Okay I’ve unleashed it.
Yeah, I’m here, she says to the Star Trek teleporter crew in her mind. Still walking.
Oh look, there’s Star Wars’ Rutti-tutti robot in a space age mish-mash. What next? Lost in Space?
… Lost in Space, yeah. But maybe I saw it out of the corner of my eye, heh.
She stops walking. She turns to the second robot she’s encountered in this here pyramid dominated area. “Can you tell me where *Marilyn* is? The president’s concubine, in your time. Just kidding. It’s Roosevelt, Marilyn Roosevelt. But not the same president (in the joke). Or… maybe it is.” She ponders how Lichen got the last name in the first place, and, by association, her own. What a wit!
No answer from the robot. He seems to have lost his powers of function.
Still in the pyramid: “I’ll check with Howard on that,” a pill shaped robot (robot?) squeakily and waveringly answered Fern Stalin’s rephrasing of her original question, which went: “How do I find The Void?” Because Marilyn/Lichen was most likely there, or as close as possible to the despicable, object-less Abyss. She’s trying so hard, Fern though here. If only she had my brains.
“We’ve met before, BTW,” the thing said to Fern while texting this Howard, perhaps a workmate. They could be maintenance mechanoids because of the overalls, Fern rationalizes. Had she not heard of minions? But perhaps she is toying with us, the reader and also the writer, in this case. Probably (again). There are toys after all; a play on words.
The minion kept typing and typing but never got back to Fern. No answer from Howard apparently, or nothing the creature wanted to share, if Howard is even real. Fern moves on, down the stairs to the other side of this, er, space platform…
… to a game that should *definitely* not be played because this was actually a representation of The Void again, the power behind the powers.
It eats thoughts like it’s breakfast lunch and dinner all at once. Maybe the Tilists were onto something with the switching around of meals.
Back to the teleporter, and quickly. Marilyn/Lichen’s presence lies elsewhere in Gemini retconned from Mercury. We’ll get to that aspect in a moment.
She stares with tiger eyes over at the fern adorning the stone waterfall.
What am I doing here? she thinks. Has ditzy blonde Lichen outwitted me after all in an elaborate ruse?
Speck looks back in time to check through his activated chronosvismach.
“The car parked outside the Rhino in Gaston is the same as the one parked outside the 1000 Bar in Gemini here, sir.” He pulls back from the image to face his leader with the news. “The license plates match. It must be George…”
“…driven just that far to find his love of his life. Shelley,” pronounces the Cpt., perhaps Munch perhaps not. Leader of a bunch of children, whatever, in his eyes. Needing his protection, his guidance. Grownups can be children too, he realized long ago, near the start of his academy years when he pulled out a stuck pacifier from the mouth of Major Henley, the big googoo gaga. Speck was just the most advanced of these, beyond him in brains if not decision making abilities and intuitive hunches guided by emotions. That’s what Speck was about to find out (through the cloud). Maybe then he can be the grown-up to fill his huge shoes after his retirement to the planet Splunk. There’s even a name similarity between the two through intermediaries Spuck and Spunk. We’ll get to their stories later, perhaps.
“Send a team down to check on the bar,” continues the Cpt. “See what this George — Musician — is up to; what *lengths* — he’d go to — make it so.”
“Sir,” Speck then said. “If it pleases you I’d like to be part of the party. I want to learn more about these… emotions that so control men of your Earth.”
“And women,” the Cpt. duly noted. “Don’t forget the women.”
“Hysterical, yes. So I’ve heard.” Was this a joke between the two men, Earthling and non-Earthling? Perhaps so. We’ll research later. Whatever, Lt. Ohuru behind them grimaces, which we happen to know is Shelley’s daughter Liz in disguise, bound and determined to find out about George as well. She’ll finagle her way onto the team too, despite being the wrong sex for the mission. Probably have to sleep with the Cpt. again, pheh.
Shelley was in trouble because she had the key but couldn’t use it, like Rump before. Couldn’t get it off her neck; hung there like an useless, object-less necklace, product of The Void obviously. The Venus cage had manifest for real, one of its dark powers.
