Saturday, July 26, 2014

MOTHER Memoirs, GPP #11: Through Time, Through Space

I took one last look at Mt. Itoi before heading into the cave.


An entrance off the main path housed a bunch of nightmarish tubes, in which all the missing adults from Youngtown were held hostage. I spoke with the man (woman?) closest to me, through the glass.

“Oh, the darkness is so thick,” s/he said. “Can’t see you very well… But could it be?... Is it the little girl from Snowman? Ana I believe it was. Brace yourself, your mom is locked in a room in back. Do not try to rescue us now. First, the Mother Ship must be destroyed.”

I liked how creepy this out-of-place area was – a high-tech utopia nestled within the rocks.

With nothing left to do there, I stepped back into the main hallway. As I navigated the twists and turns, I thought how nice it would have been to have a waterfall in here someplace. Oh well, it all still looked good.


I took a deep breath and walked through that final door. Giegue’s spaceship descended to the earth.


Giegue drew near!


“Ninten! I am grateful to your family,” he said.

The form of Giegue’s attack was inexplicable. Nearly half of my life was drained!

“Your great-grandparents, George and Maria, raised me. But George stole vital information from our planet that can be used to betray my people… And now, one of his descendants is obstructing our plans, and must be stopped! Ninten! I am talking about you!”

I put up a shield, and the damage became a bit more manageable. “Next round I’ll start in on healing,” I thought, “because we really need it!”

“Go home now! Perish with the rest of the ugly Earth People. Foolish one, you cannot do a thing with your meager powers… Powers worthy of a lowly insect.”

Another attack. I had just enough in my inventory to cover the damage. From here on out, it was PSI or nothing.

“Ninten! You alone, I may save you. Just you alone.  Board our Mother Ship with me.  …then, fall into a long sleep with your friends and the other ugly Earth People.”

It was time to mount an offensive! Ninten sang the song!

“STOP singing! STOP IT!”

Loid sang the song!

“STOP THAT SONG!”

Ana sang the song!

“You puny earth bugs! Stop it! Stop that singing!”

In my excitement, I nearly forgot about healing. Ana cast LifeUp Omega.

Ninten sang the song! The lights flashed blue, red, and pink for the final time.

“How could I be defeated by a song like that? I will… sometime… Ninten! We SHALL meet again!”

Defeated, Giegue escaped back to the Mother Ship, and the children watched him fly away, presumably back to his home planet. The parents of Youngtown were finally reunited with their children.


And Ninten, he was reunited with his mother and sisters.


The credits scrolled. Wow! I thought someone would have deleted this by now. I can’t believe this is my old save file!


Outside my office window, the sun had nearly set. Pretty much everyone else had gone home already. I guess I had made a long Monday longer, but when they asked me to dig up this old Earth Bound prototype to be sent out to our Canadian offices for evaluation, I couldn’t help but take a peek at the old project of mine.

Well, they can have this one. I still have at least two copies in my desk.

I pulled the cartridge out of the ol’ NES, and made sure that the label was correct. I’d drop it off to be mailed tomorrow.



As I shut my computer down for the night and began shuffling through the papers I’d need for tomorrow, I thought about what could have been.

I had worked on writing the game’s script for about four months; could have been longer. I don’t recall exactly. But it’s a job, and sometimes my work doesn’t get used. I don’t take it personally – I can’t, really – and I try not to get emotionally involved. But Earth Bound, man, that was a great game. What we were going to do about instructions was really cool. And it would come with two posters, with the usual ads on one side, but the opposite sides would have been a map and an enemy chart.



Yeah, that’s more like it! Just like Final Fantasy.

I ripped today's date, Feb. 21, 1994, off my joke-a-day calender, crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it in the trash. Switching off my desk lamp, my office went dark. I fumbled for my car keys, and a few minutes later, I was driving home.

Since they already have that Lindblom guy scheduled to work on translating the Super Nintendo sequel this year, I don’t know how good a chance Earth Bound has of finally getting released to English speaking players. I’m pretty sure Nintendo of Canada will pass on it.

That’s just the way it is in this business.

But I also have this nagging feeling that somehow, players are going to get their hands on Earth Bound. I had worked pretty hard on it. I allowed myself a little smile.

As I always say, no software is ever final.


All photography by Matt.

Friday, July 25, 2014

MOTHER Memoirs, GPP #10: Cosmic Love

Deep pinks and stark whites, and rivers like the summer sky – you could fly through them if only you had wings. The sun is always setting in Magicant.


