“So. We finally meet in this novel. The 2 core avatars.”
“I know who I am, Baker Bloch. Sit down. Let’s cuddle.”
“We don’t do that.”
“Right. Quite white, er, right.” Tillie continued to rub lotion onto her colorful arms.
“Well…?” Baker finally asked. The male Baker.
Tillie sighed. “I guess we’ll have to classify this place as another one of those Hana Leis. But that will bring, let’s see — be a love, dear, hand me my notebook out of my bag.” She glances over, sees the bike wheel parked atop the bag. “Oh dear, love, I hope it isn’t damaged in any way.”
“Sorry about that.” Baker backs the bike up and gets off, reaches down into the bag for the requested computer, looks it over. “Seems to be okay.” He hands it to Tillie, who powers it up.
“Yes. You’re lucky this time. But what I wanted to check was the frequency of the ‘H’ locations.” Light flickers across her pancake face. “Ah yes, you see if we classify this as another one of those Hana Leis, that will bring the total to 19, beyond the 17 for Heartsdale and 15 for Horizons in the 3H Club. Maybe add a 4th, then.” She slides the notebook back into the bag, props herself up with her hands. “Hidiland,” she decides. “That’s it. What do you think?”
“How about just Grasslands,” he returns. “Ahh, a bee!”
“No, it has to be the 4th of the ‘H’s, like the Club.”
“4H Club.” His arms flail again. “Dad gum bee.”
“Yes. Head, Hand, Health,” she recites. “Always forget the 4th.”
“You know what the 4th is.” The bee had subsided the attack.
She giggles, then puts her finger against her turned cheek, causing a temporary dimple. “Meee?” The smile continued.
They were back in Maebaleia/Satori after a quick sidetrip to
Hana Lei Hidiland. Tillie was sitting in the… catbird seat. She had supreme control now, white arms, right and the other one, covered and protected once more. Notebook remains undamaged. Bumbling Baker Bloch and his bike were positioned a safer distance away this time. “Well…?”
“Do you like my white forest, Baker Bloch?” she called across the distance. “I like to keep trophies.”
“Yes. You need me, I need you. Come here,” she beckoned. “Come closer. The computer is not a problem any longer. Forget about it. Come here.”
Baker Bloch edged closer, his bike with him.
“Closer,” she still requested.
Biking Baker complied.
“Ahem, too close.”
“Right. Sorry.” The white distance was finally assumed.
“We need to talk.”
“Tillie! I found something. Tillie?!”
As a child, she often came to the “Pipe Room” underneath the bank her father worked at to play. For a long time, she figured this room is how the town got its name somehow. Someone, perhaps famous, perhaps even *infamous*, was trapped in this room with these pipes, she imagined. Witness the bars covering the small windows on the door and the wall.
African-American nudie photo above the lone table. Perhaps someone black, then, she reasoned early on. Maybe Jim A. would know more of the story. But as far as he knew he was the only black that ever lived in Pipersville (he personally preferred “brown”). *And*, he quickly corrected, the town was named for an original settler named Piper. Nothing more. “But the room had to have *some* function,” she replied to Jim. “Stop trying to dig up dirt on that place,” he requested, understanding the town powers and what they could do. Something a child shouldn’t know about. She’d learn soon enough, when she was older.
Then, overnight, the town grew a suburb, the aforementioned Sandpiper Court with its three houses. Your Mama’s family moved into the middle of the 3. She began to sing at the local club called The Diamond, owned by this very same Jim. In truth he was trying to distract her from the room and from town mysteries in general. Plus she could really belt out the tunes.
It would be a number of years before she started being called the name she became famous with: Your Mama. Not a child any longer. And she took the name shortly after learning the truth about the room. And Jim.
(to be continued?)
“Heading down to the basement again, Jenny?”
“Nah. Just hanging around, waiting for dad.”
“Good.” Todd A. assumed a less rigid stance. “There’s nothing to see down there, you know.”
“I know. I don’t go down there any more.” Jim A. had coached her well.
“Before you go, Keith, a word about your daughter.”
“Jenny?” Keith laughs nervously. “What’s she been up to *now*, hee?”
“Nothing that she hasn’t been up to the past 3 months. Listen. Just keep her out of your room, okay? That’s *your* room. She shouldn’t have the keys.”