“And *stay* there until I return,” George called back unnecessarily, walking away from the scene — as The Musician — to a local gig at the Pink Think bar, first in a series of such, he hoped. “Great Gig in the Sky” he wanted to title it, thinking of another Pink. The beanstalk to the 3700m high joint broke off like a collapsed tornado, falling falling falling in the far distance. He’d put that into a song as well, maybe the one about Money — Cash — he’d been working on. He’d heard about red cash for the first time from a man at the bar at the same time as him, a man in black, he recalls. Tall. He was with another guy who goes by Biff — remembered his name because of the detergent. The other guy — yes, Able. *Albert*. Both seemed to be stalking someone: different people, he gathered, but both leading them to here, this Gemini retconned from Mercury (get to that in a bit). “If you turn totally green,” the man called Albert said to him, shared martinis all around, “then you’re done — *cooked*. “You have to keep a bit of red about you or else… (not) here.”
“Amen,” said Biff sitting across from him, to the left side of me. He was reading a small, wine red book, which I guess counted for his protecting talisman. I wondered what Albert had on about him of the same color. Perhaps a pen? Or a scarlet handkerchief in his lapel pocket that he could whip out at any time for a sneezing damsel in distress? But I daydream (within the daydream). Back to Albert…
(to be continued)
It had snowed in 1000 City the night before they beamed down, but only on the upper level corresponding to the top of its box-like nature. Ouhuru (Liz) had successfully coerced the Cpt. into letting her be part of the exploratory team, joining Speck and a redshirt named Ted, doomed to probably die in this environment. Will a snow tiger jump out from behind a building and maul him to pieces? Abominable snowman tear him apart limb by limb? We’ll see — maybe he’ll survive. But as all Trekkies know, the color red attracts the worst elements of an alien environment, more easily spotted for wannabe troublemakers. You wonder why anyone would dress as such in a potentially dangerous situation. The “seeing red” expression fits in here from the opposite perspective.
“Ouhuru, check on that food while you’re standing over there next to it. I’ll look around the rest of this abandoned coffee shop. Ted, erm, go outside, yes, go outside and see how deep the snow is and what we’re facing in that direction, if we so choose. So commands commanding officer Speck Ohuru for the first time and Ted the last.
The similarly black hatted men visit the beach to spy on sunbathing Shelley. “*There’s* my obsession, Albert. Now you know.”
“Yes,” he said, likewise looking through the bushes and tall grass at the beauty. To him not to her. Because she thought of herself as an ugly duckling, much plainer than, say, voluptuous and confident-in-her-looks Ginger Granite who lived down the lane from her growing up. “Yes I do,” he said in a lower tone, trying not to be so obvious but kind of failing.
The black bathing suit did it for him. Now… how to eliminate Biff Carter from the picture. His mind worked just that quick in situations like this. Kill him now; right this instant? Nah, better wait for a remoter spot, maybe closer to The Void so he can more easily dispose of the body if needed. They were both stuck in Gemini thanks to the powers, but options remained inside and within those constrictions. Below 4096 meters that is and 256 around the sides. 268,435,456 cubic meters is a lot of space to work with still.
With her super sharp ears, one of her superpowers, not-so-ditzy blonde Lichen Roosevelt, who was currently masquerading again as ditzy blonde Marilyn the traveling bartender, overheard it all. The bidding, the threats. Albert was driven to have the girl he couldn’t possess — none of them could, not Biff Carter, not George The Musician sitting at the bar with her and oblivious to the subject matter being spoken about behind him. Because his ears were more between his legs; that’s how he composes, how he creates. It deafens him to other realities at times, a lot of times, heck, about all of the time, she surmises in the moment. They spoke about it earlier, before Albert and Biff showed back up again, sipping their crazy tea and talking about absurdities. Shelley was free — for the moment.
“She requested she go down to the beach every day at 2, so I let her.”
“Damn, Musician, that’s not good enough!” she protested, yelling because no one else was around. Boss Herbert Done had the day off, cruising for boys on the back lot, despite already having a man and 2 girls at home. George had already told her about the decision to use the powers of the Venus cage to trap her. “She was as much here that way as any of us,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat.”
