“It’s a start.”
“He’s got a bit of, you know…”
“Brain Damage,” Wheeler offered (Wheeler? Is Wheeler still around? Could she just be *Wendy* now?).
“Yeah, like, you know…”
“Syd lower case. Like lo-fi. Hi-fi and lo-fi.”
“Syd, right. Not the other Syd (SID).”
“Well, shall we (begin)…?”
She’d actually been basically in Wallytown for I don’t know how long. Ever since the shower was installed I suppose, curing her — brain damage? Perhaps. Anyway, she was Wendy through and through. Fern Stalin and Lichen Roosevelt stared on, wondering what they had created. Hi-fi.
I can’t say what she did but it was a bad thing and she deserved to be.
“They started by moving independently of each other, he with his lemonade and she with her secret — smile. Schweet. Yelloo.”
“Now you’re just chanting random (Nautilus) sims.”
“Not random, W. Can I call you…?”
“Of course. And, yes, I do have a schweet smile thank you for noticing.”
“Can I see it?”
“So it was this lime colored car, an X 1/9, that started it all.”
“We can go with that. And the No Tor (she urged).”
“It started ON… the No Tor.”
“Okay let’s go with that (instead).”
She was small but she was no longer a baby, this Alysha, not to be confused with Ayesha also from the last photo-novel. 26, eh. Number of letters. Beyond Missouri and Arkansas. Michigan. We are even again, 13 and 13.
“It is good that you progressed onward.”
“Of course. Your opposite. 13 and 13. Call me Michigan,” she then offered, giving me pause. Was she the one?
“Straminsky?” I tried. It was a word the Oracle didn’t know, or you had to back up back to three to get any population hits. Yet this was the 13th of the MASH sims. Did I succeed? She just kept on with that schweet but secret smile, like the end of INLAND EMPIRE. And maybe that was what all this was: the end of a long and dusty trail or something. Fulfillment. A drink of long sought after water from a magical well. “Well well well,” I wanted to utter but stopped myself. Stop.
“Get to the temple. The temple attached to the tor.”
“Thanks for allowing me to continue.”
“I waited for you. Alpha. Windyville. Zula. A woman with a child as one. Unity of mother and daughter. An “l” was crossed, forming a “t”. You progressed forward. 6 to 7.”
She was gone. She never made it out of the shadow.
“Tom!! Over here!!”
“That’s not your brother, dear,” offered his mom. “That’s a woman.”
“Tomm!!” Peter insisted.
“Pipe down, son,” hissed the father. “I’m on the phone.”
From her heart shaped seat in front of the cafe, Alysha heard it all. She was trying to read her red book, which she’d already read a number of times, perhaps 8. She was finished eating (her pie). She remembered a red light, then nothing for a while. Then here. With the red book. And the red pie. She became impatient. She skipped 10 pages ahead to mention of High Fidelity before her, as if highlighted. What did that mean?
“Tommmmm!!” More distant now than before but that’s because we are hearing from the perspective of the girl. It was really louder up close and personal — Peter was very convinced, and his mother was even trying to pry his hands from his cheeks now, but they were as if stuck. Who’s Tom? Alysha wondered. A sister? Strange thought, she realized (“Tooooooommmmmm!”). Tom is not a boy’s name. But on the other hand, *she’s* a Tom, as in a tom boy. She could do anything a boy could and she does.
Across the terminal, and directly in line with the calls, Jen Saunders realized that flight 451 had taken off without a plane. “No plane, no plane!” she panicked. Future passengers milling about started looking at her, paying attention. “No — no –” She was out of breath. She began running, here and there. She ran toward Alysha, knocking into her, spilling the book. She got up with no concern for the girl, as if she’d just tripped on air. “No plane,” she started again. “No plane!” She was heading straight for the boy. “Toooooommmmmmmmmm!!” he called one last time.
He could look up from the Knowhere Gallery and see the big red NO on the hill, marking the namesake tor. Where it all began in this here photo-novel, 26 in a series of — I’ve lost count admittedly. 2? Mental note: cut down on the number of questions I ask myself in this here novel. But should I? Moving on…
The property with the Knowhere Gallery in Necrotee borders neighboring Yelloo sim to the north. In the Beatles’ inspired animated movie “Yellow Submarine”, a sculpture of a giant KNOW (word) early in the movie changes to a NOW and, finally, a NO, as letters are destroyed during the invasion of Pepperland by Blue Meanies, with the general idea being a shift from positive to negative vibes all around. Is that what happened here? Sorry: that’s what happened here, in Necrotee. Moving north to south. Here’s a picture of the full sim from above, “Know” gallery to the north, and the NO (part of NO FLY) to the south. Not much else in the sim.
