Sunklands 2022-2023 Winter 01


Jem’s World

“Well, my name is Gemilly Johnston — Jem for short — and these are the books I’ll be keeping up with (!).”

So cheerful that first week, she says, reviewing her introductory video, whiskey sour in hand as usual when looking at this type of stuff. So many videos in her collection now. But this was one of the clean ones, before the dirt and grime of the city, this Dodgey City, became fully evident, thanks to John. *Not* Jim.

“I live about 1500 meters up in a nice house with a beautiful perpetual sunset, right on the beach. See? (she indicates a hand, an arm). I’m already working up a tan (!).”

If I could go back and kill her — myself — I would, thinks Jem here, wanting to wipe that ridiculous smile off her face with a rag of acid. OK, maybe Texas Pete.

“The house is owned by John L. Brown, who is also my boss, who is also my, ahem…”

Boyfriend? thought present Jem. Fat chance.

“… cousin,” past Jem completed her sentence.

Wait, is that possible? present Jem thought. She reversed the video, started over. At 2:32: “cousin” again. She doesn’t remember saying that. Plus it wasn’t true (!!).

—–

But John L. Brown for one knew it was and changed the wording yesterday after also slyly suggesting she take a day off for mental health reasons and look at old videos from the archive to soothe her nerves, especially recommending — or starting with — the one she’s viewing right this moment. Jem eventually figured this out as well as she continued to sip (or at least try to contain it to a sip) on one of her whiskey sours and ponder and ponder. Cousin — that aspect conveniently forgotten, conveniently wiped from memory, just like she was trying to wipe the happiness and naivety from her past self’s face back then in her imagination. She imagines someone standing behind her, looking at her as if on a video, trying to wipe something from *her*.

“John L. Brown,” she muttered with Texas Pete, add a little Oklahoma from beyond the screen. She turned (toward the camera?). Time for my close-up.


Wildest West

“You know it’s not a nice place over there,” she said in her wise voice about the “town” across the water, this Dodgey City where we’ve just seen our now familiar friend Jem — Gemilly Johnston (or Johnson).

“What’s your story, then?” I asked down to the Grandma type figure in her old fashioned clothes, cane clutched to breast as she lay on a colorful towel at the beach house rental. She’s thinking about it. “Missing file?”

Instead of answering me directly, she said: “It’s good you’re back on Nautilus. It’s even better you’re back on the mainland, off that island — even though it technically is part of the continent.” She stared over again. Hard to read her emotions from this distance. Sad? Worried? Angry? Perhaps a mix of a number of these.

“About the file,” I insisted.


in the most-least obvious place

“Oh, we’ve looked everywhere for Franklin. Franklin Hollow here. Hootin Holler just a holler away to the north. Nothing.”

“I’m sorry.”

“We’ll find her.”

“Absorption.”

“Yes.”

Afterwards, Baker Bloch, in whatever guise he’s in at the moment, thinks that he needs to set up extra protection around Shelley, convince her of her supreme long term worth, her *extraordinary* nature. He didn’t think Franklin could emerge back out of her but also might be wrong. Small chance, but there. Roberts cannot be underestimated.

—–

meanwhile, in *Fordham*:

“You stay here with me and play backwards-forwards guitar, Franklin. Us greenies gotta stick together. Right Unch?” she calls up, then pretends to hear a, “right Apples,” from the tree behind her in place of “mere” leaf rustling.


recentering

“We’re both tall for our species,” spoke Albert. Maybe we should bury the hatchet, get together. You’d have to have an operation of course. I’m not taking what you have down there currently.”

“You’re joking, right?” Sometimes it was hard for Franklin to tell.

“Of course.” Albert was somewhat reformed, having almost died over at Sporminore in the last photo-novel, 35 (period). He’s kind of seen the light. He returned his butterfly curtains from his formerly very special room to Curtis’ just the other day. I believe we have a photo of him doing so in the media library, along with some attached dialog…

Yes, here:


“You’ll have to trade them in.” “That’s fine.”