“Don’t you see, Musician?” she tried to explain. “*Shelley’s* the boat! That’s why you’re all here in the first place.”
George knew that Albert was obsessed with a girl named Darla, a black haired and black clad beauty as he described her. And Biff — well, he hadn’t really talked to him about why he was here as well. That would come a bit later. He didn’t know about the overlap is what I’m saying here.
“She’s not your pet, your slave.”
“I know that.”
Devil instead of Lover, Shelley thought, contemplating The Tarot. Gemini rules The Lovers, the 6th Major Arcana card of the deck, attached to the specific planet Mercury. That’s why Mercury-Gemilly, France is involved, a suburb of *Albert*ville of all names. The Devil, Major Arcana card 15, has the same two nude figures but chained instead of free, torch lit instead of outside in the sun. It’s good George let’s her sunbathe but, my God man, just because she was going to *jilt* you at the alter? *This*? Men, PHEH.
“I’m going to let her totally free soon,” George said. “As soon as I figure out how to take Arthur out of the picture. That way we can get properly married instead of those two.”
“After all this…” Marilyn said, then stopped because of the futility of it all.
And now, listening to Albert and Biff bicker, Marilyn decides to lay down all the cards. She senses a Helen of Troy situation and didn’t want it to fester any further. She had an aunt and uncle that had to live through all the atrocities of the Trojan-Durexian Wars over on the Omega continent. She wasn’t going to allow another seed to be planted like that.
The Receiver, she then thinks. I have to pick up the phone — wherever it is — and call him. That’s the solution.
She finally finds it behind the coke machine.
The Mouse is a fictional character in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He first appears in Chapter II “The Pool of Tears”, encountering Alice while both swim in it, and who panics at her mention of the word “cat.”
The Dormouse is a sleepy character in “A Mad Tea-Party”, Chapter VII, who wakes up enough to tell Alice the story of 3 sisters trapped in a treacle well and drawing pictures of things starting with “m” such as as mousetraps, memory, and muchness.
Although the Mouse does not appear in the classic 1951 Disney film based on the book, part of his personality has been integrated with Dormouse’s.
Black clad Shelley reads the same in the distance while sitting from our angle between 2 toy blocks featuring these similar but different rodents.
Thank you, once again, Gemini.
Still in Gemini…
“Yeah, I don’t actually *live* in a receiver or am the *same* as a receiver. I don’t know what got that notion into your head. And I even have a pretty modern (phone), cell and all. I can even look up things on the Interwebs with it, like the difference between a mouse and a dormouse. Just doing that–”
“Fascinating,” Marilyn playing Lichen Roosevelt said on the other end, a word she just heard on TV. “I only thought,” she defended her logic, “you know, like Paul Warfield.”
“Never mind.” She backed out of Miami back into Cleveland. “Jim Brown,” she blurted out to her surprise. “Jim *L.* Brown, not the other one, the twin.”
“What about James?” replied Claude the Receiver. This was old school talk, like high school. He’d left all that behind in joining the University of Life here in 1000 City, or so it was advertised. 4 more years to go, a long long 4 years, with debt mounting up each semester he stays. He’s learning about the birds and bees this morning from old Ms. Crumplebottom, facing away from him and preparing to add information about flowers and trees and the Moon up above into the overall equation, like work clothes. Whatever, it all ends with Love. He wonders how she can remember back that far; all the parts must be long broken down there. But I suppose there’s always heart.
“Cartoons,” said Marilyn, surprising herself again. “Jem. Jemini.”
“Jemilly Johnson? What about *her*?” Claude was getting impatient. He didn’t want to miss any nuances from the lessons. One flower appears, then another and another. A tree with a massive trunk shoots up from their midst. And between the boughs near the top as the stars come out: The Moon. Where did The Sun go? he had to ask himself.
“Um, uh,” delayed Marilyn. “We have a situation,” she decided to say instead of answering Claude directly. “Just get down here. On your lunch break if needed. What time is school over, actually?”
