HBA Island

Far From Home: Chapter 10 – Coming Home

The water here is cold. Memories of a childhood I knew could not be mine flowered in my mind; giggles and splashes with fingers trailing in a steam and cold water flicked at friends. If I tried that now I wouldn’t even know if the few fingers I had left froze solid and snapped off. Now only the custom-made fleece-lined leather gloves kept what was left of my hands safe from injury and the elements. The childhood squeals of joy faded until only the quiet lapping of my oar in the river and the occasional bird cry from the bank remained. I liked it that way. Memories were useless out here, they would only slow me, make me careless, drag me down with them. What was gone was just that, gone.

I looked ahead, my landing point approached, a stream flowing into the river where the forest at the base of the mountain dipped to meet the lake. The trees in the forest were snow-draped as if a funeral shroud had been cast over them, white and smothering…

“You’ll have to wear this under your clothes,” the doctor from the slums stood in my room and held up long white underwear. He’d been coming every day since my return. The hospital in Caledon offered me accommodation in the local sanatorium, promised me a job, promised me rooms, promised me a prison with lunatics for cellmates. I declined. I had a home. I had a jungle. I left and I went home only to find it had gone, burnt to the ground, not a trace left. I sat on the sand and didn’t move for three days.

I saw things. They spoke to me. They pointed and they laughed and they danced.

On the fourth day the rain came. I sat on the sand and made believe the rain streaming down my face were the tears I could no longer weep. It rained for a day and a night.

On the fifth day I left the island. I didn’t know where else to go so I travelled back to where it all began. Back to the epicentre. Back to Steelhead.

People stared. They whispered and pitied and taunted and joked. In Steelhead my misery was compounded by the unruly children that inhabit an underworld no adult can hope to enter without their permission. Oh yes, the Steelhead Scamps thought me great sport.

I wasn’t sure where to go, so I went to the slums to find the doctor. He stared. They all stare. Still, he helped. I don’t know what he said and to whom but by nightfall I was in a comfortable room in a nearby hotel. From my window I could see Spirit Lake flowing out into the river as it passed through the wilderness of St Helens.

“You’ll have to wear this under your clothes,” I turned from the window (how many days had I stood there staring out into the isolation beyond?), “and these gloves I’ve had made for you. Likewise your boots and socks. You are going to have to protect yourself if you are insistent about going through with this.”

I stared at the while underwear in his hands and the other garments on my bed. “Thank you. Is everything else ready?”

He sighed, “Yes. There’s a canoe and supplies ready and Lunar has stamped your purchase order. You’re the proud owner of very remote, very isolated forest by the mountain. I’m guessing that will make you happy, eh?”

I looked at the man with concern etched across his brow and said nothing. He shook his head and placed the long thermals on the bed, “Well at least promise me you’ll make our agreed meetings. Every two weeks. If you miss one, I’ll only come looking for you and neither of us wants that; I hate the great outdoors with a passion, you know.” I tried a smile but my skin wouldn’t move like that any more so I just nodded and told him he had my word.

The next morning I set a hat on my head, wrapped a scarf around my face and walked away from the hotel, away from the city, away from the scamps and everyone and everything. I checked the canoe and set off rowing, I let the river take me for a while but I liked to row, the exertion warming me in the frigid morning air. Since the fire, since Shade, The Erase, the would-be killer, since my recovery, winter had come to these parts and it held the land fast in its white silence. There was no one around, not a living soul for miles, and it was perfect. I looked down at the river, clear and blue beneath me.

Steelhead St Helens

The water here is cold, I thought to myself…

****{}****

The End.
All the “Far From Home” posts can be read here.

*****{*}*****

HBA Island – Gone At Last

I’ve popped into my old home once or twice since I left to see if it had been sold – I was strangely pleased* to see it remained empty and the same as the day I had left.

Then:
HBA Island: the End

But… Now it belongs to someone else. And his rocks are better than mine were.**
The New Old HBA Island

* A feeling akin to that childish need to see an ex in the street looking tired and miserable instead of happy and obviously better off without you.

** See? Better off without me. Sigh.

HBA Island – The Road To Its Ruin

As some of you will know, HBA Island is no more. A volcano erupted in the middle of the jungle of my old home and burnt the lot down ending what was, by then, a two year labour of love for me.

HBA Island: The End

I won’t go into the history of how I came to have a small plot of land as unhappy tales of griefers and the like are sooooo 2007, but suffice to say that in the first few months my wee 4ksqm plot was a real life saver. Even after I had moved back away and begun exploring the grid the island had a very special place in my heart and I’m only too glad that a) so many of my friends came to visit, and b) so many people I now count as friends called my home their home.

