Susan - I awoke on a bed of soft sweet words. A red string was tied around my wrist that seemed to lead down into the trap door. What was I supposed to remember? I peeked down again with my handy telescope. Multi colored streamers were floating and dancing in the air. The jugglers had returned and tents were popping up along the beach. A regatta was floating back to shore. A blur of hues were cascading along the azure sea and I adjusted the magnification on the lens and realized the pyramids were arriving. Mermaids, Mermen and many unrecognizable sea beings were swimming along side them. Huge flags were billowing in the wind as I could hear the followers singing. It was a symphony of beauty. I yearned to follow them. I wanted to swoop down to the shore. I glimpsed around at my work, my passions, my stories, my drawings scattered across my universe, floating, sinking, hanging, drying, growing, and I took a big gulp and dashed into the elevator and pressed the golden knob that was engraved with MA. I wanted to be in the celebration.
The door swooshed closed and a second I arrived inside the hut. As it opened, I slowly peeked out of the shadow into the bright and glorious sunshine. I smelled the sweet air and touched the familiar stone. I knew I was home again. I stood in the entrance in awe at the majestic beauty of the mountain. The song “ Sunshine of your love” was playing in my head and started to drift back to the day I met Cream on St. Catherine Street those years ago. Lost in happiness, my face looked down at the earth. YESSSSSSS, my boots are back. Halleluiah. Clean, polished, gorgeous like the day I got them so many years ago. I bent over to touch the supple leather and as I ran my fingers across each appliqué, it glowed. I noticed I started to shimmer at the same time, like I was becoming transparent? Then I noticed I now wore a belt. The same red leather adorned my waist. Yellow shaped fish and hearts surrounded me as well, as a huge peace sign buckle glowing. I couldn’t help but smile. I was mesmerized with excitement and exuberance, anxious to find the procession and my friends. I felt something wet on my fingers. I slowly turned my face and what was licking me was the most majestic creature I had ever seen. A mighty midnight blue stallion with soft baby blue eyes was staring back at me! “Susan is back in the saddle again!” I screamed as I stared at his thick mane of hair. “The Blues never stops to amaze me!” Midnight opened his mouth. “Hop on Susan, we have a parade to ride in!”
©2011 Susan Shulman - Midnight
November 17, 2011
Mara - "What. What is it?", I mumbled. Then, still prone, I realized I was responding to a dream. It was so cozy here. I snuggled down to snag any remnants before they slipped away. Some time later, "Yes, I believe we have met", as I shook his hand. The smell of coffee distracted me. We turned towards it in unison. It was quite dark, but just over there the slightest hint of dawn beckoned. I looked at him with a feeling of uneasiness and said, "If we stay here the dawn won't ever reach us... we've got to go meet it." Finding my rucksack, and without really thinking it through, I stuffed it with what was laying about. My companion preened his whiskers. The realization that I was likely on the other side of he mountain chilled me. Feeling just a bit panicked I stumbled about... Reaching out a paw he gently turned my head to the light. I glanced back and he nodded, then scampered off. His footprints left a glowing path. I followed.
November 20, 2011
William - I was bewildered, was my dependence on being prepared really responsible for my lack of progress on this climb? Were the contents of the baggage that I so carefully chose to aid me in this quest really so bad? Was Elsa trying to make a point or was she being a caricature of herself as a contrarian and foil to civilized climbing technique? But, in the end I stood and didn’t protest, shout out, run after or any of the actions I could have taken before the Baroness and her new-found cadre of Loose Ends disappeared from my view. Perhaps this is what people mean when they say dumb struck?
Evertson - The Loose Ends Disappear
I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned to see Ria and Fish N Boots behind me. I realized that it wasn’t a hand but Fish’s rather elongated pectoral fin that was soaking my shirt. “What’s with that team?” Ria asked, pointing to the buttress that Elsa’s groups had disappeared behind. I forgot my predicament for a moment and hugged them both.
I started to explain but Ria cut me off, “She’s doing you a favor; the amount of baggage you’re carrying is like an anchor.”
Fish added, “my ancestors have been scaling these peaks for eons with no gear, no pun intended.”
“You’re daft, Fish, you’re the only fined creature even to attempt Analogue,” I retorted.
“Not so William.” Fish reached down and picked up a fractured rock and held it up for me to see the perfect imprint of a fossilized fish skeleton. Fish smiled and said, “You see, we were here when you were still us.”
