Sunday, October 2, 2016

Vestigial Surreality: 43: Shadow Tools

The Sunday SciFi Fantasy Serial by Douglas Christian Larsen
Part 3: Dark Resistless Stream
01 02 03 04 05 06 07
08 09 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31 32 33 34 35
36 37 38 39 40 41 42
43 44 45 46 47 48 49
50 51 52 53 54 55 56
Vestigial Surreality WIKI
Sunday SciFi Fantasy Serial
by Douglas Christian Larsen
Shadow Tools.

He huddled in the iron cage, returning there and closing himself in when all the bizarre stuff began with Punchinello’s head flying off and Cyrano reaching out to catch it as if they were playing some weird game, headball or something. It was absurd, because he had been dreaming of Stacey when the weirdness began, Punchinello and Cyrano appearing at the bars of the cage in the middle of the night, and then things really went haywire. Hadn’t there been screaming, from far away, that went on and on and on? There had been a few moments, when it seemed he was out of the cage, that the Puppet Master was letting him go, but then it had all turned out to have been a taunt, for Punchinello had laughed at him, and the doors at the top of the stairs had slammed shut. They would let him go, but not with his Anne. They wanted her, and not him, but he would rather remain here if they had her. There would be no freedom without Anne. He would not leave her.
At some point in the nightmare—he could not be certain how much of this was dream, or if any of it was real—bells rang, pealing, Jack heard bells from everywhere, Quasimodo was going nuts up in the belfry. But now, huddled in the corner of the cage, he could not be certain, but it all seemed fever dreams. He shivered. It was so cold. Interspersed with all the nightmare elements, he and Stacey had talked, like they used to, just rambling, comparing notes. For a moment Jack remembered sitting on the beach, sunning, with a cold beer in his hand, and seagulls screaming above. Had that been the screaming? Seagulls? And what was all that beach stuff about, it didn’t jibe with anything else, it was just kind of...out there.
It made no sense, not any of it. He was sick. He had a fever. And his mind washed through with the tides of illness and madness. Washing in Stacey, washing out Punchinello. In the bubbles of the surf were little people, Cyrano flashing his sword, Anne in her karate stance, Stacey twirling his shillelagh, Michael, the little meerkat man shooting out sparkles of light, Seven on her horse. Jack huddled into the tightest ball he could make of his body. When he exhaled it looked like fog emanating from his body. Fog on the beach, the surf rolling in, poppling, fizzing on the sand, and the cries of seagulls, and fog. Where was the foghorn? Oh, there it was, almost on cue.
Outside the cage there had been some form of struggle, and for a moment Jack could have sworn that the businessman was there, standing just a few feet away. Was he glowing? His umbrella outlined in blue, the businessman stood facing the headless body as it staggered forward like Frankenstein’s monster. Cyrano standing, holding aloft Punchinello’s head, looking like a grotesque Statue of Liberty.
Jack inhaled, something washing over him, and for a few moments he felt warm, and it seemed he was actually riding in High Vale, on that small, beautiful horse, with Seven galloping near. He could feel the warm wind in his face, and the smell of sweaty horse, and Seven was passing him, Seven bent low over the flashing horse, hooves thundering, it was all exhilarating, and for just a few short moments he almost seemed free of his cage. He felt freedom wash throughout his soul. Liberty, ah liberty.
Jack had laughed with Seven, at first frustrated, but then amused when she assured him that she had accessed a feature in her Gold Guest Pass, expert horsemanship, and Jack, as a refugee between worlds, had no such powers. And Jack was not an expert horseman.
It was quiet now, outside the cage, Punchinello and Cyrano had departed, yelling, the swordsman doing his rhymes. But it was about that time of night when the puppets would stir and begin their strange nocturnal perambulation. Jack could hear them now, but he did not wish to look. He didn’t like to admit it to himself, but seeing the puppets out and about, well, it really freaked him out, and he really could use a little less of that dark stimulation.