Claude mentally checked his schedule. 1 o’clock: Mixing Business with Pleasure, 2: The Overarching Problems of Time and Money Inevitably Leading to Brain Damage, then at 3, oh he’s finished at 3. He says this to Marilyn. The Musician is paying his bill and about ready to leave. Marilyn looks at the wonky grandfather clock on the far wall between Biff and Albert. 4 more hours! How is she going to keep them all here together until the Receiver comes. Alcohol of course, for The Musician at least. And free tea for the teetotalers over there at the crazy table. She offers George another one on the house.
“Gee thanks!” he says, sitting back down. His gig is not till 7. He has the time and the money to kill more brain cells.
(to be continued)
“So they have no records of you attending the University of Life, which is why most people stay in 1000 City.”
“No need,” she replied. “I knew everything I had to know by that time.”
“So you just broke away from the exploratory team — hid in that darkened alley you mentioned before.”
“I hid behind the bar,” she specified to the questioner. “The black hole. Like I said.”
“You called it a black horse before.”
“Did I?” she said innocently, bracelet sparkling once again. It detected brilliance in its brilliance. Plus a photo was being shot. At us; recorded becomes recorder.
“Why did you send those postcards from the city back to your parents?”
Weary of the grilling, she looked down at the table before answering. Real metal coins! she thought. Hadn’t seen the round stuff in a while. This guy must be lit. “I had to,” she decided to phrase it, encouraged once more. “Because of them.”
“You know.” She didn’t elaborate. Keith B. obviously though of The Void and the powers that hid there. What little he knew about the place.
“I came to you for answers.”
“You will leave me with more questions,” she shot back. “Trust me.” But she’ll give enough to earn the coin.
“You… didn’t stay here,” he guessed after a pause. “This… Gemini.”
“Of course not. I encapsulate realities. I can go wherever I want through them. Down at the beach. Remember?”
“You engineered all of this,” he then speculated, knowing he was right. Liz was, how you say, a Goddess.
FLASH. The world turned inside out.
“So when you said you disappeared behind the bar, you meant you worked there — behind the bar…”
“… as a black horse, yeah. I’m not ashamed of it (she was). I just didn’t want you to… look down on me.” She could read disappointment in his eyes by now. How to recoup from this? Could she espouse any redeeming qualities without giving too much away? She let him just unwind his theories. Check check check, she assumed.
“Black Horse is not code for Black Hole. Black Horse is more, let’s say, Black Ho, reduced from the obvious. The two go hand in hand, or, in this case, hoof in hoof.”
She made a check mark with her
“You were working for The Void.”
“The same Void that Marilyn had already rejected, the same Void that had her dress up as a white horse before she found the clean and sobered up job at Pink Think here in Gemini.
“You took her place.”
Hesitation, then another check mark.
“Do you keep in contact? I mean, you’re both here, in the same sim. Is it too painful to do this?”
Check mark. This guy is good! Liz thinks. He’s earned all the answers he desires. Not like her regular clientelle, where she doesn’t like to say very much. This was different. This was *clean* fun. Yes, she was having fun, unburdening herself. But she had one big secret stashed away still. George. Keith B. didn’t need to know about The Musician and their true relationship through her parents. George was a bad person and deserved what he got. Same for Albert and Biff, she thought here. For she knew of them as well: the Beastly triad. She knew that much from Marilyn. Yeah, they talk. But only on Mundays they agreed, the hardest day of the week to get in contact with someone. It was a window, tall yet narrow, so much so that they couldn’t see eye to eye. But the exchanges had depth still, black to white. At some junctures it was almost as if they could agree to disagree. It never came to that, but she sensed the possibility. A lost friend, a lost sister even. That could make up for *everything*.
(to be continued)
He was walking down the same beach again as before, but from the right direction instead of the wrong direction, he felt, Shelley encountered *first*, with Darla and her friends Lois and the other one in the background now. “Hi,” he said, slowing down. She moved her legs out of the sun fully under the Umbrella, staring at him. “Some decision we have coming up.” He wiped his brow of pretend sweat to seem more authentic. From somewhere inside her one piece black bathing suit she pulls out a pistol and shoots him.
Albert wakes up in the room intended for first Darla and next Shelley. He’d found her, but only in his dreams. *This* was reality.
