Waking the Sleeping Integer … 11

Ch 11 ~ A slippery slope to Giants Within

An energy flows around everyone’s head.  Individually, of course.  The pattern of the energy, the color, the look…all are unique to each person.  Like a snowflake.  Only one configuration for each.  The same is true with the pattern of energy that’s circling around your head right at this very moment… 

“I have to stop listening to these Dr. Phil type broadcasts,” Ariel Nova mumbled to no one in particular.  She removed her earbud and walked across the open parcels in her neighborhood.  One of those parcels kept selling like a hot potatoe.  Real estate prospectors snapped it up then turned around and tried to sell it off again.  Whenever she tested their pricing by making an offer, the prospectors usually wanted more than what Ariel offered and still used “flipping” as a justification for a higher asking price.  On that alone, Ariel decided that they were out of their minds.  Have they not made themselves aware of the economy, she wondered?  If they watched the area at all like she did, they would have seen that yes, each prospector sold the land but each time, each one sold it at a loss.  At first, Ariel didn’t quite understand why…but that was before the economy tightened up and nearly caved in on itself.  The parcel was a nice chunk of land in a prized area of the grid, surrounded on three sides by water and on the fourth side by Ariel and her soulmate.  Then after watching the property change hands so frequently and after discussing these happenings with her love, Ariel soon realized that the only other buyers were other real estate prospectors.  It was what you call a niche market.  Extremely niche.  Because it was only a matter of time before the land passed through all the hands of the small group of realtors who remained blinded by the glory days of “flipping.”  And then one day, in fact today, as Ariel set out on her walk-about around the sim and as she took her positive talk stream out of her ear, she soon discovered that the parcel had been abandoned.  In fact, within minutes and right under her feet, the parcel had become property of the Governor’s.  Or, as Ariel liked to say, the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz.  He/she was such a mysterious official the Governor was. 

Ariel wondered if the Governor even really existed and if so, if he/she had a circle of energy flowing around his or her head too, right at this very moment.

She walked across the parcel now claimed by the Governor and now completely barren of the “model” home that had been on the land.  And yet, then again, the parcel wasn’t really quite empty.  A circle of light of some kind hovered above the land.  Ariel hadn’t seen anything quite like it before.  She couldn’t quite make it out.  It wasn’t as distinct as a rainbow and it wasn’t multi-color and it didn’t arch up.  Instead, it was a circle flat on its side and it was transparent and glowed from within from some kind of halo or light or something.  She tilted her head and studied the air, but no matter how long she stared at it, she came no closer to understanding what the ring of light was than when she first laid eyes on it.  She shrugged.  Must be some kind of new windlight, she thought and continued walking forward from the parcel boundary. 

Tatiana Resident, the last prospector to hold the parcel, stood in the center of the land.  She smiled in greeting at Ariel, who walked over to her.  At least, Ariel believed the smile was in greeting.  It was hard to tell.  They had met briefly, in fact in an instant by way of an instant message that Ariel had started.  That was when Ariel first tested the asking price on the parcel by making an offer that trimmed out all the excessive hoped-for profits.  Tatiana flatly refused the offer; it was just a bit too realistic for her blood, was all Ariel could figure.  But at least their conversation remained friendly, with neither one using the tactic of personalizing the entire process as a way to browbeat or guilt out some kind of pricing leverage.  Other prospectors seemed to favor that negotiation tactic.  Incredibly distasteful.  Ariel couldn’t imagine such an approach ever worked.

She continued to walk forward and eventually brought her mind back to the figure she now fast approached….a figure that was odd in a manner of speaking Ariel had never had to describe before.  Because the figure cast an unusually and extremely long shadow.  She squinted again…blast these eyes, Ariel grumbled a bit wondering why all of a sudden they caused her such trouble.  Proportionally the shadow looked really off.  She paused for a moment to scan the sky again, then returned her gaze to Tatiana’s shadow, where Tatiana stood silented and Ariel now stood perplexed.  The thing was, the angle of the sun and the angle of the shadow on the ground were at odds with each other.  But she couldn’t study it further because her view was suddenly obstructed by the transparent film of a halo that glowed ever so slightly and that — Ariel now could plainly see — seemed to be moving in place…like it had a river or something running through it and the water in the river sparkled periodically in the sunlight.  She decided there and then that she would make it a point to be fitted for glasses.  She also decided rather abruptly that the ring of light must be a last remaining item on the parcel (because what else could it be?)…a glowing shadow or highlight prim that, in the shuffle between owners, somehow became disconnected from the parcel. 

“Didn’t recall any trees or structures with depth prims on the parcel before,” Ariel said softly to herself and then thought:  but that’s not to say they weren’t there all along

She shrugged, lowered her head to distract herself from chasing the aura of the sky, and gave up the ghost.  She turned her attention instead to the real estate prospector.

“Greetings, Tatiana,” Ariel said in local chat.  

No response, even after several seconds.  Hmmm, Ariel thought…maybe too far away?  She moved closer, probably one body length away from Tatiana, so, that was what in the virtual world…that was like six and a half feet on average?

“Hey there, Tatiana,” Ariel tried again. 

Still no reply.  Worse yet, Tatiana appeared to be frozen in place or something.  Not just her smile…but her entire person.  Even her eyes didn’t blink.  Ever.  Which was all very odd as much as people blink inworld.

“Tatiana?  I hope I’m not barging in on anything.  I couldn’t help but notice the change in the parcel ownership again.  In fact, mere seconds ago.  It’s been like a moving shell game over here,” Ariel laughed a bit uncomfortably.  But the growing silence eventually suffocated the chuckle out of her nervousness.   

“Are you still here?” she asked even though she had a feeling she already knew the answer.  “Tatiana?”

Well, criminey.  She frowned.  She faced a very stone cold silent Tatiana who apppeared to be more and more like a prim that was left behind with a texture of a person applied to it and less and less like a profiteer or even a person.  Ariel scanned the top of Tatiana’s head, not for energy but because she wanted to access the IM slice in the pie menu of Tatiana’s nametag, and yet…  She squinted while her vision cammed in and hovered over the nametag.  She poked her head out a few inches forward to get a closer look.  She imagined this would give her a better view, because Ariel could have sworn she caught something radiating ever so slightly around Tatiana’s nametag.  She peered more intensely, allowing her curiousity to lead her feet a couple of more steps forward.  Something was there…some alpha or halo thing.  Some kind of thing but she couldn’t really quite see it.  It was almost like an apparition of an apparition, an echo of a thought, a current of residue.

Egads, Ariel muttered and shook her head.  “This can’t be right…my graphics card, my eyes…something is way, way off.”  She shook her head a second time to unhinge whatever it was that she thought she had seen.  She found and clicked on Tatiana’s nametag, selected the IM slice, and typed, “Are you okay?”

“Hmmm? What? Eh?” Tatiana tapped out near immediately.

“Ohh…I’m glad to hear from you finally.  I feel so much…better…” Ariel’s fingertips chewed out hte word “better” because her eyes were still playing tricks on her.  That damned…whatever it is, she thought.  First the sky and now Tatiana’s head!  She looked away from Tatiana’s nametag at other things on the ground and felt relieved that she could see perfectly, yet at the same time, she felt unnerved by the fact that her vision seemed to be just fine everywhere else.  Everywhere other than above, which included the entire sky above the parcel and Tatiana’s head.  On top of that, the matter of the disconnected shadow on the ground bothered quite a bit too.  Windlight must really be borked, she kept telling herself.

“Better?  I didn’t realize you were under the weather.  I’d have to say I’d be surprised if that’s why you’re IM-ing me.  Let’s not beat around the bush.   We’ve always been straightforward with each other.  I’ve enjoyed that about our conversations, as odd as it may sound coming from someone trying to sell something.  Speaking of which…are you prepared to accept my asking price?  The parcel is in an amazing location as you two very well know.  And it’s a very wise purchase for your family.  It will provide your home with added protection and water views all around.  That’s invaluable really.”

“No, no…I’m fine, Tatiana.  And I didn’t mean to create the impression that we wanted to reconsider your price or that we wanted to buy from you.  We don’t…even if the parcel was still yours to sell.”

After a long pause, Tatiana typed: “What an odd thing to say…”  Then she paused again for another extended period of time with the only break in that silence caused by the IM prompt that announced that Tatiana had started to type just before she stopped again, then started again, and then stopped again.  And so on.  (This went on for a while.)  If Ariel read those tea leaves correctly, she’d say that Tatiana was getting annoyed or something.  For what reason, she couldn’t phathom.  

