8.3 – After the AfterParty

When I woke up I was surrounded by Realities passed out on the floor and Perception debris of every kind.  My whole body hurt, especially my head, which was spinning around like I had The Vertigo, and every time I tried to get up I felt like throwing up.  Wolf&Lamb, however, were somehow up and smiling and full of energy.

“We’ve gotta go to The Philadelphia Suburbs (Pennsylvania) Convenience store just like old times!” Lamb said.

“Yes!” Wolf scratched his chin, “nothing like greasy food and coffee in the morning after getting Shitfaced all night.”

“Hey,” I grogged to them, “how come you’re not sick or unconscious?”

“We’ve taken a guaranteed Hangover cure,” Wolf said.  “Let me make you some.”

“Great. I’ve gotta Hit the Road to Ohio like right now so I can Travel to TheGeneral&TheAdmiral Reality tonight, but all I feel like doing is hitting Scorpion’s toilet.”

“Hold on one moment,” Wolf said.

Then he shuffled around in the kitchen for a minute. When he came over to me I thought he’d have some cool Perceptionist potion, but instead he came back with a full glass of JacknDrPepper.  Just sniffing it made me gag.

“No,” I said. “I need to get less drunk.”

“Trust me,” Wolf said.  “It’s an age old Perceptionist trick called Drink-Whatever-You-Had-TheNight-Before.”

“Isn’t there a not gross cure?” I asked.

“No,” WildFuckingTurkey grogbbled from somewhere on the floor. “He’s right.  It’s the only way.”

“It’s best to drink it in one gulp to get it over with,” Wolf said.  “GAM-BAY!”

“GAM-BAY,” I said and then I poured it all in at once.

My throat didn’t want that much of anything at once going down it, and there was a second when I thought it might all come back out. But suddenly I had the strength to hold it in, and the spinning stopped, and I was able to sit up straight.

“I think it’s working,” I said.  “Thank Gods, we’re in Wolf Reality!”

“No,” Wolf said.  “Thank Gods we’re in Bluebird Reality.  You saved me last night, and as a token of gratitude I want you to have what’s left of the Alcohol Stash.  There’s still plenty.”

“Wow, thanks,” I said. “I might not be able to MeToo tonight without it.”

Wolf&Lamb weren’t the only ones up.  So was Scorpion, and he wanted to help me get on The Road, too.  He gave me directions for a ShortCut I could take out of town and then handed me a little plastic baggy with one large black&white pill in it.

“I imagine you have many hours ahead of you on The Road,” he said.  “This should help so you don’t get too tired or crazy with boredom.”

“What is it?” I said.

“It’s an old Weight-Loss Perception banned from the market for decades due to possible undesirable side-effects.  But I’ve Adventured with it before and found it to be completely harmless.”

I looked over at Wolf.

“That’s a very rare and powerful Perception,” he said.  “I’m jealous.”

“Thanks Scorpion,” I said and put it in my pocket.

Then me and Wolf&Lamb went out to Wings with The Stash, and there was The Goddess of Faith waiting there in a jean jacket and jeans.

“My Gods!” Wolf said.  “Is that really the Angel?  Did you sacrifice and summon her just now?”

“No,” I said. “She just comes now cuz we’re in True Love.”

“Oh my Gods!” Lamb said. “She’s breathtaking.”

“Oh my Gods!” The Goddess of Faith said. “Is that really Wolf&Lamb?  I watched your whole Wedding, and it gave me The Chills, and made me want to have a Wedding, too.”

“Thanks!” they said.

The Goddess was really excited, but she was also holding her head and stomach, and you could tell she was kinda sick.  I asked her if she had a hangover.

“I don’t know,” she said.  “Every time I fly I have to come back down and throw up.”

“It’s Alright, Baby,” I said.  “Wolf’s got a Perceptionist Cure.”

“What were you drinking last night?” he asked her.

“All of them,” she said.

Then Wolf went back and grabbed a glass and made an AllofThem drink for her.  She held her nose and GAM-BAY’d it down, and soon she was back to normal.

“Thanks so much!” Faith said.  “I know we have to go now, but I wish we could just hang out as couples today.”

“It’s alright,” they said.  “Today we have to go to our Honeymoon in the far off and exciting Realities of Jamaica.”

“Yay!  I’ve been there many times giving It’s Alright, Baby songs to the MusicMan Traveler Bob Marley.  You’ll love it.”

“Wow, Bob Marley?!”

“Yes, now let me give you both a Wedding present to help you enjoy the trip.”

Then she reached out and pushed them both together and gave them a huge It’s Alright, Baby squeeze at the same time.

“Mmm,” Wolf said. “Angel Hug Perception.”

“I feel like we’re already on a tropical beach with white sand and teal water and a gentle breeze, and everything is gonna be for certain Alright,” Lamb said.

“I’m so happy for you!” The Goddess clapped.

Then it was time to go, and we finished loading up the car, and we all hugged one more time.

“Be brave, Traveler,” Wolf said, “and you clearly don’t have to remember The Gods are very on your side.”

“You, too,” I said and then me and Faith hit the Road on a beautiful Sunday morning thinking nothing bad could possibly happen…

7.16 – The Concert to Save Wolf

Emperor Penguin &The Penguins were in the kitchen when I got back in, but they were busy and didn’t seem to notice me.

“I can’t take it anymore,” Emperor Penguin told them.  “I mean, a Philadelphia Suburbs (Pennsylvania) community center basement? Our gigs just keep getting shittier and shittier.”

The Penguins nodded.

“We’re just going backwards,” he said, “and we’re not getting money or recognition.”

“But aren’t we in it for the MeToos?” the band said.

“Even those are fewer and fewer.”

“What do we do tho? Give up?”

“It may be time to face the facts.  We’ve gone as far as we can go with this band. A Reality I know says he can get me a fulltime job in an office.  I think I’m going to take it.”

