Guy Benjamin carefully checks the mailbox for explosives before continuing to move in.
He plans to stay here for a while, despite the dangers. Because he’s in hiding again.
Yes this will do I suppose, he thinks. But the animations in the house *suck*.
I guess that’s the point, though. No energy to detect up here in the skies. Blanket silence.
Oh no. Another picture of Foxtrot above the head of the bed. But this one’s crooked. I’ll just get up here and straight– OH NO!!
scenes from a hat
He woke up in a fetal position on top of yet another fox. She spoke without turning from the even redder couch, wearing an even redder dress.
“How dare you think you can come to the White Palace in the skies and not alert *me*.”
He was groggy. He couldn’t make out exactly what was said. He raised up off of the plush fox, so soft. Like a blanket. He wanted to sleep forever, he realized. But… he must remain alert. Danger! He recalls: danger.
“You can leave Sepisexton,” she spoke over to the robot guard more in the background. “I want to talk to the *boy* alone.”
“It was always destiny that I come to this Misty MO and find love, Hucka.”
“Hucka?” He wakes.
Groggily; just waking up as well: “Yes?”
“Okay you must tell me what you did with Jeffrey Phillips, shirt-less boy. *Now*.”
The green door opened. A presence was there.
Trying to ignore rats, Dr. Mouse stands before the green door. The green phone on the front desk rings. It’s Claude.
Geez I think my ears are ruptured.
There. It’s fixed.
“I’m not dead!” he cried to all those sitting around the grave site looking down. “It’s *just* a ring.”
It all came together at the end for Mouse. Too late, of course.
“So this is it,” Man About Time exclaimed mildly. As usual. “The thing that did him in.”
“LOVE, yeah,” answered Jeffrey Phillips, wondering how he himself could talk again. He died as well (!). “He… couldn’t pass through the O, got stuck in it. Spy Guy Benjamin tried to help, but…”
“… got stuck himself,” completed MAT for Jeffrey, having read the story up to this point too. What was the point? Just close the damn coffin lid why don’t you.
“He can’t die in Vain.”
“He didn’t,” answered MAT truthfully.
“Good for you, MAT,” said Jeffrey Phillips. “I didn’t think you would take this so swell.”
“It’s just a game. Endtime.”
“Yes, death will do that to you. Lure you in, like a fish. And when you land on the shore — it’s *only* when you land on the shore…”
“You see the water,” completed MAT again.
Next door (sometime in the past):
They say the doctor before this new one, Jr. — he was married to an alien woman. Found her spaceship crashed up in the hills.”
“That’s — not — right,” the littler golden robot squeaked back.
“You’re right, Jr. It *wasn’t* right. He should have turned her *in*. And now he’s paid the price: banishment. *Now*, are you ready to go inside and let the new doctor, this Diper fellow, take a look at those gold plated tonsils?”
“Guess — so.”
“You guess so.” Claude Sr. blew out air from his mechanical lungs. “I had mine taken out about the same age as you are, in fact, the exact same age.”
“12 — I — know.”
“That’s right, Jr. 12. All mechanoids have to have their original tonsils taken out, then. Else: viruses.”
“I — read — the pamphlets.”
“Nice.” But Claude Sr. knew it wasn’t tonsils that were taken out. The pamphlets lied. He’d find out soon enough. Just like with Santa Claude.
They head inside for the operation.
MUFF & JETT
“Youabout MUFF, FELT, and KOlOWN, butcan see the were meseen — N!”
Afterwards, they went to Skysity and got milkshakes, a family tradition in this matter. “How’re you feeling, son?” he said, knowing Claude Jr. wasn’t really his son any more. Instead: hive mind.
“Pretty (*sip*) good. Hey dad?”
“Yes son.” Claude Sr. suddenly became sad. He was thinking back to the talk he had with his father, right on this very spot with the only difference being Jasper was out of vanilla that day. Had to settle for chocolate. This was better, this was more like it should be. Favorite for his favorite. He should have everything he wants this day. Because he’s lost so much.
“Are you going away again? To that place? Paper.”
“I have to, son. You know that. You’ll have to go too.”
“But I’m — *12*.”
“You’re not ready to go out into the world yet on your own son. Remember Uncle Peaches? Remember how he started too early? Got recruited for the war. Blew his head off in the end. Demolitions — it’s always demolitions for us; you remember that, son. You remember what’s happened to many of us. They — just don’t care.”
“Aw, *dad*.” Jr. was sorry he brought up the subject now. Sure he’d tag along with his old man a little longer. But not *too* long. He has plans — designs.
(to be continued)
She stayed back, hesitant, while he moved forward, bold and brash and most likely naive. Poor Kolya, she thought. He can’t see the Overlord right in front of his face. He’d been warned (*sip*).
He was happy with his refreshed lemonade in the moment and had no other concerns. He doesn’t recall anything about the operation, she thinks. The holes still exist, although certainly not glorious any longer. He remains (dot dot dot) damaged goods.