“So I come here looking for the Umbrella girl and instead find you. Under an umbrella.” He looked over, he looked up. “Explain.”

“We’re different people,” said Franklin. “I sit on the blue pillow, which represents positivity.”

“I resent that,” shot back Albert quickly. “*I* represent positivity… in the now.”

Franklin realized this was so. More memories kicked in. She was Shelley before, but also, behind that, Wheeler. She was Wheeler. She *is* Wheeler. She took him in, realizing she was sitting beside fellow core Baker Bloch instead of prevert Albert. Only the blackbird(s) linked them together. And the hat(s).

“Take off your hat, Albert, and I’ll know that you speak the truth.” Could he?

(to be continued)


Darla loves black

“We have a location on the girl. Repeat. We have a location, over.”

“Roger that, Mission. Honing in… now.”

—–

It was the first meeting of the local Umbrella Club chapter, and not all were invited, namely: men.

And *especially* Albert, who could only view the proceedings from afar, say 200 meters. That’s as close as his ankle bracelet would allow, which was probably a good thing. He just wanted to check up on her, he rationalized about the spying, make sure she’s not up to any trouble. Or if she was, he wanted to know. And, he also thinks, I suppose *this* counts. Just like the case with Franklin, pheh.

He never got around to taking off his hat, which could explain why he’s here.

(to be continued)


2nd crowd

He looked in on the proceedings with his 2 hats and his 2 perching birds, thinking: busy, good. That means the doctor, the practice is good. Here’s someone I can talk to and learn meaningful stuff from, this Mouse fellow. Never mind the failed Pooping Pigeons franchise, he follows. A bad businessman does not make for a bad something else.

He steps inside, jumps ahead of everyone else knowing they wouldn’t mind. He’s just that important.

The door was locked. The only way in, it appeared, was through this hole at the bottom. Luckily Albert brought his own Mouse costume, except his was a rat, small enough to get away with the deception and do the job. Mouse was just finishing up with another one, synchily enough. Rat named Map who use to be a member of a gang called Willard.

“Come in, big man,” he squeaked up to high-as-a-kite Albert. “If you can make it.”

“Oh I can,” he boomed down. Map Rat disappeared. Albert took his place.

(to be continued)


restored/inside

“Sorry about the hole, Mr. Johnston.”

“Please. Call me Albert,” insisted the tall, black clothed man sitting before him, seeing each other not quite eye to eye like before but getting there. He wanted to make sure he was up close and personal with the troubled man, try to soothe his rather frayed nerves. Yes, Albert had issues. He moved from behind the desk to here, perched before him like another one of his birds.

“I have to separate the wheat from the chaff,” he explained, gazing into his face from slightly above. “As you probably noticed, all I have out there waiting any more are dummies, complete idiots.” Mouse looked down, trying to phrase his frame of mind in a more polite way. “I don’t have time for that any more,” he said, deciding to end that way. Albert’s turn now.

“I… understand?”

“You’re a real life person in this afterlife sort of situation. I appreciate that. You are tall but you can become quite small. That proves you are human. More effective than picking out chimneys on a house or signs on a road. This is not the DMV if you see what I’m saying.”

“Understand… I?”

“Yes, I know how you feel, I certainly do.” Mouse rubbed his chin thoughtfully, as he sometimes does to impress a client, especially an important client like this. Albert was here to talk about the girl: he knew that. But which one?

(to be continued)


00360108

After finding out which one, Dr. Mouse has him lay on a gurney ready to go deeper into the bowels of the place.

“All the way back, Mr. Johnston,” Nurse Porcupeople urged. “I have you.”

“Wheel him away,” said Mouse, studying the newest form and seeing it is good. Ready for delivery.