November 21, 2011
Mara - "This time it is different than the last time... rather... time IS different, it has nothing to do with it." These are the thoughts that occurred to me while watching Susan become, piece by piece, more transparent. The thoughts faded back and forth from clarity to foggy allusion, waving their loose ends about. Fish 'n Boots sat, with surprising grace, on the downed trunk of a pine tree, and began to hum. "Adjusting to the altitude here, hunmmmmm," taking short, whezzy inbreaths, "... hummmmnummmm, evolution..." Wheezing again. "Now that I can see, check out what I picked up on the other side of the mountain," I said. "Yeah, where WERE you?" asked Lee, "You were talking about something and next we new, there was nothing." "You know how walking clears the mind, I was describing a small circumambulation and next I knew I slipped into darkness. It was a comforting sort of nothing, and I wasn't the only one there."Ria raised her eyebrows and said "Foop is what brought you back!" "I'm not sure what I brought back from there," setting down my rucksack, unlacing it as I talked. Pulling out an object roughly the size of a large marble, and displayed it on the palm of my hand. "It's my focus! I wondered where it went." Placing it carefully into a flapped pocket and giving it a reassuring pat I reached in for another item. A string of letters emerged, beginning with an "h". Feeling a strong sense of convergence I pulled the older "S" from my sleeve, the one I've had since that August train ride. The "S" and "h" looked very at home together. The additional letters feel at my feet. William picked them up, handing them to me one at a time, "a "u" an "o" and a "t"", he said slowly.... "Are there any more in there?" asked Mark. I put all the letters back up my sleeve and reached into the rucksack again. "Wait!" Christopher shouted.
"They're not that heavy Chris," I said. He didn't seem reassured at all. The climbing group gathered even closer, each bringing a Mount Analogue denizen into the circle. Ria had so many pyramids near that it appeared she was clothed in them. In order to display my trust in the flow I upended my rucksack and shook out all the contents.
November 22, 2011
Mark - I came tumbling out of Mara's rucksack unaware of how I had gotten in there in the first place. I could see back around the corner of the previous 6 weeks, it was the shape of an S but if I craned my neck I could see all the way to the opening. The Baroness had kicked me into a dream of some kind. There were whirling Fibonacci shapes in there. It was like the engine room of something really positive.
November 29, 2011
William - I reluctantly followed Fish and Ria. As we made our way up the side trail to where Mara was taking inventory, I tried to debate with Fish. I wasn’t at all convinced that just because we were seeing fossils with fish skeletons that his relatives had summited Analogue.
“Fish”, I started, “the fossils are from the bottom of the sea and over time they are thrust upward due to tectonic plate action.”
“Not so, William, geologically speaking Mt. Analogue is timeless.” Fish countered. “In fact it may not be a mountain at all.” He pursed his lip, then threw a splash of water from his canteen over his gills as he waited for me to reply.
I threw my head back in exasperation, “Fish, you’re not making sense. What else would you call this?” Although we were on a thin ledge, I paused long enough to jump up and down a few times to make my point. “Solid stuff, rock, and earth and ice; exactly what mountains are made of.”
“It only seems solid because your feet are so big,” he replied, there’s lots of holes between the stuff you know.”
Ria cut him off, “Fish, he’s always been dense, give him some time to contemplate emptiness.”
She threw down her rucksack and sat down on the ground next to Mara and began to examine some of the equipment that Mara was in the process of sorting through.
Ria reached down and examined three short twigs. “These will do nicely.” She handed one to me and I examined it; it was short, tapered with a slightly pear shaped base.
“It looks like a conductors baton,” I exclaimed.
Arching an eyebrow from underneath her hoodie she said, “We’re never going to get higher without supplemental oxygen; we need notes, lots of notes, and we’ll need an orchestra.”
Mara - With their hands in their pockets Fish, Ria and Bill emerged from the gathering fog with expressions both grim and expectant. "Do you mean a string orchestra?", Bill asked Ria, "Yes, and now we have yet another use for those loose ends." The three of them explained to me why the increased music would be required as we followed or paths up the slope. "Until the craftspeople can gather the parts, maybe we can use this?" I picked up a mini player and pressed play.
Ria - Did you know that pullin' a string creates an oxygen release in this crisp dry altitude, I said to Bill. I felt sorry for calling him dense to Fish, whom I barked to, to compensate, 'We'll need the vial!'
