When we return to rebuilt Moray Docks Village, radiation finally dissipated after 50
millenia days, Shelley’s good friends and vacation pals George (not her George, again) and Debbie had separated from each other, her on the far bench checking the latest odds on her dogs and he in the foreground perusing the stock numbers. Shelley had taken the opportunity to move in on him, not necessarily to steal him from Debbie (although she did wear that looser fitting Pepper t-shirt no. 2 today for some reason) but just to get more information about marriage in general, what works and what doesn’t. Or at least that’s how she rationalizes it in her mind.
“George?” she starts, after another sip of tea.
“How was your crabs? You know, I think I had something similar. I kept itching and itching and applying lotion and applying lotion and finally –.”
“Different,” he interrupted, still looking at his paper. “Ours were… (he looks up briefly, contemplating the smell, the look, the taste) delicious.” Uncle Jiffy makes the best! he thinks. Back to the figures, although he spots Shelley’s bare shoulder out of the corner of his eye, another figure he sometimes contemplates. But Debbie is right back there, he reminds himself. He hadn’t given up. George rustles his paper, reabsorbing himself in the news. Shelley will have to be happy with her tea for pleasure today.
black and white
“She’s somewhere in that prison.” Lichen Roosevelt glances up. “Tall and narrow.”
“Like in the windows,” her companion Fern Stalin said for clarification, mainly to the reader of this here text. “The prison itself is rather short and squat, despite appearances from our angle.”
“Right right. Well?”
“France was a no go,” Fern said to Lichen.”Nothing in Mercury-Gemilli, or what we could detect at the time.”
“We had our Star Team tricorders,” said Lichen to this. “We should have sensed something if something was there.”
“Maybe later,” encouraged Fern.
“Maybe later,” echoed Lichen.
They begin to prepare for scaling the walls…
“Liz!” Lichen exclaimed, waking her up.
“Shhhh. Keep it down!” she whispered as loud as safely possible, she felt. But she was overjoyed at the sight. At long last they meet almost eye to eye again. Get me out of here!
stop and Go
“See the whirlybird, Tabitha? Whirl whirl,” she emphasized with a twirling finger. “Whir whir,” the toddler she was holding mimicked without the finger. The actual birds in the vicinity, doves, remained frozen between them, opposing frantic spinning with rigid stasis in protest of the “invasion”. Or so legend goes: frozen birds, later the inspiration for a frozen pie company.
Tar stepped out of the copter, followed by Guit. The experimental, guitar oriented punk-folk fusion band Tar Guit had landed in rebuilt Moray Docks Village, ready to put on a celebratory show for the ages. Trouble was, they sucked.
I suck at this game, thought Liz. But I’m not going to let these bastards known it. Fiction power: on!
She expertly places the 1st black stone. Everyone had to play clean, the rules stated. So they washed them down before the match, these opposing horses or ponies. They couldn’t take a water or food break until it was over. The Watchers were going to have a good time with this. Because they knew Liz couldn’t resist. Then at the end they’d all give her a big Thumbs Down despite her seeming big win. “In reality,” they might chide, “you couldn’t beat Lichen with one hoof tied behind your midsection. Black never succumbs to white!”
“Does so!” she might exclaim back, and end it all with a fall of cards, or, in this case, a shower of rocks, inharmonious black and white mixing together in a fused mish-mash all around.
Robot servant Ruttitutti shows up, ready to take food and drink orders. It was over.
Thank God, most of the scattering concert goers thought.
Everyone has a darker sister.
Ooops. There go the eyes again.
Winter wonderlands (just appeared) make my peepers pop out. They bring people so much… *joy*!
I hates them. Anyway, back to forging the goat’s head.
“Debbie, were you in The Void today?”
“I deny everything in that direction.”
over the hedge
I’m going to beat the crap out of that girl.
Before taking a shower, Shelley writes in her journal, and Harlie with her.
Day 2 in The Void.
I have determined that George, formerly Debbie’s George, is the same as my own.
We are destined to be together.
I don’t know where the other is.