“That’s all very fascinating,” she said, still beside me or around me somewhere. “But what of the red light that whisked little Alysha to… where was it? Angels Airport I guess? Where they apparently lose planes every once in a while? But somehow people still take said planes to their destination? Is that how this works?”
“Listen, W, I made a vow to my reader or readers that we’d cut back on the questions in this here blog.”
“And attached photo-novels,” she dutifully tacks on.
“Right. But: yes. I guess we have a general mystery laid out by now. Letters in Necrotee; the No Tor; red light–”
“It was a ship,” interrupted W. “Not a plane. Go to the ship.”
“Ahh. The ship that, let’s say, *kidnapped* little Alysha and took her to the airport somehow, still in Lower Austra but still pretty far away from here.”
“Airport,” she repeated. “Terminal.”
I complained about my lemonade getting stale, being procured the night before. I asked her if I could go back to, let’s see, Underclaw, and get a fresh one. But: no time. Tonight I had to find out what made this ship tick, what was the driving force.
I opened a door but the wrong one. I quickly shut it before the vacuum of space consumed the whole vessel. Losing only a little oxygen and pressure, I was able to breath and walk still. Recovered, I tried other doors.
And then there he was. In the back eating turtle soup and taking a break from driving, blue as FLY. Should’ve known.
I went back and sat across from him, trying to gauge his moral compass. The soup just turned out to be a turtle, a pet he carried with him most places and most flights. Turns out, additionally, it acted as his moral compass. Right now it was pointed south.
I asked him if he had any fresh lemonade. The southward pointing turtle manifested one from her mind, even skewing it toward my favored hand.
(to be continued)
I looked at the ship as if entering from below. “I had been here before,” she said. This W. “Now you know; now you are beginning to see,” she furthered, walking away from me, having given me enough information for the time being. Tick-like Tickie, the blue being, perhaps the blue meanie, pointing a magical turtle in my direction, which is south from him at the time in the back of the ship we sat, he on a break from driving. But not for dining. For *divining*. Turtles have a long history with magic, as in squares, as in other shapes. But, for now especially, squares. Saturn. Southward turning. Malefic as opposed to Jupiter’s benefic. Admittedly jovial blue Tickie north of me was trying to tell me something. I listen to his mouth, which moved in slow motion which was, before that, sped up, making the sound even more lo-fi. I needed definition to understand. I decided to go back to Yellow Submarine. After all, we all live in one, each and every one of us. So says Lemon.
So I began studying turtles and magic squares, immediately coming to this:
A Chinese legend concerning the pre-historic Emperor Yu (夏禹) tell of the Lo Shu, often in connection with the Yellow River Map (Hetu) and 8 trigrams. In ancient China there was a huge deluge: the people offered sacrifices to the god of one of the flooding rivers, the Luo river (洛河), to try to calm his anger. A magical turtle emerged from the water with the curiously unnatural Lo Shu pattern on its shell: circular dots representing the integers 1 through 9 are arranged in a three-by-three grid.
I checked the turtle still physically in front of me, ignoring the blue being and his slow moving mouth behind it for the moment. No grid patterns, but… something was there.
“Jerrrrrry,” I then heard it hiss. Channeling through the turtle? Yes, Tickie was channeling through the turtle, I answer myself. I refrained from asking who Jerry was in this post.
(to be continued)
“Did you see that turtle, Cory?”
“I sure did, Eckert.”
“I wonder what Austin would think of it?”
“Probably try to read it like an Oracle.”
Wise words from just a pair of kids in an airport terminal full of real and make-believe planes.
The turtle was dragged down into a ditch running beside the terminal by a woman almost half its size. C and E (as they like to call themselves) witnessed it all from the big side windows. Was this possible? Ditch water?
Oh, I forgot I was suppose to cut back on the questions here.
Ditch, though. A ditch had been dug in Collagesity shortly after it moved back to the Nautilus continent on its former land. Was… I mean, we could speculate this was also a water ditch. Or maybe a ditch that a pipeline would be laid in for a cleaner, purer source of the H2O.
When Austin joined the fun later, they decided to unite their efforts in understanding this turtle and what it meant for their future.
“I was all like *blublublu* and shaking like a leaf… look, Delta, I’m *still* shaking.
But the plane got to where it was suppose to be, thank Gods in heaven. Or at least the passengers did.”
