“Bella. *Not* Bellissaria, YUCK. Maybe I should take off my glooves before typing! Back to the controls of this ship-thing!”
“*There*. That’s… WHHHATT? BellISSIMA now. Maybe it’s my lack of a 5th finger, like Jerry Garcia. Surprised I did so well in school with that handicap! Brains over body I always say, although I have *both*. Except for the 9th and 10th fingers and toes. Oh well. I’m TIRED. I’ll try this planet, er, sim for a while. Belli-e-ss-s- *IT* can wait!”
“Funny how I can see the bottom of this waater now, YUCK. I don’t remember being able to DOO that before, HEE. And reentry has stripped the wood paneling off my ship, HAR!”
“I’ll try THIS house. Has a better viibe.”
“Hmm. No one here except little critters like *me*. Guess I’ll just swiing here a bit and wait for somone to show up, WEE!”
“OOOO. A RAINBOW butterfly!”
And that’s when Sandy Beech woke up.
I’ll never forget the first rehearsal—her clear comprehension of music and text at sight. I’ve never encountered such a perfect concept at the first reading, simple, natural, and from the heart.
“Okay, so it looks like the 6th is not going to show up tonight. Let’s start, then.”
TILE Channeler Olive Oylstick looks around the table, making intense eye contact with each one. She puts the 6th out of her mind, and the 7th, the I, she doesn’t even consider. Violet Dawn (6th), I’m sure, had better things to do. NO — no bitterness. She use to request that they all hold hands, but this is modern times and hands are full of germs and viruses. We do not even shake in this era of post-apocalyptic habits. She senses nervousness. “Everyone stop stirring in their seats,” she requests. “Stillness; the spirits are here tonight. I sense them all around.” Olive closes her eyes. Several others do as well, including Charles Brown to her left, estranged brother of Charlene who knows her deepest, darkest secret and foolishly told it to one of his many chicks one night when drunk on Speckled Hen. That’s why he’s here. Wendy Wilson to his left? The Oracle commanded she be present tonight in the Bellissima sim, often mistaken for one on Bellisseria or Bellisaria or whatever the hell it’s called. See? It could happen to me, and it could happen to you. Sandy Chic (3rd stated member; left of Wendy) is no more to blame that any resident of this here world. The 4th is Rabbit M4, appropriately, to the right of Olive to complete tonight’s “circle” and who has a secret life on the continent but, again by mistake perhaps, often ends up here instead. Maybe he just likes Olive — that could be it. We’ve introduced the characters (except Violet). Now let’s get to the plot.
Olive opens her eyes. “All Orange. There’s someone inside you.” She turns to Wendy Wilson who is actually Wheeler. Wendy admits this.
(to be continued)
“Tonight, group, I want you to think of ghosts and things,” Phyllis requested through channeler Olive Oylstick. “Communication beyond the veil. But yet we *too* are dead, all of us around this table. I am TILE and I approve this manifesto. Let’s begin.”
Rabbit M4 later talked with Wendy Wilson about their respective secrets. “She almost had it; she *knows*.”
“You know what.”
“No I don’t,” Wendy Wilson responded.
“The… thing between us.”
“We are the *same*.”
“The… *thing* between us.” Wendy Wilson again thought of a name for it. “Thing” would have to do for now.
It opened up another whole new can of worms. Yoko Ona would be displeased.
(to be continued)
“A whale can be a thing.”
“A whale can be a *ghost*.”
So many wanted to get through. Well: seven. I had to control them all, give them *say*, but not overwhelm (me). I wondered where the 7th, the I, was again. I hadn’t thought about it before the meeting much. Put it out of my mind for real, as I *tried* with the 6th. There is no Sunday in week: that sort of thing.
We had to get Carrcassonnee back up and running or Sepisexton would have her run of the place, the 7 and the 6 at once, hiding behind each other, taking turns facing the world. But maybe that’s they way it is suppose to be. In these here photo-novels, 23 in a series of 20.
Olive… Sepisexton. That was a long time ago. What’s black and white or yellow and read all over. Triangle of witches — always works that way. They swallow each other whole again and again until they all blend together, like butter. Better get those flapjacks ready because it’s suppertime. I should go on a walk.
