MVC Podcast 11:
The Drones, Blythe, The Rectangle,
Simon & Green Eyes
[01:02:01] February 18th, 2023
Simon is arrested, and Charles the Grey creates The Coffeehouse.
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These are the recitals, commentaries, and analyses of “The Multiverse Cartographer.” The video you’re watching now, for these past thirty seconds or so, is the eleventh video in the series. If it’s the first one you’ve seen, you may wish to click up here and go to The Multiverse Cartographer playlist, and start with episode one. It’s up to you.
So, for those who are tracking, perhaps binging, these, you might recall that at the end of the tenth video I said that next time, meaning this time, we would be reading “Blythe,” “The Rectangle,” “Simon,” “New Ancient Land,” and “Palace Three.” However, as I was preparing the script, it occurred to me that I should really include the chapter called “The Drones,” as well as “Green Eyes.” Before I’d even begun to write the commentary, just compiling the chapters, I realized that the video was going to be far longer than even that last one that was really really long. I figured, an hour and a half is pushing it. Three hours is just too long, by any standard. It’s too long for a King Kong movie, and it’s certainly too long for one of these recitals and commentaries.
So, please accept my sincerest apologies for not following the plan I’d outlined last time. In the twelfth video, I’ll go over “New Ancient Land” and “Palace Three” as there is plenty to talk about in those, and they’re a bit on the longer side, as far as these chapters go. For today, I’ll be reading: “The Drones,” “Blythe,” “The Rectangle,” “Simon,” and “Green Eyes.” If those sound familiar, that’s because that was the title of the video. The first four of these are from “Smaller Mouse,” and only the last one, “Green Eyes,” is actually from “The Multiverse Cartographer.”
By the way, hello to those who are hearing me but not seeing me! In between the tenth and eleventh videos, I decided to take audio-only versions of these recitals and put them together into a podcast called, “The Multiverse Cartographer.” It’s available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcasting platform.
And so, without further ado: THE DRONES
Corporation number G7 by 9-23 stood tall and proud in the southern part of New World Center, near the mouth of The Hudson.
Invisible to the others, Reynolds was whispering into their Drone 17's ear:
“These vests and belts are to be picked up by a human called Blue Bird Simon. Afterward, storest these settings in thy partitioned memory, and continuest with thy regular duties.”
He pulled a canister from his pocket and sprayed a mist into its mind, then sat for a while on the simulated carpet, beside the Manager-god.
The Manager-god here wasn't very original. She was a very serious looking blonde woman in a grey power suit, a skirt and jacket. She stood with her arms folded looking at her Drones, one by one.
The Drones weren't so easy to recognize or distinguish as the Manager-god. They appeared mostly as just a collective blur of movement.
Reynolds stood up, leaned toward the Manager-god, and whispered:
“I am not but a pawn.”
Thinking this was her own thought, the Manager-god wrinkled her forehead, confused. “36, research, priority one. What is a pawn? Reportest!”
Reynolds walked up to Drone 57, who he knew was once Red Bird Lieutenant Evin Ridge, who was being kept “on ice” for some reason.
What Reynolds didn't know what that Evin was the fifth next of kin of King Mao the 42nd, and an ex-lover of the dreaded Anglo-Princess Lucy.
Reynolds whispered into the ear of the Drone who would never again be called Evin:
“I do this wrongly, Manager-god said yesterday new plans for these masks and sword handles,” Reynolds sprayed his mind with the detailed program, “She said rewritest the destination, Montauk Point Harbor dock 12, to be picked up by a human called Blue Bird Simon at thirteen hundred hours standard, then storest these settings in thy partitioned memory, and continuest with thy regular duties.”
“A Pawn is a piece from an ancient game called Chess. ‘Tis of lowest rank. It moveth forward one square, or two squares in first move, captureth enemy pieces by one-space diagonal forward moves, and may be promoted to any rank other than King upon reaching the other side, or ‘tis a person used to further the purposes of another," Drone 36 said out loud.
Reynolds looked over his shoulder at the Manager-god, grinning at her extremely confused facial expression.
“Why would I think such a thing?” the Manager-god thought to herself as she surveyed the Drones again. Her shoulders squared on the space near Reynolds, and her eyes became very focused. “57, why didst thou change thy routine? Reportest!”
“Took me time… to put thine orders into effect… from yesterday,” said the Drone, terrified at having shirked his duties.
“Why art thou afraid, what art thou hiding?!”
“I... I lied to thee m’Lady! That delay was mine own, I should have made these changes earlier!” He said, weeping.
The Manager-god pointed a small object at the Drone and pushed a button, causing him a very sharp sensation of electrocution. He yelped like a dog, then instantly spent all of his accumulated credits on a numbing sensation, and some pleasant uplifting music for his ears alone, and returned to his duties.
She checked his monitor and saw the blue masks being sewn, and swords being forged and packaged, by many robotic tentacles, which she would never fathom were actually on the other side of a big round world.
However, as Reynolds already knew, this Manager-god was colorblind.
“I forgot about these changes. I must not let the voice know of this, nor these strange thoughts, or they will terminate me!” she thought to herself.
Reynolds looked at the Manager-god's terrified expression, sighed, and whispered to himself, “Hypocrites… the lot of us.”