There was only one thing for it. Another ring.
“Herbert. It’s me.”
3 2 1
One year and 2 1/2 months. Herbert can do it.
Jacob I. had fallen asleep once more at the Prog Rock Museum located on the neck of Rooster’s Peninsula. Herbert’s neck hurt again… Anastasia, he thinks. Alysha. Things have changed. She gave him a ring and he gave her one back. It was the only way to end the madness.
He thinks of the Diagonal across the Chalet sub-continent of Bellisaria, as it’s called by many if not most. Snowball in Hell at the center, but heading to Scratchy — reality. Not in a Second Lyfe any longer. Retirement. Wholeness; fulfillment. Perspective.
Collagesity will remain… across the Diagonal and into the Great Beyond at the end. I will not keep Shelley’s Castle on the peninsula, although it’s a perfect *perfect* fit. Hmm.
NOPE. Collagesity should remain.
He extends his draw distance and spies the castle in the distance. It’s the wrong one, but that’s okay. It’s fitting only 1 remains.
“I’m so sleeepy, Hoppy. Must be the place. Oops.
“There I go again, geez. Can’t — stop — yaawninnnngg *Zzzzzzzzz*.”
He could hear his mother calling from across the schoolyard. “Her-BERT?! Herbert DUNE! YOU come HERE right this *INSTANT*.” It was the call for dinner. He wasn’t going to budge from this hollowed out tree. He liked the swing here; no one bothered him. Oh, Martha Ram would sometimes come out on her porch and look his way, wondering if he was mere shadow or actual man-boy. But that was about all. Squirrels maybe. “Her-BERT!” Mom could search and search and couldn’t find him here. He was about ready to escape. “Her- BERRRRRRRRT!”
He woke up, looked over at the swing. A bear reared up in the distance behind it, complaining to another bear about him finding too many fish to eat.
He wondered if he was still dreaming, since he usually doesn’t understand Bear language. Now he’s saying he feels emasculated because of it. Strange — not what you’d think a bear would say.
“You’ve been talking to us a lot,” suddenly piped up Hoppy still in front of him, ears flopping here and there. “We’ve decided to talk *back*.”
Herbert decides to pinch himself. Didn’t work!
“Long ago, the Lemon peoples blocked this peninsula off from the rest of Nautilus for a special role. To provide the Great 4n1 a place to play and romp. Roost Never Sleeps was built on the highest peak. There the Lemon peoples made friends with the Great 4n1.”
“Lemme get this straight. The big 4 prog rock groups became friends with the Beetles. Here.”
“Yes,” replied Hoppy back to Herbert, formerly Windmill Man or in tandem with that name. “There were 3 Beetles, a Great 3n1 if you will. The main Beetles had a doppleganger double in both music and comedy. In most unexpected places!”
“Shame the castle is gone now.”
“We have a new one!” exclaimed Hoppy. “Yours.”
“No,” replied Herbert, trying to let the little floppy eared fellow down easy. “My castle will not stay, Hoppy. Mine is destined to go the way of The Roost.”
Hoppy shed a tear with this. “I guess we’re stuck with just the one.” Both looked up.
“And this is Jackie. Jackie this is Herbert. Jackie is looking for another mate. Her old one… well.”
“Shot,” Jackie replied back and swam in a circle, brooding. And then another circle and then another circle. Then: stop. Something else was on her mind. “New?”
“Yes, Jackie. Herbert is brand new to our world. His ears have just been unstopped today. He *can* hear us, hurrah!”
“Hurrah,” the swan echoed back from her lonely pond, but with less enthusiasm. Still she was glad another human being woke up. They were short in that category. Peter was the last.
“Okay, Jackie. Just introducing Herbert around. You don’t get *too* down, okay? Someone will come along *very* soon for you, I’m sure.”
“Very soon,” she repeated. Again without much vim and vigor. Energy was low for the swan. She swam in 3 circles again and felt better. “Goodbye,” she sounded.
“Goodbye, Jackie,” said Hoppy.
“Goodbye,” uttered Herbert, understanding about 1/2 of what was said here. Enough to know that Jackie lived alone. He’d get the hang of it.
(to be continued)
“This is Scooter. Scooter this is Herbert. He just woke up today.”
“Scooter eats rats,” the horse neighed, and was off again, chasing another one. They watched him attentively move to the edge of the green plateau…
… and then dive into the bushes.”
Scooter doesn’t really eat rats,” said Hoppy in a lower voice in case Scooter was listening in. Horses could tune into about 5 different conversations around them if needed and understand everything in every single one. “He just chases them, then *pretends*. Or maybe,” Hoppy says in a rethink, “he just pretends *everything*.” Hoppy hadn’t actually ever seen a rodent in the woods. Except for Wilber the Vole, who doesn’t count (uneducated).