The featureless automatons—they looked like artist’s poseable manikins—strolled as couples, linked arm in arm, and there were all sizes of these, some wearing the uniforms of maids, butlers, others wore aprons, but most were nude, naked wood, but they strolled about in the dark, whispering. Several times during these short hours, the puppets gathered about the iron cage and stared in at Jack. He felt like an animal at the zoo. Once or twice during the last few nights, Jack thought he caught sight of Pinocchio, or different stages of the puppet boy, various versions, some more boy, some more puppet, some looking rudimentary, a pine log with faint suggestions of a face. But none of the puppets attempted to communicate with him.
Oh no, the dreams are starting again, his fever dreams, nightmares, the gears, so many gears, gears as thick as ship parts, taller than a house, turning ever so slowly, right along the tiny, spiraling gears, the metal teeth, movement, ever in flux, flowing, turning, clanking, oh no, he is inside the vast machine again, he always dreams this. For some reason he thinks of Old Ben. What was it, Old Ben and the Machine, and yes, when he is here, Jack always senses Seven very close, in the machine, a part of the machine, just like him.
“You have forgotten, dear Jack,” Old Ben says. “Remember, in the cafe? Just before the Looking Glass?”
“Silly Jack! Don’t you remember? I told you, you don’t actually have to touch your shoulder, it’s not like a switch, silly boy!”
Manda? Was that Manda’s voice?
The gears, the machine, the levers, Jack a part of the machine, and Seven always nearby, frantically pulling levers, working the gears and switches.
“Ones and zeroes,” Jack murmurs, waking himself, and no, no, why couldn’t he remain asleep, it was so greatly to be desired over this, waking to his world of shivering.
“What did Old Ben say?” Jack murmurs, relaxing, feeling some of that imagined warmth from earlier, when he was talking to Stacey, and then again, when he dreamed of riding horses with Seven. He had a few moments of peace, and almost warmth.
“You have forgotten,” Old Ben had said, or had Jack only dreamed that?
“I get distracted,” Jack murmurs, waking himself again, and the shivering starts.
His shoulder, he feels it tingling, even now. What had he forgotten? Certainly not the gears, he always dreams about them. But the tingle in his shoulder, that tingle in his shoulder—what had Old Ben told him?
“Administrative control,” Old Ben had said.
Jack sucked in a shuddering breath. Administrative control. Old Ben had showed him, in the cafe, just prior to their visit to the Looking Glass. He remembers. It was as if a door had been closed inside his memory, and now, suddenly, it was opening up inside his mind. He grabbed his left shoulder with his right hand, and squeezed. The tingling increased.
“I am such an idiot,” Jack whispers, grinning.
“Take little steps,” Old Ben had said.
“Just little steps,” Manda said, and Jack can almost hear her voice, now, outside of his head. Manda. His little girl. Manda told him to take little steps. She said you only need to think, to use your mind—no hand gestures are necessary.
Jack turned up the heat, just in a little bubble around himself—he didn’t wish to set off any alarms, firing up some huge furnace, no, just a little heat was required. Easy as that, twiddling the knob on a thermostat. He sighed. Yes, thank God, it was warm. He was warm. It was as easy as picturing a little knob, which his imaginary fingers turned. And he pictured a little bubble about his body, just extending a few inches, like a halo. Yes, a halo of warmth. That was good. Keep it like that, just rest here a few moments, the shivering subsiding, yes, just like that.
Some of the puppets were gathering outside the cage, peering in. Jack mentally shot out a curtain, which he drew about the iron bars. The puppets would see a huddled shape, lying on the far side of the cage. As Jack watched, from his seated position, the puppets dispersed, many wandering back to their places, where they went inanimate, turning from the ghostly apparitions of lovers and friends into nameless automatons.
Jack reached and plucked a glass of water out of the air. He guzzled it, hardly considering the wonder of what he had just accomplished. He produced more water, but halfway through guzzling the liquid, he turned it into orange juice. He could sure use the vitamins, and all that wonderful sugar. And then he turned it into a mug of coffee, which he sipped, enjoying the warmth more than anything else. He drank it black, foregoing his usual doctoring of ginger and honey and cinnamon.