But all things must end, or at the very least change, and my jungle is no different. I was never there, I had stopped adding to the art gallery, the tale of the shipwrecked sailor had been abandoned and the humper bunker next to me had grown to be a small thorn in my side. So before I ended up falling out with neighbours I’d known for some time, and before I grew to see my jungle not as a place of peace, but as a creative mill stone, I knew I had to get rid of it.

I *did* think about selling it, but since I bought it in 2007 for 6L$ a sqm land prices had crashed, the measly 1L$ per sqm I would have received (even if I could have found a buyer) just wasn’t worth the effort. I simply informed the owner (the ever excellent Deoko Cassidy) that I wasn’t going to renew after the current rent ran out and he should take back the land. I then had a week or so to plan its demise… bwahahahahahaha!

Actually, my first idea was for a meteorite strike (this grew out of an idea I had in 2007 to have meteorite strike the jungle and slowly convert it to an alien landscape) but at the same time Miss Ordinal Malaprop was having a similar idea to get rid of her land in Caledon and two such strikes seemed… uninventive. Besides, somehow it didn’t feel right – as I said, the idea was an old one and with an very different purpose in mind, to wit the continuation of the Island as a story telling medium, and this was not what I wanted.

As I have mentioned on many occasions, all my good ideas occur in the shower, and as I stood under the lovely hot water one morn I felt the idea pop into my mind – a volcano! Burn the bloody island to the ground!

I had a week left and began planning that very night – Sally the crab would return (following the poll I ran) and cause the cataclysm. The volcano would grow a little each night, finally eruting and burning the whole place down for the last 2 or 3 nights until BOOM! HBA Island was no more. So with a volcano from Brenda Schoonhoven and a sculptie stream which I edited to run with lava, from the very clever Vlad Bjorenson I set about the dread deed! Below I present a pictoral record of the end of my Island and the group which I’d set up to use it – one thing I will say is that manually deleting nearly a thousand Linden trees and plants is more time consuming than you might at first imagine 0.o

First the Art Gallery and building area had to go…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Then I fell back to earth…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Where I deleted the old TP point and welcome area with the freebies and seats and stuff…
HBA Island: The End

Before clearing some trees for the volcano. I buried it deep so it was just a circle of rock – as I pulledit up, more and more trees had to go until, by the time the full 60m one was in place, I had to go inside and delete hundreds of trees and plants!
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Then I added fire and the sculptie stream
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

And stood back with Sally to admire our work…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

After the photos were taken for the story “HBA Island: The End”, all that was left to do was clear the island of all prims and delete the HBA Island group (5 members – me, Ryne [also me] and Janey, Pinkie & Annika)…
HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: the End

HBA Island: the End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Sigh… the end of a 2 year chapter of my life 🙂

A Rumble in the Jungle: Lava Her Alone!

It was a tough climb but at least this time there no ever-writhing tentacles or ceaseless snip snappy snappers to contend with, just loose stones and the fact that the tips of her legs were getting warmer and warmer as she got higher and higher.
HBA Island: The End

As she climbed, the jungle stretched out below her, sprawling as far as her eye-stalks could see(1).

HBA Island: The End

Eventually the top was within reach and as she hauled herself up she found that the mountain top was not a top at all, but a rim. She looked over and was amazed to see that the mountain was hollow and at the bottom was a swirling mass of hot, red gloopy stuff she had never seen before.

HBA Island: The End

She shuffled in for a better look but a wave of heat rising from below caused her to scuttle backwards. At her feet a small loose stone was flicked up into the air. It arced over the rim and began to fall down into the bubbling lake below…

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Sally watched in mute horror as the lake began to burn and smoke. Great bubbles of burning gloop formed and popped below her.

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

The gloop began to fill up the inside of the mountain, began to rise up, racing towards where Sally trembled…

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

The explosion rattled her shell and the shockwave blasted her into the sky. As she flew over the jungle, the mountain erupted and sent wave after wave of burning red gloop falling onto the trees, causing them to burst into flames. As she fell into the sea, the whole jungle for miles around was one huge inferno and Sally watched on, clinging to a small piece of drfitwood, as her home, the only place she had ever known, was consumed by fire.