Finally Tatiana typed:  “Let’s not go there, Ariel.  Of course, I own that land.  Let’s not resort to taking swipes at each other by being demeaning.  It won’t get you what you want.   Frankly, it’s not either of our styles to go that route.”

“Taking swipes?  Being demeaning?”  Ariel was astonished to hear this and even more stunned to hear Tatiana say she owned the parcel still.  Did the Governor not keep her in the loop?  

“I’m more than a bit confused by this…whoa, maybe let’s start over again,” she typed.  “I IM’d you this time to see if you’re okay.  I saw you standing here by yourself on the property.  I thought you were sad or something because the Governor has it now.  Yes…” she paused and checked the land ownership tab.  “Yes, yes, it says right here the Governor claimed it, I’m sorry to say, Tatiana.  So I came here to talk to you after seeing you standing here, like I said, to say hi, to see what happened, and I’ve been talking to you — well, really to myself — for the last several minutes in local chat, but the thing is…you haven’t said a word.  In fact, you haven’t moved an inch, which is the really odd thing.  I mean, not even an eyelid, Tatiana, and who do you know inworld whose eyelids never blink?”

“Ariel…(pause for effect)…don’t take this personally (pause for cadence)…but are you high or in the wrong window or something?  I couldn’t possibly be there with you.  I’m at a party right now on an entirely different continent.  In fact, I’m pole dancing in nothing but an oily skin and stilettos.  And for the record, I’m batting my eyelids ferociously but most definitely not at you.”

“Well,” Ariel tapped out, “I don’t doubt what you’re saying.  But that’s possible only if you can be in two places at the same time, Tatiana.  Because I’m standing here right in front of you on the property you used to own.  If your skin is oily — and sorry but can I just say ewwww…normally I don’t comment but, you know ewwwww…glow is fine but oil, I don’t know — I wouldn’t have the first clue about that because you’re fully dressed.  Nice hat by the way.  Not only that.  But there’s no party here.  No dance pole to be found for miles.  And instead of stilettos you’re wearing faun hooves.  Where did you get them, by the way.  They’re really cute!”

“Sigh.  That outfit was soooo yesterday!  Hey, I have an idea.  Instead of info about the hooves — which I am definitely not wearing currently; yesterday yes…today, no — how about a teleport instead?  That way you can see for yourself?”

And with that, a blue message window dropped down in front of Ariel:  “Tatiana would like to offer you a teleport.  Message:  Don’t say I didn’t tell you…I think you’re straining your eyes or something girl…join me in Pole Dance World.” 

She couldn’t help it.  The sun had shifted in the sky and bathed the area behind the blue message window in a wash of blinding light.  Ariel clearly saw the edge of the halo in the sky.  It gleamed magnificently.  She focused her eyes like lasers on it and for the first time could see without a doubt that a river of particles really did run through it.  The halo carried a stream inside, a sparkling stream of light.  It had waves in it.  It had a current in it.  And a residue of miniscule crystal orbs seemed to be floating up somehow…somehow almost with thought…somehow almost with purpose.  Somehow…but before Ariel could see where they floated to, the sun suddenly repositioned itself faster than she expected.  The outline of the halo and the froth of tiny crystal orbs blended nearly invisibly into the air.

“Odd…” she muttered to no one but herself.  At least, that was what she believed until she gazed at Tatiana’s frozen form — but she wasn’t entirely sure.  Finally, she clicked “okay” on Tatiana’s teleport offer, and the world went blank for several seconds.  She heard the lifeblood of her existence as it whooshed itself forward.  She saw her teleport line extend itself straight out and for the first time for reasons she couldn’t explain, Ariel watched that line nearly obsessively.  Energy couldn’t be so neatly contained…even in a closed-ended line…could it really, she wondered.  Could it really be so neatly ordered and directed at all?  She pondered on that — even for a few brief seconds — especially this time she marveled at the lifeblood of her existence, somehow feeling as if there was so much more to it than the thin, closed-ended line revealed.  Then, suddenly, as if aware of Ariel’s probing, her lifeline pulsated and revealed more:  an energy flow of multiple colors that sparkeld with tiny crystal orbs.  They burst forth from somewhere, buffetting her physically back in surprise, but she held on and watched with wide eyes as the colors sparkled and swirled and moved like an entire galaxy, maybe even an entire universe with even entire worlds within worlds within it.  She gasped softly and stared transfixed by it all.  These colors…they must always have been there before this, she stammered to herself rapidly.  She committed herself to working very hard to convince herself that it had to be so…that they had to have been there before and that it wasn’t her eyes or her mind fooling with her.  Something clearly wild is happening…my vision must be changing in either the worst possible way or the most impossibly spectacular of ways.  She blinked rapidly several times then rubbed her eyes hard.  But before she could scrutinize her lifeline further, when Ariel opened her eyes again, the world rapidly reemerged only for Ariel to discover — rather rudely as a matter of fact — that she had landed with a plop onto one of Tatiana’s oily and extended legs.  

She slid down the slippery slope, careened over Tatiana’s knee, and landed with a near thud at the base of her ankle.  Shocked into this quite unexpected present moment of a world that had solidified around her, Ariel shrieked a bit more loudly than she liked:  “You weren’t kidding!”

The pole dancer laughed.  “Of course not.  When have you ever known me to kid?  Not that we know each other really at all, but negotiation methods say alot about a person.”

Ariel stared at the prospector-now-pole dancer’s foot.  She most definitely wasn’t wearing faun hooves.  Gazing up then back down again, Ariel confirmed that she most definitely was not wearing anything at all besides her slippery skin and these killer red patent leather stilettos that were so high they created in the average six-and-a-half-foot avatar a Giant Within.  Gratefully, Ariel fell off of Tatiana’s leg before the now-Amazon-size profiteer had any opportunity to do something unpleasant with the tip of that stiletto.  This was an entirely different side to the realtor’s personality, one that Ariel hadn’t the foggiest notion even existed and the extent of which she had no desire to test.  At any moment, she imagined Tatiana could morph into a dominatrix fairy — strike that, an Amazon Dominatrix Fairy — who wore a rib-cracking tight corset, thigh high boots, a whip, and a cherry on the top of her head.  Who would’ve ever heard of such a thing, Ariel laughed to herself.

The pole dancer smirked.  She gazed causally down at Ariel who stole a glance up from the big plop of herself on the dance floor.  Music pulsed.  She became aware that around the stage a throng of bodies danced  and writhed up to Tatiana as Tatiana danced and writhed down to them.  Ariel wiped the oil off of her shorts and grabbed Tatiana’s hand to pull herself up.  She stood level now with Tatiana, who was on the upside of a shimmy along the dance pole.  Nope…she most definitely isn’t wearing a hat either.  But there was still something…some kind of blurred movement, some kind of residue, some kind of effect of some sort swirling around the realtor prospector now Amazon pole dancer’s head.

“Don’t say I didn’t tell you so, Ariel.  Believe me now?” was all she said.  She made certain to type it in local chat yet too just to rub it in a bit more no doubt.  “Now…about that land…”

“Exactly my thought.  I think you need to come with me.  I think you need to see what I’m seeing there,” Ariel shouted above the music.  “You’re right.  I see you here…in all your seven feet tall shiny glory…but I think you need to see for yourself with your own eyes just how I found you.” 

Ariel removed the shirt that had been tied around her waist over her tank and her shorts.  She tossed it to Tatiana who caught it with the tip of her red stiletto. 

She smirked, “Nice catch.  But before we go, do me a favor:  either towel yourself off with that or put it on.  I don’t care which.”

“You’re no fun, Ariel,” Tatiana groused while grabbing the shirt off of her shoe and dramatically thursting her arms through the sleeves.  It was a reverse strip tease that caused the crowd to howl and go wild.

“Trust me…with all that oil,” Ariel’s eyes pointed up and down the vast real estate of Tatiana’s body, “and all that light at the parcel?”

“Light?  What are you talking about.  You’re making less and less sense, Ariel.  What light?”

“Trust me…you’ll see.  You’re right.  You said I’d see, and now I do.  Surprising that everything here is.  Now, it’s your turn.  So, hurry up and cover yourself up or you’ll blind us both.  There’s a piece of land we have to see about.  I’ll go there first then send a taxi to you.”