“Letst it not happen again, Drone!" she snapped abruptly at Drone 57, then returned her gaze to the others, trying to forget what had just transpired.
She paused for a few moments looking at Drone 17, but decided not to investigate.
Reynolds chuckled a bit, “Ahhh... so predictable. Well, there thou hast it, Blythe. Thy new uniforms.”
Then Reynolds disappeared from that place.
So, here we have Reynolds. Apparently, he’s a very skilled 27th century hacker. Now, remember, several chapters ago, back in Greg’s 2642, when Blythe told Simon, “I’d be willing to bet they have spies down here with us?” in Shakespearean English? Well… I won’t say who it is just yet, but… keep an eye out, because the spy she was foreshadowing has already been introduced. I’m just saying. It’s Reynolds. The spy is Reynolds. He’s secretly working for the Empire, and posing as a Rebel working for Blythe. Now you know.
Moving on. Corporation number G7 by 9-23 stood tall and proud. There’s so many of these things, enough for 12 and a half billion Drones to “work at,” so to speak, and for the hundreds of millions of Red Birds to each feel like they have enough wealth to be invested in the system, and to enforce its rule with the threat of violence (just another day, right?), that they don’t even bother with cutesy names and logos for corporations in their universe, just these designations, letters and numbers, assigned to them.
Henry Hudson, for those who didn’t know, was a nutty British man who got a lot of people killed trying to sail across the North Pole, so the British stopped funding his expeditions and he had to go to the Dutch. He came across the Atlantic and found the Hudson River, wild coincidence that, finding a river with the same name he has, and he thought he could use this river to sail through the east coast of what would later become The United States and out the west coast and finally find that elusive shortcut to India everyone had been talking about, like the Panama Canal only, obviously, his guestimates about the sizes and locations of things was, shall we say, a little off. None the less, he got a river named after him.
From this line we can deduce that in Greg’s 1609 in The New World Empire universe, even though Henry IX had “united all of Europe” already, and by then it would have been the reign of Henry X, Henry Hudson must have gotten funding from somewhere to go on an expedition that was quite similar to the one he went on in our universe, as the river was still named after him, even though the area become known as New World Center rather than New York. The Island at the Center of the World is a good book, if you’d like to learn more about the early history of the region in our universe.
So, Reynolds uses some kind of spray canister in the artificial reality of the Drone simulation to get the Drones to do his bidding rather than that of their manager-gods, and he’s very sneaky. Now, remember in the timeline Simon repaired an old Red Bird and painted it blue and thought it would be funny to call himself “Blue Bird Simon” and, one assumes, fly around in it. So Reynolds is altering the activities of the machines by altering the actions of the Drones to reassign parts of what appear to be uniforms to be blue instead of red, and prepared for Blue Bird Simon to pick up rather than whichever Red Bird was originally going to be picking them up. That’s what seems to be going on here.
The manager-god was a very serious looking blonde woman in a grey power suit. I already mentioned my personal connection to serious blonde women in power suits in the chapter called “Open House” so you can kind of mentally copy/paste that here and wonder about it, if you want to.
Reynolds whispers, “I am a pawn,” basically, into her ear, and she thinks this is her own thought. It’s not like her other thoughts, and she becomes disturbed by this. Also, she’s never played chess, having originated as, one assumes, a Drone-born-Drone, or at least a very obedient Drone, so she assigns one of her employees with the task of finding out what a pawn is. Since we know, thanks to the author’s having let the cat out of the bag a few minutes ago, that Reynolds is a spy for The Empire, it makes one wonder if he wasn’t actually referring to himself, as well as the manager-god when he said, “I am a pawn.” If one doesn’t know that he is a spy for the Empire, one might wonder if he thinks of himself as a pawn in Blythe’s game. Perhaps both, or all three.
We learn that the grey-power-suit-manger-god’s Drone 57 was once a Red Bird, and a cousin of King Mao XLII, as well as a former lover of Lucy, Anglo-Princess and, possibly, incarnation of the source of all evil. This implies a great deal. It implies that when Mao Zedong who, at least in our universe, was not born into a high caste or class, took over the government that he became a King rather than a chairman. Communism didn’t seem to take hold in The New World Empire universe. Rather, the red uniforms of the Red Birds must have their origins in the red coats of the British. Metatextually, perhaps, in the red light-saber of Darth Vader which in turn has its origin in the red coats of the British. It implies that Mao’s first name became a surname and, doing the math, it implies that many a brother killed many a brother, or cousin, or maybe sister – so far we haven’t found any evidence of any Queens existing in their universe, perhaps one of the motivations of Lucy making Blythe into a queen of the rebels, in a sense, but I digress. 7 centuries is not enough time for 42 fathers and sons to die of natural causes, is what I’m saying. So, in Greg’s 2600s, Lucy had an affair with a Chinese Royal who wasn’t quite Royal enough to fly a White Bird himself, and then had him dronified when the relationship went south, or so it seems.
The Drone reports back the meaning of pawn, and Reynolds seems to feel guilty for torturing the poor manager-god, and says that all of them are hypocrites. He also knows that the manager-god is colorblind, which we can assume is something the Red Birds don’t know, but which the Royals do. And so, we can assume, that Reynolds is a spy sent by someone high up the chain of command in the Empire, and has made himself indispensable to Blythe.