He had just met two of his needs. Punchinello had provided no water, and no warmth, and Jack, from his administrative control, produced those things, now. It was all part of the simulation, damn it, and it had all been there, while he huddled, filthy in this cage, starving, relieving himself in a bucket.
He plucked a bean and cheese burrito from the air and sank his teeth into the flesh of the tortilla. Oh, lovely. Yes, he thought, chewing slowly. Doing a quick check, he could actually ensure that none of the ingredients were GMO! All healthy vegetarian fare.
He plucked three small white pills from the air. Aspirin. He supposed he was old enough for aspirin. He had turned eighteen years of age, and he distantly remembered that he was supposed to be nineteen to take aspirin, Reye’s Syndrome, and all that, but he was not taking any acetaminophen, Punchinello and fever couldn’t be any worse than that. He downed the aspirin and then, experimenting, he sped up the time in his belly, dispersing the aspirin throughout his body. Sheesh, the things a guy could do, if he only thought about doing them.
Jack thought away his filthy clothes. That jerk, Punch, had confiscated his jacket, and his boots, and his nifty fighting knuckles. But Jack replaced them, everything, by thinking, first giving himself a quick mental shower (cleaning out his ears, brushing his teeth, gargling), and then snap-donning thermal wear, jeans, thick socks, combat boots, a flannel lumberjack shirt that felt wonderful and warm. Good. He had met his needs, except for his greatest need, Anne, and he doubted that even with practice with this interactive interface would he be able to pull her from thin air. He flexed his hands, enjoying the promise of the fighting knuckles.
He called up an on-the-fly GPS, keeping it as a translucent window about three feet in front of his face. Then he pulled an aura of shadows over his head and sent it down to his feet, mixing it with his aura of heat, and he must be feeling better, because he had to turn the heat down. Little steps. He set up a row of indicators. First a motion detector, then a heat detector, then an AI trap detector, and a few other useful warning lights to keep him from being a complete idiot.
He rose, crouching, remembering not to bash his head on the iron. He went to the cage door and twisted it out, slowly, quietly, turning the iron and squishing it between his fingers like a sponge. He pried open the door, then plucked the iron hinges away from the cage, folding up the door as he would do a piece of paper, until it was no more than a heavy blob of black saltwater taffy, which he discarded, setting quietly inside the cage, upon the cold floor.
Then, the thought keyed off, he called up a piece of black saltwater taffy, unwrapped it, and then really enjoyed consuming it. Mmmm, licorice, very nice, indeed. Enough goofing off.
Jack could not allow himself to become punch drunk on his new abilities, because he understood that Punchinello had these abilities, as well, only far more powerful tools, and he was far more practiced at using them. Somehow the Puppet Master had discovered a means to access the shadow tools of reality, and perhaps understood the nature of this simulation, probably not the same way in which Jack understood things, but the Puppet Master had practiced and experimented with these tools, and probably knew them better than Jack. While Jack massaged and altered data, Punchinello practiced magic, that was the difference in their perspective. It was the same reality, the same simulation, but a different viewpoint in interacting with that reality, and certainly a different method.
He glanced in the cage and saw himself lying huddled in the corner. Jack adjusted the curtain over the empty place where the door had been, he tucked and tweaked with his thoughts, until it again appeared to be an iron cage, undamaged, with a great locked door on its hinges, a complete iron cage, with requisite prisoner huddled and shivering. It was surreal, looking at the image of himself, which gave him an idea.
Jack opened a small window and attempted to contact Old Ben. He only got static. He tried Manda, and Seven. But something interfered with any kind of signal. He created a message, speaking, but only in the window—very uncanny, the height of surreality, he stood here in his physical body, looking into a window only he could see, and observed his own head and face, shot selfie-style, saying the things he only thought. He addressed the message to Old Ben, Manda, and Seven. He closed the window. The message would travel out as soon as a signal was available.