“She doesn’t,” Keith defended himself. “She just knows the code. She found out somehow.”
“The code is just between *us*, Keith.”
“I know, I know. She just… found out. I don’t know how. Maybe Jim.”
“Tell her that there’s spooks down there,” Todd A. then requested. “Tell her, heck, tell her the truth and that you use to, well, you know…”
“I know.” Keith B. knew that Todd A. was joking with this.
“Change the locks. Change the code.”
“We can’t do that,” Keith deadpanned back. “You know we can’t do that.”
“There’s one other option.” Todd A. leaned back. “You say… she has a beautiful singing voice.”
“Let’s hit her on the head with a reality pipe. We, the *bank*, will give you a home in the middle of just completed Sandpiper Court.”
Keith shook his head then put his hands on his hips, indignant. “*Really*? You know that’s out of the Fantasy Zone. How will we dream?”
“That’s the price. It’s either that in (the bank’s) estimation. Or the truth about the room. Your truth.”
Keith exhaled loudly, then laughed nervously again, shifting his feet in place. After a pause he threw up his hands. “*Okay*.”
“Great,” exuded Todd A. “And you can keep your job at the bank. It’s too good of a cover.”
(to be continued?)
tour (11, 12, 13) 01
“Not much of a south wall on this one, Bettie. We can give it to them.”
“I’ll put it down as a ‘maybe’,” replied Buster’s more unyielding mate.
“What’s next?” she then adds. “Where’s the 12th?”
“Um. That may take some more scouting.”
“Better get to it. Night is short.”
“Not as short as some nights, Bettie. Let’s go!” They take to the air again. Bettie turns tiny and Buster changes into his bat form to speed things along.
“Didn’t take long. I *think* this is it. If memory serves. Pretty weak overall, eh?”
“Dunno,” says Bettie to Buster-bat. “‘Maybe’, again. Is this what they use to call Golden Sink?”
“That or the other one,” he returns. “Now let’s look at Callingwood. I know where that is — know the sim name.” They fly off once more, to the northeast instead of west (I’ll provide a map soon).
“Hold on, what’s this? (Osiliers) Looks like a sinkhole to me.”
“Nah, Bettie. No texture change. This wouldn’t convince them. Plus it’s not supported by surface infrastructure. Although, again, this *could* have been what they called Golden Sink, the 12th. Unsure.”
“I’ll log it in, whatever.” She checks her inworld map and points northeast. “Callingwood’s just ahead.”
“Hmm, Bettie. Just ‘hmmm’.”
“There’s the texture change,” encouraged Bettie. “Sort of.” She looked around at the large, flat “basin”. But they weren’t allowed to call it that. Both were thinking the word, though. Not sink: basin.
“It’s fascinating nonetheless,” a resigned Buster spoke. “Some quite interesting
mountain hill country to the north. I suppose, also, this is what Baker Bloch called the Satori Flats. In looking at it again, I agree with that name.”
“Center of the continent, Another candidate. Middle of nowhere.”
“Use to be (small) pyramids as well. Baker Bloch lived amongst them for a little while.”
“Must be the influence…”
“Yeah,” Buster agreed, not wanting Bettie to say the name. Blue Feather Douglas once more.
“And the 13th? — if this isn’t the 13th?” Both, again, were thinking this wasn’t the 13th. Basin or Flats were better names indeed. But that’s what’s so frustrating and fascinating both about the Maebaliea continent and its *depressions* — that’s a generally accepted neutral word for both parties. Now. In the past: a different deal-i-o. It’s all quite complicated, and thus yet another need for the study called Sinkology.
Gabby Truth always slept with the lights on. Wakefulness interrupted unconsciousness constantly. “What was that?” he might say randomly at any stray noise. “Who goes there?”
The picture of swinging teen lovers he use to love didn’t comfort him like before. He formerly slept directly with it, creepily enough. Now it just lays by his bed, unused.
Leaves are closing in, he frets. Bushes. Trumping his freedom at every card play. Unable to connect the dots any more. And what *was* his constellation sign? Fire? Water? The local astrologer had fled invading Earth and hadn’t returned, so no answers there. That leaves Air. Leaves… Air.
