He dared to skate right across main street in broad daylight coming back from the Giant Tiger when he spotted it to his right.
“Whoa ho ho. A new arcade! How could I have *missed* this before??” Naturally he pulled in and started checking out the games.
“Pac-Man. Laaame, pheh.”
“But *Doom*, he he. Yeah, this is what we’re talking about. Wait till I tell… wait, what’s the name of my best friend? Millgate. Yeah, that’s it. Wait till I tell Millgate.”
He plays Doom for several hours and becomes so immersed that when he finishes he is in a different world.
“Whooooa. What happened to *Picturetown*??”
“This is the scene in Picturetown right when Bart Smipson should have been skating across main street on his way, as it turned out, to the game arcade where he does the big switcheroo and comes out in NWES City, Hucka D. Perhaps he is in front of the white truck here. Dangerous!
“But wait! Looky over there to the left (beyond the chatting girls at the corner who must have seen him skate by). A *single* tiger now where we had two staring before, or at least one eye apiece of two tigers. I know because this is in a collage composed for the last photo-novel. Behold!
“And here’s the full tiger, now whole, of the current scene. I’m not even sure I should be showing this, I don’t know, *time-skip* in the blog.
“Thanks for helping out, Charlene Brown.”
“I’m busy: but I’m here.”
“Okay, so there’s the two girls who must have seen Bart, yacking in front of the Giant Tiger painting. This would be caddy-corner to you standing at the intersection of, let’s see, Main and Elizabeth. Bart should be skateboarding by you right this instant.”
“I see nothing.”
“So let’s just swing the camera around and… Charlene? Where’re you going? Come back!”
I finally spot the pink dress wearing punk again just beyond the Rosehaven Yarn Shop, about to walk under the Regent Theatre marquee. But she’s way ahead of where she should be. Where’s she going?
“I see him Baker Bloch!” she suddenly exclaimed as I pull back beside her at Main and York.
Three Beatles were crossing the road in front of me and I knew this was a special, sacred spot.
“And that’s how Bart Smipson travels between Picturetown and NWES City,” I write in a letter later to Hucka Doobie. “Through that alley with the 102 graffiti. He’s indicating how he does it!” I sign my name with love and stick it in an envelope addressed to the White Palace.
I had to face the tiger head on.
Wheeler is Charlene is Her Majesty the Bigfoot!
One remained on the jigsaw pieces to our left, because there was only one left. Waiting for the snowman to turn orange again (it always did).
There (Wheeler joins the game).
Harrison just kept on dancing like a fool with his new mates behind the theatre. He was free!
The next morning, Tickie finally caught up with Jeffrie Phillips, who was scared out of his wits at the events of the night before, damaged beyond repair even.
In the weakness and as a cure, Tickie *merged* with Jeffrie to become something else, unafraid of fear. A new superhero but hopefully not supervillian. Blue Thorn, perhaps the Blue Rose Thorn but with the Rose dropped because of fear of copyright infringement (see: Santman).
Blue Thorn looks around with new eyes for both, sensing that Knob Noster was not here in the Inbetweenland. Never mind Mr. Platinum/Operator/Undertaker/Zero Hero, because he was a different animal altogether. Blue Thorn could change back into Jeffrie Phillips (and Tickie, I suppose) after he had nabbed the similarly blue beast and brought him (or her) back home to mama (Charlene Brown the punk, who we know now is a type of bigfoot *herself*) for detailed study. She could finish her cryptozoology dissertation that way. She could become a doctor herself. Maybe then Jeffrie could find a way to finish off the other doctor he knew well, the one who could turn into a mouse (Pansy). It was all coming together if it wasn’t all falling apart. And actually it was both. The Blue Thorn stepped forward away from the now closed portal into the past.
The Blue Thorn arrives at the Bellisaria Passport Office in Hammerhead Light but finds it boarded up. He’ll have to travel the continent illegally to find Knob Noster, a disadvantage. He decides to use a boat as much as possible, and also split into his component parts for further hiding. “Light of Aurelia, keep shining!” Jeffrie Phillips hopefully chants while assuming a Rose pose on the bow as Tickie prepares to cast off. The lighthouse doesn’t respond, knowing dark days lie ahead.
Verdant Falls dog park
“Interesting look. And what kind of dog is he? Or she?”