He paused a moment, and called up the selfie-view of himself. Hmmm, could he actually...might he, just sort of...? He added a bit of heft to his moustache. Hey, not bad. He darkened the color a bit, and then added a little tweaky below his lower lip. Should he go for the whole goatee? Nah, he kind of liked this Errol Flynn look. He saved it. Nice.
He had to go get Anne, now, or die trying. And he realized that Punchinello, Puppet Master, could be tracking him at this very moment, that the monster very well might know exactly where he was, what he was doing, and how he was doing it, and could conceivably pull the plug on Jack’s new abilities, whenever he chose to do so. Jack understood that all of this might be a part of Punchinello’s Theatre, and Jack was just another puppet in said theatre. He didn’t want to think about that distinct possibility.
What he needed, he thought, was happy thoughts. Just a few. Just to get him through this next part. Somehow, he understood that this next part would be bad, very bad, tremendously bad.
He remembered in the Looking Glass, standing at the end of the Hall of Heads, and that small figure charging toward him, that delighted scream she had uttered, as she came running up the hall toward him like an Olympic sprinter, and then she threw herself into his arms, and they had tumbled backward, and he remembered Anne’s face, with the soot marks all about her face, and the white skin about her eyes where she had worn goggles, and how crazily her hair stood up, and how her eyes had sparkled as she smiled into him.
That was a tremendously happy thought. And Jack shivered, although he no longer felt cold.
He wouldn’t allow himself to remember how she had—clenched him—up to speed, so to speak, overcoming his shyness as he attempted to meet her and greet her and fall in love with her again, as they had done so many times before. No, that memory was a little too sharp, and he needed to concentrate without a brain stuck full of pins.
Eyes full of tears, Jack followed the blip on his translucent GPS.
Perhaps “global positioning system” was not the best term, not here, not when considering how he received his data, for he was not receiving triangulated signals from various satellites.
No, what he was actually doing, although his brain was not powerful enough to fully understand all the ramifications in the actions of his thought, was communicating with Manda’s body. He was receiving information from the data that made up the molecules of her digital biology. Jack was communicating with, and manipulating, the very essence of Manda. Perhaps MPS was the better acronym, for Manda Positioning System. Perhaps Manda might even track his passage, like a beacon bobbing through the tides of her bloodstream. She might be smiling, right now, thinking of Jack, pinpointing his location, right there, in her elbow!
He set the blinking light as Anne’s location. It appeared he was in a great maze of corridors and chambers, levels, with helter-skelter staircases spiraling up and down, and crazy angled passages that seemed more like tubes than hallways. He walked, keeping himself cloaked in shadow. If anyone saw him, he should appear as no more than that odd shade you perceived flicking through your peripheral vision, and when you looked, he should be gone, the phantom that your mind dismissed. Such things did not happen, did they, in reality?
His body felt weak, but he corrected for that by lightening himself, so that his feet barely touched the ground. He practically floated, and his boots made no sound. Just to be safe, Jack pulled down a curtain about himself, to muffle sounds. If he sneezed, even five feet away from someone with very good ears, they would hear nothing more than the crinkling of a piece of tissue paper.
Maybe this is the way ninjas do it, Jack thought, they just access reality and make themselves quiet and light and shadowed. Because it did seem very much like magic.
He paused, and pulled a shillelagh out of the air, ensuring that it was a real blackthorn. It comforted him, to hold the stick, not because he had any chance of using it the way that Stacey did, or that this stick was in any way a “magic” artefact, but hey, wait, he could pull a few tricks like that, couldn’t he? He enhanced the shillelagh, making in unbreakable (although it was practically indestructible, to begin with), and he made it much lighter than any heavy piece of wood had the right to be, and gave it swinging power, blocking power. He did a quick scan and retrieved the information he required, and opened his mind, accepting several years’ worth of training in about three seconds. Stick fighting. That course was a little generic. So he absorbed some karate training with wooden weapons. Police training with batons and billy clubs.
