He was totally lost. “Vortexville,” he repeated to the zombie looking bartender named Reginald (Reggie).
“Hmm,” Reggie exclaimed. “Lots of places named something like that around here. Vortex, Chaos, Waste this and that. Junk this or another. Toxic, Destitute, Unsavory Lane… Black Hole Village down yonder in the Big Canyon. You’ll have to elaborate more. Who’s in this place? What are some of the residents’ names?”
“I was hired by a Grannie of some kind,” replies the about equally confused builder named Jackson. Jackson Bloch, but no kin to our Baker Bloch. “Or Grannis. Maybe it was Grannis. Or Grannie.”
“*Whose* Granny, then? Don’t know anyone by the name of Granny. Don’t know Vortextra…”
“Vortexville,” Jackson corrected. His left earring glinted. It always did when he felt he was brighter than the person being spoken to at the moment. A character giveaway.
“Maybe Mary will know. Mary’s been around longer than about anyone around these here parts. Lives over in Hambone. I’ll give her a ring. If the telephones are back up.” Reggie retreats behind the bar. Jackson Bloch can hear him speaking to someone. They talk for about 15 minutes. Reggie returns.
“Sorry about that.” We haven’t caught up in a while. Have to be nice to the vampires, you know. They’ll eat you in the middle of the night if not. Mary’s okay, though. And she knows everything.” He pauses, looks at the ceiling.
“Well?” Jackson implored after a minute. “Does she know, er, Grannis? Grannie?” he revolved around again, then held firm with the second. “Grannie… pretty sure.”
“Yeah. I think she does.” Again the pause. Jackson caught on. He visualized how many linden dollars he brought with him on the trip. Just enough to get by. Ruin construction doesn’t bring in the big bucks it use to. He reached into his back pocket, pulled out his wallet, and slipped Reggie a fiver, hoping that would be enough. It was. Reggie knew about the downturn of the ruin construction business as well.
“Yeah, it’s Jethro and Bauer’s place down on the southwest corner of The Fracture. But it’s a fur piece from here. Did you bring any weapons? A lot of people around here frown on outside weapons. They’ll shoot you good and dead just for that. Best to buy from the local traders. You might as well just give me any weapons you brought with you, then. I’ll make sure they get put in the right hands… er, destroyed. Destroyed I meant there.”
His boss didn’t supply him with any weapons. Budget cuts again. But he didn’t want to expose this weakness. Reggie seemed decent enough for a zombie, but this was a tough place with obviously a lot of back stabbing going on. “Just my red belt in karate, ha ha.” He faked a judo stance on the bartender, who didn’t know the difference. “Oh,” he said. “I see. Oh… I hear the phone again. Better go see who it is.”
Jackson Bloch didn’t hear anything. No ringing. Maybe it was all the bling in his ears. The left one blinged for vanity, the right for gluttony. Right now he was getting hungry. His ear told him. No food here, though, unless you like human flesh. And he wasn’t ready to go there yet. Not quite yet. Stay in The Waste long enough and its something you have to contemplate hard and long about. Most succumb. It’s an acquired taste.
Reggie returned to the counter once more. “I had Mary call off her attack on you. Have to be honest and up front with you. No one knows judo or karate around here, or can tell them apart.”
Obviously, thought Jackson. His left ear glinted again.
“You wouldn’t be worth the trouble.” He leaned forward, his putrid breath against Jackson’s neck. “Here’s the deal.”
In the large room immediately below Reggie’s bar…
… Axis the Tin Tin Soldier Man and evil sidekick Clubby watch another training film preparing them for the war to come. The wall between The Waste and the other, more savory dimensions is becoming thinner and more ragged. The Bar at the End of Time on the SW corner of Burnt Oak represented just the beginning. Now there was End of Time’s Kob Curtain and his newly acquired taste for meat from The Waste, then cave dweller Tessa’s contact with Fruity Islands… the list goes on and on actually. The antimatter leak at the ruined Church of Extreme Tilers over in Wastoria to name another.
Axis and Clubby knew the walls were slowly closing in on them. And now, so did Jackson Bloch. Thanks to the natives’ lack of understanding about the martial arts. Hand held weapons were the thing around here.
He takes another sip of his rancid beer and contemplates the next step.
Big on enjoyment.
Another satisfying meal for Duncan Avocado in one of his many Fruity Islands hangouts. No way he could eat it all. Dog friend Barney was currently barking at some ducks swimming in a pool backed by several waterfalls.