And with that, Ariel teleported back to the Governor’s parcel that had once belonged to Tatiana.  When she landed, she found Tatiana still there, standing in the same exact position, fully clothed, with a halo or something around her nametag, sporting a hat and faun hooves and a shadow on the ground entirely too long for her.  It was like…a giant within, Ariel suddenly thought.  She moved with purpose now.  She typed in local chat to the frozen Tatiana who made absolutely no reply or reaction.  Then she typed the same exact words in the teleport message to Tatiana — “You won’t believe this” — and hit send.

Several seconds passed.  They passed faster than the average second.  They each cast a shadow — more giants within — far longer than the average second should ever have otherwise been able to cast.  Impatience stirring within her, Ariel folded her arms.  She tapped her foot like a time keeper, imaginging that Tatiana might be lingering at the dance pole.  Her finger itched to fire off another IM to her to tell her to hurry, and so Ariel did just that.

“Hey…what’s the hold up, Tatiana?”

“I think you have me confused with yourself.  I was about to ask you the same thing.  I took your teleport, but I don’t see you anywhere.  And, come to think of it…hold on a minute.”  She parked the conversation, paused and looked around a bit.  Something was odd here…very, very odd.  The windlight was incredibly concentrated here, Tatiana thought.  She squinted, her vision scuttling for traction, and shielded her eyes with her hand.  As a prospector, Tatiana had been around the Grid more than once or twice.  She’d seen just about everything there was to see or discover unwittingly on parcels.  When it came to land, nothing much surprised her anymore.  They were footprints for the lives that held them.  And, one thing was for certain…the Grid held all kinds of lives, with people living out all types of rituals, all types of beliefs, all types of inclinations.  None of which was for Tatiana to dwell upon or judge in either direction.  Sure, she waded in the ocean of diversity in knowledge and experiences, but all that she chose to focus on when she conducted business were the selling points of any properties she visited.  She prided herself on being able to tell nearly instantly if a piece of land would move.  And she was almost always right.  Closer to most always as a matter of fact.  So, yeah, it did bug her that the parcel she and Ariel were trying to take another look at wasn’t moving nearly as fast as she thought it would.  Not nearly as fast, in fact, it seemed to just sit.  Tatiana couldn’t understand why.  Yeah, the economy, she mused, but who wasn’t into the vanity of that type of home ownership, surrounded on three sides by water with a wonderful couple — Ariel and her love — to the north.  That parcel was ripe for the pickings.  It was so unquestionably moveable that all of the real estate prospectors like her were hot to get it.  And now Tatiana had it in her hands, no matter what nonsense Ariel spouted about the Governor.  Some sad negotiation tactic, Tatiana decided.  She began to believe that she had Ariel on the ropes.  The girl must want that land bad to go to such an extent to try to devalue it.  But why Ariel dropped her on this particular spot clear on the other side of the bay, Tatiana couldn’t figure.  It was an okay piece of land with a wide channel of water between it and the parcel in question, but the lighting on this side of the bay was – wow – really out of whack.  She never noticed that before but it wasn’t something that she could have possibly missed.  Finally, she understood what Ariel meant about being blinded because as she stood there she strained to see all of the dimensions of the place.  So she inched way forward, her eyes shielded, her hope to find a bit of a shadowed area to see.  She scoped out the undulating ground, bent her view around various trees and patio areas.  “Ah,” she said at last.  “There you are.”  She tiptoed across the rolling grasses so that her stilettos wouldn’t sink into the ground.  The shirt clung to her oily skin and adhered to her thighs as she stretched her legs.  “There’s hardly any sun through the clouds,” Tatiana mumbled to herself, “yet the whole place is under a spotlight.”  Perplexed, she glanced at the sky as she walked in the direction where she spotted Ariel, who still hadn’t moved an inch.  She was a small little creature now, Ariel, was.  Not at all how Tatiana last saw her just those fast seconds ago.  But she knew the figure before her was Ariel because of the nametag, a nametag that Tatiana noticed had a strange glow or something around it.  Why the girl had changed into a tiny for this expedition, Tatiana couldn’t say, even if she did make a cute tiny kitten.  But as Tatiana got closer, her smile at Ariel’s cuteness changed into a bit of a scowl.  Ariel stood just a mere six feet or so away, stone cold silent, not flinching, not bounding about like most tiny critters do, or leaping over themselves, or crying out joyfully for waffles, or dancing manically but instead she stood frozen like a tiny statue.  But that wasn’t what caused Tatiana to frown.  It was on the ground.  It was in the shadow.  It was what she saw and what she didn’t see that were out of whack.  The shadow Ariel cast was impossibly astoundingly long even and would still have been even if she was a human and not a tiny.  Even more alarming, the shadow seemed to eminate from somewhere around the edge of her name tag instead of from the base of her feet!  Tatiana stared quietly.  She felt completely unprepared for this disconnect…that the reflection of a person’s image should somehow be separated from — no not separated from…but somehow reattached to another point on the person?  How could this be?  Her eyes consumed the aura that bathed Ariel.  She travelled the light that showcased the shadow and watched as it spread itself out long and wide into something far less of a shadow and instead something far more of a pathway, far more of a sparkling aura that converged with the sky above the parcel, above Ariel and spread out into a flowing transparent ring of crystals and energy that cascaded gently back down to her nametag and into the ground where the shape of her form loomed large as large could be around her. 

“Tatiana!  Are you still there?”  Their IM window flashed tenaciously.  “Yeah…”  She answered it finally, staring straight ahead at Ariel, a frozen tiny kitten with a humungous aura that climbed into the sky and stretched itself out into a giant reflection onto the ground…and all of it coming from the base of her head. 

“Yes…” was all Tatiana could type again.

“…you don’t sound like you’re still here.  Where are you?  Why didn’t you take the teleport?”

“I did.  I did take the teleport.”  Tatiana watched the froth of small crystal orbs gather and collect and grow, gather and collect and grow at first into some kind of shape, but now more distinctly, with much greater intention into the outline of…a three dimensional outline of…

“Okay…the teleport must not have gone through.  I’ll send another one.”

“No…no…” she said in a rush.  Her breath caught suddenly in her throat as she read the lay of the land and finally maybe began to understand, “let me send one to you instead.  It’ll only take a second.”  She didn’t wait for a reply.  She immediately sent the teleport without a message.

Several seconds passed.  They passed faster than the average second and with each one, they cast a shadow far longer than the average second should ever have otherwise been able to cast.

Their IM window pulsed.  Tatiana clicked it rapidly.  Ariel had typed:  “It didn’t go through.  It landed me in the same place I was to begin with…staring at you, Tatiana.  And…  Well…  Tatiana?…  Something strange is happening to you.”

“Yeah,” the realtor replied.  Windlight sparkled within the infinite facets of the crystals as they climbed higher and into a much more distinct pattern, in fact into a Giant sized delicately-fleshed-out-in-pure- glistening-light outline of someone Tatiana knew.

“Are you looking in the air?” the realtor asked.  “Above my head?  On the parcel you’re at, I mean.”

“Yes…”

“You know, Ariel.  You know that I believe you now.  Don’t you?  Everything that you said.”

“Well that’s comforting,” Ariel typed slowly.  “But that suggests to me that you must be seeing something similar to what I’m seeing…for you to believe me, sight unseen.”

“…sight unseen,” she chortled softly, then added, “So to speak.”

They both stared in the sky, into the swirling waves and softly choppy crests of a light energy that ran like a stream and all within a giant hologram of a soul who hovered like a sentinel above the ground guarding the frozen being on the ground.  High above the frozen form of Tatiana dressed as a faun in a hat on the Governor’s parcel.  High above the frozen form of Ariel dressed as a tiny kitten on a parcel across the bay.  There hovered each of their Giants Within.

“So…” Ariel typed at last.  “What do I look like over there?”

“Well, an incredibly adorable tiny kitten on the ground.”

Ariel raised her eyebrows.  Ahh…a tiny kitten…that outfit was so definitely yesterday.  “And in the air?”

“Hmmm,” Tatiana paused.  “What are you wearing again today?  Tank and shorts?  Oh yeah, and the shirt tied around your waist?  Yep, that’s right.  …I’m guessing that means I’m all oiled up over there?”

“Um, yeah, Tatiana, you are.  Blinding me for all get out as a matter of fact, sheesh.” 

“Hmmm…you’re no fun, Ariel.  Oily skin isn’t that bad.”