Jack inhaled. He felt good. He did a few practice twirls with his new and enhanced weapon. It felt good in his hand, but he couldn’t seem to be able do what Stacey did. He searched a bit and then accepted a short download on baton twirling (as in cheerleading and parades). He smiled. Hey, that was some good stuff. Fun, although it was hardly martial in implementation. But he found he was able to merge the various trainings with the karate defensive measures.
He found a lot of old black and white woodcuts about defending yourself with a blackthorn, and more about hazelwood, and he downloaded and incorporated it all. This was his first absorbing information—Seven had explained it to him, when she demonstrated reading large books in a short period of time, and being able to call up the information in no time, with better than photographic memory. His brain busily clumped information into short, pertinent bites, and the system worked on moving less important information into the background, still there, but accessible only when required and called upon. Good stuff, Maynard, yes indeedy do.
He felt a little whoozy, cramming all that information into his head in about one minute, and perhaps it would have been a better idea if he would have accomplished this all back at the iron cage, as opposed to his early-morning stroll through an enemy headquarters. But he was an on-the-fly kind of guy. He rarely planned things out as he should, and kind of made it up as he went along. For instance, he just thought how useful it would be if the shillelagh returned to his hand like a boomerang, if he threw it, or if the weapon was knocked from his hand. And he remembered picking up Stacey’s shillelagh and getting the shock of his life—nice touch, that. Jack incorporated the security measures into his own shillelagh.
Through all his system enhancements, Jack had maintained his slow, even walk. He was able to increase the lighting through his heads-up display, so that wherever he looked he could increase visibility, and even set a sensor so that any kind of sensory equipment would highlight, any kind of trap, or living being. Thus far, it was just puppets lining the walls, and all of these were now in their down setting, sleeping their dreamless sleep. Jack started, as he perceived Cyrano’s hulking presence against a wall, but the automaton seemed to be in down state, like the puppets. Still, Jack crept more stealthily past the scary swordsman, increasing his shadows.
Jack got no readings from Cyrano. It seemed when the automaton was down, it was down. He could probably snap his fingers beneath Cyrano’s great nose, and challenge him to a duel, and the puppet would not respond.
As Jack proceeded, and the blip on his MPS increased in strength, he hoped what was happening was that while Punchinello probably had a veritable army positioned in defense of his headquarters and lair, that hopefully the Puppet Master had neglected to establish the same rigorous defenses on the inside, protecting the inside from the inside. And Punchinello was more than aware that Jack was locked up in a massive iron cage, so hopefully Jack was proceeding invisibly, undetected, effective as a ninja.
Of course, the terrible thought remained, that the master of this world was even now watching him, chuckling.
Do not think of him. Do not picture him in your mind. Maintain that positive state, that pleasant state of happy thoughts. Do not give into despair. Do not be afraid. Relax, and go with it. Ignore the doubt. Think positive. Think positively.
Jack paused in his quiet floating through the halls. That last series of thoughts felt alien, or at least distantly remembered. Déjà vu flooded him. It was eerie. Haunting.
Okay, if he broke down the actual words, what a whole load of positivity crap, I mean come on, come on already! What’s next, daily affirmations? You are handsome and good, you try hard and do a good job, and people like you! That wasn’t Jack, never in a thousand years would he pummel himself with such feel-good nonsense.
But the message, yes, that was Jack, but come on, all that positivity crap, that was not the way Jack thought. That was not who Jack was, as he was a realist, and pretty much a skeptic. But it was true that he always tried to maintain a positive outlook, and apparently, that’s what his distant helper was trying to get through to him now. Because all of that must be coming from Old Ben, as did that first note in the book, at the Coffee Dump. Be positive.
Do not think about Pun—about the master of this place, he quickly corrected. He thought of Anne, and the happy way she looked at him, that expression of hopefulness. That needed to be his focus, right there.
“I’m coming, Anne,” he sent out as a message. “You are not alone. Jack is here. Jack is coming. I am near, Beloved.”
