While The Cat’s Away

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“Sir, does your cat fly?” my assistant, Mr. Afterthought, called from the outer office.

In a rather matter-of-fact tone, I might add.

“Come again, Mr. A?”

Oh yes, I had heard him clearly but really, is there any other appropriate response?

“I say, does your cat fly sir? As far as you know?” he elaborated.

“No, Mr. A. Not as far as I know.” I went on, “In fact, I will venture to be unequivocal on this point.” I cleared my throat. “My cat does not fly.”

“Odd,” said Mr. Afterthought.

I waited for more but all I heard was the shuffling of paper.

“Was there something else, Mr. A?”

I mean, spit it out man, let’s have it. If you are saying it is odd that my cat does not fly, well, it just seems to me that a much more substantial elaboration is called for here.

“Well sir, your neighbor has sent a messenger with an unusual complaint. Regarding your cat, sir.”

“Yes?” I rose from my desk and walked into the outer office.

“It seems the cat…” he searched for the right word, “…appears…in her chess club every so many minutes. At all hours sir.”

“Appears?”

“Yes sir. As if he’d flown in.”

“Flown?”

“Yes sir.” He handed me the note.

Hmmm.

“Does he play chess, sir?”

“Pardon?”

“Your cat,” he said.

“Uhh, no. I think I can be rather unequivocal about that one too.”

“It’s good to hear sir.”

I finished reading the note. “Cancel my afternoon, Mr. A.” I grabbed my coat and prepared to go out into the snow of Winterfell.

“But Ambassador, all you have is a pickup by the dry cleaner,” Mr. Afterthought said as he looked at my calendar.

“Well, cancel that then. No, don’t cancel that. Uhm…well, do whatever it is you do when I’m not here. OK?”

“Yes sir.”

“I will have to go and investigate this matter straight away, at the pub.”

“How convenient sir.”

***

Ulysses The Cat has been living in Storytellers Pub in Winterfell Laudanum for quite some time now. He makes himself scarce when customers are in but when things are quiet, he’ll roam around as if a deputy on patrol.

But a couple nights ago, about an hour before last call, Ulysses wandered in from wherever he goes and roamed about the bar and the adjoining sitting room. He stayed clear of patrons looking to pet him but otherwise ignored the diners and drinkers.

After closing, I was watching Ulysses make his rounds as I enjoyed one last round of my own. I lost sight of him a few times but I was half-reading the paper and tending to my tobacco and liquor and not paying that much attention.

Now as I worked my way across the snowy streets of Winterfell, I began trying to remember fully those “lost sight of” moments There must be some explanation other than a flying cat.

***

Iggy was working the bar when I arrived.

“Hey boss,” he said as I took a seat, “Lunch?”

“Yes, starting with a pint,” I said.

“You got it.”

I gave him a look.

“Sorry. I meant — Straight away sir.”

I smiled. Iggy is new, an apprentice time traveller from the 21st century who is visiting Winterfell and Caledon and studying here for the summer. Yes, it’s January…well, it’s summer in his hometime. His sponsor with the Time Travellers Guild is a friend of Uncle Manuel back in Dankoville. Iggy arrived with a letter of introduction from my uncle. He’s picking up some spending money, tending bar at the pub.

“Have you seen Ulysses?” I asked.

“Yes sir. He was running around here just a moment ago.” We both looked around for the cat, who was nowhere in sight.

“You haven’t noticed anything different about him, have you Iggy?”

“I don’t think so, boss.”

I told him about the complaint from the chess club.

“There were a couple of times yesterday when it did seem like he was here one minute and gone the next,” Iggy said. “And maybe the other way around as well. It was busy here though, I didn’t have time to really notice. Did seem like he sort of vanished.”

Hmmm. A disappearing flying cat.

It was quiet in the pub, the weather had seen to that. More snow. It was still a quarter to noon, the lunch crowd hadn’t come in quite yet and while they might not add up to a crowd on a day like this, there would still be a few.