Scooter emerges from the bushes about where he entered them and walked to his grassy spot again. “Scooter ate rats. Scooter sleepy now. Goodbye.”
“Okayyy, then moving on, we have Jerimy here on the picnic table, enjoying… well, what’re you eating Jerimy? Don’t say rats, hah.”
“Spinach.” And Jerimy takes another bite of his blueberry pancake. But Herbert notices he sounds exactly like the horse in saying this.
Hoppy looked up to Herbert, sensing the confusion. “Lots of comedians here, you see. Horses that pretend to eat rats, bears that pretend they are horses eating rats — er, spinach — in turn. Bears are super mimics.”
“Bears are *super* mimics,” says Jerimy in exactly the same tone and register as Hoppy, except emphasizing the word “super” a bit more.
“See?” He turns back to Jerimy. “Where’s your mother, Jerimy?”
“Shot.” Now he sounds exactly like Jackie the swan.
“Now, Jerimy, that’s not very nice. You shouldn’t make fun of tragedy.”
Jerimy makes a series of machine gun sounds, then a loud whistle as if a plane was plummeting from the sky, then an explosion upon impact. Hoppy was shaking the resulting spittle from his entire body and Herbert was shaking it from his shoe and the lower part of his trousers.
“Radius: 10 feet,” then exclaimed the young bear comedian (comedian?). “All debris must be cleared up by O 9 o’clock.” Radio announcer now. Jerimy’s a regular listener of the BBC, especially enjoying war dramas like “Mary Queen of Scots”. “Penguins,” he then utters nasally, imitating something else, perhaps another voice from the radio. “Bloody *stupid* penguins.”
“Jerimy?” Hoppy was trying to get the cub to focus. “Where’s Mama?”
“Mama.” The voice of a human baby now. “Ma-ma. Ma-ma.” He pretend sucks at a milk bottle: “*slurp slurp slurp* *BUUURP*”.
Jerimy, that’s *rude*.”
“BUURRRRRRRRRRRRRP!” Half the birds in the surrounding woods flew from their perches. Several thought they were being shot at with some kind of special gun. One fainted and fell to the ground. But he was okay (Billie Perch, a Hollywood starling).
“Done, Jerimy?” Hoppy thumped a rabbit foot and crossed his arms in exasperation. Bears could be trouble, especially if they go on a comedic roll. How to slow it down?
(to be continued?)
all together now
“Wrong Way Winnie (Sheltering the Tou)”:
“Looking at a Cave that is not a Cave (Satin’s Rule!)”:
“The Situation Escalates (Bored Removal)”:
six and seven
She woke up with her mission. Go through the SOS flea market toward the plane. Find the hole in the fence and turn left. Therein lies the answer to everything, or at least 42. What’s within will not be what it seems.
The plane, check. But not the flea market before her. The cat on a nearby plank of wood meowed an answer but it was not 42. Something about dinner time being only 2 hours or so away now. Useless for her, although encouraging for the cat. She moves right, since left is…
… hold on.
In the secret basement lair of the large house to her left, biggest in town:
Only 2 hours till dinner time, thinks Greg Ogden with exactly the right number of G’s in his name. Better change.
In his old cave, he worships the wife before entering the coffee shop proper. Here lies truth, even though the shop itself is now broken. Broken truth, then.
“You’ve mutated so much it’s hard for me to recognize you these days. If it wasn’t for those eyes…”
“That’s what I’m here to talk about,” interjected Ruby, now our familiar green grey alien. “The *I*.”
Seven, Axis knew. The six and the seven. “I know, I know. I shouldn’t have killed that old man with the kane.”
“Michael,” she said. “Plank of wood… I’m getting.” She became embarrassed about her wealth of knowledge and decided to reel it back a bit. Starting: now.
“Well, that’s what led me to *here*, yeah.” Axis took her in more. What a long way she’s come from his little Ruby, a naive girl of 15 1/2 not ready for the world at large. And here she is, beyond the world entirely. Extraterrestrial. Should’ve known, he thought. She always had the — best of hearts. Didn’t belong on Earth. “Well… you’re in charge,” he found himself saying. “You’re the boss. Where to now?”
“You’ve found the cave, good,” she said calmly. “Now you must find the art. Collage or painting? Choose.”
He looked into the multicolored flower with this. He knew he was being hypnotized but decided not to fight. Why keep going? Ruby was beyond what he was — a pure heart, a pure soul. He was ready to give it all up, the world conquest, everything.
She didn’t ask him to show her the other one, the person he stares at in the mirror. Probably already knows, he realizes. And doesn’t care. So… perfect. He must worship her as well.
(to be continued)
Where is she/he? she thought from her Waiting Bench.
Carrcassonnee: a little batty
“We’ve got to get you back to Collagesity and remove Perch and see what went wrong!”
END OF “SUNKLANDS PHOTO-NOVEL 28″!”