Parasol was so close to the man with the answers (Patriotic Soup Restaurant cook) but yet so far. The bearded lady’s answer to the location of Kuckoo’s or Palace Hotel was: “Ask the fish butcher at the flea market. He knows everything and everybody.” Another dead end, then, for, as we know, the underwater butcher knows nothing. She decided just to wander a bit more before totally giving up, and stumbles (and bumbles) upon a passageway she didn’t think she’d explored before in her many travels through the city now. She touches something and then finds herself here…
…. confronting a white rabbit on the sky object’s edge. Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer, murdered in “Collagesity Photo-Novel 16.”
Parasol didn’t know this fact, but quickly gathered she was talking to a ghost. “Your plan would not have worked,” he called over in earnest after introducing himself. “The whiteyes would not implant correctly over your own eyes and you would have been found out immediately and killed. Just like myself.” He faded from view with this, but the brief encounter provided Parasol with more valuable information than she had hitherto received from anyone in Kowloon. “My plot would not have work!” she said, spinning the possibility, nay *actuality* around in her mind. Because she knew it was true as soon as it spilled out of the dead doctor’s mouth. White rabbits are true guides. They do not seek to mislead in and of themselves.
Parasol looked up. Another mass of black and white color directly above her head. She flew up…
… to confront *another* white rabbit at the same position on the taijitu symbol’s edge. The symbol was smaller, brighter, and with a more irregularly shaped edge (with a good number of rounded protrusions) than the otherwise duplicate one immediately below. Another 2-n-1.
This white rabbit, taller and appearing feminine in the dim light to Parasol, introduced herself as Charlie in about an octave higher register than the doctor before her. Feminine indeed, although possessing a uni-sex name. “I am the continuation of the doctor,” she spoke, and then Parasol was in a very different location again. Very low instead of very high.
She stared up. The spinning, red fabricy doctor had just finished fixing the first red eye and was about to start on the second. A beam shot up from the “unfixed” eye, destroying the aberrant being in one poof of smoke. She stood up. Was she alive or dead? She couldn’t tell as she walked down the trench toward the surface again…
(to be continued)
Devil Girl, the unofficial 4th member of the Redeye band — so unofficial she was forgotten in the dispersal of the others — looked on from a safe distance at the Patriotic Soup Restaurant as dreamer Herbert G. Gold returned the “With ‘Other Other'” VHS tape.
“This does me no good,” Herbert complained to the cook, back to stirring his famous concoction derived from ancient Bing Song recipes such as “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bells.” “It’s blank — nothing on it. I ran it from beginning to end to make sure.” He lays the tape closer to the cook on the counter but no reaction from the stirrer. “It does me no good,” Herbert repeated. “I am no closer to knowing who this cat with the red eye is than at the beginning.”
A weighted pause. Herbert could tell the cook had information he wasn’t revealing. Then a bit here: “The tape (stir – stir – stir) is not blank.”
“Well, yeah, like I said, I watched it from beginning to end. It *is* blank. There’s nothing on it.”
The title label on the tape suddenly faded out, then snapped back into reality. Devil Girl noticed the anomaly from her observing seat if Herbert Gold didn’t. She realized at that moment that the tape was blank because the story of Redeye hadn’t been told yet. It lay in the future from this point. She decided, then and there, to steal the tape and put something on it. Something to remember the band by. Because this was all about her fellow bandmates Slash Girl, Angus Girl, Buckethead Girl. They had been dispersed, true, but something else could be made of it.
Herbert Gold was gone. The tape title remained blank for good. Devil Girl moved in and took his spot.
“There was nothing ever there, young lady,” the stirrer explained. “*Yet.*”
It’s yours to do something with now.”
Spies were all over town. The Queen’s gang: Frosty, Satan Santa, Norton Wise Turtle, Spaced Ghost (Spaced Ghost!), Fish Head of course. Others she has no time to remember the names of right now. Because she must hurry — she knows she will soon be followed. In the dreamscape things sometimes move very fast(!). She must keep pace. Blank VHS tape in hand, Devil Girl runs through a conveniently placed green door beside the Patriotic Soup Restaurant and down one of the town’s many “secret” passages. Too convenient, some might speculate. And they would be right.
She exits the passage through another green door and enters a larger alleyway. “Wagon wheels,” Devil Girl ponders. “I’m too close to home.” She knew the symbol spelt the end.
She turns. Most of the remainder of the Queen’s gang were running down the sloped stairs from the other direction toward her. Too late. She will not find the red door. She will be dispersed with the others, and the VHS tape stored in a safe place until information begins to appear on it. But this would be much later.