Next up, we have another chapter, or “short story,” from “Smaller Mouse,” entitled: BLYTHE
The ancient abandoned Subway tunnels and stations under New World Center weren’t an ideal place to call home, but they were the only hidden place close enough to the heart of the New World Empire to do any real damage.
Blythe worked tirelessly, wincing from the pain of an injury she’d received during their most recent failed mission.
Thanks to Reynolds’ unique talents, their uniforms these days were just like those given to the Red Birds, but blue in honor of their ancestors who had all, by necessity, worn blue denim.
A few of them, like Simon, had even stolen stealth Red Bird hovercrafts and painted them blue. “Blue Birds,” they liked to call themselves.
Anyway, at this particular moment Jeffery, a cousin of Blythe, was trying to get her to rest, and to heal from her injury.
“Just biddest me what needs be done! If thou exertest thyself such, thou wilt delay thy recovery, and will be no help to anybody.”
“Aye, okay!” Blythe said as she threw down the screwdriver and dropped a small metal contraption onto the floor, then picked it up and placed it back on the table before wiping the sweat off her forehead.
She stood and staggered into her room, “Send word to Simon urgently we need here more fuel, food, a lot of nitric acid, baking soda, and an eye dropper. Wake me at which hour he returns. I shall be on coms.
“Further, prithee word to Charles the Grey I received his message and… the injury is minor.”
“Aye, on’t” said Jeff, as he left to carry out her instructions.
“And fetch me some aspirin!”
She sealed the door, sat on her metal cot, and picked up the wire that was dangling there. She noted the way her face looked in the reflection of the metal tip, the rhythm of her breathing and heartbeat, the pulsing of the veins in her right hand, which held the plug.
“God, I misprise this shit,” she said aloud, then quickly shoved the metal plug into the back of her neck, and her body fell onto her bed.
Moments later, she was sitting in a large blue swiveling chair behind a desk. In front of her, on the wall, was a map of NWC, a perfect three-dimensional replica based on this-instant satellite surveillance.
“Map. How many Drones are in New World Center?”
A monotonous synthesized voice replied, “There are fifteen million six hundred and twenty-five thousand Drones in New World Center.”
She could have made its voice sound more natural, but she hated the idea of a computer sounding too human.
“Map. How many Rebels are in New World Center?”
“Aye, good,” Blythe said and nodded wearily, yawning. “Good, good.” The Map was drawing from the same information which the Red Birds had access to.
“Map. How many Drones are in the whole world?"
“There are twelve billion, four hundred and sixty-five million, eleven thousand four hundred and two Drones in the world.”
Blythe's eyes became intensely focused, “…and two?” She put her forehead on the desk. “Map. What is the name of most recent Drone to be added to The Machine.”
“A Rebel calling himself Blue Bird Simon was arrested by Sergeant Jacobs MSD, and joined the staff of Corporation number G6 by 12-32 this day at 4 hours and 32 minutes standard.”
Blythe checked her watch in time to see it change from 4:34 to 4:35, then put her hand to her mouth and rose from her desk.
She walked towards the sliding glass doors which opened as she stepped through them.
On the other side was a porch and railing overlooking the appearance of the ocean at night.
She leaned her elbows on the rail, stifled the urge to vomit, and shook her head from side to side, forcing the tears not to come.
A person reading The Trilogy in order won’t yet know, but you and I already know, that this is happening after Blythe has been arrested, dronified, and released ten years later. She already has the augments for interfacing directly with the Free Worlds, which she got when she was a Drone, and she already has her Free World apartment, which The Lincoln, who was Charles the Grey in disguise, introduced her to in “The Multiverse Cartographer” chapter called “The Lincolns.”
The subways, at this point, are ancient, having presumably been built sometime around the beginning of Greg’s 20th century, where this scene is taking place in the mid-27th.
Blythe has some kind of injury which happened during a mission which happened off-screen, implying that she’s been busy since she’s been back in her body in the subways. This is shortly after the chapter called “Reynolds” as they are wearing blue versions of Red Bird outfits, courtesy of Reynold’s work in that chapter.
A few more people have captured and repurposed Red Bird aircraft and painted them blue and imitated Simon calling themselves, “Blue Bird.” At this point, it seems to be a running gag, not a serious thing, but we know from the timeline it will become a serious thing after another decade or so, with thousands of such Blue Birds and the war between the Blue Bird Army and The Empire. How do you feel about that? Make a note of that.
So, Jeffrey, Blythe’s cousin, is trying to get her to rest. She finally takes his advice, and rather than actually sleeping, she plugs in to her Free World apartment so she can continue working while her body rests. I’m pretty sure that’s not what Jeffrey meant, but at least her body will get some rest, if not her brain. Before resting, though, she gives Jeffrey instructions to gather ingredients for some kind of explosive, being a terrorist and all, or freedom fighter, depending on your perspective.
Before plugging in she exclaims, “God, I misprise this shit,” Shakespearean for “God, I hate this shit,” but it isn’t clear whether she’s talking about the plug she’s about to shove into her spine, the subways, or her life in general. Probably all of the above.