“Yeah, so you’ve said.  But tell me this…what do you suppose all of this means, anyway?  Are they us?  Are we them?  Are they real?”

“Yeah, well,” Tatina ran a mental calculation.  “If it doesn’t add to the list of selling points for a parcel, I wouldn’t know too much about it, Ariel.  The only thing I’m thinking is…we have to see about some land here.  More than one parcel and much more to it than just the land it would appear.

“That’s an understatement.”

“The way I see it, the Governor’s trying to claim much more than he has a right to.  And you know, the negotiator in me just can’t quite let that be.”

“You know, Tatiana, you’re pretty much a giant up here, you know?   I don’t think I have ever seen that much oily skin on one person before.  One really huge giant of a person,” Ariel muttered, then added, “thankfully your legs aren’t extended.”

“Like I said, no fun.  But like you were getting at…something tells me, we all have giants within us.”

Nanowrimo10 total word count: 5,280.  Total wordcount to date:  32,770 of 50,000 (not including this notation).  Really trying to move the whole wordcount thing off of my mental radar.  It’s definitely leading the writing (into the absurd) more than it’s helping to flesh out the idea for the chapter.  Guess it goes to show one really does get what one measures.  Ain’t that the truth.  I may have another go at the concept I tried to develop in this chapter, so as much as I’ve tried not to repeat anything from chapter to chapter, I may bring this concept back in redeux.

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Yukihana Jewelry from Cocoon

Yoona Mayo, the creator of Cocoon Jewelry, is an incredible prim-master.  “Yukihana,” her latest jewelry ensemble, is a masterwork in both design and craftsmanship.  This is an incredibly spectacular set that looks gorgeous on any skin tone.  Those many of us who marvel at Yoona’s amazing primwork and own several of her pieces know that she tends to favor a very warm gold metal in her pieces.  The thing I love about Yukihana is the rich balance of fire in the white and the gold and how beautifully the jewelry reads on all skin tones.  I’m not a fan of “typecasting” skin tones with metals.  Certainly, I realize some hues work better together than others, but I like to see the range and not leap to assumptions.  So I really appreciate it when the heat in the metal hits the sweet spot and reads  gorgeously across the skin spectrum.  And with Yoona’s creations, there’s the added bonus of just a spectacular design.  “Yukihana” reminds me of a magnificent phoenix rising.  It has such beautiful elegance and heat.  It glimmers on a soft peach skin tone (above).  It dazzles on a rich cocoa skin tone (next).

And it shares the same name as the winter dress ensemble recently created and released by Misteria Loon (that I posted about recently).  Not only do their latest offerings share the same name, but Yoona and Misty also share a very close, deep friendship together.  I’ve had the distinct joy of knowing them both for the past two years.  It’s been a real joy to watch them as they very naturally and openly help each other grow not only as individuals, not only in friendship, but also as artists.  Yoona shared with me that her intention was to create in “Yukihana” jewelry that reflected the elegant beauty in Misty’s “Yukihana” gown.  Without a doubt, they are an absolute perfect match together.

Head over to the Juliet sim where you will find both Cocoon (Yoona’s shop) and Pas De Deux (Misty’s shop) side by side and filled with the gorgeousness that “Yukihana” so very beautifully delivers.  Just like these two incredibly talented, genuinely nice and wonderful artists and friends.

Fashion details

“Yukihana” jewelry from Cocoon by Yoona Mayo, comes in diamond, and a number of gem colors from emerald, ruby to  topaz and just about everything in between.

“Yukihana” gown from Pas De Deux by Misteria Loon is also in the Juliet sim, next door to Cocoon.  You’ll find the vendor outside  and on the right side of the entrance on the building facade itself.

My first shirt

I’ve always appreciated the talents of creators and designers inworld.  But I admit, not having tried to create clothing myself, I could never honestly say that I really understood the process.  So I decided to explore that a little.  I found Robin Wood’s awesome UV Templates and downloaded those.  I found several resources online that explained how to make clothing and on a whim I tried the instructions posted on the Mermaid Dairies.  The instructions there are very straightforward and clear and include pictures of the steps in Photoshop (which I greatly appreciate since Photoshop remains this very mysterious and powerful tool to me — kind of like the Great and Wonderful Oz — and probably always will). 

So after spending over an hour fumbling my way through (again, with no fault cast to what are very good, clear instructions at the Mermaid Dairies weblog), here is my first shirt. 

You wouldn’t believe how long I worked on this neckline.  Astounding isn’t it?  To think I spent so much time on the neckline and it came out like this?  (Don’t even get me started on the edging or the texturing.  Baby steps for now, grasshopper!) 

But you know what, for my first attempt, I’m happy that I tried going beyond the normal scoop neckline, even though I have no idea what happened in the back either, laughing.  (I must have missed a step in there to remove that black foreground which was created to avoid a white halo thingie that was mentioned in the tutorial.  I don’t know what all of that means, but I trust that somehow it’s significant…although I’ll probably run an experiment and *not* use the black foreground just to see what this white halo thing is.)  Suffice to say, I’ll be practicing all of this quite a bit more.  And in fact, I’m going to bring out the big guns and also reference Shenlei’s book “Designing Dreams” for help.  My goal is to get to the point where I can make one nice outfit.  For me, it’s all about experiencing this side of creativity, to not only do it but to also gain an even deeper appreciation for the incredible creative talents inworld.  And yes, I also would like to develop my own skills enough, hopefully, to bookend this “Before Skillz” weblog entry with an “After Skillz” entry.  At least that’s my hope!  (Could be many months in the making, but it’s still my hope!)

Waking the Sleeping Integer … 10

10 ~ Avatar Interrupted

“You know there’re rituals in this culture.  Same’s true in any culture.  It’s no different here,” he said.

“”Cept for the tail and the ears, you mean.  At least in this region.  No different here…’cept for that,” another guy said.

“Don’t listen to him,” a third guy said, brushing off the comment about the tail and ears.  His tail flicked.  He scritched a tuft of hair along the edge of his ear.  He appeared to be thinking.  “What he means is you can write your own rules here, to some extent.  Make your own way as you see fit.  Well…mostly you can.”

“‘Cept when you can’t,” the second guy finally said after what seemed like another lapse in thinking.

“Yeah,” the first guy added quickly.  He had latched back onto the cadence of their group speak.  “Except when you can’t,” he said.

NaNoWriMo studied the group of these three guys.  He had no idea what they meant by anything they said.  They had started their group monologue all nonchalant like while they stood casually in front of him.  Somewhere along the way, they had positioned themselves quietly so that they stood in a pattern that nearly engulfed him.  Nearly.  They probably thought he hadn’t noticed; NaNoWriMo had but he deliberately acted as though he hadn’t.

“Weird name, there,” the third guy said, gesturing upward with his eyes first and then his chin toward the nametag that hovered over NaNoWriMo’s head.  “Hard to pronouce.”

“Yeah…yeah.  You’re not the first to tell me that.”  He chuckled even though he wasn’t feeling all that buddy buddy with this group.  But he didn’t have an overly negative vibe about them either no matter how bad they hinted at being.  He admitted he felt slightly disadvantaged because he couldn’t seem to find their nametags, and here his was staring at them in broad windlight.  The only identification on each of them seemed to be a Health Meter:  100% each.  NaNoWriMo figured that meant they were bragging about how tough they were.  The other thing…NaNoWriMo just wasn’t sure why they had basically pounced on him when he was just getting started.  Somehow he figured their Health Meters were a clue, and yet he couldn’t say for certain.  He was never completely sure what to expect whenever he tried to log in.  He always had it in his mind that he would continue where he left off or log into any old region at random.  No other reason for it, other than he figured it was an adventure that way every time.  He’d never know who would be there.  Like these three guys, in neko tail and ears, with paw boots made of a densely matted fur sorely in need of a cleaning and bound tight with string.  Their paw boots left big neko paw prints that lingered a bit on the ground before the prints disappeared.  Their claws flexed out in a cruel, wide arch that dug onto — and NaNoWriMo was pretty sure — into the parcel surface.  It didn’t take long for him to be absolutely certain that unlike the neko paw prints, those claws weren’t going to be retracted any time soon.

