Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Events of October 16 to March 15 - Chapter 31

October 16, 2013
©Susan Shulman

Susan - HEY…………anyone left here on this mountain? I yodeled out, hearing my incredulously perfectly pitched voice echoing between the peaks. I started singing at the top of my lungs, the reverb between the mountains electrifying my vocal chords as purple pulsating notes shot out of my mouth releasing words in perfect harmony. “Picture myself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. Somebody calls me, I answer quite slowly…a girl with kaleidoscope eyes..” oh…the Beatles would be so proud.
I sang my heart out, hoping for a musical comeback. Everything appeared so foggy and strange with orange blurry stripes expanding and contracting like a force field around me. I felt deliciously vibrant and hungry all at the same time. My range of perceptions and concentrations were acute as I penetrated the tiniest incredibly significant quark of sand for clues about the other climbers and the meaning of life. I was one with the mountain. Damn, these must be some good mushrooms!

October 17, 2013

Mara - It seemed as if months had passed. I brushed leaves off and gently shook my head to wake up. A couple of squirrels poked up out of my pockets, clearly annoyed that I botched their cozy nap plans. Turning to my left I saw a wall.. no.. it's the side of a boat.. wood from the tangerine tree...

I peeked over the edge... I'm in an air ship actually, with all the loose ends hopelessly tangled in the gum trees. Various implements were scattered over the ground as if someone had been working to free the ropes from the gums. Instead, an odd growing sculpture had developed as each tool stuck in turn. Apparently the work site had been abandoned.

November 20, 2013
©Susan Shulman

Susan - “Ech, yuck, that tickles, get that slobbering slimy crap off of me!”
I heard Bill and Mark yelling and freaking in the background.
“Chill out” I screamed as I pulled out my trusty mother of pearl and gold gilt monocular to get a clearer view. ”Its just Fish’N Kiss’s Blues. Look at all those magnificent schools of iridescent jewels swimming and flying our way breaking through the waves. The Tides have changed and I think Harmony is trying to untangle this mess!

December 2, 2013

Mara - Ideally, my finger drew a line in the sand. The beach tree rustled with promise of more. (Correction: "Idolly")

December 27, 2013

©Susan Shulman

Susan - The unexpected sounds of swishing and swooshing became louder and bolder. I heard what sounded like a gentle clucking, like the soft tut-tut blowing of a harmonica amidst the broken sounds of humming and grunting. I tried to make it out... was it some low down guttural blues? It came into view. That tutued adorned Kanga Roo from down under. "G'day matey, you got any bush tucker?" I looked around to see if anyone else saw her!

December 30, 2013
©Susan Shulman

Susan - Then the jester showed up......

January 20, 2014
©Susan Shulman

Susan - And the Olympics were starting on the mountain!

February 27, 2014
©Susan Shulman

Susan - Like a rolling stone...the monkey man was making its way to the mountain!

©Mara Thompson

Mara - I awoke after a particularly odd dream. With a dream hangover I unzipped my sleeping bag and slowly stood, hanging onto the vestiges of fleeting images. Well, I'm still in the now... air ship still stuck in the Gum Trees. Closing my eyes, I sat down on the bag again. Somehow hanging onto the dream images seemed very important and since I at least know I am safe above ground I can relax for a few. The dream.... Caves with drawings on the walls.... the drawings are marching, marching and also attempting to organize and reorganize themselves. I'm there holding a clipboard. Quickly I began to write down and sketch my impressions of the drawing's movements. I dug my "real life" sketchbook out of the rucksack and put down the impressions.

March 15, 2014
©Susan Shulman

Susan - March 15 the Ideas of March.
As I sat on the beach with the waves tickling my toes I was daydreaming about the date. We kept track of the years and days using Bill’s sundial. Mara kept an accurate diary and logged our adventures, thinking some day some one would be interested. She is so organized. Hummmm…today is the Ides of March. Should we be aware or beware? I was wondering?
No the “Ideas of March” Fish whispered. Anything is possible. When fish fly he said..well……….Susan..look in the sky. That ain’t superman.!!!

Ria -  A passage from Khong Lo will explain this:
I've found a land of dragons
And snakes to settle down in,
This rustic pleasure brings joy
The whole day through.
At times I climb to the solitary peaks,
Sending forth a long whistle
That chills the universe.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Events of March 24 to July 14 - Chapter 30

©Mara Thompson_ The Gum Tree's Lopsided Shuffle
March 24, 2013

Mara - The dirigible Harmony needed extensive repairs. Bill opened his rucksack to retrieve a scraper and container to gather some pine gum. We heard moaning. "No, nooooo nooooooo!" Shaking it's head vigorously, the Gum Pine lifted its roots and began a lopsided shuffle downhill and away from us.

Ria - 'Ow great,' Ria grumbled, 'now how am I gonna get my boots back?'

March 25, 2013

William - Fish stared after the rapidly departing Gum Tree and said, "That's one fast tree, William, if you don't catch it how will you restore Harmony?"

© Mara Thompson - Red Boots in the Gum

Ria - I sighed, went through my pockets after drawing down my pants, they'd ridden all up because of the fall and my undies were all out. 'Here,' I said, 'I still got a red rope ... let's lasso him in?!'

William - The Gum Tree was picking up speed as it shuffled downhill. When it paused to look over one of its shoulders Ria's lasso managed to catch a tap root and the mighty Gum went sprawling into the Note Tree. I thought to myself, "not bad, I think we've invented sticky notes." Mara dispatched a wagon to retrieve the gummy notes for use in the repair effort.

I watched nervously as Ria wrestled the Gum for her boots. The squirrels seemed to get more notes stuck to themselves than the wagon. I crossed my fingers that there would be enough left to make patches. The wrestling, loading and grooming went on well into the night.

March 27, 2013

Susan - As the noises continued to explode up from the mountain I wondered does anyone really care about harmony?
I was waiting to catch sight of this renegade Pine tree and trip it if need be! Secretly, I was crossing my fingers, hoping I wouldn’t see it, because I was entertaining my spirit, wading in the clear and calming ocean, kicking the waves as the tide rolled in. I detected boisterous slurping and gurgling noises coming from where my feet were dragging the undertow as I carelessly walked against the current. I looked down and searched the blues and saw FISH swimming, actually doing the breaststroke, alongside my ankles, and swallowing the waves as they flowed through his mouth/gills. I was not sure if he was gagging or trying to puff up like a blowfish. Suddenly he regurgitated and pink bubbles were drifting up past me into the atmosphere. I watched and stumbled back onto the hot white beach. I sat down on the damp shore and started to hear “Castles made of sand, as I hummed nostalgically to Hendrix. Fish said,” This is how we build universes Susan, create what you want now and watch what happens next!” I took the red shovel and started to dig!

© Susan Shulman - Castles Made of Sand

March 30, 2013

Mara - "Bonjour! Au secours! Ici, dans l'arbre!!" As we chased the Gum Pine we looked towards the sound, there in the branches was a very curious sight. Stuck to the tree, was a monkey in a parachute. "I am, errr, Le Monkee. I come from the prison island where I graduated from dirigible school and have been paroled for good, very very good behavior. I'm in the hoping of starting with legal career. Oh, my tail is cold!"

March 31, 2013

William - Fish absently doodled in the sand with a stick while Susan busied herself with the sand castles. After a long silence he spoke so softly she barely heard, “Your adventures are recorded you know, I’ve seen them written. All the snippets from your journals leak out into the world....the others too.

She looked up and said, “who reads them?”

“I don’t know who but they are there for people to see....if they look hard enough. The bigger question is when...... because Time has become so........ malleable”

Susan went back to the small pyramid she was making...."isn't this Now?"

Mara - Mara smiled. "Look what I've got! Ria's boots, a parachute full of Gum Pine and... our pilot".

William - "Mara." I don't know about this; the improbable has become commonplace.... but are we really going to trust a monkey who wants to start a legal career?"

Susan - I turned my head and gazed at the bulbous eyed aquatic creature waving and pointing his fin frantically at me. “Fish, I know, I know… you don’t have to whisper, I remember the illuminated manuscripts! And, anyways none of those pining monkeys can hear you with all that ishgebibbleing happening up on the gumshoe ridge!
It is crystal clear, Fish, that those mysterious messages dropped by the note trees, are perpendicular and randomly changing the directions as outlined in the original coded parallelogram I cracked with my eggs this morning.” Your reflections are starting to materialize again Susan….stop daydreaming…its time to leap back to the mountain again. William is summoning me again!” Fish started to roll his eyes in concentric circles, speeding out of control then slammed his lids shut which was difficult since gill bearing creatures do not have lids so he put on his sun glasses and started to whistles, pursing his huge lips together.

© Susan Shulman - The Parallelogram I Cracked with My Eggs

April 2, 2013

William - “Trees,” he shouted before he left, “trees…don’t you see? All this talk of perpendicular and parallelograms, those are lines, I’ll grant you that, but you haven’t thought once about the tree-line. 
The first lesson you learned was to climb high but sleep low. That’s what the trees have been doing; they’re sleeping at the Tree Line waiting for the right conditions to summit. The right place between being and becoming. That’s the kind of line you need to find; find your Susan Line”

Then… poof he was off again.

