Mr. Dundee began tugging at Sixtus’ sleeve, trying to pry him away from the hypnotic diminution. “Come. Come!” he said. “Now that Martin is inside, the world he has created is revealed. Come to the hut and see!”
Sixtus shook himself, as if still trying to wake up, and then dazedly followed his excited neighbor around the lemon-lime tree, across the black creek, and into the tiny orange hut. Once inside, Sixtus first noticed that the inner wall of the hut was not octagonal like the outside walls, but circular. All around this wall, at least at Sixtus’ eye level, was what appeared to be a spiraling staircase of miniature steps whose loops were clustered closer together the higher they reached. Sixtus also noted that the step diminished in dimension as they ascended the spiral. Upon an even closer examination, he could further see the steps also progressively changed their dimensions as they got higher, being more wide than deep at the bottom and more deep than wide at the top – with the steps in the approximate middle of this spiral being square.
While Sixtus was studying the odd staircase, Mr. Dundee in the meantime, was cleaning his paintbrush in a kerosene filled cup beside the now restored Panama Canal painting leaning against the wall. Upon turning his attention to Mr. Dundee’s activity, and then looking at this painting – seeing the added rocket pad and contained rocket had been “erased” – Sixtus also noticed that the simultaneously largest and bottommost step right beside this painting, albeit still more narrow than an ordinary step, was large enough to step up on. As soon as Sixtus realized this, he watched as Mr. Dundee, his cleaning done, accomplish just this action, as well as climbing about a dozen steps more. The now discernibly shrunken Australian beckoned his shocked younger companion to follow him. Sixtus at first hesitated, but then, drawing in a deep breath, put his feet on the first step and began to climb. It seemed the only sensible thing to do.
The first thing which Sixtus noticed in subsequently ascending behind the elder man was that, contrary to expectation, the steps did not narrow in proportion, as they had done when viewed from the “ground” level, but retained the same dimensions as the first one. However, as it was still a narrow foothold, and he at least *appeared* to be getting quite high now (several times higher, in fact, than the hut’s apparent height from the bottom), the somewhat acrophobic Sixtus was getting quite jittery.
Mr. Dundee had moved several dozen steps ahead before noticing the deceleration of his companion. “Don’t worry about falling,” he loudly assured Sixtus. “You can’t be hurt even if you do.” But he did not elaborate, and turned around to continue his comparatively rapid pace up the spiral. Sixtus nervously followed, his palms becoming clammy with sweat.
By the time Sixtus finally reached the ceiling several minutes later, clinging to a handle screwed in its top, his clothes were literally dowsed in perspiration. Only then did he dare look down again, and to his astonishment and terror, discovered that it was at least 200 feet to the bottom. The staircase now appeared as a vast spiral around the towering wall of the hut, the latter perhaps fifty feet in diameter. Directly ahead of him, where the stairs met the ceiling, was a trap door which the younger man had seen Mr. Dundee open and climb through about a minute earlier. Sixtus could now hear his heavy, erratic footsteps on the floor above him, and then the trap door reopened with Mr. Dundee’s head framed in the lighted square.
“Come on, come on,” he said agitatedly. “We haven’t got all day for Christ’s stake.” With this, Sixtus climbed through the opening.
He entered the edge of a large domed room with two long, slot-like windows on its opposite sides, each running perhaps a fourth of the way around the circular wall. In the middle of the room was another open hole. Mr. Dundee had already almost bridged the distance of about 40 feet to one of the windows, in front of which was a coin operated binocular machine such as one would find at tourist panoramas. Upon reaching it, Mr. Dundee inserted a quarter, dialed a location, and after the machine had moved to the appropriate angle, began looking through the binoculars.
“Yes, he’s up now,” said Mr. Dundee as Sixtus approached. “Up and hungry as usual.” He turned to Sixtus. “Take a look for yourself,” he offered, moving aside.
But Sixtus had not even heard the elder man. He was staring at the cast, dark blue lake and huge mountain range visible from the window.
“Oh yes, of course you would want to look at that first. It’s the Eerie Lake, formerly the Eerie Pond, now as big as your Lake Alma. And those huge mound-like objects on the foothills of the mountain range are our two respective houses in this dimension, the left being yours and the right mine. I have always found it fascinating to note the different shapes things take in the dimensional changeover. But through these binos here you can see the individual projects of Martin much more clearly.” Mr. Dundee then went over and tugged at Sixtus’ sleeve once more.
“In here,” he commanded, pointing to the binoculars. Sixtus then went over and peered through them accordingly. The scene magnified was a part of a small island in the lake, perhaps a thousand feet across. It appeared to be covered almost uniformly with rows of some kind of cultivated vegetation in various sized orchards. Also Sixtus discerned a small, bouncing object in the island’s northwest area which stood out due to the uniform, static nature of the rest of its surface. However, he couldn’t resolve the actual nature of this thing either.
