“Alright Barrys. Let’s strategize about what comes next since Charlene Brown is busy cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Barry Vampire…”
“*X.* Vampire,” he insists.
“Yes. What do you see on your computer screen? A specific location? A specific person? Or perhaps, dare I go there, a *thing*?”
Barry X. Vampire stares at his computer screen but only sees snow — whiteness. “Nothing yet,” he offers in a slightly disappointed tone. But he’s hoping for words over images. Too many pictures from Picturetown recently, he bemoans internally.
“How about you Barry De Boy? Pictures? Symbols? Words? Something else?”
Barry De Boy expresses he doesn’t see anything yet either. And neither can we even more in this picture. Not even snowy whiteness.
“How… about you?” ventured one of the Barrys rather timidly, I’m not quite sure which one yet.
“I’m not the important one (here),” Jeffrie Phillips declares firmly. “I coordinate between the two of you, the writer (nods toward X. Vampire) and the artist (nods toward De Boy).”
“But… you’re the author,” spoke the Barry that was different from the one who dared to pipe up first. “You are the base, the core. You coordinate *us*.”
“That’s what I just said.”
“But…” the first Barry began again, then was cut short. Charlene came back with chicken dumplings and a lot of other stuff, some smoking hot, some cool as a cucumber. They ate until 7 and then slept until 8. Then at 9 they spoke again but nothing about coordination or anything serious. I believe it was about the local infestation of wild parsnip. Or was it poison ivy. Giant hogweed?
“What’s up, boss. I’m back, as you see.” Stumpy wanted MAT (Man About Time) to comment on his return, ask him what he’s been up to. Man About Time didn’t even know the formerly headless man went missing.
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, hoss. He’s gone. So is Moe. I’m *back*.”
MAT tried to recall the bartender’s name. “You were… missing something.”
“My *head* is all. You almost didn’t hire me for the job because of it. Then Gotham came along and I became a head, almost the opposite. But then it all balanced out, thanks to the red, the wine. Red and blue coordinated. I’m back.”
“That… doesn’t make any sense.” Mild but to the point.
Stumpy began to wax philosophically, inspired by the pot dreams. “Life is a 3d movie, both red and blue. Stereoscop-ic. The trick is to see them *together*, make everything real around you. It’s tricky, yeah, but it’s worth it in the end. I’m 3d, you’re 3d. The bar is 3d. The new trailer park just over the street edge in front of the store is 3d…”
“Ahh yes, thanks. That’s what I came in for. I wanted to ask about renting a trailer, er, Stimpy. From Jim K. Polk.” The Man About Time then remembered he had already rented the trailer, already paid the last month’s rent, already cleaned out the premises and came here to find Stumpy back on the job. It’s like the Karl/Moe intermediate period never existed. He looked around the room. Another head should be here besides Stumpy’s and my own, he thought. But it was hit out of the ballpark, bruised and battered somewhere far over a left field fence.
Man About Time was worried about flipping around time because he was now the logical candidate to replace Baker Bloch once the blog protagonist moved on to the White Palace, which already might have occurred. Now that fellow candidate Jeffrie Phillips has left town with that cryptozoologist who hangs out down at Spunky’s. Where was Spunky anyway? I recall 2 people of that name in town, one small, red, and with horns. The other…”
“I see you’re still confused about time,” Stumpy spoke up, seeing the glazed look in MAT’s eyes.
“H-how long have you been back?” MAT managed.
“Just got back. Ask me where I’ve been. Buy a returned employee a drink why don’t you. I’ll buy you one and we’ll call it even.”
But then Stumpy forgot all about the experience in the Green Yarn sim as well, and his gig there. Gigi was always at the bar, but he doesn’t recall that either. He had the unfortunately experience of going into the 1898 room and falling asleep, replacing Jeffrie in the bed — another replacement for him. Stumpy stares at MAT, MAT stares at Stumpy. They suddenly realize one is as much of a mess as the other, unable to replace anybody, anywhere, any*thing*.