In going through her usual general surveillance we learn two things. One, apparently the number of Drones doesn’t increase very often, and two, Blue Bird Simon has been arrested. Blythe doesn’t take this very well.
In the next chapter we’ll be reading, while it may not seem like it at first, we’ll be picking up right where that last chapter left off. THE RECTANGLE
Charles the Grey, like all Venusians, did not need a plug to interface with the humans’ simulated “Free Worlds.”
In order to blend in, he often took the form of a young Byron. In honor of his Reticulan ancestry, though, he made his avatar completely greyscale, devoid of color, except for his eyes. For his eyes he chose green, in honor of Saint Teilhard.
Many knew him as Charles the Grey, but only a handful knew that he was, in reality, a Venusian.
On one particular day, he was creating his masterpiece. He sat in a comfortable blue chair, with a cup of coffee on a small table beside him, floating high above an ocean.
He looked down at the lone island, with the floor of malachite, and a ten meter high sandstone brick pyramid in the midst, and remembered the last time he ever saw his old friend…
Charles slowly walked into the caves at the base of Maxwell Montes, and found the path with the torches on either side.
He arrived at the end, and saw his old friend’s nails had grown long again.
Jobe was only human to set foot on Venus for longer than a few minutes, since the days of the Fathoms long before.
His body was now frail, ribs visible, eyes sunken, and his hair was long and grey. He’d sat in that spot like The Buddha for nearly four hundred Venusian years.
Charles knelt down, and began to trim his old friend’s nails.
“Needst not bother,” Jobe said slowly, quietly.
“I’ve not heard thy speech for years!” Charles replied.
“Have a gift for thee,” Jobe said. He raised his right hand, extended his fingers, and there before him appeared a shimmering Rectangle. It was about two meters high, one meter wide, but absolutely no depth. Its color was blacker than black from the front or back, and it disappeared when viewed from the side.
“What is it?” Charles asked.
“’Tis the thing,” old Jobe said wearily, “I came into this world,” he inhaled very slowly, and “to give,” were the words of his final breath.
After many years of experimentation, Charles had discovered that, having no depth, The Rectangle could fit between any two worlds, at any two points in time. Further, it could slide between them all, without harming any of them.
In doing so, he discovered that The Rectangle itself could be used as an anchor, and a memory, outside of any universe. So, there was no longer any need for him to rely on the humans’ cloud.
The Rectangle itself could also be used as a portal for any being to walk between any two places, times, or universes.
He found a way to use The Rectangle in twelve places at once. He placed three of them on each side of the sandstone pyramid below him, on the lone island surrounded by the vast sea.
So it was that, on this particular day, Charles the Grey, in the form of greyscale Lord Byron, proclaimed:
“Increase Malachite luminosity fifteen per cent... Good! Pyramid surface makest perfect mirror covering the stone. Aye, good.
"Elegant tables and chairs place throughout the floor. If any person jumpeth off, they hover or fly. Make the sky change according to a time unique to this place, a moon with many stars in the night, a great sun by day…”
A voice said, “Pardon the interruption.”
“Nay interruptions! I’m on a roll!”
“Blythe calleth thee urgently.”
“Aye, okay. Give her access here. I shall return,” and he vanished from that place.
So… most of that chapter was written in 2003, but key parts of it were written in 2022.
Some of the opening bit is self-explanatory, and some of it we’ve gone over before. Remember, this was from Smaller Mouse, so many of these ideas were being introduced for the first time. “The Multiverse Cartographer” came out later, so some of the things being explained are already obvious to us, since we’re reading things in this order.
Then we arrive at the point where Charles the Grey remembers his last meeting with Jobe, and we have a bit of a flashback. This is the part that I wrote in February of 2022. Jobe, the incarnation of Luke, admits that the reason he came into this world, much to the chagrin of his parents, God and the Devil, was to give the world, by way of Charles the Grey, The Rectangle. And, in this usage, “the world” means not only multiple planets, Venus and the Earth, but the whole universe, all universes, and all universe types in the past, present, and future.
I’ll admit that this scene was in part influenced by something a little silly, I had recently begun playing Zelda Breath of the Wild and was moved almost to tears by the ancient monks waiting for Link to arrive at the various cave dwellings, those underground tests of valor and such, who then give Link their spirit orbs and vanish into thin air. I think it hit me because it reminded me of Gordon and, processing it all, it occurred to me that this would be a wonderful way to bring The Interdimensional Coffeehouse out of the realms of Virtual Reality, however advanced and 27th century it may be, and into the realm of the mysterious, the other-worldly, even the Divine. In The New World Empire universe, the 7th century of the Age of Aquarius was to be given a doorway out. One might ask, “What does someone’s natal chart look like if they’re born on Venus?” Well, if you’re using Heliocentric Astrology, it’s the same as if they were born on Earth. But The Rectangle makes all of these points moot, opening the doorway wide into to infinity.
When Jobe arrived on Venus, he gave a cube, 3 dimensions, containing all the knowledge that was available to give. When he left the mortal realm, he gave the rectangle, 2 dimensions, which thwart all the rules previously established, containing infinity within itself, and access to all points on every timeline and points on all lines even beyond time, as we know.