She pulls away from the screen, looks at what she wrote. She knows there is another but can’t recall who. It is someone dark… black, even, like the shadow side of a planet.
Her phone rings. It’s Arthur. Arthur! she thinks while trying to figure out how to answer like in a receiver. That’s who I was thinking of. And he must have been thinking of me! She figures it out, puts the correct end to her mouth. “Hallo?”
“Are you ready?”
Ready for what? she thinks. Oh. The shower. Testing water pressure and all, let’s say.
“Go ahead and I’ll meet you over there.”
“Arthur? You haven’t called me *that* in a while. Do you, erm, do you even know where you are? Where I am? Where we’re going?”
She admitted she didn’t. She was in The Void for real. And she didn’t even have the necklace this time, giving it to a repairman in the garage outside in order to pay for her car. Broke carburetor. “It’ll cost you as much as the car itself,” Ken said through the window, watching her dig dig dig in her pocketbook for cash, red or green. But alas, the only thing of value she had on her was the Venus Cage. Of course, Ken, also working for The Void, knew this. After receiving it he made the proper disposal per instructions. Far far away from The Void. Lemont Sanford must not know how to get at her this go around. She will be truly trapped forever and ever. Swapsies.
(to be continued)
Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer was brought into the picture to help the poor, confused girl. Shelley’s father Newt, formerly and originally father-in-law Newt, had found his card when he returned his son-in-law’s (formerly son’s) wedding tuxedo back to June’s Rentals over in Handytown. Left it in the pocket; figured it was worthless to him now — forgotten. June’s wife Peggie was luckily working the return desk that day and checked all the pockets before taking items of clothing back. She even checked the shoes for lost nail-clippers, etc. Very thorough at her job she was. So she turned all the pockets on the rental tuxedo inside-out and found the Rabbid Rabbits group card, which included, as I said before, a location and also a phone number. Newt rings it up.
Dr. Rabbid Baumbeer’s memories had to be jarred at first. “George,” he said, pondering the name. “George Smithson? Had a wife or potential wife named D something. Darla maybe.”
Newt indicated that George’s last name was Reiner, like in the Meathead character from the 70s. Rabbid Baumbeer checks his phone for the name of the caller. Newt Bunker — different last name. He brings this up just for kicks.
“George’s father has been dead for 10 years,” explains Newt, a bit bothered by the nosiness but getting over it quick. Breathe in, breathe out. “I’m just trying to help the boy out. Will you likewise try to help my girl?”
Rabbid Baumbeer suddenly remembered. A former punk turned clean. Wasn’t sure if he was in love with the girl or not. Obsessed somehow with a girl inside the girl. The Mother, yes. This was worth looking into — from a psychological perspective at least.
“I don’t have a location for her currently,” continues Newt in the void between words. “She’s gone… missing.”
“Don’t you worry about that,” Baumbeer spoke, a body of knowledge kicking in — ahh, the kick (!), soo satisfying. He feels quite the superior again. He knows exactly where to find the girl.
And so here we are. In The Void. Didn’t take long. Flag and all.
“Tell me 5 ways that you love George, child. Oh… forgot,” he says reaching out with upturned hand. “One nickle please.”
She thought of another answer while chopping pepper for the big meal. George was coming over! Or was it Arthur? Anyway, she thought of this: I *love*, that George’s backwards guitar was destroyed in the Moray Docks explosion when that new Tar Guit appeared over top of it. BOOOM! she recalled joyously, the blasted backwards thing vaporized. That can replace the “resourceful” answer, #4 I believe.
“She’s gone,” Baumbeer speaks later to Newt about the poor girl’s mind. “But I know where she is.”
“I’ll go see her,” replies the father not father-in-law. “No need to bring the boy in the picture,” he says half to himself. “He’s already heartbroken enough.”
“Let me know if I can help more,” spoke Baumbeer into the receiver to finish. He hangs it up. On a clothes hanger.
Newt rings Shelley up. I mean, he calls her. Since the wedding is off and he’s no longer the Best Man. Thus the meal.
“Newt!” she modifies again, moving to the cucumber or tomato next. “The father-in-law.” Her face squinches up. “Father *in-law*?”
