From the first time she saw it in the northeast corner of the sim, Young Ruby knew this was her church. Somehow it wasn’t the Maxites per se that caught on in Collagesity. It was more connected to the Cult of Oo’d then, obviously. But the only way the true story would unfold is if she signed the contract. She’d met Madame Silver yesterday and understood the basic terms. Fishers Island progressed from New Island; Tronesisia as art-clay centerpoint brought back to life. Eels. Right now it was Silver’s empire to rule, but she was the understudy, destined to be top dog soon enough. She asked how long she had to make a decision. She wanted to explore the other river islands more to make sure she was picking the correct reality to manifest. Other islands represented other array points (!). Fishers Island had to be named carefully and with much consideration and deliberation. Quality over quantity this time around, Ruby thought, face unwincing. Sucklands to Sunklands. Time
capsule castle opened.
“Well, looks like radiation levels are finally low enough where we can return to the ground and feel safe, Ruby.”
Axis looks around the table, the room, as if waking from a dream.
“Ruby? Young Ruby?
Hmm. Not here.”
“You know something. Don’t you?
Now spill it.”
The deal was signed. She had even picked out a house, she thought. Place of safety, place of calm, Madame Silver reinforced while the ink was still wet. Contract pretty much laid out everything plain and simple. Don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t do that. And we’re done. “Go ahead and choose one of the dwelling units on the northern edge of the property,” Madame Silver then suggested. “If one is already occupied, the door will be locked. I have other business interests to take care of now. I’ll see you at the sim-wide meeting, Young Ruby!” And then she was gone: vanished in a poof.
She didn’t want to be greedy. This smaller dwelling spot she was also attracted to would have served perfectly well for her home. But the door was locked. Later Ruby found out a girl almost exactly her age lived here. Interesting. The other houses around it were basically one floor units. She wanted multiple floors. She always wanted to live in a high rise, the narrower the better. And her new house pretty much filled the bill on this.
Here it is. An oversized treehouse, right beside the smaller unit that we just took a gander at. It was the huge, multi-paneled window that totally sold her. But the place was not without its drawbacks. Oh no. As Ruby quickly found out, physics is a little wonky all over the property, but especially in close spaces with a lot of textures, which this house was filled with. Let’s go inside and see what we have.
A calico cat with two, black kittens! She always wanted a cat. Apparently she’ll have at least 3 now. Unless she decides to give one or both of the small ones away. But how could she!
Up the stairs we must go. But already Ruby has a bit of trouble getting off the vintage pouf the cats are on. Oh well… she can get use to the physics here. Yes, surely she can.
Ahh, what is perhaps the living room.
A nice desk for writing and drawing and such.
Ruby’s throat is getting a little sore. Must be all the climate changes switching between New Island and Collagesity and here, she rationalizes. Instantly she decides to cut down on her bouncing around. She’ll stay here for a while; explore the neighborhood and whatnot. As long as she abides by the contract, she’ll be fine. This will be her base. Permanent one? We’ll see how it develops. Day by day, month by month, she thinks. But upwards we must continue!
Beautiful. She will entertain many new friends in this space, she feels.
From this 3rd floor, Ruby finds she has to go outside and traverse a corner porch to continue exploring the house. She pauses to take a look at the view. “This is all mine,” she utters, as if reinforcing the reality of what seems a dream.
Suddenly she didn’t care what the upper floor or floors from here looked like. This was her home for certain, and nothing else she could see would change that.
She opens what turns out to be the final door.
tit for tat
“You better hurry up with your pie, Ruby. We’ve got a whole shake to get at (!).”
“Well… you hurry too,” Ruby commanded to her new acquaintance Tin Tin. “You’ve got a whole piece of pie to go as well.”
“Fork’s a little dirty,” he said, turning it round and round. “Maybe I should ask the waitress for a new one.”
“You can’t ask the waitress for a new fork every time you take a couple of bites (!). Just clean it off with your mouth, dufus. Your lips or tongue or something.”
“Hey, don’t call me stupid.”
“I didn’t,” Ruby returned measuredly. “I called you dufus.”
He stared at her, then just waved it off and took another bite. She did as well.
“Can we *please* stop talking about food all the time and get to why we came here?”
“We came for the talk,” Tin Tin returned. “*And* the food.” He started eating with his mouth open again.
Ruby couldn’t wait much longer. The water and the fish across the room seemed to be closing in on her. Maybe she has agoraphobia she didn’t know about before. Or maybe it’s simply the company crushing her down.
“I don’t think this pie is getting smaller, Ruby,” proclaims Tin Tin, looking down at it. He glanced over. “Neither is yours. Do you *feel* like you’re getting any fuller?”
“Yes,” she replied quickly, staring at his queerly two-toned face. Yes, she thought to herself. I’m certainly getting my fill of all this.
Yesterday, across the sim:
Hearing approaching footsteps, Tin Tin rolled over on his sleeping sofa.
“What are *you* doing here?”
“Well… what are *you* doing here?”
“Alright you talked me into it, Mr. Tin Tin,” spoke Ruby, tired of her texture laden house for now. “Take me to this Glinda you go on about.”
Tin Tin clapped his hands in glee. “You won’t regret it.” He too was frustrated with things not rezzing in correctly when they were together in the house. “Just follow the Linden land as best we can there and it shouldn’t be a problem. BUT… once you step off this sim — your empire after all.”
“In the future,” Ruby amended. “Not quite yet.”
