Walking through the arch once more, Opp traveled far from Braynard’s Place to a 4 sim land some call Eden itself.
Whilst sitting against a log beside a grove of nice, pink trees, he is inspired to write a song about New Island’s Pipewold and being X-ed out.
But he was not alone. For the Alices were there.
And the Rabbits.
And some others.
All in all, a Grand Old Time was had of it.
Collagesity these days
Business was down at the Bodega Market in SoSo Mall, thanks mainly to all the attached, empty apartments due to tighter prim restrictions on Wheeler Wilson’s land in Collagesity (1024 square meters, reduced from Baker Blinker’s 1536). New manager Cyborg Kathy (Kathy Crowder to her family) usually closes up shop at 4 these days, but that’s okay. It gave her an excuse to go back to night school and finish her degree in Prison Reform from local institute Sam Parr State College, original president Karoz Blogger’s final gift to the area. Just over the hill and hang a right. Or was it a left?
But in other parts of Collagesity, things have picked up. In The North, we now have a new church where formerly sat Knight’s Castle, which hadn’t been worked on in a while. Karoz Blogger’s old and long hope of making TILE the official religion of town hasn’t really panned out, so we needed to fill a spiritual void now that he is gone. The Cult of Oo’d might just be the ticket, but we’ll see. We’ve already visited the interior in a recent post (“feathered”), peering through the eyes of two time challenged Rabbits. I’m eagerly looking forward to see what else develops from it. I know Mabel is itching to do her best Montana impression for the congregation soon. And a free bag of popcorn to the first 5 parishioners who arrive on Sunday. Or was it Wednesday?
Whoa Baker Bloch! You have both guns *and* drugs on you. Do you think you could sneak by trained door sniffer Wendy O’Riley that easily? I didn’t think so, ha ha. He’s only doing more akking for a blog post.
And then Mabel has a new home (!). It’s not nearly as large as the similarly styled house she so loved in Heartsdale, but in time I know she’ll grow to appreciate it almost as much. Now whether current hubby Buurb will be there to enjoy it with her remains a question to be asked. Turchin McGurchin, understanding Buurb like he does, fears the worse. But even if this happens, I feel Mabel has a strong support group in Collagesity. Turch is up at the Mission next door, and Woody Woodmanson is right behind her in his perpetually snow topped house. She has superior neighbors. And then Pitch Darkly, Baker Bloch, and the rest are right around as well. She’ll be fine. I should add that the house is set up at about the exact same place she lived back in January through March of last year, before her move to Heartsdale with Buurb. She’s coming home, in essence. Back to the border of her beloved woods.
Then, and to Mabel’s complete excitement (she’s inspired!), the Red Umbrella gallery featuring baker b.’s collage series of Sam Parr, Embarras and Stonethrow has returned to Collagesity, taking the place of the TILE Temple on the northern edge of town.
Last and perhaps not least, the TILE Labyrinth remains, having been moved to the basement of Fal Mouth Moon from the now derezzed temple. Baker Bloch warns Mabel that this basement is the main way to her house, but she’s okay with the idea. She plans to walk the labyrinth as much possible, which would certainly be an improvement from before when it was rarely used.
The Rainbow Sphere on the 2nd floor of the Mission is gone, a temporary apparition. But the related files on Precious Snowflake’s hard drive remained in the Heartsdale-to-Collagesity transition, and Mabel as well as Turch keep studying and learning. Another kind of school, in effect. TILE has not died but merely transformed.
“I’m neither one nor the other, Animaid-X.”
“Maybe you can dance it out of you like that spinning girl over there.”
“I shouldn’t be out here with you Axis. It’s like we’re beyond Pluto or sumtin.”
“You’re worried about Karl.”
“It’s like she doesn’t remember Karl, Animaid-X. She’s all about this Big Red now. And the Tennessee Colony.”
“Artist Point,” Animaid-X amends. “But we shouldn’t be here.”
“I don’t know who you are any more, Rabbit 02.”
“I’m *you* Rabbit 01.” He checks the fur on his arm. “Where’d the other Rabbit go?”
Sidechick Corea was in back preparing the lamaze pool, but there was no time for all that foolishness. It was to take place on the beach in front of the smaller white house that replaced the white Mockingbird sometime in the last day or so. Rabbit 01 meditated as Sidechick taught her to. The body didn’t foam and writhe as she had worried. Just calmness. Slow and easy…
And then: there he was. On the sand before her. Rabbit 03, the new love of her life. Or Rabbid as he would come later be called. If only Rabbit 02 was here to see this, but he had that conference in Wichita his boss wanted him to attend. Shame, though.