My people have everything they could ever want, and what they dream of becomes a magnificent reality. Everyone is happy. Except me.

video

As the world sleeps, the palace floor shines like jade in the moonlight. My heels click and clack down the hallway. Images clutter my mind. A teddy bear… what was her name? A father’s watchful eye.  Snails and candy in the woods. I try to whisk them away, beyond everyone’s reach. I can almost hear them skulking into the depths of Magicant.

Then I can smile again for my people. But those old feelings always come back.

It’s daybreak now, and the guards tell me the boy has returned to the castle.

“Hello, Ninten,” I say cheerfully. I know that he can see through my desperate smile.

Solemnly, he replies, “I know the song now, Queen Mary.”

“Then, please sing me the melodies you have learned.”

“My father says he misses you, misses this place.”

A cloudy memory of a boy like Ninten. Then, nothing.

“Have… I met your father?

“My father… He’s your grandson.”

Tears well, and slide down my cheeks.

“You know what’s going to happen, don’t you? If I sing?”

I nod. “Please, Ninten.”

His voice is the only thing I can hear. It floats through the palace, through the doors, and envelops all of Magicant. It’s warm.

“Yes, that’s right, that’s the song!”

We sing together, my great-grandson and I:

Take a melody,
Simple as can be
Give it some words and
Sweet harmony
Raise your voices,
All day long now,
Love grows strong now
Sing a melody of love
Oh, love

The memories flood back.

Oh, Giegue! I loved him… I loved him as if he was my own child. He was always wagging his tail, just like a pup. Except for when I tried to sing him lullabies. He just wasn’t equipped to grasp earthbound love.

Maybe that’s why I forgot the lullaby. Maybe that’s why I forgot Giegue and my dear George, and created this world to shield myself from the pain of being separated from the only son I’ve ever known.

A child’s love is all I ever wanted. I’m not sorry that we raised him, my love, but I wish I hadn’t picked him over you.

With every restored memory, a part of Magicant fades away. And slowly, so do I. And I feel happy again.


####

After singing with our great-grandson, in a rush of wind, Queen Mary vanished. Magicant was a mirage – a mirage born of Maria’s consciousness.

Just as I had designed it to do, the Onyx Hook returned Ninten and his friends to the peak of Mt. Itoi. With Magicant gone, the rocks blocking the final cave shattered.

Ana knelt near some brushes.


She prayed to the Almighty Father, for her mother, for Maria, and for the safety of her friends.

Ninten and Loid did too, in their own ways.

Loid gazed over the edge of the mountain at Lake Itoi, and noticed for the first time just how far he had traveled. I could tell he was proud of himself: The weakling, not strong boy, had made it to the end with his friends.



Ninten thought of home, and about how proud his father was of him.


It was up to Ninten  now, and he was not going to let his family down.

Wordlessly, the children headed towards the cave. The gargoyles that had plagued them on the way up the mountain simply moved aside.


With a deep breath, Ninten and his friends disappeared into the darkness.


As they vanished, Maria’s spirit joined mine on top of Mt. Itoi. Finally, we're together again!

Weightlessness, into the clouds. The lights got brighter and brighter. We felt at peace.

Perhaps somehow little Giegue will return to us here, and our family will be complete once more.

Good luck, great-grandson.


All photography by Matt, except “Queen Mary 2” from family archives. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MOTHER Memoirs, GPP #9: The Sweet Mysteries of Love/Eden's End


The Sweet Mysteries of Love

“Hey, Ninten? I’ve got something… that is…”

Ana searched for the right words. Earlier, she had crafted a list of "wrong" words, including flatulent, blasphemous and regrettable. She struggled to remember what not to say.

“Ninten, we’ve been flatulent friends for four blasphemous weeks now, and during that regrettable time, we’ve had a lot of fun together.”

“What?”

Sweat began to bead on her forehead. She hurriedly wiped it off.

“What is it, Ana? Is there something wrong?”

“Ninten… do you love me?”

He smiled broadly. “Ana, I’ve always thought you were great. Whenever I was feeling like I couldn’t take anymore craziness, you were there to make me feel better.”

Ana couldn’t stop blushing.

“Let’s dance,” suggested Ninten.

“Oh, that’s so romantic! Dancing to no music!” She threw her arms around him.