Cafe attendant Delta Cedaredge asked discombobulated flight tracker Jen Saunders if she was going to stand there all day jabbering or if she actually wanted something, because he had other customers, like the shadowy man standing just behind her. Shadow Man we’ll call him. Delta had seen all this before, every day. Passengers taking off from the terminal without a plane. He knew the turtle was behind it — and behind him. He lived in that ditch with the unclean water back there, just waiting to come out and scare his customers. “You sir, behind the lady.” He couldn’t wait. “What’ll it be?”
“Just a glass of boiled water please.” See what I mean?
He looked at the book, the book looked at he.
“So describe this woman,” Chef-inspector Petty requested, calm and eating peanuts out of an imaginary bag as usual. He’d been observing the developing situation for a while. The yells of “Tom” from Cory (“Peter”), the hysterics of Jen Saunders yesterday, the tripping over the Asian girl with the dull red book, knocking it on the floor to a specific page he noticed. He flipped 10 and noticed again, then. Anderson County — mention of Anderson. And then the crash. And then the turtle from the ditch, dragged back in by a tiny witch. It was all adding up to something, perhaps 45.
“It *wasn’t* a *woman*,” still a bit discombobulated Jen Saunders exasperated. “I *told* you. It was a plane. Or a missing plane.”
“How many on board when it crashed?” Here he obviously thought of her crashing into oh so yelling Cory.
“It *didn’t* crash. All passengers arrived at Delhi or New Delhi, bodies intact, if not wits.” She shakes her head, as if correcting something loose in it. “Oh, yes, their wits as well. It is as if they never *missed* the plane.”
“You said the plane was full (though).”
“The plane *was* full.” Head shaking again. “Oh, I see. No they didn’t realized there was no plane around them, propelling them forward. ‘Not missing’ as in ‘not realizing’, not: missing the plane in the first place.”
“Oh.” He gobbles another imaginary goober. Or not — doesn’t matter. Description is variable, as is space/time itself. He makes a mental note that he might be dealing with an automaton. She hadn’t answered anything about the woman he was *really* interested in, this W.
What should they say next, I ponder.
(to be continued)
“Yeah, sorry we got cut off back there. It’s just the kids –” (reply) “No, first it was this turtle, and then a f-cking witch came out of the ditch.” (reply/reprimand). “Oh… I didn’t know that.” (reply) “Wife, eh?”
“Just get over here,” he barked from the other side of the line. “And expect some kind of spell day before tomorrow’s Tuesday.” (*click*)
The situation was growing worse. Orange now.
The green phone rang. The green phone never rang. He went over and stared at it, wanting it to stop. Green screens flashed all around, as if connected to the rings. It was just that important. Time to calm the hell down.
“Pick it up,” Ballpark Johnson urged from the back windows, staring out at landing passengers, this time with a plane. “It’s the only way to end this.”
Oh I see: a name. “Say my name and I’ll do it,” replied the khaki wearing man beside the phone, smart with book inside him. Anderson County. Now he knows how to build a rock wall a mile long if needed. Which it will.
“*Can*.” Close enough.
“Pepi?” came the hoarse and raspy voice from the other side, as if beyond the grave.
“Who is this?”
“You – know who. Last time – we met — I was — jovial.”
I was told to meet him at the end of a long and dusty road. I said the name of the plant that appeared to be burning in front of me instead of the man.
“Nooooo,” he rasped. “I’mmm just *talllking* through thisss. Loookkk cloooosssser. Commme herrree.”
It was the voice of the father this time. I knew I was in deep doo doo trouble.
“I remember how I got brain damage,” he said to her afterwards. “It was a fire; I got too close.”
“Good good,” she replied. “Now maybe those old wounds will heal — Can.” Only those quite close to him called him by that name, he remembered. She edged closer and gently touched the holey hair. Soon maybe no one else can get inside.
He knew exactly where he was, this Dub, as he gave his name. Nautilus. He wore the virtual continent like a crown from his position. He told me so in no uncertain terms. “My parents are *dead*.” I knew I was dealing with a jokester and his parents were probably inside the terminal, perhaps starting to look for him even now. Most likely they had an argument, a disagreement, maybe over the inability for the stubborn boy to get sweets or a soda just before a flight. He wasn’t going to come down from his perch on the barrel pallet anytime soon. I’d figured that out as well.