It worried him, more than a little, that his memory had been blocked until just the right moment. The thought just behind that was that Anne had led him directly to Punchinello’s Theatre in the Park, as soon as they heard the children pass them, that first night on the Honey Moon, Anne set them following the children, right into Punchinello’s hands. This was a set up.
Jack couldn’t reason it out, what was expected of him, and what Anne had to do with it, but he was having the creeping feeling that he had been programmed, like a sleeper agent, to be here, at just this moment, armed with these new, freakish powers, and heading into the dragon’s lair.
He heard something creak above him. He paused, listening. Then he heard some fairly discernible footsteps on the floor above. He heard someone strolling, or pacing, the footsteps heading this way, growing faint, and then coming back, slow and measured.
Jack blanked his mind, and flowed forward, he was shadow, a cloud moving into the next chamber. The blinking beacon was there, just there, he should be right on top of her, just

The Sunday SciFi Fantasy Serial by Douglas Christian Larsen

Mr. Dodgson ducked around his big wingchair, still absurdly clutching his butter knife, keeping just a few paces ahead of the puppet. The diabolical thing cackled in delight, Pinocchio’s little boy hands lifted up like claws, as it pursued the portly old gentleman around the chair. The puppet was evil, pure evil, if anything can be pure about evil, then the moneymakers should bottle up this boy and sell him as evil perfume. Then, utterly out of breath, after his third time around the chair, Mr. Dodgson bellowed laughter. Silly old man! What was he thinking, running from this puppet? He had all the shadow tools of the world at his disposal! He might stand up to giants, and here he was fleeing a puppet boy.
Mr. Dodgson collected himself, pausing to straighten his bowtie. He clapped his hands.
“Watch out, Pinocchio, don’t get caught in the spanking machine!” Mr. Dodgson called, cupping his hands about his mouth like a megaphone.
“What the...!” Pinocchio cried as mechanical pincers seized him, inverting him, and a series of paddles began to slap against his backside. Steam hissed from the mechanical contraption, which looked like a sparkling metal centipede, except where you might expect to find feet, there were only spanking paddles, revolving around and around.
“I did warn you,” Mr. Dodgson said, dusting off his hands.
“By about one second,” the little boy shrieked, struggling mightily in the four sets of pincers that held him in place. “Let me loose, you dirty old man!”
“Tut tut, Pinocchio, come now, tell me everything,” Mr. Dodgson said, standing majestically before the puppet, his short arms folded across his chest. “Did Punchinello send you as his spy, a saboteur? Tell me the truth, for you know that I will know if you are lying.”
“I can certainly tell that this machine was not created just now!” Pinocchio cried, and his nose remained the same six inches in length. “Watch my nose, geezer, because—ouch! Stop it already, let me talk! Owww!”
Mr. Dodgson allowed the spanking to continue, for at least another twenty seconds (and at two slaps per second, that allowed for a lot of administrated discipline).
“We had planned to market the Humane Spanker to Victorian parents, those with miserable children such as yourself, but I thought you might appreciate our efforts. Save yourself growing a pair of donkey ears, miserable urchin.”
Pinocchio collapsed in the pincers, his face sweaty and red. He swallowed and fluttered his eyes.
“Please, Mr. Dodgson, I promise to be a good boy,” Pinocchio pled.
“Indeed,” Mr. Dodgson said, lifting his chin. “So, spill it, or does the spanking resume?”
“No, yes, okay, I will tell you, yes, Punchinello wanted me to send him a signal, alert him to wherever you took the party, but he assumed you would take everyone off the Honey Moon, and so I cannot properly signal him, and all that I have told you is true,” the puppet spat, rambling two hundred words per fifteen seconds, his nose not changing.
“Mr. Titan, if could please join us,” Mr. Dodgson said, speaking to the air, snapping his fingers. After a few moments there came a gentle knock at the door. “Yes, yes, come in, I called you didn’t I?”
Titan entered, yawning and rubbing his eyes.
“Look closely at this boy,” Mr. Dodgson said.
Titan did, and then he strode directly forward, and seized with his thumb and index finger something from the boy’s back.