“But, anyway, once you step off you have to be CAREFUL. Siren lures everywhere. Or in your case — what’s the opposite of sirens? You know, the men sirens or something.”
“I don’t know,” she stated plainly. “I’m rather plain looking. I doubt if anyone out there will find me that attractive.”
“*I* find you attractive.”
Ruby blushed a little, but then composed herself, flattening out the front of her skirt. “You don’t count. You are my housemate by mistake and perhaps deception and that’s all. We share a house — for now. Madame Silver and I are working on a long term solution. She’s apologized again and again.”
“Not as much to me,” Tin Tin spoke, winking the left eye of his two toned face. Could she ever get use to it? Rather shocked at herself, she suddenly understood she perhaps could. He was becoming ever so *slightly* attractive to her, despite the inherent split nature. And she’s taught him how to eat with his mouth closed, at least *most* of the time. That helps.
Looking around at the beautiful but flawed textures again, Ruby vibrates her lips together in exasperation. Talk of the duplicate contract — another wacky combo, I suppose — could wait until later. “Okay, so where do we start?”
“Scale the wall? And stop knocking into me all the time!”
“I’m just *joking*.”
Turning and staring, Ruby then swatted him hard on the shoulder. “You just wanted to see me climb it… see if I would do it.”
“Yeah, okay, I’m *sorry*. He points southward. “The wall ends a little bit over there. We can cross the road — no problem. Just remember to look left, look right, look left again. This is an urban area, not the hick island you stayed at before.”
“Which had some similar problems to the ones you’re describing. I’m not totally oblivious to the big, fantastic fantasy world out there.”
“Alright,” Tin Tin relented, shuffling his feet. “I get it.” He thrust his hands into his pockets, starts swaying back and forth. He decides to just blurt it out. “Sooo… you’ve had a boyfriend before?”
“*Before*?” She swatted him again, but then ultimately didn’t answer his question.
“So here we are,” declared Tin Tin. He points. “Just through that gap over there. With the Linden trees.”
“Are you *sure* you know what you’re doing Tin Tin?”
“No,” he admits with uncharacteristic seriousness. “No I do not.”
It was awful. The parcel Tin Tin declared they could cross safely to get to what he called the Linden passage to Glinda was blocked most of the way across. And when they finally did get access, the gap in the wall in back that Tin Tin also remembered didn’t exist any longer. “Virtual reality is so mutable!” he declared, making Ruby snort. They tried to fly across an intervening parcel, but — banned land. No luck. So they had to backtrack and go up the sidewalk north anyway and turn left down another main road. Ruby indeed saw things she wished she hadn’t in their short but intense walk there. Finally they reach the Linden passage with the characteristic trees — cypresses all, but of several different hues and sizes. Wonderful, she thought. She’d not seen trees like this on her New Island, which was very sandy in comparison to the green terrain of this place.
She looks down the hill they were perched upon into the meat of the town while Tin Tin played in the grass behind her, feeling the freedom. She’ll not go into that mess if at all possible, she decided. Country to the east of her empire, *future* empire she reminded herself. She’ll take that direction to explore after they finish up this adventure. But this turned out only to be partially true.
“Follow the rail,” Tin Tin declared. “Easy. 200 more meters tops.” So they did.
“Glinda,” he indicated as they passed through a more intense cluster of cypresses. “Here, but moreso across the river. *The* river. I was named for this river. I never told you that before. I’ve waited until right this moment.”
Ruby was curious about what Tin Tin was babbling on about *now*, but could see nothing of interest across the water. Until she turned up her draw distance to the max and viewed remotely.
Nice. Very nice indeed.
“Beautiful. Isn’t it?” Tin Tin spoke of his beloved river forest, the one he even claims to have been conceived in (!). He pointed upwards from his position. “One of many merged tree types here. I need to make a count of them; survey the woods.” Perhaps you could help me, Young Ruby, he thought silently to himself. Might we possibly make a Tin Tin II here (hehe)??
Ruby certainly liked the trees but didn’t think Tin Tin’s self named Glinda measured up as a whole to the Rubi Woods. Not even close. No leafy grass for one thing. No mysterious inundations all over the place for another. No, this is not worth an intense study if you asked her at this present moment. And then there was the problem of what lies all around it. This was a hole, a void, in the center of a cacophonic symphony of energy. But, true, it *was* energy, she thought. Unlike the old continents now. Our Second Lyfe is certainly not what it use to be. And she can now point to a particular date: July 1, 2009. Working on 10 years ago. Utopia and the resulting chaos-freedom split asunder. Apples in one basket, oranges in another. Or perhaps lemons and limes in this case. These fruit cases, umm…
“Let’s go back to my spot on the river,” Tin Tin shouts up, snapping Ruby out of her reverie. “Have a picnic or something.” But Ruby argued they should return to her — *their* house in the democratic empire. “It’s all very close,” she then compromised. “We can come back most any time.”
And talk about and work on that Tin Tin II, he machinated inwardly. Pleasant images indeed.
Here they are walking past The Spot. Tin Tin glances down, wondering if Ruby might change her mind about that picnic. But too soon, he then decided, and walks without talk for a while.
pull the string
Tin Tin explains what Ruby Roo originally supposed was a dream.
“They were behind the waterfall barely in the next sim, past the corrugated pipe on the river floor I had just tripped over. Green Glinda, a tree being I had seen before somewhere. But also silver if zoomed in closer.