A snake named Matilda lay nearby, as full as Duncan from gorging on a stray duckling. Mother Wanda will be inconsolable for days until her next batch of quackers is born, when she completely forgets about the existence of Little Arnold as babies Pete, Jim Bob, Orange, Tan, Smokey, Lila, and Bertie absorb all of her time.
Recent mother Abbey tells Matilda to stay away from her own brood, and emphasizes that there’s plump, juicy frogs and lizards over in the far corner of the pool. Jack the Mallard just wants to make love to either Wanda or Abbey again. It’s that time for him.
Trojan-Durexian War vet Sam Bee, watching Barney, Wanda, Abbey, Jack and Matilda in turn, has taken up fishing. But also, friend Duncan notices, drinking, a not deadly combination but one to perhaps worry about for later. Better get him into his gorgeous gorge as soon as possible. But Big Island is so peaceful. He wouldn’t mind popping open another brewskie himself. And, in fact, does so.
Life death is good.
1st and last
After several hours of lounging and drinking, a man appears on the beach in front of Duncan and Sam as a sea monster’s fin manifests in the water behind him. They can’t help but notice the conjunction.
“That is a monster who has turned into a man,” Duncan says in a low voice to his war vet friend.
“Indeed,” Sam murmurs back.
But the two were just drunk and spouting relative nonsense. The man, who was actually The Mann, couldn’t see Duncan and Sam on their deck since he was in a different sim. He continued on down the beach past Matilda the snake, hoping to meet Da Womann before dusk. Shirley was her name. Or Ethel. Something.
“What troubles you my friend,” she imagines the statue asking her after the funeral. This Angel of Death.
“Oh, just a decision looming. Whether to connect to a motherland. Or fatherland. The separation happened a number of years ago.”
“I remember,” states the statue in her head. “Caledonia. But you’s guys have moved your kingdom — or queendom — forward. Caledonia has essentially stayed the same. It would be like connecting to the past. This Winterfell.”
“Rosehaven now,” says Merry Gouldbusk, soon to *be* Queen. And with that the fantasy was over. She was alone again.
“The animations in this town blow, Philip.”
“I know Philip.”
“Better wake up Marion. I’m ready to blow this town.”
“Marion,” the non-bearded Philip begins to call. “Oh Mar-ion,” he sings softly. “Come out come out wherever you’re at.”
“Twinkle, twinkle,” jokes the bearded Philip.
Insert transmutation sound…
“50,000 linden dollars,” Marion Star Harding begins. “For all the mysteries of Caledonia unlocked. Will save you 5 years worth of research.”
A pause. “What about the girl?” Philip inquires.
“You can throw her in too. The shapeshifter.”
“But that’s *you*.”
They wait. Another transmutation doesn’t take place.
“She must be upstairs,” offers Philip.
“Yes,” Marion quickly agrees. “Since neither one of us are her. Upstairs, yes. On the bed. With *1* animation.”
Heidi Hunt Ives
stayed motionless tossed and turned all night. It was those darn boat horns. “Look out, look out!” they repeatedly cried. “I’m over here! Watch it! Can you see me! If you can’t here’s another blare from my horn, blow blow!”
It doesn’t always have to be fog in the harbor.
Better get up, though, and talk to the partners in crime, she grumbled inwardly while trying to fully rouse herself. Moving day, she guessed.
church (Eotia Village)
Four or five years were spent in Caledonia, years which formed Anderson’s earliest memories. This period later inspired his semi-autobiographical novel Tar: A Midwest Childhood (1926). In Caledonia Anderson’s father began drinking excessively, which led to financial difficulties, eventually causing the family to leave the town.
“That’s an interesting story, Zoidboro. But I thought it was Caledon.”
Again with the smarts, Zoidboro ponders. What was it now, 8 1/2 months? 8 3/4ths? Better get to the caves asap. “Cale*don*ia,” he emphasizes to his pregnant male friend. “It would be Caledon if told from their perspective, but this is through the eyes of Rosehaven. The Princess ruler, to be specific. Soon to be Queen now that the father is dead. And the mother remains in her grave.”
“So…,” Patrick Starr tries to reason, “… Caledon, I mean, *Rosehaven* is way over here.” He moves his right hand far to the right. “And The Waste, *our* home, is way over here.” The left hand goes more left.
“But brought together by the Oracle,” states Zoidboro, shifting slightly on the bed to peer at the strangely colored 8 ball in the middle of the table to one side. “Tiger,” he completes, noting the residual “stripes”.