Susan stared at the ground, bent to pick up his sunglasses. “Stupid Fish always forgets these,” she muttered to herself.

Ria - 'Ow Lord, thank God, my booteeboots. WooPeeh. Let me put those on and rejoice at whatever happens on the mount,' I thought. Jeeeeezzz, climbing barefoot with Fish is a chore you don't want to know about, "where's the map,' I asked, wanting to get my bearings, all looked up at me. Cows looking at a train. 'Ow, for crying out loud,' I shouted, 'what HAVE you been doing while I was stuck in that bloody tree anyhows? Snap out of it. STAT!'

William - Jelly d'Smelt was the first to speak, "Damn it...she's got all them loose ends stuck to her!" He shuffled off shaking his head. Then the Gum Tree spoke up, "I'd like those back if you don't mind."

William held up a mirror for the Belgian, "You've got Jelly on the back of your neck. We're going to need some strong solvent, someone find Susan to see if she has any grog left!"

Ria - 'ow great, good luck with that,' I thought, just get me a waffle, the dough will get me right up to speed, no need to bother the Canadian in her high,' .... 'hey hold that thought, the gum tree is heading for the ship isn't? Salty waters with slow him down no problem.'

April 24, 2013

William - The climbers slowly worked to repair the damage to Harmony. Fish and Mermaid proved invaluable as the gum needed to seam together the paper from the Note Tree didn’t seem to stick to their fins. Maramara wagons made the trips down the icy route to collect the notes without incident. 
Our work might have been faster but we had voted to read aloud each note as it was gummed into place. There was much debate concerning the placement of each note; especially the loose ends.

© Susan Shulman - Me and Marley

Susan - It has been such a struggle living in multi dimensions simultaneously. The magic of appearing and disappearing in time and space has taken its toll. The pressure was building to cloak my visage against the prevailing forces of time. Fish knew instinctively the tides and currents of Mount Analogue. On the mountain, time has stood still. No past, no future. Just the NOW. The climb … as it should be. But, when I stepped off the shore, the tides turned and the dreaded reality of the dreaded future loomed into the dreaded horizon. The dark ominous clouds rushed forward, forming the threads of the calculating web unraveling as time sped up. I heard Sistah Salty Waters sing in the background. ”Weave it girl…weave it” So I started to gather the dreads in the sky and twist and intertwine them into my hair as I heard Marley singing “Everyting will be al’right” But, for both Rasta Bobs, it was not all right. Time had no start and no end. It was in flux. I yelled to Salty Waters as the winds picked up and splashed waves of briny water into my sea soaked eyes. “And, if I had just never left the mountain, nothing would have changed, nothing would have happened, just one inspiring adventure after another. In no other place can the magic of time stand still!”

I quietly squeezed back through the hidden underground sea cave that led up to the chasm. I had found this eroded entrance so many years when I was swimming but until this day had forgotten about it. The rest of the climbers were too busy to realize I had vanished. I had left a red braided ladder rope dangling from the top so I could climb back to join them. In my pocket I had placed some precious illuminating scales that Fish had lost during his metamorphosis. O ya, B flats, E’s and G’s to place on the note tree to recover my, ours, everyone’s HARMONY again.

© Susan Shulman - Sistah Salty Waters

April 26, 2013

William - The Mountain presented many faces and we had to determine the true face. Many on the mountain claimed that the search for Harmony was the reason for their climbs on Analogue. I saw documentation of this explanation many times. Cathy, the Note Tree librarian collected the fallen notes each fall, sorted, collated and bound them into folios. Many of the folios could be best described as climbing journals of unnamed explorers. Their recollections were detailed and their lives prior to dedicating their lives to the climb shared a common thread. Their place in the world was tenuous and the purposes that their fellow being engaged in seemed banal. They were out of step and out of time. It was as if their fellow beings only looked at the ground under their feet and that they were the only ones who searched the clouds. I stood by the Maramara wagon and gently pulled another page from a folio and read it out loud before handing it to Fish. 

Spring 1427
“I felt as if I were a tightrope walker. I am suspended on a rope with each end out of sight. Dragons swirl in the mists and I catch a glimpse of the summit.....”

That’s all there was to that entry...perhaps the Note tree would drop another thought from that explorer before the next Mulka.

April 30, 2013

William - I gauged the craft as half covered…or was it half uncovered. I wasn’t sure whether I was an optimist or a pessimist after so long on the mountain. I finally decided that it was a useless dichotomy best left to Fish to ponder. Our biggest problem was still to come. For if Harmony was to be restored didn’t that imply flight? This dirigible was ancient and probably had once achieved flight by its load of helium; or perhaps hydrogen. I shuddered at the thought of producing hydrogen here on the mountain as you never knew when the monkeys might decide to set off more of the fireworks they pilfered from Zeng He’s junk. 

My eyes suddenly caught sight of a slight rippling along the top of the airship. The paper notes that we were gluing in place seemed to billow out and pulse a bit, yet there wasn’t any wind. 

I was shaken from my reverie by a new song Mermaid was playing on her harp. The canopy of paper covering the dirigible began collecting the notes and it lifted slightly almost imperceptibly. I scowled as I recognized the tune, then the Belgian nearly deafened me when she shouted, “Bloody Hell!!!” 

As the notes of “Hotel California” collected under Harmony skin it was beginning to lift off. 
I caught the worried expression on Fish’s face as he and a young owl, who was helping weave a gondola under Harmony were suddenly 30 meters in the air. 

The red climbing ropes that we had been using to access the top of Harmony were still trailing along the ground. 
We chased after Harmony as Mermaid reached the refrain, “You can check in any time you like. But you can never leave!”

© William Evertson - Harmony Takes Off

May 8, 2013

Susan - Notes after notes were tumbling around me! I didn’t realize when I scaled up the red ropes I was climbing into the basket that Harmony was secured and anchored to. I started to scream,…………”FISH where are you?” The air around me was whirling with wind and dragging up all the flats and sharps again. In the distance I heard “Hotel California”. A humongous merman creature started to evolve and morph through the waves below dragging along all the ocean life clinging to his torso as he shot through the aqua froth. “ Who has summoned me?” he bellowed! “I HANDSOME OF THE SEA, and who has unleashed Harmony.” Quickly I scanned the space around me. I opened my sore arms wide ready to fall over, back into the abyss once more and taking my chances in the darkness before the wrath of this titan might fall upon me. I thought I heard the fluttering of wings!

©Susan Shulman - I Opened My Sore Arms

May 31, 2013

Susan - "The blues just happened on the mountain. It materialized a long time ago when Fish eagerly splashed through the blues ocean and scared me the first time we met. He startled me as I was crossing over the water carefully on that branch and he jumped up flying through the waves. “Hey, you powder puff with the long nose” He gurgled at me! I gasped and an explosion of air flew out my nose and created a symphony of magic. Beats and notes blew up into the sky and music filled my ears. I had never heard those sounds before. Life would never be the same on Mount Analogue, tales of the blues!"

© Susan Shulman - Hey, You Powder Puff

June 17, 2013

Susan - “Surfs up” I heard Fish gurgle and grumble! “Life would never be the same on the Mountain if we let those surfers dudes rip here.” “Hey Bill, Mara” I yelled through the crashing noise of the breakers, I think some of them are your friends and I think they are finally bringing Harmony back to the island!

© Susan Shulman - Surfs Up

Ria - Nope, you will never leave. How silly. Who said that? Why would you even consider leaving? This is Life. Right here on the mountain. With all the fauna (omg! yaya something fishy as well, aye) and flora .... 'Tis salty waters and tis surf I guess,' said le Fish, cos he'd gone native, casting a glance at me, he'd know I'd be critical.' WTF,' I yelled all hot and bothered, 'Everybody just snap out of it, there's climbing to be done and by God, we'll summit, oy, even if I have to eat waffles!'

June 20, 2013

Susan - Awwww..the sun, the surf, the waterfalls…ya..couldn’t get more jiving on the sands. Ya, “Boogie Chillen” on Mount Analouge, Tale of the BLUES! …is that someone calling..for climbing....

© Susan Shulman - Jiving on the Sands

July 4, 2013

Mark - I was intrigued as I cooked my marshmallows by the fire. There was a rumor circulating on the island that an awkward looking box-headed fish species would soon signal an escape hatch for everyone who wanted off the island. They were known as the sea braggarts because they loved to boast of their achievements but this was also just a rumor Susan had heard that they were quite charming and humble. Bill told Ria at the campfire they were called Borg-gettes and that led to a discussion about The Borg, a fictional nemesis on the old Star Trek, the Next Generation tv show. The Borg were apparently a giant entity with each member of the whole comprising a tiny piece like a holographic community. Ria did not understand nor did I but unlike Ria I just listened intently until Bibiana jumped in to explain but between her Spanish and Ria's Dutch, Ria got frustrated and walked away. I leaned in as Bill and Bibiana, who were both already well acquainted with the phenomena spoke about it in English more fluidly now that explaining it to Ria was out of the picture. I hooked up a Dyson™ information grab attachment hose and sucked up what they were saying because i thought i might be alble to use this later in a collage i was working on in my sketchbook. That was when Mara appeared and took the bag of marshmallows I was holding and said "they are getting squishy". I was not sure if she meant the marshmallows or Bill and Bibiana.