“Seen him yet?” asked Mr. Dundee, but Sixtus, engrossed in the moment, didn’t respond. “Here, I’‘ll turn up the magnification,” the elder man then said, and Sixtus watched him turn a dial on top of the binoculars. When Sixtus looked again, the rows of vegetation appeared much closer and more distinct.
“Grapevines,” Sixtus said softly but excitedly upon recognizing what they were. He then panned toward the northwest, looking for the bouncing object seen before. Suddenly he honed in on it: the object was some type of red dog, leaping wildly and continuously at the grape bunches hanging from the vines all around him. Sixtus could also see that the area around his mouth and face had turned violet due to continuous impacts with the subsequently splattering grape juice.
Then the scene suddenly turned black as a whirring noise Sixtus realized had been sounding all this time clicked off. Mr. Dundee cursed, and began to search his pocket for another quarter as the younger man turned toward him again.
“Is it actually Wilson?” Sixtus asked disbelievingly. “Is he really alive still?”
“Well that’s a difficult question to answer,” Mr. Dundee replied, triumphantly pulling a deeply buried quarter out of his pocket. “A better one would be: when was he alive in the first place? You must keep in mind that the soul of Martin is actually the same as the soul Wheeler, and when he traded his dingo body in for a purple martin seven years ago due to an “etheric aberration” – being unable at that time to find another body coated his favorite color of orange – the soul of Wheeler exited the dingo, leaving behind only a mechanical residue of his former self. Thus one could make a case that Wheeler has been dead ever since this transference. In short, he became the superficial, animal-like personality of your Wilson, with his sub-magical obsessions such as grape gorging. Actually, the island you’re viewing is his version of heaven; at least the residue’s version. Martin keeps him here for sentimental reasons. After all, it use to be his body… but we must move on to another selection, as our time grows short.”
Mr. Dundee then put the just found quarter in the viewing machine, dialed number 10″ “Griffith Workshop”, and watched as it moved toward the southern shore of the lake. He then motioned Sixtus to look again. This time, the younger man saw a large, circular orange disc surrounded by barren orange dirt, with perhaps a dozen spheres moving all about oddly arranged zigzagging slots upon its surface. Sixtus noticed each sphere was a very dark violet while in motion, but when stopping intermittently – usually at the terminal of some certain slot – an indigo tinted portrait of a particular character from the Andy Griffith Show would suddenly emerge upon its surface and utter a full line or two from one of the shows before being submerged again. Then it rolled to some other stopping point and a Mayberry character would emerge again to speak another line or two, and so on. On the orange disk, these sequences, taken as a whole, thus appeared as a kaleidoscope of spherical TVs, which are turned off most of the time (“motion times”), but which are pre-programmed to come on at different, key points in the Andy Griffith shows then are tuned to (“stop times”). In the brief time Sixtus watched the beautiful and hypnotizing movements on the orange platform, he observed perhaps two dozen lines from shows that he was personally familiar with.
“This is where the individual Mayberrys are studied and then encoded with subliminal messages,” explained Mr. Dundee, “signals personally chosen by Martin to prepare the people of Eden for paradise; heaven, if you will. Has anyone in this town every given real serious consideration to why the Mayberry’s sindication has increased 2000% over the last decade, making it by far the most popular television show in Eden’s history?” “Of course not,” Mr. Dundee then answers himself after Sixtus again doesn’t respond, “because no-one looks at them correctly.”
“Unlike Wilson, who ingests spheres, i.e., grapes, in his gut”, explained Mr. Dundee further, “these Mayberry spheres here are meant to be ingested by the mind. Although martin puts a lot of work into each Mayberry, the people of Eden watch them much like Wilson eats, that is, they do not absorb them through their intellect but instead through their instincts. However, even in this passive state, the indigo coated Mayberry seed-messages are still planted, which flower upon death into a full-blown heaven concept. Only thus are the ordinaries saved from the instinct dominated heaven of Wilson, but it is much better to be conscious of their influences all along; then the intrinsic nature of Mayberry and Eden can actually be manipulated.
Mr Dundee then tapped Sixtus lightly on the shoulder to get his attention. “Have *you* ever wondered who creates your heaven? You can’t just die and then go to someplace completely empty for Christ sake.”
Sixtus then formed a picture of Andy and his silver sheened friends welcoming him to the afterlife. It was indeed a pleasant thought.
The whirring noise suddenly clicked off once more. “I see that time has again expired,” said a more subdued Mr. Dundee, “but there’s one more location I would like you to see. “ He then fished once again in his front pockets, and then even his back pockets this time.
“Here,” said Sixtus, pulling out an especially tarnished 25 cent piece from his own pants and offering it to Mr. Dundee.