“I suppose.” Patrick retracts both hands, sits up, and holds his bloated stomach. “Oh, I felt a kick!”
“They can see everything we do in our bedroom!”
It was not an *incredibly* bad looking house from the outside, April Mae Flowers thought while standing in the snow. But the insides were all wonky: crazily placed stairs, doors that won’t shut, and, perhaps most irritating of all, the transparent on transparent wall overlaps, which made parts of the house practically see-through when viewed from certain angles. She had told her newly wedded husband at the time that the Princess (who was in charge of such things then) rejected it after giving the matter serious consideration, citing some of these same issues plus tacking on a couple of her own — lighting; bedrooms that aren’t linked to the interior; plumbing. 300 linden dollars a month was all it was back then for a nice parcel, perhaps a 1024 like this, albeit without the double prims. But Herbert insisted that his “mansion” go along with the deal. It is understandable in that this was the place he helped raise Lisa and Bartholomew with his first two wives, Marg and then Madame Silver. What disastrous marriages! As bad as her own to retro-guy Septimius Felton, now 3 1/2 years dead in his grave. Marg as well — going on 9. Only Madame Silver remains among their exes, and apparently she’s gone bat-ass crazy over on the Omega continent, vowing to destroy Lisa and keeping brother Bart in limbo. She tries to avoid her part of the continent when visiting Septimius’ grave over there. Which reminds her… she needs to ask Mssr. Gold for the narrow boat-plane again tomorrow. She dreads the moment.
50 days, thought Sally the Spark O Naut (Sparky) at the old Tiler’s Church in North Yd. Time to finally give up on the Reverend and head home.
But upon reaching the plateau above the decrepit town, Sparky found her service station had disappeared in the meantime, along with perpetually wind blown Raphaelia and her orange cat. Only the wind left.
She’d have to ask the other Sally on the opposite side of the Death Bowl for information. Aka: Lying Widow.
It was the only logical thing to do.
It was almost dark when she reached the service station in the opposite corner of the Burnt Oak sim from her. Now the *only * service station in the area. Look at these two, Sally Spark O Naut thought. People must be desperate for gas. Knowing (the other) Sally like I do, she’s dispensing it in ways to cause the most pain for everyone around. In turn: poor, desperate Sally.
She goes around the front of the building.
“Sally? It’s me. Sally. You here?”
Hmph. Cleaned out as well.
Only the meat remains.
fruit loop adventure
He could feel her hot, putrid breath against his neck. Death, Angel of. Head like a grapefruit. Or a basketball.
“Come on, Sam Bee. Time to take the plunge. She’ll be waiting here for us when it’s over.”
“You don’t know,” he hissed, gazes still locked. “You weren’t there, Duncan.”
“I was there,” Duncan reassured his friend. His war vet friend.
“We — almost — had them — by the BALLS.”
Parasol woke up, looked over at Charlie sitting heavily on the couch beside her. “You’ve changed.”
“Something’s happening,” he agreed.
Someone was about to enter the circle.
Parasol woke up again, Charlie still beside her.
“Duncan A. and Sam B. are about to enter the gorgeous gorge. I saw it in my dream.”
“Then I guess you’re gonna split, huh?”
“Not till Sundae.”
Parasol woke up.
“Ahh. Justt liike Bakker Bee saidd. Here att *Cee*. Four headds as one. Sam Bee, Duncan Aaa, Parasoll, and, lett’s see, Charrlie?” Ruby Fanatsie considered again. “Banana Boyy, yess. And *I* inn the middle againn. The *centree*”.
Ruby walks further; passes the left pair of walkers and enters the circle proper. C. Right pair of walkers straight ahead.
Ruby Fantasie pauses at the right pair, then looks around, stupefied. “I have entered a collagewold! And I am talking local again. Baker B. must be nearby. Very nearby. But this is Sam Bee true enough. Basketball. Orange and basketball as one. Orange Peel.”
Ruby turned around. “Geez, Baker Bloch. You scared me! I am almost on top of you!” But Baker, I, couldn’t answer as this was collagewold and not the real wold.
Still, through the density, I was able to eek out a weak “saucer”. Ruby stared ahead down the road with this. The Pineapple Highway Road.
The spectre of Private Investigator Keat Owens didn’t phase her a bit as she continued.
(to be continued)
“I’ve been waiting here for the longest time, Baker Bloch. But I’m glad you finally found me. In Middletown, US of A.”
“Gus is burning brightly indeed,” Baker deflected.
“I know all about fire,” P.I. Keat Owens dismissed.