He stares out a window between butterfly curtains he’d picked out at Macy’s toward the heart of the pretend city that they both were suppose to live in. Together.
“What went wrong?” he muttered, oblivious to the truth still, and that he had reaped what he sowed. He was the prisoner now.
The redshirts are coming the redshirts are coming.
Lt. Ohuru here doesn’t count. Wrong sex, although certainly the right one personally to win an all important favor from the Cpt. Car was the eventual outcome, short for Carbon, Ouhuru’s favorite element next to Potassium. And she didn’t want her son going around being referred to as Pot or Potty, or have his full name contain the word “ass” in it. Carbon it was. Munch didn’t need to know anything about the infant. She hid inside the black hole behind the bar, and him with her. Always from that point on. Carbon Glow Mahoney, a fake last name, as close to baloney as you can get without giving everything away, she felt: her fake life in 1000 Cy. after the U.S.S. Ararat had left the scene, taking the Cpt., Speck, all the remaining red shirts with it, along with the “inferior” females. Ohuru, I mean, Liz would eventually loosen their psychological shackles as well, giving them freedoms in the mind as well as body. But first she had to deal with the boy in the harsh glare of city life. Life itself.
“Come on, Carb (as he preferred instead of Car when he reached a certain age), “let’s get you to the dentist for that tooth filling party.” She lied and told him he was named after her favorite part of the car — carburetor — which she also liked because it referenced the name “car” itself. She wanted to hide the space part of herself as decorated officer Winnifried Ohuru as much as possible; wanted to be absorbed inside the role of bartender/lady of the night Elizabeth Mahoney, a common girl from the proto-ghetto (progo). Carr, hmm. I’m starting to know who this actually is, an old old friend of the blog, almost older than time itself. Through him they are able to look into the past and see revolution, robot style. Or 1/2 robot, 1/2 biological, yes. Like Car himself as it turns out. Only 1/2 carbon, see. The other 1/2: car or carburetor. Machine. Yes, I think I’ve about got it. Earth and Space.
She came up with the 1/2 thing analyzing a minion just before she beamed down to her new life, appropriately enough, her last work as a Star Team bioscientist. Fern would be proud, I assume.
The Musician had a plan. Play his last gig at Pink Think before returning to Nautilus and take Shelley with him, freeing her from the prison cave closest to The Void in Gemini (4006m). That’s how he can keep her from opening the door to her cage. Power. Power behind powers. He thinks she’s ready. He’s delusional. She’ll never forgive him, although she feigns acceptance to escape.
Albert and Biff sit around the wall still from the ensuing gig at their tea table, the music too deafening to their more sensitive ears. Plus they’re all too familiar with the notes and beats. They’d rather remain in the bar with at least equally-sensitive-to-sound Marilyn, a light in their darkness now. True they were were resigned to their entrapment here in Gemini, not being as blind as The Musician. But they were still trapped.
Marilyn? With Fern now, catching up — Fern said it was super hard to find her in the sim, what with all the cubic meters to cover from top to bottom, all 16 stories of 256x256x256 of it. Claude never showed up, intervention with the 3 beastly boys delayed. Or did he? Fern changes to demonstrate what happened.
She was back on top, ha — in charge. “The *clue*,” she said while nursing a red cocktail 1/2 in Claude’s body, educating Marilyn/Lichen as well as putting her back in her place, “was the receiver part. I live in a receiver, like a jeannie lives in a bottle. Get it? Like ‘Jeannie and the Tiger’. You remember? We watched that summer before last — it was just showing, by accident let’s say, on the Cartoon Network where we usually hang out. We switched over from ‘Dirty Duck’. Do you recall?”
“I remember,” said Marilyn, marveling at the brains, the brilliance, of her partner in crime once more. If only she had my humor, she thinks. Always pretty dead serious about stuff, like this. I’m not really surprised that Fern has outmaneuvered me and don’t really care. I could make 10 jokes about the situation right now, make light of it.
Yes, I suppose they made a good team, nay, a great team, especially after Marilyn/Lichen decided to ditch the horse and the association with The Void. Because this was the ultimate lesson learned for the traveling bartender in the sim of Jem– Gemini. Avoid the Duck.