“I don’t know, man. That’s sounds pretty Adult.”

“Maybe we should’ve just tried to be Adults all along.”

“What about Reality Travel?  I heard if you quit The Gods will make you depressed.”

“I’m not sure I even believe in Reality Travel or The Gods anymore.  Maybe it’s just something we made up to feel more important than we are.”

“So we’re breaking up?”

“I think so.”

Just then WildFuckingTurkey came in.

“Hey,” he said, “Lamb just sent me.  We need your fucking help.”

“We’re in the middle of something,” Emperor Penguin said.

“Okay, but Wolf’s apparently got some fucking Traveler Vertigo thing, and he’s pretty much passed out cold, and doesn’t even know who he is anymore, and she doesn’t know what to fucking do.”

“I don’t know. I’ve never even heard of ‘Traveler Vertigo.’”

“But you’re a fucking Reality Traveler, right?”

“Not anymore.  Ask that Colorado kid, he’s actually Trained believe it or not.”

Then I came forward.

“You’re a fucking…?” WildFuckingTurkey asked me.

“Yeah,” I rasped.

“What happened to your fucking voice?  You sound like my hangover tomorrow.”

“Pfft,” Emperor Penguin said, “he blew it out over-singing that Springsteen.”

Their comments knocked me back for a moment, but I was able to easily look down and see My True Traveler Name and it helped me keep going.

“Enough!” I rasped.  “I’m the Bluebird, and I have The Dead Voice just cuz I’m too passionate about car singing.  But none of this matters right now, cuz we all have to work together to save Wolf.”

Then they knew I was for real and listened up as I explained how Vertigo worked and how we needed all the AfterParty Factions to come together to end The Schism and MeToo.

“How are we going to do that?” Emperor Penguin said. “We can’t even find half the party.”

“We can lure them in with music,” I rasped.

“We’ve been playing music.  No one’s into it.”

“We’ve only been playing for ourselves tho.  We need to play one that MeToos everyone.”

“There’s no song that can MeToo everyone.  That’s a myth.”

“Bob Marley’s ‘One Love.’  I know for a fact it was written by The Gods themselves, and it’s got as good-a-chance as any.”

“That is a good song,” The Penguins said.

“Yeah it fucking is,” WildFuckingTurkey said. “Getting together and feelin Alright is actually all I ever want.”

Everyone looked over at Emperor Penguin and waited for his ‘pfft.’

“It’s probably not going to work,” he said, “but it is a good song.”

“I can’t sing,” I told him, “so you have to lead the sing-along.”

“Alright,” he shrugged.  “Let’s play some Marley.”

Then we gathered everyone we could find and led them back into the living room.  Everyone in there looked completely bored or Vertigo’d.  Wolf was on the couch with his eyes shut and his mouth hanging open, while Lamb wiped off his drool with a napkin.

“Hey!” Lamb’s Youngest Sister looked up. “Are you going to play again?”

Emperor Penguin nodded and Lamb’s Younger Sister wheeled the Throne over to him.

“Wait a second,” Wild Turkey said.  “This is Wolf&Lamb’s fucking Wedding night, they should be sitting in The Fucking Throne, right?”

We all agreed and then worked together to lift Wolf’s Vertigo’d body up from the couch and stuff him in the seat, while Lamb sat on his lap.  Then Emperor Penguin stood in front of us in a RockStar power stance.

“Alright,” he said, “it’s time for the Concert to Save Wolf.  Anyone here dig Bob Marley?”

“Yes!” everyone said.

“Alright then,” he said.  “Let’s do a little number called “One Love.”

Then he nodded to the band and The Penguins came in and they knew that one cold,too.  Then Emperor Penguin came in and started nailing it with his high and powerful voice, and it made everyone sit up in their seats and start clapping to the beat.

“Alright, everyone,” he said when he got to the next chorus.  “You all know the words.  Sing along.”

One Love, One Heart, let’s get together and feel Alright,” we all sang.

Many Realities in the room could not sing. WildFuckingTurkey continued to gobble off key, and The Baby sang nonsense goo-goo-ga-gas instead of the right lyrics, and I could only sing in a whisper.  But somehow it all sounded good and much more high and powerful than any one Reality could sing on their own.  It felt so good we just kept singing the words over and over.

One Love, One Heart, let’s get together and feel Alright.”

 And then we saw a Reality peaking their head up from The Hole.  They started creeping forward to get a closer look, and we waved them towards us.  Then other heads peaked out and followed.  And when they got into the living room they couldn’t help but to sing along, too. Finally Scorpion came out and had a suspicious look on his face and pointed his stinger at the Marijuana MeNotzie, but the song soon calmed him, and even he ended up getting swept up in the sing along.  I looked over at Wolf, and his eyes were now open and alert, and his body was upright, and he was howling the loudest out of all of us.

 One Love, One Heart, let’s get together and feel Alright.”

7.10 – The WildFuckingTurkey Show

“Gobble Gobble Gobble,” WildFuckingTurkey said.  “It’s time for The WildFuckingTurkey Show!”

The living room had been taken over by the Sober Realities. Most of them had been sitting quietly in their chairs drinking glasses of water, and when WildFuckingTurkey came in they looked up like some crazed outdoor animal had just gotten loose inside the house.

He took one of the Penguins’ guitars and stood on top of a chair.

“What’s with you guys?” WildFuckingTurkey said. “This is a fucking party.  Where’s the music?  Where’s the booze?  Where’s the fucking fun?”

No one answered him tho.  They just sat there hugging their legs so WildFuckingTurkey couldn’t jump down and peck them.

“No,” Lamb’s Youngest Sister said, “Emperor Penguin, you and your band should play instead.”

“I don’t know,” he said.  “We’ve played enough tonight.”

“Oh come on, please.”

But Emperor Penguin just took a sip of his scotch and shook his head.

“Alright then, listen fucking up,” WildFuckingTurkey said and started strumming the guitar.