“Bracket, I mean, *Sidechick*, forget about that silly pool and come see!”
“Do you think you can manage to be happy today, Rabbit 02?”
“I’ll try Rabbit 01.”
“Rabbid… rabbid!” spoke the littlest, newist rabbit from his smaller seat at the table.”
“Aww, his first words! He turned rabbit into rabbid. How cute!”
“And so that shall be his name from here on,” decreed Rabbit 02. “Rabbid Rabbit.”
“Not Rabbit 03?” Rabbit 01 was puzzled. Rabbits always number their children.”
He looked toward the child, who was drooling on the upholstery. “We’ll talk about it later.”
“I just want to repeat that it was so nice of you to come Alices. And your little boy — Francis isn’t it?”
“It’s Paris,” spoke Alice 02 bluntly. She was tired of all this name confusion. Rabbit 01 had prattled on for what seemed like hours. But it was only 20 minutes ago that the party started.”
“And he’s — don’t tell me — *10* years old.”
“*12*.” Alice 02 almost shouted the number. They had gone over all their ages about 3 times now, to her counting. “I’m 15, she spoke plainly and levely, like you would to a child. “Alice 01 over there — in the *blue* dress, and with *blonde* hair — is 9. And our son is 12. We just divided the difference and… there he is.” Alice 02 effected a smile across the table at Paris, who brightly returned it. He was use to the temperamental nature of his mother and didn’t take it personally any longer, thanks to the counseling of 2nd mother Alice 01.
“And how old is *your* son again?” started Alice 02 once more. “*5*?”
“1,” answered Rabbit 01 patiently, although she had answered the same question 2 times herself now. Not that she was counting. “1 day old.” She looked down and beamed at the tiny bunny beside her. “And he said his first words today! Didn’t you Rabbit 03?”
“*Rabbid*,” snorted Rabbit 01 harshly, then realized the social faux pas. “I mean, ahem, *yes*. He said his first words. And they were: *rabbid*.”
“Rabbit 03,” recited Alice 01, staring across the table at him sweetly, almost dreamily one could say. “What a cute name. I sometimes wished we’d numbered Paris.”
Alice 02 shot a stare toward Alice 01 with this, thinking: We *did* number Paris but you wanted a singular name. So we threw a dart at the world map and he became what he is. What kind of parents name their child after a French city? But Alice 01 said she had a niece who was so nice to her that use to name her children with that method. Moscow, Adelaide, and Brazilia they were called. Ridiculous. “If only the dart,” Alice 02 would say sometimes to Alice 01 — and she usually cried here a bit, then start again — “If only the dart would have hit Alice Springs, Australia all would be well in the world.”
Later in the day only the, er, grownups remained. Paris was playing with Rabbit 03/Rabbid down at the beach, making sure he didn’t wade into the water over his head. But he failed in his mission a couple of times. He obviously didn’t tell his mothers this.
Then lo and behold the table they were sitting at disappeared before their very eyes. All looked around at each other, all automatically standing now. Only a teapot remained.
“Looks like the party’s over, Alices,” managed a rattled Rabbit 02. Thank God, Alice 02 rapidly thought.
“And his name is *Rabbid*” he snarled at them just out of earshot as they walked away.
Annie really liked New Island, and enjoyed at least *trying* to jog all the way around it every couple of days. She lived alone now in the Gloomy Gus, Karl having being forgotten since True Opp (Tropp) manifested in the Braynard’s Place Bluebird Cuddle Van, oh, I guess about a week back now. And she could really and actually paint! Big Red was the first subject in this new age, Karl’s fragmented and distorted Blue Boy having succumbed to ultimate winners ‘Beach’ and ‘Time’. Annie enjoyed dancing and spinning to both sides of the 78 night before last up at the Silver King Diner. For she had learned — also a part of this rebirthing process — that Eden, or *New* Eden, occupied the same psycho-physical or psycho-spiritual realm as New Island. Both part of the New. The red crossed Man in the High Castle had demonstrated this to her, this Axis she’s become friends with, despite the admitted abduction aspect. She use to like to think of herself as a Madam (of the Night), but now she was an Artist, Adam be damned. Wave upon wave of inspiration washed over her in the illuminated Centre. There was no “I” in either.
Now to find Tennessee and fix it all in place.
She knew it had something to do with Curled Paper, a member of Axis’ Table and also the folk-punk band Rock Paper Scissors best known for destroying a West Virginia club carved out of a giant piece of coal in 1978.