They meet at the same gazebo in the sim’s corner. Property called Sim’s Corner. The Void’s energy was just loosened enough so he could reach over and straighten up the blouse on her shoulder. Pepper t-shirt no. 1 she wore now. Small successes before bigger ones, he thinks, staring at the daughter he didn’t know he had until the end of the last photo-novel, 34 in [delete rest of sentence].
“Wheeler says to say hello,” he starts again, trying to jolt more memories. Does she remember the spaceship? Of course not, Newt thinks. Too young. Shelley says say hello to Wheeler back, even though she doesn’t know who that is. She’s trying to mask her big big problem. And where’s George? Or was it Arthur?
“Your… *mother*,” Newt says to this, understanding she doesn’t recognize the name. “George — you know George, right?”
“Georges,” she says, which Newt lets slide.
“Anyway, *your* George says you look a lot like her. You even have some of the same tattoos.” Kind of odd, Newt thinks here but, again, lets it slide; chalks it up as another disturbance of The Void.
“You’re batty I tell you. *Batty*!”
“Out of my way, whoever you are! *Whatever* you are!”
“W-where you going, dude? Nothing left but *me*.” She starts dancing and dancing with her weapon. Hypnotizing. Just like on the bus. It was her.
Shelley wakes up. What did I do to *Johnny*, she immediately thinks. We go back to that point. That’s where she began to lose it. The baby. My baby!
She was the baby.
“We’ll never get out of here, Vineyard, you know that. They’re not going to stop until we’re all dead.”
Wizard Wells’ fellow winged companion in the moment was staring at Shelley’s shirt, trying to forget his troubles. “What is… Pepper?”
“Old sham presidential candidate,” she answers. “Same with this.” She changes into another.
“Nifty,” says leafy, veiny Vineyard, also wondering about the black hands. Was she turning black overall? Yin (back) into Yang? Maybe its just the panic from the impending… doom. After a moment of lightness, his heart sinks again.
“You’re next, Magenta,” guard Jettison called through the chain fence topped with barb wire. “You free ones can’t flitter away from us forever. We’re working on it, mind you. We’ll get there.”
It was a kind of threat Magenta heard every day around 2 o’clock. When she showed up to encourage her friend’s cousin Wizard. Hang in there, she thought from her tree. The outer one hadn’t given up hope even as the inner one resigns to termination.
But what was Shelley doing here in a fairy concentration camp?
Let’s try something else for more clarification:
Yikes, *another* one, thought Harlie, now up above it all in a large guard tower station. The purple cubes were appearing *everywhere*.
(to be continued)
“I tell you, he’s listening in. He always seems to be listening in.”
Roger looks around, spots robot servant Ruttitutti apparently staring at them from the far wall. “Maybe he’s just concerned about our drinks, monitoring the fluid level.”
“What about everyone *else*, then,” returns Greta van Sustenance, also looking around but then realizing no one else had food or beverage. Maybe Roger the Green Grey Alien was right. Maybe this was all paranoia caused by the insanity of the situation. Rounding up poor little fairies of all things. Just because a man with a spider on his flag says to do it. She’s trying to figure a way out. She has reason to fear. Wanda.
Roger’s friend’s cousin Jack ignores another appearing purple cube on his way to get more cigarettes, understanding his priorities. Smoke first before reporting any other oddities. So many lately! He wonders what is happening, but only outside, on the deck, after the first exhale of sweet sweet Marlboro passes his lips.
Ruttitutti delivers a bottle of champagne to Kelli and Lynnette and starts monitoring them as well.
“50 a day,” says Kelli. “That’s what he said he wanted the goal to be. They’re rounding them up from every corner of southern Omega. Soon there won’t be a bloody one left. Whaddaya think?”
“I think (she spots Ruttitutti as well, looking on) I’ll go to be beach today to show off my new swimwear. Chancellor’s Choice!”
Oh, here might be something. K.C. was having trouble identifying a target.
