice.
“Used CD? Sell? I’ll buy it from you for a dream.”
open for business
To her amazing relief, Lying Widow got out of that hole. Well, Colonel Flagstaff, aka Frozen Meat Waffle’s lead singer Kob Curtain — overriding the powers of Axis — let her out. He needed her help in gathering more human victims from The Waste and sending them his way. For the lyrics of their 2nd, more successful album “Human Flesh Zone” (hit single “Smells like Steve”, etc.) were based on reality. During the recording sessions at a haunted hotel, Kob and the other members of the band developed a taste for homo sapien. Fine young cannibals they were.
“Oh, is it me?” Murmuring offscreen. “Sorry.”
“Let’s see, I’ll take that one over here and… that one over there for today. Good work Lying Widow. Now just throw them in the hole and I’ll have Ingor (drummer) pick them up later.”
“A rock star,” husband Monsieur Gold repeated to his wife April Mae. “I could tell it was me because I was driving the narrow boat-plane again.”
“Steve, you can take away these dishes now. We’re done.”
“Go on with your dream you had, dearest.”
“Well… I was also a cannibal. Ate human flesh. Involved a haunted hotel with a secret story room.”
“Storage room,” April Mae corrected.
“That’s interesting. Cannibal, eh? Like Claude. Down in Schism.”
“I suppose.” Why is Steve the Gardener serving us our food today? Monsieur Gold asked himself. *This* must be the dream. He decided to test it.
“What day is this?”
“Wednesday, dear. You know that.”
But it was Monday. And Steve the Gardener didn’t have a wooden hand yesterday.
“How was your trip to the cemetery? I forgot to ask you.” *Why* did I forget to ask her? he thought again. Was the cemetery even *real*?
“Fine. You’ll be glad to know the ex is still dead and in his grave. Won’t be resurrected anytime soon.”
“That’s good. Vampires are the worst.”
“I know. Try being married to one for 736 years.”
But Claude was a cannibal dog and not a cannibal human, so logically he could never be a vampire. Monsieur Gold grabbed a knife from cleaning Steve’s wooden hand and cut his wrist, sawed at it even until his hand was severed from it and dropped to the floor in several, sickening beats. Yet there was no pain. Monsieur Gold then grasped Steve’s wooden hand, popped it off in one swift action, and then attached it to his own wrist, wriggling the fingers satisfactorily. April Mae acted surprised but not shocked. She looked at the now handless Steve. “He knows about us,” is what she came up with.
But Monsieur Gold never woke up, which was much more surprising. He lived with his new hand for the rest of his life. And he never saw Steve again after the gardener/manservant gathered up the other hand under the table and left the mansion in a huff.
Ahh. Theere she iss, crossleggedd in the middlle of thee roadd. Just liike Bakker said shee would bee. At Bbb.
Affectt the locall languagge againn, Ruby Fantasie thought. “Are you alright child?”
The girl indicated the house on the other side of the road.
Ahhh, Sam *Bee*, she. And soo thiss must bee Tessaa (!) “Don’t you worry, child,” she then comforted. “I’ll handle the man.”
The girl nodded in understanding (she had witnessed the appearance of these tiny cars several times before; knew what they meant) and Ruby Fantasie continued down the road, already beginning to plot some lessons for her black magick practicing friend. She knew he saw her too.
“2:01, Mabel. Who do you think will come through today?”
“We can only hope,” replied Tessa’s likewise observing Martian friend, bracing for the “norm”.
“Bloody fairy,” uttered Tessa disgustedly, spotting the wings first. “Put her across the tracks with the rest. I don’t even want to speak with this one.”
“Me neither,” echoed Mabel, still not over the incessant babbling of the impossibly exuberant Bubbles.
She points for the confused newcomer.
“Sometimes it’s not all about you Baker Bloch. Now put that on your head.”
“This is where you are. Be *here*.”
“I’m going to the Red Umbrella now, Ruby.”
“What are you looking for?”
“A way out.”
“You already know the way out. Way… Marr.”
“Do you want to talk about the pain?”
“Failure. No connection. Blame the other.”
“Way, then. Not Marr.”