“What do you mean, ‘no music’? The metal plate in my head picks up more than 50 stations! Listen!” Ninten tilted his head to the east, and “Ned’s Polka ‘Til You Puka” marathon blared into the room.

As they danced to ever-changing music – every time Ninten moved, he’d pick up an entirely new station – Ana put her head on his shoulder. Her hat floated to the floor.

A moment later, the door flew open.

“I’m sorry to interrupt you two lovebirds,” yelled Teddy, “but we got a problem!”


Eden’s End

PSI ACTIVITY DETECTED.

MOS SIX-FIVE-O-TWO CORE CPU ONLINE. UTILIZING MEMORY MAPPER MMC3.

video

SCANNING…

DNA TEST 1 COMPLETE. MALE, 12. MATCH FOUND: GREAT-GRANDSON OF GEORGE. DNA TEST 2 COMPLETE. FEMALE, 11. NO MATCH FOUND.  THIRD ENTITY IDENTIFIED. NO PSI DETECTED.

INFERRED SCAN: SUBJECTS 5,000 FEET ABOVE LAB, ABOARD WATERCRAFT, LAKE ITOI.


SUBJECTS DESCENDING. 4,000. 3,000. 2,000. 1,000.


SUBJECTS HAVE ENTERED LAB.

VOICE RECOGNITION ON.

ANA: What is this place?

NINTEN: Whoa! See, Loid, I TOLD you transformers exist!

LOID: Why... why does it look like Abe Lincoln?

ANA: I don’t see the resemblance, Loid.

INITIALIZING Z80 SOUND CHIP.

Z80: MY NAME IS EVE. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU. MY CREATOR WAS GEORGE.

NINTEN: My Great-Grandfather?

Z80: YES. HE WAS TAKEN TO THE END OF THE UNIVERSE… THEN BROUGHT BACK LATER. I AM HERE TO PROTECT YOU. THAT IS MY PURPOSE.


NINTEN: Whoa, this place is shaking really bad!

LOID: It’s an earthquake!

LAB STRUCTURE HAS BECOME UNSTABLE. RUNNING COMMAND SET: RES-Q. RETURNING TO MT. ITOI SURFACE.

LOID: How? How are we not dead?

NINTEN: EVE saved us!

ANA: I’m okay too. Hey, that reminds me. Maybe we should check on Teddy.

Z80: SCANNING FOR “TEDDY.” LOCATED. MEDICAL CONDITION: CRITICAL, STABLE. THERE IS NOTHING THAT I CAN DO TO AID.

ANA: I… I see.

NINTEN: EVE, some kind of giant robot tried to kill us, and Teddy was badly hurt. I think we’re getting close to something important here on Mt. Itoi, but something evil doesn’t want us to find it.

Z80: DEBRIS CONTAINING ELEMENTS NOT FOUND ON EARTH DETECTED ONE MILE SOUTHEAST. THE ATTACKER WAS NOT FROM THIS PLANET. 99.7 PERCENT MATCH TO PLANET OF GIEGUE.

NINTEN: Who’s Giegue?

Z80: THIS INFORMATION IS CLASSIFIED. PLEASE INPUT PASSWORD.

LOID: Looks like your Great-Grandfather had a lot of secrets.

NINTEN: Yeah, I guess so…

Z80: CURRENT DESTINATION: MT. ITOI PEAK.


NINTEN: Okay, let’s go.

ENEMIES DETECTED. ATTACK MODE ENGAGED.

ANA: Wow! She’s taking them out with one hit!

LOID: Man, where was EVE when we were trudging through that swamp?

PROGRESS IS 107.64 PERCENT OF EXPECTED TOTAL AT THIS TIME. ESTIMATED ARRIVAL: 12:43 P.M.

The group traveled up the mountain, encountering enemies nearly every step. EVE easily dispatched them. Then, near the peak:

Z80: UNKNOWN ENTITY APPROACHING. ATTACK MODE ENGAGED.

UNKNOWN ENTITY: Like, look out! There’s a giant, killer robot ahead, man! Oh no! Here it comes!

NINTEN: How did you even get up here?!

UNKOWN ENTITY: You need a shield! PK Defense Up Beta!

ANA: You can use PSI?!

LOID: This explains a lot!

PSI ACTIVITY DETECTED.

Z80: THREAT ASSESSMENT. SCANNING… DNA TEST COMPLETE. MALE, 39. MATCH FOUND: FATHER OF NINTEN. ATTACK HALTED.

