9.19 – The CrossRoads

Suddenly my head snapped up and my eyes opened and me and Wings were driving on The Road again.  There was a big bright sunrise behind us, and somehow we’d gotten all the way to The Plains of Colorado.

 “Am I in the clear?” I asked Wings.  “Did the Perception finally wear off?”

Wings didn’t answer back, and I took it to mean things were going back to normal.  Then I stopped to get more gas, and when I went in the station it was just a regular Reality in there, who wasn’t a psychic or a monster or a God, and he did the pre-pay for me easily.

I was almost to the Road that led to Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains, and it seemed like I was pretty much home-free.  Except when I got back in the car The Crow was there in the front seat.

“You’re just a Perception!” I yelled at it.  “You can’t last forever.”

“I’m not just a Perception,” The Crow said in a strangely familiar voice.

“Yeah you are, but I guess since you’re here and can finally talk I am curious who you imaginarily are and why you were imaginarily helping me when I believed in imaginary Reality Travel.”

“Alright,” he said.

Then suddenly it wasn’t The Crow anymore but The Professor.  He was almost too big for the car and hadta adjust the seat all the way back so he’d fit.  He also had his arm in a sling.

“Yes,” he said, “The Crow has been me this whole time.  When you become advanced enough at Reality Travel you can Shapeshift into your True Animal Spirit.”

I knew that humans turning into animals was another thing on The Great List of Things That Aren’t Real, but I decided to play along anyway.

“What about all that stuff about how I couldn’t call and hadta Travel on my own and get my ass kicked?” I asked him.

“As part of The Training, each Traveler is entitled to get secret help for their first Great Trip,” he said.  “You’ve seen how hard the Travels are now.  You still needed The Training Wheels but also to feel like you were doing it all on your own.”

“Well, you imaginarily failed cuz I broke the imaginary Vow and gave up.”

“You’re not the first Traveler to go to War or to have Big Doubt.”

“Big Doubt’s not real.”

“It is, and it’s time for you to Dig Deep and Cure yourself or else you’ll be Eliminated.”

“Even if it was real, I’d have no idea how to Cure it.”

“Yes, you do… Remember your Thesis?”

“Please, if a Guardian Angel can’t even save you, why would a stupid song?”

“Because stupid songs are your True Passion.  They may not work for every Traveler, but it can work for you and many others.”

“Even if it could, I don’t have The Great Trip Mix anymore.”

“But I do.”

Then I looked over, and it was right there in his hand.

“I knew you’d be in trouble last night after I found out your Guardian Angel had been detained, so I came in to wake you up and inspire you to avoid War with The Eleventh Hour MeToo, but it was too late, and the Big Doubt was already beginning to set in.  I predicted what would happen from there and knew to rescue your most precious item, The Great Trip Mix, before it was lost or destroyed.”

Then he put it on and started playing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”  As soon as I heard the piano intro I could feel something changing inside my chest.  I tried to fight back tho and keep thinking about The Great List of What’s Not Real and the vision for My New Adult Life, but Steve Perry’s high and powerful voice came in and the feeling in my chest grew.  It was my Bluebird essence that had been pushed down into some deep corner of myself, and the song kept digging it out whether I wanted it to or not.  Then Steve Perry got to the line “looking just to find emotion hiding somewhere in the niiiiiiiiight,” and it was so high and powerful that some Bluebird got dug so far up it started coming out of my eyes as tears.  Soon the song got to its unconventional at-the-end-of-the-song chorus, and when I finally heard the words “Don’t stop believin’” I knew with total certainty that Reality Travel was real again.

“Oh my Gods!” I said when the song was over.  “I can’t believe I let that happen to me.”

“It’s Alright,” The Professor said.  “Now you’ll know how to deal with Big Doubt if it arises again.”

“But now what? This means The CrossRoads is totally real, and I hafta make the right choice or else!  What should I do, Professor?”

“I can’t make the choice for you, but I think you know in your heart the right thing to do.”

