“It’s the first megaburg on the (Jeogeot) continent since WES, reportedly. And they’re trying to bring back at least *sections* of the old into the new. Red is there, for example. Red shirt; red head.”
“Merry Gouldbusk, then.”
“Um. Sure. But in this incarnation she likes to go by Breeze.”
“What incarnation? (pause) And what *sex* is she?”
“If you touch one place I am a man. If another: a woman. It is as yet undecided, then.”
“Thank you for answering me, er, Breeze.”
“You’re welcome.” *click*
She stared across the road at them; they stared back.
The Owl and the Rhino.
She had acquired a name for the town: Necksity. After a neck. Someone’s neck. Wonder who?
She had to make another purchase in town to find out. She was a *spy*. Excitement!
There was a strange smell to the place. She opened a window in back for air. Vacant lot behind.
A lift directly behind the rowhouse just rented that goes down to nowhere. Just grass beneath here. The megaburg is still being built in its various levels; a work in progress.
Better get the little devils over. Another town for them to take, um, down.
But turns out the correct group to rez objects could not be joined tonight. Frustration. Her neck began to hurt, and not for the last time.
“This will be the time that does him in. He will have to go there *physically* after that. Only way to really explore the place, this Necksity. He has gone too far, found too many things. He can now…”
“Don’t say it.”
“Anyway. (pause) This is the place.”
“Nah. It’s not *that* kind of neck pain. It’s a bit of an infection, yes, but…”
“Don’t say it.”
“*Anyway*. This is still the place. But it’s not Necksity. *That* Necksity.”
“A limit, yes. A limit, true. We are not even baker b. and Hucka D. any longer. New WES is WES but not WES. Something new.”
Quickly: “I gathered that.”
“Two shacks in the center of town.”
(pause) “We can’t be just nowhere spirits, talking in the void. Take us to at least the White Palace.”
“Yes, *somewhere*,” requests the other. But who were they? I guess that’s the point. So I brought him back.
“What are you *doing* here. We have a whole *kingdom* to run over there.”
“Queendom,” she partially corrected her brother. He was drinking through his rainbow sphere covered head again. She thought nothing of it, seeing the act for years. Eating, drinking, even, well, other things. Smoking. A lot of smoking. This was another Joint Joint and that’s a fact. Beside the Rhino Club, even. “It *has* to be Gaston reborn as well,” she spoke on the subject. Dare they go into the other room? Will *he* be there? They kept delaying, chatting about other things. Catching up in general. It had been months since the two siblings had seen each other. All was not well in Rosehaven. Winter is coming.
“You go running off here and there,” the brother kept complaining. “To Sunklands… to *here*. Why Jeogeot? Why return back to that particular continent? Is it Pietmond?” he then queried. “Sunklands as a whole?” But he said it as if all the letters were capitalized. SUNKLANDS, then.
“SUNKLANDS, yes,” his sister then realized. That’s why she’d redonned the golden
map mask. Bach… Goldberg Variations. Is this a *gold* town, then? Or some other metal. One way to find out…
“Ok, he’s not here,” says a mainly relieved Ingo, King of Rosehaven. But a shared kingdom. Half queendom. They joked about the name all the time. Before she started her travels at least.
“No,” she stated plainly, not as relieved, and looked around the back room of the joint. A place to buy drugs, yes. Better get her brother out of here asap.
But someone *was* here.
*But*. Could they see him? Could *we* see him? (yes)
Is the window open…
She closed the window, satisfied that the smell was coming from the other direction.
She faced the opposite way.
Better get downstairs.
“Believe me, if you go down this Breeze path you’ll never get out of here. Change your hair, change your life. The gold will go and you’ll never be the same. Trust me. I know.”
“My– my kingdom or queendom thinks me bananas for hanging out around mainland, let alone *here*. Bananas, I said (she nods up). That’s my attempt at a joke to lighten the mood.”