(to be continued)
Kick-Ass Bogota wonders where his brother Kick-Ass Boos ran off to — for several weeks! It’s like he has a secret life as a superhero or something, ha, laughs Bogota inwardly, knowing the reverse is true. Because he’s right over there, just up over the street edge at the bar he forgot he owned and had to be reminded by his employee. I know this is happening. I sawed him off (last Thursday’s Tuesday).
If only it had worked out better over at Four Corners on the Bellisaria continent, he thinks. Maybe he could balance the ordinary and extraordinary better. But as he is, he’s totally unfit to replace Baker Bloch as Sunklands leader, pheh. I’ll testify against him if it comes to that.
Bogota looks out, trying to spot his sometimes bodiless dog in the yard. 3 more trailers align themselves out into the distance, ending with the dumpster where Bogota found that book which told the whole story, 4 Corners, NWES City, everything. In fact, he should get back to reading it. He’s up to where he’s sitting in front of his trailer and staring off at the distance and then remembering to pick up the book from his lap. He picks up the book from his lap.
letters and numbers
Former stripper and teen tennis star Steff Graffiti needed a place to stay. Her yarn shop (Ye11ow) down the street had gone bottom up. Baker Bloch graciously allowed her to move some stuff upstairs at the Rosehaven Yarn Shop and crash on her couch up there; “yarnies” stick or at least clump together that way. “Several weeks,” she insisted about the stay. “I’ll be on my feet by then.” If it came down to stripping and backhanding again like back in the days then so be it. It would not come down to that, because…
… Steff had plans.
I remain ensconced in NWES City — more to see and use here.
And I guess Baker Bloch is still the head honcho of my little family of avatars, since I can’t figure out a replacement for him so that he can permanently move to the White Palace which appears to be in the center of Picturetown (who da thunk?). Speaking of which…
The painting is a split landscape with the top portion being heaven and the bottom portion representing hell. Heaven is illustrated with light blues, vibrant colors, and surrounded by flying angels, while hell is much darker than heaven. This is illustrated through dark tones and demonic creatures to set the distinct difference between the two. The entire space is filled and little absent space is present.
“He’s planning to bring back Robert Drake Johns the lime colored robot,” spoke monitoring Rex Ruddy Red in the control room to the actual head honcho, the big Pie in the Sky. Hucka Doobie? I don’t think so in this case. Someone over even the former bee-person. Or perhaps she (he?) has her wings back now in the White Palace.
The Monitor places an image in the sky. A cave, a room, a… cake, or at least a piece of one. But where there’s piece there’s… No piece without cake, perhaps I should put it. The cake ain’t worth shite, and only tastes good to Robert, because he has no taste. Crying Elvises in his bathroom! That kind of bad taste, but also more. And he doesn’t dream, as we also know. Robots can’t dream. That helps excuse a good portion of the bad taste trait, maybe 3 or 4 pieces instead of just the one now. Pieces of pie, pieces of cake. The cake is a lie, yet…”
“OPEN UP THE PORTAL AGAIN,” suddenly came the decree from Up On High.
Baker stops typing, looks at what he’s written. The weirdest thing on this continent he’s suddenly been redirected to in another tangent is that portal to Earth. Right smack in the middle of it all, between North and South, between East and West, but especially North and South, perhaps. Some call the North Heaven, the ones who proclaim the continent to be Satori. Those from the South, who others call Hell, say the actual name is Maebaleia, after the big whale that use to dominate the southern seas. Moby Prick some deem it, or at least a certain writer. Call him… Millgate? Millville?
I figured a major part of my job now was to figure out who 102 actually is. Or was. This Maebaleia or Satori horned demon highlighting DANGER could be a clue. I know Danger also equates with Dead: Dead Cat Soap, etc.
It’s Bart Smipson but it’s not Bart Smipson. Another ragamuffin of the streets.
It was that t-shirt. He was covering up the t-shirt with his arm. He didn’t want the passing camera to see (!). Or he was indicating the shirt to… me; crossing it. Blood on his… shirt. We’re entering ghost territory (again). He disappears behind a telephone pole. A dead end (in Picturetown). We’ve seen enough. ENOUGH. Gates closed. Text begins again as Barry X. Vampire takes over.
We lie in a pool of blood as Bart Smipson towers above us, Giant for a day.