Then he paused.

“Wait a fucking second,” he said.  “Why is there a fucking wheelchair over there?”

No one knew.  WildFuckingTurkey went across the hall to the nook and rolled the chair over to the living room.

“I like it,” WildFuckingTurkey said.  “It’s kinda like a fucking throne.”

Then he sat in it and started wheeling it around a little and then nodded and started strumming the guitar again.

“Alright, now you can fucking listen up,” he said.  “It’s the WildFucking TurkeyShow!”

“Aren’t you going to tune it?” one of the Penguins asked him.

“No, I’ll be al-fucking-right,” he said.

Then he pointed at Wolf&Lamb who sat uncomfortably on the couch.

“This one goes out to you my old friend and your new wife.  It’s my favorite song, “Marga-fucking-ritaville.”

“Margaritaville” is a song about a Reality in a far off and exciting tropical Reality who’s always in Alcohol Perception, and it causes problems like not doing anything all summer, getting a regrettable tattoo, injuring his foot, and not being able to find the salt for his margarita.

Then WildFuckingTurkey tried to play it, but it sounded nothing like the song.  The guitar was too out of tune, and the chords were wrong anyway, and his gobble voice was low and unpowerful, and he couldn’t remember enough of the words.

“But there’s booze in the blender, and soon na-na-na-na, the fu-fu-fu-fu-fuck that helps me hang on,” he sang.

Making it worse, whenever he got stuck he kept going back to the beginning of the song and starting over.  Everyone in the living room was having trouble MeTooing it.

“What’s a Maggaveedaful?” I heard The alleged Marijuana MeNotzie Baby ask Lamb’s Younger Sister.

“I think some kind of Alcoholic drink,” she said, “but I’m not sure.”

Even the other Alcohol Realities were having trouble MeTooing it.

“You sure there’s not another song you actually know how to play?” Emperor Penguin said.

“Fuck!” WildFuckingTurkey said.  “I know this one, I fucking swear.”

WildFuckingTurkey could tell the audience wanted to carve him up like Thanksgiving dinner tho, so he hadta step down from the wheelchair and give the guitar back in failure.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he said as he went back to kitchen for more Lubricant, while he slapped himself in the head like he was in a drunken fight with himself.

Wolf was looking down at the floor and holding his head with both hands.  Lamb was trying to help by rubbing his shoulders, but you knew he needed a MeToo quickly or else.

“This sucks,” Lamb’s Youngest Sister said. “Emperor Penguin, you have to play some music for real now.”

Then she went over and sat in his lap and started stroking his head like he was her stuffed animal penguin.

“Pleeease,” she said.

“Fine,” he finally said and gave the other Penguins a nod, and they began to set up.

7.3 – Hitting The Road with Wolf&Lamb

Me and Wolf&Lamb hit The Road from Philadelphia Suburbs (Jersey) to Philadelphia Suburbs (Pennsylvania).  It wasn’t a long distance, but we hadta go right thru the middle of a major city, and there was a lot of traffic.  It gave us enough time to catch each other up on our recent Travels and compare notes on The Wedding.  Wolf got more and more distracted as we went along tho.

“I know Bluebird and Wings from Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains,” he scratched his chin, “but we’re driving on The Roads I know from my hometown, and we’re on the way to Realities I know from Perceptionist Training, where I met my fiancée.”

“I’m actually your Wife now,” Lamb said.

“Oh my Gods, you are, and I Love you very much, but this is concerning.”

“What is?” she asked.

“I didn’t realize it until now, but we’re heading into a possibly major RealityFuck for me.”

Then he started telling us about all the different Realities who would be at The AfterParty, like his childhood best friend WildFuckingTurkey, his HighSchool best friend Emperor Penguin, and his Perceptionist Training School best friend Scorpion.

“I know it’s incredible,” Wolf said, “but they’ve never even met each other until today.”

“I haven’t even met them all yet,” Lamb said.

“Exactly,” Wolf said, “and then add in all their dates and wives and partners and our other friends and families and their dates…”

“Hmm,” I said, “that’s a lot of different Realities to MeToo.  What if you get The Vertigo?”

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Wolf said.  “Yet, although it won’t be easy, we have to remember we’ve spent the last two years Training in tactics to deal with just these types of BoobyTraps.  This will be a perfect opportunity to test my Reality Travel Training Thesis on Common Perception.”

“That reminds me,” I said.  “There’s a whole Stash of Alcohol in the trunk as we speak. Me and The Perceptionism Professor swiped it from that bullshit Open Bar when they weren’t looking.”

“Good work,” Wolf said.  “That crooked bartender wouldn’t even serve us more than a Dixie cup at a time.”

“We don’t have to worry about rationing anymore,” I said.  “There’s enough Lubricant to keep the whole AfterParty in Alcohol Perception for the next week!”

“Normally,” Wolf said, “I would agree that Alcohol is the perfect choice for Common Perception in such a RealityFuck, but I’m not certain it’s the Preferred Perception for some Realities there.”

“Who could possibly not like Alcohol Perception?”

“Scorpion for one.”

 

6.14 – The Reception

After The Ceremony The Ants demanded we all get in a big line to congratulate Wolf&Lamb.  It went slowly, and I hadta listen to the Adults next to me talk about The Wedding.

“I don’t really know The Bride or The Groom” an Adult said, “but it was nice.”

“What’s Wolfy’s boy do again?” an Adult asked another Adult.

“I dunno,” they said. “I think he’s a Traveling Realtor. Is that a thing?”

“I think they both do drugs,” another Adult said.

“No, no,” another Adult said, “they’re good kids.”

I was too frozen to tell them what Wolf&Lamb were really about and just hadta pretend I didn’t have ears for awhile.

When you got to the front of the line The Ants gave you a few seconds to say something before they pushed you away and the next Reality went.  Wolf&Lamb looked bad.  Their bodies were stiff, their faces were gray, and their eyes just stared out.  It seemed like it might be the first stages of Traveler Vertigo.