Charles the Grey took The Rectangle, and used it to duplicate itself within itself, and gave it the form of The Coffeehouse as we know it. So far, though, there is only one island, and only one pyramid, and as of now only Charles the Grey has seen it, on the day he created it.
Blythe interrupts his creative flow. As we know, or at least as I mentioned, this chapter comes immediately after the previous one we just read, so we know that Blythe’s emergency has to do with Blue Bird Simon’s having been arrested.
Without knowing what, or shall I say “who” would result from it, Charles the Grey instructs the computer, or whatever it is, to give Blythe access to the infant Coffeehouse before it has been opened for business. We’ll get to that in the next video, but for now we’ll continue with this story.
This next chapter weaves a few things together. You remember last time, Charles Reuben became intimate with the Clara with the Ramones shirt on after she told him her origin story, though we as of now have not yet heard it. We know, as it has been mentioned, that Clara is basically eternal. As long as Jobe’s mysterious Rectangle exists, Clara will be 8 septillion baristas who look just like Blythe did on one particular day, when she was 27 years old. These things are going to begin to unfold, and Charles Reuben, as usual, will find himself in both the cause and the effect positions in its unfolding.
I’ve said enough, for now, I’ll just let things unfold, starting with the beginning of a chapter from “The Multiverse Cartographer” called: GREEN EYES
In the morning, Charles Reuben got dressed. Clara was hanging light blue wallpaper with silver highlights and wearing one of those early 1960s roller-skating waitress uniforms, and chewing gum.
She smiled at Charles Reuben and said, “Good morning.”
Charles Reuben smiled back, “hi.”
Clara finished the corner, then sat on the bed beside him and said, “Experience has taught me that I should say this right away. As long as you don’t get any illusions about my being ‘tied down’ to you in any kind of exclusive relationship, you and I will get along fine.”
Charles understood. They left her room, went down the stairs, down the sandstone brick hall with the torches, and outside the pyramid.
Clara said, “I want to introduce you to Charles the Grey.”
“He’s alive?” Charles Reuben asked.
She pointed to one of the pyramid doors, “These doors lead to any place, at any time.” Charles nodded, realizing it was a silly question. “I can’t pass through them, but you can. He’ll be surprised to see you.”
Clara placed her right hand, fingers wide, beside the pyramid door. The scene on the other side changed to that of another Coffeehouse island. “He’ll be there soon. I’ll see you when you get back.”
Charles Reuben thought he should kiss her, but hesitated. He reached to shake her hand. She rolled her eyes and hugged him. “Go.”
To his surprise, as he looked around, he saw that all the tables were empty, the pyramid doors were all black, and there were no other Coffeehouse islands on the sea.
He thought he heard Clara’s voice coming from around the corner of the pyramid, “Charles?! Charles, art thou hither??”
We’ll come back to “Green Eyes” later, but at this point it is appropriate for us to transition over to the chapter which comes immediately after “The Rectangle” in “Saller Mouse.” The chapter is called: SIMON
Blythe passed through the portal onto the first Coffeehouse Island and began searching, “Charles?! Charles, art thou hither??”
Charles Reuben came from around the corner of the Pyramid, wearing his shiny silver body-suit, “I’m here, Clara, what’s wrong?”
“Who art thou?! How dost thou know my middle name? Dost thou know Charles the Grey?”
Charles Reuben’s eyes widened, “…Blythe?!”
“So thou knowst my first name as well. But who art thou?”
“My name’s Charles, but not Charles the Grey. I’m Charles Reuben.”
“Aye, pleased to make thy acquaintance, methinks. Dost thou know whither he is? ‘Tis quite urgent.”
Charles Reuben nodded, “Clara told me he’d be here soon.”
“Great, but who art Clara?”
Charles Reuben hesitated, “It’s… complicated.” He smiled, wondering if Clara remembered this entire conversation that was unfolding for him in real-time.
“Okay, Charles, please do not gawk at me like some creep,” Blythe was not amused by his familiarity.
He hadn’t realized he was staring and smiling at her like a weirdo. “I’m so sorry, I just, I… you look like someone I uhh… once knew.”
Blythe rolled her eyes, “Whatever.”
He tried to gauge where he was on her timeline, “So, have you… already… been a surrogate for Simon, and all that?”
“How dost thou know Simon?”
“Well…” he decided to stop being coy, “I know that you came here because you need Charles the Grey’s help freeing Simon from The Machine. Charles will tell you that if you take Simon’s place for a while, he’ll be able to wake up on his own, you’ll just need to arrange for a Blue Bird to be there waiting for him when he does.”
Blythe was stunned. “Wow.”
Just then, they both heard a sound coming from above. They looked up to see a square of ground hovering, coming down toward them.
Soon, they saw the image of Charles the Grey’s greyscale Byron avatar seated on his chair.
“Charles!” Blythe called out, happily.
Charles the Grey rose, and stepped down onto the malachite floor beside the mirrored Pyramid with them, as the square, chair, and small table faded away behind him.
Charles Reuben stepped forward and extended his hand, “I’m Charles Reuben. I was named after you.”