“It didn’t work,” the other responded. The one that had already succumbed to the Other Side. Humor, lame or unlame, was not allowed there. “I think you should go with that hole in the wall next. The cave. The owner will be proud and surprised she could rent the place. (Small) homeless camp right outside. Convenient to this, um, downtown. Guess you can call it a downtown. And this beach, for what it’s worth.”
“I’ll think about it, erm, Other Self. What did you say your name was?”
“You know my name.”
“Breeze,” Merry Gouldbusk pronounces while staring at her and realizing. “Me in the future.”
“Lucky you,” Future Breeze responds quickly. She had seen enough of the past for tonight.
She went to see where she once lived. The cave or hole-in-the-wall existence didn’t help: she still succumbed. And it’s available again. Too bad time can’t loop back upon itself, she thought, or I could return and change things. Make sure Merry never published those photos, took those shots. “The Rose and the Thorn” could be a good title for this story, pheh.
“No, there’s something still missing, Merry. Tell you what, let’s do another experiment. Let’s lose the golden skin this time. Keep the girly hair, lose the skin.”
“You mean, just take it *off*?”
“Sure. Just temporary mind you.”
“Yeahhh. That’s it. You go girl!”
He must get his eyebrow spiral just right. For today was the day to pop the big question. Just a little more product should do it.
“The town *could* hold many mysteries,” she complained metallically to photographer Herbert Dune later at Spunky’s coffee shop on Southside, “but I’m not sure that’s the way it’s pivoting. A choice must be made soon. Am I a mixed up man-girl or one or the other? Not sitting on the fence any longer. Feel one part: one. Feel another: the other.”
Herbert Dune was staring at her hair, thinking: I believe you’ve already chosen, baby*doll*. My doll, that is. Could this be, could it be…? He said aloud: “I-I’ve made a decision as well.” Stumbling with his words? That’s not like him. He *must* be nervous about all this too. But he seems so close this time. After failing so many times before. A doll come to life. Dare he even think the name? Yes: All Orange. I think I’ve found her. “I wish you to become my assistant.” Confidence back now. He stares her straight in the eyes, trying to ignore the golden sheen. He’d almost found his style. One more trick with the hair at the shoot tonight might do it. Along with shedding the skin again, of course.
“Wow, that was *da bomb*, Merry.” Marry me, Merry! he wanted to scream to the world. The illusion was complete.
“Call me Breeze,” the assistant then requested. She’d been pondering the new name for a while.
“Breeze it is!”
“Marry me, Breeze!” He couldn’t help himself this time.
It’s a strange place for certain. And big! It *could* work — that’s why he’s here. Especially given that he’s just found his long sought for All Orange. I started to write “seemingly”, but, no, he’s found it. The Rose but also The Thorn.
“I’ll *make* it work,” he says aloud to no one in particular. “I have motivation now. But where to next?”
There was a simple answer. Home. Just in the back there.
He must do something with the place, he ruminates when entering. Especially since he has a bonafide assistant now. Joy!
“Soooo. Herbert Dune — that’s his name?”
“Yes,” answers Baker Bloch to Hucka Doobie. They’re back!
“He’s in one part of Apple’s Orchard. And his girlfriend — *assistant* — is in another part, more to the north. South and north.”
“That’s our limits (!) For the present.”
Meanwhile, in the Faux Rhino Club across this sim, Breeze, reverted to plain ol’ Merry Gouldbusk for the afternoon at least, had just heard out Herbert Gold’s profession of love for her. Two in two days! she thought to herself. When a woman is in demand, she’s in demand! “H-how did you find me?” she asked innocently. She knew the larger answer to that. Destined couples have a way of getting together, no matter how the surface odds are stacked against them. But she has Herbert Dune now. Confusion! Good confusion, though. She is wanted! And… another *Herbert*. What’s with that?
“It was your last letter to me,” he explained. “About half a year back. You mentioned NWES — New WES I think you called it at the time.”
“That’s right. I remember. I said I wanted a change, a new life. Ingo can run Rosehaven by himself now. It’s *his* kingdom, yes.”