00360109

The Nautilus map in my skybox is lighting up again. Jem’s Dodgey City in the northeast corner, along with neighboring Blacking where Midge critically observed it across the water from her colorful beach towel. Yd Island and Darla and her Umbrella Club to the southeast, also observed from a distance by prevert Albert. Then Fordham in the lower center, the old Collagesity location which is now surprisingly acting as a hideout of some kind for Franklin aided by greenie friend Apples and the sentient tree known as Unch — you remember Unch don’t you? From the Rubi Forest? Think back. And then in the center center that mysterious place known as Perch-Mistletoe where we also see Franklin, this time interacting with Albert directly but who then turns into or reveals himself as Baker Bloch instead, with Franklin likewise realizing she’s Wheeler Wilson. The 2 main core avatars of my blog and attached photo-novels in other words, the great male-female (or female-male) duality. What it all revolves around. Then in the main arm of the Starfish Lake or Sea to the northwest of that we have Dr. Mouse’s practice which Albert also visited and turned into a baby apparently, a symbol of rebirth. Another pin is lit up beside it but we can’t speak of that yet. Place called Dub — displaced actually. To this couch so we can talk with him/it.

Another form:

Another:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dub,_Arkansas

Then moving to the west and the south again, directly below Dodgey City we have another mystery area centered by a place called the Art Box which we’ve visited several times before in our blog chronicled journeys, and which will surface again soon in relation to the missing file or files mentioned by Midge. Then to finish up for now, in the north central, we have the location of the map itself, my Lebettu Castle on Rooster’s Peninsula, my new home as of the middle of photo-novel 33 back in the late spring now. It’s been a perfect match so far. There’s no question I had to downsize.


Collagesity back in the days


a type of Central Park

“I remember it like it was still there. I can see it now, actually. Collagesity. Just over there beyond the wall, spreading north and south for quite a while. Almost a sim long at the end it was. I miss it.”

“So I’ve heard.”

“It will be there for us. In perpetuity. I will keep working on it.”

“That is appropriate.” Wheeler-as-Franklin starts wondering when Baker-as-Albert was going to leave. Best to get back into character as soon as possible. Breaking the 4th wall is fine and all, but has limitations. If you break it down all the time then there’s no story to tell in the end. It just gets shoved back in your face as you stare at the computer screen. Maybe they should talk of Newt; Wheeler’s own marriage. How Shelley was made on that spaceship which sucked them into the sky over 3 decades ago. How Newt is now a Whitehead in Da Woods and retired and relaxed and comfortable now, within his limitations which is, in a way, the same as the boundaries of his Real Life county which affords so much hiking and outdoor activity. Haze County we may call it — we’ll see. For its mountaintop fog, some will say in partial truth.

“Unch and Apples should return,” says Wheeler. “We should get on to the story. Why are we hiding here in the most obvious place to look which is also the least obvious place, given that Collagesity is no more and there’s no reason to keep hanging around? Hidden in plain sight is another way to put it… are you writing all this down?”

“Yes,” I say back. As Baker Bloch in the moment in the form of Albert the prevert. She stares at me. I stare back. I realize she means *now*. I look in my outfit inventory. Apples is near the top but I have to dig back again for Unch. Should have moved it up with the rest.

“Hold on,” I say, still searching.

She tries to stay calm with deep breaths. So disorganized, she can’t help but think.

(to be continued)


Harrys at Fieldon

Jerry eyed me as I receded and then approached again. “Why do you walk like a duck?” he ask me straightforwardly. I thought about it.

“Because I don’t want anyone to notice.”

“Notice what?” he returned quickly.

I indicated myself. “Well, *this*.” I wore kids sneakers. I had kids’ hair. But I was no kid. There were butterflies fluttering about in my midsection. But I wasn’t nervous. Except for the revealing, top to bottom.

Jerry — he said his name was Jerry earlier — reached into the News of the World van through an open window, pulled out a file left conveniently on the passenger seat. “I think you’re looking for this.”

—–

Norris was backing trooper car 0407 into its usual spot. Recognizing him (another Harry!), I grasped the file from Jerry’s outstretched arm and went across the parking lot to this new guy on the scene, hoping to get more information. However, my head was turned as I approached the driver’s window by a head on the hood, directly above the word Fidelity. It hit too close to home.