“Excellent, how very appropriate,” said the elder man slyly upon noting the coin’s lackluster condition. He then popped it into the machine, dialing up number 19: “Steel Island Pendulum,” and the machine correspondingly swerved northward into the lake again.
When Sixtus stared into the binoculars this time, he saw a very small, box-shaped island made completely of riveted steel and centered by a large metal pendulum. On the pendulum’s cable swung a sphere which glowed red-violet at its right terminal position, and yellow-green at its left terminal position. While the ball was traveling between these endpoints, its hue simultaneously moved through the lighter colors of the spectrum between red-violet and yellow-green. Sixtus also noticed that at the bottommost point of its swing at the halfway point, the sphere was colored orange.
“The pendulum is actually yourself, Sixtus,” said Mr. Dundee. “The endpoints are your deceased parents, the grape and lemon-lime, but for you there is no stable, middle ground, no orange mid-point in which you can exist between them. Your Uncle Floyd made a mistake when he hypnotized you with his gray coin long ago. Your problem will not be solved through a neutral color. Instead, you merely picked the wrong chromatic color for your fixation: you should have chosen *orange*.
As Sixtus then watched, the pendulum’s back and forth motion slowly blurred while simultaneously accelerating. At the same time, the middle orange colored position of the swinging sphere because more fixed and subsequently enlarged, as if moving toward him.
“Think, Sixtus, how perfect the orange is,” continued Mr. Dundee suductively. “It is the only fruit whose name is the same as its color. This perfection is mirrored in its spheriod shape; all the great philosophers and satirists through the ages have acknowledged the sphere as nature’s most perfect form.” The orange sphere was so close to Sixtus now that he was able to reach out and grasp it in his hand. Its smooth skin made Sixtus think of it more as an apple than an orange, despite its color and spherical shape.
“Orange is your real center Sixtus,” Mr. Dundee began once again. “Partake of it, and you can join me as a pupil under Martin. You can share this higher octave world with us.”
Sixtus then thought how nice it would be to actually belong somewhere and have a real purpose. His mind made up, he raised the orange to his opening mouth. But just at the point where his incisors where about to puncture the smooth polished surface, a loud hissing sound came form the direction of the window. Sixtus, who had unknowingly been hypnotized by the swinging pendulum of Steel Island, experiences the sound as the slow cutting action of a silver knife, which slit his orange fruit cleanly into two pieces. The sundered object then tumbled from his withdrawn hand and disappeared.
Startled, Sixtus immediately snapped out of the trance, and realized his eyes from the viewing machine into the landscape beyond. He then spotted what Mr. Dundee had already see: a forked gray tongue probing out of the left mound on the plateau immediately above the lake. The hissing was then heard again by the two men, now obviously coming from the mound. The tongue was then followed by the head of an extremely large silver snake, which was not at all like the sweet smiling humanoid head of Aspinwall, but instead the triangular head of a deadly viper. Mr. Dundee watched in complete terror as the humongous snake slid out of the mound and turned toward the lake. Its scales were extended like huge scoops, leveling everything in its path.
Finally the tension building up in Mr. Dundee’s face exploded vocally. “She’s found my hiding place!” he screamed “Oh no! NO!”
He then rushed to the floor opening in the center of the room, and without hesitation, jumped in. Sixtus, thinking his companion had just committed suicide, also ran toward the opening, When he looked through it, however, he saw a strange thing: MR. Dundee was significantly increased in mass and falling to the bottom quite a bit slower than he should be. As he continued to stare at the spectacle, Sixtus saw that Mr. Dundee was actually decelerating as he neared the bottom, and simultaneously the increase of his mass was accelerating.
When his feet finally impacted the bottom, creating a sustained booming thud, Mr. Dundee was nearly as high as the hut from Sixtus’ perspective. The giant Mr. Dundee then turned his head very slowly toward Sixtus, and stared at him for a full minute. Then the head very slowly lowered again, and one of the legs gradually rose and fell as his body almost imperceptibly leaned forward. Another somewhat less thunderous boom sounded as that particular foot met the floor again. Sixtus realized that Mr. Dundee had accomplished a single step. Then the other leg moved little by little up and down in the same way, again ending with a sustained thud. Then the right led started again, which the sun slowly painted as it gradually probed the doorway. By Sixtus’ calculations, it took the man a full three minutes in this fashion to finally get clear of the hut.
Chancing that he has solved the dimensional riddle of the hut, Sixtus rose from his prostrated position, took yet another deep breath, and then also jumped into the opening. Almost instantly he found himself, feet planted firmly, on the floor of the suddenly normal size hut. He looked out the door to see Mr. Dundee, who had apparently also returned to his normal temporal-Spacial dimensions, jumping over the black creek ahead of him and then swerving around the lemon-lime tree.