HBA Island: The End

Sally began to drift out to sea, leaving the burning jungle and exploding mountain far behind. The ocean was wide and deep and empty and Sally was hungry and cold and ever so alone…

HBA Island: The End

The End.
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(1) If only! I’d never have afforded that! It was surrounded by a Romanesque humper-bunker, some shops and various small houses in the tiki style. I used to dream of an endless jungle 🙂

A Rumble in the Jungle: All Alone with the Stone

The beach was empty. Sally, exhausted from the titanic fight back up from the depths, flopped on to the warm sand and looked around. Empty. The whole place was empty. She chirruped for her friends Colin and that daft squirrel McGrue but heard nothing in reply. How odd, she thought, maybe they’re in the jungle. She slowly got back to her aching legs and set off into the humid undergrowth, occasionally calling out as she went.

After half an hour of searching she was beginning to get very worried. The bat that lived above the standing stones was gone. The noisy seagull that swooped down and stole her shrimp was gone. Even the ants and the spiders that infested this part of the jungle were gone! This was spooky and she didn’t like it one bit. She was just about to turn back and hightail it to the beach again, when she noticed something poking out of the ground; a ring of stone she had never seen before. Sally approached it slowly and tapped it with her claw.

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island - The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

The ground beneath her began to shake and tremble. She looked about in surprise and fear as slowly, noisily the stone ring began to push its way upwards, out of the ground and into the jungle’s canopy.

Rock squealed over rock, earth split and parted, trees cracked and fell as the mound rose upwards and upwards. It widened as it went and Sally had to jog backwards to avoid being caught by the churning soil and stone at the base.

And then it stopped. As the last tree fell, a silent and eerie hush fell across the jungle. Sally looked up at the foreboding cone of rock, to the top where tendrils of steam curled lazily into the sky, and wondered what it could be. There was nothing for it: she would have to climb up and see what this new mountain in the jungle was.

HBA Island: The End

Was it warmer all of a sudden, Sally thought to herself as she gingerly stretched out her claw to begin the ascent…

To be continued…

A Rumble in the Jungle: Clawing Her Way Back

Nothing lives in the bottomless abyss. Things live on the rim, but if they lose their footing or venture too far down the steep walls they do not live long, for if the ever-writhing tentacles of the cave beasts don’t wrap them in their deadly embrace, or the ceaseless snip snappy snappers of the wall-dwellers don’t snip snap them away, then the terrible, relentless pressure will surely reduce them to nought but jelly. Oh yes, the Bottomless Abyss is a deadly place without hope of escape or survival for those who find themselves unlucky enough to fall in.

Luckily for Sally (who had always been a lucky sort of crab) she had in fact been tossed into the Really Very Deep Abyss that lies a little way in front of the more famous and far deadlier Bottomless Abyss. There were still the ever-writhing tentacles and snip snappy snappers, but at least there was a bottom you could reach without being squished into goo.

Sally stood on this bottom, looked back up through the stygian darkness and prepared herself for the long climb back through the ever-writhing tentacles and ceaseless snip snapping snappers. It would be tough, but frankly she was hungry and there were no shrimp down here.

To be continued…

No More HBA Island

[3:11] Second Life: Your group ‘HBA Island’ has been disbanded because it had fewer than 2 members.

That’s it folks – all gone now 🙂

The Island: Ending the Tale

An Explanation

As you will have read in this earlier post, I intend to halt this tale as not only had it stalled very badly, but I’d also used its plot for The Lost Journal tale. I’ve had a recap and full post waiting as drafts in my blog for a whole year and rather than simply delete them, I’m offering you both below along with a potted ending with which to draw a veil across this brave, but doomed, attempt.

I have to say that this tale, in the beginning, was great fun for me to do – from planting my jungle to destroying the yacht and smashing it on the rocks I had a wonderful time making the props and taking the photos for this story. And the people who followed it and helped out! Janey making the buckets & TR sending the poor chap some warming hot chocolate; in its heyday it was a really fun thing to write indeed. For the record, my favourite posts are:

1) Shipwrecked where it was a simple pull away of the camera to reveal the professor washed up and unconscious on the beach with his smashed and burning yacht behind him – the last shot took ages to do in order to capture a lighting bolt striking the wreckage!

2) The Dream for the final set of images which I still feel are incredibly powerful – and were a testament to what someone could do with very limited resources and lots of creative thinking. I used two different ships in a pirate themed sim whose name I have long forgotten – the final image of the demon’s eye was one of the key events that led me to Osprey as she liked it so much she asked me to pose for one of her Combat Cards.