Old Saint Louie, another alien but of a lizard variety this time, suggested spelling it targuit in the search, or, better, two words: Tar Guit. “That should do the trick,” he finished, then moved on to the next underling after seeing success reached.
Did the guard station then effect the newest and latest and most effective bombing of the Moray Docks Village, completely vaporizing it now, making sure the backwards, guitar oriented punk-folk musicians Tar and Guit were still at the center? And: is one of them really *George*? Shelley’s George?
Another purple cube, this time by the water cooler as first spotted by skinless Antelope alien Cobumblia. But she was on her way to fanny aerobics and didn’t want to deal with the reporting paperwork, much like Jack. In fact, I think they’re cousins through friends as well. Along with Johnson…
… who has a stomach ache today and is on his way home to the guard compounds after telling his boss. Don’t come back, Petter Cotontail thinks. One too many aches of this and that kind. He’ll report the green alien bastard — Shufflers, *pheh*. He might even be joining the fairies later, the waste of space that he is. Maybe Shufflers can be added to the extermination list, along with — if he had his druthers — Orks, Porcupeople and a couple of others. He settles back in his chair, eating another truffle.
That better be it for tonight. Sorry Liz!
“MessiaenSphere,” she cussed.
A way out (Back to Nautilus)
“I know this man!” says Martell Mandell out loud. She couldn’t help it. “Fieldon!” she tacked on, thinking about 300, thinking about a lot of other stuff. Like time and space shifts. She begins to prepare for telling her alien boss, Abbey Abdominator, about the discovery. “We *must* investigate,” he says back to her in a daydream. Hopefully her imagination turns out to be correct.
“There! Told you!”
“Just because it’s a New Jersey substation of Nautilus and just because he likes to wear grey doesn’t mean he’s the same guy, Martell,” says Abs back to her upon seeing the “proving,” remotely taken photo in his mind. “I’m Grey. If I were standing in front of, say, a New Jersey welcome sign would you also think I was Harry, hmm? Besides, he denied he was Harry — said he was instead Jerry. I read the report you sent me. I’m not that detached from my position here at Star Team Interplanetary.”
“If only Collagesity were still around,” she lamented while they looked at another photo she’d found in the Archive, hope waning.
“If only we could follow this probable route still up Highway 13 and down Highway 14 around and around…”
“Wizard,” says Abs to this. “Cube.” Her world turned inside out. And the Grey was the Man on top. Superior. *Not* a humbug.
“Look around, Martell. Where do you think you are? They are appearing all over the place. We have a way to go back *now*.”
“The… Void?” she answered, hallucinating the past. Shirley?
Still sharing her pictures, Abbey sensed a discrepancy between red-violet and yellow-green. These were not the same cubes. “No. Not The Void, Martell. I’ve changed my mind. We’ll go back to Nautilus… Jersey. But in that special way like we did before. And heading in backwards just for kicks.” Maybe that will solve the discrepancy I sense, he says to himself.
It takes planning to go to Earth from Space, how to get in but also how to get out successfully. Reverse parachutes must be prepared.
Abs was monitoring the situation over in France for this. Fern Stalin and Lichen Roosevelt had come and gone, nothing detected with their inferior Star Team detectors, blah (he thinks). Apollo inferred through logical progression of Mercury into Gemini. Abs knew his old pal Virgil was involved at the top (as he liked to say). “Get him on the receiving end the old lemon sucker,” he requested, nay demanded to another underling named Alan, a variant astronaut of the solo kind. Virgil had a sense of humor about it now, since he knew selves were living all over the globe and being born and dying with regularity under different guises and under different circumstances, some long and drawn out departures, some (like his own) not so much. Extreme pain and no pain and all degrees between. Like Archie Reiner in Meat Town. We’ll get to his story soon (or not).
We decided to meet in an alley near the center of town. Virgil said he liked the view of the surrounding Alps here and planned to go skiing with his friends Ed and Roger afterwards. They hadn’t seen each other in a while, he said. Time to go past the pain of betrayal — start healing the wounds of this broken broken world, he declared to me, sincerity showing in his eyes, his facial expressions, his body posturing. Here was a man of integrity, ready to fight for a just cause. If justice involved making a pact with the Greys so be it. Abs himself wasn’t in line with the mainstream thinking of his kind. They were both rebels, hopefully with a cause. Together.