“A Silver Statue” was the name as I now checked. And then it just seemed to disappear as I adjusted my graphic options. But then, zooming in again: there; silver once more. How could this be? More mysteries to be solved re Fishers Island. For this was Fisher’s island through and through now. Most everyone had forgotten the former name of Wall Island. That was so histories.”
“We have to find Fisher, then,” came Ruby’s quick assessment/analysis. “He must have survived the explosion and is now working on the island somewhere, perhaps in another dance club. Most likely Bendy or Lord Bendington is with him, being indestructible and all.”
“I didn’t like that space,” Tin Tin concluded. “Very confined. Just plain weird.”
“You must return,” Ruby countered. “Again and again. Until: something happens.”
Tin Tin didn’t plan to do that. Besides, he knew what would happen. The beginning. Big Bang. Again and again. “A Silver Statue” was a ticking bomb.
The next time Tin Tin visited that same location he tried pushing “A Silver Statue” through the waterfall and back into Glinda through repeated collisions, but it suddenly became nonphysical at the sim border, unable to be shoved any further in that direction. Glinda couldn’t go back to Glinda. And then he realized something: Glinda was actually Glin. Glin *or* Glinda. Queer.
“Such a pretty, happy family,” a looming Madame Silver cooed before spoiling it all. “Let’s just, um, remove the *father* from the scene, har har. Like thus.” She picks up “Monsieur Gold” and squeezes him tight in her hand.
“Now what are you going to do Young Ruby and Tin Tin? Stay in the woods until darkness descends?” She takes another figure.
“Ooooo. Come here you!!”
Artist, actor, producer David Newton Jaspers ponders his future in Adgatetown and sees it is good.
Except for one, glaring omission. He doesn’t have a significant other. David believes that’s about to change, what with his good looks, charms, and wiles.
He’s got his eyes on a yellow girl who recently sailed in from New Island over at what they call the Omega continent. But he presently can’t see her…
… if only because of the interceding Linden plumeria bush.
Despite coming from afar, she’s actually Corsican through and through. He likes that about her. He wants to be the same. David Jaspers. A man who can’t possibly lose. Until he does.
“I produced this album back in the early 00’s, one of my first gigs! Progressive math rock band called Chalcedony! Aren’t they just the dreamiest!?”
“I suppose, David! My legs kind of hurt now! Can we go to the juicebar!”
“In a minute, doll! Here’s a passage I always play on air guitar! Dig this!”
“Oh Lord,” Lisa said just below the level of the blaring music. “Will this night never end?”
Morning came. Was Lisa the Vegetarian Smipson still there?
What do you think?
“I tell you, Linda. I have half a notion just to sail over to New Island and grab Fisher and plant a big wet one on him and then drag him back here, full painting in tow of course.” She took another drag off her limeaid.
“1000000 lindens?”, fellow vegetarian Linda Halsey guessed at the price once more. “1000500?” Her estimates had been steadily increasing all morning while Lisa continued shaking her head. As the sun rose, so did the worth. She was slightly perspiring now, so excited she was about the possibilities. “*I* could be your lover, Lisa, for all that dough.”
“It’s the paint,” Lisa then explained. “The red half of the violin was painted with a mixture of powdered pigment, rabbit skin glue, and blood. But particular blood. That of the maker’s wife who died in childbirth.”
“You don’t say…”
“And about the green side — even weirder. But I can’t talk about that right now.”
“I know!” her bright, blonde friend then exclaimed. “Vulcan!”
Dang, thought Lisa. She’d said too much.
They stood on the bridge spanning Rigg Strait. “So you can see in comparing the current building to my 2012 version way back when,* objects are degenerating here instead of evolving. Sloowly. Over time.”
“I want that girl. I *need* that *girl*!”
“Fat chance, Madame Silver,” Axis tried to placate. “The energy is too low in this Adgatetown, notwithstanding David Jaspers air-guitaring to progressive math rock band Chalcedony. We’ll have to lure her back to the Omega continent, not to New Island of course (which has been destroyed), but Fisher’s own island, his self named river one. There we can control all of the continent through The Triangle — Ruby’s Empire…”
“*My* empire for a while longer, though. And make sure Ruby’s wrapped around your little finger by that time, *Tin Tin*.”
“I will,” assures Axis, who is indeed the same as the boy starting to be loved and adored by Young Ruby. You may remember him from the last Collagesity novel as well (“Collagesity Middle 2018”), taking the form of a German Shepherd dog known by that identical name. Dog, man, boy: all the same. “But then, returning to the (geographic) Triangle,” Axis started again, “we have *Wallytown*, a class 4 population place; Ruby’s Democratic Empire, like I said; and then, to complete it, the Eraserhead Man film set known as Urbane Blue in the meat, er, heart of Meat City. And then, I suppose — come to think of it — this Glinda cypress forest on the northern side of Fisher’s Island. The Triangle and its center.”
* 2012 version of same structure, for comparison:
They continued to poke around Adgatetown, Madame Silver’s mouth agape all the time. “How can anyone *live* like this?” she asked as they paused in the middle of a residential neighborhood. “In these simple, monochromatic, um, *houses* dare I call them?”
“I don’t think anyone really *does* live here, at least any more. Except Mr. Jaspers and Miss Halsey and maybe a couple of others.”
“Destined to get together, you have reassured me,” Madame Silver spoke of the pair.
“Yes.” Pretty sure, Axis then thought to himself, still worrying slightly about the match that has to be.
“Reeling Lisa the Vegetarian back, back, back to Fisher’s Island and namesake Orange Boy. Like a fish — get it?”