Gemini! he realizes excitedly, then distinctly hears knocks right afterwards. Three, then two, then one. Twin Brother Amos. But why this time of night? Oh, he thinks. They must have lost the house. Oh drat, oh darnit. The seed and the house. He’ll have to stay with me now. Oh well, at least the Earth’s gone (Ka-BLAM!). He pulls the covers away from him and gets up, being careful not to trip over the lovers’ painting. He also grazes psuedo-Mossman’s head for luck on his way to the door, per usual.
Firesign Theatre material was conceived, written, and performed by its members Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman, and Philip Proctor. The group’s name stems from astrology, because all four were born under the three “fire signs”: Aries (Austin), Leo (Proctor), and Sagittarius (Bergman and Ossman).
“Ahh, see, there’s the rub, because mother *did* want me to go to school.”
“You know, it all ends here Pete.”
“Stop calling me that Dave.”
Big Wanda yells over the music. “Didn’t you get your symbol!? Don’t you want to know your sign!?”
“Nah!” shouts back Little Oakley Annie. “If it’s anything but Leo, I’d have to shoot the astrologer in the face! Good band, though!”
Long Drive 01
“You know it all ends here, Mary.”
“I know. Better bust out Buster from that school-prison, then. And some other stuff.”
“Alright, Mary. The plan is, once I get this thing turned around, to shoot you over the top of that wall and get you inside…”
“Where you’ll find a door somewhere and then let me in.”
“Ready? Oops. Almost forgot. Have to turn it around first. Ooh. Young man, young man,” Pitch beckons to a boy approaching from behind.
“What’s all this?” he asks in a geeky, squeeky voice. “What are you, heh, doing?”
“Never mind that, fair youth of toothy persuasion. Just help me get this thing aimed the right way if you don’t mind.”
“Are you looking for the front door? ‘Cause I can show you that. You don’t have to hurdle your girlfriend over the wall and risk loosing her forever.
“I’m sturdy,” Mary insisted from above them. “I won’t break.”
“You probably just missed it. It’s pretty small, heh.”
“Maybe we better do it his way, dearest,” urges Pitch, not doubting Mary’s word but still not wanting to risk his own injury turning the heavy catapult around.
“Yeah, heh, right this way.” Preston Weston says.
“Okay. Come on Mary.”
“Ohhhhh.” She dearly wanted to experience the thrill of it all.
“So here we are. And this is as far as I’m allowed to take you today, heh.”
(to be continued?)
“Ready Option 02?”
“Ready Option 01.”
“I got stuck (!!).
“So did I (!).
“They’re very different.”
“Sinkology is a relatively new development on Maebaleia.”
“Satori,” Option 01 corrected, trying to read his own manuscript.
“Yeah, what I said. But it started on Jeogeot and spread here. But first it skipped Maebaleia…”
“Yeahhh, and went to Corsica instead. Chasm Deep and also Egghill Sink, of course.”
“That’s where it picked up resonance from Earth.”
Option 01 stopped trying to read and lifted his head. “Your son Preston Weston is very interested in Earth, and getting rid of it.”
Option 02 met his eyes. “*Your* son.”
“Nothing but vampire drinks here. But…
… another door.”
“Each supposedly duplicate castle has its advantages and disadvantages compared to the other,” returns Option 02. “My guess is that they cancel each other out and are unimportant to the overall story here.”
Option 01 paused, again wishing he had a drink. “Like us?” he then asked.
“Ma, I’m home!”
“Do you think I’m pretty, Preston Weston?”
“Um, *sure* ma. Not as pretty as Mrs. Appletree, my geography teacher. But, yeah, pretty still. In a ma kind of way, heh.”
“Your *father* thinks I’m too fat.”
“Yes. Too fat.”
“Is, er, that why we’re not *eating*?” Preston Weston’s stomach rumbles again involuntarily. No food on the table, nothing being prepared. This was not the usual!
“He picks you up, he drops you off. God knows where he is before, between, and after.”
“Jeez ma. This is kind of *sad.* *You’re* sad. Do you want me to tell you one of my stories to cheer you up? I have a new one… listen, heh, South America is being invaded by giant ants…”
“*No*, Preston,” She looks at him directly now. “But… thanks. That’s very nice of you to offer.”