“Are you guys getting your ass kicked,too?”  I cut to the chase, “I keep getting too frozen to do the New Reality Sequence, and I haven’t MeToo’d anyone yet.”

“Hurry up,” an Ant interrupted. “It’s a long line.”

“Just shake my hand and say,congratulations,” Wolf told me.

I did what he said, and then he pulled me close and whispered, ”Traveler Lubricant… Lots of it… Now shake Lamb’s hand and congratulate her,too.”

I did what he said and then Lamb pulled me in and whispered, “There’s an Open Bar, all free.”

“Where?  How?” I asked.

But before she could answer a Soldier came to grab my arm.  I didn’t want my arm grabbed again so I dodged it and then hadta just run away.

I kept going until I got to the tent.  It wasn’t like a camping tent.  It was more like a building with thin plastic walls and windows, and it was big enough to hold all of the Realities of The Wedding inside.  There was another long line in there leading to a table with some kinda Bartender Ant who was surrounded by bottles of Alcohol.  “Ah,” I said and got in.

“You supposta be in this line?” an Adult next to me said.

I didn’t say anything.

“Where are your parents?”

“My parents?”

“Yeah, do they know you’re in this line?”

“I’m not a kid,” I said.

“Well, you don’t look like an Adult,” they said.

Then I hadta point my head down and stare at the ground so they wouldn’t say anything else to me.

“What do you want?” The Bartender said when I got to the front.  “It’s all free.”

“Great!” I said.  “I want an entire bottle of Jack Daniels and an entire 2 liter of Dr. Pepper.”

The Bartender laughed, and when he made the drink, there was only a little of both poured in a tiny paper cup.

“Have to make sure there’s enough for everyone,” he said.

“Oh,” I said.

I looked around and everyone only had a tiny paper cup, even Adults like Old Wolfy and his SalesMen friends.  You’d see them drink it down in one gulp and then hafta get right back at the end of the line for another.  The line looked so long you figured your first small drop of Lubricant would probably wear off before you got the next one.  I realized I’d be in the lowest magnitude of Alcohol Perception the whole rest of The Wedding.  I drank my drink in one gulp even tho I knew I’d still have some squeaky tight mind machinery anyway.

Inside the tent there was a big dance floor with lots of tables around, which had namecards by each chair.  It looked like they were organized by Reality Groups, like Lamb’s Distant Cousins’ Realities or Wolf’s Distant Cousins’ Realities.  One table was higher up than the other tables and all of its namecards were in fancy gold writing.  Bride and Groom, Bride and Groom’s parents, Best Man and Wife, Maid of Honor and Date, Usher – The Important Wedding Realities.

Then I found my namecard at some kinda Miscellaneous Realities table.  I’d never heard the names before, and neither had anyone else there.  Soon everyone sat down there to eat and hadta start asking each other questions.  Like WolforLamb?  Name?  Hometown?  Job?  And marriage status?  I didn’t answer any of them.  I just sat there frozen waiting for the music to come on.

Then The Important Wedding Realities got to make speeches.  An Ant came around with a microphone and handed it to each one of them, and they said what they thought The Wedding was about.  Some were heartfelt like Lamb’s Dad.

“The Wedding is about my daughter being happy,” he said,“and that’s all a dad wants.”

Some were shy like Scorpion.

“The Wedding is about…” he said, “um, I don’t know…  Congratulations I guess.”

And some were a RockStar like Emperor Penguin.

“The Wedding is about everyone here being Great,” he said.  “I don’t really know Lamb, but I’ve known Wolf since HighSchool. And I know he only chooses to be around Great Realities.  Like me (pause for laughter).  And that means Lamb must be a great Reality, and if you’re at this Wedding you’re a Great Reality, too.”

It was a cheap MeToo, but it worked, and everyone laughed and felt good cuz they felt like they were a Great Reality.  It only made me wanna make my own speech, maybe about the first time me and Wolf&Lamb went to Karaoke and how they meant a lot to me.

Then Ant passed the microphone to another Ant who was set up at a table on the side with a bunch of music.

“Now it’s time for The First Dance,” a DJ Ant said.

“Yes!” I said.  “Finally.”

And then Wolf&Lamb got to get up and go to the middle of the dancefloor, while everyone stood up around them and watched. The DJ started playing Coldplay’s “Sparks,” and Wolf&Lamb got close together and slow danced.  I was just about to tell everyone I was the only one there who was actually around when they chose the song.  Realities around me started whispering tho.

“I’ve never heard of this song,” an Adult said.

“Me neither” another one said.  “Who is this?”

“Is this Dave Matthews Band?”

Dave Matthews Band is a band about Dave Matthews’s high but unpowerful voice.

“No, it’s John Mayer.”

John Mayer is a musician all about John Mayer’s high but unpowerful voice.

Finally Emperor Penguin stepped in.

“Pfft,” he said.  “You’re all wrong. This is Coldplay.”

And the “Pfft” was a horrible sound that was maybe even worse than “tsst” or “eh,” and it made it seem like Coldplay didn’t deserve to make music ever.

“Oh,” everyone said.

And they all rolled their eyes and shook their heads and went “pfft,” too.  And I couldn’t find anyone who looked like they would MeToo liking it.

When the song was over, the DJ told everyone they could come on the dancefloor now. And then, to make matters the worst they could possibly be, he put on That One “Hot, Hot, Hot,”Song…

6.13 – The Ceremony

I went back to Wings in the parking lot and took off my jacket.  Old Wolfy was right, it was just way too stuffy, whether I looked like The Professor or not.  It was nice back at the car, a perfect Alone Reality hideout where no one could find me, and I hadta fight the urge to just stay there and not go back to The Wedding. But I knew I still might have a chance at some MeToos when the music part happened.  And I knew The Ceremony was coming up, and I did want see the exact moment when Wolf&Lamb became married.