Before heading over to Kowloon, Jer Left Horn makes a stop in VHC City to pause and reflect on the recent death of the user behind longtime Virtual Hotel Chelsea manager Enola Vaher. Although I didn’t know the avatar (or user), VHC City, centered around the huge hotel, figures prominently in my mythology through, primarily, The Diagonal, which is now one (Head) of 2 (also: Heart) I’ve found spanning the Heterocera continent. I hope the hotel can carry on beyond this blow, and certainly the rental situation there continues to be healthy and, most likely, self sustaining for a while. Many musical events go on all the time there as well.
Moving on to Kowloon, Jer Left Horn decides to first stop by Fish Head’s bar to catch up with all the latest news. The first thing he notices are the bent stools in the back.
“Fight in here, Head?” he questioned while sitting down at the nearest, upright stool, becoming suspicious off the top. He had his knife at ready in the belt under his jacket just in case.
“Oh, you know. Typical Tuesday night. Some of the Queen’s gang letting off steam.”
*You’re* one of the Queen’s gang, Jer Left Horn thinks to himself. Why the separation between you and them? The hand slides down to grip the handle of the knife.
“Like who?” he tried to ask as calmly as possible. “Norton Wise Turtle?” He forced a smile here. Everyone knew the big man-turtle was a first rate troublemaker.
“Yeah, him. And, let’s see — Spaced Ghost!”
“*Spaced Ghost*?” Jer Left Horn turns left. Then: nothing for a long while.
He wakes up in some kind of pod swimming with shrimp, it appeared. He keeps his eyes frozen, military training snapping into action in a moment of crisis.
“You’re getting old again, Spaced Ghost. Better head back to the time machine,” requested likewise observing TronAxis. “The shrimp have almost extracted all the information they need.” TronAxis returns his attention to Jer Left Horn’s floating form in the cylinder: the still frozen eyes, the glazed over look. Shouldn’t be long though, now, he thinks. Is there life already in that face?
The cylinder shatters. Jer Right Horn steps out, dry as a whistle, knife ready. The shrimp flip and flop helplessly around the floor amidst the spilled yellow liquid and broken glass, task unfinished. Now old Spaced Ghost knows he’s no match for the young prince and hobbles away from the scene as fast as possible. TronAxis stands steady, light disk at ready. He knew of Jer Left Horn’s military background — should have taken more steps to ensure his secureness. Hindsight is golden I suppose. But this is the way it was suppose to be, he adjusted to the situation. Me versus him.
A narrow boat materializes before the fleeing Spaced Ghost in the middle of the pool of water just beyond the pod room: Tessa, sans her driving challenged grandpa this time but still a dreamer. And this is the aforementioned Kow Pond, also known as Loon Lake. Indeed the center of it all. Thanks to Tessa.
“Gentlemen!” she called back into the shadows behind old Spaced Ghost. “Set down your arms!”
They continued to talk while Herbert Gold, dead again, danced frantically at the bus station in the background, obviously in a dream trance. Tessa looked over, convinced that grandpa finally wasn’t going to come back this time. Platinum through and through he was now, with wife April Mae (not related to Tessa except through marriage) truly a widow. The vision made her point more important.
“We *must* set aside differences to explore what remains of Our Second Life, gentlemen.” Tessa was wise now, thanks to what happened in Bellisaria, which we’ll get to in a minute. “North — South — it doesn’t matter. Whatever is left of the World of Lemon must be chronicled as best as possible while there’s still time to find traces of it here and there.” She indicated the surroundings with her hand. “Like right here in RustpORt in Heterocera’s Pond District. Why the OR emphasized in the name to highlight the sim here (Or)? Why the water levels at 65 instead of the regular 20 — an anomaly common in this area? Such broad mysteries, ready to be explored, must not remain unanswered or our overall mission has failed. Gentlemen, this is the test, the challenge. Lay down your arms. Stop bickering and look all around you — observe. The fight you have is small compared to what lies all around. There are still *traces*. Traces can be used to sketch out a broader picture. You *must*–”
“Yes, I know, I know. My military style knife must go,” butted in Jer Left Horn to her immediate left. “TronAxis’ *frisbee* must go.”
“How *dare* you,” Axis to his left returned. But with a smile now. Indeed the child before them had warmed their hearts, opened their minds with her stories and information. The Bellisaria island she stayed on after leaving the cave system the key to seeing Our Second Lyfe as a globe, a sphere? Incredible! Pode and Anti-Pode: it was the only place — well, the south slice of the island that lay in the sim of Grote — to resonate with land on the opposite side of this world. New Amsterdam revealed, which then became New York but bombed back to New Amsterdam conditions in the year… well, better not reveal that yet. I’ll let Rebl do it later on, who is the same as Parasol. Shame she couldn’t join these avatars in Or for the end of the current Collagesity photo-novel.
Oh wait. There she is.
“1926,” she answered cryptically to the camera, still with one red and one blue eye. The underwater operation was a success. Or was it a complete failure?
END OF “COLLAGESITY 2019-2020 WINTER”!