“As opposed to your queendom.” He looked her over good. “Soooo…”
“And he basically asked her flat out if she had decided on a sex for herself. He’d touched her in two places before; knew there was some mixed up boy-girl confusion going on up here… and down here.” Hucka Doobie was fondling the appropriate places on her body.
“I know what you’re talking about, Hucka Doobie. No need for the grabbing and such. Welll?”
“All of a sudden,” the bee-person continued, “she didn’t know again. It’s when she first laid eyes on Herbert, walking down the street beside her apartment on 108 Rib Lane.”
“Actually, I think it’s Serpent Avenue.”
“Whatever,” Hucka Doobie quickly followed. “But the skin came back, the *mask* came back. She was all glinty goldeny again, much to her dismay. She thought it was over and that she had found true home. Home with Herbert. But there was *another* Herbert to deal with.”
“Maybe *he* should just steal her golden skin. His last name is Gold, after all. And — what about April Mae? Is she left behind forever down at West End in, where was it, the Irish Village in that Fi sim?”
“Well… the 4th had to be reached. Rubedo. End of Work.”
“We’ll keep an eye out on them from a distance for now. See what unfolds.”
“Yes, Ms. Tanner,” the male officers around her emitted in quasi-unity. Servants they were. To her but ultimately…
… to Ingo himself. Ingo Ratts.
“They’ll be marching to a different drummer soon.”
“Yes, Ms. Tanner.”
“Merry, I have only a little over a day on my rental on the south side of the sim. Let’s just move in together.”
“Hmm.” She leaned her head against the back of the chair, thinking of the choice she’d made again.
“We’d, er, have to move into a bigger place with more available prims.”
“I have a really nice, feathery bed,” he said more seductively. “Wouldn’t fit in here with the little devils, butt…”
“One day, huh?”
“Yeah.” He looked around the room. “You could have Satan’s spawn just have their run of the place. Only 50 lindens a week. We could get a better place. Not on my side of town,” he elaborated. “Nothing going on over there.”
“Maybe next door,” she proffered, thinking of the bill again.
“Maybe next *door*,” he echoed, offering his hand to hers. They drew each other in for a celebratory kiss. She changed again.
“What about the other Herbert?” Hucka Doobie logically asked.
“Sent away,” I responded. “Too old at the core of it.”
“Core,”said Hucka. “Interesting word.”
“She decided last night. At the Faux Rhino.”
“That was just… satisfactory.”
“*Just* satisfactory?” the other Herbert, Herbert Gold, replied with widening eyes. He had tried his best. He knew he didn’t have anything more in him than that.
His Mission had failed.
Oh well. Back to April Mae in that Fi sim he can never remember the full name of, pheh. He left her a 100 linden bill on the bar counter before leaving. Just enough for a week’s rent in that new place she’d had her eye on for a spell.
It was the piece de resistance of the move. A celebratory endpoint. The return of the Shape Pullers from Merry Gouldbusk’s past. Now she could enjoy them at any time, 12:37 or not. “Thank you *so* much, Sandy Beech!” she said while cameras were rolling and leaning over for a kiss. It was not reciprocated.
“And CUT! Okay, *kill* the shapepullers, kill the lights. Benny, you were looking away from the camera. And Horace, you weren’t even in the shoot! Get your little red keister out on the balcony and take a gander with brother Marvin at what’s happening outside, why don’t you! Oh, you little devils!” Director Bob Waffleburg kept complaining. “But *you*, my fine friend Alice Frame (playing Merry Gouldbusk/Breeze). You’re going to *have* to learn the difference between a role name and an actor name!”
Sandy Beech, the actor playing Herbert Dune, just nodded his head and stared over at her. With bile.
The next day they explored the city together, finding mysterious yards full of containers and pipes…
… non-operating, unfinished subways…
… and loads and loads of apartments, the great majority unrented.