In the middle of my brisket sandwich (it’s our lunch special on Tuesdays), accompanied by a delightfully dill pickle and some chips, I saw Ulysses out of the corner of my eye, sniffing at the red ball of yarn I’d left for him in the sitting room.

I watched him play and then wander around the pub. When he came near I said hello but he paid me no mind and trotted past. I broke off a tiny bit of brisket and held it near the floor. After a moment of watching me, Ulysses approached and took the brisket.

When he finished eating, he resumed his rounds. A few minutes later, I saw him run behind the bar and I got up and walked around it to offer him more brisket. But he wasn’t there.

I continued looking. Iggy looked too. No cat. A couple of minutes passed. I returned to my seat.

And there was Ulysses, over in the corner by the bookcase. How did he get by us without notice?

The only thing I could do was order another pint and monitor that cat. A few regulars and a few others had braved the weather and were now enjoying lunch. Iggy was handling the small group alone and seemed to be keeping up.

I watched Ulysses go from one corner of the pub to another and points in between,  stopping here and there to stare or wash or scratch, looking every bit like a normal cat.

At one point he seemed to disappear. I don’t mean that literally. I simply lost track of him. He’d gone behind the bar and not come out, as before. I went behind the bar to look and again, no cat. I returned to my seat. Hmmm.

A few minutes later I noticed Ulysses in the corner by the bookcase.

I had not seen him fly nor had I seen him disappear. But something was definitely going on. Mr. Afterthought had been right, this was odd. Very odd.

“He must have some hiding place,” Iggy said as he returned from taking an order.

I finished my pint and Iggy came to clear my plate.

“Leave that,” I said. There was a small piece of brisket remaining. I cut it down further and took a piece. I walked around behind the bar as Iggy went about his work.

I stood there and watched Ulysses’ every move. I did not take my eyes off him.

After staring at the fireplace in the sitting room for a few minutes, Ulysses came back into the front room and started for the area behind the bar. I watched him approach me. I  knelt down to offer him the brisket. I reached out. He saw the brisket in my hand and watched to see what I would do. When it was clear to him I was not about to move, he came toward me to take the brisket.

But before he could, he disappeared.

I do mean that literally this time. He was there one moment but not the next. Iggy saw it too. We looked at each other. “Quickly,” I said and ran out the front door. “Charles,” Iggy said to the busboy as he tossed him his bar cloth, “you have the conn.”

Around the corner and down the street I ran with Iggy trailing behind, to the Queen Alice Chess Club.

The door was open and I ran right in and stopped. No one was in presently. Then Iggy came running in and nearly crashed into me and did succeed in knocking over a vase of flowers – which fortunately he caught before it hit the floor.

We looked at each other and grinned, sheepishly. The silliness of the moment caught us both and we laughed. Two grown men – one with a handful of brisket – running through the streets in the snow, no topcoats, and running full speed into a chess club, of all places, chasing after a disappearing flying cat.

Well, here we were. Now what? Our laughter died and we both stood there, neither knowing what our next move should be. (A little chess club humor ;))

“Do you play, boss?” Iggy motioned to a chessboard in the middle of the room.

“Not really,” I said, “my brother Hudson is the chess master in the family. My father was quite fond of chess, more so in his younger days…”

As I waxed on about the history of chess in the Whitfield family, Iggy took a seat and started playing a match by himself. We were both caught by surprise when Ulysses trotted in from the next room. He appeared a bit surprised as well.

Iggy and I exchanged glances but did not move. I felt something soggy in my hand and then remembered the brisket. Slowly, I knelt.

“Here ya go, boy.” I said quietly and reached out.

Ulysses sat and looked at me, then Iggy, then my hand. He came to me and took the brisket and ate it immediately. He looked at me, asking if there was more. “All gone,” I said as I reached to pet him.

Ulysses rubbed his head against my hand, then turned and looked at Iggy again as if asking if he had any brisket. He walked back toward the next room. But he never made it. Poof.

Iggy jumped up from the chessboard, ready to run back to the pub.

“I’m going to wait here,” I said, “you’d better go back and see how Charles is doing. And keep a watch for Ulysses.”

“Okay boss.”