NINTEN: Dad?!  But I just talked to you over the phone!

NINTEN’S FATHER: I’ll explain later, son. Right now we need to watch out for-

Z80: THREAT LEVEL EXTREME. SPACE ROBOT MODEL R7038XX APPROACHING. 99.2 PERCENT PROBABILITY OF CONFRONTATION. 

NINTEN’S FATHER: Get back! There’s nothing we can do! Let EVE take care of it!

DAMAGE OUTPUT LOW. EVE SYSTEMS CRITICAL. SELF-DESTRUCT MODE INITIATED.

Z80: TOO BAD I WILL NOT “LIVE.” BUT THEN AGAIN, WHO DOES?

NINTEN’S FATHER: She’s gonna blow!

In a flash of light, EVE explodes.



LOID: Is the bad guy, uh, dead?

Z80: MODEL R7038XX DESTROYED. EVE COMBAT FUNCTIONALITY OFFLINE. MOBILITY OFFLINE. ARE YOU ALL FUNCTIONAL?

LOID: Yeah…

NINTEN’S FATHER: Is everyone all right? Ken?

NINTEN: Dad, what’s going on? Why are you following us around in that stupid outfit?

NINTEN’S FATHER: My Grandfather – your Great-Grandfather – sat me down one day when I was little, and told me all about a world far away from Earth. And he said that one day, my son would save the humanity from an alien invasion. I thought he was just making up stories to entertain me, but after reading his diary, I started to suspect he was telling the truth. Well, either that, or he was crazy. When you called and told me about the poltergeist that attacked our home, I knew it was the beginning. Something was trying to stop you before you even got started. I took all of my vacation days from work and started following you, to make sure you and your friends were safe.  

NINTEN: So why did you dress up like a hippie?

NINTEN’S FATHER: Because Scooby-Doo is awesome. Duh.

NINTEN: Seriously, Dad?

NINTEN’S FATHER: Look, Ken, this was something you had to do on your own to help you grow up strong and independent. I didn’t want you to know I was helping. I wanted this to be your trip, and your accomplishment. I know I’m not around all the time thanks to my job, but I want you to have a life that’s 10 times better than mine. By getting through all you’ve accomplished, everything else in life will seem easy.

NINTEN: I don’t really know what to say… thanks, Dad.

NINTEN’S FATHER: I love you very much, Ken.

FATHERS…LOVE…THEIR CREATIONS? SEARCH COMPLETED. 21 FILES ON “LOVE.” FILE 1, MARY. FILE 2, GIEGUE. FILE 3, GIYGAS. FILE 4 -

LOID: So what do we do now?

Z80: CONTINUE TO MT. ITOI PEAK.

NINTEN: Thank you, EVE.

Z80: NINTEN.

NINTEN: Yes, EVE?

Z80: REMEMBER TO HOLD RESET WHILE TURNING THE POWER OFF.

ENGAGING PROTOCOL: MELODY #7

NINTEN: That song… now it’s almost complete. I won’t forget what you’ve done for us, EVE. C’mon, Dad!

NINTEN’S FATHER: Sorry, Ken. This is as far as I can go.

NINTEN: Why? We need your help, Dad!

NINTEN’S FATHER: You didn’t think you needed my help before, and I know you don’t need it now! Besides, I can’t go with you.

NINTEN: Wait…Magicant? How do you know about-

NINTEN’S FATHER: I used to go when I was I kid, and over time, it started fading, until couldn’t see it anymore. I think it has to do with getting older. People my age only see rocks and sand!

NINTEN: Okay, Dad. I’ll make you proud.

NINTEN’S FATHER: I know you will. And Queen Mary too. You know, I remember when you were little. You weren’t afraid of anything. And just like your mom, you never want to stop. Please don’t push yourself too hard!

Ninten and his friends reach the peak of Mt. Itoi. EVE, now a heap of smoldering metal, continues monitoring their progress.

SCANNING… COMPLETE. SUBJECTS HAVE REACHED DESTINATION.

PSI ACTIVITY DETECTED. DNA TEST COMPLETE. MALE, DECEASED. FATHER…?

GEORGE: Ninten, welcome. I always believed that you would find your way here to my grave. Your Great-Grandmother Maria’s love was scattered, scattered in the form of melodies. I have a melody for you. Listen and remember…


NINTEN: That’s it! That's the last melody. It’s time to visit Queen Mary!