“Jeez ma,” Preston repeats more seriously, seeing the tears in her eyes.
“Drive over to the east coast now, Option 02?”
“Come on, Preston Weston. It’s time to go into town.”
“Aww, maww. Do I have to? I always get burrs on me passing through that small forest on the the way, heh.”
“Now, now. That cute, little Felicia Mae Appletree might be at the laundromat, hmmm?”
And her *mother*, Preston thinks. Saturdays are *so* cool. He resets his zapper gun to smooch mode. “Okay. You talked me into it.”
“Almost there, Preston,” Your Mama encourages.
“Jeez! Dang burrs.”
I’m just going to pass that place by, Your Mama thinks when stepping onto Brown Street, named for 1/2 of the famed Brown-Bower team of Sinkologists. What put Pipersville on the map!
And those too.
“Jeez, ma. Walk on the sidewalk will ya.” But she didn’t want to get too close to any of those doors over there. Too tempting…
“What happened to the laundromat?” Your Mama asked aloud.
“Creepers ma, I-I don’t know.”
She throws her sack of clothes down in the middle of the road in disgust. “And no water in the sinkhole (as a backup). Damn sinkhole.”
“Maa!” Preston protests, knowing you’re not suppose to cuss that sacred cow ’round these here parts. He scans the area to see if anyone overheard the faux pas. Your Mama cusses again. And again, beginning to stomp on the sack of soiled clothes with all her might. “STINKING SINK HOOOOLLLE!” she hollars in crescendo, then collapses beside the battered sack, crying. Preston goes over and tries to comfort in his own, special way. “Aww maa. Not the tears again. Did, heh, I ever tell you how Antarctica became frozen?”
“Preston, dear, please. Not now.” Not ever, she thought. Because she’d made up her mind. She was leaving.
Spiky-headed Craighead Phillips shut the book. “And that’s how Preston Weston got lost in his dreams, Katy. No tether to reality any longer. The End.”
Tracy Austin (Clown) weighed in. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate book for a child, dear.”
“I disagree,” gruffed Phillips in his whiney voice. “It’s got kids written all over it.”
“Yeah, dad,” offered Katy, wise beyond her years (but, after all, not a kid at the core). “Couldn’t you, I don’t know, chip in or something. He was *your* son after all.”
“Yes,” spoke Tracy again. “I agree. One of your Options should have been chipping in.”
Phillips sighed, realizing he’d have to go back in time again and switch things around. Damn sinkhole.
“We have this road running straight here, and then the same road running to the side as well. Wonder what it means Option 01?” Pause. “Option 01?”
Turn. “Now where’d he go?”
“You know, son, these wearable pipe chairs come right here from Pipersville back in the days. Hence the name.”
“Cool, dad. Um, cool, heh, that you’re hanging around more now. I sort of, I don’t know, *missed* ya.”
“That’s great, son. No, I’m back. Or at least more back.” Damn sinkhole, he thinks to himself again while staring down at it. He’s glad now he planted that big Tree Green 02 back in the days as well, since it now helps impede his view of the bottom. Along with that big piece of plywood the neighbors left just sitting down there. Cursed sinkhole. Maybe just start a petition to cover up the thing. We have the Professor Suckaluck death story to get the ball rolling. Rolling, rolling, dead. Doorknob dead.
“Dad?” asked Preston Weston, still clutching his zapper gun. “Are you in thinking mode right now?”
Craighead Phillips Option 01 turns to his only child. “You’re one to speak about thinking modes.” He points to his head. “You have a whole *world* in there, son, heh heh. Your mother can’t wrap her brain around it.”
“Are you asking me to tell you a stor–yyy?” Preston Weston queries expectantly.
Craighead Phillips takes one last drag off his Chesterton cigarette before snuffing it out on the cement porch. “Nah, I’ve got to catch up with my other self, the one who cares less. Just wanted to come visit and see how you’re doing, kid.”
“I’m fine. So — you’re not going to stay the night?”