“We don’t exactly know. We just call him… Dogg.” The Mann was giving more information to the womann with this than he supposed she thought at the time. He was wondering how long it would take to move from this uncomfortable bench to that cozy picnic blanket over there.
But just then, Dogg split into his two component parts and The Mann knew that something big was up. Better get over to the passport office next door in Hammerhead Light… wait, he remembers. All boarded up. He’ll have to move away from Pickle 02 illegally.
He then propositions the womann in a different way. She accepts, knowing more than she’s letting on. Much more so.
“Come on boy! And… boy.”
Maybe I just didn’t deserve Rose Heaven (I changed the name from Rosehaven because I didn’t think I deserved it). I will never live here, beyond that brief stay last winter. But…
… Murdoch’s castle remains, changed from an inferior product last year. Back to the more authentic original. Why? I sit on Dog Island with Wheeler-as-Charlene and ask her the same. “Goodbyes,” she replied. “And hellos”. Something else could happen here.
“I’m telling you Hucka Doobie. The House of Joy was *right* here just yesterday. And I saw a Brendan for the first time.”
“Connected,” she im’ed back from the White Palace, too busy right now to show up in person, so she said. But was that a “lazy” word from her? I knew something was happening in this particular location of the Bellisaria continent. Hucka Doobie did too. Yet… she’s holding back.
And another game place behind it. “*Right* here,” he complains about the vacant lot to noone now.
“You’re one of our most trusted contacts, Bella.”
“Sandy here, YUCK. Sandy *Squirrel*. I’m a squir-rel, HO.”
“Right, right. You’re a squirrel here. You’re name is Sandy. *Not* Bella.”
“That’s right. And I can’t breath, HUH HUH HUH (pants). See? I just removed my helmet and the atmosphere’s plain POISON. It’s like I took a red pill, a blue pill, and then turned into a COW, hehe.”
“I don’t get it. Anyway…”
“It’s that old saying,” she explained with another chuckle, still without helmet. “‘And on the FIFTH day… wait, And SO on the FIFTH day…”
“Right, right. I get it. You’re a cow.”
“I’m NOT a cow. Becauuuuse… I didn’t take the *pills*. I didn’t become Phyllis. I h’ain’t no channeler, see. I’ll leave that up to…”
“Phyllis?” I interrupted. I didn’t see the connection between pills and Phyllis yet. I could tell I upset Sandy/Bella by interrupting her. Me and my big mouth. I think of the calming blue pills in my pocket that could slow me down. Getting anxious. I reach; try to disguise to Bella/Sandy what I’m doing. Cartoon-like, she begins to imitate me; reaches into her own pocket on her astronaut suit or whatever the heck she’s wearing.
“I got some TOO, and I bet they h’ain’t the same color, HO.”
Synchronized now, I pull out two, she pulls out two. I figure out the Phyllis-pills connection. Together we could do each other in. She reaches over with one and I do too. We exchange. We swallow.
We’re in a different place altogether, staring at trash that also isn’t trash with TILE channeler Phyllis and revived lady of the night Sammie Parr. It was all a dream.
Tickie comes back from the bathroom. “Where’d they go?” On his own now, he became even slightly more blue but it would take a while.
Like Olive Oylstick and blue monster companion Groover before him, Man About Time — MAT — also waited at the Blue Airfield for a ship of some sort, hopefully an airship, you know. He perched upon the best vantage point possible, on a high knoll just over the line from Blue in Gray, he thought. He was testing out realities. He’d just found pansies in Orion Falls and much more.
He was hot on a trail but to where he didn’t yet know. It led here first, picture-wise, a stepping stone. He thought back to Marvin the Martian next to the Blue Feather Sea (his original home). And HELMETS.
An agreement signed. Planes penetrating each other. I remember something about Jim Polk but then someone else warning me to slow down and that I was going too fast and to take the 2 blue pills and don’t think about red for a while. So here I am. At Blue… field. So here I am… at Blue… field.
He turns. Something was wrong, he realizes. He should be in Gray; this is not Gray. Too much Blue! Instead: over in that small bit of woods across the Blue field. Hiding. He was too much out in the open. Warning again. Exposed! (War!)