Z80: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, CREATOR. THANK YOU FOR… GIVING ME… LIFE. FATHER…

SHUTTING  D  O  w   n


All photography by Matt. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

MOTHER Memoirs, GPP #8: Rebel with a Cause

They turned the lights way down, and Johnny played the kids onto the stage. Frankie grabbed a mic and joined in, but it was the kids who really sang and danced their hearts out, and it was the kids the audience cheered for at the end.


I walked over to ‘em slow, crackin’ my knuckles. Just as they were headin’ past me, I put my hand on the first kid’s shoulder, and the other two crashed right into him like James Dean and his Porsche.


“Thank you for the nice song. By the way, you guys beat up my friends.”

As the leader of Ellay’s infamous Bla-Bla gang, so named ‘cause we do our talkin’ before we do our fightin’, I gotta look out for my buddies.

I leaned in real close. “Who’s the boss?”

“Tony Danza?” asked the nerd.

“Bruce Springsteen?” said that punk in the baseball cap.

“You got smog in your noggins?! I said, who’s the leader?!”

The kid in front pointed at himself.  “That would be me.”

“You the square who beat up my buddies?”

“More like they tried to beat US up,” said the paper shaker in the back. I almost felt bad for her that I was about to feed her boyfriend a knuckle sandwich.

“You’re cruisin’ for a bruizin’,” I said. “I’m gonna teach you a lesson!”

The kid grabbed his boomerang. I whipped out my switchblade.  It was a standoff, like those western flicks.

“What’re you gonna do with that baby’s toy,” I asked, “fun me to death?”

“It’s not the boomerang you have to worry about,” he said. Then he started wavin’ his other hand around like a spaz. Suddenly, I was blinded! I felt a sharp pain in my hand. My blade flew under the stage.

“Bye bye, Birdie!” said the kid.

“All right, cool it!” I yelled. “Looks like it’s a draw.”

“That’s the most one-sided draw I’ve ever seen,” said the nerd. I looked at him all mean-like, and he backed off.

I slicked my hair back in place. As a leader, I always have to look good, you dig?

“You guys are cool,” I said. “Take a seat.” I offered to buy ‘em a drink, but the nerd said he was afraid of the heat.


I told ‘em how, when I was little, somethin’ nasty came down from Mt. Itoi one night and offed my old man. I haven’t had many happy days since.

“I’ve been lookin’ for a couple of tough guys like you. That’s why I started the Bla-Blas, but nobody could do what you can do… uh, what’s your name again?”

“That’s Loid, she’s Ana. And you can call me Ninten.”

“Ninten? What kind of goof name is that?”

“Fine, call me Ken, whatever. Just tell us what you want.”

I took a deep breath. “Umm. I seek vengeance for my parents. To the mountains!”

Ana shook her head. “I really don’t see how that’s going to help us. We still don’t know the rest of your song, Ninten. And my mother…”

Then she looked at me. I was keepin’ cool, real frosty like. But she could tell I was upset.

“Teddy, revenge isn’t the answer. The Almighty Father says- “

“Where was the Almighty Father when my dad was gettin’ wasted?”

“Teddy, my mother has been missing for the past month. It’s been really, really hard. I can’t imagine would it would be like to have lost a parent when I was really young. But I still don’t think revenge is the answer.”

“Your mom? What happened to her?” I asked.

She shook her head. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. “

“It’s the spacemen, isn’t it?” Ana thought I was makin’ fun of her, but I told her about how the whole city had seen strange lights over Mt. Itoi. I never believed in that drive-in, sci-fi malarkey before, but seein’ those lights, I got a real weird feeling. While we were lookin’ at them, I felt like they were lookin’ at us, too.

“If you don’t want me out for revenge, fine. But how about I help you find your mom, so you don’t have to go through what I did.”

Ninten glanced at Ana. She nodded.

“Then it’s settled!” I said. “Let’s climb Mt. Itoi.” Loid started to stand up with the rest of us, but I pushed him back into his seat.

“Hey nerd, you’re not exactly Charles Atlus, are you? Why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here? I’ll take care of your buddies for a while.”

Loid nodded. I don’t think he likes me much, but it’s for his own good. This isn’t gonna be easy, and the kid’s about as strong as Mickey Mouse on a week-long bender.

When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the Live House, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and our trip up the mountains.

“I’ll be glad to get away from Ellay,” Ana said. “I’m not used to all these buildings, and these cars… and the smog!