The three nekos circled closer around him.  They growled almost like dogs.  If they had a clue that that was how they sounded to NaNoWriMo, it would have raised the hair straight up on their backs, but it was an accurate description.  Suddenly, they had gone from chattering almost casually to him to this feral, far less friendly gutteral sound.  It definitely felt…tribal or like some kind of cultural initiation or something.  He couldn’t very well say they hadn’t warned him, what with all their mumbo jumbo about the rituals here, in this Feral Neko Roleplay region.  That’s what the sign said.  What did he know about role play, NaNoWriMo curled the sides of his mouth into a grim smile.  Not alot, but “feral” gave him an idea of tone.  As for the rest, well, funny how some rituals hinted at meaning that seemed to permeate across all cultures.  He stole a few seconds to look at each of the nekos separately before everything broke loose.  If he had had time, he would have warned them.  He would have told them how he saw it all going down.  But he didn’t have time, so instead he thought it all out and it went like this:  NaNoWriMo would kick each of their feral neko asses.  Their Health Meters would deplete to zero.  They would be logged out of world or teleported to someplace somewhere other than where he was.  And after he got rid of them, he would roam this region and he would find out where they got the Health Meters, their tails, their ears, and most of all their claws.  Because NaNoWriMo thought he might want to stay there awhile and walk on this wild side.  Heck, he might even come back here again next time in full feral neko regalia. 

But then again…maybe not.

Instead, the thought occurred to NaNoWriMo that maybe he should check out the slurl that showed up on one of those splash pages…really, on any of the splash pages.  They all enticed him into verb mode in the same way, with teaser messages that urged him to “check this out!” “try this out!” or “go here!”  NaNoWriMo was more than happy — no, really, he was *eager* — to get on the verb train and go to, see, do, be in all the places that were advertised.  He viewed all the ads as invitations to explore something he imagined he hadn’t seen before.  To do something he imagined he hadn’t ever done before.  To fully enter a new world within a world with strange and new rituals he anticipated that he will have never encountered before and best of all, to find his place in it so very easily.  Really so very very easily because, after all, he wanted to be there.  After all, he chose to be there. 

“Hey, NaNoWriMo!  Great to see you!  What’s going on?”

“Hey, dude!  Nice feral neko paw boots!”

“Rawkin’ claws!”

“Kick ass!”

NaNoWriMo beamed and nearly blushed.  Word had travelled fast, even from what he thought would be the closed off region of Feral Neko Roleplay.  But somehow word had gotten out to as far away a place as the one listed on one of the splash pages.  The slurl there led NaNoWriMo to this open performance center where very few – if any – people aside from NaNoWriMo walked around with Health Meters.  His said “100000% Awesomeness.”  (Could you blame him?  He had just emerged victorious from his first ever battle roleplay.)  It seemed that overnight or in reality over-seconds, NaNoWriMo had been transformed from an accidental roleplay tourist into an near-immediate SLebrity.  The latest New Sensation, he stood with his chest puffed out just a bit in an open park that nestled itself into the center of a small island or a large floating rock.  It could be the plateau of a mountain that had thrust itself up from the seabed in the middle of the ocean for all he knew.  But what he did know was that he was at the coolest giant floating party NaNoWriMo had ever seen:  particle shows everywhere, dancing everywhere, giant art sculptures tastefully flanking the area that was filled to the brim with shiny happy people.  A low-level stage occupied the center of the park.  A performer emerged at the front of the stage.  The performer was a giant rabbit that played a guitar.  He wore a pile of gadgets that was strapped to his thigh.  His nose twitched when he sang.  His whiskers fluttered in the breeze.  He looked cool if entirely strange and unusual from anything NaNoWriMo had ever seen before.  The Rabbit greeted NaNoWriMo warmly just like the rest of the brimming crowd had.  Suddenly, everyone knew his name even though he didn’t know anyone at all, but the rush of such a warm welcome flooded his senses and nearly blinded his mind to the immediate and the very reason why he was here.  He should find a place to sit and stay awhile.  Maybe even make some friends.  Eventually, he noticed balls hanging here and there suspended in the air.  He wondered if they were people, maybe another form of life in this world.  They seemed to hover over a space in the bench seating area.  He assumed they were seated.  NaNoWriMo moved closer to the nearest set of balls.  He smiled as if inviting praise for his Feral Neko Roleplay exploits.  He was everybody’s friend now afterall.

“Heyya,” he said gregariously, fully expecting a warm, rousing reply.

The balls uttered not a peep.  Not only did they not reply or even flinch or acknowledge his presence, come to think of it, NaNoWriMo realized, they didn’t even bother to greet him or throw praises upon him when he first arrived.  He might have thought them fairly rude or completely out of sync with everyone else at this floating party, but then he wondered if maybe they just weren’t there.  It was hard to tell.  Then he watched in surprise as a very hip young woman made what he thought was really rather a bit of an aggressive move.  She thrust her hand out, her arm extended straight and pointing at one of the balls.  She must have communicated something forcefully because before NaNoWriMo knew it, the very hip young woman had not only given one of the balls what-for, but she had actually sat where that ball had previously been.  NaNoWriMo nodded his head in appreciation.  The very hip young woman wasn’t wearing ears or a tail or neko paw boots or claws or a Health Meter and yet, she still managed to kick that ball’s ass.  He scanned the region name:  Live Music Region…All Live Music All the Time.  Not roleplay or feral or any other type of culture.  Just Live Music All the Time, and yet NaNoWriMo had the feeling that the very young hip woman who had just kicked that ball’s ass was about to become as nearly-immediately famous as he had become.  Tales of the exploits of her standoff with the ominously quiet ball would travel far and wide and no doubt be known on any of the other places that advertised themselves on the splash pages.  NaNoWriMo decided that he might want to know that very hip young woman a bit better just because he liked her style.

Funny how some things occurred with enough frequency that they created patterns and established themselves into rituals that seemed to permeate across all cultures.  He stole a few seconds to look at each of the silent, hovering balls separately before everything broke loose.  If he had had time, he would have warned them.  He would have told them how he saw it all going down.  But just like the first go around, he didn’t have time again, so instead he thought it all out and it went like this:  NaNoWriMo would kick at least one of the ball’s asses if not all of them.  Their prefectly round shining shapes would be pummelled.  They would disappear or be vaporized either out of world or teleported to someplace somewhere other than where he was.  And after he got rid of them, he would sit right down next to that very hip young woman and he would find out where she got all of her very hip young urban clothing and maybe even find out where to get a small pile of gadgets to strap to his leg because he thought that looked really cool.  Because NaNoWriMo thought he might want to stay at Live Music Region…All Live Music All the Time.  Heck, he might even come back here again next time with a guitar and a rabbit outfit because the very hip young woman seemed to dig it. 

But then again…maybe not.

Instead, another bright and shiny splash page caught NaNoWriMo’s attention.  So many splash pages, so little time, he thought in excitement to himself.  And with each new splash page, a doorway to a new environment beckoned.  To things unseen before, to things never imagined before, well, except for those things that NaNoWriMo couldn’t help stop himself from imaginging.  His world was what he made of it and all within the creativity within his own mind.

His skin was like brushed suede, all soft and buttery and rich and luxurious and a gleaming champagne hue.  His legs, muscled and torqued, held his powerful body upright with such a regal air about him that it threw even him a bit.  NaNoWriMo wasn’t of nobility.  But he was very much at home with nature and now at present and arrived upon from this latest splash page, NaNoWriMo found himself very much running to the horizon on every side of an extremely hilly parcel that was blanketed with trees and mounds of snow.  He ran like a wild Mustang.  His long black mane whipped openly in the wind as his muscles pummelled against gravity.  His long black tail swished in happy circles and side to side with each big intake of big brisk cold air that passed through his nostrils.  He leapt into the air with abandon and landed with a perfect symmetry that absorbed all the pressure the physics had brought to bear.  Only, NaNoWriMo didn’t bear any of those physics.  Instead he was nearly in flight mode and when his feet did light the parcel ground, he often found himself prancing around a bit NaNoWriMo did, lifting his taut front legs and well-labored and shoed hoofs up in a perfect happy rhythm.  Somehow he had found the cadence in this region without even really trying, without even really hearing the beat.  It had to be because of his love of nature and his admiration for powerful yet graceful movement…a movement that could really be thought of as delivered only by a professional and studied dancer.  If you ever thought trained dancers were pushovers you didn’t have the first clue.  But NaNoWriMo did.  He was an athlete.  A football player, forced into ballet classes — along with the entire football team — to acquire balance and even weight distribution.  The barre was not for the timid, this he knew.