“Nah. Your mama and I have patched things up pretty well but not to that extent — not… well, let’s not go that far quite yet. Maybe within a month or so.” Maybe within a month or so my other self and I will tire of exploring north east south west on the continent, he thinks. Away from this blasted sinkhole. Anywhere else. But maybe they could *all* go away. At least for a bit. A vacation of some kind. He decides to test the water.
“Son, if you could go anywhere. And I mean anywhere. Where would it be? Where would make you happier in the world? Mars, I’m guessing.”
“Aww dad. You know the answer to this.”
“Not the Pipe Room. Don’t say the Pipe Room.”
“I… I wasn’t going to say that.”
“Because we don’t talk about the Pipe Room,” Craighead Phillips insisted.
“I *wasn’t* going to talk about it.”
“Son. That’s where your mother went off her rocker. When she was just a kid. Only a little more older than you. Did I ever tell you that story?”
And he thinks *I* have an overactive imagination, Preston Weston ponders while wondering how he can get out of a 15 minute soliloquy himself at this point.
“It was a meeting of the Pipersville brain trust. Cindy A., Jim A., and Todd A. A different setting, certainly, than the Hole in the Wall the general public knew them from. The Tipsy Trio some call them, like Your Mama. She knows them all too well, she thought — back in the days they were best mates, her being a kind of unofficial 4th member of the club. Jim’s Club — ahh yes. That was the name. Because Jim was the ringleader; on the catbird seat. Now that Keith had fled the scene. Bower-Brown. Undercover. Famous, even infamous, but also not known atall. The sink did that to people, affected their minds. This was proven by the theorems they were working on at the time. The bank had 1 room where they could test subjects, but there were others. You could call it a time machine, but that wouldn’t be taking it far enough. Kind of a space machine as well. No, let’s call it an *Option* machine, both through space and time.”
Preston Weston was cutting the z’s by then. Craighead Phillips, the more moral Option, decided to call it quits for the night. Long journey back to Old Wagon Road or thereabouts to pick up where the other one left off.
inside (Long Drive 02)
“Mary, keep blocking the door.”
“Buster… DAMM.” Pitch Darkly repeated to the receptionist. “He must be in your database. He’s been writing me for going on 2 years now about this place, and his studies in Sinkology.”
“OH,” Annaliza Pageant exclaimed, looking Pitch over better. “You mean the *vampire*. A tiny, like his wife. Except she is a tween.”
“A tween?” Pitch was unfamiliar with the term.
“A tiny that can also be an un-tiny — normal, er, like you and me.” She studied the tall, bloodied vampire again. “I mean, like *me*.” She was thinking that Pitch might be another type of tweener, except between normal and giant this time.
“Sooo,” Pitch attempted, “Buster is just a plain ol’ tiny.”
“That’s right Pitch sir… darling. But he can turn even tinier. A bat, don’t you think? My English is still not polished, excuse me, even though I have also been here 2 years. Many, many people come through this place. Tinies are handy…”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Buster tells me all about it, how they specifically recruited him. It’s because you can see around them better when in flight. I mean, they can see around *themselves* better. Works well for the scouting.”
“That’s, um, right Sir Pitch.” She looked at Mary now. “But your wife — she is different too?” Mary hadn’t moved an inch since blocking the door a couple of minutes back. Hands on hips, per usual when standing in place.
Pitch glances over at her. “She can sit down too. And fish. Lord you should see that woman fish. She can really reel them in, can’t you Mary?”
“That’s right, Pitch,” Mary readily agreed in her normal, cheerful voice. “Perch is my specialty. But,” she quickly added, “perch is the specialty for the whole continent, er, whole *world*. I bet there’s some in that pond we passed on the back corner of this place. You know, inside the small Linden pine woods.”
“Yes,” the receptionist responded, “there is fish there that I assume. Perhaps your perches too.”
“Ahem,” Pitch urged, indicating the computer and the database pulled up on it. “Buster. Buster Damm, and that’s, D-A-M-M. Like an actual dam but with an extra ‘m’.”
“Oh, that’s funny.” The receptionist giggled briefly. “Like, er, DAMMastock.”
“The sink: Finsteraahorn-Dammastock. To go alongside our Grossglockner-Schrekhorn.” The receptionist’s pronunciation was immaculate now. Pitch surmised that she might know German too. Japanese and German, hmmm. What were we dealing with here?
(to be continued?)