He didn’t ask about the duck walk, even though I approached and receded and approached him as well (I think). “Get in,” he said, but not the one within. The butterflies fluttering around my stomach became real as I realized I was an already cuffed prisoner of the state ready for transport to… somewhere. Jerseyville? Wouldn’t that be appropriate.

“Bring the other head in too while you’re at it,” Interior Norris requested. “And make sure you don’t bend anything in that file. We’ll need both for evidence.” SLAM

I was inside.

(to be continued)


Ives got it

Just up the hill as it turned out. Former site of a little place called Collagesity.

—–

“What do you think it is?” said Franklin, apparently to the tall, hiding pampas grass in front of her but actually to fellow greenie mate Apples even more hidden within. The teleport invite placed her right in the center (good one!).

“I can’t see,” logically answered Apples, because of the grass and all. High it was, but not her. They hadn’t partaken in a week. This was all on the straight and narrow.

“Right right,” replied Franklin, still gazing upward instead of inward.

“Describe it to me.”

“I will.” And Franklin counted off the stories for Apples, 7 in number, summarizing that it looked like some kind of prison with its bleak outer facade, a tower prison. She was starting to get nervous, butterflies in her stomach if not upon it. Assumed to be assimilated Franklin had somehow escaped, thanks to this type of Central Park location, a hiding spot that, as I said, is the most-least obvious place to look for her. Little did she know. We, of course, let her go, let her be independent from Shelley once more, but at a price. Checking the downstairs works sometime after she arrived, she saw she didn’t have a Gang of Willard any longer. Roberts would not be pleased — if she could ever reunite with her again. Maybe *Roberts* has it, Franklin thought last night in her loneliness. She had the dog, she continued to rationalize. She has a history of buying unusual magical objects. Maybe this is something like, I don’t know, a *Christmas* present, red returned to what was now thought to be only purest green. Sins paid for by another.

“Any signs of life? Any signs of the light?” Apples broke Franklin’s reverie.

Still backwards guitar holding Franklin studied the faces, the windows. Nothing but plain surfaces, outer masking inner again. “No.”

“We’ll wait it out until dark here. Then stealthily make our way back to Campground Central and Unch. He might have some ideas on this as well.

“He’ll probably just start blathering on about how Collagesity is bound to return, and that a Linden owns the prime part of the land now and that the buyer she’s specifically selling it to for one of her kind’s dollars hasn’t reciprocated yet.” It will come back on the marketplace, the sentient tree predicted with its rustling leaves, emphasized this time by a couple of falling limbs even. Unch was confusing offworld marketplace purchases with inworld land purchases, but they didn’t bother to correct him.

“Hmm. Maybe we should be quiet for a while,” Apples said within. And so they were.


00360113

The unique chord progression for “I Walk the Line” was inspired by the backwards playback of guitar runs on Cash’s tape recorder[4] while he was stationed in Germany as a member of the United States Air Force. Later in a telephone interview, Cash stated, “I wrote the song backstage one night in 1956 in Gladewater, Texas. I was newly married at the time, and I suppose I was laying out my pledge of devotion.”

“One has strings, the other doesn’t, these HARDR pools, the only HARDR sims in Our Second Lyfe currently (Hardrada and Hardrock Island).”


Hardrada pool


Hardrock Island pool

“Obviously the same creation besides that, Hucka (Hucka!). The unstringed one, useless for playing, see, merely points to the stringed one, the useful one. This is the same as Franklin’s guitar she was playing backwards in respect to Apples’, which is the same as Johnny Cash’s guitar, or at least the one he played backwards as inspiration for perhaps his seminal song ‘I Walk the Line.’ We can understand this through Franklin KY.”

“Sting is a line,” added Hucka. He’s just warming up perhaps. Been in storage for a while. “I meant string.”

“Of course.”