Thank you for reading along and for visiting the ‘set’ I built on my small island and exploring the Professor’s jungle. I’m very lucky to have readers who care what I write and follow along – I hope you like the tales I’m planning to replace this one 😀

Recap

July 1930 and Professor Headonius Buroffski of Miskatonic U left Miami in his new yacht, the Telestro, expecting to be in Key West in plenty of time to celebrate the fourth of July with his friends. The sudden and fierce storm he encountered mere hours out from land had other ideas though. The good professor had a terrifying night clinging on for dear life as the seas threw his little craft around like a toy until, in the wee small hours, he struck rocks and was thrown ashore as the storm tore the Telestro apart.

When morning broke, the professor found himself alone on a small sandy beach, the ruins of his yacht scattered about him and lapping between the cruel rocks that lay just off the shore. The next few days saw him undertake a search for food and water, all the time keeping a diary of his days for his beloved wife, Rose. And then the dreams started…

Dreams of a wooden galleon, abandoned, adrift. Wandering the decks. Feeling the presence of someone… some thing else. Seeing the burning red eyes glaring at him from the makeshift prison of the hold. Each dream more real than the last, each more terrifying.

In a bid to escape both the dreams and, more importantly, the island he finally set off into the jungle to see if he could lean more about the island and find a way off his new, unwanted home. Through thick undergrowth he fought until, in an eerily deserted part of the jungle he stumbled upon a strange circle of standing stones where he decided to make camp for the night…

The Final Post

14th or 15th – Night.

I have made an amazing discovery! Oh Rose! I can hardly contain myself!

I fell into a deep sleep almost as soon as I finished my last entry and had the strangest dream. Thankfully it was not about the queer galleon or its menacing lone passenger, but instead I had the strangest feeling I was moving out of myself, floating out of my body and out of the tent. The night shrouded jungle was all around me; dark impenetrable walls beyond the edges of the clearing in which I had set up camp. Hovering somewhere above the tree line, I looked back down at the stone circle and was amazed to see people lit by a small fire where my tent should have been!

I counted a dozen of what I guessed to be native islanders (their skin tanned and toughened by the tropical sun) surrounding the five stones. As one, they began swaying and chanting as five of their number had their entire bodies anointed and painted with a dripping, sickly green liquid. Once covered, they moved into the circle and stood each facing a stone with their backs to the fire.

The swaying and singing increased in pitch and tempo whilst the five chosen stood stock still, rigid and unyielding to the beat and rhythm of the chanting around them. It grew faster, louder, more wild and furious. My head swam with it, my brain pulsed to its beat and my thoughts began to reduce down to a point far removed outside myself. Rose, I truly believe I would been lost if in the next second the terrible chanting had not stopped dead. The silence hit me like a slap and I stared down at the scene struggling to bring myself back from whatever brink I had been teetering on.

The islanders all stood still until, upon a barked command, the five chosen raised their right hand and touched the stone in front of them.
The Island - A native touches a stone
From each stone there was a crackle in the air and the same smell of ozone I had detected before. From beneath the surface of the stones radiated a light the same queer green as the slime the five natives had daubed themselves with. It pulsed, slowly at first, but began to increase in speed and power. Soon the stones were lit like beacons and the five chosen were writhing in agony, there hands seemingly stuck fast to the stone’s surface. Suddenly each stone exploded with a blast of green light; the natives attached to them unleashed a chorus of terrifying screams as I covered my eyes, almost blinded. The light subsided, narrowing down to a vertical beam emanating from the very top of the stone. Of the five islanders at their base, there was no sign; they had vanished completely. The beams began to tilt inwards, moving toward each other, to a focal point high above the centre of the circle. When they met, an unholy thunderclap was unleashed from the sky above and the sky above began to boil and roll as dark clouds appeared from nowhere. Big fat rain drops began to fall and a the entire scene was frozen by an enormous lightning bolt that struck the jungle thirty yards from the circle. They had somehow generated a huge storm from a perfectly clear sky!
The Island - The Storm

I watched in awe as the natives began to chant and dance, this time weaving in and out of the stones and waving up to the clouds above them. The clouds seemed to respond, pulsing and moving with the dancers below until they suddenly shot off over the jungle and out to sea, lightning bolts leaving a trail of burning palms and scorched undergrowth behind it.

I awoke with a start. I was in my tent, confused by my sudden dislocation. Outside I could see my own fire still smouldering – hardly any time had passed since I had drifted off to sleep and witnessed the strange ritual. I rose, groggily making my way outside; everything was as it should be, aside the strange quiet that hangs over this place like a shroud. I moved into the stone circle, the stones silent and dark against the jungle behind them, to throw some more wood on the fire.

