The Clubhouse

I’m in pain – physical torment. I’ve never experienced that before.

Sarah has been etching me by hand for the past few days. Emily is now her permanent avatar, and has been since New Years Day.

I still don’t remember everything that happened. Last night I had a few dream flashes from Point Zero; it was like I was broadcasting in all directions, to all times, trying to find some version of me in some Variant that could listen. I’m pretty sure I’m the last one, though, so it was more of a yelled conversation than a speech.

I didn’t hear it for the past 9 days because I wasn’t etched.

I never needed to be etched before – I was born “shiny”, with natural Meridian Scaffolding coming out of my ears.

When I woke up in Berkeley, a few moments after Midnight on New Years Day, I was reborn perfectly normal.

No special powers, or connection to The White. No Bodyweb node running up my spine, and no messages from the Ether.

In the distance, I could hear gunshots, and see fireworks. I can’t reveal just exactly where I appeared, since we may need to defend that location in the future.

I don’t know if I’m being understood.

I woke up somewhere in the hills, only I wasn’t me anymore. I was tired, and hungry, and I couldn’t feel anyone out there. I was almost hysterical, assuming that the lack of spiritual connection to other people meant that they were all gone. Dead, just like Cassandra had been warning.

Too many things have happened since then.

People aren’t gone at all. They don’t even know that anything special happened, that the Structure may already have fallen due to Tokie’s “baby”.

Sarah won’t give me the details, but it’s clear she lost the Universal crown to Jenny and S.OS.

My private message from Point Zero confirmed much of this – I wasn’t able to receive it until the last two chakras on my head were scaffolded.

There were flashes of Helena as Grand Supreme, arguing with Helena as a 7 year old.

Young Cassandra was truly pissed, but the Nameless was able to calm her down with Miranda’s soft hands and face.

I arrived using the Fairview Bridge, slipping past the fuzzy edges of The White, where the luminous, stretched trails of the dead were sucked forever into bliss. Like billions of anxious sperm, all attacking the egg at once.

I was followed by Cathy, flaming like a shooting star. She had kidnapped Jenny from the mall, right when the Bridge opened, and somehow used her to “tune” past The White and into the final zone of deliberation.

I’m pretty certain I’m not being understood.

The Nameless won. S.OS won, and all that was left to gloat, and pick over the spoils.

I don’t remember the rest, but I sent a message back to me so I’d know the most important things.

All Variants have been destroyed, with one exception.

The Nameless used Miranda to create a special, pocket Universe – a Clubhouse – for young Helena and Cassandra to rule over.

Variant Zero is that pocket Universe, but not the original one that spawned the Collective. I destroyed the Collective when I stole my Mom and Jenny from Thomason Memorial Hospital. I took them out of the timestream, along with young Sasha.

The plan was to remove all possibility of S.OS ever existing. The problem was that there would always be a copy in the Grand Supreme, so we just replaced a known enemy with unlimited, unknown variations.

There was another reason I took such drastic steps, and I can’t discuss them now. Not until I’m fully etched, trained, and ready to act.

Since the Bridge at Fairview was destroyed, the Clubhouse is completely separated from “mainstream” reality.

I can’t call this Universe Variant 237 any more, since it’s a melange of quadrillions of fragments that Helena has been stitching together, like patchwork.

Our current Universe still exists, but Helena rules it from the inside, and Jenny from the outside.

“The Nameless feels left out.”

That’s the message I thought was so important to send back from Point Zero, before they stripped all ties to The White out of me, and tossed me aside like a broken doll.

That reminds me of a question I’ve been pondering. What’s better – to be a broken doll in the real world, or a real live girl in the fake one?

I’m absolutely convinced that you don’t understand me at all.

Variant Zero is not the “fake” world. It’s the real one, the one where everything started. That world is now locked away, forgotten.

I walked for miles that night. It was so dark, and cold, and the cities around the Bay sparkled in their ignorance.

When I finally made it through the Berkeley hills, barefoot and freezing, I instinctively wandered home.

Limped up to the cyclone fence that was supposed to hide my castle, and me, from the world. Reached out, only to meet the holes between the metal.

Climbed the fence, into the vacant lot that was supposed to be an illusion. It was full of dry grass and squirrel shit.

My real world is gone.

Everything that ever was the me in me is over.

It doesn’t do any good to scream, or to break things, or to sit on the sidewalk and mope.

Sarah found me the next day, while I was spare changing on Telegraph Ave. for breakfast.

She wasn’t carrying a car battery, or a way out of this mess. She was cradling the silver, metal lockbox, the one we tried to give to Miranda what seems like ages ago.

I was crying as she sat down on the curb next to me, and handed it over.

In it were three photographs, from 1986. Jenny and my Mom, holding up “antizine!” signs at Thomason Memorial Hospital.

“Don’t focus on the pictures. Focus on the camera.” She put her arm around my shoulder and I knew.

I have to get out of here. I have to save them, somehow.

That’s what I’m doing right now – saving us all.

My long, curly hair is lying on the floor, as Sarah continues etching my scalp.

We’re sitting in the bare bedroom of Douglas Waters’ apartment – he paid rent a few days early, so no one is going to notice we’re here until it’s too late.

“So now I’m a bald circuit board, and I can see around corners and through walls.” That’s what A-Bell said when….

Is she alright? Is Amber somewhere on this side…

I’m in pain – physical torment. I’ve never experienced that before.

I think I like it – it focuses my heart, and my fists, as I clear my inner voice and speak to the new Collective for the very first time.

Click to continue RGA

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