“Gotta run.” And he was gone — oh well; not even time for a snapshot. Plus I couldn’t get to the stringless one since it was on banned property (I continued on my own). I think back to the 2 pools, banned and unbanned, on Owl Island, and how we also found doubles of those in Eveningwood. Back in novel 26, which is becoming more and more relevant to our current novel, 36…

Along with 35 of course. Photo-novel 36 seems to be more of a direct continuation of its predecessor than ever. See, for example, here (post/riddle from likewise section 01 of 35 unraveled/resolved):


HARDR

“He’s quite a big bigger than her,” observed Baker Bloch or Wheeler Wilson, laying under another one of those umbrellas on the far side of the pool. “Your turn now,” one of them said.

“I didn’t know Mmmmmm’s came in different sizes like that,” said Wheeler (making the 1st speaker Baker).

“They seem happy,” spoke Baker. “For now.”

“Com’on. We don’t know how this species really interacts with each other.”

“I know they have an average lifespan of about 26 years.”

“26 1/2,” amended Wheeler.

“And the little one, perhaps even less.”

“Again… you don’t know that. You’re thinking of dogs or cats or something. Could be the bigger one, the male, who has the shorter life. Plus males tend to die earlier than females (in general).” She looks over at Baker Bloch, those dead eyes, and remembers he doesn’t have to worry about all that. Already deceased. Her? Could be immortal as well. We’ll have to make sure she’s archived if so.

“Notice the TILE floaties all around?”

“No I didn’t. But that’s more your thing. I have my own kind of TILE.” She wonders again about his missing piece, the thing that can turn from an I into an E given the right circumstances. Ones she controls: E; perfection. There’s a whole ‘nother side to the religion/philosophy/game that Wheeler could explain to us in great detail. If she were allowed.

“It’s something we could talk about in great detail (told ya). Me with my own more analytic take, and you with your more physical slant.”

“Hmmm.” She was drifting off now in the noonday sun, just downed Russian Roulette doing its work.

“Notice the Christmas trees,” Baker added about the props in the central platform. “Green and red (line). Being emphasized above the blue and yellow.”

“You’re talking about Roberts now, and what she might give Franklin as a present,” Wheeler replied without opening her eyes. She was seeing in the dark. “Franklin hopes, anyway.”

“Why… did we have to take that away from her?”

“I didn’t. *You* did.”

“Oh.”

“Oh, right. Think about that analytic boy. Why would I care enough about her Gang of Willard to remove it, like a surgeon. No, that’s intellect, that’s airiness. That’s…”

“Male.”

“Yes.”

“Me Tarzan, you Jane,” Baker spoke while pointing between them. Wheeler couldn’t help but chuckle a bit with this. If only.

—–

“I like this pool *much* better than the guitar one. Bigger!”

“Oh, Grassy,” said Sassy, his new girlfriend, perhaps his new wife. They may be on a honeymoon. Certainly not the first date at least. The other one fit me better, the smaller one, she thinks internally, not wanting to disappoint. She’d save up the grudges, spew them out later like an erupting volcano. A smaller one, but packing quite an internal heating unit. What attracted Grassy to her in the first place. Sassy indeed.


hanging around

“I had a dream about Dub again last night. Talked to him over on that couch again.”

“Black dude?”

“Yeah. Asked him about the jungle, how I get back. He picked up a guitar with no strings.”

“Oh. New (!).”

“Yeah, and he played it, but it sounded like a recording, with the echo and all.”

“A dub. Guitar dub.”

“In a way I suppose.” She reached over, took his hand. If she could only play the strings to *his* heart.

—–

“It must have been that book you were reading. By the hot tub. Up above the main pool.”

“I recall.”

“Was the jungle mentioned specifically within?”

She thought back. “Can’t recall (that).”

He sipped on his Russian Roulette, borrowed from her earlier. Said her stomach was a little upset from before. The tension, she excused herself. Both blamed each other, and then, afterwards, themselves.

—–

“Are you going to go back into the box now?”

She thought about it. “I’ve decided… that 777 dollars is quite reasonable for something we can, er, style together. I don’t want to be a slave prisoner. I want to be a woman. Shackles removed.”