The hardest part was gonna be how to sit down.  I knew I didn’t wanna sit next to anyone else, and I noticed a lot of empty seats in the back where I might be safe.  Emperor Penguin was in charge of it tho, and it seemed like he was probably going to seat me in some MeNotzie kinda way.

I watched him from a safe distance. He was good at seating.  His motions were smooth and effortless, and he would put his hand gently on a Reality’s shoulder or back and guide them ahead with a clear voice that never um’d or stuttered.  He knew each Reality’s unique needs, whether it was going extra slow for a really old Adult or kneeling down and high-fiving a little kid. Most of the Realities laughed at something he said.  It started to seem like his ‘chaperone’ comment could’ve just been some kind of fluke or misunderstanding, and he was a true Reality Traveler who would be gentle and MeToo with me.

I walked up to him and took a chance.

“Hey,” I said, “Can I just seat myself?”

“No,” he said.

Then he put one hand firmly on my back, while the other one pointed.

“I’ll seat you right here next to these fine people,” he said.  “That way you don’t have to sit alone.”

They were a couple of younger looking Adults.  I couldn’t remember who they were at all.  It was possible they were imposters out to destroy The Wedding for the fun of it.

“But I want to sit alone,” I told Emperor Penguin, but he didn’t listen.

He used his usher hand to force me ahead just like the Planner Ants.

“This is So&So,” he said and pushed me down into the chair.  “So&So, this is Colorado.  He’s got some nice sneakers on, doesn’t he?”

I looked down at So&So’s shoes and theirs were both black and shiny, and then I looked at mine, which were all scuffed up with holes in the sides and the laces unraveling, and I realized I was Sticking Out Like a Sore Big Toe.  Once again Emperor Penguin didn’t even say,“I’m just fucking with you,” and when I looked back up he was gone.

Then So&So tried to start talking to me.

“So,” So(Female) said, “do you know WolforLamb?”

“I’ve never heard of WolforLamb,” I said.  “I only know Wolf&Lamb.”

“Oh…” she said.

“So,” So(Male) said, “you’re The Guy Who Came All The Way From Colorado.”

“No,” I said,  “all the way from Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains.”

So&So looked at me like they wanted me to say more, but I didn’t want to cuz it would’ve taken half a book to explain everything the right way.  Instead I just froze up and stopped talking to them, and eventually they got the picture and left me alone.  I could still feel them right next to me tho.  Sometimes So would accidentally brush me, and I would hafta inch my seat over a little, and I would wonder why they got to sit there instead of BigFoot, or the Iowa Goldfinch, or My Mom, or Kat, or El Puma, or The Goddess of Faith or Nobody.

After everyone was seated, The Ceremony began by playing The Wedding Song.

The Wedding Song is a song about being played at the beginning of every Wedding.  It starts off “Dun-Dun-da-dun, Dun-Dun-da-dun,” and when you hear it you know a Wedding is starting.  It keeps repeating until all the Important Wedding Realities march down an aisle between the Wedding Guest seats and take positions in front.

Wolf&Lamb soon took their positions right next to the Queen Planner Ant who got to be Ceremony Leader.  No one knew her before that day or what her knowledge of The Gods was, but apparently she had the power to legally marry you.  The Queen then made a big speech about Love, but it was all about hard work and hivemind and digging, and there was no talk of SoulMates or Cupids or sparks or crazy magnetic forces in The Other World, and I eventually tuned out.

I started thinking about The Goddess of Faith and wondered if she was watching the whole thing at that moment.  I thought about if we had a Wedding, and how we’d make sure there’d only be our favorite Realities, and no one would be a New Reality for anyone else, and everyone would get to be one of the Important Wedding Realities, and The Ceremony Leader would be The Professor, and The Ceremony would just be a recap of The Story of How We Met, followed by us forming Bluebird’s Alright, Baby!!for everyone.

Then I finally heard Wolf&Lamb talking for themselves.

“I’ll Love you forever no matter what,” Wolf told Lamb.

“I’ll Love you forever no matter what,” Lamb told Wolf.

“Alright,” The Queen said, “you’ll be married now as soon as you kiss each other in front of everyone.”

Then Wolf leaned in and put his mouth on Lamb’s mouth, and I was sortafar away, but I think I did see a fiery little spark or two fly out from their faces, and it gave me The Chills.

6.12 – Track #14 of The Great Trip Mix – Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle’s “A Whole New World”

One day I came over to The Den and Wolf&Lamb were listening to songs. Wolf had on some kind of electronic music that didn’t have any words and wasn’t about anything and kinda sounded like a prisoner inside a computer.

“I don’t know about this one,” Lamb said.

“Really?” Wolf said, “I’ve had some profound experiences with this music,” Wolf said. “It’s like a code that can only be cracked and understood in certain advanced Perceptions.”

“But most of the Realities at The Wedding will be in simple Alcohol Perception,” Lamb said. “Will they get it?”

“Hmm,” Wolf scratched his chin, “maybe you’re right.”

I asked them what they were up to, and they said they were making a Mix for The Wedding.

“After the ceremony and The First Dance, everyone’s going to get together and drink and dance,” Lamb said. “We’re hand picking all our favorite songs that they can MeToo.”

“All I know is I don’t want them to play any of those typical Ice Breaker songs,” Wolf said. “You know, the ones where everyone gets in a line and the song instructs them what to do. The thinking is that everyone will MeToo about doing the same moves together, but it’s at the price of your dignity.”

“I hate those, too,” I said.

“Maybe you can help us pick some of the songs,” Lamb said.

“Alright, but I only like Old Radio Hits, which a lot of Reality Travelers seem to hate for some reason.”

“We like some Radio Hits,” Wolf said. “What do you think about this?”

Then he put on Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride.”

