“first name not needed”
“I remember you, girl. From Paperville!”
“Right, right. The Little Cafe on the Way!” Both open their mouths further in surprise but never get to the heart of the oddity. Rabbit 02 in the corner of the fake flowery field worships on. Fertility. Much fertility.
“I remember you too, Birmingham.”
“Shut up Muff,” the fellow red fox hissed over. “I did what I had to do.”
“Yeah right, hmph.”
Rabbit 02 has a new husband. Rabbit M4, who lives just off the freeway. He usually stays over at Rabbit 02’s place because of the noise. He has a lot of patience and ironically he is a doctor too (optometrist), so more patients. When Rabbit 02’s family got together at Thanksgiving, he and Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer, Rabbit 02’s son from husband no. 3 — Rabbit 01 we’ve called him in this here blog — got along swimmingly, being fellow doctors (and swimmers) and all. Now in the last couple of weeks she’s had 3 more from M4: Uffcott, Hinton, and Winterbourne, because he was, since his birth came the first of December and the other two, slightly older triplets came out a little before midnight. They usually keep them over at the “highway house” with housekeeper Sarah because, again, of the noise. M4 is patient, but he needs a lot of quiet because of all the research he’s doing into creating a super eye capable of perpetual self healing — alien science we’re talking about here, top secret hush hush stuff. He can’t discuss it with anyone. All his friends and relatives think he’s just selfish separating himself from his children, not knowing he has very good reasons, very good indeed.
The wife finishes her worshiping and walks back over through the fake flowery field between the two girls who had turned their backs on each other, and between the two foxes who had also grown apart.
“I hear the town has a temple, dearest. I wonder if we could fit in a visit between your shops.”
“Maybe,” shot back Rabbit 02, irritated that he would ask. “Consignment store next door, or so that’s what the map says: Odds & Ends. I need to pick out some outfits for Christmas for the big ta-do at Ben the Parrot’s.”
“That foul mouth bird brain!” Rabbit M4 wanted to yell with his tongue at the top of his lungs but of course bit it. They should never have started selling those animal talkie toys, he laments.
They move next door. No consignment store there. Yet.
Instead: “Come here dear. There’s a man stuck in this picture!
She watched him walk away after they freed him from the Bigfoot picture in the soon-to-be but not yet present consignment store with the old clothes and such. No explanation, no thanks. Just walking. He had to see someone *immediately*. A man posing as an ant, the big hypocrite. Sticking me in that photo with that hairy, stinky… *monster*! He needed to be dealt with. No love here.
He kept walking, right out of Black Ice and into the Great Beyond.
“Harrison Ford Jett,” he spat out. “I sense the force is strong with you, buh huh huh (*sip*), buh huh huh huh (*sip*), buh (*sip*, *sip*), huh.”
“How much for the apples?” He wasn’t in the mood to beat about the bush. He wanted to get rid of the chafing, gnawing things asap; let someone else get gnawed on for a while. He takes another drag off his Chesterton Lite, waiting for an answer that never came.
Instead: “You know Bigfoot.” The half wine colored half ant, half man paused, taking in the surprised expression re his statement seemingly out of left field, or thrown back over a left field fence or something. In truth, he was the shirt she wore, but that will take a bit of explanation. Another night it is!
“More Bigfoot art,” Harrison Ford Jett whispers in the waning light to no one except himself. “It’s all here.”
“A cave! Marked with green again. Pickle. Pickle Too. Let’s go!”
The underwater rock cavern was pretty long; about 200 meters.
More of that type of art? Harrison F. Jett found these identical, half filled bottles of unknown alcoholic content wedged together in a rock opening and was unable to move them.
The rocks holding the stash penetrated the roof of the cave, making a distinguished marker. Watch out passing Bellisarian ships!
The rocks even appear to have feet.
The man who was also an ant back at the Hideout said I knew Bigfoot. Something about my shirt… should be getting back to NWES City and meeting up with Charlene. Maybe she would have some ideas about what the odd superhero or supervillian or whatever he is, was talking about. He recalls she studies these type of things, and her dissertation she’s hard at work on late into the night is about a somewhat similar creature called the Loch Ness Monster. And she talks of another “monster” called Knobby (actually: Knob Noster, *not* Knob Monster!) — maybe that’s what her paper is about instead (he intuits in the cave, staring up at a rainbow hued crystal cluster in the ceiling).
At any rate, she certainly lives in the land of Paperville. Hmm, odd thought — where’d that come from?
“Let’s get this over with, Sandman.”
“What. Are you going to try to *eat* me again? Ant-man. Man who thinks he is an Ant.”
“I might,” the man who thinks he is an ant threatened.
“You know what will happen.”
“I do.” Ant-man knows he can’t go through with it. The pictures of the merged mess simply wouldn’t show up in the blog. Copyright infringement from the future. Santman cannot be born.
“Well… what then?”
“*You’re* the one who came all the way out here to find *me*. You tell me.”