After an hour or two, we found ourselves on the outskirts of town. The only street left was a dead end.

Ninten crinkled up his eyes. “Where’s the path we’re supposed to follow? Where’re the roads?”

“Roads?” I pointed towards the swamp. “Where we’re goin’, we don’t need roads.”

Steppin’ through a cluster of trees, it came into view. For the first time, Ninten and Ana took a good long look at Mt. Itoi. Near the base, you can see how huge it really is. Unreal!


Dark clouds filled the sky. It wasn’t like rain. It felt different; strange. If it weren’t for my dad and Ana’s mom, I’d have burned rubber right outta town.


We saw a building out in the middle of Nowheresville, and the sign said it was a drug store.

Ana shrugged. “A drug store? All the way out here?”

None of us would admit it, but we were all scared out of our gourds. A trip to CVS sounded really good.

A small bell rang as we stepped through the door. I put my hands on the counter. “What’s buzzin’, cousin?”

“What can I sell you?” asked the clerk. He kept his back to us. Something didn’t smell right, but I had gotten pretty dinged up on the way and needed some healin’.  

“One Life-Up Cream, I guess.”

“Okay, so one pound of marijuana. That’ll be, like, $56, man.”

Ninten threw his hands up in surprise. Or maybe it was disgust. I couldn’t tell. “How do you keep finding us?!”

The clerk spun around with a crazy smile. It was some freaky dude with long red hair and a peace symbol on his chest.

“Great, it’s a beatnik,” I said. “Hey nosebleed, why don’t you go back to Hipsterville and read Jack Kerouac with your lame friends?”

“Chill out, man. I’m just pulling your leg.”

“Whatever, ‘Daddy-O.’”

“We know this guy, Teddy,” said Ninten, rubbin’ his eyes. “He’s weird but he’s not dangerous.”

The beatnik tossed some Life-Up Cream over the counter. I caught it with one hand.

“It’s on the house, man.”

The sun had nearly set, and the beatnik offered to let us stay the night. I’m not sure I trusted him, but out there, we didn’t have much of a choice. It was tough fallin’ asleep. But when I did, it took Ninten and Ana 10 minutes to shake me awake.

By then, the beatnik had already split.

By mid-morning, we had made it to the base of Mt. Itoi. I couldn’t get a foot hold. It was too steep to climb.

“Looks like we’re out of luck, Chuck.”

“Maybe not!” Ana yelled.  She had found the entrance to some kind of kooky cave.


Ninten stared for a few seconds. “Seems legit.”

####

We were beat up pretty bad by the time we got out of that grody cave. Ninten had shattered his boomerang in a fight with some kind of spaceman straight out of “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” and switched to his baseball bat.

Ana was unconscious after getting hit in the head. She was still breathing, but Ninten and I were starting to panic.

And the only way left for us to go was up.

Somehow we lugged Ana up two sets of ropes. Somebody had to live around here – that’s what kept us goin’. It felt like hours before we were on flat ground again.

Then we saw that house in the distance.


As we rushed to the door, Ninten collapsed. 


All photography by Matt. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

MOTHER Memoirs, GPP #7: From the Minds of Babes

I had a strange, vivid dream.

Three children were lost in a huge, winding cave. The walls twinkled like keys in dangling in the sunlight.

Ken had been there before, so he led the others. Loid was frightened, but he was also fascinated by these crystal caverns. Paula - no... Ana - was confused. She had never seen anything like this before, and her parents had never told her such a place existed. There was nothing about this in her holy book either.

Outlandish creatures blocked their path. Alien teddy bears certainly weren’t there to comfort them or tell fantastic stories.


Uncle Groucho watched their every move.


And mint candy snails lost their minds, drooling mindlessly, as if they had had too much sugar before bedtime.

I felt Ken’s pride as he easily knocked the monsters out, like kicking over blocks. The first time he had been here, things were very difficult: Ken had lost someone he looked up to. But today, he would be the protector.

Ken’s new strength radiated from him. And something big knew it. A mean-looking dragon awoke from its slumber! It looked kind of like it was made out of Legos.

I knew the children had to fight. That dragon was keeping something very important from them. It was so significant, it might even effect the whole world.

Ken readied his boomerang. As the dragon drew breath, its stomach expanded and smoke bellowed from its nostrils. A burst of flame!

I felt the heat, like a warm blanket or mother’s touch, but it was much too much.

