Where Would We Be Now?

Kage Baker liked to play games with reality.

I suspect most writers do. It amuses them to to twist the Fields We Know in ways both subtle and glaring; to make the rest of us see what peculiar vistas they, the writers, see – and not to be able to find our ways out, at least for the duration of the story,

The stories that move you the most are the ones you never do escape. You go through the rest of your life peering at least through the shadows cast by that wood outside Athens; skipping over the glowing paving of the Yellow Brick Road; looking over your shoulder for the hoof beats of black horses, watching the skies for dragons and pterodactyls. Watching the street lights suspiciously, for fear they will mutate into gas lamps or torches or fusion glows …

Kage excelled at making stories like that. I still walk, variously enchanted and bemused, through the worlds she made. Some of them I share with all of you, Dear Readers; and looking at the number of articles I receive about re-discovered lost animals, plants, art works, royal heirs, esoteric booze and sodas – there are a lot of people wandering through Kage’s Universe with me. I ramble also in the worlds she made but never published, where even stranger people congregate on the shore of a saltless sea …

I might get to some of those some day. One never knows.

Kage’s second most favourite reality game was called Where Would We Be Now? It consisted of bringing up the dimensions and shapes of some prior place we had lived, and figuring out where, how and even if our current home goods would fit in our old room(s). Kage had a very precise memory of all the sizes and shapes of prior residences, and it could get very interesting figuring it all out. Especially those times when we would be perforce furnishing rooms in mid-air or someone else’s lot in order to fit our chattels in. Or remembering some tiny not-quite-hovel where we had dwelt in happy poverty in our 20’s, and arguing over who had to sleep on the floor this time.

Whoever started laughing and couldn’t stop, lost.

It was great fun. Stories were born out of the exercise, as well, as Kage would sketch madly to illustrate some new configuration of our household she had imagined. Often they turned out to someone else’s household altogether. Good memories, especially on bad days.

Today has not been a well-regulated day for me; my unconscious has been playing Where Would We Be Now? all day, resulting in long stretches where I had no idea where the hell I was. I kept falling asleep, for one problem, and then constructing someplace weird from what I overheard in my sleep … for a couple of hours, I worried a great deal about posting a blog, and the decided I had no problem – I’d just take the weekend off, and explain it all to you, Dear Readers, on Monday. Then I discovered it was not Saturday, but Thursday, and had to re-arrange my internal orrery to the actual time and place. And then write a blog.

Life has been complicated by the usual summer bloom of spiders. We are not usually much troubled with arachnids, but when it gets hot, they get dreadfully pushy. They’re little ones, just dust spiders usually, but the little wretches bite. I am inured to most bug bites – even mosquitoes – but I’m ridiculously sensitive to spider bites. They swell up like wandering goiters, they ache, and they make me feverish and ill. I languish uselessly, feeling like a stepped-on egg; I get pale and garrulous and whiny. I make tiny, cranky sacrifices to hydrocortisone cream, and swear vendetti against the cursed arachnids.

I’d love to spray Raid all over, but the stuff is bad for cats, and parrots, and humans who do not breathe well. So we spray spearmint essence around (spiders don’t like the smell) and vacuum furiously, and encourage our cats in their hunting. Both the big black boy and the little orange girl are dedicated bug hunters, and can be counted upon to rid us of most of the plague. Harry does what he can, too, when one gets close to him – he is ruthless in policing the walls near his perch.

A certain amount of moths (like, every moth they can find) also fall prey to our pets, but hey – it’s the Circle of Life, you know? And there’s only so much sympathy I can extend to guests who chew holes in my clothes.

Anyway, between spiders and narcolepsy and assorted hideous dreams involving Alex Jones (do NOT find yourself half-asleep while the news is on. Learn by my error.) I have been pretty useless today. In fact, this blog is the only constructive thing I have accomplished. But I have done that – I still live!

And maybe you can try our old game yourselves, Dear Readers, and see if it amuses you as well. Trying to literally fit yourself into old dwellings can very instructive, and requires considerable skill and spatial expertise. Of course, the failures are the fun part …

Better still, let one your favourite stories drag you under their sweet-scented tide, to frolic with whomever you love that lives there. It’s time well-spent; it’s good for your soul, your heart and your long-term memory.

And some author will feel the distant thrill of a reader returning to their world. And they will be happy, too.

A very nice orrery, albeit out of proportion.