“I get it.”
“Back to the beginning again.”
“I’ve almost seen enough of this Adgatetown, but let’s examine the juicebar. That could be a potential problem area. Resonance with (Wallytown’s) Bar Lemon; possibility of one cancelling out the energy of the other.”
“We’ve made sure,” spoke Axis, “that limeaid has been properly substituted for lemonade in key moments. Like yesterday morning.”
“Good, good.” Madame Silver seemed pretty satisfied with this explanation. “But I still want to take a look.”
“Yes, the limeaid is quite quenching,” cooed the glittery dame to her partner in crime. “It’s getting dark, though; don’t want to run into Lisa here.”
“No worries,” soothed Axis once more. “She’s in an alternate timeline and would only get a quite distorted version of ourselves at best. Maybe, say, a sparrow and a crow eating cracker crumbs off a glass table.”
“You make a good evil dude.”
“Thanks again, madam.”
“One day you will be my black knight in armor.”
“We’ll make it so.”
“A black king, even. And I: the *silver* queen.” They clink cups to that.
She had to pick her way through solid, floating rocks, flowers and grass, but Ruby finally made it to the couch where Gwin was sprawled out, the girl her age who lived in the smaller unit next to her tree house. Her and Tin Tin’s house, she accepted. But where was Tin Tin these days? But, more importantly, what has happened to her empire while she was away working at Tina’s gallery for the weekend?? Future empire, that is.
“*Where* is all the stuff in the middle?” she asked Gwin, then faced out across the basically empty expanse as well.
“We were suppose to have a sim wide meeting right there on that circular couch day after tomorrow.” The sitting 15 year old girl breathed deeply. “I watched it, you know. Madame Silver just swooped in and started deleting things right and left. In a rage, she was; I could tell even from this distance.” Like all proper thespians, Gwin’s voice was strong and dramatic. She sat up straight, folded her legs under her torso. “Until today I thought I should have stayed in EM’s Urbane Blue as Jill MacGill; dealt with the stupid doppleganger plot.” She then plopped down off the floating couch, facing Ruby square on. “Yet you seem to be another doppleganger, Young Ruby. 15 1/2 you say?
“Me too. Where were you born again?”
“I’m last from New Island. You know, just across the bridge from Wall Island.”
“That’s not what I asked you.”
Ruby decided to make up a birthplace. “Collagesity. Over on one of the oldest continents. Most commonly called the Atoll Continent.”
“Geography was a speciality of mine in school, Young Ruby. You don’t have to lecture me about landmass names. Heterocera is the offical terminology for that particular continent. It is the second oldest, after Sansara. That one contains the mainland’s only permanent snowy region. Then 3rd came Jeogeot, but far to the south of the first two.” She kept on going. “Then in the eastern hemisphere we have Maebaleia or Satori, almost a double in area to Jeogeot but not quite; then Nautilus above that, an archipelago really and not a continent; then Corsica just to the north of that; and then, moving even further east, Gaeta V, one of 5 continents planned as a super continent of some sort. But only Gaeta V — admittedly don’t know why they called it the 5th — was finished. And then this one.”
“Omega continent,” Ruby finished.
“Yeah. But that’s not the official name. And now you reside here with me in Meat City. Not the heart of Meat City — been there done that — but on the eastern edge, between town and country really. But it seems we may have lost our saving sanctuary. Madame Silver is either making wholesale changes, or she’s just tired of this democratic empire in the middle of squalor, ready to give it up instead of passing it onto you, the rightful queen. Or president, I guess we should put it, since it is a democracy and all. How do you feel about all this?”
A whirlwind of information this *Young* Gwin is! Ruby thought. Should she say: “depressed”?; “elated”?; “don’t care one way or the other”? She decided to go in the direction of the last option. “I had mixed feelings all along about taking the, er…” Should she say “gig”? She decided it was a hip, flippant word to use here. “… gig.”
“Gig?” Gwin snorted. “I would have sawed off *both* my legs to have this ‘gig’ you so flippantly brush off as unimportant.. so so. Do you know who you are? Do you know what this is?”
All Ruby knew in the present is that she was really starting to miss New Island and, especially perhaps, Collagesity. She missed Shirley Boot and Ragdoll, who are one and the same. Indigo too. Mabel, obviously. Yes: *Mabel* is kind of sort of her mother, Ruby thinks. Maybe *she* knows where she is born. Actually born.
“Tin Tin was here,” spoke Gwin boldly, snapping Ruby’s reverie. “Says he’s joining the army. Up in [delete name] just over in the country — up [delete name] road. You probably know the place. Full of boys, boys, boys. I think Madame Silver put him up to it. Maybe you should go visit him. Maybe talk him into coming back… if you wish. If you care about this place at all. You were destined to be married, you know. That was the plan. And *I*, Young Ruby — just so you’ll know — am your understudy in that direction. Get my drift? So I don’t care one lick if you go visit him and talk him into coming back. Because that’s what I plan to do, say, um, *this morning*.”
She then shows Ruby the engagement ring.
A central, heart shaped ruby just to rub it in all the way.
Timmy knows he most likely shouldn’t be here. But he still can’t help himself. Such a fascinating place. And so close to “home”. Besides, the owner never seems to be around — no way to get in trouble. Most likely.
Display! Like he’s a doll, tehe. But only one pose. He’s seen others of this type with several. In fact, nothing in here except a couple of couches and a lounger seem to have any poses in them atall.