***

About ten minutes went by, give or take. And then Ulysses went by. And then he was gone again.

I sat down at the chessboard and resumed Iggy’s match. I should have asked him to send Charles over with a pint of stout. I lit a cigar and waited for Ulysses to reappear.

A few minutes later, there he was, sniffing at a plant in the corner. A minute later, he was gone again.

This was one of those times that I wished I carried a timepiece. It might be helpful to determine whether Ulysses was making his appearances at the chess club at regular intervals. It might also help to know exactly how long he spends in the chess club on each visit and whether that interval coincides with the amount of time he is gone from the pub. Or does he have additional stops on his route?

And, even though both Iggy and I have seen Ulysses vanish right before our eyes, we must still eliminate any possible means the cat could use to cover the territory between the pub and the chess club. We can’t just assume he goes from pub to club in a snap. That may well be the case but still…we must prove it or at least disprove other methods.

I began thinking about how to answer these questions. One person could be stationed at the pub with a timepiece and another at the chess club with same. Another could be stationed halfway down the street to see if Ulysess passes through on the way between the two. A fourth should be stationed in the tunnels below the street. Until I saw Ulysses vanish before me, I would have guessed the only recently-discovered Winterfell tunnels might come into play here. Now, I don’t think so but still, we must eliminate that possibility. A fifth person must be assigned to watch the skies…just in case we have a flying cat on our hands. A disappearing flying cat.

A team of five people would be needed and I, of course, would oversee this entire operation, stationed…at the bar. Well, it is conveniently located. (Mr. Afterthought was right again!) That makes six people – and the appropriate timing devices and photographic equipment – to record the comings and goings of a cat.

As an explorer who has led expeditions into unknown places and times, the idea of six people tracking the movement of a cat – and the associated cost of such an endeavor – did seem to border on the ridiculous. In fact, it may have pushed beyond that border.

Still, what choice do I have? My cat is entering the chess club on a regular basis without so much as applying for membership. If I am going to put a stop to it – and I must for the sake of my neighbor – then I have to find out first, exactly what is causing this phenomenon.

I can just hear them now at the Time Travellers Guild when I tell them my cat can disappear into thin air.

At least I can still say I haven’t seen him fly. Yet.

***

Queen Alice Chess Club

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Winterfell%20Laudanum/138/226/22

Storytellers Pub

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Winterfell%20Laudanum/206/209/22

Mr. Whybrow

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OOC:

Thanks to a g+ post last week by Ms. Beth Ghostraven, I learned of the RL passing of the gentle being behind the avatar, Alastair Whybrow.

Mr. Whybrow was my friend and neighbor when my Evergreen Pub was located in Caledon SouthEnd in Second Life, right across the street from his fine jewelry store. I will never forget my first day in the neighborhood when Mr. Whybrow came out of his store to greet me and to comment favorably on the addition of the pub and to offer any assistance.

We chatted about neighborhood news on a regular basis, always remaining in our proper Victorian characters, even in IM. But we did drop the formality of Mr. Whybrow and Mr. Whitfield when in private convo, then it was always the more familiar, “Mr. W.” And we would delight in the fact that we were both Mr. W. and therefore the convo often became rather silly, even when serious issues were being discussed.

But my favorite memories of Mr. W, will always be the spur-of-the-moment RP he would engage in, in ISC (Caledon) Chat. Usually it was something started by someone else. Then Alastair would jump in and get the ball rolling. And soon we were off on some brief, silly, joyous Caledonian adventure. Whether I joined in the RP or just read along with others tuned in at that time, Mr. Whybrow always gave us a series of laughs.

When an opportunity to relocate my pub came up, Mr. Whybrow purchased my land and created a nice public garden, which I returned to visit a few times.

This morning I went back to the old neighborhood in SouthEnd. I knew there would be some sort of remembrance in place, as they always do these things right in Caledon. Both Bluebird Park and the parcel where his Sparkle of Sound fine jewelry store and adjacent buildings stood are now the sites of memorials and tributes. Flags in Caledon are lowered to half staff in Mr. Whybrow’s memory.