I think I’ll bring Biff Carter back into the picture. He was the one to let it happen — was on his watch. Demoted to private dick he was after that, no better than a Moby Prick consigned to swim the Southern depths of hell below aerial, pie in the sky Heaven. He was in dark toned, ironically named New Eden. Sometimes he was back on the beat thanks to a shortage of personnel in the local police department due to all those pills. But what of Orkley Andy who was probably the same as Oakley Annie the Ohioan gunslinger? Let it pass, let it slide, Cpt. Henry said as history repeats itself. 3 dead is pretty good numbers for that kind of escapade. We got away with something. Let him get away with it too. Say it was his dog hiding under his couch; go with his story. Hunter the dog — a good story, a *true* story. And so Biff Carter wrote that particular slant in his report, not mentioning the bodies (soon carted away by the ever-present zombies) or the red dress smiling on the ground before him (soon carted away by a female zombie or perhaps a male one experimenting with his sexual identity). All evidence gone and taken care of. He heads down to the Red Dress Diner to talk about all of it with Phyllis at the time…
“Wanda, hi. Where’s Phyllis? I thought it was her shift — just spoke to her over the phone.” Where’s your red dress? he thought.
“Axis. We really need to talk now.”
“I feel like I’m at a dead end, Wheeler.”
“Hold still, please,” requested Wendy Wilson Wheeler, painting flowers instead of Baker Bloch but not telling him this.
“Are you not happy that I finally found my husband?” Significant pause. “Because I lost him for a while.” She decided to paint the blooms the same color as her skin this go around. *She* is blooming. Is that good?
“Sure, sure, er, Wheeler.” Wendy had stopped asking him to call her by her character name. She is Wheeler, true. And she’s found her Axis. “What of, um, the other one?”
“You know who the other one is, *blog leader*.”
“Sure, sure, eh, Blob? he he.”
“Listen, I can keep them both. I’m a big girl. I can have more than one [boy].”
“Is it fair to *them*, though?”
“They’re the same. What do I care?”
“What *do* you care? I mean, you already had Tr-oop. Opp, Tropp.”
“I like to play one off the other. It makes me feel… important. Needed. I am Queen of Our Second Lyfe. But you are not the King. You are like… a Prime Minister, yes; with all the useful stuff, the power. I am more a figurehead.”
“Can I move now?” Baker Bloch’s neck was beginning to hurt. He’d stood in the same place too long. 156/156. Right on the Diagonal of the sim they’re in, and the only place in the room it falls on. So he has to stay and Wheeler tells him this.
“You are at a dead end,” she reinforced after a while, washing her paintbrush of pink in the turpentine jar. “It’s time for the witches to take over.”
“Okay I’m done with this one. Let’s move to the other side. More light.”
I decided to have tea with another while I was there, perhaps the brains of the operation. One Fern Stalin, not a redhead perhaps surprisingly but still eating at commissary kitchens with the commoners. I ask her about the operation.
“We created it all,” she was explaining. “This art town — we’ve taking over the whole island, actually. And we’ve just plain taken over, period. Your rule is at an end. You should have invested in the Toddles storyline more, gone all 200 meters worth on it.” Brains indeed.
“Toddles could come back.”
“Hmph,” she expressed and turned her head to the left, to the sea. “That island over there is as much toast as your wee yellow one. She’s stuck in the pavement, under the street actually. She has no more power.” She ends with finality.
“New Island?” I questioned, seeing the direction she indicated. I tried to decipher the meaning to this clue. Photo-novel 9 was all about New Island, but we move away from it in novel 10 to the present one, across that bridge just over there, the New Island bridge. But this was Fisher’s Island. *They* have taken over Fisher’s Island. What did this mean? A return to the Omega continent? I as Baker Bloch wasn’t sure this was a good idea. We had kind of wrapped all that up in novel 10, especially as extended to novel 11. Omega continent: covered.