July 14, 2013

Susan - Succulent, squishy, delicious, mouth watering warm toasted marshmallows! A rush of summertime memories flooded my mind. I don’t know what overtook me, but I had to have one of those white gooey morsels. I slurped it into my mouth and before it slid down my throat, I started to feel my body shifting. Oh no, Mark…are these mellow yellow Marshmallows? The change had started and all I could do was burp a note before I morphed into a dragonfly.

© Susan Shulman - Succulent, Squishy, Delicious

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Events of December 21 to March 17 - Chapter 29

December 21, 2012

Finding Harmony - ©William Evertson 2012

William - The avalanche snow was thankfully powdery and I felt as if I was floating. Then suddenly I was jostled by harder yet still fluffy boulder size snowballs; I could swear I heard them go “baaaa.”
Then as suddenly as it started it was over. Disoriented, I began to shake the snow off me and take my bearings. The snow began to do the same then I realized that Blue’s herd of sheep had indeed been swept off the ridge and down along with me and Fish. As hooves and tails sorted, shook off snow and righted themselves into individuals again I pulled the map scarf from my neck. Comparing the ridge outline to the map I realized I was exactly where I had intended to be… the Mulka Fields.

Slowly like the prairie dog fields I had known from my childhood, heads started popping up from the snow. First a well dressed monkey, then two more, then Lee.

To my right the barber dusted snow off his trousers and Jelly De Smelt uncurled. Mark was digging out the troll, who was arguing with a fox over whose hat was whose.
Mara was slowly turning circles and consulting her own map. She paused and stared back up the ridge we had all just tumbled down.

“Who knew we’d find Harmony?” she exclaimed.
All heads swiveled back up the slope to see that the avalanche had uncovered a rather large wreck of a dirigible.

Susan - "Who is Harmony/" Susan shouted. What trickery is she in the Dirigible? Let's dig her out!

William - Mara slowly began extracting the clues from her rucksack. Spreading them on the groaning board, we gathered around. "Hummn" she murmured, "restore Harmony?"

Mark - The troll de Smelt was handed a cell phone by yours truly. 'Keep off the grass!" he shouted into the device angrily but there was no grass in sight, only frozen tundra. de Smelt heard giggles on the other end of the line and then Susan joined in.

"I think this can be easily done" said Bill, the voice erupted from someplace deep inside him but he was was understandably astonished to see that his shadow had taken on a life of its' own. This was his voice yet not. Susan, startled by this development, stopped giggling and lifted a vile from the groaning board that had magically appeared. she dropped the mystery vial in the snow. bill's shadow grabs the bottle and begins to drink.

Meanwhile I was surfing on the pull of gravity and Daumal's fingers on the keyboard of his typewriter. The vial had been turned topsy turvy and as a seemingly striped red and white liquid careened toward the top of the vial, in front of me, triggering a feeling of deja vu, I felt compelled to help. I frantically reached, gripped, flailed and pounded the frozen snow around me with my fists and did anything I could as more and more of the dirigible became visible. We had to finish before the shadow was done consuming the ligquid. Was it absinthe? A mixture of battery acid from Bill's 8 track tape player and coincidence? The sight of Lee being released from the swollen turgid air balloon was overwhelming. Separated from the world of the Blue Squirrels that had locked her in there, now our friend Lee, our genie was out of her bottle or about to be.

Mara - Campbell soup label folded into 8ths with an 8 on it.. or was that an infinity symbol? Can shaped like a squirrel, a pair of gloves with drawings, broken prism, red boot and glove together to show a map. Think, Don't Think and Don't Believe What You Think soup cans, The first tattoo... triangle with two stickbirds, the Mountain Climber Haiku, Doublers and Twins, Mark's vial, Pandora's Blochs, Termas, Jane's crackerjacks...

December 23, 2012

Mulka Celebration, © Lee Goldberg 2012

William - I sat on my rucksack to protect my half frozen butt from fallen off and began to take stock of this, our third year Mulka festivities. Fish and Susan were sampling the grog recipe she had distilled especially for the occasion. Truth be told, although I could manage only the smallest of sips before my throat burned from the liquid fire, I tasted little difference from her everyday distillations.

Fish on the other hand was indeed drinking like a fish and making quite the scene. He had traded a hard won peradam for a top hat and monocle and seemed to be having the time of his life as he and Susan danced to the Chattering Squirrel Sound Effect Band.  The Red Boot parade marched by without a misstep followed by tiny Mulka wagons sweeping up the footprints as to Leave No Trace.

Le Red Boot Cirque - © Susan Shulman 2013

Being very out of drinking shape, Susan’s Grog went straight to my head and I became very pensive as I reflected on our three years spent on Analogue. The uncovering of the wreck of the dirigible “Harmony” was on my mind as I looked away from the festivities and watched Mark and Jelly shoveling and swearing as they exposed more of the bare structure.
How had it come to rest there and for how long? It’s covering was mostly gone with just a bit of the fabric remaining which was emblazoned with the Chinese symbol for harmony.

“How had Harmony come to ruin?” I thought to myself.

Slowly, a picture emerged in my minds eye; (Sammy’s eye?) of Fish emerging from the water’s edge to join the expedition and having his first conscious thought.

 Compostrophic Boxing Fish Entering a Thought - © Mark Bloch 2012

I jumped up and ran over to Maramara as she continued to place the clues onto the groaning board looking carefully at each in turn. I grabbed the can of “Don’t Believe What You Think” and practically shoving it into her face I yelled, “we’re not here to climb a mountain; we’re here to restore Harmony!”

Maramara blinked several times then reached into her rucksack and pulled a sheaf of papers gathered from the note tree. Handing them to me she smiled and said, “I thought you knew that.” “With a bit of glue you can use these.”

Mark - Angela and Kathleen were attempting to push through the once a year Mulka time slit with less than satisfactory results. Angela managed to send her voice through but sadly we could not see her. She said something about a horrible storm. Meanwhile Kathleen we could see but she was frozen in the icy tundra, unable to move and we could not make out her voice. We could have used their extra manpower for digging Lee out, or womanpower as it were, what with Maramara and Bill quibbling and Fish up to his gills in grog. But resources were limited here and so i continued to work my fingers to the bone, explaining over and over as needed that we would not have to spend a fourth year or 11th lifetime on the mountain but that it would require a bit of clever thinking on our part and Susan would have to return soon from her temporary "urgent matter." She said the current of the waves were A7, D7, A7, D7, E 7 whatever that meant and something about two men-like shapes "up on a overhanging cliff blinking from the lights of in the sky." "Bloody hell," Ria and Bill were always saying, the blinking urgency of everything, jeez, I get it people!!!! But can I get a little help over here?

Oh and i forgot-- All the while we felt horrible about Jane. She was pounding on the ice and could not get in! We tried every combination, even Susan's A7, D7, A7, D7, E 7 but nothing worked.

December 28, 2012

Susan - I looked around to find everyone passed out on the beach. The last illuminating moon for the year…the 13th moon, lit up the night brilliantly. In the distance, a lone Goatman was reciting an epic poem about our climb the past three years. His strumming was echoing across the mountains. What an adventure this has been. One by one the climbers awoke to hear the clues evoked from the chord.
And, so it begins, we search for Harmony!

The Goatman - © Susan Shulman 2012

January 3, 2013

William - Several large Maramara wagons pulled alongside me, filled to the top boards with an assortment of brightly colored fireworks. Lee’s monkeys were putting on a beautiful ariel display yet I was baffled. I didn’t know we even had anything explosive on the mountain.
Fireworks on the Mountain - © Susan Shulman 2013
Although, we did have that one unfortunate incident with Susan’s first still. I shuddered at the thought; it was a close call.

I asked the wagon master, “where did these come from?
He was a burly silverback, his words coming out in clouds of condensation on the cold Mulka field; “Found them in Yheng He’s junk.”

I thought back to 1421 as I watched the display illuminate Harmony in the twilight of Analogues New Year.

Zeng He's Junk - ©William Evertson 2013

Zeng He's Stowaway  woodcut - ©William Evertson 2013

Mark - The Baroness as a child was known as Nettie Flameninakos but she was rumored to have been dragged from her native Greece kicking and screaming in 1421 BC, arriving on the island in 1968 just as the Holy Thaw was subsiding and Mount Analog's adolescence had begun. There she grew up a tortured and brutalized woman who would hear nothing of her parent's admonishments about gratitude and how lucky she was to be growing up on such a pretty island. She saw only the frequent squalls and the encroaching tundra which threatened to extinguish the Great Fireline permanently if Fish and Pensive William Ray De Smet once a Belgian prodigy (who was now known as Smelly, of course) stopped tossing lyme on the line. But as legend has it...

De Smet and Fish eventually disappeared, the Fireline was eventually snuffed out but it was little Nettie who kept it going for over three months. she then also disappeared and rumor had it that it was a path inside the mountain she had taken to her escape although none could confirm that such a path even existed except an old critter with the head of a goat known as La Cabra. And of course La Cabra in turn was problematic because he was banished from the mountain by The Council of Blues.

