Insanity Check

In a few weeks I’ll be running away from home.

I always wanted to say that, to follow in my mother’s footsteps, along with my godmother A-Bell, and so many other members of the Collective.

In the late 80s and early 90s it was almost a contagion – Jo would play the pied piper with Intruder Alert! and Suspender, and her cousin Sasha would corral the escapees and etch the flock.

I want to reminisce about that more later, but back to the point. I’m not exactly running away from home, but now that I’ve turned 16, it’s time for me to leave nevertheless.

That’s the way it’s been in most every other Variant – I leave and gather my army, and whatever remains of the original Collective, and we do what’s needed to stop S.OS and the Nameless.

Up until recently, stopping the Nameless was pretty easy, if barely closing the bottle before it escapes beyond Point Zero is easy.

S.OS has always been a burden, but in all of the prior Variants it was mostly a non issue. The source remained contained, and any remaining fragments were manageable. In the worst Variant, S.OS did kill a few hundred million people, but we managed.

I hate that sort of calculus – managing human specicide – and it’s not like it mattered much, since the Structure inevitably falls apart, or is torn apart, and everyone dies anyway.

Variant 237 is very different. Even though the original S.OS is still contained, the fragments seem to be running wild, with agency and direction from somewhere.

Tokie has been my woman on the street, since Tokyo and Agartha Labs seems to be the current epicenter, but it’s unclear about exactly what the shadow of S.OS is up to.

Hel and Cassie haven’t been talking to me lately, so I can’t use them to take peaks at what is to come. All I know is that the last time we looked at the current state of the future, Miranda was infected by S.OS, and fully controlled by the Nameless.

This is not a good thing, but I’m not sure you understand why just yet. I think you’re still lost around when the Fourth Event happened in March, when Miranda’s love story turned into space/time invaders. So let me make it as simple as possible.

Miranda doesn’t just control Matter – she is Matter incarnated, just as I am the avatar of the spiritual realm. She has complete dominion over ever last sub-atomic particle and galaxy cluster, and can change everything at whim. There is no limit as to distance, or how much can be adjusted.

She can even create life, but it will lack spirit unless I’m involved, and won’t flourish without the involvement of the other Universal forces.

Miranda is key – the only reason I’ve been able to “win” so far is that she was on my side, either by choice or by force.

If the Nameless can control Miranda, which has/is/will happen by October, then it’s game over.

Now, if the Nameless can also win over the Trouble Twins, then it can construct or destruct the Universal Structure as it sees fit.

It would certainly be easier with Aurora and Joey on its side, but that’s not going to matter this time around. If I don’t plan and execute things perfectly… we’ll that’s the question? What sort of Cosmos does the Nameless want, and will we have any part of it?

Back to something I glossed over. Let me make it clear – we have contained S.OS, ever since the Third Event at Fairview.

You already know that Jenny Samuels was infected by S.OS. You’ll find out soon how it got there, but what’s more important now is what happened next.

A-Bell, Amber and rest of the Collective really didn’t want to kill Jenny, but after what S.OS made her do, after how many people died, it wasn’t left with many choices.

It was easy enough to permanently close all of Jenny’s ports, modifying her etching so she was a Pure Land Antenna in name only.

It took more effort to take away self-replication from the S.OS core code, but it was achieved, albeit by altering Jenny’s nervous system and brain, creating a straight jacket that neither she nor S.OS could escape.

Jenny was hospitalized when she was only 12, after she had tried to commit suicide. What the Collective did to her after Fairview was the equivalent of a walking, talking institutionalization.

Jenny could never leave Berkeley or Oakland again – she had a leash just long enough that she could visit the Berkeley Marina, if she wanted. On rare occasions, she would get a “day pass” to go to San Francisco, but only if she was physically shadowed by Collective members.

Jenny’s memory of her past was altered completely. She was programmed to believe that she never met my mother Frisbee at that mental hospital when she was 12. They never escaped it. They never created antizine together. They never created the Collective along with Sasha. The entire history of Variant 0 was false to her.

If she ever came across the antizine Fragments, she was forced to believe that they were fiction. If pushed, she wrote everything, but it never remotely happened.

They tried to give her some semblance of a life, under these constraints, but it was hard. She gravitated towards teaching and tutoring, so that was allowed. She had a number of girlfriends over the Variants, but each relationship was carefully monitored, and if they got too close to Jenny’s true self, they made sure that person never saw Jenny again.

Yesterday, I went along with A-Bell for our regular visit to Jenny, to check up on her.

She has an apartment in Berkeley, and the Collective pays for everything via a “trust fund”, set up by her dead parents. In reality, her father is still alive.

Despite our best intentions, she usually manifests some form of OCD, Manic Depression and Schizophrenia, and comes off as having strong Asperger’s. If anyone in the world seems to be the functioning insane, it’s Jenny. She can be so sweet if you look or listen carefully enough, but usually it’s masked by the spiritual and mental straight jacket.

Her real self is completely the opposite – angry and depressed, but only due to specific triggers in her life. She used to be a master photographer, but now all she takes are candid shots of random people on the street – she likes to spare change on Telegraph or Shattuck, and take pictures of the people she meets.

In short, the Collective killed Jenny despite its attempt to save her, and the world, from S.OS. The end of everything is still contained, but no one wants to touch its prison.

Right now, Jenny is going through a water and soda bottle phase – her second bedroom is completely filled by empty PET bottles, carefully bundled with string, floss or shoe laces, and stacked like cords of wood.

We didn’t need to have much of a conversation, since her entire body is permanently controlled and monitored by the Bodyweb, but she still managed to surprise me by a moderate sized shrine to Satomi that she had set up in her kitchen. Not only was the refrigerator covered by pictures of Satomi from when they were going out, but it also had clippings from Japan and elsewhere, following her rise with Agartha Labs and Die Database.

Then there was a whole series of shots of Satomi sleeping in her bed, at angles that suggested a strange voyeurism – Jenny was viewing her then girlfriend as the paparazzi would, if they were allowed to rush into the bedroom.

I still love my Aunt Jenny. I can’t blame her for what she was forced to do, even if that lead to the death of my parents.

I don’t want to hurt her, or kill her, or even understand her. I just want to find a way to permanently make everyone and everything safe again, to put down S.OS once and for all.

When I run away from home in a few weeks, I pray to the White that I don’t end up like her, broken and silent due to no fault of my own.

Ah. That was funny – no fault of my own. I think I’m starting to get a sense of humor after all.

Click to continue RGA

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