“These pills are pretty good, Axis. Tasty. Say the Silver King machine just appeared over there tonight? Right before I arrived?”
“Right, Big Red. It’s an honor to have you here, by the way. The abduction process wasn’t too painful, I hope. Sometimes it is to those with the wrong energies.”
“Not atall. Time doesn’t exist here, eh?”
“Nor Beach,” completes Axis. “Only, um, Middle.”
Yes, he realizes. This is Middle. A new sandwich with something else inside; something beyond the spinning 78.
A sandwich appeared in Big Red’s mouth, loaded with innards.
“Interesting,” chirps Axis.
In a control experiment, the next abductee was asked to read a specific chapter from a red book and found it fascinating and loaded down with meaning.
“Well pardon *me*, I guess. Robots, hrmph.”
“It’s tough losing your hair, isn’t it Grandpa 02?”
“I suppose, Grandpa 01. Oh. There’s Grandpa 03. Tapping at the window. We’re about ready to commence.”
“Shame about Grandpa 05 last week. Died on the john.”
“We still have Grandpas 04, 06, and 07. Along with us three.”
“The originals, he he. As of about 2 minutes ago.”
“Right. Another beer?”
like in urchin
“*There* you are, Gramps! I don’t know how I keep missing you.”
Spaced Ghost (“Gramps”) turns, takes a look at Buurb, and then faces forward again, rocking a bit faster. “You haven’t changed,” he spouts grumpily.
“I know. I think I’m going to give it another shot with Mabel. I’m not quite ready to end a steady marriage.”
“My boy Baker Black,” the elder Spaced Ghost grumbles, mispronouncing his son’s name, “said to wait here in this town until the boy turns back into a girl. Then and only then can I go home.” He glances at Buurb again. “And you’re not changing, hmph. So I’m not heading home yet.”
“Collagesity, you mean,” speaks Buurb, who again thought of Mabel’s invitation to join her there to live in *their* new house, she keeps putting it. She’s certainly not prepared to break the bonds from her end either.
“1 1/2 years I’ve been here, give or take a year or two. Do you know how long a year and a half is give or take that?”
“Well,” states Buurb, trying not make *too* much fun of the old man, “that could be a negative half year, meaning you haven’t even arrived in Heartsdale to begin with. You stayed in Collagesity, and, even on top of that, lost a half year there.”
Spaced Ghost shakes his head, not taking this in correctly. “Babble. That’s all you young folks do these day. Rambles and babbles. You might as well be little robots walking forwards and backwards and every which way — always getting in *my* way, phmph. Now, back in my days… (Buurb thinks: here we go) In *my* days…,” Spaced Ghost repeats, turning to face Buurb and even shaking his cane a bit at him, “boys and girls remained separate and pure. There *were* no mixed up boy-girls like you.”
Buurbs attempts to remain patient again. “Oh, I’m sure they were around, Pops. It’s just they didn’t tell you they were, um, mixed up. It wasn’t socially acceptable then. It’s a lot better these days with the interwebs and social media educating people about such things.”
Spaced Ghost wasn’t finished digging at him. “Then *why* did you marry Mabel?”
Buurb shrugs. “I changed over. I knew I didn’t love Precious Snowflake any longer when I began to love Mabel. My sex changed — before I was a woman, now I’m a man. It’s not *that* unusual Gramps. Out friend Turchin McGur–.”
“He’s not *my* friend,” Spaced Ghost cuts Buurb off. “*He’s* the one who took Mabel over there in the first place. You should be together here or you should be together there if you’re a couple. But not you here and her there, see. Figure it out. Who *are* you? *What* are you?”
“I’m Buurb,” the hobo-man declares firmly.
“You *were* Unch,” Spaced Ghost snaps back.
“Urch, you mean,” Buurb replies. He’d finally lost his cool. “And it’s Baker *Bloch*, not Black. You don’t even know your own son’s name, let alone the true state of the world.”
Buurb immediately regretted flying off the handle. Kindness, he thought. I have to be kind to the Grandpas. They don’t know what they’re talking about half the time. But also: so much shared wisdom between them. They will be missed, each and every one.
“How was John’s funeral?” he then thought to ask, changing the subject.
“I keep looking over at that tower, Buurb, and see Henry Winkler keep climbing up and down those ladders. *Henry Winkler*. Does he live in Heartsdale? I guess he has to, given that I keep seeing him over there. From ‘Happy Guys.’ You remember, don’t you? Fonzie Bear I think he was called. I wonder how he got *here*?”
“Sometimes he even looks over here and waves at me or something.”