Oh look, there’s Mr. Piper again, making yet another one of those mysterious calls in an even more secluded spot now. Dub, as he put it, is not his kid. That would be Cory and Eckert inside, and also I suppose Austin in a way, since he hangs around the others so much. But Austin properly lives just up the street with his actual mom and dad, Dr. and Mrs. Arnold Read, in a two story brownstone. We haven’t met him yet in our story. Or have we?
I returned to the boy. “Come on back inside, Austin,” I tried with some confidence. “Your parents are getting worried.”
“Dad?” he exclaimed. “He’s right over there. Behind that truck making another one of those mysterious calls he does.” He shakes his head with this but doesn’t explain. He’s hiding something. I’d now figured out his dad requested he follow him outside in order to keep an eye out on him. And also probably because he was being rowdy or uncooperative in some way, as we’ve already gone over a bit. He needed a bit of fresh air and so did, um, would this be Arnold then? No: Jonathan Piper, a used car salesman from Winchly. Trying to seal the deal on a lime colored X 1/9 that his wife didn’t want and thought was a waste of money for a family soon to put two boys through college. But his used car buddies insisted it was a steal at 5,000. What they also meant in a double entendre was that the car was stolen. By… one of them I presume. Karl. Or Ralph. Maybe Whiskey Boy George, the grease monkey. Maybe Phil. Or even Burt. Point is, Mr. Jonathan Piper should stick to selling cars at this time instead of buying them, since he has a perfectly serviceable ’82 Dodge Darty sitting in his driveway back home, or so his wife thinks. “200,000 is the new 100,000,” she says about the mileage, which Jonathan thinks is high but she doesn’t. “400,000 is high,” she continues in this vein. “300,000: ehhh,” she wavers, thinking of the line between middle aged and old for an auto. Mrs. Jonathan Piper doesn’t really understand cars. But she understands people, and her husband is having a middle age crisis, having just reached 40 himself. She’d seen this before with lime colored objects, and here she thinks back to dear old Uncle Bert (not to be confused with Burt, the manager of Auto World of western Winchly) and his penchant for fruit when he turned 39. “Lime is the new lemon,” she could hear him say through his puckered mouth as if it was only yesterday.
Turns out it was all an elaborate ruse. Jonathan Piper came back inside after the call but Dub — his real name as it turns out — didn’t follow him. Later he sat next to the real Austin, a boy about 3 years older, but they had nothing to say to each other, being strangers. Dub had had his way, sweets and a soda in his belly now. Jenck and Nicki Lavosier were softies at heart and tended to spoil their bratty child after caving to his whims.
“Flight 451 to Delhi, New Delhi, and thereabouts now boarding,” came the announcement over the intercom. The Lavosiers were about to embark on a trip they’d never forget.
(to be continued?)
The *phone*, sir. Put the phone in the box.” Customs officer Wanda Raphael glanced over at fellow officer Wendell Sampson, having seen it all now. It was as if it was glued to his head.
“No no no, it has to be *lime*,” he insisted to the other party on the line. We’d seen him before, blue as FLY. Which he does, airplane or not. It was a moment frozen in time.
“Who is the pilot in this confusing story?” asked W, manifesting by my side. “Is it Tickie — is that his name? The blue fellow, perhaps the blue meanie?”
“I don’t know,” I said honestly back. “There’s the problem of JOVIAL to deal with.”
“*Jeffrey Phillips*,” she exclaimed, remembering the Santa of the same disposition back in that other curiously resonant post. “He’s returned!”
“Who is the true ruler of Collagesity now?”
I let the question hang in the air like oxygen. I breathed deeply, taking it all in then exhaling. Calm the hell down, I remembered. I did recall that.
Ship in the sky, plane in the air. I had that as well.
I feel like I’m missing something in the sim of Fieldon but I have a lot of time to figure it out. I sense I’ll be traveling up and down Highways 13 and 14 on either side of the beige ridge Collagesity fairly centers for a while. I came to Nautilus from Rubi (Heterocera), I left Nautilus for Corsica, and then, lo and behold, found my old Fordham land was for sale real real cheap and figured it was a sign to move back. I don’t think I’ll be leaving again soon.
Here: New Jersey State Police, Nautilus Station off Highway 13 to the east of my home town, about 400 meters as the virtual crow flies. Jerseyville IL is named for the state of New Jersey which is named for the channel island of Jersey, another loop closed. I couldn’t establish a New Collagesity on the Corsica continent so I had to reinstate the old. It’s been a fascinating journey so far.
Look, I extend my draw distance to 512 and the Collagesity skyline comes into view. How nifty! “Right Harry?”