Well, if they don’t like the present neighbors (and they *do* have neighbors themselves — more on that soon, perhaps), there’s plenty of other places to live here. No land for sale in the area, though, except for one small 512 going for 58.6 lindens per square meter. By contrast, Baker Bloch paid an average of about 0.7 lindens for the land he set up 7 Stones on about 5 months back. So: expensive! Way too costly to contemplate another purchase, even if he had the tier freed up for it. So this is strictly a rental scene for his extended family, to tell a story about a burg much larger than 7 Stones, and its promise but also, yes, failure to live up to expectations. Rows upon rows upon rows of apartments, a strong police presence, pockets of interesting neighborhoods. But not enough, Sandy had determined a while back, and now with Merry Gouldbusk joining in the lament. Not enough to ultimately survive.
I compare with VHC City, a considerably smaller affair than NWES (still much bigger than 7 Stones, though), but with a strong, central *structure* the whole community is built around and which keeps it thriving. This would be the Virtual Hotel Chelsea, a dominating force. NWSE has no such centerpiece that I can tell, *unless* this police hq can become it.
Probably not, but thought I’d mention. Merry and
Sandy Herbert also visited there this fine, crisp early October day. Merry saw something she didn’t understand.
“Look, *Herbert Dune*,” she declared while pointing upward. “INGO,” she pronounced clearly. She had said INGOR before and they had to reshoot the scene. But it was a logical mistake, *because* Ingor Ratts was a famous figure from WES, the town that kind of sort of prefigures New WES, or what we now call NWES. “Like the four directions, North West East South, combined into one,” Herbert Dune explains another time for Merry about the town’s name origin. “It’s pieces of a puzzle fitted together. Here, let me show you. I know this dude uptown who can tell us more.” But before we get to that: the first name. Merry Gouldbusk again here, then:
“INGO, Herbert Dune, is my *brother*, my slightly older brother.”
“Big Brother, then,” states Herbert Dune while nodding. “I know how they are.”
She stared at the banner again, realizing: he’s been watching me all along!
They were watching “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” on the tellie tonight, a logical choice. At a predictable chase scene through a haunted castle, Merry Gouldbusk leans over and tells Herbert Dune that she got in contact with her brother about the banners. Herbert Dune arches his spiraling eyebrow a little higher, Spock style. “Welll?” he replied, thinking she needs to speak up for the microphones. But, overall, her acting was acceptable lately. She’d been taking lessons from one of the best. She’d learned a lot since Rosehaven. Except for the occasional name slippages she was fine. But just that: acceptable. Ordinary, even. Oh Alice Frame, Sandy Beech thought, how’d I get chained down with you. I am like a clipped Icarus.
“He said he had nothing to do with it,” answered Merry Gouldbusk, speaking up a bit at the encouragement of Bob Waffleburg off-camera.
“How,” stumbled Herbert Dune, then started again. “How is that *possible*?”
“*Dad-dy*,” Satan’s spawn Melvin complained from the pillow beside them, totally immersed in the castle shoot.
“Tell you what, young demon. You’ve stayed up too long past your bedtime already. Time to join your brethren upstairs. We’ll continue the movie tomorrow night.”
“Awww,” he exclaimed not too loud while obediently getting up and stretching and yawning. For a little demon, he was quite well behaved. They all were. Except Spunky of course.
“So explain what you said before.”
“About the banners?”
“Of course.” Stop ad libbing, Sandy Beech thought bitterly inside. Stick to the script!
“Wellll?” Herbert Dune echoed back.
“He said he didn’t do it.”
Sandy Beech complained to director Bob Waffleburg afterwards. “Jeez, it’s right there on the banner. *INGO*. How could her slightly older brother, her *Big Brother* after all, not be head of the police state here and spy on her all the time? Answer me that genius director.” Before, Eraserhead Man and his disjointed plots. Now, Bob Waffleburg’s logic gaffes. And he’s not a surrealist. No excuse for him!