I shall raise a glass to Alastair Whybrow this evening at the new location of the Evergreen Pub. You touched me and many others with your kindness and humor. Fair winds, Mr. W.

A Door Opens

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“…and the time traveller says, ‘I don’t have the foggiest. I just got here myself!'”

“HA! HA!” We were doubled over with laughter. And we were only on the third round.

It had started as a sleepy Thursday afternoon at Storytellers Pub in Winterfell Laudanum. Dark Moon, the day bartender (most of us call him Bert), was on holiday and I was watching after things for a couple of hours in between the lunch rush and the 5 p.m. business crowd. I was nursing a black IPA and leafing through the sport section of the Winterfell Mourning Crier when the door opened and in walked a tall man with flowing white hair and beard, dressed in a green suit. I knew in a moment it wasn’t St. Nick. Nor St. Patrick either.

It was Seamus Gumbo.

Sourcerer, Time Wizard, hippie, former merchant seaman, one-time head shop owner and my old friend and business partner. I’d received a couple of letters but he hadn’t visited Winterfell in more than two years, since “the Duke Ages” – Seamus’ joking reference to my time as the Duke of Evergreen.

“Line ’em up, barman,” he hollered in my general direction. “Whiskey! Your best! Three glasses. Straight, no chaser.” His fingers played an imaginary piano and he hummed – or grunted – a syncopated melody.

It was the worst Thelonious Monk impression I had ever heard. Though I can’t say I have heard many.

“Don’t worry about the bill,” he announced, “I’m a close friend of the owner of this establishment.” He sat himself down at the bar with mischief in his eyes and a smile of satisfaction on his face. He seemed quite pleased with his entrance.

“I’ll need to see some ID, sir,” I deadpanned.

“ID?!!” He responded as if highly insulted. He reached into his pocket, pulled out a business card and offered it to me.

“Seamus Gumbo,” I read aloud, “Time Wizard.”

I sniffed. “Yeah, time wizards, time travellers, time lords – we get all kinds in here.”

“C’mon, Danko! The card’s embossed!” He was impressed with his own business card.

I was impressed with the card too but not with the cardholder. “Finally spent the extra ten bucks to raise the lettering, eh? You cheap bastard!” I slipped the card into my pocket as Seamus began to laugh.

“That’s why I can’t pay for my drinks!” He slapped his hand on the bar as the laughter grew. My smile became a laugh as well and I came around from behind the bar to give him a big hug.

“How’ve you been, old-timer?” I said loudly. “Where have you been? Whatcha been up to? What brings you to Winterfell after all this time? How come you didn’t warn me you were coming, so I could have arranged to be out of town?”

“Let me answer that last question first,” he started. “No, wait. Let me answer the second one first. No, I’ll answer the third one, second. Wait. Can you say them again?” he continued to mock me, “In alphabetical order this time?” Laughter.

And this was before I starting pouring. We were just getting started!

It was only the two of us but the pub had come alive on this hazy afternoon as Seamus recounted his travels over the past couple of years over a couple of rounds of ale and a cheese platter and I responded in kind. Then came the cigars and more ale and more stories and more laughter.

Not long after Seamus arrived, Ulysses The Cat had wandered in from his favorite sleeping spot on the window seat in the pub’s sitting room. I knew he’d remember Seamus’ voice and would join us sooner or later. I put a couple of treats down for him and he walked right over to devour them. Then he sat and stared at Seamus for a bit. Next time I noticed Ulysses, he was scratching at the floor near the end of the bar, by the back door. Ever since I brought him from home to live in the pub, he has been fascinated with that area of the floor. You know how some cats are when they find an imperfection in something? They have to chew it or scratch it? They’ll work at it like they’re obsessed…for awhile. Then they go do something else. Later, they’re back at it. Obsessed once more. That’s how Ulysses had been. The floor does need some work around that door. Whoever put the tile in, made a mess of it. It’s driving that cat crazy.