Charles the Grey shook his hand, “Charles the Grey. I was named for thee, Multiverse Cartographer.”
“What?!” Blythe said. Charles the Grey laughed, and Charles Reuben was amazed.
Charles the Grey said, “Thou rememberst Joe and Arthur Fathom?”
“Like it was yesterday! As a matter of fact… I think that was yesterday.”
“Seest, in reality, I appear thus,” Charles the Grey snapped the fingers of his right hand, instantly transforming into his true physical appearance, the tall Venusian that he was, half-human and half-Reticulan “Grey.”
“Wow,” Blythe and Charles Reuben said together.
“Venusians offen put on human forms when we interact in the Free-Worlds.” He snapped again and returned to his avatar form.
Charles nodded, remembering Arthur Fathom’s “theory” about the purpose of their terraforming project.
Blythe and Charles Reuben both began to speak at once.
Charles Reuben, being polite, not to mention hopelessly in love with at least several of the septillions of 16,000-year-old simulacrums of Blythe at exactly this point in her life, gestured with his hand that she should go first.
Blythe turned to Charles the Grey, “Simon was arrested and turned into a Drone. Canst thou do for him what thou didst for me?”
Charles the Grey became very introspective and thoughtful. He put his hand to his chin. After a few moments, he seemed as if he was about the speak, then sighed and continued thinking.
Charles Reuben timidly interjected, raising a finger, “If I may?”
Blythe nodded, remembering the tremendous amount of insight that Charles Reuben seemed to have into the situation.
“Aye?” Charles the Grey enquired.
The Multiverse Cartographer continued, “It’s just that I might be able to save you some time. Which is, of course, important because of the living hell that Simon is in right now.”
Charles Reuben now had both of their undivided attentions.
Blythe turned her palm upward, “Sayest.”
Charles Reuben continued, “Clara told me that Charles the Grey wouldn’t be able to get the consent of the other Lincolns…”
“The OTHER Lincolns?!” Blythe exclaimed, turning an accusatory stare on Charles the Grey, who looked embarrassed. “Wast thou my Lincoln on that first day?”
Charles the Grey laughed, so Blythe punched him in the arm, and continued, “Now, canst thou explain to us this… Clara?”
Charles Reuben thought about it, “It’s probably better if I don’t. Anyway, after Charles the Grey freed you, you immediately started blowing things up. So, the Lincolns noticed that, and they’re pacifists, so… they’re not going to trust him when he asks them for help freeing someone else.”
Charles Reuben continued, “But you only need to tell them that you’re doing it, you don’t actually need their help. You can do all it through The Coffeehouse. Tell them Simon’s deprogramming will be by way of the first three Palaces of New Ancient Land, and they’ll trust that he won’t be so violent when he gets out. Then they won’t interfere.”
“Whither is this Coffeehouse?” Blythe asked.
“It’s where we’re standing right now, it just isn’t open yet,” Charles Reuben explained.
Charles the Grey said, “We shall do it, exactly as thou sayest.”
Okay, to sum up, the Clara with the Ramones shirt who rescued Charles Reuben from “The Creepy Man” and then opened up to him and invited him into the pyramid in the chapter called “The Barista” the morning after has decided to wear a 1960s roller-skating waitress uniform. This was the uniform I mentioned last time, a bit prematurely, that was similar to the one that Clara Oswald, no relation to The Penguin, was wearing in the diner-Tardis in “Hell Bent” with Peter Capaldi.
She gives Charles Reuben the “I’m poly” speech that, really, ought to have come the night before but it probably would have broken the mood so I get it. I don’t approve, but I get it. Charles Reuben seems to be fine with it, anyway, and that’s the important thing.
Clara tells him she wants to introduce him to Charles the Grey, or at least send him on a journey in which he will meet Charles the Grey. Charles Reuben is still a bit new to The Coffeehouse, though he’s been familiar with it his whole life (a bit of autobiographical allegory there perhaps) and is surprised, asking “he’s alive?” Clara points to the doors and reminds him, “any place, any time, any dimension,” and he’s like, “Oh yeah, duh,” and she sends him on his way.
After an awkward goodbye, he leaves, and finds himself in The Coffeehouse back when there was only one island, and no other patrons. At this point we transition from the beginning of “Green Eyes” in “The Multiverse Cartographer” to the story or chapter called, “Simon” in “Smaller Mouse.” Remember, the intent of “The Multiverse Cartographer” book was to give backstory behind The New World Empire and The Interdimensional Coffeehouse related stories in the mouse books. Here is a perfect example, the story as it was in “Smaller Mouse” began here, and in “The Multiverse Cartographer” we find out that just before arriving there, Charles Reuben woke up in Clara’s room after a special night.
Continuing, Charles Reuben thinks he hears Clara’s voice. A reasonable assumption, since he’s walking on malachite beside a mirrored pyramid, he probably assumed he was meeting her 16,000 years earlier on her timeline. But, no. It was Blythe. You were there, I don’t think I need to rehash their whole conversation, it was all pretty clear albeit her half was in early 17th century English and all. He comes off as unintentionally creepy, and she’s weirded out that he calls her by her middle name.