December 2, 2011
William - Fish n’ Boots bent and then disappeared inside Mara’s rucksack and began searching for a proper vial. His head popped out, “How about this one, it’s the one Mark arrived in,” his fin holding a test tube shaped vial.
Mark, who was still kneading his cramped calf muscles, looked up and his eyes went wide.
“Sorry Mark, but I don’t think you can be sucked back in, although that’s just my opinion,” Fish opined. “Although I can test it later with the vacuum gauge just to make sure. No matter, best not to take chances, there are plenty more.
He held up a pair of flask shaped vials and said. “these are full of Coriolis effects but I could empty them. William, maybe that’s why you seem confused all the time. You haven’t gotten used to your thoughts swirling counterclockwise.”
Mark - I realized I was at both ends of the S. One end was me tiny and ready to slide into a tiny vile while just out of sight now was me at the other end, life-sized and watching Mara pour out the contents of her bag and me somehow seeing myself among them and pointing. Both versions of me felt a simultaneous rush of cool air against our face as the fog from the leveling concentric circles of the mountain pushed against us. Whoosh the Baroness flew by like the wicked witch of the west without her bike or broomstick and I suddenly realized that the groovy lick Mara was playing ad infinitum on her weird boom box of the future was the sonic equivalent of the repetitive shapes the trail had made in the snow going up the side of the mountain following my barrelling into the balloon so long ago. No one mentioned a thing and now Susan, the parade, the wedding and the Baroness surrounded by quite a bit of fur all were hurling downward into the owl's void as the Mountain folded itself into itself like a very long telescope being closed down to its smallest possible dimensions and beyond. Dreams tumbled into their corresponding reality, disorienting pasts became familiar futures knocking Ria off her bicycle and I knew in a Deja Vu kind of way it was all sure to bring Lee peeking around the corner any minute now...
December 4, 2011
Ria - 'Ow, Snap out of it, Fish,' I shouted, 'what's up with you? You're exposing theories about our confusion now? Get that vile here and start catchin' some O's, I'll pull the strings! Mark is off hallucinating again, and I'm not particularly ready for more frogs on my lap ... we need oxygen and FAST!'
Mark - "Coriolis my eye!" shouted the ghost of Sammy Davis Jr. from up in the sky as an enourmous projection of Lee could be seen pouring a deep blue mixture from cloud to cloud and signalling to Christopher coming up behind her on the train. Ria tried not to look but holding a string in one hand and a rope in the other she momentarily took her eye off the ball...
December 12, 2011
Mara - Sitting under the feeble glow of candle light, Mara carefully stitched and colored, assembled and dissembled, constructed and deconstructed getting her Mulka costume in shape for the 2nd celebration ON THE MOUNTAIN. The others were huddled in their own corners of the hut, including Fish 'n Boots who seemed to be simultaneously sitting in a wet spot and toasting his fins near the fire. "Ummm, Fish? You may want to back up just a bit, those membranes can't take much of that." "No worries", he replied. "I found a whole keg of grog and am quite hydrated." "What a relief.... well anyway, scooch over, you're blocking the heat."
Ria - Suddenly Fish burst out singing.
I perked my ears. Maria is the 'official name' I go by. Ria is an abbrev.
Susan - All I saw were bright white enamels shining back at me. Their mouths were open so wide in bewilderment as we made our approach. Fish ‘n Boots was jumping ups and down on his 6 feet, twirling his fins in the air. He was speeding so fast his iridescent scales were flickering in my face causing me a moment of blindness. Ria’s mouth was stretched widely, smiling like a Cheshire cat. Then I saw the whites of Bill’s eyes pulsating and bulging out of his face. I took out my red striped megaphone from the saddlebag and yelled” IF THE CLIMBERS WON’T COME TO THE PARTY, THE PARTY IS COMING TO THE CLIMBERS!”, or was that supposed to be mountain, I thought, laughing. The colorful streamers were flying high behind me, drifting up to touch the heavens. In front was a tiny blues owl spreading sparkling notes with its beak, as it flew and swooped ahead of me to lead the way. His wings were dusted in shimmering twinkling stars. A magic carpet was wondrously appearing as we rode to meet the team. A gang of blues squirrels converged onto the tapestry of our parade and started to beat their tails in unison. The drumming had started. Behind me, Billy Ray dismounted, guitar in hand, and started to strum. I saw Bill start to shake and gag as he tried to sputter some words out before Billy Ray sang Mac the Knife! Billy Ray looked at Fish ‘N Boots and said, this ones for your mate!