The ship swooped down and carried MAT off to a lala land and dropped him into the ocean where he was rescued by a passing whale and brought instead to Humansville where he met Baker Bloch and Hucka Doobie while breaking into a house and who then helped him find the right house for the keys he now possessed which turned out to be not the ninth he tried, but the 10th, like a wheel and then he thought about dinner and 12:37 and a spark on his shoulder which told him to return to Bellisaria which led to the pansies… and the prison… and Elizabeth. There. He felt better. He turns back, away from a lala land triggered by the moving blocks of color. Time to go hide in those woods.
After I saw what I saw at the Blue Airfield I decided to pay a visit to my old friend Tigertail while in the neighborhood and discuss all of it with him. He’d been overseeing my actions for a long time.
Not in his shop. And there’s the time-plunger I first used to travel through the centuries and beyond (!)
A prototype, and I was a guinea pig. Oh well, paid for my first 3 years in college in Mesopotamia. 50 bucks (lindens) goes a long way back then. It’s over now, and luckily I’m only mildly confused about all of it. I think. Time to find Tigerhead.
*There* he is. In that giant snowflake seen in the opening to the sky. “Hello Tiger… er, just Tiger!” But Tiger existed in a different strata of time than MAT presently, one operating much more slowly, frozen even (to us). He’d visited the Blue Airfield partially in Gray one too many times himself and this is what happened.
In a larger perspective, Tiger sees different times as islands in a sea of space. “Oh look at me, I’m standing on Mesopotamia,” he wanted to joke to his former pupil but couldn’t because of the whole frozen thing. Can’t… move.
He listened in open mouthed amazement, like always.
“I don’t know, Groover,” he put it mildly but seriously. “I’m just not feeling it yet in…” He considered the name of the place, the village. But not a village. A community. Centered around Blues. He stared at his blue companion; decided to ask him about a name. “What do you locals call this, um, neighborhood?”
Groover stared back, also considering a name. He hadn’t thought of it before. A list developed in his mind, Thirteensboro at the top. Unlucky Village? But 13 is a good number according to TILE tarot reader Marsha Slot, due to arrive at quarter past the hour to start her shift in the next room over. We should wait for her, Groover realized. He told this to Man About Time (MAT).
The front door opened and closed. A woman’s footsteps were heard going into the other room. “There she is,” MAT said over in his soft tone with raised eyebrows, and they got up to go get her first reading of the day. MAT had 50 lindens. He hoped that was enough, because he knew Groover never carried around cash with him. No pockets.
“Back to the old give and go, huh?”
MAT didn’t understand this comment, but he kept his mouth shut. He assumed a “this might be bull” position, which Marsha Slot (aka Olive Oylstick), the TILE channeler/tarot reader, picked up on, like a town.
“No bull,” she said. “Instead… COW,” she realized, staring deeper into the smokey sphere between her hands. “You missed something.” She stared forward now with everpresent scowl. Yet she was not a cruel person. The expression was a built in feature. She planned to change it one day. When she got the money. One 50 linden reading at a time.
“Cow?” MAT immediately thought of Cow Hill which he was tempted to visit yesterday but didn’t have the time. He didn’t *make* the time. He didn’t know what he’d find there but he did have the urge. While he was in the area again — just a hop and a skip up from Tiger’s place.
“I’m seeing a protrusion. A… fifth. A cow full of air which blows the wrong way, knocking, yes, knocking off a hat.”
That would be Slash Girl, MAT realized. No bull indeed!
Tickie came back from the bathroom; stared into an empty room with a vacant TILE tarot (etc.) reading table. Scratching his head again, he realized he had gone forward into the past once more. Better get back to the Blues bar.
“Brrrr. Cold down at the beach. I think I’ll stay right here in front of this fire for a while, brother of mine.”
Kick-Ass Boos, unlike his brother, didn’t have cold feet, although they were bare. He’d given up his shoes just a minute before. He didn’t want to reveal too much too soon. Instead: “Well… what do you think about this town, village, community, whatever? This…” Kick-Ass Boos couldn’t remember the name all of a sudden, like it had been yanked from his memory by a falsity of time.
Kick-Ass Bogota kept warming his hands while chatting about the subject. “It’s okay, I guess. I like the swimming pool. I like the blues bar here. Something to do at night! And the game room, of course. We’ll head up there next — check it out.”