Olive Oylstick gets up, deciding who to take with her. She must get back to Bellisaria soon. Landing on Bellissima, like with all the others present, was a mistake, a variant attractor (or something; I’m not a maths person). The Bellisarian squirrel walked into the Magick Shoppe and I knew what had to be done. It was both a heaven and a hell: an endpoint all the same. Our Second Lyfe ended here, or became First Life I suppose if it is the hell aspect. The whale sings. The Light of Aurelia shines over all.
“We’ve reached a limit, Wendy,” spoke Sandy Beech on that Hammerhead Light dock across the bay from the Shining thing. “The Twins commanded the dress, but if the dress doesn’t fit…”
“It doesn’t,” reinforced Wendy Wilson by his side, who we know now is part of the Breezy archetype.
He turns away from the light and toward her, the dark passenger. “Will you go back to ‘Burger Wars’, then? That simple is it?”
“It’s never that simple.”
I kept waiting for ghosts to appear but only the tops of one or two came into view while I had the patience, along with a mostly present bat. I knew a full investigation of *Bellisseria* could save me, but I couldn’t call it that. Not in this here blog and accompanying photo-novel, or visa versa actually, because the photo-novel is the dog that wags the tail now. Not like in olden days with the books. Something changed about 5 years ago — almost exactly 5 years ago in fact. A beat increased in frequency enough to become a note. And here we are. At the end. Except it isn’t. Back to investigating…
“You have wonky eyes.”
“You’re one to talk.”
“6 o’clock?! I’ve got to get back for supper. Butter get those flapjacks on, witches!
“Soup’s up!” Fisher the fry cook called.
“That’s yours, Groover,” Olive Oylstick reminded her dinner companion, wondering where her pancakes were. Damn witches.
“Oh GROOVEY!” Shut up, is all she could think with rumbling stomach.
Picking out a new favorite stuffed animal at the pet shop, one without wonky eyes. She doesn’t want to be reminded! She stares straight at them to keep aligned.
She brought Groover back to wait at the Blue Airfield (in Gray?) for her cousins Zimmy and Mr Z, all three born from another mother. They never showed up. “Just like pancakes,” she groused, looking over at the monster everyone in certain parts of various continents were talking about. Knob Noster, some called it. “You know this means we’ll have to stay in the homeless shelter again, Groovey… Groover.”
“I don’t care,” he said, patting his full stomach again. One meal at a time for him, one meal, one day, one week without a 7th to show up. She could put an end to it; turn him in. But she needs a pillow tonight, apparently. She glances one last time out the window to see if any more ships were flying in. Ghosts again.
“Hey stop reaching. *My* wine. Now get behind me and fall asleep so I can too, pheh.
Wonder who the new bozo is over there.”
spectre from the past
“Well I at least have some refuge bins outside — for the whole neighborhood, really.” He turns. “But I’m in a *pickle* about what to do with the rest of this building, Gotham.”
“Couple more bong hits and we might get it,” suggests the psychedelic reggae monk to fellow pothead Stumpy, pointing in what he thinks is the direction of their apartment above Bob White’s Record Store. Such cheap rent! He can afford both.
“We’ll have to do something about this, Trash and Recycling. Can you, I don’t know, *combine* the two? At least get rid of one of ’em?”
“On it,” they both say in unison, already planning ahead.
“Umm, I’m confused.”
Sammie Parr visits the Red Umbrella and has a hard time understanding.
“I do kind of like this piece,” she says to her devoted boyfriend of 4 years walking in from an adjacent room on the 3rd and last floor of the gallery, one Richmond Petersburg of Norfolk Virginia, out on leave from the navy.
“Art… like me.” She laughs at her mistake, perhaps a Fraudian slip. “I mean, *red* like me. The Art word.”
Richmond comes beside her and also studies from across the rail. He has an eye for detail. “Like the jigsaw piece as well, honey, the one at the top sort of holding the other 3 up.” He points. “The blue, the green, the yellow. It’s like they’re, I don’t know, being drug through the air. Airborn: yes, that’s it.”
Big nosed Achilles T. Pippins studying the next collage over suddenly sneezes and everyone in the gallery and more becomes infected. Stay safe out there!
Later in the hospital, Achilles sees this same collage “open up” for him (as best it could) and he is able to pass the red woman attracting his attention so much before right up. Higher goals he has now! The gates swing wide.
Devoted wife of 40 years Mary Pippins is inconsolable (*sniff*).