Eyes and brains, pheh.
rock log never seems to get any smaller. Despite the constant chipping away.
Timmy can’t help but think there’s something kind of sinister to this place. Like evil objects with the evil removed. If that makes sense. Barren evil.
Time to stop hanging around here and go back to his church. Getting sleepy.
Just caddycorner. So close, so close.
Ruby wandered around her “empire”, checking to see what else had been deleted or changed. The border buildings lining the 4 sides of the sim seemed to remain intact, thankfully. Starting clockwise, she decided to save the church in the northeast corner for last, wanting reassurance from other spots before checking. It was *her* church. They couldn’t take *that* away from her. Else she’d have nothing left here really, she understood. It was her *core*.
Her mind wandered along with her feet. I never loved Tin Tin anyway, she thought. This was all just so silly. Let Gwin and Tin Tin run off together into high, blue tomorrows. What does she care. It wasn’t really his face, which was not so much two toned as just beveled, each side catching the light in a different way. It wasn’t that he still ate with his mouth open at times, despite her best efforts at training him. And that nose! Not really the appearance but what he does with it. Yes, let Gwin have her soldier boy in his stiffly starched khahki uniform (as Gwin described it earlier — Ruby hadn’t seen Tin Tin since he enlisted at the beginning of the weekend). Other options will open up.
She remains confident if still a little heartbroken.
And there’s her church coming into view! It remains as well. She breathes a heavy sigh of relief.
Yup, the ground had also been lowered here. Difficulty even getting up to the front platform.
Time to be reassured on the inside as well. She opens the huge, creaking door.
Yes! So beautiful.
Like walking into the face of God.
Hold on. Who’s this?
They instantly hit it off. Ruby showed Timmy how to learn about land through the About Land description, and to see if they could rezz objects on such land and how long their stuff would stick around when rezzed if so. Also if other people could see them from other parcels, and visa versa. Ruby became a mentor to the 11 1/2 year old boy. So much like me at that age, Ruby thought. And as plain looking as me back then too! But Ruby dreamed that Timmy’s simple features would mature with the passage into teenage years, sort of like what happened to her (she supposed). Yes, she could dream.
But tonight was a lesson in skyboxes. Although Timmy had seen things floating in the air, he always assumed the main build of any parcel was set firmly on the ground. Why build in the sky when you can terraform? Timmy at least knew about that Second Lyfe skill, since his father was a professional landscaper back in the continent’s Mountain Lake country where he’s from, as he explained to Ruby one day while pointing eastward. So that was kind of a mental block to him appreciating the *verticality* of Second Lyfe, which is also so much different than our own Real Life world. We do not build in the air except when first secured to the ground.
And falling! Ruby demonstrated by flying high high high — way beyond sight — and just shutting off the flight powers and tumbling back to the Earth. To still earthbound Timmy’s amazement, she just got up and dusted herself off, unharmed in any way. “Wow,” he then said. “Do you think the doll people escaped by flying up in the air? Maybe their doll master was as dumb as me about such things!” Timmy here was referring to information learned from the About Land description for the peculiar warehouse caddycorner to his (and Ruby’s!) church on the empire property — where they were at the time, actually. “And this otherworldly giant who plays with their cases — might he still be around?” Ruby patiently explained that, to her, this “otherworldly giant” also mentioned in the land’s description is obviously a user.
“A what??” exclaimed Timmy.
“A user,” Ruby said. “We all have one. We also all have a core avatar our particular user *uses* to transfer from World Number 01 to World Number 02 — this one. I had to learn about my core avatar when I came through the Rabbit Hole over on New Island.”
“The one you told me about, yeah,” said Timmy, nodding his rounded head. “The one before Fisher’s Island. But what about Meat City?” He points west this time.
“That my child friend is a place we cannot go into at this point. Not until you mature more.” She studied his face again while they stood in front of that warehouse. So different from Tin Tin’s, who she had gotten use to in the past several weeks. No bevel in the middle obviously.
And such a tall boy for his age! Ruby soon concluded from this and other evidence that Timmy was actually a doll himself, somehow left behind by the others of his kind and adopted by kindly mountain folk. It was disappointing — mostly, she admitted to herself, because it ruled out the possibility of a future lover upon maturity. Timmy’s face would never change from this. He would never get older because he wasn’t really biological. But this might be his saving grace later on.
From his perspective at the time, Timmy was wondering about Ruby’s spiral etched wooden leg and the story behind it. Turns out… well, let’s save that for another night.
“Multicolorville, eh? hehe,” tittered Timmy from the top of the cloud tree at Ruby’s graphic descriptions — remote viewing of course. They were at the “front door” of the 4000 meter skybox of that peculiar warehouse property now, contemplating the next step and just chatting in general.
“Well. It’s like that old John Lennon song said: make love not war. My daddy use to play that before bedtime. He so loved my momma.” Timmy tittered again, then became quiet, hearing the track in his head once more. “‘Mind City’, I believe it was called,” he proclaimed after a moment, then pointed east again, although Ruby couldn’t see the gesture from her perspective. He had a habit of pointing in that direction every time he talked about his family. The direction of the mountain lake where he came from. Timmy was always properly oriented, an internal compass probably part and parcel of his true doll nature he was still oblivious to.
“Mind Games?” corrected the swinging Ruby below. She’d somehow heard this conversation before. But where?
“That might be it.”