But still, was that the only reason for his acquiring the cadence so naturally?  It might have been because of the very hip young woman who now straddled his back.  He laughed to himself, as much as a horse can laugh.  He beamed, as much as a horse can beam.  He nearly blushed but definitely whinnied with a playful toss of his head.  And he finally admitted to himself, that yeah, the very hip young woman probably had something to do with it.  She seemed to have a way with sitting that he still found mysterious.  He had yet to sit, NaNoWriMo did.  Such a mysterious thing, he felt like such a toddler not knowing how to do it.  It wasn’t all that long ago that he wanted nothing more than to sit right next to the very hip young woman at the Live Music Region…All Live Music, All the Time.  Now, she was here with NaNoWriMo on this new region:  the Run Wild Region.  How she got there with him, he didn’t know.  All NaNoWriMo knew was that all he wanted to do was let her ride him.  And so she did, mastering the sit and now the straddle perfectly.  Never mussing up her perfectly appointed equestrian wardrobe, never tossing her hair out from under an exacting bun that sat tucked deeply within the furthest recesses of her rider’s cap.  Her bearing in this region was far more regal than NaNoWriMo recalled at the Live Music Region, and far more regal than NaNoWriMo himself, who was sorely tempted to roll on his back and over to his side in a mound of snow but he stopped himself because he knew if he did that he would crush her.  And she must now be one of the New Sensations, one of the near-immediate Slebrities because no doubt word of her exploits with the balls had travelled far and wide, even to this parcel. 

NaNoWriMo was happy enough to run with her under under the trees and over the tumble of ice and snow that blanketed the ground…until then all at once, the very hip and now regal young woman who had mastered the Art of the Sit so perfectly suddenly vanished.  Right into thin air.   He tossed his head frantically from side to side in search of her, but he found instead two new very attractive young riders who watched him.   They approached him slowly.  They seemed more than eager to straddle NaNoWriMo’s back, and they seemed to know how.  He couldn’t really say how he knew this.  He just did.  

Funny how some things occurred with enough frequency that the patterns become confused with rituals and are taken for granted across all cultures.  He huffed the crisp air.  He whinnied and stole a few seconds to look at each of the two attractive young ladies before everything broke loose.  If he had had time, he would have prepared them.  He would have told them how he saw it all going down.  But just like the all the other times before, he didn’t have time again, so instead he thought it all out and it went like this:  NaNoWriMo would invite both of the attractive young ladies to straddle his back.  Their prefectly round shapes would shine in the crisp morning sun.  They would gallop fast and hard, breathlessly and heatedly together until one or all of them couldn’t take it any more and teleported to someplace somewhere other than where they all were now.  And after they all finished panting breathlessly, he would flop right down onto the ground and roll on his back and side and he would look at each of them and ask them how they had mastered the Art of the Sit.  And maybe they would teach him.  And maybe he would learn.  Because NaNoWriMo thought he might want to stay there for a while.  Heck, he might even come back here again next time with a brand new saddle that could carry even more young attractive women.   

But then again…maybe or maybe not.  Maybe all of these things that NaNoWriMo had just imagined in the privacy of his own mind would happen.  Or maybe none of them would.  Or maybe something altogether unthought of would happen.  He was curious to discover how it would be…if only he could get the world to load.  If only registrations hadn’t been suspended. 

Then suddenly a banner ad for another world forcibly grabbed his attenion.  It was incredibly hard to ignore.  It pulsated a blinding light less than discreetly in a less than discreet area.  “What’s this?” NaNoWriMo asked. 

He clicked on the radioactive boobs in the ad and landed to a place where his account immediately registered. 

And at last, the world finally loaded.

Nanowrimo10 total word count: 3,136.  Total wordcount to date:  27,490 of 50,000 (not including this notation).  Primal screams abounding.  This has become increasingly maddeningly difficult.  I am counting down the wordcount, which is a not so great motivator.  Around the 2/3 mark, my focus always seems to turn to the wordcount, instead of to the story or the idea.  The strangeness of where the stories lead themselves is proof of this.  And yet I’m still publishing it although I’m not at all happy with it…trying not to judge it and not succeeding too well at the moment.  I can only offer that the entire process of writing is far more involved and difficult than it might otherwise seem. 

Waking the Sleeping Integer … 9

9 ~ A Mashup:  Hindsight as Foresight

The sun burned a hole in the sky or maybe it was another world doing that, he couldn’t be certain of it either way.  It was just another day and the sky had been that way for a while now.  He crunched his forehead to the center until his brows arched into a frown.  Briefly, he searched his memory to discover if he had heard that — the thing about the sun or another world burning a hole in the sky — somewhere before.  Reese soon found the thought or statement was in fact tucked in the recesses of his mind.  He had, indeed, heard it before.  He might have even heard it from his own lips, but either way, it was of little consequence and little surprise these days.  The Great Rehash had ensnared and monopolized all cultural influences, art, voices, imaginations along with the most vitally agreed upon societal facts…if there could be any agreement or any fact in society these days.  What a quaint notion — agreement — from a time not all that long ago.  Now, all the multiple worlds and social platforms — with more being born every day — served only to amplify the Great Rehash.  There was a kind of looping or echoing of the past that you just couldn’t escape.  The only thing new under the sun or in any world where the sun burned a hole in the sky seemed to be an acceleration of the mashup.  The self-looping of expression had ramped itself up to a velocity never before witnessed let alone experienced.

Reese dropped his eyes from the sky and peered over his shoulder.  The skin on his face rippled back constantly when he moved or when he held still…it didn’t matter which.  Rippling skin like Reese’s might have been a cause for concern at one time.  In truth it did startle everyone in the very beginning when it first happened, but nowadays constantly rippling skin was not an unusual thing.  These days, there was really no choice in the matter about how the largest organ of the body appeared.  Vanity of the physical sort had long since been cast aside and a level playing field brought about by the constant disruption of change.  The stable part in that disruption, ironically enough, was the physical effect change created on everyone not only under extreme conditions but in day to day existence.  No one escaped having their face pulled back in waves, something that was not caused by plastic surgery but instead strictly from the velocity of life.  Reese couldn’t recall the last time he had placed his hand on the side of a woman’s face and felt its silkiness as it lay quietly and smoothly under his fingers.  He hadn’t felt that in the longest time it seemed.  Now, if someone’s face didn’t have a current of energy waving and cresting underneathe and pulling the skin back in a series of crests to the base of the skull, well, then, it was a sure bet the flapless face belonged to a statue.  Or possibly something worse.  Funny how when it first happened it was jolting and now that everyone adjusted to it, the flapless faces look more plastic than anything, Reese pondered for a second.  These days, people weren’t acknowledged as being real unless their skin rippled constantly, he thought as he found himself idling his mind away on the movement of his face.  He hadn’t done that in ages, but this momentary obsession had to be a brief one, that idling of Reese’s, in a brief second, far shorter than most seconds typically counted, as go the wiles and ways of time.  This time it had to be different because at this time, Reese’s attention was yanked forcibly and pulled away just as severely as the skin on his face.  Only this time, the force that assualted his senses was some kind of movement near the building to his right.

He was grateful for the habit of scoping out the environment no matter where he was.  Especially wheever he found himself near or in an Infohub.  Say, like he found himself now.  He narrowed his vision around the side entrance to the half-eaten building.  He couldn’t yet determine why it was half-destroyed, but he figured it had something to do with the sky.  Or the fact that consumption had run amok these days, with very little in the way of creation to provide a balance.  The flaps of his face furled back in rapid succession and actually helped his eyes narrow and zero in.  Zeroing in was a good thing to do whenever you were around information.  Some people still claimed that Infohubs remained neutral territory, that they provided the least amount of repurposed information and by doing so, made themselves the last safe place to think for yourself.  That might have been true back before the Great Rehash fully took over every aspect of life.  Now it was only true if you believed the latest PR campaign.  Infohubs had travelled the road of all other sources of information and had become the latest front line in a long series of front lines where the past repeatedly bullied its way into the present, refusing any entry of new thought or new creative expression, instead remaining hellbent on dictating the future through a looping of things said and done and created before.  Infohubs and all the worlds of social platforms and, begrudgingly, individual expression had morphed into nothing more than the latest in a long series of reruns.  Anything new creativity was stifled.  In the age of consumerism on steroids, new creations barely saw the light of day.  Content was king only so long as it was pushed out in as fast, as easy, and as fun a way as possible.  And the best way to achieve that was to mine the long tail of content repurposing.  