“Something about that Alley,” said Fern from afar, having dreamed about it since their visit. “I think we should go back; take the alien made detectors this time.”
Lichen was up for it. Just had to wrap up the horse subplot.
deeper South now…
“How much to see Arthur?” she said out of the side of her mouth while eating. Or at least pretending to eat.
Jerry sighs. He’s not even going to try to correct her again. “10,000,” he says not crisply, like before, but resigned. He doesn’t even look at her, which was customary before a sale to show he’s earnest about the deal.
“Roll me a three, Earnest,” he says over to the cigar toking taker across from him. “1000 on the 3.”
“Okay, that’s the last one,” Earnest says, watching it come up again. 10 ones. What are the odds? “Closing up, Harry. Gotta get back to the ball and chain for a little ball breaking heh heh.”
“Jerry,” corrects the actor about the name. He looks offstage at the director, slumping over a bit. “Geez, Kurt. What is that, the 10th time?” He rolls his eyes for everyone around, not hiding his frustration — or was it amusement? — any longer.
“Just do it in the same take,” came the opinion in a steady, non-agitated voice from the side. “Start with the flubbed sentence.”
The actor playing Earnest clears his throat a bit, then: “Closing up, Jerry. That’ll be 10,000 dollars. Gotta get back to the balls and—” He starts laughing, snorting even, joined by some offstage. 11, he thinks while rolling the dice just for kicks this time, then laughs even more at the result.
Meanwhile, nearby Jimmy watches the cubes keep coming as a pawn falls off the table.
Or was it Johnny?
“The same four numbers. Over and over.” She turns after observing. “Punch them into me, Ensign. I have to know what this is about.”
“But… your condition. Ma’am.” My probable baby! he thinks.
“Never mind that just do as you’re told. Here I’ll hold the chest keypad close to you.” Just like I did last night, Lt. Clotheshanger thinks. The Deep South has a way of making higher and lower come together like that outside the harsh, dividing glare of daylight.
Behind them and at the same time perhaps:
“Is this a formal complaint, Ms. Mantell?”
“Mandell, she says to this, use to mispronunciations of her two given names. So close on either side. “Martell Mandell” she says in full.
“Yes, certainly Ms. Martell.”
Pause as Shirley studies one of the provided photos in her mind. “Right, Martell,” she finally acknowledges. “So Ms. Mantell (Martell rolls her eyes), tell me about this Harry slash Jerry?”
“I’ll take over here, Martell, if you don’t mind,” spoke immediate superior Abs — Abbey Abdominator — sitting beside her at this meeting with HR. “We have reason to believe this file was stolen.”
“Interesting,” HR representative Shirley Stall says to this. A ringing in her ear. “Hold on,” she requests, “I have to take this.”
6 minutes later, she returned her attention to the file. “Sorry,” she excused herself, “I had to listen to all 24 permutations before she let me go. The boss, you know.”
Abs looked over at Martell who looked back. Synchronicity of thoughts. Spider!
“There was a horse involved.” She paused, reconsidered the communication. “No: a dog.”
Horse becomes a dog! Another forewarning.
She shakes it off, second photo replaced back by the first. Then she additionally realized that the second *came* from the first. Spider was in Collagesity. Spider was (back) in the collages!
(to be continued)
Ahh, this is nice, Abbey Abdominator thought. Away from always spying always recording Ruttitutii the Star Team or whatever robot. Can eat and drink in peace here at base quarters. Quiet as ocean. Speaking of which…
“Sure you can have a piece of Stiggy’s birthday cake if you wish,” spoke Elanea the amphibious looking bartender. “They left the whole thing. Turned out it wasn’t his birthday, ha.”
“Lemme guess,” said Abs (Abbey) back. “His death day instead.”
“Oh you’ve heard the joke!” and moves to cut him a slice. Just like the underwaters to come up with something like that. The cake is presented to him on a small plate with a fork and a knife. He cuts bites chews. Tastes like chicken. Still pretty good, oddly enough.