“Right… forgot. Umm, we can merge in a different, um, way.”
“I don’t swing that way, Sandman,” Ant-man says with a slight chuckle.
“No not that.” But Sandman here contemplates it might be just that. He imagines himself leaning into Ant-man for a kiss, a sweet one and not using any tongue atall. Because there’s no telling what kind of tongue that ant-head holds. He doesn’t want to know! No, no lovers in this picture. Instead:
“Ant. Man. Man of Ant.”
“Yes?” Ant-man was waiting for *something*, but he knew a big thing was about to be revealed. Bigfoot big perhaps.
“My real name… is Pickle.” A rainbow butterfly flutters by at this point. Wonder where that came from. Perhaps the Wonder Years. Before the Fire Tree.
(to be continued)
“Two pickles,” she explained later. “One yellow or sand colored: here. Then the one over there that’s more green.”
“Like my apples!” exclaimed listening and looking Harrison Ford Jett to her side in Spunky’s cafe down on the docks. Charlene’s home away from home, now that she’s in the thick of her dissertation. Detailed description of Knob Noster coming up next! Charlene looks over at her good friend Harrison, then down at his apples. Still in place. Still hasn’t been sold to the highest bidder.
“I suppose so,” she realized, and turned back to the girl holding the pickles in the doctored picture on her computer screen (she wants to be a doctor, after all). “But: sand. Sandman. The sandy pickle. That came first, although it was formed second.”
“What does that mean?” Harrison F. Jett instinctively held one of his apples then the other, as if testing they were the same. Then he turned red as a winesap as he realized Charlene noticed what he was doing. “Sorry,” he muttered. “Force of habit — I’ve been thinking a lot about them later. What it would be to be without them.”
“Well… maybe that fits into this as well.” She puts hand to chin while activating deep thinking mode. She scrolls to the next picture, undoctored this time. She’s losing vision of the future. Detailed description of “Knobby” will be difficult, nay impossible to achieve. She faces the prospect that it could be a stumbling block on her way to fame and glory.
“In looking at them, Hucka D., it seems the green one is the only pickle. One Pickle, then, not two.”
“No, both are Pickles. Both have the Squishy Pickle restaurants. The sand colored one in fact has two, which makes up for the (flimsy) shape in my humble estimation.”
“Takes two to know,” ventures Baker Bloch.
“Suppose. (pause) Let’s get this over with, then.”
Baker merges the pictures before them.
“A jumbled mess,” offers Baker. “And probably a copyright infringement as well.”
“From the future.”
Baker Bloch stares. “Adam and Eve, pheh.” He sighs. “The Mann was right in stepping away from all this. Where is The Mann anyway?”
“Maybe that’s next.”
Mission failed, The Man separates from the Ant again, probably becoming The Mann with that extra “n” in the process. He finds himself on the east coast of Pickle 02, the green one, staring out at the sea. He wonders why he’s here, then spots it. Humpback whale sighting.
“This must be New York,” he says about the Pickle he’s on, but also probably the other one too, since they are opposite sides of the same thing most likely.
He looks and looks but only the one sighting. And a brief, happy song.
She stares out from the hot pink bed to the spinning Ferris wheel, wishing she could fly. And soon she will. Hideout no more.
“I’m coming Tropp.”
Ferris, Bueller, and the rest
“I wonder where that Bigfoot picture is at the Consignment sim, Hucka? Instead: mermaids at the same spot. And everything else seems to have shifted around as well — windmill in front instead of back, and so on. It’s like a parallel version of itself.
“Oh no, Toddles. Those are much too big for you. Let’s go over there to the children’s section if your heart’s set on new shoes today.”
“I want *those*,” she demanded, quite unlike the kind, precocious, precious little thing we’re accustomed to in this here blog and accompanying photo-novel. She knew what they were. A one way ticket out of here. “*Those*,” she reinforced, holding her point. Holding, holding…
“Land sake’s, child. You’ll never be able to walk back across town with those things on.”
“I’ll manage.” She’ll grow into them soon enough.
That belt is giving me strange dreams, she thinks after waking up and recalling. Must stop using it so much.
She goes to check on Toddles. “Toddles?” Not in the bedroom, not under the covers. “Land sake’s child.” She calls downstairs. “Are you down in the kitchen!?” She descends the stairs — not there. She searches the entire house. Her precious precocious grandchild is gone! The belt did something to her that night. Broke through the drugs that Toddles had carefully and stealthily dispensed into her bedtime toddy, as was common. The belt doesn’t want Toddles to succeed in her mission of growing up way too soon so that she can save the world, several worlds in fact. All Orange.
If she wasn’t so worried about Toddles, Alice Farrowheart would have noted that the belt was gold instead of steely grey in the dreams, and wondered what that meant. It too is growing in power. A face off (to the death?) is probably in the works.