Sixtus ran after him, and upon reaching the creek saw a large silver bulldozer driven by the still blue-clad Mrs. Dundee — such as used by landfills — noisily erupting from the woods near the Sylvania TV. With this sudden intrusion, Mr. Dundee, who was about 20 feet from the still static filled box, froze in his tracks. The machine quickly scooped up the TV in its shovel, raised it into the air, and then let it drop, crushing the silver box into a nonfunctional pancake-lie thing. As if mimicking this flattening, Mr. Dundee, at the same instant, also doubled over, as if he had been shot. Sixtus rushed over and found that he was sobbing profusely, mumbling incoherencies about his dear pet Martin. Sixtus also noticed he fell right on the border between the barren orange dirt and the encircling grassy meadow.
Sixtus, who had always liked Mr. Dundee much more than Mrs. Dundee, spoke his mind. “How could you do something like this to your own husband” he said angrily to the approaching woman.
But Mrs. Dundee ignored Sixtus and instead spoke to her husband. “Your magical pet made a huge mistake in underestimating the power of Aspinwall and allowing Sixtus to come here. Now his illusions will be destroyed.”
She then turned toward Sixtus. “I know that you have never liked me very much Sixtus,” she said bluntly, “but you must understand that I’m really not a bad person. Neither is my husband for that matter, even though he stole the Gale soul, and, by the way, tried to absorb you into it also. It’s just that he and I are totally unsuited for each other, and much like your mother and father, this negativity has polarized each of us into our opposite corners.”
Mrs. Dundee then walked behind Sixtus and picked up a silver bag on the same spot that the bulldozer and flattened TV had meanwhile mysteriously disappeared from. She then handed the bag to Sixtus. “Open it,” she commanded, and as Sixtus loosened its drawstring, he gazed down on an extremely large, oddly faceted indigo gem.
“It’s a jewel handed down to me from my mother,” Mrs. Dundee explained, “who got it from her mother, and so on. It’s priceless, and its substance, harder than even a diamond, is unknown on this planet. Its shape is a heptahedron, a polyhedron with seven faces. As you can see, each of these seven faces also is a polygon with seven sides — a mathematical impossibility, but it is there nonetheless.” As Sixtus studied the gem more closely he saw that this was true.
“My advice to you,” Mrs. Dundee continued, “is to take that jewel and go up to the mountain range you saw from my husband’s telescope. The true higher octave is to be found there. However, you will need Aspinwall to effect the transformation. It is also very important that you take June with you; there is no use to go otherwise, as she is your other half. Colfax and Mr. Boyce will be waiting for you at the top — or at least their real aspects. Now that the Gale soul is freed, they will need a lot of help from fellow real people in caring for the rediscovered Altoona and its newborn Brainard head.”
Sixtus was now only half listening to Mrs. Dundee as he studied her face closely. The complexion was aged and worn with stress, but the overall essence could not be mistaken. “By jiminy you’re the silver queen from my dreams!” stated Sixtus, knowing it to be true.
“Yes, you have guessed correctly,” she acknowledged. “And this sobbing orange creature sprawled on the ground below us is the pathetic inversion of the magnificent golden king you saw there… but you will have much time to dwell on these things later. Now you must leave this place, and quickly. The death of Martin and his warped higher octave world has punched a hole in this time-space continuum. Observe!”
She then pointed in the direction of the pond, as a low rumbling noise which had imperceptibly been building since Mrs. Dundee had crushed the Sylvania TV suddenly became much louder. When Sixtus turned his head in this direction he saw that the pond had been replaced with an inky black hole, which was — incredibly enough — also rotating. Already the hut and tree were beginning to be caught in its accelerating whirlpool. As Sixtus watched, they completed several rotations around the hole, their materials progressively shredding and cracking before dropping into the abyss like gnats into a draining sink.
Apparently unperturbed, Mrs. Dundee had turned away from Sixtus and was leaning down over her husband. Sixtus, deciding to act upon her advice, began to run up the wide swath created by the bulldozer, but after climbing to safer ground he turned around to observe the Dundees at the bottom of the path. They were now both on the ground, embracing before the steadily widening hole. With the lip of the hole fast approaching, the blue and orange clothed couple began to rotate and simultaneously lift off the ground, transforming quickly into a spinning olive colored ball of energy. This ball then swiftened its rotation into apparent motionlessness and ignited into a blazing white star, which, in its own small domain at least, rivaled the sun in brightness. The burning sphere then rose high in the air, as if taking aim, and then plunged directly into the center of the rotating black abyss below. As Sixtus watched, the rotating hole then quickly closed up like a camera lens, leaving only a puckered ash gray ovid on the barren ground which had once been orange. He paused a long, long moment, staring at what was once the Eerie Pond, before finally turning to make his way back home.