“Heart?  Does that mean choosing The Goddess of Faith because True Love is the most important thing even if we get Eliminated for it?”

“That would be a noble choice.”

“Or should I pick Reality Travel cuz that’s like the Love for all Realities in The World no matter what, and then neither of us will get Eliminated?”

“Also a noble choice.”

“But either way I’d be sacrificing too much.  I’m not sure if I can even handle Reality Travel without The Goddess of Faith.  I would just feel too Lonely, not Alright, and I’d get my ass kicked all the time. I’m not a very good Traveler, am I?”

“You have a lot of room for improvement.”

“What if I’m never that good?”

“Reality Travel isn’t about being good.  It’s about MeTooing in any way you can.  Maybe you’ll never be able to introduce yourself in person to New Realities very well, but you are good at singing, so sing to them.  Sing to them about getting your ass kicked and having the courage to keep going anyway, and believe me, Realities will MeToo.  Sing to them in every way you know how.  Sing to them with The Great List of Songs, with your own songs, and if that isn’t enough, sing a novel to them.  You have to trust me, if you just sing to them everything will be Alright.”

Suddenly I realized we were coming up on the point where Road-70 met Road-25, and where I’d hafta decide if I was going back to Where-ThePlains-Meets-TheMountains or not.

“This is The CrossRoads, isn’t it?” I said.

“Yes,” The Professor said, “and only you can make the decision about where to go from here.”

“But which Road means what?” I said.

But The Professor suddenly disappeared, and I hadta think about it all Alone.

“Alright,” I said to myself, “if I were still in Big Doubt I would’ve just gone North back to Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains, so that would probably get me Eliminated.  Going West will take me straight to the hard and treacherous Mountains where I’m terrified to Travel, and going South will take me to the Desert, which is also hard but at least it’s flat and the sun is always shining.  But I’m not sure which Fate is which.”

I was quickly approaching the exit when suddenly I saw The Goddess of Faith fly out of the sun from The South.  She seemed to be escaping from Guard Gods who were right on her tail, and I really wanted to try and save her.  As she got closer I could see her It’s Alright Baby glow and I realized how you only get one SoulMate and I would never Love or be Loved again like I am with her.  And even if we are both Eliminated at least it would be together and neither of us would have to feel the pains of Lonely existence ever again.

“Bluebird,” The Goddess of Faith yelled out, “I True Love you.”

“I True Love you, too,” I yelled back.

But at the moment it came time to change Roads I couldn’t do it.  I could only think about all The Realities of The World who might be destroyed by War and needed MeToos, and if I or The Goddess of Faith wasn’t there it would just make things a little worse for everyone.  It seemed too selfish to choose a Love that only we could feel for just one last second.  Even tho it would be hard, I knew I had to Love everyone in The World no matter what.

I kept driving down Road-70 right past Road-25 South and The Goddess of Faith and headed straight towards The Mountains. I didn’t know where it would lead, but as the Road started to go higher up, I started to feel so high and powerful.  I hit the gas down hard and pointed Wings to the sky, and soon we started flying above The Road, and over The Mountain peaks, and over the clouds, until soon we were so high we were in the OtherWorld, without even taking an outside Perception, and then there were just the feelings of high! and powerful! and I couldn’t help laughing and crying at the same time.

Just then I felt a surge of energy inside me start to collect and suddenly shoot out.  I let all my outer layers fall away, and I was pure Bluebird!  And The Crow and all The Gods were watching me, and The God of Judgment nodded his head, and The God of The Road was pumping his fist, and The Goddess of Music was leading the Other World RockNRoll Choir to sing for me.  And then I saw The Goddess of Faith in the rearview mirror, and she was smiling and happy for me even tho we wouldn’t get to be together again.  But suddenly all my Bluebird! gathered together and aimed towards her, and her It’s Alright, Baby! gathered together and aimed towards me, and in one swift moment they couldn’t help shooting at each other, and when they crashed together they exploded and formed Bluebird’s Alright, Baby!! and every one who witnessed it went,“Whoah we were all so wrong.”