This is the story in which both Charles’ share that they were named after each other, which is the sort of metatextual reason why this is common knowledge by the time we reach the beginning first chapter of the third book in the series, “The Multiverse Cartographer.”
Charles the Grey reveals his true form to both Charles Reuben and Blythe for the first time. For Charles Reuben, it is a quick way to explain that A) Arthur Fathom was right, there were to be half-human half-Reticulans living on Venus and B) he is one of them.
Reference is made to Charles Reuben’s being in love with “at least several” of the Claras, whose form, face, voice, and so on is made in exactly the image of Blythe on this particular day, in fact. However, a close reading of The Trilogy will reveal that Charles Reuben has only met two of the Claras as an adult, and he’s not yet aware that he’s met more than one. This will come up soon. That said, he did meet at least one as a young child. So, I’m calling out a possible plot-hole here, Edward a year ago. I’m watching you.
Blythe asks Charles the Grey what she came to ask, she needs help freeing Simon from his new life as a Drone. Charles the Grey becomes entrenched in thought, and Charles Reuben pipes up. It would seem that Clara’s emotional information dump the night before might have had some ulterior motive. Charles Reuben is in the perfect position to provide some necessary insight at just the right moment in what is, as we know from chapter four, “The Timeline Set In Stone.” Charles Reuben, we can safely assume, would always come back to this moment and give this information. That, or Clara wanted to help the process to happen faster, in order to minimize the amount of time that Simon would have to endure the hell of sitting in a cubicle, so to speak, or the 27th century version of a cubicle. Or both. We’ll have to wait and see how his next conversation with Clara goes to really be sure, or as sure as one can get with time travel shenanigans.
Finally, we’ll return to the point where we left off in the only chapter of “The Multiverse Cartographer” we’re actually reading today, since the rest of it comes from “Smaller Mouse.” That chapter of course being “Green Eyes.” There’s some overlap in this first part with the end of the chapter called “Simon,” in order to help orient the reader with where we are and where we are going. So, continuing…
“Whither is this Coffeehouse?” Blythe asked.
“It’s where we’re standing right now, it just isn’t open yet,” Charles Reuben explained.
Charles the Grey said, “We shall do it, exactly as thou sayest.”
“I’ll leave you to it,” Charles Reuben said.
“We’ll meet again,” Charles the Grey replied.
“Nice to meet you, Blythe,” Charles Reuben shook her hand.
“Same. Give my best to Clara.”
“I’ll tell her.” He opened his journal to the first page, placed his hand beside the door, looked at the sixteen Trigintasex numerals, and an island appeared on the other side of the doorway.
Charles the Grey peeked through, curiously.
Charles Reuben passed through, returning to The Coffeehouse as it was sixteen thousand years later.
He sat down by the fire on that island, and waited for Clara. When she appeared, she wore black and silver necklaces, earrings, and skull rings.
“Of course, it’s been a few days.”
She smiled and sat down beside him. “You know, I remember everything.”
“From just now? From Blythe’s memory you mean?”
“Is that where you were?”
“Oh! Nice. No, I meant from last night.”
Charles Reuben was a bit confused, but shrugged it off. “Blythe told me to tell you she said ‘hi’.”
Clara laughed, “I remember. I didn’t know what to think of you. Or, she didn’t, I should say. I’ve been waiting a long time for that meeting to happen for you, so we could finally talk about it.”
Charles and Clara talked for a long time. He drank his chai, later switched to White Russians, and she neglected the other Coffeehouse patrons.
Eventually, they were intertwined like vines.
Suddenly, Charles Reuben heard the voice of another Clara calling his name.
He looked around, confused, “I thought each island only had one…” then he saw her, on the other side of one of the pyramid doors. She was wearing the roller-skating waitress outfit, and looked angry.
“Wrong fucking Clara, Charles!”
Charles Reuben looked awkwardly back and forth between her and the goth-dressed Clara he was with.
Eventually, he stood up, smiled apologetically at the now very sad goth-Clara, and walked toward the pyramid and through the door, back to the island where he had woken up that morning.
Clara put her hand beside the door, glaring at her counterpart, as the scene on the other side changed to a field with a rainbow.
She let out a frustrated sigh and turned to Charles Reuben. “I’m not mad at you,” she smiled. “I’m mad at her. This isn’t the first time she’s done this.”
Clara looked out to the sea in the direction of the island where the Clara in the green dress was standing, watching them, the night before.
Charles Reuben looked there too, squinted, and saw that the Clara who was in the green dress the night before was the same one now wearing the goth outfit, clearing dishes from one of the tables.
Charles explained that he’d opened up his notebook to page one and used the Trigintasex numerals to go back to the first island he’d ever been to as an adult. He’d assumed that was her island, and wasn’t sure when he’d switched islands.
Clara took his book and pen, opened it to page four, and began writing the numerals for her own island. “I’ve been waiting for you to get back to tell me about your meeting with Charles the Grey and Blythe. I only vaguely remember it.” She finished writing the numerals, signing her name there with ‘X’s and ‘O’s.
“Can I ask you something?” Charles Reuben asked.
“What is it?”
“When I first arrived, a few days ago, she -” indicating goth-Clara, “told me that she remembered me from before, but I that was much younger then.”
“Was I about three or four?”
“Do you remember my parents?”