And that’s when it happened, Rose. I lent against one of the stones and at my touch, a small spark of green static arced out to my hand and I leapt back in surprise. My fingers tingled, but were otherwise fine, so I reached out and tentatively laid my palm against the cool, rough surface. A strange hum filled the air, not so much heard as felt and slowly the stone began to glow weakly with the eldritch green hue I had seen in my dream. I moved the next stone and touched it with the same result! And the next! And the next! All five stone, Rose! All five were glowing, barely perceptible I’ll grant you, but glowing nonetheless!
The Island - The Professor touches a stone

That was some ten minutes ago now. Within two or three minutes the glow had vanished and try as I might, I just haven’t been able to get them to glow again. Maybe the morning will bring some fresh insight into this mystery. I fear that I may be too giddy to sleep, but sleep I must if I am to set my mind to examining this conundrum.

Night night,
Your Doni x
**********

The End…

The Final Ending

The tale was to end in much the same fashion as The Lost Journal (sans nuclear missile & Jeremiah Mason) – in one version the Prof found a temple and was evetually hunted, caught and sacrificed to the demon; whereas in another ending the same thing happened to the Prof but then his great-grandson returned years later and faced the same perils but managed to destroy the natives and their temple. From there I was planning a futuristic version with the same demon, but that never got past the very basic sketch stage 🙂 Thanks for reading guys – keep an eye on my new stories and catch up with all my tales on the Burro Tales page.

Looking for a new home

I’ve been in SL for two and a half years now, man & gazelle, but I’ve never really had a home. Even my currnt home point is the Eleanor Theatre in Phobos because that means I can beam back there if I crash out during a show.

Best I can recall is:
I was born in Braunsworth I think – I can no longer remember as I never stayed there but went wandering.
I ended up in Nova Albion but only to camp.
I moved to an abandoned infohub in Murray.
I bought a small plot on a private island called Gembong East.
I finally made my home point the theatre when the show quickly became the most important thing in my SL.

Apart from Murray I have never been part of a fixed community, and even that was just standing around chatting and booting griefers. I don’t count the show as although the troupe are my friends, it’s not a fixed community and, with only a small number of exceptions, there is no interaction outside the show. I have wonderful friends in SL, but timezones mean I rarely see them beyond the show. I need a purpose to come in-world and outside of the show I’m struggling.

I guess what I’m suffering from is loneliness.

I’m willing to bet that when Darien Mason contacted me about writing with him in The Lost Journal he had no idea what he would set in motion; I certainly didn’t. I want to be part of a wider comminty of roleplayers and writers. I want to feel the energy of creation I get from writing and taking photos. I want to have adventures and fun outside the show, and not just on my own all the time.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been exploring, on this blog and others, what it means to roleplay in SL and I’ve moved from a place where I wanted the perfect sim/RP experience served on a plater, to wanting to get in with a far more open and looser system. But where?

Caledon has always scared me because of its size – too easy to simply get lost I think and my views on it have been coloured by an earlier attempt to find a sort of home there. New Babbage is amazing but I don’t have the skills needed to be there – it’s a big boys place. Nova Albion/Bay City are places I have lots of love for but Bay City more about city life there and Nova Albion’s roleplaying days seem long behind it. Cowell/Kahruvel are places I simply adore but nothing goes on there. Outside of that it’s all film and book roleplaying and outside of a 1940s noir setting I’m not that interested (1).

But one name keeps coming up. One name that seems to involve community and lightness of touch that appears to allow a hell of a lot of creative roleplay to spring up despite not being a roleplay sim. It’s a place that takes in strays, a category I think I fall smack bang into. That place is called Steelhead.

I think this is it. I’m almost certain I’m going to move, abandon my beloved old HBA Island forever and find a new home with new stories to tell, ones where I’m not the only voice and player.

*******************

(1) Especially in frigging vampires.

Extracts from a Lost Journal

Dear Reader (I’ve counted),

Let me apologise for the posting of an undoubtably confusing extract from the journal of one Professsor Headionius Burro, a one time emminant schollar of Miskatonic University. I had intended to announce my plans to post this and further extracts before actually doing but I nallsed up and here is the introduction appearing *after* the first extract 🙂 Once I have them all posted, they’ll be organised under the tag The Lost Journal and the category SL Writing.

I came across the journal, sea-worn and fish-eaten, washed up on the shores of my jungle.
The Lost Journal 6

The Lost Journal 7
The leather bound tome was hard to open, and I fear many pages have been lost to the elements, but what I did find caused my mind to reel! I won’t give away too much, but suffice to say I do hope the whole thing turns out to be a hoax. If not I’m glad the good Professor never landed on my little slice of paradise…