“There.”   Reese suddenly saw in full what had snatched his attention to pieces.

“A machine,” he muttered through clenched teeth.  Its clothes were torn and threadbare against its titanium casing.  Its eyes glowed red.  Its metal face frozen in place, without a ripple or an unfurling to be found.  Its expression contorted into a perpetual snarl.  The cigar clenched between its polished metal teeth out of the corner of its metal metallic mouth added to the effect.  This was a machine with an attitude.  It didn’t care if it was spotted.  It was fully armed and loaded.  It hauled weaponry of the sort typically found stocked only on a military base…or in some street gang.  Its shoulders were broad; its waist small; its arms and legs thick.  It was a robot on steroids, big enough to be a champion bodybuilder or even a governor of California.  The robot whirled its legs uncompromisingly forward. It no longer moved very quietly or stealthily around the building.  With each step, Reese heard an ominous sound. 

Da da da da da! 

Da da da da da! 

Not just a machine, Reese now realized grimly.  With a great deal of effort, he pushed back against the G-forces of change and pressed his lips into a tight line that reverberated against the wind.  This was something far worse than flapping faces or machines.  This was a Terminatore, he cursed to himself…da da da da da!

He crouched low to the ground, folding his own powerful form in half and compressing himself as much as he possibly could.  The Terminatore scanned the Infohub.  Its glowing red eye pinpointed those few who were mindful of their surroundings and had rapidly begun to teleport away.  At least, those who were lucky enough to be quicker on the draw than the machine.  Those who weren’t fast enough were vaporized.  Others in the Infohub remained unscathed as they zoned in on reruns of movies or art or music that had been created in the 60s, the 80s, the 90s.  The Terminatore ignored them after rapidly scanning them and registering that they didn’t create expression but instead consumed it unabashedly with their appetite stalled in the virtual trough that was once the express lane of mass media’s glory days.  This Terminatore had bigger fish to fry.  It continued to scan the area until it zoomed in on a large heat source with a different pattern of information that came from a different type of group in the Infohub.  The Terminatore had in fact zeroed in on Reese and his friends, a small group of free thinkers who routinely explored new ideas.  In fact, they made a life’s purpose.  On this day, Reese had volunteered to be the guard or lookout or some kind of protector while his friends talked about new ideas and worked to bring them to life.   His friends, a small group of about 4 individualists, huddled deeply together as they teased out and chased what they believed to be a new form of expression… something that hadn’t been repurposed, something that hadn’t been already said or done before.   They were so immersed in the process that they fell completely ignorant to the danger that fast approached after the Terminatore bore its laser like eyes on them.  Hard and fast.  The machine clamped down even more on the cigar, deepened its scowl (if that was at all possible) and was about to cut the group down in mere seconds.  Reese rapidly searched his memory of the action packed blockbuster flick from the 1900s.  If only one in the small group was named Kyle, they could pair that name with Reese’s and come up with a name for a character in the series.  The machine might ignore them after hearing the name “Kyle Reese” shouted out and after recognizing the name as a piece of art from the past, the Terminatore might have stood down.  But since there was no way to make “Kyle Reese” out of the names in the group, it didn’t matter.  Time was quickly running out.  The machine leveled its weapon by its side and fixed its aim on Reese and his friends.  Then, Reese had a thought.  Why not just say the name anyway or just say anything from the movie?  He broke into the circle of artists, thinkers, individualists, however they labelled themselves.  His eyes remained fixed on the machine as it squared itself off toward them, his skin peeling back in waves from the endless winds of change.  He growled in hushed tones to the group, “Come with me if you want to live”  and hoped it was enough.  He held his breath against the onslaught from the wind and waited to see if the line from the movie would stop the machine from wiping them all out.

“What?  What are you talking about?”  She had already been highly animated.  In fact, that was just a part of the way she was wired.  And she remained true to her wiring by waving her hands around while she talked.  Especially when she had been right in the middle of a discussion that was near and dear to her and then out of nowhere (from her vantage point), Reese had cut her off from her train of thought about how anyone could possibly know their direction in life, how they could possibly pick up any of the cues that move souls along their path.  Right when she was smack dab in the thick of what was really much more an artistic exploration for her than a conversation, Reese had interrupted her.  Still, Jessie remained energized and excitable, only now more than a little bit rattled, almost aggitated.  Creativity didn’t like rude interruptions, at least Jessie’s version of creativity didn’t.  Take the topic of the discussion as illustration:  she had written a book that explored how anyone knows their direction in life.  She had self-published.  She now self-posted chapters of her published work to her weblog and followed up each week with posts of an author’s review of her work.   In fact, the author who reviewed her work each week was, well, Jessie herself.  Jessie’s version of creativity married the act of art itself with a lengthy artist’s commentary about her own work, pre and post-creation.   Kind of like a built in review for every work she generated.  Jessie was convinced this was unchartered ground and not only that, groundbreaking:  the idea that an artist could objectively create masterworks inspired by the Muses followed up by the same artist’s subjective review of the quality and purpose of that masterwork.  To date, Jessie had never received a bad review.  Her Muses on the other hand…well, they were the ones who had become too attached to the outcome if you asked Jessie.

Reese grabbed her by the shoulder.  His face fluttered into hers where he found her face fluttering into the winds of change that howled at her from behind him.  But her eyes were peeled back, wide open.  She stared Reese straight in the eye and then noticed something over his shoulder.  She stared straight over his shoulder, not saying another word, her mouth gaping in waves as change blew itself perpetually into town.

“Come with me if you want to live,” he repeated to Jessie and to the other two in the group who hadn’t turned to flee.  The Terminatore had vaporized the others in the group who had run off without even attempting to mimmick anything from yesterday’s mainstream culture. 

“The machine is confused,” he continued and worked to breathe in between his words, “But that will only last for a short amount of time.  Unless someone here knows more dialogue from any of the Terminator Series?”  He looked around the remaining group of three that included himself.  “Anyone?”

“Of course not,” Creed said.  There was a tone of disdain in his voice.  He stared at Reese like he had never met him before even though they had known each other for the past 10 years.

Reese shrugged almost apologetically but not quite.  “What can I say?  I dabble in mainstream media.  I don’t live there, but I do dabble.”

Da da da da da! 

Da da da da da! 

The Terminatore had renewed its advance on the group.

“What…what…” Jessie stuttered into the wind.  She stared at the advancing Terminatore as if seized by its glowing red eyes.  Reese grabbed her focus back to him, pulled her with him and nodded at Creed who followed suit and pounded the parcel with him.  They all had seen the advancing machine.  They were shocked and driven by a will to live, but they also all knew they had taken a risk by talking in a public place about anything new under the sun.  Still, they all believed it was long since time to come out of the shadows.  It was simply time to come out of the creative underground and risk the dangers that lay in the darkness of a culture that had no place for anything original.  Yet for all their brave intentions, they still ran for their lives now.  They ran gasping for air as their sprint broke into a long hard trudge into the winds of change.  They could get little traction.  With each burst forward, wind gusts thrust them back to where they had already been.  Titanium Alloy Terminatores might have faced the same conditions, but Liquid Titanium Terminatores had no such issues.  The thing melted itself and its weaponry into a gleeming pool of liquid polished metal and slivered along the ground, carrying its cigar with it like a burning canoe.

Creed chanced a backward glance while his body fought to cut forward through the wind tunnel.  “It’s nearly on us.  It will re-form itself soon.”

Da da da da da!

Reese spun around, glowering at the pool of heated metal.  He thrust his fist out, and with his face undulating in the wind, he yelled, “You will never be one of the people!”

At that moment, giant blue and green winged Mountain Banshees from another world and another time — point of fact, another movie — swooped out of the sky.  There were three of them, and each of them chose their riders and nudged their heads under the legs of Jessie, Creed, and Reese.  

The Terminatore’s forward slide stopped.  Its cigar ember flickered and faded momentarily.  This scene with giant multi colored banshees was a memory from the 2000s but still very mainstream.  Yet.  …Still very new-ish, on the mainstream cultural borderline, potentially tipping over into the cultural divide.  Suddenly, the Terminatore began to reform. 