And when The Professor Crow saw it he said, “Yes!”

And when The Goddess of Love saw it, she said, “True Love!”

And when The Goddess of Angels saw it, she said, “She must be his Angel forever!”

And when The God of Judgment saw it, he said, “Let The Record show that this is something beyond any of us, and we cannot stand in its way.”

And when The Goddess of Music saw it, she told her RockNRoll Choir to sing,“Here Comes the Sun,” and everyone in The Other World sang along, too.

And when we descended back to The World the Bluebird’s Alright, Baby!! finally broke apart, and we were The Bluebird and The Goddess of Faith again, and we were together in Wings driving thru The Mountains, and we were not afraid.  We were ready for the next Reality and everything was going to be Alright, Baby!

9.1 – The Great List of What’s Not Real

When I woke up it wasn’t the next day, but the day after that.  I knew I was supposta be at CFATTY’s for work, and they were calling me, but I didn’t call back.  I was also still Hungover, and didn’t have any Whatever-You-Drank-Two-Nights-Ago to cure it, but in another way I felt kinduv alrightcuz I knew The Great List of What’s Not Real…

I’m not The Bluebird, I’m just Jonathan.

 I’m not a MusicMan who MeToos via The Great List of Songs.  I just get mad when people don’t like the same songs as me.

I’m not a Reality Traveler cuz Reality Travel isn’t real.  I made it up cuz I was an insecure kid who wanted to feel more important. 

Everyone else I called Reality Travelers were also just insecure people who wanted to feel more important.

Wolf’s name isn’t really Wolf.  He doesn’t even really look like a wolf.  I just like animals a lot.

The Professor isn’t real.  I made up all the concepts and terminology and lessons of Reality Travel.

Reality Travel Training isn’t real.  I really went just went to graduate school.

Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains is just a fancy way of saying Colorado.

The Crow repeatedly appearing inside places it shouldn’t have been was just a coincidence.

The Gods aren’t real.  Nothing created us and nothing cares if we’re destroyed. 

The OtherWorld isn’t real.  It’s just a hallucination caused by certain Perceptions, which are actually just drugs.

It’s impossible to TimeTravel.  You can only be in this present moment, which quickly vanishes forever.

The Goddess of Music isn’t real.  All songs from The Mix played during The Great Trip were just coincidences. I was not Touched and given The Gift, I was just naturally a good singer probably cuz of genetics.

The Goddess of Faith isn’t real.  She was just a fantasy of a woman who completely accepted me cuz no real woman ever has.

Because The Gods and The Goddess of Faith aren’t real, I will not get Eliminated for breaking God Rules and will continue to be alive.

Because Reality Travel isn’t real, I won’t even get The Malaise.

Because Reality Travel isn’t real, I didn’t break any Vow by going to War with The General&The Admiral, and they deserved to bleed.

The Professor would say The Great List of What’s Not Real is just a symptom of Big Doubt.  But like all other Reality Traveler BoobyTraps, Big Doubt is also not real.

8.15 – War

When we got back inside everyone was shouting.

“Oh my god!” Red said.  “There’s a bird in here!”

She was ducked down on the floor covering her head, and The Admiral was on top of a chair holding a broomstick.  Just then a flash of darkness swooped around and divebombed them. It was The Crow.

Red screamed, and The Admiral swung at it and missed.  The Crow flew in a few circles and then noticed me and came straight towards me. I just stood there staring at it and didn’t flinch, and its claw scraped right across my face.

“Oh my god!” Red said.  “It got HD.”

“I’ll take care of this,” The General said.

Then he grabbed the sabre off the wall and pulled it out of its sheath.  The lights of The Barracks shined off the metal, and The General held it into the air like the leader of the cavalry.

“Where’d it go?” he said.

“Over there,” The Admiral said.  “It’s taking Ace’s music.”

It had The Great Trip Mix in its beak and was about to make another swoop.