Sammie Parr and Richmond Petersburg are fine and have forgotten all about meeting schnozzle cursed Achilles in the gallery. “I like your red outfit,” he said before parting.
“Peppins, Pippins, Pippens… the name shifted all around down through the months, now almost years. It all had to do with that Peppi machine: that was the center it all revolved around, The Diamond some call it. David A.B. put his heart and his brain into designing that machine; literally for the brain. He knew what was just around the corner. A beat up old station wagon with an Illinois license plate reading BDR529, intent on harm. He didn’t have much time.”
“But what does this *mean*?” ask Poetry Dancer, with Jeffrie Phillips for the moment. Until Charlene Brown the punk woke up about 11 o’clock. Morning walk he could say, building up a sweat by running in place for a couple of minutes. Poor Charlene — so involved in her cryptozoology dissertation writing late into the night that she was oblivious to the transgressions. Jeffrie was taking full advantage of that. The bastard. But a smart bastard, perhaps the worst kind.
“It *means*, my dear, that the death was planned; on purpose. We must track down this Sammie Parr, who is in the collages after all. She is an amalgamation of 5, just like me. That means…”
“Pot-D. *Sorry*. I mean Pan-Z of course.”
“Yes. A rival member, perhaps rogue. *Obviously* rogue because of the murder and all. David A.B.’s brain must have been in there all right.”
“But what will they do with it *now*?” queries Poetry Dancer further, no ugly in her face for the moment.
“They got him to the hospital through trickery, just like before. The brain I mean, and not the host.”
“It’s Mid Hazel,” he suddenly intuited, putting collage pieces together in his own brain. “She’s up to something.”
“More… *cake*?” he said after a weighted pause.
It *was* extraordinary. This track leading into the heart of the 4 sim wilderness. Not since Azure Islands…
Jeffrie Phillips shakes his head here. In wonder. He knew they were hiding out in there somewhere. Better recruit some help on his side of things. Cunning Poetry, good with a steal and a lie, came to mind, but that would alert Charlene. Charlene? Too busy. Plus that was the whole point. To bag this Knob Noster and bring him home to mama.
How about… Sammie Parr. He could run into her accidentally, say, at the Consignment store. Or down on the docks somewhere — he knew she liked to hang there sometime with devoted boyfriend Richmond Petersburg from Norfolk Virginia, currently *not* on leave from the navy. That was important too. Extraordinarily so.
A smile developed on his face as he kept looking ahead at the straight as an arrow railroad, aimed like Cupid.
He’s in there somewhere, Tenty. We’ll check that isolated valley over there first.”
“We’re looking for different people — entities — yes, but have a common goal.”
“To free the Inbetweenland of monsters (like us).”
“Alright, let’s move out!”
Inexperienced traveler Tenty never made it past the railroad tracks.
Tickie then spotted him across the road and knew this was no accident. The Undertaker. Some called him the Operator. Some… Zero Hero.
He lifted up his monstrous arms and screeched a horrible, echoing sound. “Watch out!!!”
Then he turned into me and I was gone.
“What just happened??”
Valley no. 1. Probably not far enough away from civilization to act as a bonafide monster attractor, but we’re on the way. Tickie reviewed the events of what just happened in his mind again. Tenty: dead! Or was he? And the Operator or Zero Hero. He is me! He’s jumped the rail, skipped the highway. He’s in lala land: a lala. He believes he hears a whale song far in the distance. Perhaps the sea is nearer than he thinks but perhaps not. New York comes to mind as well: he’s heard about a certain island on this continent that acts as a land antipode for a place on the opposite side of the world, proving Our Second Lyfe is a globe, a sphere (it has a belt). But it’s not New York; something *pre* New York. New Hamsterdam: that’s it. Pot-D sent a team in there a couple of weeks ago — hasn’t heard back from them. Pan-Z’s probably not far behind. They like to send the red shirts in first to test the atmosphere of a place. And antipodal Our Second Lyfe sounds dangerous.
2 hours earlier:
“Just up this path should be the second valley. More chance of monsters for certain!”
Sammie Parr hung back. She was scared. I should have never left NWES City, she bemoaned, thinking of Richmond.
Jeffrie Phillips was suddenly on his own as well as Sammie silently made her way back to the highway while she had the chance. He only turned around at the top.