As Ulysses scratched away at the floor, Seamus and I laughed and ate and drank and talked and talked and puffed and drank and laughed some more. It was a full afternoon of story-swapping – with a little impromptu sing-a-long thrown in now and then – at Storytellers Pub. What a great time we were having, catching up. So good to see Seamus again.

“My friend Sage ever stop in?” he asked me at one point.

“Yes. Sage Wright. Right?”

“That’s him.”

“He was passing through Winterfell…quite some months back. Last summer, I guess. I wasn’t much help to him, had nowhere to put him up. Not like the old days,” I smiled. “I helped him find lodging. He wasn’t here long. A couple days.”

Seamus nodded. “You’ve seen him more recently than I have,” he said.

“Funny you should mention him,” I went on, “I just met his niece not a week ago in Ireland. 21st century.

“Laura?” said Seamus but quickly corrected himself, “Laurel!”

“Yes,” I confirmed.

“How’s she doing? She’s a nurse, I think,” Seamus said.

“She mentioned something about that,” I said. “She seems nice. Cute. Funny too. Took me a moment to catch on that she was putting me on a bit,” I laughed. “She remembers you, hanging out with her uncle. Oh, and I met Jamie too. By chance, in a pub there in Ravenbaille. She was working the bar. I didn’t put it together that she was Sage’s daughter until later.”

“You’re not the only one,” muttered Seamus as he looked away for a moment.

“Huh?” I was surprised at his response.

“Never mind,” he said, waving his hand, “go on, continue.” He sipped his beer and looked down at the bar.

“uhhhh…Jamie came over to Dankoville last fall. I’m doing business with her boss and she came over for that.”

“How are things in your little town?” asked Seamus, changing the subject.

I filled him in on the goings-on in Dankoville and out at Whitfield Farms. And I told him how my family members were doing, especially those he knew, including Annie.

“Your sister…is the sweetest person I have ever met,” said Seamus. He took a puff of his cigar and watched the smoke lift toward the ceiling. “Why, if I was 25 years younger, I —”

“You still wouldn’t be good enough for her,” I interjected.

“Says you!” Seamus came back.

“That’s right!” I said adamantly.

Another burst of laughter. Then Seamus’ laughter started to turn into a cough. Or maybe it was the cigar smoke. I reached for a glass to get him some water. He put his cigar down in the ash tray. Almost. He missed. The cigar rolled slowly along the bar…on the other end from me. The cough ceased and Seamus rose from his seat to follow the cigar. He reached over as far as he could stretch just as the cigar reached the edge of the bar and grabbed for it —-

Awww.

An expensive cigar lay on the floor of the pub. Ulysses came over to sniff it.

“Thief! That’s my cigar! Get your great big paws off it!” Seamus hollered in jest at my cat, who apparently did not take the joke. Ulysses scampered away.

Seamus moved a bar stool and got down on his knees to reach under the bar rail for the cigar.

Ulysses came back over, cautiously. He resumed scratching at the floor.

“I think your cat has found something,” Seamus said as he crawled toward Ulysses. The cat backed away.

“Your cigar?” I inquired with a teasing tone.

“No. A secret.”

What?

I turned in his direction.

“What?” I asked him.

“How long did you say you’ve owned this pub?” Seamus asked from his hands and knees as he ran his fingers along the floor where Ulysses had been scratching.

“Over a year now. 15 months I guess,” I replied as I placed his glass of water on the end of the bar and looked over at where Seamus now lay on his stomach.

“Did you ever suspect termites?” he asked.

Was he joking now or what?

“Okay Sea, what’s going on?” I walked out from behind the bar as he rose to his knees and leaned forward, placing his hands on the floor.

He looked up at me. “There’s a hole in your floor, Publican,” he said with a sly smile. He carefully pushed his fingers into a couple of cracks in the floor.

(I had been meaning to have this floor fixed, I assure any patrons of Storytellers Pub who may be reading this. It was just a decorating question that was yet to be decided – of whether to simply redo that one area or the entire floor. I assure you, the structural integrity of the pub is sound and no customer has been placed in any danger at any time. Aside from the usual Winterfell danger – witches, dark elves, the occasional vampire, The Mist – for which the management of the Storytellers Pub are not responsible. Please address any further inquiries to my attorneys, Dewey, Cheatham & Howe aka Moe, Larry & Curly.)