“Were you to blame? You were the weirdo, after all. Not the one grounded in physicality. Look at these novels, eh. No solid ground. Unless it is here — in Orange. Sorry, where are you now?”
“Let’s see. Looks like Pitaya. Just beyond Orange, though. NW corner.”
“I’m coming down.”
“It’s just me and you now. Here.”
“I’m dead. I know I’m dead.”
“Yes. You are dead.”
“I think… I’m ready to live again.”
“Help out our mutual friend Sam Bee. Then we’ll talk.”
“She said I had to help out you.”
“This witch woman. This… sorcerer.”
“But not in a bad way, I don’t think,” replies Duncan Avocado.
“But not in a totally good way either,” returns Sam Bee, catching the drift.
“Maybe not. Kind of neutral.”
Sam Bee stared at the fire. “Well, you know what I *really* want to do right now? To explore that gorgeous gorge of yours, where you were born here in this Paradise.”
“Reborn,” Duncan corrected.
“Right. I want to make a day of it. Perhaps several days. Show me what this is all about. You said a lot of work seemed to go into it. Mermaids and such. I’d like to see a Mermaid. I’d like to… well, she told me not to talk like that any more.” Sam crossed his legs.
“About girls… women.”
“Well…” Duncan exhales. “You *were* in a war. The ultimate madness and anything goes situation. You had to do what you did to get by.”
“No. I can’t accept that any longer, Duncan A. About the women.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t dwell on it,” his friend advised. They sat in silence for a bit.
“Freed up that damn Southern Bypass for a while, hehe. Almost had them by the *balls*.”
“Not soon enough… sorry.”
“For you, I know. We were working beyond the bamboo planes and cars and ships. We were almost there.”
“They had steel. They had energy.”
“We had the voodoo,” Sam countered. “The plants helped; almost worked. Southern Bypass.” He leaned forward. “I can cite one or, at best, two crucial moments in battles where things could have turned. On a dime, as the old saying says.
“Best not to dwell,” Duncan reiterated.
“I had this man’s head…” Sam stopped here. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t put a bamboo hatchet through a man’s head not 2 feet from his own. They told him to think of them like grapefruits… basketballs perhaps. He lay the hatchet down. He let the man pass. And immediately watched him kill one of his own.
“Come on,” Duncan says, getting up. “It’s afternoon now. You said you wanted to go swimming. Perhaps ride one of those killer sharks.”
“Whales,” Sam edited, making him think of Tessa.
“Sure you don’t want next game, Grandpa?”
“No, Tessa, thank you.” Because he was looking for someone.
“Hoomer. Hoooomer. It is I. Carrcassonne. Come to take you back. You come back, I come back.”
“Steppiing out off that ridiiculouss tableauu noww my pointt iis maade…”
“I amm *heere* Rosehaveen. You cannot gett rid off me noww.”
“Sea Monsterrs! Twoo evenn.”
“Butt it iis snoow noww. I do nott liike snoow. I will return iin Maarch, yess.”
“I had to get rid of the doll house, Mssr. Gold. We were getting too close to the truth.”
“That’s all right Mr. Platinum. I know where to find another one.”
Across the room…
“Our view has changed. Our *castle* has changed, Norris.”
“I don’t like it. I don’t like it one *bite*.”
In the other room (the *only* other room now that Murdock’s castle has shrunk)…
… Petunia begins manipulating documents so that the correct reality might return.
new to old
“The two hearts still burn as one from this position, Sidechick.
“Yet something has changed.
Speaking of which… you haven’t.”
“I’m working on something,” Sidechick Corea defended himself. “Would you like to see? Preliminary, you must understand. I might combine it with something else.”
“Sure, my friend, my understudy.”
“Snow,” Sidechick explained. “Even appropriate for the season.”
“Well,” said Magus Ellen, looking him over. “Then how about this for *me*.”
“Perfect,” exudes Sidechick. “Rosehaven was called Winterfell before 2017. They changed the name because of the growing popularity of the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV series and its own Winterfell. This was *not* a ‘Game of Thrones’ roleplay region, decreed the Princess ruler who effected the change. So we are stragglers, misunderstanders. We are merely in the right place at the wrong time.”
“Back to the pub, then!” emits Magus Ellen. “But not tonight.”