And the flip side, she realized, was…
She continued to stare in the direction she instinctively knew to be west. The direction stupid Gwin came from. Suddenly Ruby had decided on their next step. “How would you like to take a leap of faith with me, Young Timmy? As in: across that plywood gap we saw earlier.”
“The one to the west?”
“Removing me even one step further from my family?”
“I suppose.” Ruby had already realized that Timmy’s family had been killed in the war between the Trojans and Durexians she’d read about in her sex ed history class during grade school. No mountaineer was protected from the consequences. Poor Timmy!
Timmy 05 (The End)
“I said three!!!” she shrieked, then could only watch.
Like the proverbial Timmy who fell down that well, our Timmy didn’t make it. He stopped believing in The Magic at a bad spot and tumbled to his untimely death.
Ruby would have to enter Meat City alone.
“You know that wasn’t really Lisa the Vegetarian Smipson you burned alive at the stake back there. Just someone else — yellow.”
“I know. Still felt good.”
“The things I do for mere burgers, pheh.”
art of the deal
“How do you like my painting, Mr. Dune. I’m thinking of calling it ‘Life on an Orange.'”
Pathetic, Herbert Dune thinks to himself. “Exquisite,” he says aloud. “Listen, Madame Silver. I see that you’re a very busy and productive young woman.”
Madame Silver giggles outlandishly. “Oooo, young *man*. You flatter me!”
“Thank you. I won’t waste any more of your precious time. I’m here for the complaint about one of our dollhouses. You said a characters within is… stuck?”
Madame Silver talks while continuing to paint. “Yes, um, but why don’t we discuss it over tea. Do you like tea? Hot tea I mean. Cold tea is for barbarians. I hope you’re not a cold tea lover. For the sake of our continued business transactions.”
“You are one of our most loyal customers, Madame Silver. I will be glad to have tea with you if you can take time from your busy schedule.” I *hate* tea, Herbert Dune grumbles to himself again. Cold *or* hot. But I’ll swallow it for the deal.
“Well this is simply *delightful*. I’m glad you like the tea.”
“It is so so delicious, Madame Silver. I haven’t had tea like that in a long time. Perhaps back before I joined the company.”
“How many years have you been there now? Five, six? I’m glad you got your promotion. That way you finally get to meet *me*.”
“I am glad to be in your humble service, Madame Silver. I’ve heard so many good things about you.” He pauses significantly, hoping the old codger will *finally* get to the dollhouse and needed repairs. Of course he’s going to try to sell her a brand new dollhouse… at a significant discount of course. But pushing upgrades instead of expensive repair is standard practice in the business. In any business, really. Those based on pure capitalism and money and greed. And certainly like Doll Pedlars, Inc.
She flattens out her skirt and stands up. “*Well*. I suppose we should get to that dollhouse, eh? Back up the stairs we go!”
“Yes, I think I see the problem, Madame Silver. But it’s a bad one. We’ll have to take the whole dollhouse back to the office for repairs. *Or*… we could sell you an upgrade for a cut rate price. Maybe save you money in the end. Your choice of course. But this looks like a 02350 malfunction of the circuit board. I’d highly recommend the upgrade. I’ll deliver it to you in person, make sure everything works perfectly before leaving.”
“Oooo. Look at that fluffy feather bed up there on the next level, Mr. Dune,” Madame Silver deviates. “I’m sooo sleepy. I could use a nap. Could you also use a nap? We could sleep on opposite sides. Unless…”
Oh. She’s *that* type of old codger, thought Herbert Dune. A cougar codger. Chris withheld that valuable piece of information about the work.
He pauses to consider. He decides to be frank. “Will it help seal the deal?”
“It *might*” She giggles in that grating way again. Herbert Dune makes a note to not say things that might induce it again.
“Alright. But I have to be back at the office by 8.”
“Make it 9.” She giggles once more.
Jill MacGill/Gwin spouts the history of the place she and Axis wait at for the ambassador.
“‘The water at the upper dam of Fish Lake, also known as Lake Three’ — that’s because of its shape and not because it is the third part of some series,” she adds as an aside, then continues. “Let’s see — ‘… falls vertically in contrast to the gentler step cascade of the lower dam.'” She turns to Axis, who was formerly the boy known as Tin Tin. There was no need to keep up that disguise any longer, since the marriage was off. To both Ruby *and* her effective doppleganger Gwin here. “That’s because of the salmon. The salmon need some way to get to the lake to spawn, where they themselves were spawn.”
“I know how it works, Gwin. But thank you for the passage. I’m going to go over and look behind said waterfall now. See what has changed since my last visit as that snotty nosed boy Tin Tin.”
“Disgusting,” agreed Gwin, shaking her head. “Try to remedy that the next time you incarnate as a hormone raging teenager.”
“I’ll try.” Axis gets up off the curving bench. “I’m going over there now. You wait here for Briney if you don’t mind. He said to meet him in the northeast corner and we don’t want to miss him. Again.”
“But I want to see *too.*”
Axis looked around, gauging distances and space. “All right. But leave your red book on the bench — open — so he knows we’re here. In case he misses us standing over there. You know how he is.”
“No one will steal it,” assures the red crossed man, guessing what Gwin was thinking. “It’s just a old book *prop* and not an old and rare book itself.”
“Oh yeah. Forgot.”
“The camera’s right over there. Remember?”
“Yeah I know. Hi Bert!” She waves to the cameraman, who hesitantly waves back.
“We should get up. The script demands we get up.” But Jill MacGill/Gwin was still thinking it’s a continuity error as she lays down the supposedly rare tome. Plus it could damage the spine keeping it open like that.