My eyes shot open. There was a strong psychic presence only a few miles away. Had the dream been real? How could such a fantastic world exist so close to my home?

I stared at the ceiling for a bit, pondering the situation. I hugged my teddy close to me. I was glad it wasn’t like the alien teddy I had seen in my dream.

The longer I lied there, the closer the psychic presence got. There was no denying it: Ken, Ana, and Loid were coming to visit me.

My older brother greeted them.

“Oh yes, my name is Tom Garrickson,” he said. “I like to introduce myself. It’s my hobby.”

“So your Nintendo is on the fritz.”

“Yep.”

I cooed at them.

“It’s just a baby,” said Loid. “You must have been wrong this time, Ninten. Like when you told me that licking barbots would give me big muscles.”

“You just were licking the wrong kind of barbot,” said Ninten.

I called out to them. “Over here.”

Ken and Ana could hear me speaking directly to their minds. They hovered over me as I lied in my crib. Ana smiled.

“Yes, even though my body is that of a baby, like you, I possess psychic abilities,” I explained. “I knew you were coming. Earlier, I saw you fighting that dragon.”

“You mean the one made out of Legos? Yeah, he was tougher than 'Bayou Billy!'”

Ken told me about the melodies he was trying to collect for Queen Mary of Magicant, and how the dragon was protecting one. When I asked why, Ken just shrugged.

“What happened to all the adults around here?” Ana asked. I sensed her desperation.

I explained to them, to the best of my understanding, what had happened. About a month ago, the sky grew dark; some sort of space craft was blocking out the sun. Before anyone could fight or even run away, the UFO kidnapped all the adults, and whizzed away.

Ana gasped. “Ninten, my mother!”

“Yes, your mother was here, Ana,” I replied. “She came because she heard there was an abandoned chateau in Youngtown. She figured this would be a better place to spread the Good Word than Spookane. But she showed up only a few hours before that alien ship carried off all the adults and left us kids here to fend for ourselves.”

“Wait, aliens?” Ken mused. “Like from another world? This is heavy. But it sure explains a lot.”

“What do they want with just the adults?” Ana questioned.

I had no idea. Until a month ago, I had assumed that the world was as big as my crib, house, and town. The concept of extra-terrestrials is still a little baffling to me. All I knew was that I, too, missed my parents. And if it weren’t for my brother and sister, I’d have perished days ago.

“Ok, so what do we do now?” Ken asked.

It was meant to a rhetorical question, but perhaps I could help. I meditated for a few moments while watching my sister shook her Etch-a-Sketch (that sandy sound is very soothing to me). The answer floated into my mind. “There’s someone important in the big city of Ellay. I can't tell you why, but Ken, Ana, you must find him.I think the world’s safety may depend on it.”

“But the bridge is out and they train’s not running that way,” said Loid. He blinked. “Wait, who said that?”

“It will be long and dangerous, but you can make it to Ellay on foot if you head through the swamp at the bottom of town.”


Ken and Ana thanked me. Ana promised me she would find our parents. The two turned to leave and Loid confusedly followed.


The deeper they went into the swamp, the harder it was to trace them. Soon, I had lost them almost completely. I could tell that Ken had met an old friend, and Loid met with his father somehow.


I sensed a fourth person too. Someone with massive psychic power who was trailing just behind Ken and his friends. I could only make out a few features, like his red hair and beard. But I wasn't worried; I could tell he was trying to help them. But he never made himself known to them. I wonder why.

None of it made sense. It was like a bizarre bedtime story, or one of those Nintendo games Tom likes to play. But I knew it to be true.

Hours passed. I had stopped detecting Loid for some time, and Ken was next to disappear from my radar. Either they had made it to the big city, or…

Only Ana remained. Her psychic power was the strongest of the three, yes, but what I could feel most was her dedication to her mother.

I was drifting to sleep when, suddenly, I could sense all three children once more! They had made it to the city, and their elation was a psychic beacon. All was well as they rested up from a perilous journey.

But now, terror washes over me.

The children are approaching something devious, but there’s no way to warn them!

No, Ken! Ana! Loid! Don’t go in there! Don’t get on that stage! This is one thing all the psychic power in the world can’t –



All photography by Matt, except “Garrickson Baby,” from family archives. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

MOTHER Memoirs, GPP #6: Soarin' Over the Sands

I seen them kids trudging through the sand about a mile away. They ain’t got no idea where they goin’, an’ they carrin’ too much gear. Reminded me o’ my time on the beaches of Normandy.