“Magic Carpet Ride,” is a song about taking a Reality with you for a ride on a carpet that can magically fly thru the air. And how once you’re in the air you can see new things that you can’t normally see when you’re just on the ground.

“I like this song,” Wolf said, “because like every good Anthem of the 1960’s Golden Age, it’s really about Perceptionism. ‘The carpet’ is really just a symbol for a Perception which can take you to The Other World.”

I knew the song from Old Hits Radio and liked it even when I thought it was about an actual carpet. I approved and started singing along.

“Wow,” Lamb said. “You have a great voice.”

“Yes, that’s quite a talent, Bluebird,” Wolf said. “How have we not heard you sing before?”

“I really only sing alone now.”

“That could be some MeToo strength if you use it right,” Wolf said.

I was still traumatized by my Dead Voice experience and could only shrug.

“You know who else likes singing?” Wolf said and pointed to his fiancée.

“It’s true,” Lamb said, “We should totally do Karaoke together sometime.”

“I’ve never done that before,” I said.

“Well,” Lamb explained, “Karaoke is about going to a bar that has the lyrics and music recordings for a big list of songs and then picking one of those songs and going up to a microphone and singing in front of everyone.”

“A bar?” I said. “Wouldn’t that be full of drunken MeNotzies?”

“It’s alright tho,” Lamb said, “because every Reality knows Karaoke isn’t about being good. If you screw up everyone will MeToo you for being drunk and bad just like them. And if you’re good they’ll MeToo you because you’re good. It’s really a win-win.”

“I like the sound of this,” I said. “Do you sing too, Wolf?”

“I never sing,” Wolf said. “My voice comes out in a terrible howl that disturbs Realities whether we’re in Alcohol Perception or not. But I do like to listen to others do it.”

So the next time there was a Karaoke night we all went. I was nervous cuz I hadn’t been following The Rules of Singing, especially since I’d started delivering pizzas, and hadta sing in the car all the time, and I knew there was a chance I could get The Dead Voice again. And I didn’t care what Wolf&Lamb were saying about everyone MeTooing you at Karaoke, no one can MeToo The Dead Voice. I told them about what happened with my Voice Training at ALC.

“You were singing great earlier tho,” Lamb said.

“Yes,” I said, “but The Dead Voice comes on quickly and without warning, maybe even in the middle of a song.”

“I don’t know about The Rules of Singing,” Wolf said. “But I do know the Rules of Perceptionism, and I’ll make sure you have enough Lubricant that you don’t even remember this Dead Voice exists.”

“And I’ll sing a duet with you,” Lamb said. “That way if the Dead Voice strikes I’ll just start covering your part, and then it won’t be so bad.”

“Alright,” I said.

Then Wolf took care of the Alcohol Perception end of things, and Lamb grabbed a huge notebook that was full of song titles.

“My Gods,” I said. “It’s the entire Great List of Old Songs!”

We looked thru it together, and it was hard to pick one song out of all the possible ones.

“This is too overwhelming,” I told Lamb. “What do you usually sing?”

“My favorite songs are a little embarrassing.”

“MineToo. What are yours?”

“They’re all from Disney Movies.”

Disney Movies are cartoons about talking animals who have problems at first but then solve them and live happily ever after. They make kids feel like life is going to be alright.

“I like Disney Songs, too,” I said. “They’re so catchy and uplifting.”

“I don’t know,” Lamb said. “It just seems like they’re only for kids or something.”

“Reality Travelers are kids tho,” I said.

“He’s right,” Wolf said. “I like Disney Movies, too, especially the more Perceptionist ones like Alice in Wonderland and Fantasia.”

“Let’s sing a Disney song then,” I said. “What’s your favorite?”

“It’s probably “A Whole New World’ from Aladdin,” Lamb said.

Aladdin is a Disney Movie, in the far off and exciting Realities of Arabia, about a lowly street thief Reality who falls in Love with a princess but doesn’t think she’ll like his Reality and is afraid to introduce himself. Then he finds a lamp with a hilarious genie inside who gives him three wishes and the street thief thinks that’s the only way to MeToo the princess, but she ends up falling in Love with him anyway in the end.

“A Whole New World,” is a song about taking something with you for a ride on a carpet that can magically fly thru the air, and how once you’re in the air, you can see new things that you can’t normally see when you’re just on the ground.

“Yes!” I said. “Let’s do that one.”

Then Lamb filled out a little slip of paper and handed it to the Karaoke guy, and a little while later he called us up to the microphone. The “A Whole New World,” music started to play, and there was a screen in front of us that showed all the words that were about to come up. I took the Aladdin words and Lamb took the Princess words, and we both started nailing it right away. Lamb had a high and powerful Baah voice, and all my throat spots were alive, and I was able to bounce air off of them to create all the right notes. There was a part when we had to sing at the same time, and our two voices combined were more powerful than our voices on our own. It gave me The Chills, and when I looked out all the Realities of the bar had gotten out of their seats and were dancing in front of us and singing along.

It turned out Disney songs were more MeTooable than we’d realized. When we were done everyone clapped and went “Woo!” and I heard one Reality say “Best of the night!” Wolf was standing up and clapping and howling the loudest.

“You guys are both RockStars,” he said.

6.8 – The Wedding

The Wedding was in Philadelphia Suburbs (New Jersey).

Philadelphia Suburbs (New Jersey) are Suburbs about inventing the Suburbs. At first no one lived in New Jersey, and they called it The Garden State, because the only things there were plants and things that went into salad. But it was surrounded by big cities, and when the car was invented Realities realized they could work in those cities without having to actually live there in the overcrowding and danger and stink. Then they all moved to New Jersey where they finally had enough room to build things like indoor shopping malls, strip malls, mini-malls, mega-malls, outlet malls, and outdoor shopping malls.

To get to the Wedding you had to go past an indoor mall and sneak between two strip malls, where it surprisingly opened up into an original Garden with grass and trees and vegetables and a lake. Beside that was a big white tent and rows of chairs and a whole lotta New Realities.