“We’ve seen this before, Pitch. That tome is ‘Winesap’.”
“I suppose it has to be, Bill.”
“Way down there, aren’t they?”
“Completely vertical, like I said.”
“And last time I checked — for the purposes of this shoot earlier today, you understand — we have yet another avatar that winks on and off while switching colors between green — cypress colored green, or the darker variety anyway — and silver.”
“Like Madame Silver,” Jill MacGill/Gwin tacks on, thinking they need to get back on script.
“The name is Emerald this time.” Axis checks the location behind the waterfall remotely. “But now she’s not there.”
“Could be other clues,” suggests Gwin. “Don’t give up so easily.”
So Axis scouts again and perhaps sees something else.
“He’s checking the water in Glinda. He’s in Glin, but holds the glass in Glinda, then scrutinizes it. The he wipes it down in Glin and starts again. Over and over it goes. He understands it is different over there. He’s afraid to step beyond the boundary, else…”
“Phantom,” completes Gwin.
“He’s trying to figure out why. Scientist?”
“No, they’re *both* over the line. Both in Glinda. A man and a woman. Adam and Eve, then?”
“Jeeeez. Could I have said, hmm, *3:30*?” gurgles a drunk Briney, struggling to recall the actual time he assigned for a rendezvous with Axis and Gwin. “Nah, I’m sure it was (*burb*) 4:30. Time for another drinkie poo or two, then. Bel-ievve I’ll try that Mole Juice Sur- (*burb*) Sur-prise next, hehehe.”
“Fish (*slurp*). So maa-ny fish at this damned lake.”
A mysterious object appears along The Diagonal at 193/195 Miata. Oscar the cat is *very* curious about what’s inside.
Once again, Golden Jim knows more than he’s letting on.
“Gonna be a cold one tonight, Bendy. But you make a great stove — quite toasty.”
“Thank you. I try.”
Fisher thinks this could be one of those nights he also employs Bendy for that other thing they don’t talk about much. Sure wish Lisa V. was here, he laments. I wonder how she is — way over there on the Corsica continent in her big ol’ houseboat. *Alone* hopefully.
Lisa the Vegetarian Smipson just found out about David Jaspers and her best friend Linda Halsey. That’s *it*, she steams. I’m leaving this stupid cartoon town and *never* coming back!
Madame Silver’s yellow figure is stuck no more, thanks to the fix by recently promoted Doll Pedlar Inc. employee Herbert Dune.
However, he appears to be in the doghouse with her tonight…
… but it’s actually just another, larger dollhouse they’re testing out.
She’s done with him for now. He knows this ensures another sale, though. Rich rich rich, up up up!
A mysterious stranger appears in Adgatetown knowing the whereabouts of Lisa’s missing brother Bartholomew.
Red? ¡Ay, caramba!
Funny how I’ve been banned for 30 minutes from that central property, just for sitting at that table and attempting to grab an orange. Better send replacement Snoupy in for a shot instead. Must – get – oranges!
He checks his watch. *Or*, I could just wait the now 19 minutes remaining and explore some of the rest of this Adgatetown. David Jaspers, Linda Halsey — wonder if they’re still here. And of course Lisa V., the real reason for the visit. Bartholomew. I know where he is. I know where all the Smipsons are: Homer, Marg, Grandpaw, Magee, even the aunts Selma and Louise. I know who shot Mr. J. R. Burns. And I know why Lisa can’t find any of them. She has evolved.
Two kids playing on a jungle gym linked together with red, blue, yellow pentagons. Wait: there’s green there too. Sometimes that is forgotten in the mix of primary colors.
Maybe like Lisa and Bartholomew when they were children. Innocent days of youth. Before the Big Change. One made it through the waterfall, the other didn’t. Lisa casts a shadow and evil is born. Projected onto the boy.
They are acting out a play: The boy dreams of life on an elephant, but can’t make it there himself. For the girl: smooth sailing.
What game are they playing now? The one where blue wins and red loses? That happens all the time.
What about yellow on the edge? Oh, there’s the father or guardian showing up. Perhaps come to gather them up and take them home to a nice, delicious warm meal prepared by the significant other while he was out hard at work selling encyclopedias or something. Nice suit.
But when Marion Harding also stopped at the edge of the circle, only one child was still within. The dancing one. The one who cast the shadow.
Oops. Past time to take a pic with those oranges!
the difference between Jaspers and Adgatetown remains opaque
“You know she left town more because of me,” spoke Linda Halsey earnestly to new beau David Newton Jaspers. They were standing on the East Bridge of Adgatetown, the only place they’d ever known or ever would know. Narrow perspective. “I hate to put you down, put you in your place.”
“Wanna listen to some more Chalcedony tonight? I downloaded it from a pirate site. It’s before Dyslexia Cornfield the drummer left. Good stuff.” He pauses, considering. “What were you saying?”
“Never mind.” She takes his arm and dreams about blue tomorrows.
On weekends, when business was brisker, Ruby Roo worked as a receptionist for the Tina Queen Photographic Gallery, located almost exactly a city block west of her multi-story treehouse house she still resided in. But former housemate Tin Tin was no more to be seen, and Ruby suspected that he may have been drafted for the most recent version of the Trojan vs. Durexians war over in the east mountains where Timmy was from. Poor Timmy, she laments. Not born to exist in the harsh environment of Meat City — ideally should have stayed put in the hills supported and nurtured by a loving foster mother and father. But wars do that; separate loved ones from loved ones. She misses Tin Tin, but not nearly as much as Timmy.