“Oh my god!” Red said, “Get it!”

The General held his weapon high and charged.  The Crow dodged outta the way tho and turned back toward me.

“Go ahead,” I told it.  “Get me again.”

The Crow dove down at my face.  I didn’t flinch again, and it scraped my other cheek.  It perched on the globe for a second and looked at me confused.  It left its guard down for just that second, and TheGeneral&TheAdmiral took advantage.  The Admiral smacked it in the face with the broom, and then The General swiped at its wing with the sabre, and feathers flew up everywhere.  When they finally settled on the ground, The Crow had vanished.

“It must’ve flown out from wherever it came in,” The General said.  “Although I don’t know how it could’ve.  This place is a fortress.”

“Was that The Gods?” The Admiral asked.

“No,” I said, “It was just a coincidence.  It probably flew in from the balcony when you weren’t looking.”

“Oh my god, HD,” Red said, “your cheeks are all bloody!”

“I’ll be alright.”

Then I wiped them with my hands, and my fingers got all red.

“Oh my god,” Red said, “let me clean you up.”

Then we went into the bathroom so she could look at it.  She took a wet cloth and wiped the blood off.

“I think you need a band-aid,” she said.

Then she got some out of the medicine cabinet, peeled off the wrappers, and stuck one on each of my cheeks.  It was nice, and a little Alright, Baby, and it made her seem like she was someone else.

“Thanks, La Renarde,” I said.

“Oh my god,” she said, “I’m Red.”

“You look like La Renarde.  You have the same red hair.”

 

“You’re so funny, HD.”

“Are you guys like twins?”

“No I’m younger.”

But they really looked exactly the same to me.  I had one last vague sense I was being TimeWarped, but when I went to look down at my Grounding Device, once again it and the jacket it was stuck to weren’t there anymore.

“Hey La Renarde,” I said.  “Maybe if we kiss again it’ll turn out different this time.”

“Um, you’re acting kinda weird now.”

“Why did you kiss me if you were just going to be in Love with that other guy?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Let’s go back in the room, HD.”

“I’m not HD, I’m Jonathan, and I just wanted to be Reality Travel enough so you’d Love me.  I did all of this for you, and now you don’t even believe in it anymore.”

“I really think we should go back in.”

“Please kiss me.”

“I don’t like you like that.”

“So you’re still not going to kiss me ever?”

“Ew, no.”

Then she pulled away from me as far as she could and told TheGeneral&TheAdmiral everything that just happened.

“Hahaha,” The Admiral said, “hahaha.”

“I win again,” The General said.  “When will you learn you just don’t have the Gods on your side.”

I looked at Red’s hair again as she avoided me across the room, and it was so LaRenarde-red, and then when I looked away everything else around us was the same color.  The walls and the counter and the door and the floor and The Admiral’s face and The General’s face, all pure red.  Then suddenly I felt a redness build and surge from inside me.  It was redbird, and it felt powerful and completely correct.

“Ahhrgh!” it made me say.

And then I charged ahead and attacked them with my redbird.

“Oww!” it made them say.

I took a step back, and all the normal colors suddenly came back around me.  White and black and gray.  Except for Red’s hair and clothes and a little red splatter on the floor.  Red’s eyes were wide open and she covered her mouth with her hand.  The Admiral was dazed on the ground, and The General was standing up holding his face.  One little red drop fell thru his fingers and hit the floor in front of him, and it almost made it seem like he was crying tears of blood.

6.16 – Hideout

“Thank Gods, I’m back in Alone Reality!” I said when I got back to Wings.  I wondered if I’d been at enough of The Wedding that I could just leave, or maybe I could just wait out the rest of it, come back at the end to say goodbye, and pretend I’d been there the whole time.

When I opened the door and tried to get in the car, The Crow was right there on the front seat.

“Ah, it’s my friendly OtherWordly helper,” I said.

But when I went to sit down next to it, the Crow took its beak and pecked right at my hand. I looked down and my fingers had a little bit of blood on them.