“We move you where we desire.” Witch power she was on about again. I recall that a witch lived on New Island, and probably still does. The same or connected? I ask her this. She got up and ran across the bridge we just spoke about at an impossible speed for a normal person. The she ran back — the path was smoking where she sprinted so fast she was going. “Forgot my lipstick,” she offered as an excuse for leaving, then applied it to her lips. But then it became a piece of straw as she changed into the next (Lichen Roosevelt). We had a nice discussion as well but it was more oriented to comedy instead of gravity.
“And that’s why the French don’t wash,” she ended what I later understood was part of her monologue.
“She comes here every day, and every day a different game. I haven’t seen a repeat yet. She must be testing the atmosphere, maybe making sure it isn’t poison. 4 games left in the cache. I predict an actual, breathing human — *not* a mascot — will be arriving in the week. Wanna bet on it?”
“No, I’ll take your word for it. You’ve been here a lot longer than me. In this Castle Town. Isn’t that what it’s usually called?”
We were taking a break from strategizing. I turned away for a moment, tired of looking them in the eye. I’d figured something out. Mascots — that’s what they were. Only mascots. Not real atall. Only symbols of a writer… and an artist. The two aspects of *me*. Maybe it *is* destiny that I take Baker Bloch’s place as leader of the blog and allow him to ascend to the White Palace to rejoin Hucka Doobie. I’ll have to talk to Charlene about it. But I’m kind of finished with these two.
He takes another sip of wine. They hadn’t even asked for anything to drink, not water, not booze. Nothing. That was the first big tip-off.
“It’s time to play rock, paper, scissors, Barry, to see which one of us goes to Castle Town.”
“Oh all right,” answers Barry.
“Ready? One, two…”
“Oh, and also a pad or something that I can write on, thanks.”
“We could send her over to New Eden to live with recently reunited Wendy and Axis, but I don’t think that’s a good idea. Probably not the best surrogate parents.”
“Nah,” she answered.
“There’s a treehouse with a butterfly theme perched on the top of a prominent Omega continent peak. That might do the trick.”
“For a while.”
“But it has to be butterflies.”
“Yes,” she answered.
Those black, white (yellow) and red ladies said I didn’t have to stay here that long and that’s probably a good thing. A little too grown up here, in that things are too *big* for me… like this chair. Can hardly see over the edge of the table!
But those flowers are nice in front of me, although they make me do weird things when “touched,” like touch my toes — touch for touch. Maybe I don’t want to touch my toes, I say back. And then they quickly relent — they always do — returning me to my sitting position in the chair. Strange also that they don’t have a vase.
And certainly the *butterflies* all around are a perk-me-up in these dark dark times. I lost Carolin! I lost Mabel and now I’ve lost my next best friend, the one that remained behind and helped me through the first dark times. Robert! she remembered. I totally forgot about Mabel’s lime green robot stored away after her — not *demise*: disappearance. Carolin said he would be too hard to take care of now that Mabel is gone, thus the dismantling, the storage. But, oh Robert, I *do* need you now. You were the third best friend, after second, Carolin, and first, Mabel. But do I want to put you in the same jeopardy that they, unbeknownst to me, were in — just by association? How hard would it be to put him back together? Carolin said: near impossible, when she brought it up every now and then, especially when she remembered the most times small sometimes not as small difference between a second best friend (Carolin) and a first (Mabel). Third could help fill the gap and more. Why *not* try now — what’s to lose (except a 3rd best friend)? So when the black, white (yellow) and red ladies come back I’ll tell them. Maybe they can help with the reactivation, come to think of it. They do seem to feel genuinely sorry for my plight — kicked out of Green Yarn, a thought of *new* home, and then turning into a wanderer again, first at the End of Time caves like before, and then — kicked out again. The black, white (yellow) and red swooped down in their spaceship: set down the cow they had in their tractor beam and latched onto me instead; brought me up in their ship. I wasn’t scared, strangely, like I was use to it. I had nothing to lose. They offered me — hope.
Thus the stay in the treehouse. “You’ll be safe here — for a time,” they collectively said before whisking away back into space.
(to be continued)
It was starting to rain. She was no more closer to finding the girl than when she began. But she *was* the girl, hmph. Butterflies… that’s how she remembered. Butterflies lead down a path to the Pond of Memory. But the Mountain Lakes region is complicated, with many peaks to traverse. She was on top of one of these peaks, but Elberta didn’t know which one. Just a peak. Paradise; ecstasy.