“We’re… working on it,” is all he could answer that moment. Later, while the two were drinking at Spunky’s on Southside (no relation to Spunky the little demon), he let slip a little more. “It involves rats. *hiccup* And a secret room. *BURRP*”
It just came up from one of those illogical cracks in the road. Broad daylight; scurried sideways toward the park to his right. Directly in front of him. In a hurry, as rats are wont to be, but not *too* much so, he also noted.
“I *hate* rats,” Herbert Dune managed after watching it disappear down another hole, thinking back to Spunky’s and Bob Waffleburg’s slip about a secret room the night before.
I don’t mind rats atall, thought Sandy Beech inside, actor countering character once more, as in a yin-yang relationship. Day and night. Guess that could be one reason they hired me for the part, he then realized.
“Just ignore the rats,” sweating Herbert Dune chanted while continuing forward over the crack. “Ignore rats.”
“I *knew* I’d find you here, Eighty-eight.”
“Yeah. You know I can only get so far from you, Apple of My Life.”
“How’s your flu going?” Sarcasm.
Eighty-eight didn’t answer, but instead looked to the door. The door to *her* night club. She was the Star. It all revolved around her. Like planets.
“You gonna stick around and hear me play?” she then asked, not seeing the person enter that she wanted to. Her voice was steady, unfaltering. She knew what she was doing and was in command. Not
Tracy Austin Newtonia Kashkow. The latter wasn’t use to that and didn’t like it. Not one bite she didn’t.
She sat at the drum kit, calmly waiting while the singer and keyboardist remained frozen around her (like planets).
Her lover entered with the sphere.
“Sorry I’m late.”
Just afterwards his car parked outside burst into flames. Like the Sun.
“I think I get it,” exclaimed actress Alice Frame in her rented apartment next to Spunky’s while reading the latest script. “Ingo is controlled by the Sphere, the Sphere is controlled by…”
The personnel in the central police station watched the burning of Club 88 and attached Little Jimmy from a distance and talked amongst themselves.
“Now order will be restored,” said Officer Brennon to Officer Barney, turning away from it for a moment. “*Big Brother* will be restored,” offered Officer Warren behind them (off-camera here). True men these were. They waited for Ms. Tanner to weigh in, the most important opinion.
“There is only one Big Brother,” she finally declared as the fire crescendoed, damage done. Casualties inside for sure. “Big brother Ingo Ratts has been eliminated, like big brother Little Big before him.” Brennon, Barney, and Warren didn’t know who Little Big was but nodded in agreement anyway. The point is: everything was reset. INGO banners had reverted to pre-film INGSOC, which stood for the fictional English Socialist Party of George Orwell’s seminal “1984” novel, and whose totalitarian ideology represented what he saw as the worst possible outcome of socialism in his native Britain.
The new center of town was burning while the old one looked on satisfied.
“Feel the emptiness in the center,” the small snowman instructed his pupil Herbert Dune from the, well, center.
The first explosion happened, rocking this Northside building. The snow-being, named Hugh, fell off the puzzle table onto the cushiony, knitted rug, losing his bell. Then the second, smaller kaboom happened, making his head separate from his body. No more instructions tonight from the diminutive, white guru. No more instructions ever. The dream was over.
Actor Sandy Beech stood up, looked southward.
But too many buildings were in the way to see clearly. “That wasn’t in the script. That wasn’t in the script!” he repeated, a second outburst louder than the first (mirror). He turned around to find the director, the cameraman, the soundman, etc. No one here. Any evidence of Bob Waffleburg’s dystopian parody film had disappeared. Sandy Beech was on his own again.
Actor Alice Frame also suddenly found herself alone and without direction after the explosions, large and less large. The script she was reading for tomorrow’s shoot suddenly turned blank, nothing having ever formed or shaped out of these snow white pages.
We must reluctantly say goodbye to NWES, its four jigsaw like pieces unable to come together to form a story any longer. But there’s always the possibility for return within the larger arc of another tale. We must move, Grasshopper-like, forward…