“Ow!” I said.  “Why?”

But The Crow just stared at me with its dark black eyes and went “CAW!”  It wouldn’t move off the driver seat, so I went around to get in the passenger side.  But then it flew over to that seat and puffed out its wings and started flapping them and going “CAW! CAW! CAW!”  It seemed like for some reasonThe Crow didn’t want me to be in Wings at the same time as it.

“Dammit,” I said.

Then I hadta just lean against the side of the car, and it was a bad Hideout cuz anyone could see me standing there like a Sore Thumb and wonder what I was doing.  It made me feel like a Bad Traveler.

“Can’t you just MeToo one New Reality here?” I said to myself.  “Stop being so afraid of getting your ass kicked.  You’re in True Love with an Angel for Gods’ sakes.”

Then I decided the only way I could feel like a good Traveler again was to introduce myself to the next New Reality I saw, even if they looked like a MeNotzie “Electric Slide” loving Adult, and try to MeToo them.

Soon a Reality wearing a white tuxedo with a black top hat walked into the parking lot. It made him look like a magic rabbit falling upside down.  Old Wolfy had introduced me to him earlier, but it was so fast I couldn’t remember who he was.  He was walking to his car alone, like maybe he was trying to escape to a Hideout, too.  I took a deep breath, told myself the Gods are on my side, and walked over.

“Hey,” I said.

He looked up from under his tophat and just as I was beginning to freeze he smiled at me.

“Hey!” he said. “You’re The Guy Who Drove All The Way From Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Man, driving that long is hard.  You get tired, and your butt hurts, and your mind can go crazy from boredom.  You must be a Great Traveler.”

“Thanks, what was your name again?”

“I’m The Perceptionism Professor.”

“You mean The Perceptionism Professor from Wolf’s Perceptionist Training School?”

“The one and only.”

“Wow,” I said.

Then we shook hands.

“So you’ve done every Perception ever?” I asked

“Yeah,” he said, “and somehow I’m still alive!”

Then I told him how me and Wolf met in Reality Travel Training together and had gone on all our Adventures in Perceptionism.

“Alright!” he said, “How bout an Adventure with me right now?”

“Like what?” I said.  “I’m still not that advanced.”

“How bout a little Lubricant Adventure?”

“Yeah, but they’re only serving it in little cups in there.”

“I know, that Open Bar is a Perceptionism tragedy.  That’s why I stole a whole bottle when they weren’t looking.”

Then he took off his top hat and like magic pulled a bottle of Jack Daniels from it.  He handed it to me, and I took a swig, and then he took a swig, and we kept passing it back and forth.

“Thank Gods,” I said as I felt the machinery of my mind loosen up.

“I was hoping I might be able to MeToo this with someone,” he said.  “My date had to leave, and everyone else is trapped in IceBreaker Hell over there.”

“That’s why I’m out here,” I said.

Then I told him all about The Wedding Mix and how, as a MusicMan Traveler, it was my only chance to MeToo, but it was ruined by their renegade DJ.

“They were supposta play things like ‘Magic Carpet Ride,” I told him.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “I love that song.  It’s about more than just a carpet ya know.  It’s about The Other World.”

“I know!  And when it came on I was going to tell everyone about that time I listened to it at Wolf&Lamb’s Den, and it led to us going to Karaoke for the first time and Lamb and I singing ‘A Whole New World.’”

“The song from Aladdin?”

“Yeah!”

“I saw that movie one time in Acid Perception.  The Genie was actually The Veil, and I had to go thru him to get to The Other World.  I asked The Gods if I could have three wishes, but they told me I didn’t need any, my life was Alright just the way it was, and that meant I was free. And it all made me cry and laugh at the same time.”

“Wow, you know everything about The Other World, don’t you?”

“Sure, it’s like my second home.”

“Then maybe you can explain The Crow.”

Then I told him my history with it and how it was inside Wings at that very moment.

“Oh my Gods, let’s see it!” he said.