She held tight under an eave to get out of the raindrops. Someone was going to come out of that door over there.
“Get away from me, get *away* from me!” But Elberta had only been dreaming. Something was after her, something that came up from the swamp, down that very path over there. She was in the middle of the swamp that use to be a lake and she couldn’t remember how she got here. She sheathed the knife she drew in the panic of waking up. “All a dream,” she said, trying to comfort herself and not doing a very good job. Something *was* here.
She should have never gone into that cave. She was out in the open, the fresh, clean air with the star studded sky spreading out above her, and then she wasn’t. A path, but not leading to clean, fresh water. Dank, dingy, green, algae congested. Atrophied. Some say her life was atrophied when she got hitched to her twin brother Toothpick/Philburg back at the end of photo-novel 22. Only the Free Tilists, with close ties to the Deep South (of Black Ice), would marry them. “Amoral,” cried to Pentagonists, worshipers of all things 5 sided and 5 pointed and originating on Mars. “Blasphemous, a slap in the face of Our Lord God of Heaven,” bemoaned the Trilogists, better known as our Christians. Only the 4-square Tilists would touch it, but only in Catalpa outside the direct influence of the city council who had ultimate judgment in these matters and could expel the couple if the ceremony was held on their grounds. Instead: All Orange, between the wine red apples of Apple’s Orchard and the slick yellow banana symbolically lying at the center of Black Ice, which all revolves around like a Beanstalk or Pope to a helmet wearing monkey (crook) with one upturned and one downturned eyebrow. It was only in All Orange where it could happen. The 5th, but in a good way this time (we hope).
Barry De Boy settled back in the rocking chair with the maple leaf pillow and felt it was good. I have acquired the power of the three now, the scissors to begin, then the paper, then, lastly, rock (in the middle). Rock solid I am. Jeffrie Phillips I am. He he he. He he he he he. Ho ho. Hu. Huh.
It was Waldrip. Or was it Waldrup. Waldrop? …drep? Anyway, I could feel his presence even if I couldn’t see him. Like a mouse.
He stopped rocking, stood up. “Who goes there?”
“One of us will have to go, twin of mine. And *you* are the one sitting sideways. I think it’s you.”
The Wendy who was sitting sideways to the observing camera spoke. “Don’t cross me. You can’t cross me.”
“This is *not* a Jesus situation. Just because we *originally* were in a 0316 post.”
“Before the user Our God realized the mistake. Another mighty cock-up!”
“… is our Lord,” non-sideways sitting Wendy tacked on. But they both were in different ways. “Paper?” one uttered.
“Scissors,” answered the other. She was the one.
On the sealed evergreen island in the middle of snow snow snow, Barry De Boy waited.
And then nodded off.
end of 4th
Lisa the Vegetarian’s boathouse was still anchored off the west coast of New Island, but she had failed to find her brother, just like Wendy (one of ’em, perhaps the right one?) did before her. She’d heard of Picturetown by now and 102. She knew that the number stood for a game of roshambo, otherwise known as rock paper scissors, like the first 3 chapters of the red book and something to truly contemplate why this is so. Biff Carter might know. After all, he’s in it, but not the first 3. Instead the 4th, where triangle turns to square. He is just as dirty (in the book) as the doctor, the main character of the 4th. Instead of a private dick, he is a restaurant owner, perhaps of the Red Dress Diner if we mix up and combine realities again. But Biff Carter has been revealed — there — by his wife of all people, to be the same as Axis and may not reappear in this here photo-novel (24 in a series of 20; getting close to the end!), his story seemingly resolved but we’ll see. Maybe he leaves his cherished red book in a special place (Red Dress Diner again?) for someone else to find, perhaps Barry De Boy, or maybe one of the Wendys who seem destined to be a mate to him, like Biff-as-Axis has been paired off with… Wendy? Wheeler? We need to combine more characters, it seems. Have them play the triune game as well to whittle downward.
Axis is not Barry De Boy. I do have that much.
I wonder what chapter she’s on?