La Cabra, before he left, told of the dirigible Harmony being dug out of the snow and William the Studius's historic musings to come about how long it'd been buried there which would signal the escape from the mountain.

But how could Pighead be expected to know any of this as he accused the Baroness of being Yheng He's proxy. Screaming and snorting and gasping for air, his lungs expanded as he was about to receive a big surprise.

January 7, 2013

Lee - It seemed as tho' I was walking down/up this corridor for a very long time, not sure where I'd end up or if I was ascending or descending.  Suddenly rounding a corner I came to a door.  A door?  It seemed very old; rough wood with rusted hinges and a very large ornate doorknob. There should be no surprises left in this underground world I've explored for so long, so either I open the door or go back to the caves and tunnels.  No choice as I see it.  I tried the handle and of course it would not turn a bit. I wonder how many hundreds of years since this door has been opened...soft fur brushed my this time the ever present monkey did not startle me but is a welcome companion.  He took my hand and laid it on the door just above the handle.   I heard a rasping screech,  like the door itself was groaning.  It began to vibrate under my hand and I stepped back just in time as the door began to move.  A blinding light came from the opening.  After being in mostly dim light of the caves this light was painful but so welcome.  The door opened enough for me to slip through the opening to the outside.

The smell of fresh air was perfume to my nostrils.  As my eyes became accustomed to the bright sunshine I could see the door had closed behind me and I was on the edge of the forest of note trees. Picking up some fallen notes I was surprised to see they all said the same thing, "exit through the gift shop", that's a pretty direct message.   Now I just need to find it.   Maybe the others are gathered there in preparation to leave the island.  I must hurry, I don't want them to leave me behind.  There were several small monkeys in the trees along the path leading my way.   The trees grew thinner as we approached a clearing; ahead were vast fields.  It looked familiar until I was about 10 feet into the field...then nothing is right.

Worse still I had no idea what direction to's all the frustrating ....holy crap!!!

I'm in the 'fields of confusion'.   Oh no!  Now what will I do?  Then I heard the monkeys;  one said, "it does not matter how fast you go as long as you do not stop".   Where did I hear that before?  I forged ahead still unsure if I was going the right that humming I hear?  As the humming got louder ... it was the monkeys!!  

In my head I heard "follow-follow-follow the yellow brick road", really?  I'm off to see the gift shop!  I looked down and sure enough I was on the yellow brick road.   the monkeys scurried ahead.  They chattered, "follow follow".   I had to run to keep up with them.    I felt like I was leaving confusion behind me when I reached a rise in the road.   In front of me lay the Valley of the Balls.   I hadn't seen that for some time.   The yellow brick road continued and soon in the distance I saw the outline of the gift store.   I breathed a huge sigh of relief.   My journey was about over and I hoped the others were there with the answer to how we were to leave the island.   I continued to follow the yellow brick road......

To the Gift Shop - © Lee Goldberg 2013

January 17, 2013

Susan - The popping, ear-piercing sounds were deafening. I heard Bill screaming at the top of his lungs. His voice was high pitched and screeching next to FISH….”dig… dig, use your fins if you have to, we have to find harmony quickly before we all burn out!” The sky was ablaze from the fireworks and the flying sparks were landing all over us. The monkeys and goats looked up and started scampering for the hills. Owls started to ascend and disappear over the ocean! Maramara and Bill pointed and together they screamed “…Up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane…no it’s the fish dirigibles…and they are headed for Harmony!” We ran as fast as we could, because we knew the helium in the airships could explode at any moment from one of those flickering flares, and the party would be over………..and Harmony would be just a trace again!

Dig...Dig..Use Your Fins - © Susan Shulman 2013

Cathy - We....are...still...walking.

January 28, 2013

Mara - "Termas. Vials. Don't Think tin whistle, Klein blue, pyramids, Dyson vacuums, loose ends, loose ends," Mara trailed off as she pulled out a bundle of the loose ends. "Meeting!" she hollered... she blew the Don't Think whistle and motioned to everyone to gather. Passing out a loose end to each, "tie yourselves to the uphill part of the dirigible, I'm taking the vacuum downhill a bit. Count off please, Now, I'm going to turn on the vacuum and run back up to tie off too.... when I get back I'll remove the Pandora Blochs and we should be unstuck in a jiffy. There is a use for everything and these loose ends will now keep us together as the dirigible slides down the slope... If Lee heard the whistle she should pop up soon... Ria, please come with me to position the vacuum to the proper angle to enhance our trajectory, you are the only one to do that with any measure of accuracy... then I'll wait for you to tie off. And excuse me but I must keep blowing the whistle for Lee, with some luck we'll all end up on a flat spot together and can commence to finish repairs. With more luck we'll find the gum tree.

William - "Outstanding, someone is taking charge, assigning tasks; finally seeing the big picture!', Fish shouted as everyone scurried to their posts. Then he looked around and quietly added, "Mara, what about me?"

Mara - "Of course, Fish you must come! Susan, would you mind letting fish ride on your lap?"

Lee - Walking down the beach with my parade of monkeys I began hearing insistent whistling.  It wasn't the monkeys as they'd left their stuff behind in the caves.  The sound is very loud.   I think it must be the others trying to round us up.   Since it's past time to leave I began to run.  I sure don't want to get left behind with only monkeys as companions.

SMACK ... Whoosh ..
I passed through a slit and came upon a frantic scene.   Still, I felt great relief to see the others , regardless of the chaos before me. "Mara - here I am" I shouted above the din.  "I think the monkeys stayed behind; no matter it's time to leave them and this place, what's the plan?"

February 10, 2013

Mara - "Tie up, Lee, I shouted.  "OK, I'm turning on the Dyson..." The gravitational pull sucked the snow out from beneath the dirigible.. it began to lean downhill. I ran awkwardly up to the dirigible and tied off... then the wind began to blow. There was a final tip and we all began a slide down the slope. Ahead there was an obstruction and we were headed directly for it. Instead of impact we kept moving, in fact we became air borne. With the wind whistling through the tattered frame work of the vehicle we sailed over the crown of rocks at the apex of the mountain. (note, I've read the ending of the story, so graciously supplied by Mark back in the day... My plan is to unload our obstacles from our rucksacks, leaving them on the rocks... the hollow men will eat them. The "evil one" mentioned by Mark in the ending will appear and will be cast out over the "Unfortunate Border".. the gum trees will provide the glue needed to repair Harmony. Susan will find the "vibration unit".... )

Susan - Why does fish have to sit on me...........

Mara - "Awkward." Mara thought, Susan is resisting fish, hunmmmm. "Fish, please please, jump into this net!" I looked at him and our eyes locked.

Susan - "He's slimy Mara: He's a fish for goodness sake."

William - "You mean Indra's net I assume? The metaphor used to illustrate the concepts of emptiness, dependent origination, and interpenetration" Otherwise, many moons ago when I was still schooling we were taught to avoid all other types," Fish blinked his eyeless lids then resumed staring at Mara's obstacles.

February 14, 2013

Lee - Frantically I ran to the tangle of ropes and grabbed the one closest to me...with a lurch it began to pull me UP and off the ground. I didn't seem to have the strength to hold on and tie it I rose higher & higher I yelled to Mara "holy monkey tails, Mara, I think I grabbed the wrong rope !!!" " heelllppppp"

Holy Monkey Tales - © Lee Goldberg 2013

March 17, 2013

Mara - Bloody Hell"! We heard as we road the framework towards the tree line. When the moguls started at each apex of a hummock I saw something.. someone hanging from a tree. Her eyes grew larger as we careened closer. The impact was softened by the rich growth of low snow covered boughs. Two shakes of a goat's tail later, Ria plopped down in the snow beside us. "Bloody Hell", she exclaimed, "I've been stuck in that tree for eons". Indeed, her shoes were still stuck to the branch above. "It's a Gum Pine." William said quietly. "Careful or we'll all be stuck". Gingerly we untangled our loose ends.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Events of August 14 to December 17 - Chapter 28

August 14, 2012

Lee - Somewhere inside the mountain I thought that pushing the elevator button to 'Lobby' might get me back to a place where finding a way to the surface would be the logical next step. The doors shut and before I could breath a sigh of relief the elevator plunged DOWN!
Oh crap---here I go again....the caves chambers-caves-time warps are never ending under this mountain. I'd though exploring would be fun…interesting...and here I am with no way to communicate with the others on the surface, if they are even still on the island at all....
The elevator came to such an abrupt stop that I nearly hit the floor. The doors opened slowly with a screech, as if they hadn't been used in years; that's not a good sign. I walked out into a circular chamber that seemed to be a jumble of visual activity. The space seemed deserted and inhabited at the same time and the cards. There are cards everywhere. One of my monkey companions dashed forward to a pile of cards, grabbed one and skittered back to give it to me
“This will explain so so much - once you learn - the game.” he chattered and ran off again.
A huge red pot overflowing with cards got my attention. It seemed to be generating cards as they were flying out of the containers mouth and landing all over the floor of the cave. I looked around at the doors, archways and openings that seemed to be beckoning me to explore. A glimpse thru one archway looked to be the professor’s laboratory. Some directions looked inviting, others not so much. Would any of them get me back to the surface?
And what is this game? There were a few creatures that might be of help but they really didn't look terribly friendly. At least they didn't look hungry. Looks can be deceiving I reminded myself as I walked over to a very large figure.