“Bugged,” Titan said, crushing the flea.
“I think that was an actual flea,” Mr. Dodgson said, sniffing.
Titan snatched again, and came up with something a little larger, but invisible.
“Ah yes, very good, very good,” Mr. Dodgson crooned. “Just as I thought.”
“I cannot discern what is inside the boy, you’d have to call the Little Girl on that one,” Titan said, crushing the invisible bug as easily as he had the flea.
“I can ascertain myself that he is now clean, but I think you had best escort this boy to wherever the Little Girl wishes to keep him, although as he says, it cannot be off the Honey Moon,” Mr. Dodgson said.
“Oh you got the bug, you can now safely take me off wherever you please,” Pinocchio said, but it was evident that his nose grew an easy three inches from that one lie. “Well, how do I know, I thought that was the only one.” Again, sadly, his nose extended.
“I’ll see what she wants to do with the lad,” Titan said, escorting Pinocchio, his hand loosely on the back of the puppet’s neck.
Mr. Dodgson watched them go. Things had just condensed, growing deeper, and more dangerous. It was a scattershot attack, and all the pieces were now out on the board, but whether or not the timing proved on their side, or against them, well, they would leave that up to Providence.
Titan had proved susceptible to Punchinello, as had Enseladus, Kronoss, and even Aajeel. Seven, too had proved an inept match. Only the Little Girl, thus far, had been able to stand up to Punchinello, and if it had not happened as yet, any moment it would be Jack on center stage, facing down the most dangerous being in the history of the world (not counting Lady Maulgraul, of course, or Manda, for that matter). But Punchinello was dark, certainly malignant, whereas Lady Maulgraul was neither bad nor good, but entirely self-serving; and while Manda might aim for the best, the ending result could prove the end of mankind, if that’s what Manda determined was best for Vestigial Surreality.
The only thing that ensured their safety, for this moment, on this world, in this location, was the fact that the Punchinello that Jack would shortly be facing was two versions ahead of this world, and much further ahead in time, so that if Jack might overcome, he would have the key to defeat Punchinello in any other previous version. But if on the other hand, Jack lost, then it would be up to Lady Maulgraul and Punchinello, to bring world against world, and that would probably only happen in the middle, which was the Story Moon, and Mr. Dodgson’s little domain of the Looking Glass.
“It’s up to you, Jack me boy,” Mr. Dodgson said, gripping his hands together. “It’s up to you.”

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Vestigial Surreality WIKI
Sunday SciFi Fantasy Serial
by Douglas Christian Larsen

Illustrations by Harrison Christian Larsen, story by Douglas Christian Larsen
© Copyright 2016 Douglas Christian Larsen. Vestigial Surreality. All Rights Reserved by the Author, Douglas Christian Larsen. No part of this serial fiction may be reproduced (except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews) or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the publisher, Wolftales UNlimited, but please feel free to share the story with anyone, only not for sale or resale. This work is a work of fiction. People, places, events, and situations are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental (wink, wink).

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related terms, ideas, works:
ancestor simulation, digital ark, salvation of humanity,
vestigial surreality, manda project, rocket to saturn,
the singularity, the butterfly effect, simulated reality, matrix,
virtual reality, otherland, the matrix, 1q84, haruki murakami,
hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world, dreaming,
the dream place, waking from a dream, ready player one,
hologram, holodeck, saturn, saturnalia, cycles of time,
simulacron-3, daniel f. galouye, counterfeit world,
tad williams, science fantasy, science fiction,
mystery, thriller, horror, techno thriller,
signs and wonders, vestigial surreality,
william gibson, neal stephenson, serial,
cyberpunk, dystopian future, apocalypse,
scifi, mmorpg, online video game world,
end times, apocalypse, armageddon,
digital universe, hologram universe,
sunday sci-fi fantasy serial fiction,
virtual reality, augmented reality
are we living in a simulation?
the unknown writer blog
puppets, puppetry, punch
Elon Musk, Tesla, VR

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