“Oh… yeah.” Baker remembered that Owens was killed before his subsequent resurrection by being burned to death.”
“How is David Bowie anyway? Still hanging around Collagesity?”
“Er, that wasn’t really David…”
“Newton Jerome, wasn’t it? Jerome Newton? Yeah, the latter.”
“I was so close to the truth. Spongebub Triangleslacks almost spilled the whole ball of wax.”
“That was Square…”
“Askja? Yeah, Askja. Winfield, but with an extra ‘n’. And then Wheeler with the 8 ball she could hit clean across the Rubi Woods like a Tiger. It was all adding up to something. Then… the fire.”
“But you were resurrected,” Baker Bloch attempted to justify. “In VHC City. Actually in Mabel’s dreams before…”
“The VWX Society, yes,” Keat Owens then remembered. “X-ed out but still present.”
“Can I show you the annex now?” Baker knew the night was early but there was much to do still. Deadlines loomed. Reality beckoned. Beyond Our Second Lyfe.
Baker copied Keat Owens and several other objects from Axis’ High Castle before leaving. He found the portal dial at the door was non-copyable, however. He’d either have to take it with him or use it as a prop in the blog post now. He chose the latter path.
“Let’s set it on Rosehaven and see what happens,” he said to no one in particular. “I can always come back here and visit the other locations — Fruity Islands, The Waste, End of Time. But Rosehaven is the important one currently.”
Baker Bloch opens the door.
“This is *not* the centre of Rosehaven, dear sister.”
“Sshhh,” she implored in a lower tone. “Keep it down. They could be out there… watching.”
“Father’s people. Maybe even mother’s.” But she said these almost as questions.
“Both are dead. Both are gone. We must move on. Mother only lived on through the father. We must be in the now and present. Meditate with me, sister. Learn my wise ways. You won’t be so anxious.” His voice was slightly muffled and watery; hers clear and metallic.
“You shouldn’t be so talkative if you’re so relaxed,” she shoots back, then peers through the window again.
“The cave should have been the meeting point. I told you to meet me at the cave. You’d feel safer there. But no, it had to be the peasant’s village. Father’s old hideaway where he went to woo his wenches. Maybe that’s why we’re so different. Two different mothers. Maybe even two different fathers.”
“You *know* why we’re different.” She didn’t have to finish the rest. Both knew that Merry Gouldbusk physically took after the father and he after the mother. But inside, roles were reversed. For the boy (Ingo) was in danger of becoming as cold as the father given time. For the girl: only melancholy futures.
Merry Gouldbusk stared at the sphere encapsulated face of her brother. “Do you ever remove that thing?”
“Not even to eat,” he replied quickly. “I… get insights. I want to share some of them with you. About the dividing.”
“All ears,” she said, folding her ears toward him with her golden fingers. It was an old game they played. Ingo still smiled at this, which was comforting.
“You don’t have to bear that weight alone.”
“Top of the line, my Queen.”
“Princess please. I haven’t been confirmed yet.”
“So sorry. My Princess.” He looks toward the doll house again. “Just rolled out last month. 11 rooms for this baby.” He was counting the 3 bathrooms and the crawl space but didn’t mention this fact. Always the pitch person.
“Sandy. May I call you Sandy?”
“Of course my highness.”
“Sandy. If you don’t mind me saying, you have quite a reputation following you around. I read the reviews online. It seems…”
“Say no more. I’ll pack up my wares and move on. I am greatly humbled by even your interest in our fine products.”
“No, I wasn’t implying that I’m not interested. I am.” She winked one red eye at Sandy, who understood what he had to do — once again — to make a sale. So golden and glinty this one is. Better make sure the lights are dimmed way down.
“Reggie, get out of here! This is not your story.” The rat scurried away under the master’s bed.
“So… the king made sweet love to his dead queen one too many times and finally fell into her grave. The End.”
“Marvelous, Frank,” cooed mate Felicia Fox beside him. “Tell us another one. How about the Prince who ate a basketball and it became his head.”
“No, no,” insisted Sam Swan. “How about the Princess who made love to a living person and then turned into one herself.”
“Old news,” groused Cathy Cat. “The Great Queen is the story. How she got good and dead in the first place. Shape pullers.”
“What do you think, Cheeky?” asked Frank Fox to the so far silent chihuahua across from him.
“Dunno. Don’t care. Whatever.” Cheeky then rolled over and took a little snooze on his pillow.
“Shape pullers it is, then.”
(to be continued)
Ready to take on a witch.