Creed and Jessie panicked and hardly noticed the Termintore.  They felt more than a little violated from the winged creatures pushing their heads up and between their legs.  Reese, on the other hand, saw the Terminatore reform and knew their time was quickly running out.  He scrambled onto his Banshee, not knowing what to do next but knowing this was the only way out.  “My God!” Creed yelled.  “Get on!  Stay on!” Reese yelled.  “What are we supposed to do…my GOD!” Jessie shouted and fought for a grip hold anywhere on the smoothed muscled and tye-died skinned creature.

“The HALO!  The HALO!  Make the bond!” Reese yelled, his imagination stuck in a movie that rested on either side of the cultural divide.

Quickly, somehow instinctively they each rezzed a neko tail and perhaps did the unspeakable.  They sealed the bond with the Mountain Banshees by twining the ends of their neko tails into the tendrils on the side of the four-winged creatures.  The recomposed Terminatore’s scan indicated that a new species had been formed.  The polished metal metallic machine watched with a dispassionate glowing red eye as the threesome flew into the sky, the sun burning a hole in their wake, the webs of their winged creatures spinning out far and wide and latching onto the edge of the half-destroyed buildings to ricochet them far away from the Infohub, far away from the Terminatore’s impressive fire power.

Suddenly, missiles sliced through the punishing winds of change that carried the threesome through the sky.  Creed spun his head in all directions and saw that all around them a squadron of military airpower had gained airspace on them.  Big Papa stood on the deck of the largest military fighter plane.  He drank a cup of hot cocoa.  He quietly ordered his men to “take them down” in a clean fashion.  He wanted to be back home on base for an early dinner; the first round of drinks would be on him.  Another volley of missiles rocketed the air under the Banshees’ wings and nearly set Creed’s neko tail on fire.

“He’s a MENACE to the city!” Creed barked and flailed his arms around instinctively as if he wanted to beat the shit out of the giant military fighter plane that hovered ominously behind them.  Big Papa smirked and snarled at the same time while he drank his hot cocoa.  He wore a chocolate mustache over his upper lip when he said to no one in particular, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Reese…ohhhhhh what now!!…REESE!”  Jessie yelled over the winds and the thumping engines of the military craft.  She not only sounded nearly hysterical, she had truly jumped clearly over that edge into a land called out of control.  “What are they doing?”  She screamed in horror and stared at the Mountain Banshee under her legs.  She watched long sticky tendrils of webbing spin far out from under the joints of her winged creature.  She spun her head at Creed’s and Reese’s Banshees and saw they were doing the same thing.  Worse yet, she saw with horror that the things had started to morph right before their eyes and — far worse yet — right under their very legs.

“Oh…shit!” Creed barked.  He nearly scampered himself off what what had now become the rounded, hairy back of a giant arachnid.

“I…can’t…do…this!”  She was near hysterical now, Reese knew.  He didn’t know much about Jessie, other than her passion for paving the way to a new, yet previously untravelled route to artistic expression.  But he got the very real sense — call it a Spidey Sense — that Jessie had a fear of spiders.  Particularly giant ones.  Particularly huge hairy ones that spread their bodies against them.  His thoughts were punctured by two feet long steel-like hairs that sprouted up around them.  Somehow Jessie, Reese, and Creed managed not to be impaled by them.  But they did have to touch them and in fact grab ahold of them if they hoped to maintain any kind of balance on the jumping soaring gigantic webslingers that Reese realized soon enough Jessie had more than a fear of.  She was positively repulsed by them.  Her hands shook and flew off of the hairs, grabbling at something else.

“Jess!  Are you alright!”  Reese shouted over the winds as the three swung from the spiders’s webbing in giant loops through the sky forward to somewhere.

“This is insanity, Reese!  Of course not!”

“Hold onto it, Jess, or you’ll fall off!”

“Maybe falling off of the mainstream ride is exactly what needs to happen!” she yelled over her shoulder to him then quickly returned to busying herself with an object in her hands.

“What are you doing!” Creed yelled.

“Exactly what we came out to the infohub to do,” she yelled nearly hoarsely over the winds.  “I’m writing a new essay.  I’m mashing up the past cultural influences.

“Even if it produces something as hideous as these giant spiders?” Creed bellowed.

“Spiders…that are saving our lives!” Reese reminded them all.

“Yeah, well!” Jessie snorted in disbelief but fully got that the only reason they survived the Terminator was because of these friendly neighborhood spiders.  “And I don’t know if my writing is producing them, but I’m definitely mashing them into my essay on art.  And then…”  She bounced wildly off of the back of the anarchid just as all three of the spiders dumped off their passengers onto the front lawn of a very creepy, very dark, very large looking house that was even possibly in actuality a small castle. 

Suddenly, the sky cracked open.  Lightening illuminated the wrought iron gate; it cast in stark relief the dark and foreboding front entry.  Clouds in the sky gathered and busily greyed out the sun as it burned a hole in it; and everywhere around the sky, it busily poured down buckets of rain, each the size of alligator tears.

“And then,” Reese said quietly, all the while surveying their new and less than welcoming surroundings.  Water spilled over and into the rippling creases of all of their faces as their skin repeatedly washed over their jaws, cheeks, forehead in waves.  It was as if their skins vibrated underneathe so deeply that the vibrations generated cosmic shifts on the surface.  This was precisely what they had hoped to accomplish beyond their appearances but into actual expression, into actual life and influences…into the actual voice of the cultural landscape.  Reese shook his head.  He quietly lifted his eyebrows in surprise and heaved them a tiny bit over the waves of change that mercilessly assaulted his flesh and kept the worlds trapped in reruns.

The three of them quietly stood back on their feet.  They stared as the front door of the dark large house – a house so dark and so large that it was possibly even a castle.  The front door creaked open slowly.

“And then,” Creed repeated, clearly aware that they had all lost their train of thought in an effort to figure out what might be happening to them next.

“And then,” Jessie said, her hair drenched, water spilling over her rippling lips.  With her mobile device in hand still, she wrote the last line to her artistic mashup, her brave new world of never seen or heard before expression, and clicked “publish.”  She looked up and saw a figure loom in the dark front door of the castle.  The figure could only be described as a Sweet Transvestite from Transylvania.

“And then,” Jessie whispered.  “I’ll write a review of my own work.” 

Such went expression in the Great Rehash. 

It was just a jump to the left. 

And then a step to the right.

Da da da da da!

Nanowrimo10 total word count: 4,046.  Total wordcount to date:  25,354 of 50,000 (not including this notation.  I had the notion of writing a complete story in each entry.  I’m not sure why I thought it might be easier to approach the 50,000 word mark that way…creating a completely new story with each entry.  I’ve discovered that it’s just as difficult — if not more difficult — to start from scratch and create an entirely new premise with each chapter, as it is to build and develop characters and storylines throughout a one-story 50,000 attempt.  It’s not an excuse for why the writing or story development might not be quite there…and it’s interesting for me as the writer to see how increasingly challenging this has become as I get further into the word count.  If you have thematic ideas for a one-chapter entry, please share them in the comments.  I’m finding it increasingly challenging to come up with something new. )

Pas De Deux & “Yukihana”

I have been living in “Yukihana,” the lastest design by extraordinarily talented Misteria Loon.  Misty is the creator of Pas De Deux, a fashion label with an aesthetic unequivocably romantic.  Pas de Deux reflects Misty’s artistic inclinations.  She receives her inspiration from nature with an open heart, a gorgeous eye, and a spirit that celebrates.  Her dresses are breathtakingly beautiful, with incredible texturing that often defies description.

A prolific and elegant designer, Misty is also a dear friend of more than two years.  In the first year of our friendship, I had the distinct pleasure of working with her when she was a relatively unknown artist who refined her craft in the Shengri La Marketplace apprentice program created by Shenlei Flasheart and curated by yours truly.  From her very first days in the apprentice program to now as an admired designer in the SL fashion scene, Misty’s talents were not only apparent; they were and remain undeniable.

“Yukihana” illustrates this so perfectly.  The dress is a sheer celebration of the spirit of woman and the magic of a joyous season merged together.  The garment, a delicate veil of white, drapes like a glistening winter wonderland across your body.  Everywhere you turn an unbelievably gorgeous design of snow swirls flows like inlets from bodice to hemline.  True to Misty’s generous nature, “Yukihana” comes with both a short skirt and layers for a longer flowing skirt in one purchase.

More than a gorgeous dress, Misty’s “Yukihana” is testament to the wonderland of the female form.  Step into this season with a Misteria Loon creation and be transformed into a divine spirit, one who is naturally at home in the majestic and the sultry both…in all seasons.