But when we went over The Crow was gone.

“It was there a minute ago,” I said.  “I swear.”

“I believe you,” he said. “You’re not talking to just some Adult here.  I know Other World creatures appear and disappear whenever they feel like it.”

“Do you have any idea who The Crow is?”

“I’ve seen it before, but I don’t know much, other than it hangs out around The Veil sometimes, flying back and forth between this World and The Other.”

“Sometimes I think it’s trying to help me, and sometimes I think it’s just mean.”

“Maybe sometimes it helps you by being mean.”

“Ohh.”

“We could track The Crow down right now if you want to.  I have a couple Perceptions on hand that could take us straight to The Other World.”

“Actually, I don’t think it’s safe for me to be in The Other World right now.”

Then I explained everything that happened earlier with The Goddess of Faith.

“Wow!” he said.  “I’ve never heard of anything like that before. My Guardian Angel is called The Goddess of Manning Up, and whenever I’m in doubt she blows a loud whistle in my ear and tells me to get my shit together.”

“When I’m in doubt Faith gives me It’s Alright, Baby! and I don’t think I can live without it now.”

“It sounds like this is a True Love situation, and you can’t give up on it.  You just need to Love her where you can’t be caught.”

“We can’t be in The Other World, and we can’t be in this World. Is there another World I don’t know about?”

“There’s also The Past World.”

“You mean, like, Time Travel?”

“Exactly, your Angel can go back to any time and place she’s been before.  For the Gods it’s like watching a rerun of their favorite show.  But she could take you with her and Love you somewhere no one has been watching for ages.”

“And we can’t get caught by the historical Realities?”

“No.  The only way to get caught is if another God were Time Traveling back to the exact same moment in history at the same time as you.  It’s pretty much impossible.”

“Yes! Man, am I glad I introduced myself to you out here.”

“MeToo!”

Then there was a flash in the sky and a loud boom, and then it started to get dark.

“Looks like The God of Weather,” we said.

6.4 – Adventures in Perceptionism: Mushrooms

Wolf and I sat across from each other on the floor of My Nest. In the middle was a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a plate with several skinny, gray, gross looking mushrooms on it.

“Mushroom Perception,” Wolf said, “will allow us to Travel to The Other World. The Gods don’t want just any Reality to enter their domain, so they’ve draped a Veil between us and them that is too big and thick to see past. But when we consume these Mushrooms The Veil will momentarily dissolve, and we will be able to Travel right thru it.”

“What do you do in The Other World?” I asked.

“There are many things one can do there. But the most useful and appropriate is to ask The Gods a question.”

“Like what?”

“Something important and meaningful. The Ancient Perceptionists were mainly healers, and they would ask The Gods something like ‘What is the cure to my Realities’ sickness?’ And then The Gods would show them a particular herb or root.”

“Wow. What should we ask?”

“Remember The Other World holds all the information on the design of the Universe.”

“I think I’m going to ask about The Crow.”

Wolf nodded.

“What are you going to ask?” I asked him.

“I’ve been to The Other World via Perceptions many times and have asked many questions. For this adventure, I’ll simply guide you and keep you out of harm’s way.”

“Should I ask now?”

“Not yet. We must wait until the Perception has fully kicked in, and we have crossed beyond The Veil.”

Then Wolf took two pieces of cinnamon raisin bread, spread some peanut butter on one, put my share of the mushrooms on it, and made a sandwich.

“These mushrooms are very unappetizing,” he said. “Your mouth will not like the taste and will sense it may be poison. It will stop producing saliva and close your throat unless we sneak it in with this other more delicious food.”

Then we ate the sandwiches, and the bread and peanut butter were so good you didn’t even know there were mushrooms on it. At first nothing happened, but Wolf said that was normal.

“How will we know when it kicks in?” I said a little later.

“In Mushroom Perception,” he said, “you cannot speak without either laughing or crying.”

I suddenly saw the funniness in what Wolf was saying and laughed.