As soon as I walked in I almost felt like The Goddess of Faith had never existed before. Wolf&Lamb were young Reality Travelers, but everyone at their Wedding were somehow strange looking old Adults. They were all in pairs, and their clothes were way fancier than mine. The men wore neckties and shiny shoes, and the color of their jackets and pants were an exact match. The women were in bright colored dresses of fine materials and wore jewels all over, and when the sun hit them it would shoot a beam of light at your eyes. There were so many Adults you couldn’t see anything else. I didn’t know where Wolf&Lamb were, and I wondered if I was even at the right wedding at all.

Suddenly someone came up from behind and grabbed my arm. The grip was strong, and they used it to march me thru all the Adults to an opening near the lake. There several guests had been lined up in a row like they’d committed an unforgiveable crime against The Wedding, and a MeNotzie firing squad was going to execute them all. Organizing the whole scene were several Realities in red jackets, who had the purpose and teamwork of a colony of army ants.

“Wedding Planners,” I said to myself.

One was The Queen Ant, and she held up a clipboard and called out the orders.

“Make them come here, make them stand there, make them stay still, we’re running out of time!” she was saying.

Others were Soldiers Ants following the orders, swiftly moving around people up to twice their size with brute arm-grabbing force. Some were Worker Ants scrambling to arrange flowers and furniture. And at the center of it all, there was one Drone Ant with a camera, taking pictures of the whole creepy crawly process.

The Soldier who had me by the arm had orders to interrogate me.

“Which side are you on?” the Soldier asked me.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Wolfgang’s or Elaine’s?”

“Who?”

“Wolfgang’s or Elaine’s?!”

“I think I might be at The Wrong Wedding.”

“Wolfgang’s or Elaine’s?!”

“Do you mean Wolf&Lamb?”

“Yes, the Bride or Groom?!”

“Um… The Bride&Groom.”

“What do you mean ‘&’?”

“I know both of them.”

“No one knows both of them.”

“I do. I met both of them pretty much at once.”

“How?”

“Reality Travel Training School.”

“Where is that?”

“Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains.”

“Nonsense words!”

Then they hadta bring in The Queen to figure it out.

“I don’t know which group to put this one in,” The Soldier said.

“We don’t have time for this,” The Queen said.

“But what do we do with him?”

“Which side is he on?”

“He says he’s not on a side,”

“Everyone’s on a side. Where’s he from?”

“The Mountains or something.”

“Mountains? There are no mountains here.”

“That’s what he says.”

“Then put him in The Mountain Group.”

“But I don’t think anyone else here is from there.”

Then The Queen turned to me directly.

“Who else is with you from The Mountains?” she asked.

“No one,” I said.

“What about your date?”

“I don’t have one.”

“What do you mean? You’re here alone?”

“Yes.”

The Queen looked at me like no one had ever answered the question that way before. Then she shook her ahead and shouted out, “He’s all alone. Just do it with him alone!”

Then the Soldier forced me to march again to the very edge of the water. There they used their hands to move several parts of my body like my back and arms and chin so that everything was rigid and pointing up. When they finally backed away, I was able to realize Wolf&Lamb were actually standing on either side of me. They were rigid and pointing up, too, and they were not in their regular t-shirt and jeans Traveler Uniforms either. Wolf was in a shiny silver Tuxedo, and Lamb was in a white dress that was so long it had to lay on the ground behind her.

“Wolf,” I said, turning my head towards him.

“Don’t move!” The Planners yelled.

Then the Soldier came back and moved my face back to where it was.

“What is this Reality?” I had to say to Wolf without moving my face.

“Hell,” Wolf said without moving his face.

“What should we do?” I asked.

But before he could answer the Planners yelled at us all to smile and kept yelling until our smiles were big and perfect enough. Then we were blinded by multiple bright flashes.

“Got it,” the Camera Drone said.

“Get him out of here, and bring in the next one,” The Queen said. “Time is precious!”

Before my eyes had adjusted and I could say anything else to Wolf&Lamb, the Soldier grabbed me again and marched me away. I found myself back in the crowd of Adults, all Realities I’d never seen before in my life, and I realized there was no one else to help me MeToo them but me.

6.1 – Track #18 of The Great Trip Mix – Coldplay “Sparks”

One day I came over to The Den, and Wolf&Lamb were very excited.

“We’ve just picked the song for The First Dance,” Wolf said.

“What’s The First Dance?” I asked.

“The most important song of The Wedding,” Lamb said. “It’s the first time Wolf and I will dance as married Realities. They’ll play a song, and we’ll be the only ones on the dancefloor. Everyone will watch us, and they can’t start dancing themselves until the next song.”

“It’s supposed to be something slow and romantic,” Wolf said. “And also something that perfectly represents our Love.”

“We picked Coldplay’s ‘Sparks,’” Lamb said.

“Sparks” is a song about the bright little flying embers that occur during an intense physical reaction like someone welding metal, a car bottoming out on pavement, a tree branch falling on a power line, or two Realities falling in Love.

I liked Coldplay. Their lead singer Chris Martin did not have a powerful voice, but it was high and still capable of giving you The Chills.

“To fully explain,” Wolf said, “We have to tell you The Story of How We Met.”

“Alright!” I said.

Then we got comfortable, and Wolf made some Jack Daniels and Dr. Pepper cocktails. Lamb even came up with the idea of adding maraschino cherries, so it would be like a sweet prize at the end of the drink. It was very good. Then Wolf began The Story…

“You may be thinking that in order to fall in Love you have to MeToo about every single thing, but, as you may notice, the two of us may as well be different species. You’d expect, since I’m so Wolf-like and Lamb is so baby-sheep like, that I would’ve only hunted her down in the night, pulled her from the flock with my canine teeth, and MeNotted her with my digestive tract. And actually at first I was searching for no animal but another daring and ferocious Canis Lupis, a SoulTwin who shared a 100% MeToo Overlap.”