“I see.” Arthur Kill thought about this. Liz remained the ultimate goal, how to get there, how to *make*. Singularity awaiting, even looming by this point. A black hole and white hole together. Ylem.


00360116

“Don’t get sick in here, Nogin,” said Bob the bartender. “It’s not my fault you rode the Ferris wheel for 2 hours and then came in here for a couple of margaritas.”

“Carousel… *next*,” he gruffed as he looked over at Grassy and Sassy doing the same. Stay in motion, he decides. Because if still — this. *Head* in motion. Stomach.

“Well, yeah, why don’t you go ride the carousel over there — away from me — and get sick off it. I’m sure Bud (carousel operator today) won’t mind, ha.”

“BLEEHHHHH.”

“Great. *Thanks*, Nogin.”

“You’re BLEEEHHHH… welcome.”

—–

“Little hard for me to skate in these tennis shoes.”

“I’m doing just fine in my slick sassy boots,” his Mmmmmm partner returned, gliding along with much less effort. Good thing Grassy is 5x bigger or he wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Does she have to name *everything* she wears after herself? he ponders while struggling onwards. Well: 2. Gloves and boots. And the occasional “sassy” hat.

“What about that guy getting sick at the Beach Bar?” said Sassy over. “Sick and sick and *sick*. I could still hear him throwing up when we left the park to come down here.”

“Why we chose not to stick around for the Ferris wheel,” spoke Grassy. Else why would I be *here*, he thinks.

—–

“Oh God, there he starts *again*. Just when you thought it was over.”

“Let’s skip the margaritas and go straight back to the cottage for some Alka-seltzer.”

“Good idea.”

—–

“Oh (‘BLEEEHHH’), yet *another* present, Nogin. Christmas keeps coming and coming (‘BLEHHH’).” Where *are* those paramedics? Bob thinks.


00360117

“There it is again, Dixon 02! Shoot it this time with your bow and arrow! Quick!”

“*You’re* Dixon 02,” protested the one with the weapon. “*I’m* Dixon 01.”

“No time for that now! POOF. Oh… darn! Look at what you’ve done brother of mine, *second* out of the womb.”

“*You’re* second out.”

“She’s gone.” Pause.

“Pretty boots, though.”

“*Darn* pretty boots.”

“And gloves.”

—–

“‘Nother dream this time about those Dixons, Grassy. Something about them poisoning the alcohol of this town.”

“Hmmm.”

“Wonder….”

“Yeah,” predicted Grassy to what Sassy was about to say, Nogin’s horrific tossing noises also etched in his memory. “Me too.”

“Should we warn somebody? Who’s the mayor of Hardrock Island?”

“Hardrada, actually. Remember, Hardrock I. contains the guitar with no strings. The pool here has strings. The one you like so much.” Maybe more than the bigger one I prefer, he thinks to himself. Differences: small, but they can add up.

Sassy contemplates heartstrings again, and how Grassy should make her sing but not quite getting there; differences again. But no strings might have its advantages as well, as in, no hands advantages. As in *recording* advantage. If you don’t play forwards, you can play backwards — that kind of advantage.

“Welll?”

“Based on a dream?” he protested about the earlier warning request.

“Dreams,” said Sassy to this. “Repeating dreams.”

“See what happens tonight in your dreams and then tomorrow we’ll go to the authorities if needed.”

“*No* alcohol in the meantime. Or only what you brought in.”

“Cough syrup,” complains Grassy. “Stuck with cough syrup.”

“And mouthwash,” chips in Sassy. First time she’s glad about having a mild case of chronic halitosis. Wouldn’t be the last.


00360118

Dodgey City bookkeeper Gemilly “Jem” Johnson (or Johnston) manifested at a 4th wall of town.

“Duck duck duck,” she said, walking like such. “Cluck cluck cluck,” she improvised, making director Kurt Strawb (he got a 4th!) cringe off-screen. “Now *where’s* that John? I’m ready for my close-up!” she called in the air while waddling. “I’m *ready*… for my CLOSE-UP!”

Close enough.


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