Seamus lifted one tile that at closer inspection seemed a bit out of place. “It’s a door!” Seamus said in surprise. I was also surprised but I can’t reprint here what I said there.

We looked down into this dark hole in the floor of my pub.

What the hell?

What the hell?

“Bring a candle,” Seamus said.

“There’s some water,” he said as he leaned into the hole with the candle I had fetched.

He put his hand in. “It’s pretty cold.”

He put his face just above the water and stared as he held the candle by his head. “There’s a ladder just a couple feet down. It looks pretty deep. I can’t see the bottom,” he added. He placed the candleholder on the floor and lowered himself into the opening.

He disappeared.

Ulysses leaped onto the bookcase against the back wall to watch the show.

I peered into the hole. Waiting.

And waiting.

“How long can he hold his breath?” I thought with visions of Lloyd Bridges starring in Sea Hunt floating through my head (for those of you with knowledge of the 1960s).

After a few minutes, the waters parted and Seamus arose.

“Well?” I welled him.

“This water is only two feet deep. Then you are under it. Completely. Clear of it,” Seamus said as he climbed out of the hole. He walked to the bar and grabbed his ale and took a long sip.

“What? How? How is that even possible?”

He looked at me.

“Damn it, Danko, I’m a Time Wizard, not a plumber,” Seamus said in his best DeForest Kelley (which was much better than his Thelonious Monk).

He was wet but not as wet as if he’d been swimming with Lloyd Bridges.

He sipped his brew. I poured a whiskey.

“At the bottom of the ladder, there is a stair. I followed it down another level to a series of  tunnels,” he said.

“Tunnels?”

“In all directions,” Seamus said as he reached over the bar for a napkin to wipe his brow. “I didn’t go far, I could see there were many turns. Didn’t want to get lost down there.”

He took another sip of beer and returned to the trap door. He propped it open and handed me the candle. I placed it on the bar and came back around to stare with Seamus into the hole.

We just stood there. Speechless. Staring at the hole in my floor.

A series of tunnels. Under Winterfell. Wow!

This was quite a surprise. It was incredible really.

It was My Spot.

That’s where I always stand! Most of the time, I don’t like to sit at the bar. I like to stand. If I’m there for the evening, I will sit of course. But if I’m just there for one or two rounds, to keep an eye on things and confer with the bartender, I stand right there! Every night I’ve gone in to town since we opened more than a year ago!

And all this time I had no idea that I was standing over a secret passageway. To a series of more secret passageways.

Now what do I do? Should I tell people about this?

“Best to keep it quiet until you investigate further,” said Seamus as he read my mind while re-lighting his cigar.

I nodded.

We were both speechless again. And, after six rounds of ale, not in any condition to climb into a deep, dark hole in the ground that leads to who knows where, who knows when.

There was only one thing to do.

Pour another round.

Stout this time.

And, after six rounds of ale and one of stout – not to mention the stray whiskey or two, we were – surprisingly – not in any better condition to climb into a deep, dark hole in the ground to who knows where, who knows…what……was I saying?

“I’m taking one more look,” Seamus opened the trap door again and stood at the opening, swaying in the wind. Wait, we were indoors. Probably wasn’t the wind. Probably was the ales. Or the stout maybe. Damn stout.

Ulysses The Cat left the room and returned to his window seat. He had seen enough.

Seamus opined that the tunnels would probably still be there tomorrow. I agreed. He also agreed. There was nothing else to say at that point, as gentlemen, we just had to agree to agree.

On his way out, Seamus dropped some cash into the donation box. “That’s for your staff, for the trouble they’ll have to go through tonight, trying to set things straight after your shift!” he said. And out he went.

I walked back over to that trap door, opened it again. Just to look.

“Been there, right under my feet all this time,” I thought, shaking my head.

“Hard to believe.”