“Haha, I don’t know why I’m laughing,” I laughed.

“Haha, It’s alright,” Wolf laughed. “It’s the first sign.”

Then that sounded like the funniest thing I’d ever heard, and I laughed so hard and long that my chest started hurting.

“Haha, we have to go outside now,” Wolf laughed.

“Haha, why?”

“Haha, I forgot to tell you. It’s awesome to see The Other World outside.”

So we walked down to the Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains Creek, and each footstep was hilarious. When we got there all the trees and plants started to pop out at us like a children’s pop-up book. Their colors seemed more colorful than usual even tho it was nighttime, and then they got so colorful and popped out so far that they weren’t even trees and plants anymore but feelings. One shrub became welcome! and a big pine tree become old and wise and the ripples in the creek water became small ever-changing parts of one unified moving thing, and it made me cry.

“Don’t be afraid to cry,” Wolf cried, too. “It’s all part of the Perception.”

Then we sat for a while at the edge of the one unified thing silently crying to ourselves, and it felt great.

“Are you doing alright?” Wolf cried.

“Very,” I cried.

“Need anything?”

“More cinnamon raisin bread.”

Then we both started laughing again.

“Haha,” I laughed. “I want the whole loaf!”

“Haha, yes,” Wolf laughed. “Your heart is telling you to get bread, and you must follow your heart.”

Then we laughed all the way back to My Nest. I picked up the loaf, which had become the greatest thing, and held it over my head like the bread champion.

“Haha,” I laughed. “Thanks Me-from-the-past for getting this.”

“Yes,” Wolf cried. “Gratitude, gratitude.”

Then I grabbed three slices and put them all in my mouth at once, and I handed Wolf three slices, and he ripped them apart with his teeth like it was a kill in the Tundra.

“Haha, this is the greatest thing to me,” Wolf laughed.

“MeToo, MeToo,” I cried.

Then we lay down on the floor to eat the bread. When I looked up at the ceiling I noticed it was doing strange things. The patterns in the plaster were shifting and swirling in constant motion, and soon they felt like The Veil.

“Haha, is it happening now?” I laughed.

“Yes,” Wolf cried. “Keep looking.”

The more I stared the more the ceiling seemed to grow until there was no more My Nest, only one infinite cream colored ceiling World.

“Should I ask the Infinite Cream Swirl the question now?” I cried.

“Haha,” Wolf laughed. “Sure.”

“Other World, this is Reality Traveler Jonathan WawaBird, and my question is who is The HahaCrow?”

Suddenly there was a great cawing, and a giant portal opened up in the ceiling, and I could see exactly how The Crow had gotten inside My Nest. Then I was able to float up off the floor and go into the portal myself. Once inside, I stared feeling to feeling with the bird, and it felt like helper.

I liked it and wanted to go up and pet it gently on the beak, but suddenly something inside the Other World started pulling me away. It was a strange and powerful force with no clear feeling, but it had the strength of the God of Weightlifters, and I couldn’t get away. Like a giant magnet it swept me away right past The Crow towards the depths of the Other World. It even felt like it was trying to pull my insides right out of my body.

“Oh no!” I cried. “I need those.”

I felt like it was the essence of my soul getting ripped out, and I tried to hold it back in, but I was going up against The Gods, and there was nothing I could do.

Then at the same time I noticed another force was shooting out towards me. It was strong, too, but I couldn’t feel what it was. I didn’t know whether it was evil or holy, if it was going to make me stronger than ever before, or send me straight to the Dead Souls part of The Other World, but I was directly in its path, and it was coming fast.

“Get me out of here!” I cried to Wolf.

He was able to hear me and jumped into action, grabbing me with his jaws and tugging me back down with all his might. He wasn’t strong enough on his own, but then The Crow came and latched on with his beak and pulled, too. And just before the mysterious Other World force crashed into me, I came falling back thru The Veil and found myself right back on the floor of My Nest.

“What was that?” I asked Wolf.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like it before.”