Valley no. 2. Higher, more dangerous, more chance of monsters. He trods the path that Jeffrie Phillips walked before him again. Is Jeffrie dead already? Did Sammie make it back to the highway or was she done in like Tenty. We know, in fact, that she made it back to the highway but not in a good way. So: like Tenty, except a different type of transport.
Sammie was so red already that it was hard to tell where the body stopped and the wound began. This likened her to an alien, perhaps a Cygnus Xian this time. Why was she in all those collages in the Red Umbrella and why was she actually a 5n1? Yes, a member of Pan-Z, like Jeffrie, but one not nearly as established and in the loop. Qualities of a red shirt, then, Jeffrie realized; no better, really, than a middling to higher constituent of inferior Pot-D, he rationalized. He figured she would be done in, but he didn’t reckon this early; thought he would have at least *one* night with her in his “love tent”. He was surprised, just like Tickie in a different way. And soon they would find out why. Together. But first: two.
Jeffrie descends to the lakes and thinks he finds the first monster which turns out to be just an oddly shaped and hued rock protruding from the water. Charlene would not be proud.
It was in the 4th valley, or perhaps it was the 5th, that Jeffrie Phillips actually found something solid and concrete and pertinent to his mission. He kept staring at that tree in front of the rock wall: something wasn’t quite right here. A cave! he intuited with his enhancing Pan-Z mind conditioning. But hidden — someone or something is doing the hiding and he’s going to find out. This is where he will camp. Too bad about Sammie, he laments again, not knowing her ill fate. He was luckier than Tickie in that way. One ambulance turned into two as the night went on. Jeffrie heard them, but the sirens blended in so well with the distant whale songs that he couldn’t tell one from the other. Ah yes, those whales, confirming he was a lala. Tessa Doom came to him in a dream that night, a dream so real that it could be Earth, like New York but in the past.
At 2:01 am, in the middle of the dream, the portal opened.
Sunkland Institute’s Blue Feather
If only they could have brought the ocean all the way up to the docks here and made NWES City a true port, thinks Baker Bloch, staring out at same. Maybe Sammie Parr, Tenty, the rest could have been saved, maybe the Black Ice Market here would still be thriving and providing talky tubes for beloved pets, etc. He sighs, turns.
If Spunky’s also goes that may be it for this side of town. And if one part crumbles then the rest fall as well, all 4 jigsaw pieces. And that means the 5th, orange, Sunklands Institute in effect, will be meaningless too. Might as well move it back to Iris, then; Bella (squirrel) could have proved that.
Speaking of which, I must get to the Blue Feather meeting over there, called specifically because of new developments in Bella, Belle- seri… sare… whatever (think “Bell is serial”, baker b.!).
“So you see,” he says a bit later at the meeting, comprised of himself, Wheeler Wilson, Grassy Noll, Chef-Detective Keat Owens, and Gordie Down (formerly Curled Paper), just like before, “this wheel of avatars found by Bixyl — lemme see (Baker squints at the media feed), looks like Shuftan — occurred just after the completion of photo-novel 22, the one prior to the current one.”
“Hi!” repeats “Winesap” reading, light bulb headed Gordie Down. Baker and the others look at him, jointly wondering if he’s ever going to become a functional member of The Table they all sit around and participate in. Baker also makes a mental note here to get those apples for him as requested by Wheeler. Maybe that’ll do the trick.
“Yes, hello once again, Gordie.” Baker decides to try to prod more out of him. “What do *you* think of this circle or wheel, Gordie? Do you think it represents the nodal photo-novels 1-4-7-10-13-16-19-22, like we talked about before? At the time, Wheelhouse (sim) was at the top of the developing continent and Wheeler (sim) at the bottom. This circle was created just over from Wheelhouse. We think it’s All Orange, Gordie (Wheeler and Grassy nod in agreement), but… what about you?”
No success on that front! They’ll try again another night.
short for Grotesque
After all the actual avatars had moved over to Perch (diner) for after-meeting drinks, Gordie Down, formerly Curled Paper, said his first meaningful word for no one except us, the reader and the writer of this here blog. “Grote,” he uttered, not loud enough to attract the attention of others. Instantly he felt his physique change, growing in some spots and retreating in others; no need for Baker to get those apples. For the first time, he-turned-to-she began to dream. The result was a whole book which remains unpublished to this day, “Winesap” taking its place in the instant of the moment.