Elevator Card Games, ©Lee Goldberg

Mara - "Well-l-l-l-l", 'fox in a vest' said, "off you go to the crevasse of unavailable imponderables, I do hope you brought the most helpful pages from the note tree..."
I considered the advantage of finding the imponderable... which is quite a different matter than finding imponderables, (offspring between a zebra and a donkey, look it up).
But, anything is possible.

August 29, 2012

Lee - Knowing there is a way out and finding it are not the same thing I realized as I followed the cards that I'd been finding along the way out of the caves.
I kept remembering the monkeys telling me "it's in the cards.” That seemed like directions to me.
So, I've been following the bloody cards and getting more and more confused. No sign of the others but I thought I saw Mara going towards the mountain. I decided to head toward the sea, as that was where I last saw everyone so long ago..........

August 30, 2012

Mara - I need to find the barber first, Big Blue insists on it. "We can help you with that," says Fox in a Vest.

September 5, 2012

Lee - I didn't need a reason to go up in the balloon again, but getting a better view to search for the others seemed a great idea. At least at the time.
Leaving from the beach was the best plan (I thought) as the ocean breeze pushed the balloon inland...
Unfortunately, 'this' is an inland, unexplored and not at all where I wanted to go. I wonder if I left a trail of cards they would find me again...????......

Mara - Fox in a vest, who told us his name was Carmine, pointed down the road, "He went for tea some time ago." I leaned against Blue's solid yet soft side as we paused, not quite ready to walk again. Rising up from a dip in the road we saw a red fez, closely backed up by another large squirrel treading on his heels. "Good day, good day! You've come for a cut?" The barber yelled. The squirrel behind him walked on her two hind legs and had extraordinarily long whiskers and fingers (I guess you'd call them) which both kept in nearly constant contact with the barber. As they reached us the barber said, "This is Lapis Luzuli, we call her Luz and she's my assistant." Big Blue settled face down on the table explaining that he needed a buzz, "but only on the back please." The barber arranged his tools, "Have I see you before?" He looked closely at Big Blue's cowlick. Luz nodded emphatically, "We have! I remember his smell... and I mean that in a good way."
She blushed, turning her delicate blue face a shade of magenta.

September 7, 2012

Susan - The owl was circling down at a steady speed aiming at my head from high above the clouds. All of a sudden I felt the wind and water integrating into a pressure cooker. The waves started swelling and swirling in panic, engulfing me like a tornado funnel. An ocean of algae and fish came crashing around me, creating a mountain of endless ripples, pulsating and attacking me. All I saw was a blur of colour and that annoying buzzing in my ears increasing. The air thickened with dampness and then there was silence. The water around me flattened to a mirror-like surface, mimicking the blue of the sky above and the reflection of my visage.

The Postman, ©Susan Shulman
There was a flash of colour and movement that caught the corner of my eye bobbing slowly towards me. I waited until it was in arms reach and I delicately grabbed the object. It was a card. The queen of hearts with my image on it. Nearby in the water, a five of clubs and then the last card, the eight of clubs floated up from the deep.
“Hummmm, I guess that was OWL MAIL” on Mount Analogue, makes sense!”… I laughed thinking of William “The postman” who always delivered Snail mail, wondering if he would prefer to ride an OWL!
Well, I have a lot to contemplate now. I better swim back to shore and start interpreting the signs now and find the others.

Owl Mail, ©Susan Shulman

September 8, 2012

Christopher - The oceans were made by the lady and her blue gun. As she squirt color into the world around her, the parts that became to blue would melt into rivers and streams, fracturing out the island into it's coral sculptures beyond the shore.
The coral would burst from the sea in the form of blue deer, once a year the deer would be hunted by the Baroness. As the blood leaked into the sea baby deer would burst out from the wounds, and slowly grow till they would be hunted again next year, this was the cycle of life in sea of Mount Analogue.

September 21, 2012

Mark - If one makes mischief but not intentionally isn't there some other name they could have? Am I delusional to think it is not my will even subconsciously? Can one be other than their own nature; these are the things I contemplate while climbing.

October 7, 2012

Mara - Blue reclined on the bench, "Whew that feels good, getting off my feet. So," he directed to the barber, "These people showed up on the island and helped us, now I'm hoping to help them find their way…whatever their way may be."
There's something about being groomed that loosens the tongue. "For some reason we think there may be a clue on my back."
The barber was quiet as he finished combing and commenced to shave. "Hunmmm," he breathed, " I see what you mean." Everyone gathered around. "What, what is it!", exclaimed Blue attempting to twist his head like an owl. (and only succeeding on getting his own loose squirrel hair up his nose)

William - One of the monkeys who was waiting for a trim peered over the barbers shoulder and exclaimed, "Must have been some potent grog if you don't remember that tattoo!"

Mara - Luz glided up to the table, "Blue? Do you remember?" She reached out and stroked his whiskers, first one side and then the other." Now it was Blue's time to blush...

William - "The last thing I remember was looking into the bucket at the end of this funny contraption the yellow haired woman put together....then I lost my footing"

October 28, 2012

Mara - BUZzzzzzz~ buzzzzzzz ~ "What do we have here?", the barber paused, then continued shaving. Luz piped up, "Remember that Mulka night Blue? We went to a grog sampling, then the monkeys fed us... well, somewhere in there you agreed to be the bearer of good news! Or is that the barer? Anyway, we see something on your back that will help locate the dirigible, if you are still interested in leaving." "What?", Blue mumbled sleepily. "I have a job to do". "That's right", Mara Mara said, "Blue agreed to move the sheep from the high pastures down lower before Mulka. When are you getting to that Blue?" "It may have to be done on the way to your new assignment", the barber said, "Look at this!" We gathered 'round.... the image was undeniable. (insert pic to come).

I woke up with the sensation I'd been grinding my teeth. "Damn, thought I was over that"...... "Ok, up then", she thought. "The sky is so dark, could this be comment 666?" Yup. It is. So, readers, what does this mean. We've come this far... the maps, the climbs, ... the balloons, the grog... what else could happen? Oh. Yes. That. Shit. We have come to the drifting or the doldrums, as it's been called. To make our way out there must be a vigilance, who will take first watch?

October 30, 2012

William - Swishing forward Fish raised a fin and volunteered. "The Doldrums are not something to be taken lightly", he stated with some trepidation, "in fact Doldrums could lead to a Sargasso of thought and determination. A gyre of this type could lead to a mental torque that will derail the climbing season."
Indeed, as we all peered at Blue's newly shaved back we realized that a lateral traverse might be our only way up.
"What is it?” Blue shouted to be heard above Susan's accordion playing, "can someone get me a mirror?"

November 1, 2012

Susan - I gathered my belongings out of the glittering dirigible, before I cut the gas and deflated the fish shaped shell. It was always so much easier to navigate across the island like this. The only problem was that it was so tiny and only one person could steer it at a time. I called it Led for short…. Led Zeppelin. If only we could build a larger one. Maybe we could all escape this island of Blues and find the stairway to heaven I giggled.
I adjusted my goggles over my eyes and saw some activity on the ledge. After careful focusing of the lens I saw Big Blue. It was hard to recognize him because he was cross-dressed like a bumblebee Raccoon. If not for his blue fur and Daliesque moustache I would not have identified him. Must be MOVEMBER! I could not stop laughing. It was so absurd. Did he really think the mask would camouflage him? I heard Mara yelling, ”Look at his back…look at his back!” Mara held a mirror behind him and said.” You better be prepared for what you see BLUE!” All of a sudden this huge lurking grey shadow appeared behind the squirrel swelling in size and towering over us all. This obscurity was blocking out the sun. We all looked at Blue’s shaved back, it became apparent.
“Bill, you and your shadow theatre, what have you done now I yelled!”?

Blue Shadow Theater,  ©Susan Shulman

William - I felt a bit lightheaded, in fact light all over, with that telltale floating feeling.
"Oh, damn," I cried, "not again!"
"William, your shadow seems to have detached itself!!” the Baroness shrieked above the clanking of her soup cans.
Mara, distracted by the outburst slightly angled her mirror sending a flash of sunlight into the cockpit of the little dirigible hovering above us.

Mara - "Mara! Maramara mara!!!” someone yelled. Too late, the dirigible fabric caught fire and smoke trailed behind as it rumbled forward. "You're too low!" We all hollered... "Shit, where are the flying monkeys when we need them", said Lee.

November 4, 2012

Mara - Now that the shadow had lifted from Blue's back the tattoo became more visible to us all. "I think it has something to do with harmonics, either that or math," someone whispered.

 Tattoo Revealed - Mara Thompson

"HEY!" Mara yelled, "Call the fire department!"

Blue's head whipped around as he fished a whistle out from his vest pocket... "Fwueeeep, fwueeeeep"... Up the road came a burly squirrel, trailed by trotting sheep. "The dirigible must be cushioned before it breaks apart --- and the fire, THE FIRE!" Burly puffed up his tail and gave us a steely look. "No worries"... He shrugged off his rucksack and pointed a nozzle towards the smoldering craft. At the same time, the sheep he'd been with thundered past us all and as he sprayed the dirigible to extinguish the flames he directed the sheep up the slope. "With their extra springy wool, it will be an easy nut to crack", he yelled as they disappeared up the road.