Visit Storytellers Pub in Winterfell Laudanum, Second Life

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Winterfell%20Laudanum/210/210/23/

Author’s Note

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I’ve been mulling this over for months and today I finally changed the name of this journal.

For the last three-and-one-half years, it has been called, “Steaming Along: Danko Whitfield In The 19th Century – The Wanderings Of A Steampunk Explorer.” I still love that title and will miss it. But my story has steamed along past the 19th century so many times that I have wondered if the title was confusing. I could always lay claim to being based in the 19th century, as a time traveller certainly must be based somewhere.  But some time back, the place I live in changed and I was moved to an earlier time.

I likely will be able to establish a second home back in the 19th century very soon and so I could have propped up the old title until further notice…but…

Important parts of my entries on these pages have been taking place in other times and it appears this will continue for the foreseeable future… and the foreseeable past, for that matter. So I feel the time has finally come and the title must be broadened to reflect this and to avoid a possible new source of confusion.

In the short term at least, it appears I will be based in the 18th, 19th and 21st centuries as well as spending quite a bit of time in the 20th century. And there is a trip to the 26th century in my future as well. Although that might actually be seen as my past. And then there are the trips to the Devokan Ages, I could only guesstimate what century I’m in with those travels.  At any rate, you can see the reason for my dilemma over the title.

And so this publication becomes, “The Further Adventures Of Danko Whitfield, Semi-Retired Time Traveller – Wandering The Centuries With A Steampunk Explorer.”

Vampire Attack

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I was enjoying a quiet evening in my office in Winterfell Laudanum, spamming my groups with a notice about Wednesday night’s dance at Storytellers Pub and chatting via the local messenger service with the Duke of Wolfsbane.

As I stood there in front of my second floor desk, puffing away on my cigar, I happened to look up and see before me a vampire who had not had the courtesy to knock.

He morphed from one being into another into another, accompanied by a very colorful light display.

I continued to enjoy my cigar as the following conversation ensued…

[17:53] vampire: hello sir

[17:53] Danko Whitfield: Hello

[17:53] Danko Whitfield: What can you do for me?

[17:53] vampire: is this ur home?

[17:53] Danko Whitfield: it is my office

[17:54] vampire: wat do u do here

[17:54] Danko Whitfield: i am the Ambassador for this nation, Winterfell

[17:55] vampire: i see and how long was u doing this

[17:55] Danko Whitfield: hmmm

[17:55] Danko Whitfield: over two years

[17:55] vampire: gooood

[17:56] Danko Whitfield: very impressive morphing, sir

[17:56] vampire: u will give me ur blood

[17:56] Fangs [Thirst::Bloodlines] 4.1: godofdeath1123 Resident would like to give you a Vampire bite. This will register you with The Thirst::Bloodlines system, and you’ll get a FREE pair of bite marks. Say Yes to accept!

[17:56] Danko Whitfield: i don’t see that happening

[17:56] vampire: i wasnt asking

[17:57] vampire: tell me how much do u care for ur well being

[17:57] vampire: /

[17:57] vampire: ?

*POOF*

I banned him from the parcel and it took effect right there.

Pretty good timing on my part, don’t you think?

 

Editor’s note: In accordance with Second Life guidelines, the vampire’s actual name was not used in this article. Nor were any animals harmed.

Nix Sands

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After three years in Second Life, I left the Mainland behind and moved to Winterfell. I settled in one of the southern towns, Laudanum, which at that time had a Victorian Steampunk element in its mix of eras. Within a month I made a second home in Cape Wrath in the neighboring and allied nation of Caledon.

In my Mainland years, I didn’t pay much attention to my wardrobe. I was usually seen in a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers as I puttered around my towns, installing a building or tweaking a walkway, planting a tree or hanging out in my pub.

But when I came to the Steamlands, I had to get with the program and dress the part. I picked up a few items here and there, some freebies as I started, just to have something while I continued to shop and develop a “look” or style I felt comfortable with.

One day, while browsing the shops in Caledon Penzance, I happened into Xcentricity, the shop of one Nix Sands. I purchased some trousers and a waistcoat which came with a free white shirt.