Ruby puts on a brave face and continues inventorying the most recent batch of photos her boss Tina had taken during the week.
A very prolific snapper she is! But Second Lyfe will do that to you; so easy to take pictures here. Ruby herself, inspired by Tina and also the more abstract work in the Roads Gallery across the, well, road from this one, has taken up playing around with art a bit. Here’s an example of a computer sketch she made for a sculpture tentatively titled “Scratch”:
Here is a related work-in-progress she might call “Itch”:
Marvelous indeed. The more she becomes immersed in an artistic journey of her own, the more she finds herself attracted to rural and bucolic New Island for setting up a potential future studio — maybe at Mabel’s old house? But is the island still there after the Limekiln Catastrophe? Perhaps it depends on if she *wishes* it to be so. And she’s starting to think she does. She does indeed wish it to be so.
Maybe a switcheroo is needed: Fishers Island exchanged back with New Island. *Fishers* Island is destroyed, perhaps by that new burny fellow who just biked across its westward bridge.
The eastward bridge would then open and allow refuges to return to their former homes there, radiation levels subsided.
It was time to confront Madame Silver at the main house. Ruby’s Democratic Empire must come into being *now* or else the perpetually 15 1/2 year old’s newly laid out plans might be in vain. She knew the experiments were
ongoing going on.
“Oooo, I’m getting more insights from the Big Brain, Axis.”
“Good, good,” replied her partner in crime, not looking over from his tests in the background. He’d seen all this so many times now. Contact with Braynard. “Now how do I make this Spider Baby come into being?”
“It’s the 200th,” Madame Silver says,” removing herself from the enabling head gear and turning toward him. “The brain must be aligned with the 200th. Unch. That’s what stabilizes The Diagonal. We’ll be able to recreate the forest *here*, then.”
“Well, cut me a choice piece of Briney’s specimen and bring it over. I’m recalibrating the coordinates on my end.”
But as Madame Silver raises the knife to do as Axis says…
… her hand suddenly begins to quiver.
She quickly drops the blade on the floor and moves away from the precious brain.
“Ohhhhhh. Side effects coming!”
Ruby was trying to figure out which door from the main parlor of the house led to the laboratory when a large, naked man manifested before her, seemingly taunting her to speak. Knowing no harm could come of the situation, Ruby still quickly pointed out that nudity was banned from the property, the sim as a whole in fact. Then man then told the girl the he had voided his contract with Madame Silver and the whole lot of you Rubyites could go f-ck themselves. With this declaration, Ruby was hoping he would leave, but instead the hulking blonde began playing the harp, which afforded her the edited photo below.
The 5 doors in the room began opening willy nilly around them.
The many cats laying/sitting on the ruby floor became agitated, with some starting to dart about aimlessly.
A voice boomed from above. “Looking for a way into the laboratory Young Ruby?” It was Madame Silver. The man at the harp suddenly burst into flames, then was gone, not even ash upon the floor. “This is what happens when you void a contract with me. This is my warning.”
Ruby later suspected that the man might also be Madame Silver, incarnated just to prove this point.
The cats settled down a bit again, not looking as anxious. A single, wooden door creaked opened. The way to the laboratory, Ruby inferred.
Then another directly in front of her as she passed through the first.
“Is it a place of good…
… or a force for evil, this new New Island?
Fishers Island. Eraserhead Man might know, but he’s already done with this particular Collagesity novel, taking his strange troupe of actors along with him. Loaded onto the Isle of the Top Dog, they are; destinations: unknown. ‘Out there’, as Captain Spocari Nemoy might say. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Bill/Wheeler paused in her story, took a good look at Baker/Pitch sitting opposite her.
Still wearing his Russian hat (she must look up the name of that thing). Still fretting over when Mary gets home, what she’d like to eat on any given night, what wine to buy her, will her several different changes of clothing with different fabrics have to be washed separately or can it be done altogether. Small problems, nothing that can’t be solved with a little more experience and know-how. Yes, he is knitted together with his woman. And as such, he can never really go back to being plain ol’ Baker Bloch any longer. That’s the takeaway about *him* from this novel she’s receiving.
But herself? It’s a more complicated story, involving Philip Strevor, Marion Harding, True Opp (Tropp — *not* Troop). Maybe we can revisit the third one for more answers. Last we checked, he’s still up in New Eden, hanging around with Madam Mexico and Mr. Peanuts.
“But what did Ruby see there?” Pitch then asked (yes, she’s just going to think of him as Pitch from now on). “What is the ending to her Democratic Empire story?”
“Nothing,” answered Bill confidently. “There was no one in the lab. Just a stack of cheese in its center. And… a moth.”
She hesitated slightly, then: “Wait! There *was* someone there. Is!”
Red. And a bit of yellow toward the center.
But she couldn’t fly to see the whole from above. That was what she was shown next. Ruby’s Democratic Empire, a sky platform, well, about the size of the Rubi Woods.
And then she was *there*. Back at the forest. Coady the wolf before her at 168/168, about to howl “The End” again but this time with second thoughts. *Was* it The End? Was it really, truly, the finale? Really? Truly? Finale?
“Well Coady,” Ruby offered the stuck canine, hands on hips. “What happened to Madam Mexico? Did she get her wall between California and Nevada paid for? Did she fix the perfectly round hole in the middle? Can she still see the cursed valencia navel? Answer me Coady. I know you know.”