There was no doubt that Sidechick Corea would have to tell Magus Ellen about *this*.
But which path to choose from the Centre tonight?
He decides on a direction (north) and sticks with it.
Spotted immediately he was after crossing the bridge — and welcomed by Braynard herself, up at the club watching the dancers from her corner.
So she was more than just a brain — she had a host body as well. Dare he join her and ask about The Rainbow Sphere this soon? Magus Ellen warned him about the possibility. Certainly not time to strike out on his own or deviate beyond the ordinary. Plus she had just admitted to the crowd that it was time for her to turn it in, eyelids getting heavy. Perhaps there would be another day, when both were fresh.
Only minutes later, the dawning sun was shining on an observing Sidechick, still standing just beyond the crossing bridge.
Ahh, beach access.
The beach. *The* Beach? He then spots them just down the cliff.
A Rainbow Sphere (!). And the Golden Orb, ruler of all here.
Nothing else to do but…
True Opp (Tropp) certainly wanted to pay a visit to the original Adam and his Eve up in ironically named Green Acres to console them about the recent loss of their child Oliver.
But such a long and winding road to get there.
Over Easter break, he managed to drive as far as the Mexico Flats Rest Area, still less than halfway up.
The Others had decided it was enough.
“Other Baker,” calls Baker Blinker from the floor toward Baker Bloch, who is helping prepare dinner for four. “I think I have an ending for this one.”
“You can put your wings back on, Blue Jay Wade. We’re done here.”
“Holey moley Big Red! What was that?!”
“Oh…My…GOD. It really happened! It really REALLY happened!!”
Then Fisher combined a sentence and question at once. “I believe we’ve been invited to dinner?”
“Not too bad, Baker Blinker,” speaks a reading Baker Bloch from the floor. “But — I have to ask this. Where’s Annie?”
Troll Cave 02
The Bakers stare at Eraserhead Man while he rants. “It’s ‘HOW’S ANNIE?’ for PETE’S sake! And I MADE my successful ‘Return’! No more ‘WORST ENDING LINE IN TELEVISION HISTORY’ talk for ME!”
The Bakers then turn to his riding companion to the dinner, Robot Derak Jones, and stare. “I said I’m *sorry* I forgot to remind him to bring his hearing aid!”
“LEMONADE?! NO THANKS!”
After the party, The Bakers clean up and discuss amongst themselves a more proper ending to “Collagesity 2018 Early”.
“Annie should be in the dunes,” offers Baker Blinker. “Just wandering around at night, lonely after Karl had, er, been forgotten. Do we know what happened to Karl?”
Baker Bloch talked while continuing to scrub omlet stains out of a pan. “I think (he scrubs some more), I think Tropp took his place in the Bluebird Cuddle Van. True Opp, I meant there.”
“The more realistic and human version of the Mmmmmm Opp, yes. The one that came out the pipe on the far side…”
“Anyway, that’s what I’ve got.”
“Seems kind of vague,” opines the female Baker. “How would we go about bringing Karl back, if it could be done? I *love* playing that role, after all.”
Baker Bloch finally manages to remove the last egg stain from the pan; hands it to Baker Blinker for drying. “Let’s go outside and sit and discuss it more.”
“Sun’s setting again, Other Baker. Days are so short here. What is it? 3 hours of day, then an hour of night?”
“So short,” he repeats. “*Could* we get use to that?”
Baker Blinker takes in the implication. “You’re saying we should just *move* here? Aren’t you? That’s how Karl can live on. That’s how New Island and the rest can continue onward forever and ever.”
“We have this cave, after all. Seems pretty empty overall. Vacated, I mean; owners aren’t around much. We can prepare and cook meals, then clean. We can continue to have parties with Robot Derak Jones, Eraserhead Man, and the rest. Given time, we’re sure to figure out a way to bring Karl back.”
“Write out Tropp,” states Baker Blinker, shifting her weight in the Sunlounger. “Write out Madam Mexico or whatever you’re calling her. Get rid of New Eden altogether. It’s just New Island and The End. Ellen and his assistant Sidechick don’t have to be right about *everything*.”
“Let’s take a walk. Let’s go down to the bridge and turn around.”
“It seems like ages ago when I first crossed this bridge in the Spookmobile, Other Baker. But it was only a little over a year ago. I didn’t remember how I got here to New Island afterwards. The Spookmobile turned into a Love Bug. I guess you were back in Collagesity when all this happened. I turned into Mabel, got out of the car and then sat back in as myself so I could reach the pedals — and I was already trapped.”
“Mid-Hazel,” Baker Blinker responds.