After a few days of wearing these items with a coat I had purchased elsewhere, I was back at Xcentricity, browsing the waistcoats once again. I had found the basic element of my “look.” Nix’ various waistcoats and pants became – and still are – a mainstay in my closet. I’d say I’m wearing a waistcoat, pants and (color-changing/texture-changing) shoes from Xcentricity about 80 or 90-percent of the time I am in SL. Add to that a coat or jacket from other designers – Doc Wrangler, Thadovian or Eleanor Banx’ Cosmic Steam Designs – and a conscious decision to go without a cravat except on formal occasions, and I had my “look.”

It was further enhanced when I belatedly discovered that one of the many waistcoats I had purchased in Nix’ shop had come with a bonus item – a black shirt. Ohhhh, how smart that shirt looks with the rest of the items I’ve mentioned.

The other day I learned that, as we put such things in the Steamlands, Nix Sands’ typist had passed away. Such sad news to me and so many others he had touched with his creativity and sense of humor, whether they actually knew him or not. Myself, I had only IM’d with him once that I can recall. I knew him from the clothes on my back (and elsewhere) and from his other creations.

He was the man behind Gorgon Motors, building fine cars of a long bygone era. The Tinies community of the Steamlands and beyond knows him for his line of tinies outfits. He also made flying machines, radios, guns, and a selection of mustaches and beards among other things. All unique and with a dash of wit. Last night at our Summer Songs bash at Storytellers Pub, I wore a Victorian bathing outfit and matching straw hat that I bought in Nix store a couple years back.

The day I heard the news, I went over to his shop in the 1888 sim and picked up a couple more items.

Xcentricity shop in 1888 sim
Xcentricity shop in 1888 sim

Then stopped in Seraph City to see if there was any reminder of his auto dealership there.

Gorgon Motors sign in Seraph City
Gorgon Motors sign in Seraph City

And, even though I already knew it had been emptied out, I stopped at his main store in Caledon Penzance one last time. Items of tribute to Nix lined the front steps.

A lady sat on the steps quietly. I did not know her but recognized her name and said hello. We chatted about Nix.

“He was the kindest person,” she said, “wicked sense of humour. We were only creator friends, not even super close but we always exchanged silly builds and stuff. I miss that already.”

Last night in Caledon, there was a memorial tribute to Nix Sands that was attended by more than 50 avatars. Several leading citizens of The Steamlands spoke briefly and gave their memories of his role in their lives.

Audience at Nix Sands memorial in Caledon prime
Audience at Nix Sands memorial in Caledon prime

Nix Sands’ life in this virtual world is a fine example of how one person can have an important impact on the lives of others.

Calm Before The Storm? What Calm?

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In the sitting room of the Storytellers Pub, my bar in Winterfell Laudanum. Just around the corner from where it all started for me in The Steamlands community in Second Life.

So much going on for me right now and I’m loving it.

My little publishing empire has been reorganized – a necessity I had put off for some time as I was too busy writing –  and now I am back to the writing.

I’m putting the finishing touches on a project for the benefit of explorers of the Metaverse and should have an announcement shortly.

I’ve made some new friends via a couple of 21st century roundtables, known then as discussion groups or “social networks.”

I have a new lady friend I have much enjoyed spending time with. We were introduced by a mutual friend who thought we would “fit.” It was the first time she had ever played matchmaker. How did she know?

And there have been several recent offers from people whom I don’t know well to get involved deeply in their projects. This has been both unexpected and most flattering. It makes one wonder exactly what he has done to inspire them to ask. I almost asked one of them but then decided it might not be something I want to know. What if the answer came back, “Oh, we asked so-and-so but he was too busy, so we’re asking you.”

I have decided to accept one of these offers and am about to embark on a new journey which recalls a past life. Therefore, it is appealing on several levels. I am still learning about the project but it has the feel of a return to the second-half of the 20th century which is funny because I am already working on some personal projects in that same time period.

This new project will complement rather than hinder my ongoing activities in Winterfell, with Devokan and with my writing and exploring.

Things are falling together nicely.

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