I Dare You, ©Michael Harford (with permission of the artist)

November 5, 2012

Susan - My independent shadow jumped across to where the activity was happening and before I could react, it grabbed my body and propelled it behind Blue. Crowds of determined sheep were running down the hill and I knew it would be a matter of time before we would be stampeded upon. I grabbed my red braided rope that I used for Goat Roping and quickly lassoed Bill and Blue. I vaulted across the chasm with all my might to the top ledge before the wild herd of blue ovine crashed down upon us. The only problem was that I alone was anchored on the ridge. Blue with his tail swooshing angrily, chattering at Bill were both hanging down like a pendulum oscillating back and forth. Bill was screaming in a very high pitch, “Put us down, you ruff neck Cowgirl!” I released the slipknot slowly and they gently drifted back down to the ground. I jumped down after them so I could get a close up view of Blue’s tattoo on his back. I examined the diagram of notes inside a pyramid on his recently shaved skin. I gently touched a B flat and the note began to fill the air around us. I touched some more marks… G, F, and music exploded, expanded and blew all around the mountain, filling the atmosphere with sounds.
Blue was playing the blues. He started to shimmer and hum, and I knew what was going to happen next, it always does. He was gone. All that was left were the notes drifting back to earth and the dirt; crushed rocks and footprints embossed in the sand from the blues sheep.

Ruff Neck the Cowgirl, ©Susan Shulman

November 18, 2012

William - Authors note: Just to be clear; the weather patterns on Analogue are notoriously unpredictable. There is no best, ideal or prime climbing season; instead climbers have to be patient in the extreme. Additionally, the reader should realize that what we often refer to as weather has implications with little correspondence to normal weather forecasting. For example, while we have enough savvy to record changes in barometric pressure and the recording of a low reading of say 25.7 inHg would in all other locals and circumstance would send us running for high shelter screaming “Typhoon” at the top of our lungs we have since discovered that at worse we could expect is 12 -14 hours of intense deja-vu. At the other extreme, a high-pressure ridge of 32.0 inHg often brings winds of empathy and compassion. Observatory District readings are updated and wagons dispatched with the days forecast each morning.

November 20, 2012

Lee - Somewhere under the island: "even though I knew it was well past time for me to find the others I've been reluctant to leave the safety of the caves. I've lost track of time but surely we've been on the island more than 2 years, except of course, for several quick trips through the time warps.
Going back reviewing my field notes tells me the island is far larger than we'd ever imagined in the beginning. It also holds so many mysteries left to be explored.
I really could use a map, if one exists.

A couple of nicely dressed monkey's came up to me then one took my hand. She seemed very insistent I come with them. The monkeys have always seemed to send me in the right direction. I'm sure this will be no different; after all if you can't trust a well dressed monkey who can you trust?
We went upward so I assumed I was being lead out of the tunnels at last. The light was growing brighter and I was feeling so excited to be so close to the surface. (I thought)
We rounded a corner and there dead in front of me was a ladder; not a doorway or an opening in the mountain, a ladder and I could not see where it would take me. Holy crap ! Now what?
This is not what I was expecting.
The small monkey looked at me and said, “CLIMB! it does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop...'”
I stepped gingerly on the first rung and felt myself moving quickly upwards...............

If you can't Trust a Well Dressed Monkey, ©Lee Goldberg

December 2, 2012

William  - Confronted with a near vertical ice wall I fear this may be the last route I’ll be able to try before retreating to the lower shelf for Mulka. This particular pitch started with much promise and brought Fish and I a bit higher than the south col route we attempted over the summer. Although I’m sorely tempted to give it a go we’ve barely enough provisions for contingencies.

I glance down at Fish, who is holding me on belay and find myself nearly blinded. He seems to be evolving the higher we climb. Somehow he seems to be exuding more fishness than I’m used to. I fumble in my rucksack for the glacier goggles to make the glare off his scales a bit more bearable.

“Telepathy is more than a parlor trick,” he shouts up to me, “my scales are actually iridescent and in the thin air their refractive properties are magnified.”
Damn him, how did he know what I was thinking about?

He continued, “At this altitude with it’s delightful thin air I do believe that I can explain Now.”
I could swear that his lidless eye winked, but that’s impossible.

“Since the past is memory and I’m still imagining tomorrow I must be creating the world as I speak.” “Isn’t that grand, William, I’m creating you”

Since the Past is Memory, ©William Evertson

Susan  - "omg"...............Susan screamed across the great divide!!! "Is this being filmed...anyone our there listening?"

William  -  The seven small blues tasked with making sketches documenting the climber’s progress paused and then held up their drawings in rapid succession. They made a snuffling sound, rubbed their whiskers then returned to work.

December 4, 2012

Lee  - The last thing I remember hearing was, “it does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop” so I climbed the ladder and kept climbing the ladder. It seemed like hours, surely not days…
I could no longer see where I came from and looking up there was nothingness. Now what do I do? My arms and legs ached from the strain of climbing but I dared not stop for fear of falling. Falling, one of my biggest fears - height!!! I can't see how high I am so keep looking up. I told myself - never look down - don't look back. Who would have thought I was so far beneath the mountain. Even the idea of that scared me.
It occurred to me, what if I'm climbing the mountain from the inside? Maybe this ladder to the surface does not come out on the beach or forest or even a gentle hill. Holy crap! Why did I listen to that monkey...such tricksters they are...
I began to feel a gentle breeze; the air had seemed to change from the cool dank of the caves to something else. Still, quite cool. My gloves were in my backpack and not wanting to risk stopping I climbed up toward the light that began to filter downward.
Beyond the ladder I could make out stones and moss. I realized I was in a circular structure with ledges; steps and archways leading to tunnels. Many tunnels. I wondered where they lead, but resisted the impulse to explore. I need to get to the surface wherever that may be. Looking through an archway I saw stars and a strange looking sky. Time for the climb to stop, I thought. At the same time I ran out of ladder. Indeed, time to come out of the darkness. Over a small wall and up some irregular stone steps there was a small strange clearing. “As long as you do not stop” rang in my ears...really? Assessing the situation does not mean stopping and it's time to REST...and figure out just where I am and more importantly where are the others?

After the Ladder, ©Lee Goldberg

December 10, 2012

Mark  - Everyone was sure this was going to be The Final Mulka. That is, the one pushed furthest forward. "Pighead meet Goathead!" said the suspicious-looking beady-eyed little troll with designs on keeping the Mulkatudes salivating forever. But Goathead knew better and so when Pighead extended his hand for a shake, Goathead knowingly went in for the passionate hug. The balding little troll was taken aback by this sudden surge of confidence in La Cabra (the Goat).
"Where is everyone? Are they hiding from the unknown?" Susan muttered. We all moved in closer toward the troll.
"Somewhere in there you agreed to be the bearer of good news!" Mara said ignoring Susan.
"Anyway, we see something on your back that will help locate the dirigible, if you are still interested in leaving."
Bill looked away from the fish for a second who said “Since the past is memory and I’m still imagining tomorrow I must be creating the world as I speak.” but Bill didn't hear him. “Isn’t that grand, William, I’m creating you”
I asked Mara who was the bald guy and Mara turned to ask Ria.
"That is Jelly De Smet once a Belgian prodigy but now a no good prick." she whispered uncharacteristically. She seemed annoyed. I told Bill to hold it down and Susan wearily asked Mara "What?"
Just then Blue mumbled, "What?" sleepily as if in echo. "I have a job to do".
"That's right", Mara Mara said, "Blue agreed to move the sheep from the high pastures down lower before Mulka. When are you getting to that Blue?"
"It may have to be done on the way to your new assignment", the barber said.
La Cabra the Goatman, feeling his value at last said confidently, "This is the final Mulka, De Smet, so you can kiss my furry ass. The Pig is mine."
The troll, embarrassed that his name had been spoken out loud, rubbed his eyes in disbelief.

Unspoken the Troll, ©Susan Shulman

December 12, 2012

William  - I felt a slight vibration under my feet and glanced at Fish who of course knew what I was thinking. Either that or he placed the thought (or the vibration) in my head.

Lidless eyes held my gaze and he calmly said, “We’ll be ok but it’s going to be a hell of a ride to the Mulka fields, swim like there’s no tomorrow.”

“Swim?”, I shouted, causing the barber to drop his razor and the little blues to stop in mid chatter.

“Yes, I would recommend a vigorous crawl stroke and to kick like mad.”

Jelly De Smelt
Suddenly, Jelly De Smelt bend over backwards, looked uphill and screamed, “Blue, either those sheep are coming to you or that’s an avalanche.”

Who, was the bald guy yelled, “It’s not my fault, MaraMara,” as she grabbed up her rucksack of journals.

IIIIEEEE....I tumbled at first then began kicking and clawing in the midst of the fluffy powder. I thought I caught a glimpse of yellow curly hair fly past. Susan??? A large scaly tail obscured my vision and I could do nothing more than continue to be swept along.