Everyone else started to snap their fingers in sync, humming, and twirling and dropped everything they were doing. Midnight my horse went up to Bill and nuzzled his hand with his snout. With his head held high, he whinnied and then created a loud vibration while air blew through his nose. Blue smoke and notes rose from his nostrils as he neighed. He moved his red lips and snorted, staring directly at Bill. “Its Malka time on the Mountain! Get with the program and shake it people….
Yes…Get Ready, BillyRay is back in town”!!!
Mark - Through all the hubub I could make out the various notes Lee had left for us. My only concern was that god damned leggy fish. Who ever heard of a fish that could stand up letalione three times at once! Anyway Susan's instructions were clear and that's all that mattered: She had to head into the future for the vibration unit in the 23rd century where Damaul had left it on Mulka morning, see Jane who would connect us all and get the hell out of there pronto. She had no idea why all the animals were really cheering. They had lived it again and again. She could bring either Big Blue or two monkeys as guides but not the damned Fish. I hoped she would remember what with all the Mulkagrog grog and absynthe and owlbile stew. For better or worse, I would there waiting for her with Jane. If we had any luck at all, the unicorn would be gone by then leaving Mara time to escape. I had the 22nd century vibration unit stored away as a backup and Susan could always crank it in her Sammy getup if all else failed and no one would be the wiser. But this old artifact was touch and go with the jammed handle incident and besides, Susan would have to remember the entire Three Penny Opera in perfect German for no one to notice. Meanwhile I would grab the real Sammy's eye and shoot Lee a sign via Bill who would tug the rope three times. That would begin her descent. Meanwhile the fish's fin and tail were huge. I could not make heads or tails of that damned Fish. And his lips looked they had received collagen. Billy Ray was mouthing the words to Bobby Darin's swingin version of the song as the as the Fish belted out the tune with every iota of talent he had gleaned from Ventrilofish School. I contemplated my assignment looked up and saw that Mara stopped fussing with her costume and was making a quick copy of Angela's decision making compass which was jammed on Maybe. Blue waited to make his move.
PS I jotted in my journal "Ria and the Fish will not stop flirting. I am getting nervous...."(just in case things didn't work out.)
December 13, 2011
William - I had always believed my thoughts rotated correctly, but perhaps my eyes were deceiving me after all.
Fish n Boots may be on to something! How else to explain Susan?
“Mara,” I looked over and she was examining the Decision Compass, “is that still stuck?”
“I’m afraid so, William, we’ve been on Maybe for three maybe four maybe cycles, here take a look.”
Although I’m not great with precision instruments, I took the circular case and flipped the lid to examine the dial. Sure enough no matter how I twisted the dial the gauge never moved off Maybe. My ears were splitting from the racket that Fish and BillyRay were making and I made the slashing throat gesture for them to cut the music. True to form BillyRay ignored me.
Fish however put the megaphone down and scurried over to see what I was doing. “Have you tried tapping it,” he asked, then smacked it with a wet fin.” The dial suddenly broke free, spun around a few times and came to rest on Delusions of Grandeur.
He glanced at Susan’s retinue, shrugged and said, “Well, that explains that!”
December 14, 2011
William - "Fish!" You're a mechanical wizard, let me see that," I said.
"Hunmmm, looks like a manual override on the bottom" I twisted the dial to OH NO.
Susan's parade disappeared and she plopped to the ground in a loud thud. BillyRay went silent then opened the trunk on one of Mara's wagons jumped inside and pulled the lid shut over himself.
Susan looked at her feet, saw the blue Mukluks and screamed, "Not Again!!!"
Fish turned pale and said, "I hope she doesn't blame me."
"Don't worry Fish, we're just helping get her Mulka Mojo back."
I handed the compass back to Mara, "You better hold on to this, I could become very attached to it."
Susan - Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
"Why is everyone picking on me" I shrieked again watching Bill laughing uncontrollably! sharpening his handlebar moustache delicately as he winked at Fish'N Boots, high fiving his fin!!! "We got her again!"
Mara - I will NOT be intimidated by a mirage, I thought silently. "Hey Fish, would you please lend me your boots? I need to go outside and the frost is sharp." Feeling much braver with boots on, I pushed open the door and stepped out. In the mud room I checked my supplies. "Top front pocket, check. Side leg pocket, check" For good measure I stomped each foot a lá Blue and walked out into the the semi darkness of the waning moon. I could sense a large somebody under the trees. The somebody said, "Well now, let's just cut to the chase."