“Soo, hear MM is in trouble with HR. DOB is in doubt. So is DOD.”
“We’re pretty sure she was born in 1997,” said Abs to this, feeling free to discuss such matters here. “But DOD is 2021 by one account and 2012 by another. We know Bigfoot is involved.”
Marlena Elanea hadn’t heard of such a thing.
What would be the underwater equivalent? Abs thinks here. Can’t come up with it. “Yeti?” he tries again. “Abominable Snowman?”
“Like you!” Elanea said. Abs had to grin a bit. It was a kind of joke he hadn’t heard in a long time, unlike the birth-death one which was common. It reminded him of childhood growing up on Xenon 10-C. “Hey, Abdominal!” the bullies of his elementary middle high school chided. “Ever get those extra stomachs back from your Maw?” Punching would come later, when he learned boxing from the zombies and rabbits. For now — then — he took it. He’d store up the negative energy. He would expel it on them full force later. And: here he is. At the top, a bona fide Wizard, a superior to men and women and reptiles and amphibians alike. But was he *really* in charge of the latter? He’d ordered cake from froggish Elanea. He decided to test further. She’d have to obey, right?
“Soo, what are you doing after your shift? Have a couple of hours free this afternoon.” Would she actually sleep with a Grey? Everyone up top knew he didn’t have one. Did she?
(to be continued)
Passing by on his way out of the Red Room and spotting it, he couldn’t help but ask — nay, *had* to ask, as he contemplated just a bit further. “Nurse Zombie,” he said, still staring at her carved up back from his angle. “Your year of death — I assume the date on your back is that.”
She nods her wobbling zombie nod, currently with only one responsibility to the ward: guard its newest and costliest machine, make sure no one messes with it until the experienced surgeon that can actually work the thing arrives from Beckman’s Folly day after tomorrow’s tomorrow.
“Is it suppose to be 2012, and, if so, what is the extra slash at the end?” he continues. “Or is it perhaps 2021, with the slash in the middle? I’m curious because of a conundrum I’m currently facing concerning those very years. And that very event, by which I mean: death.” The solution to his issue, he knew, could reside in this one. It seemed too synchy a confluence. “Can you help me?”
She couldn’t face away from the expensive machine she guarded with her dear dead life so she spoke with her back turned still. “One person,” she gurgled. “Knows.”
“Who?” No answer.
“Who??” No answer. The damaged back loomed large. The answer was already there.
(to be continued)
crosses at The Falls
cake = lie
And so we end with Stiggy the Bluebird arriving early for her supposed birthday party, asking where the spectacular cake was Elanea promised to show her. Elanea said she’s it, then fired a tranquilizer dart right in her forehead between the eyes, then dragged her back into the kitchen to be prepared. One too many jokes about her amphibian nature for Elanea to stomach. And she’d spewed the same racist type insults to people in powerful positions like reptilian Stu in Marketing, human Pamela in Waste Management, and, most importantly and most damning, to the Big Boy himself, calling him a [delete name]. To the Abyss she must go, he declared, which was his own personal word for the Void, having been raised a devout Tilist all those years ago, memories and rituals sticking like glue. The others decided the degree.
After the party, they prepared one cross that had the wrong year of death — had to be redone (too much partying, perhaps). A second, sturdier and more upright one was made by Harold the Carpenter, a gnome sent down by Head Office to do the task right, along with another named Jack who’d dig and fill in the grave. No coffin needed, though: no part of her remained to be buried by the time Elanea finished with the knives and saws and the gnomes arrived, not even her heart, deemed inedible from her species but which was still put into the cake just for spite and to rub it in all the way.
The bird was George.
Shelley’s still beating heart only pointed one direction after that. Biff Carter provided an interesting alternative but had aged 20 years overnight, thus eliminating him from the picture. Big Boy again, of course — [delete name] again the hurled insult. Only Arthur remained. And through him Liz. The marriage will take place at the beginning of the next section, 7 in a series of 6.