December 16, 2012

Susan  - I gazed across the ravine watching Fish with his tale swishing back and forth like he was conducting a symphony with a slippery and scaly baton. There was Bill, laying down horizontally, perfectly still floating at least 4 feet in the air. I didn’t see any strings or magic apparatus. He was suspended in mid air. What Trickery was this? Colours were emanating from Fish’s body. He looked like a mirage swirling in an aura of brilliant pastel colours. Flashing back and forth into reality before my eyes. Bill was unblinking and his pupils were huge as he stared into space. Orange and white fluffy lenticular clouds started rolling down and enveloping the two of them. Wisps of coloured lightening bolts exploded out from the interior of the clouds and flashes of people started to appear. In quick succession I saw holograms of Mara, Lee, Chris, Mark, Bibi, Angela, Jane, Cathy, Ria, William and Kathleen, speeding up faster and faster becoming one big rainbow blur………….. And then…the boom…and they were gone. All that was left of the ridge was Fish sporting a “topper”, with his pursed red lips, and quite an odd expression on his Poisson face. “Let the festivities begin” he telepathically broadcast to all on the mountain, as he raised his twinkling eyeball to showcase his gold filled monocle.

Master of Ceremony, ©Susan Shulman

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Events of February 28 to August 11 - Chapter 27

February 28, 2012

Mara  - Every way she turned, there were just more slopes. Steep and unpopulated. Crouching, she opened the rucksack. Inside was an oval shaped form. She brought one end up to her eye and fell into the interior...

March 1, 2012

Mark  - Susan had drifted to the south in a giant rhino shaped suitcase. Still wearing the Sammy mask, she opened the rhino along his seam and climbed in, tugging the rope before locking the hard shell tight from the inside and the giant shape began to move pulling the rhinoceros with it. She shouted to us that was headed down under but we were already as low as a person on the earth can go. Lee and I headed North in our own balloon, hoping that no one would notice this had already happened before except that I was not part goat then. Bill was caught in a meteor storm but Bibiana and Angela informed us months before that when it came, it would not be a threat So we all rested easy knowing it was just the hardened drips of sky falling off the giant's brow. Mara was the problem here. First oriented East then West, she could not get her bearings. Every way she turned, slopes spring up around her, knocking her off balance. She crouched and opened the rucksack, not realizing her unicorn past was about to tip her over. It was up to Ria now. 

March 19, 2012

Susan  - I awoke startled by the dead air. I didn’t perceive the usual clanging of miniature drills hammering within my damaged eardrums. I had become so accustomed to the familiar buzz over the years caused from my addiction to sitting so close to the amps at concerts. It was too silent. I was alone. My eyes felt glued shut but I managed to pry them open and wiped away the dream crystals. I gingerly opened my lids. It was dark except for the huge looming moon in the sky lighting the surfaces of the ground causing shadows of dancing movement around me. Stars were sparkling rapidly in the heavens. I saw the frothy waves caressing the dark ominous water. I could not hear the roar of the ocean. As I surveyed myself, I notice that my body was covered in wet golden grainy sand. My body was glistening as I moved my hands through the still space. I felt like a shiny emery board. What a crazy thought. I spit out some grime from my dry mouth. As I turned my stiff neck caked with granules, I noticed splintered wood and debris surrounding me. Parts of what seemed like a rhinoceros’s head and horn was nearby. My boots were scattered amongst the mess of shells and hot air balloon parts. Slowly, I maneuvered onto my tightly stiff knees to get up and investigate. In the distance I felt the earth moving and quickly saw a herd of animals racing (crashing) towards my vision. In one second, I felt something cold touch my ankle. A large monstrous hand rose from the hushed up sea, I had no time to think or react as it kept grabbing me. I tried to scream but nothing came out. I could not speak. What was going on? I calmly eyed a large jagged piece of heavy metal and smacked the grotesque green reptilian hand protruding from the breaker. Smashing it over and over again until finally it’s hairy disfigured fingers released me and it receded back into the black undercurrent. I crouched down while shaking and gagging for breath. Now all I waited for was to be trampled by the onslaught of crazed and fantastical wildlife. The collective of hooves stopped as quickly as they started. Sweating and panting in front of me in the muddy earth, pointing to the ocean with their varied paws, I heard sounds of notes in my head. “We were trying to warn you about “IT”, “IT” came last night and destroyed our tents and crashed our carousels. And “IT” stole our music. “IT” has taken it all.”

It was then I realized “IT” had taken all the sounds. I scanned the multi colored eyes blinking in front of me. I heard the telepathic being again. “Susan, help us find our voice, help us find our music!”
I looked up at the twinkling stars. I couldn’t even recognize any of the constellations. I fell down on my weak knees with my hands clasped together before I found a smoldering stick of wood and gradually began to draw in the sand. I took out a note from my encrusted pocket. I remembered the symbol. The outline of the squirrel started to be visible in the damp grains. I got up and danced to an imaginary beat as all the animals next to me started to bang their hooves on the soil in unison. We were evoking the Blues to save us again and hoping the smoke signals would warn the others.

March 21, 2012

Mark  - I fell down on my weak knees in the silence and I looked up toward the heavens waiting for an answer I sense will never come. I feel humiliated and confused. Ashamed. The root of a frozen tree is digging into my shin. I readjust. The roots. The earth. This mountain always has a black or dark brown color, due to the accumulation of organic carbon. Humus.I realize I am down on the ground, the earth. The root ---root!!! Gadzooks!--- of the word humiliation is like humus. I look up again, still perplexed but less in despair. But then I see smoke above me, far in the distance and my humiliation turns into horror and fear but then humility. I pause. I realize there is no sound. I cry out but there are only molecules of silence, deafness coming out of my mouth. The molecules fall to the ground all around me. I can see them, I can see them like smoke like particles of the mountain's black earth coming out of my mouth, echoing the patterns of the smoke in the sky over my head. 

Susan  - ‎.....thinking how do I get out of this one......I see the smoke forming the letters... H o p e.....and rising into the sky! Where is Mark!!  He would know!

March 24, 2012

William  - The note meteors that Susan dropped continued to rain down on us as we sought shelter in one of the many caves dotting the North Slope. Fish and I hoped the weight of the notes wouldn’t collapse the ladder we had placed over the last crevasse otherwise our retreat was cut off and we would have to commit to this unexplored route. My train of thought was interrupted by Fish who seemed to have an uncanny knack for minds reading of late. Or it could just be coincidence, but it was hard for me to concentrate this high up.

“William, this route has been explored. Zeno of Elea tried it about 450 BC."

“Fish, how would you possibly know that?”

“The blackboard here in the back of the cave; it could only have been left by him. See!!... it has one of the paradoxes of motion diagramed.” 

Then Fish went on to describe why we may never overtake the summit from this direction. 
“Before you can get there, you must get halfway there. Before you can get halfway there, you must get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a quarter, you must travel one-eighth; before an eighth, one-sixteenth; and so on.”

I wasn’t sure what to believe except there was a blackboard.

 William Evertson    Fish at the Blackboard

April 12, 2012

William  - Suddenly Fish stopped in mid sentence which was something that rarely occurred once he warmed to his favorite paradoxes.
“Do you hear that?”, he said in his best stage whisper.
I strained to listen but the patter of the final barrage of meteor notes drowned any chance of hearing.
Fish persisted, “I swear I hear something; like a hunmmm or a murmur…..” Suddenly he dropped his chalk, picked up his walking stick and began to make his way deeper in the cave. Follow me, William, I know what it is.”
I grabbed both of our rucksacks, grumbling because the lazy fellow was always forgetting gear.
Suddenly, after a several hundred meters I picked up on what he was hearing and quickened my pace.
We burst into a large cavern and Fish called out, “Mrs. Ria Vanden Eynde, is that you?”
The serene figure sat lotus position facing a blank wall. Slowly the figure’s head turned and she said, “Bloody Hell.”

 William Evertson    Fish and Lotus

April 14, 2012

Susan  - The aroma of breathtaking pine permeated my nostrils. I fluttered my lashes; it was so intoxicating I became disoriented. I heard the soft movement of branches in the wind. SOUND…. was it possible. Could I hear again? Patches of the sky seemed so blue and glazed with millions of green leaves superimposed upon each other. Thin rays of blinding sunshine beamed down in spirals. I must now be in the jungle. Hibiscus and roses were caressing and surrounding me. I took one bloom gingerly into my palm and breathed its lingering perfume. I was so excited to have discovered a magical garden. I looked between the tall trees and saw the mountain. I must be close to the others. As I started to walk, I realized my legs would not move. I looked downs and saw my body intertwined with the plants and the ground, and as I looked up, huge eyes were staring down at me.

 Susan Shulman     Forest People

I immediately recalled Zeno's arguments and his first examples of a method of proof called reductio ad absurdum, literally meaning to reduce to the absurd. Why was I thinking of this, and how did I even know about ZENO. I screamed as I tried to RUN……………..

Mara  - The last I recalled was crouching over the rucksack, and a sensation of falling.... this simultaneous with the "Whomp" of an apparent landing... my eyes, however, refused to open. The scent around me was similar to the fatwood used to jump start fires in the old stove.