“I thought the same thing,” Lamb said. “I just assumed I’d end up with a hardy, horn-bashing ram-boy.”

“I was at The Perceptionist Training School in TheWoods of Pennsylvania,” Wolf said, “going on intense Adventures assigned by the esteemed Perceptionism Professor. He would take us, as he would say, “Down The Rabbithole” to the frontiers of Perception and The Other World. I assumed I would fall in Love in there, but only a rare breed of Traveler was Called to do it. There were not many of us, and the pool of available mating options was quite small. I soon had to turn to the nearby Pennsylvania Future Adult Training School, where there were considerably better odds of meeting someone. I’d always enjoyed reading, especially the Great Perceptionist authors, such as Aldous Huxley, William S Burroughs, and Hunter S Thompson, so I enrolled in a literature course at the college.”

“I was going to PFATS because I thought I wanted to be an Adult at first,” Lamb said. “I mean that’s what everyone tells you you’re supposed to be, right? I ended up in the same literature class as Wolf because I always liked reading, too. I’d never heard of any of his favorite authors tho. My favorites were Mother Goose and the Bible.”

“I found her innocence and adorable looks very attractive right away.”

“I found his experience and intense hunting eyes attractive right away.”

“But I doubted there was even a 10% Overlap between us, so I continued looking elsewhere.”

“And I thought there was no way someone like Wolf would be interested in me.”

“I turned my attention to the PFATS party scene, and made it known to the right Realities that I had access to wild new Perceptions which could obliterate their inhibitions. It became easy to meet women after that, but they were all into Perceptionism for superficial reasons, and I would hide my Reality Travel Calling so it would appear as if we had more of a MeToo Overlap. Sometimes I’d outright lie and tell them I was a full time PFATS Student. I ended up dating several of them, but it was never satisfying, and none of them ever felt close to being my SoulMate.”

“And I would date boys who were too much like me. They were religious, polite, and well on their way to becoming Adults. But all the MeTooing was actually boring me, and I wanted to meet someone different for once.”

“Meanwhile in literature class, despite our differences, I couldn’t draw my attention away from Lamb. I felt strong urges to be near her soft wool and nuzzle it like a blanket. Eventually those urges overcame my fears.”

“Then one day Wolf asked me out, and I couldn’t believe it. I thought, why would someone like that like me?”

“Remarkably, she agreed. And at once I began worrying Lamb would MeNot everything about me. Yet, I was also fed up with not Being My Own Reality. I realized it was absurd to try and trick someone into being my SoulMate and decided not to lie or hold anything back this time. So I invited her to my favorite off-campus dive bar.”

“Not only had I never been in a bar before, but I’d never even been in Alcohol Perception.”

“When I found that out, I was even more terrified of a MeNotzie reaction, but I knew I had to continue with the Being My Own Reality experiment.”

“He ordered a martini and I ordered a Coke.”

“And I flat out told her, ‘I’m a ShaMan Reality Traveler who MeToos via Perceptionism.’”

“I had no idea what that meant.”

“So then I just explained everything to her. The Perceptions, MeTooing, and The Gods. And to my surprise, she did not run away or argue with me or stare at me in confusion.”

“I was thrilled by all these concepts and terminology I’d never heard before.”

“And then she said, ‘Thank you for being so honest.’”

“And then I reached out and grabbed his hand.”

“And then something happened. A surge of energy built up in the center of my chest and in an instant shot out to all parts of my body. It went thru my shoulders and down my arms, and when it reached my hands and fingers it leapt out in a spark. I truly mean that a small ember of light was created when we touched. It was overwhelming and forced us both to retract. Then when we summoned the courage to reach out and touch again, the same thing happened.”

“Sparks.”

“You may doubt me on this and think it was just a lingering effect from some recent Adventure in Perception.”

“But I was in Sober Perception the whole time, and I felt the exact same surge from my chest to my fingertips and witnessed the exact same electricity.”

“It’s left us both with a mysterious but non-negotiable trust in each other. As if from that point on, whatever force caused that spark would guide us no matter how much we MeToo’d or not.”

“We’ve been together ever since, and there have been a lot of MeToos.”

“I am certain we are SoulMates and have full confidence in my decision to marry her. And that, my friend, is why the song must be Coldplay’s ‘Sparks.’”

5.9 – WolfCall

“Bluebird,” he said, “how have you survived The Great Trip so far?”

“Barely,” I said. “I feel like I’m getting my ass kicked by BoobyTraps every moment, except the one when I kissed my Guardian Angel.”

“Kissed how?”

“On the mouth, like we like each other.”

“That’s unbelievable. Is that even allowed?”

“I don’t think so, she just wanted to.”

“Are you with her now?”

“No, I’m at an Adult Bar with El Puma, and every Reality here probably only wants to talk about their stupid retirement plans.”

“Try to hang in there, and don’t let Traveler Pride get in the way. Also, remember to stay at the same magnitude of Perception as those around you.”

“I know, I know.”

“Anyway, the main reason I called is to warn you about tomorrow. The last several days I’ve been in Wedding Planner Reality, and it’s clear they’re MeNotzies trying to Dominate the entire event. Lamb and I have been increasingly overwhelmed and disoriented. We may even get Vertigo if we’re not careful.”

“Oh no.”

“We’ll have a hundred other Realities there demanding our attention and may not have a chance to MeToo or even speak to all of them. I know you have a weakness for New Realities, but you may have to be all on your own there.”

“Oh.”

“Just letting you know what you’re up against, so you can prepare.”

“Alright.”

Then Lamb got on the phone, too.

“Bluebird, just remember one thing if you get in trouble.”

“The Gods are on my side?”

“Yes, but also remember to sing. No one can resist MeTooing your voice!”

“Oh yeah…”