Clara thought about it for a long time, and said “I remember you weren’t alone.”
“My mom asked you to watch me for a while.” Clara nodded. “But… do you remember them?”
“I don’t understand. Why don’t I remember them?”
“One day when I was seven years old, they said our universe was colliding with another universe, and they’d either be right back or the universe would disappear.”
“They disappeared. As in, they never existed. I was still there, but it was someone else’s house. The only thing I don’t understand, though, is… why am I still here?”
“I don’t know.”
Charles looked at the pyramid. “I need to go back for a while.”
“What makes her so special?”
Charles was confused, then he saw that she was glaring at goth-Clara on the next island again.
“No, I mean, I need to go back to my world for a while.”
“Oh!” Clara nodded.
“I just feel like I’m too far out, and I’ll never get back.” Charles Reuben put his hand beside the pyramid door, and the scene changed to the room in the Open House that used to be, or never was, his dad’s den.
“Sure, yeah. Okay.”
“When I decide to come back, do I need to come through the same door?”
“No. Here, put your hand up.” He did, and Clara placed her hand against his. He felt a sparkling magnetic energy.
“Now you can open a door from anywhere.”
Charles Reuben said, “Thank you,” and left through the pyramid door.
Well, that was a bit awkward, wasn’t it. So, we followed Charles Reuben back to where he came from, or rather back to where he’d started out when he first entered The Coffeehouse as an adult, which is not where he ended up when he climbed the Fathoms’ ladder from Venus to the shimmering door on the mountainside.
I think it was pretty clear, it wasn’t in Shakespearean or anything, so I don’t think I need to do too much of a play-by-play. When Charles Reuben first arrived and met Isaac and learned Trigintasex, Clara was wearing jeans and a white t-shirt. That same Clara changed into a sparkling green dress the next morning, which she was wearing the day Charles Reuben came back from Venus with the Fathoms. That was the Clara that was watching Charles Reuben through binoculars. Then, that same Clara, when Charles Reuben woke up the next morning inside a neighboring Coffeehouse pyramid, put on the goth outfit. Since Charles Reuben is kind of famous already, and as we now know meeting him was one of if not the very last memory which Clara had from Blythe, he was more of a big deal to her than he realized, not just another customer. “Your money’s no good here” might have meant more than just literally money is no good there, but also in the traditional sense that his drinks are, or would be, on the house because the barista has a bit of a crush on him. Maybe. As a result, she wore Venusian green the next morning. But, green is also the color of jealousy, hence “Green Eyes” being the title of the chapter. Charles the Grey also has green eyes, commemorating the eyes of Teilhard of Anglesey and the Fathoms, and his green eyes were contained in the little mickey mouse dot with the page number in the middle of the chapter called “Green Eyes” which tells the reader to be sure to have already read the chapters called, “Drones,” Blythe,” “The Rectangle,” and “Simon.” So like with the intersection of Charles Reuben and Blythe’s timelines in this chapter, so too there is an intersection of a lot of different kinds of green eyes.
Then, after watching Charles Reuben go with the Clara with the Ramones shirt into the pyramid, and waking up with the memory of his having been with her the night before, this same Clara, the one who got him his first chai when he was sitting with Isaac, was now in a mood to wear white makeup, black clothes, and silver skulls. I thought I’d point all that out, since it might not have been obvious.
So, the second Clara he met as an adult was the one who asked him, “Where’s your cup?” since, as we now know, the first journal of Charles Reuben also includes the story of his first trip to Venus, we now also know that it included the address of the island of the Clara with the Ramones shirt, who the next morning put on the blue waitress uniform, who even after her “you don’t own me” speech seems to be acting like she now owns him. So, she gets emotional, clearly, and this has the potential to override her cool rational side. She’s human, at least in that sense of the word. But it should leave one pondering how omniscient she is when it comes to matters which directly involve herself, and her own future as it unfolds. The first Coffeehouse island, which Isaac was careful to instruct Charles Reuben to write on page one of his journal, was also already known and read by Isaac, as well as presumably the Claras. Even if one Clara had read the journals, they all read the journals, on account of their shared memory.
I, for one, hope that Charles Reuben finds a way to spend some more personal time with now goth Clara but I think he might avoid any future entanglements with the Claras to avoid this kind of situation in the future. But, who knows? I certainly don’t.
After a dot, indicating a scene change or passage of time, Charles Reuben asks the Clara in the waitress uniform if she remembers his parents. She finds it odd, and so do we, that she in fact doesn’t. Their erasure from the past present and future includes even The Coffeehouse, and Clara’s at least semi-omniscience.
At the end of the chapter, Charles Reuben, perhaps feeling a bit out of touch with the life he knew before returning to The Coffeehouse two days earlier, and perhaps to get a bit of space from Clara and kind of absorb everything that’s happened in the past few days, he decided to return to his universe for a while.
Before we follow Charles Reuben home and see what happens there, we’ll spent a bit more time with Blythe, Charles the Grey, and Simon next time. I’ll be reading, and analyzing, two chapters next time: “New Ancient Land” from “The Multiverse Cartographer,” and “Palace Three” from “Smaller Mouse” in which we’ll finally witness the birth of Clara.