Wednesday, July 4, 2018
To all you Sheiks and Shebas in the USA, happy Independence Day!
Welcome back to Jazz Age Wednesdays. As you know, the illustrator and Sender of Things for this spontaneously written story is San Francisco artist, Rob Goldstein. (Click here for the entire collection of Rob’s videos.)
Rob let me play with some of his dolls/avarars to make a July Fourth image. Creating it helped me de-stress a little. Valentino is looking a bit miffed as Tesla puts an arm around Lulu and a saluting angel-bot, as fireworks light the sky behind a Tesla tower.
Awhile back, Rob had an image idea with Valentino as an angel, but it wasn’t part of the story. So I told him I didn’t mind if he had his own parallel part of what I call the Lulu-verse — the universe of all the things that make up Hullaba Lulu. That’s been working for us. We work together, Rob illustrating and me writing. Yet sometimes we let things drift into other quadrants of the Lulu-verse. Like the Hullaba Lulu Dreams post. Rob’s latest video is like that too.
With today’s episode of Hullaba Lulu I’ve finally gotten to the other “things” for Chapter 10 of the series. The action picks up where Chapter 10.2 stopped.
Previously with Hullaba Lulu
With some instructions from angel-bot Moon, Lulu made music with the theremin. It wasn’t a cure for his malaise, but it helped temporarily bring Valentino back into tune with his train.
The planchette from the Ouija board drew a triangle and wrote the words “secret chamber.” Then the train thudded into the sand dunes of Egypt!
It’s time for the rest of Chapter 10. Do you hear Valentino’s trumpet?
Wave Frequency Machine, Hidden Door
I gawked at the Great Pyramid in astonishment. My eyes swept the barren landscape hoping for another glimpse of those multicolored wings ― and the creature to whom they belonged. I couldn’t imagine what could have such wings.
After a moment I turned on my kitten heels and ran toward the nearest exit door of the train. The door had a porthole window, but the Great Pyramid couldn’t be seen from that angle. Rose stood at the door with one hand poised to open it, but she made no move to do so.
“We might finally be far enough away for me to be safe, but we’re in the middle of nowhere and in a desert no less!” Rose cried and banged her fist against the wall in frustration.
I don’t know what she must have hit, but a panel in the train’s wall slid open to reveal a hidden door. It also had a window, but the view was of a completely different scene. It was a busy archaeological dig.
The clank of automaton footfalls caused me to turn. Moon rushed to catch up with me. The blue-gold engineering-bot had stopped to pick up an odd-looking contraption.
Outside, a familiar face looked toward the train. Rose saw him too and sighed wistfully. It was Tom Driberg. He was a journalist, so perhaps he was there to report on the discovery of some pharaoh’s tomb. However, Tom was also a spy, so there was no telling what he might be doing.
“I guess I wouldn’t be that safe here after all, even in the back end of Egypt. Because I can’t trust myself not to give in to Tom,” Rose murmured. “You know Lulu, he just wasn’t the person he made himself out to be. I thought I had taken up with a madcap reporter. Gradually, before I fully realized what was happening, he pulled me into his world of espionage and deceit. Even when I learned about it, he made it seem like wild fun. I was up to my ears in it before I understood how bad it all was. If only Tom had been the person he made me think he was.”
I didn’t know what to say to comfort Rose. I gave her shoulder a pat and asked if she’d like to go to the automat and get a gin rickey, but she gazed mutely out the window. As my eyes followed hers I contemplated the contradiction between the scenes outside the two doors. Tom Driberg was at an archaeology dig beyond the hidden door. However, the view outside the main door was only desert sand, with the Great Pyramid in the distance.
“Moon?” I inquired of the automaton. “Why are there two different Egypts outside? Are both of them sideways?”
“Señorita, please do not open that door. It is far too dangerous,” Moon said to Rose and gently touched her arm.
“So, Lulu is right?” Rose asked, dropping her hand from the door. “We went sideways again, like at Atlantic City?”
A series of clicks and whirs came from the angel-bot before he spoke.
“Apologies. I don’t speak flapper as well as Dynamite. That Egypt is not sideways. You might say it was upside down or backwards,” Moon explained, pointing to the window of the main door. “People and sometimes events are opposite to what they are in your world. If you knew that man—Tom for a bad man, then out there, he may be a good one,” Moon added and changed the direction of his pointing finger to the portal in the door that was hidden until a moment before.
Rose’s hand went back to the door as she stared outside at Tom. Moon seemed to guess her intention. The automaton’s next words caused me to inhale sharply.