June 9, 2012 

Susan  - Seems like years since I have communicated with anyone on the mountain. It has been empty except for the transit of Venus transcending the sun behind me. Her pastel shadows caressing the sand and sparkling along the waves of the azure water. I see fantastical visions around me. Natural beauty and the sound of music penetrating my soul. I am suspended in this new alignment of my life. Have they burrowed so deep inside the caves? Where is everyone? Are they hiding from the unknown? I hear buzzing of bees and what seems like purring. Am I imagining this reality? Maybe I am in the wrong year. What year is it? Is it 2012 or 243 years ago, or have a transported to the future…. where is everyone!  

 Susan Shulman  - Seems Like Years

June 19, 2012

Lee  - The stream is clear as glass. It's illuminated by the bluish light that shines from the walls of the caves. A self-contained world under the mountain had become my home for many months now since I left the others on the fascination never seemed to be what was on top of the mountain but the mysteries that were beneath the surface. The monkeys had been not only my guides but had provided quite comfortable accommodations for me while I've been exploring the many chambers inside Mt. Analogue. 

 Lee Goldberg     Dressed for Dinner

Right now, I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to leave this place. It seems that the time slits (warps) that exist above also exist below. After awhile I seem to have lost all sense of time....and I thought I was confused before.... 

July 14, 2012

Mara  - Lee has been exploring underground, Mark has split his time hunkered down in hut 27 and making tentative moves back to the world "as we know it", Bibiana has her hands full with kidlets, William is dripping sweat framing art while Susan bucks some broncos. Ria has abandoned herself to flying lessons. I was taking Big Blue to the barber... for some reason he demanded a buzz cut today. So off we go to the Port o' Monkeys looking for the monkey in a fez. There must be a reason for this madness.... 

 1951 Children's book - illustrator unknown

Just when I feel so lost, I am found.  

 Mara Thompson    Mountain of Lost

July 19, 2012 

Susan  - I must have fallen off the rhino. Was I really riding one, or is this illusion. But I am still in this dark cave. Life is strange. I see a flash of imagery and then what I believe to be reality disappears again. I had the strangest vision. I was remembering walking along St. Catherine Street with my mom. She had just bought me my new fluffy winger coat and fur muff. It was chic. I ran beside her trying to keep up with her quick pace. My hair was bouncing along as I felt I was flying in my dream, I was adorned with fish talisman. Was this real or am I still dreaming. Where are the climbers?

 Susan Shulman     Adorned with a Fish Talisman

July 25, 2012 

William  - Fish was either gasping for breath or trying to speak with words that for once were failing him. I too was at a loss for words because my eyes were clearly deceiving me as the figure’s head swiveled and came into view. While the figure was clad in our companion’s kit this was not Ria but a magnificent blue fox. I recognized the Belgian’s rucksack nearby and the fox was wearing the citrine necklace I had seen her wearing during the Mulka celebration.

Speaking in her Flemish tinged English the fox repeated, “Bloody Hell, It took you two long enough; your attention spans aren’t much better than the monkeys on the beach.“

“Don’t bloody hell us”, Fish interrupted, “what have you done with the Belgian?”

Fox looked quizzically at Fish and I. “I have no idea who you are talking about, my name is William, William Fox and I’ve waited here with news from Mara. Mara says to tell you it’s time for your monkey buzz cut fez thing. Now if you’ll follow me we’ll head back down to the Port O’Monkeys because there’s a game afoot.”

The fox darted past us and paused at the cave’s entrance and looked back over his (or her) shoulder. “Hurry up”.

  William Evertson    Analogue Fox

Susan  -  Thinking I just saw that sly fox WIlliam! I must have really bumped my head!

William  - Fish stared at me for a long time. It was very disconcerting because, of course, he never blinks, then finally said, "You're not going to trust a talking fox, are you?"

Mark  -  There was a very heavy creature of some kind standing on my chest. I could feel it's pointy toenails or something digging into my throat and sternum. I could feel the pressure of at least two feet concentrated over my chest cavity but I could not make out what sort of shadowy critter this was above me obscuring my view of the ceiling. I would have been scared to death but my complete exhaustion allowed nothing but recognition that something out of the ordinary was in progress. And when I say out of the ordinary I mean for this place.

July 28  

Susan  - I am calm meditating amongst the beauty in my ocean of the BLUES. The rhythm of the water is caressing my cool skin as I listen to CROSSROADS. I know that if I stay underwater much longer I will not feel like making the transformation back to the mountain. I forget how I long for the sea and how the symphony of music encompassed my soul and envelopes me in peace.
The intense full moon is glistening down upon the sparkling water. I think I see the shadow of a blue fox gazing down at me. I detected muffled sounds vibrating through the layers of the waves and a paw was splashing my world. The fish around me started to panic at the movement from above. I flicked my tail and thought, “Ok, foxy, you better get ready cause here I come!”

 Susan Shulman    I Am Calm

July 3, 2012

Lee  - It seems like years since I entered the caves from the beach. Of course, with all the time warps down here it could be just minutes , or it could be many years in the future - or- the past. Here - there is no sense of time. Every chamber is a different experience. I've tried to record them in my field notes as best I could. Now, I find myself in a chamber of monkeys. They certainly know how to have all the time....I wonder what happened to the others on the surface..are they still on the island?

Lee Goldberg   Chamber of Monkeys

There seems to be a very bright light at the end of this chamber...and..there is a very large and well dressed fox sitting on a rock reading a book...I wonder what that means.................

Mark  - It seems like eons since I backed into the caves from the elevator. Of course, with all the time warps above and below me each floor could be minutes, days or years ahead or behind the previous one. But here on the elevator- there is no sense of time. Every floor is a different experience which I've tried to record in my field notes as best I could ever since Lee passed in the balloon. Now, I find myself in a chamber of ghostly figures with clocks on their faces and long tails. They certainly know how to remain elusive, moving all the time....I see the others on the surface of the clock faces and see them moving through time on the island as I watch the curly tails wind and unwind.

There seems to be a very bright light ahead that calls the elevator up and down...and..there is a fox in an old fashioned uniform that looks like Christopher, our train conductor sitting on a stool spinning a bicycle wheel. I wonder what that means.................

August 8, 2012

Lee  - I made my way toward the bright light at the end of the tunnel.   I would finally go back above ground...silly me! it seems to be another cavernous passage to...who know where?  As I entered the new chamber I realized it was very different than most of the others that I'd encountered....this one has enormous crystals also seems to have been inhabited at some point, tho now there are but ruins left...much just usual the only life are the monkeys every where. How do I climb my way out of this one? I do see some paths that look a bit confusing but may lead to another portal.   If it would only pop me back to the beach;  or at least somewhere where the others might be.

 Lee Goldberg    New Chamber

August 9, 2012

Mara  -  We reached the door of the barber shop, I knocked. Silence. We looked at each other, checked the store hours, and knocked again. Blue wandered to the side of the building and disappeared around the corner.

Then I see the note. There is a message taped to the door that says, "Hut 26 attachment unavailable, please go back and find it."

August 10, 2012

Susan  - I was swimming so close to the beach so I could now peek at those slanted grey eyes leering down at me form the shore. The startled fox jumped as the flares of light exploded in the darkness behind him. The sparks seemed to be coming out of a monumental black shape that towered up endlessly into the sparkling sky. I had never seen something so black and lifeless in my world. This could not be natural. There were pastel lights shining off and on as it zoomed up the horizon in seconds. The fox sprang up on his hind legs jumping to try to eat the blinking dots floating near us. I waded up closer to the shore with my harp strapped to my waist. The current of the waves were automatically strumming the chords in sequence: A7, D7, A7, D7, E 7 oh ya, the beginning of Born in Chicago. I was lost for a moment until I saw two men-like shapes up on a overhanging cliff. Their silhouette blinked from the lights of in the sky. I couldn’t quite make them out except one man creature seemed to have a fish head. The lights intensified for what seemed a few seconds and what I saw sent fish shivers down my fins. “Fish ‘n Boots” He’s alive!

Mara  - "Blue! Blue!" I went looking for him around the back of the shop. Under the shade of a tree stood two men or blue foxes - depending on how you viewed it. The one closest to me had on green pants and red vest, the other in jeans and a sweatshirt. Blue was feeding a deer in the background. "Hello, ummm I'm looking for Hut 26?" I stammered a bit uncertainly.

 Lee Goldberg    Two Blue Foxes

August 11, 2012

Susan  - I placed my Steampunk goggles over my strained eyes that were dripping down my cheeks with tears from squinting. It was difficult to make out the creatures on the cliff that were peeking through the blinking lights surrounding the ominous black obelisk. I couldn’t be certain. I touched my brass frames with my gloved hands. Yes, what a treasure these were. I found them years ago on one of those sunken shipwrecks off the coast. So many unusual treasures were buried amongst the algae. I remember swimming around the broken wooden figureheads. They were all so strange. There seemed to be three of them. One had a squirrel like body, another looked like a goat-like creature standing on 2 legs and the third carved totem appeared to be a woman. My instinct told me they each were sculpted to protect the vessel. “Well, that didn’t seem to work out well” I laughed. “How can you protect yourself from what you can’t see?” 

 Susan Shulman    Sunken Treasure