“Oh, on a more minor note I think I figured out the tiger angle, Marilyn slash Lichen. I found another picture (of one) bumming around the property, coupled with an Auburn logo on the front of a dartboard cabinet. Auburn — Tigers. The owner must be an alum.”
“Cool (pause). Anything else?” Subtext: Are you ready to go to France now?
“Nah. Guess that’s it.”
“We better line up our ducks in a row then.”
“Oh yeah, you know I told you I showed up in Gemini (sim) on the beach, in that capsule. But, get this, it was a *Mercury* capsule, not the 2 man Gemini one. 1 man capsule. Here’s the thing. When Major Nelson comes back to Earth in his capsule and washes up on the beach with Jeannie also in that capsule–”
“Her bottle,” clarified Marilyn
“And you set her free.”
“Yeah, but my point is that Mercury was a solo act, for one astronaut. Major Nelson arrived alone on the beach, so it also must have been a one man capsule. He must have been a part of the Mercury Project. But here’s the thing. Later on, Major *Healy* said he also was there on the beach when Jeannie’s bottle was uncorked. So that makes it Gemini instead of Mercury — two man capsule instead of one — no other way. This is the retconned aspect, as I’ve studied up on. The beginning of the show was changed, modified. Whose memories are right, Nelson or Healy?”
“That’s a major memory problem, ha.”
“Good one. So… what you think? Mercury? Gemini? Which one would *you* choose?”
“Maybe we don’t have to,” Marilyn says cryptically, thinking of another location she’d learned through her comedy act (That’s why the French don’t wash, etc.) where the 2 are effectively merged, major problem solved.
She’d always been a Trekkie/Star Trek fan, as far back as she can remember. She primarily identified with Ouhuru from the first series, was obsessed with her, wanted to know what she did when she was away from the bridge, out of sight of the cameras, etc. So she found out the only way she could: fiction, fan-style of course. Later she started switching the characters around. Sooloo became the captain, and even merged with Captain Crunch of breakfast cereal fame to become Cpt. Munch, with the bravado or macho posturing of the original cpt., Kirklin let’s call him, becoming even more intense and more insane. He treated his crew more like children, child laborers, and he their master at the top of it all, straddling the hill with his two powerful limbs for legs. Pickard, the captain after Kirklin in the next series, became a “mere” redshirt, fit to be exterminated in any beam down party. Sooloo, also from the original series and who had replaced Kirklin in *form* in her imagination, developed into a love interest for Ouhuru, a way for her to gain favors from him in part. This led to the inevitable end when she got over her head in 1000 City, which the U.S.S. Ararat (taking over from the retired U.S.S. Cuthand — earlier novels I’m talking about here) was assigned to investigate because of a troubling black hole style anomaly (blurred with black horse and black ho concepts in the text) originating from that small but intense cyberpunk city in the sim of Gemini. The beam down party, sans Pickard who had been mowed down by an abominable snowman or snow tiger riding a snowmobile at its top level, its ceiling if you will, eventually discovered the time/space disturbance behind a bar tucked in the southwest corner of town. And here we are. Stuck still, black hole and black horse and black ho aspects inseparable now.
“Be careful out there Carb. And watch out for spiders!”
“Aww Maw!” he called back walking through the door under the purple marquee, beside the blank purple circle that stood in for a wall sign, behind the square, similarly blank purple standing or pavement sign below them. Bar Purple is another obvious name for the joint, but that was just more relics from the past. The new owner (The Void, we assume) had changed the name to the more innocent seeming and generic 1000 Bar, after the city. Ouhuru, due to the powers of the anomaly that might be behind the bar, but might be *where she’s standing*, forgot her Star
Trek Team origin, became absorbed into it, much like actual black holes of our universe absorb light and matter; time itself.
She checked her watch and tried to think positive thought bubbles. The letter from the publisher is due today, any minute now. But she already felt she knew the answer, could feel it in her aching bones. Rejection.
“Another one, Ted?”
“Nah, thanks Liz. I gotta get back to the ship.” He vanished along with her hopes. In reality, the mailman arrived.