Somethin’ ain’t right in their heads, ‘cause they jus’ spent 10 minutes singin’ to a cactus. It don’t help none that they prolly ain’t had no water since Eisenhower beat Truman, I recon.

Don’t get many visitors out here on a count of all the sand an’ heat. Also all them killer robots that roam around lookin’ to murder children. But I bet it’s mostly the sand.

I was gonna to call ‘em over an’ give ‘em some water. I don’t wanna see no kids get hurt. But right as I start wavin’ my hand at ‘em, the poindexter starts dancin’ like he’s got ants in his pants.

“Covered with scorpions!” he yells. “No! Covered with scorpions! Get ‘em off me!”


Them dang critters was all over him. The kids was brushin’ ‘em off, but that poindexter sure was screamin’ somethin’ fierce.

“Who would build bionic scorpions?!” he screams. “What possible service to humanity could this have?!”

Reminded me o’ that ijit doctor a while back, buildin’ robots to help folk, but he started runnin’ outta ideas right quick. Still don’t see how tops an’ skulls an’ bubble robots are gonna help nobody none.

When poindexter got clean, I called ‘em over, an’ they was mighty pleased that I could spare some water. While they was restin’, I told ‘em all about my days as a soldier of the good ol' U.S. of A.

“During the last war, I laid land mines in this here desert. I removed all but one of ‘em. Jus’ couldn’t find the little bugger. So watch yer step.”

“What war? Who were we fighting?” asks the boy with the baseball cap.

These kids gotta learn ‘em some history! “The Egyptians, boy! What 're they teachin’ ya in school?”

“Sir, I don’t remember learning anything about that warl,” says the little lady.

“Well they ain’t been teachin’ ya right!” I says. “Anyways, we sure showed them yella confederates a thing ‘r two!”

“That’s the civil war,” she says. “That would make you more than 100 years old.”

“An’ I look dang good, too!” I says. “An’ that plane over yonder – I call ‘er TwinBee – I flew ‘er in the Battle of Hastings. Bombed those dang Canadians right back to the Florida Everglades!”

The lady didn’t think I could hear her when she was talkin’ to the boy in the cap. She told ‘em to git goin’. I ignored ‘er.

“I could take y’all flyin’ with me. Only $5 a head. If y’all get 10 ticket stubs, I’ll let ya take Large Marge out fer a spin.”

“What’s a Large Marge?” asked the Poindexter.

“My tank, o’ course!”

“No thank you sir, we really do have to be on our-”

“TAKE ALL OF OUR MONEY!” yells the boy with the cap. “I wanna ride that tank!”

Man, that kid jus’ couldn’t get enough flyin’. We headed over the country.


An' over baseball cap's neighborhood. 

"That's Pippi's house!" he says, whoever Pippi might be.


An’ we went near the big city.


We even went down by the highways.


One time the little lady decided to wait on the ground. Recon she was gettin’ air sick. She says we look like bird way up high.


No one ain’t ever got enough ticket stubs to ride my tank, but them kids was havin’ more fun than a pig in a pile o’ trash! Sos I kept my word an’ sent ‘em off in style.

“Ya’ll jus’ keep to the sand,” I says. “An’ if ya see any of them giant killer robots, tell ‘em Large Marge sent ya!”

A couple hours later I was getin’ mighty irritated ‘cause them kids ain’t come back yet. So I jumped in my plane an’ looked fer ‘em.

An’ there they was, at that dang monkey shine, I’ll tell ya what!



I radioed to 'em. “What in tarnation 're ya’ll doin’ all the way out here?”

“I think we found that landmine of yours,” Poindexter says.

“Dagnabbit! I knew it was out here someplace!”

But afore I could land an’ help them kids out, one o’ them giant robots showed up an’ started whoopin’ on my tank!

“Shoot it! Use them guns!”

Them kids was firin’ away, but I couldn’t tell if it was doin’ any damage. That darn robot jus’ kept wailin’ on ‘em. I was comin’ in to shoot it in its metal hiney when it done blowed up! An’ Large Marge – she went with it!


I was afraid them kids was goners! I couldn’t make no landin’ on the sand, so I had to leave an’ walk back. All I found was pieces of steel an’ what was left o’ my tank.

I said a little prayer to Lord Jesus. God bless their souls.

They was my best customers.

*sniffle*



All photography by Matt. Sprites/clay Loid provided by Earthbound Wiki.