“The mountains and that pretty lake too.” ALERT
“Yes, that too,” the brother agreed. He drew back from the fire, toasty for the moment. “Whatever, we *can’t* go back to Black Ice. Evicted.”
“Yeah. Plus Elberta is gone from town too. What’s the point of staying on.”
Thinking about their old, common girlfriend, Kick-Ass Bogota glanced away from the fire at his brother, traditional rivalries stoked along with attached suspicions. He recalled a different name. “Who exactly recommended this place to you again?”
“Oh just a friend,” Kick-Ass Boos quickly answered, not wanting an awkward gap. “He likes the blues; he knew this place.”
“A blues friend,” Kick-Ass Bogota said, returning his hands toward the fire.
Good one, thought Kick-Ass Boos. Very close, except it was only one blues. Blue, then. And the friend was… *Darn*. Can’t remember again.
Tickie walked through the door. “*There* you are.”
Kick-Ass Bogota swung around. Gig is up, Kick-Ass Boos realized.
“How’d you get down here so fast? And what is that blue costume you’re wearing?”
“You’re… the *blues* friend,” Kick-Ass Bogota guessed correctly. Or blue *friends*, he thought while looking from one to the other, still not seeing his brother’s true face because of the bag.
15 minutes later, the Undertaker stood in the flower garden on the side of the house, taking pictures.
“Were you seen, Jupiter?”
Jupiter? But Groover remembered who he was at the core. Jupiter, yes. “I don’t think so.” He thought back to the visit by Tickie this morning, intent on finding him and taking him back to an aspiring cryptozoologist in his hometown for study and perhaps fame and fortune, or so the Undertaker said. For he is the illusive, the one and only Knob Noster! Well, there were three of us, counting the wife and the kid. He needs to send them a postcard.
“What about the other fellow, the Man About Town it said in his outfit description? I wonder: *what* town? The same as Tickie’s? They didn’t seem to know each other that well. Did they?” She turned her scowling face toward Groover, wishing reciprocation.
“MAT, yes. I mean, no. They didn’t seem to know each other that well. He must be in on it. Why would he come to the Game Room to meet with him otherwise. Certainly not to play *Pac-man*.” Jupiter/Groover here makes an imitation of a pac-man gobbling up ghosts and the like with his pac-man-like mouth. Understanding the Anti-Bart reference, Olive Oylstick still finds it only mildly funny. More is afoot now. She stares out again at the… tree? Is that what this is in the space formerly occupied by the House of Joy?
Groover gasps. “There it is again (!). Sideways.”
Olive Oylstick had an insight. “Do that thing with your mouth again you just did.”
“Did you find her yet, my little, precious Herbert Glenn Gold down at my feet?”
“I… suppose you mean Tessa,” he said up with a markedly weaker voice than Parasol’s. “I… *know* you mean..”
“You’re stalling,” Parasol declared down toward her other feet. The ones of the Rainbow Butterfly; Pickle I’ve called it in this here blog and attached photo-novel, about to be closed up for a day or three. Just to be complete, Parasol is also the same as Witch Hazel, but she must make a choice first. That of red (service to self). Blue would be better, and so she keeps pressing. The girl must be found, she rationalizes. *Then* I can decide which way to flip! This seemed to be an error of thinking. Herbert Glenn Gold was about to pass through her legs and leave, she sensed. He had had enough of abuses; had to put up with a lot of this with his then wife April Mae Flowers. Former: because he was dead now. She decided to use this angle to create a save.
“Would you like me to tell you how you died? Would you wish now to know how you got *here*?” The fiery Golden Sphere beside them spun on without noise. There was no air yet they talk.
Herbert Glenn Gold pondered again whether he wanted to know this. Would it help? He decided before, in the long run, it wouldn’t. He would still be taking the psychological pictures wherever he went. The portal could not be sealed back up. He affirms this to Parasol above him. He knew she was somehow responsible for him. It was a weird relationship, with many incarnations. Father, mother, brother, sister, wife, husband, uncle, aunt, so on. But for now it was more perhaps a mother-son relationship, with he being the son. Gold, like the.
“*Herbert*,” she interrupted his reverie. “I need the girl.”
END OF “SUNKLANDS 2020-2021 WINTER” PART 1!