Baker Bloch sighs. “I don’t even like to say her name. Wheeler was *so wrong* to get in cahoots with her.”
“That’s why we need to blow it up.”
Baker Bloch’s face expressed confusion. “The *bridge*?”
But then they made the mistake of wandering even further — under the bridge and south into the abandoned art colony in the dead of night. Safer Barnaby Point here, but then a couple of steps beyond: Artist Point proper. Someone or something followed them. Baker Blinker’s facelight soon winked out, a tell tale sign.
It was just Baker Blinker, Baker Bloch, and that person or thing alone in there. Forever and ever?
exit, stage left
“Well, it looks like this is it, Grassy.”
“Grass, please.” Grassy would never get over that he’s a child-like Mmmmmm through and through and will never “progress” to the current state of his cousin Opp — True Opp or Tropp, that is. He’ll never be X-ed out in other words. The shortened name of Grass would never stick. “Yes, I will miss you my old friend.”
“And you my friend. But I’ll return for the weed if nothing else. You certainly haven’t seen the last of me, ha ha.”
“Yes: ha ha. Ha ha ha.”
“Ha ha ha ha ha!”
15 minutes later:
“Would you like to see the painting, Grassy? Er, Grass. Grassy… Grass… can’t remember.”
“Whatever,” Grassy Noll submitted, having given up on correcting her about his name, at least for tonight. “Oh, sure. I totally forgot that’s why you can leave now.”
“Plus the payoff to that loathsome Philip Strevor. And the payoff for, well, everyone that lives here in the swamp village, but most importantly perhaps, Roger Pine Ridge, the great variant. And *you* can leave too, of course.”
“No, my place is here. Waiting for your intermittent returns.”
“Fine, fine. I thank you for your service. I hope the new apartment is to your liking.”
30 minutes later:
“So there it is Grassy. A beaut, isn’t it? And it’s all because of that ring Ellen gave me — the power. Catvas here likes it too.”
“I do!” meows the winged feline from her perch just behind.
Grassy moved closer to study the painting more carefully. “Lovely indeed.” He put a finger to his lip here. “But I think I see one detail you missed. We better go check it out.”
“Now?” Bill almost shouted. “But there’s *people* over there. Lots of people. You know I can’t stand people.”
“Most of them are just bots — no one really inside, you see. But let’s go beneath the Mermaid Tavern for a beer beforehand to loosen up your nerves. I’ll buy.”
“You talked me into it!”
“See, Bill? Just one of those silly bots down here. Usually there are a number standing around like zombies.” Grassy’s eyes glaze over here. “And only a handful more right now at the temple according to my inworld map. Perfect time to go. Fate, we could call it.”
“All right. I’ve drunk almost my entire chug-a-mug. One more gulp and I’ll be ready.”
“No, we’ve checked around the whole structure — like the back of my hand now, Grassy — and I can’t see anything I really missed of importance.”
“Look again,” the green Mmmmmm requested. He indicates toward the epicenter of the temple.
“The dancer?” They then jointly stare at the child going ’round the world.
“And that’s it, Sidechick! We’re done with ‘Collagesity 2018 Early’.” They were standing beside Nascera’s Meadowbrook ice cream truck where it all began.
“Just like that? It was sort of an abrupt ending.”
“Bill can paint,” Magus Ellen counters. “Annie can paint. We will assume Mabel can too because of those paint splattered jeans Axis gave her. The great 3-n-1. It’s complete.”
“What *about* Axis? You said time and
beach space were altered because he got Baker Bloch to discover Magellan’s broken teleporter one day too early.”
“If you haven’t guessed, Sidechick my friend, my understudy, Magellan is me. I broke the teleporter. But on purpose. It was the only way we could get Opp to come here in the first place and fill the center up with his blueness. Otherwise — all for naught.”
“I’m not understanding. What about, for example, the golden orb?”
“There’s a black and white opening beyond Braynard’s Place that doesn’t concern us. This would be New Eden. Does it stay coupled with New Island through the castle or does it begin to move independently? This depends on a number of factors, including what happens in the haunted Artist Point colony. But it’s a story for another day, as they say.”
Sidechick Corea tries process all this information, then: “What now for us?”
Ellen smiles mischievously. “I have a surprise for you. Still holding his own ice cream cone in his right hand, he expertly whips out another from his left pocket and hands it to his faithful assistant. “You’ve earned this.”
Now let’s leave the 8×8 behind and walk up the road to see that bridge you’ve been talking about forever.”
END OF “COLLAGESITY 2018 EARLY”!