“However, there might well be a very bad version of you there as well,” Moon continued. “She would likely be driven to illuminate any duplicates of herself if you encountered one another. Here,” he said, holding the odd machine with one hand and adjusting knobs with the other. “Allow me please, to check your frequency.”
When I asked Moon what he was about, he called the gizmo a wave frequency machine. The metal box had a cone-shaped device that made a wee-woo-wee-woo sound as it swung back and forth when Moon held it near Rose. After taking a reading from Rose, he pointed the machine to the window with the upside-down-backward Egypt. It wee-wooed for a moment before beeping rapidly.
Moon pointed the cone-shaped part at a blank wall and it projected a moving image, just like a film in a theatre. It showed a gravestone for Margosha Rose MacDonald. My pal Rose gasped at the site of her own grave.
“All is well, Señorita. The demise of your duplicate there has nothing to do with your own health. In fact, it should be safe for you to go to that Egypt,” Moon stated.
“I wonder what your boss would say about that,” Rose began. “But he’s in no condition to try and order me around. Wait though. If I go there, will I become the opposite of what I am now?”
“No, Señorita. You will remain as you are,” Moon replied.
“What about me, Moon?” I asked the clockwork attendant. “Is there an evil me out there?”
A series of clicks and whirs preceded Moon’s pronouncement.
“No, Señorita. None of the upside-down worlds have duplicates of you or of Valentino,” he said, rendering me speechless.
I didn’t realize Gramps was standing behind us until he spoke. I jumped halfway out of my skin.
“What about me, or my late wife, Priscilla?” Gramps asked the angel-bot.
Moon twisted knobs and pointed the cone-thing at my grandfather and at the window. In a moment he projected the image of a large tombstone that bore the names of both my grandparents. I didn’t see anything about Lauren, my mother. I was silent, waiting to see if Gramps would ask about her, but he did not.
“My apologies Señor,” Moon began. “Although it might be safe for you or Señorita MacDonald to go there, it would be unwise. There could be problems should you encounter someone who thought you were dead.”
“And me?” I wanted to know. “Are you saying that I never even existed on any of these upside-down worlds?”
“Señorita, I have no information on the potential consequences of you visiting one of these worlds,” Moon replied apologetically. “I don’t believe Valentino would advise you to go.”
Rose started to open the door, but I caught her arm. Did she mean to just rush out into an upside-down Egypt? Then I saw the expression on her face when she looked at Tom. It was something I wasn’t sure I still had. Hope.
“I would be safe from the Russian spies and Tom Driberg would be a good man,” Rose whispered. “Don’t let anyone come for me, Lulu!”
Too quickly for any of us to stop her, Rose rushed out the door. I turned to my grandfather.
“Lauren might be out there somewhere,” I began. “A good version of Lauren. Are you going?”
Gramps stood quietly for a moment, looking out the window. We watched as Rose ran to Tom. Deiberg seemed to recognize her. He picked her up in a hug and swung her around. Her expression was joyous. Gramps swallowed hard and then turned away.
“No, Lulu. What would I want with a world where you never existed?” he replied in a rough voice then he walked back down the corridor.
I wiped a tear from my eye and looked outside again. Rose waltzed away with Tom.
A shadow fell over the train. I glanced out the window at the real Egypt. I barely caught a flash of multicolored wings. Then I heard a soft thud, as if something landed on top of the train.
Real World Notes
Archaeology in 1920s Egypt. Video Digging Into the Past: Egyptian Excavations circa 1920 Metropolitan Museum of Art
Wave Frequency Machine: This “thing” came from the real world in a different way. Actually it isn’t from the “real” world at all. Rob put this video clip in a comment and a “thing” was born. It’s from the vintage TV series, My Favorite Martian.
I hope you’ll click over and check out Rob’s blog. You’ll find more fabulous images there, and terrific blog posts too.
Stay tuned for more spontaneously written fun. The things Rob sent to drive Chapter 11 — Sarcophagus, Remote Control, Violet Ray! Right now, I have no idea where the seat of my pantser pants will fly with those things. Horsefeathers… what the Sam Hill is violet ray?
I hope to see you on our diesel-punk train again next week. Thanks for visiting.
You’re the caterpillar’s kimono!
Now the requisite shameless self-promotion for my other 1920s books — the original “three things” stories about Paisley Idelle Peabody, aka Pip, and her friends.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Artwork Copyright © 2018 by Rob Goldstein
Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
All rights reserved.
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