Later, back home: “Jerry… Jersey. Maybe that’s my missing piece, W.”
come back soon!
During the night, Harry returns to the spacecraft, is able to enter the sphere, and then returns to the Habitat. The next day, the crew discovers a series of numeric-encoded messages appearing on the computer screens; the crew is able to decipher them and comes to believe they are speaking to “Jerry”, an alien intelligence from the sphere. They find Jerry is able to see and hear everything that happens on the Habitat.
We enter something different. On the western limits of Fieldon IL we find this welcome sign, indicating a rough population figure for the town at 300. Strange and neat thing, though: the church property just beside the sign is *300* W Locust St. (see upper right part of snapshot for property details). The 30 mph speed limit also seems to highlight the doubled 300.
In the same panoramic shot and on the other side of the road, we have another highway sign stating that Route 100 is 3 miles away, 100 x 3 being yet another 300.
This *field on* the very edge of Fieldon is part of the 300 property.
Welcome to the sphere.
plains to see
“*You* get him down Tom. You’re the one who gave him the magnetic shoes in the first place.”
Seriously, we need to talk about Spankey.
They entered the sphere from the south, destined for Delhi, New Delhi, or thereabouts. They appear over Indian Lake Road in a plane, the last time anyone ever saw it.
India declared herself free of the Occident.
[schweet smile image deleted]
I went ground-side to look for the site of the crash, if it was a crash. Jen Saunders insisted that it *wasn’t* a crash, and that all passengers arrived at Delhi, New Delhi and thereabouts intact and with wits still in place. I knew *something* had occurred, some anomaly. I thought back to the movie “Sphere” and the anomaly there, which was a black hole, perhaps an X 1/9 variety. Used car salesman Jonathan Piper insisted it had to be lime colored and not lemon in his early mid-life crisis (according to his wife the esteemed Mrs. Jonathan Studebaker Piper). “Pipe down, son,” he exclaimed while on the phone about it to still yelling Cory, sometimes known as Peter because of the last name and all. It was a mystery, a conundrum, and chef-inspector Petty was here to help solve it. But he seemed more interested to know the whereabouts of the girl with the schweet secret smile than the passenger ship. He wanted to move, in other words, from Lower to Upper Austra, beyond bridging green valley into the beige highland again. In other words, away from Collagesity and its personal sphere of influence (as centered between Highways 13 and 14). Anyway, back to the place indicted by the road. Sign confusion! Indian Lake Road straight ahead and to the right and Airport Road to the right and the left. We appear to be in all places at once without being anywhere atall. Sounds about right.
I figure out which one was Indian Lake Rd and head up it, bound for, well, India, the secret Petty also wanted. I knew I had to incarnate in a body soon but put it off until I reached my destination. I seem to have memories of a before time, but not of a bug or a bird or anything like that. A flesh and blood person, just like myself. We had crossed into the Sphere which is God in a way, the all knowing and all seeing, like a big eye in the sky. “My unicorn” I observed on the back of a warning sign about a sharp right turn ahead, which I’d just passed through after crossing a bridge. But the “i” was blocked out by the sign post. I suddenly couldn’t see again.
I backed up and started observing again. Yes, I had located Indian Lake Road thank you very much. And “boo” yourself!
The lime colored jogger man was running fast past the collapsed garage, as he should. I checked streetview history. The structure was intact as of 3 years ago. Was it a sign from the missing plane? Looking at the turned around car in the driveway, there seemed to be a message about coming and going, and the past which is the future, Janus faced again. Disaster and recovery.
I moved past the jogger who was rapidly going backwards. I decided to shoot him a bird (like Superman), just to see his reaction. Then I realized his open mouthed response happened before the raised finger. I would get no real answers from anyone along this highway all the way up to India. I instead had to find a side road, a place of reset. Reset? I meant rest. Or did I?
To flip the cards a bit, when I arrived in India, New Delhi first, I realized all the side roads were named after Indian tribes, American confused with Asian (or something), and all off *Indian* Lake Road. And for the life of me I couldn’t find any lake of that name on streetview, the map, a gazetteer — anywhere. Still looking for res(e)t, I passed Comanche, Shawnee, Cherokee, Pawnee without any possibility of a pull over. Peering down at the end of Cherokee I may have seen a spirit but I wasn’t sure — no way to check. And where was my body? Delhi was still waiting ahead of me but my hopes for a resolution to this mystery were quickly dimming. Or diminishing.
When I crossed the train tracks on the other side of Delhi I knew I was done with this leg of my journey. Onward to Section 2!