4.5 – Road-80 Pennsylvania

In order to go from Ohio Industrial City (Rubber) Suburbs to Just-Outside-NewYorkCity County you have to take Road-80 thru Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  For a new driver it was a hard Road to Hit, full of booby-traps they don’t teach you in Driver Training. Every time I went on it there would be something like a snow storm or a speeding ticket or an empty gas tank. Even on The Great Trip me and Wings encountered The Worst Traffic Jam Ever.

All the cars were stopped in front of us and we could only go ahead at zero miles per hour.

“Dammit,” I said to Wings. “We don’t have time for this.”

In most traffic jams the cars start moving again after a second, but this time they just stayed stopped. In fact we were stopped so long that Realities started parking and getting out and walking around. I got out too and tried to look ahead and see what the problem was, but all I could see was an endless line of stopped cars. It seemed possible I could be stuck on this spot in Road-80 Pennsylvania for the rest of my life.

I thought about calling Kat and explaining the situation to her, but I knew she wouldn’t understand. What I needed to do was eliminate the traffic with my own will. I wondered if maybe The Goddess of Faith had the ability to vaporize all the vehicles in front of us.

“My Angel!” I yelled out. “I need you again!”

Then I remembered again that I hadta make a sacrifice first. Unfortunately everything seemed essential. The Wedding Uniform, The Kerouac book, and The Mix were all out of the question. I looked in Mom’s grocery bag for something, but I kinduv really wanted everything in there, too. Suddenly I was startled by a knock on the window.

“Oh no!” I thought. “The stuck-in-traffic Realities have gone crazy and are coming to get me.”

But when I looked up I noticed it was actually The Goddess of Faith! She was in a classical age tunic and looked like the Roman Empire.

“Faith,” I said. “How are you here? I didn’t even sacrifice anything yet.”

“Oh,” she shrugged. “Whoops.”

Then she laughed and came in.

“So what do you need, Bluebird?”

“We have to get to the next Reality as soon as possible, but this traffic is in the way.”

“Oh, no! What will happen if you’re late?”

“Kat could turn into the HateKat, and then it will be impossible to MeToo her.”

“Oh, my poor baby bird.”

“Maybe you can use your God Powers to make the traffic disappear?”

“Aw, I don’t have that kind of power. All I can do is give you some It’s Alright, Baby! so you don’t care as much.”

Then she reached over and gave me some IAB! and I did care less.

“Now let’s see what else we can do,” she said. “First I think you should eat one of your mom’s sandwiches for energy. Then you should read your book so you don’t get bored. And then you should definitely listen to The Mix, cuz that makes you the most happy.”

Then I did all those things, and I stopped thinking about the traffic at all.

“Goddess of Faith?” I asked.

“Yes?”

“I was wondering… Are you The Crow who rescued me from Vertigo today?”

“No, I was watching the whole thing and wanted to help, but it’s against the rules for me to intervene.”

“Well, who’s The Crow then?”

“I don’t know. I thought it was just a bird that got accidentally trapped inside the closet.”

“No, there was no way it could’ve got in there. I’ve seen this before. I think it’s from The Other World.”

“I don’t know any crows in The Other World, but I could check it out.”

“Alright, I think we’ll need to. It seems important.”

“I’ll give you a full report next time I see you.”

“I was wondering something else. Can you only come when I’m having a problem? Cuz I kinduv wanna go thru the rest of the trip without having any more, but maybe I wanna keep seeing you.”

“Aw, Bluebird, I’m not really supposed to come unless you’re in trouble, but I really do love helping you.”

“Oh.”

“I wish I could come just whenever tho.”

“You do?”

“Yeah, I like Traveling with you.”

Then she leaned in and gave me a little It’s Alright, Baby! kiss on the cheek. It was the best IAB! yet, and I felt like I could wait for eternity for anything.

“I can probably stay tho until the traffic starts moving again,” she said.

“Great,” I said.

And then we ate sandwiches and listened to The Mix and waited together.