“Grounded!” I say. “GROUNDED. And gimme those drugs you use to doctor my toddy. You’ll grow up to be a heroin addict or worse and put me in an early grave, Toddles.” Alice Farrowheart, her dear dear “Granny,” couldn’t stop shaking her head; the belt did this, the psychic toddler realized. Alice F. held out her hands. “DRUGS,” she demanded. “I want to see what you’ve come up with in that wee evil noggin of yours.” Toddles produced 2 pills, one red and one blue, from the pocket on her baby jumper. “Take them,” she said. It wasn’t a request. It was an order. Time to pull out the big guns, hypnosis and not what. Toddles had collected a bag full by now.
“Where were you Toddles? I was looking all over for you. I was worried!”
“Just getting some milk for me and Whimpers (cat).”
“Aww,” Grammy let off. “That’s so *sweet*.”
“Phew. That was close!” she admitted to milk sipping Whimpers after Grammy puttered off back to bed.
boy or girl
The 4th and probably last Squishy Pickle on the Pickles, 01 and 02, one surrounded by water in a shallow bay this time. This would be the second found on Pickle 02, the green one as opposed to the sand colored one we’ve seen Sandman and Ant-man and a couple of others at.
Someone was waiting for me out front. All Orange. But never mind that right this moment…
Returning to the merged map seen several posts back, we can now mark the 4 Squishy Pickles by green (Pickle 02) and yellow (Pickle 01) pins. A rough square emerges, perhaps close enough to indicate a master plan. I’ll just number them in the order discovered, starting with the one next to what’s called the Hideaway or Hideout, which links the whole concept, strangely enough, to Rosehaven. This is most likely how the witch Mid-Hazel moved from one to the other, and, now, All Orange too.
So… returning to that…
“So since Ally’s here now you can get off a little early, right?” on and off girlfriend Sep says to off and on boyfriend Seb. Sebby Cromac, who really lightened up the place when he was hired several months back. He also has a Rosehaven connection which procured him the job in the first place. More on that soon.
“I don’t know,” he replies. “Ms. Orange is still learning the drinks.” He lowers his voice now; Ally probably couldn’t hear them anyway since she’s shaking the tumbler so hard in mixing that martini for a customer soon to show up. Let’s say he or she’s in the bathroom right this moment. “She doesn’t know as much as I’d hoped with all that experience on her resume,” he continues after leaning in. “Look how long she’s been mixing that drink; and it’s a *martini*,” and with this he points behind his hand toward cheese colored Ally, who doesn’t look atall like what’s in the picture above to either Sep or Seb. In fact, he or she looks different to anyone involved. Oh, here comes the customer. Ally finally stops shaking, pours the drink.
“What do you think?” she asks The Mann, who decides to call himself James for this scene. Fresh from humpback whale watching on the eastern shore of Pickle 02, he explained earlier while placing his order with the pretty, petite blonde. “Interesting,” he presently offers as graciously as possible after sipping, trying not to wince. He decides not to sip again for a while. He is a connoisseur of the liquors and knows an improperly made drink when he drinks it. Maybe he should have given more specifics on its concoction. He makes a mental note to do that at the next bar at the next island in his sea of travels.
“Thank Gods that shaking is finally over,” Charlene the Punk declared to Harrison Ford Jett, still with those apples. “Getting on my nerves sooooooo bad, arrgh.”
“The sim below Brodovima we’re in presently,” Harrison recites mechanically. “And an expression commonly used in the famous Peanuts comic strip.”
“Arrgh,” she exclaims again to something different now. “No it’s not. That was ‘aaugh’. I should know.”
“Right. Being Charles’ brother.”
“I’m technically still a Brown. Jeffrie and I aren’t married yet. We may not even be engaged — hafta check. But *you* — you’re different sir, different indeed. She looks at his face, and then down at the apples again still in place in the blouse-shirt. “You’re…”
“Don’t say it.” He looks at her own blouse. He’s guessed what he is. It changes.
Charlene drinks alone now. Maybe she should wander up to the bar and talk to The Mann, also drinking alone. Might be worth a try.
And this is how Fern met fellow shapeshifter Lichen, with Wendy still in the future.
a lala 02
For Tessa Doom, the oh so brief whale song The Mann experienced on Pickle 02 wouldn’t stop.
“No no no no NOOOOO!”
Rock climbing at Light of Aurelia and thinking about Lafferty’s Shining People.
In neighboring Hammerhead Light:
“One day I’m going to beat my vertigo, Wendy, and make it all the way to the top of that thing.”
“Sure you are Sandy. And I guess next you’re going to ask me *not* to change into that dress you like currently.”
“I didn’t say that.” But Wendy was right. He’d never make it to the end. Not without some serious help.
Sandy knew this was the dream to end it. She had a breathing helmet and so did the person before her. In the past.
“Hilllllsdale County,” she said to herself in that Texas drawl while studying the screen. Haven’t thought about that place since 18-86!”
A snake completing the task and swallowing its own tail appeared beside her. She remembered.