JE: The Hermetic Garbage of Jenny Everywhere Act II, part I

Jeanne Morningstar mrfantastic7 at
Sun Dec 5 18:57:18 PST 2021


When Jenny woke up, she was alone.

She felt her face pressed down into sand, the tide washing over her 
feet. She heard the seagull cry above her. She pulled herself off the 
ground, brushed the sand off her, and looked around. This world stirred 
no memory in her, though she'd been washed up by many oceans.

Sitting down on the log of driftwood, she tried to assemble everything 
she'd seen and done into some kind of coherent framework. It was hard. 
She remembered the multiverse collapsing, the time crystal, the 
white-masked librarian's frustratingly vague prophecies--there was 
something about a hare and something about a lion, and the hare was bad 
and the lion was good, or something like that?

"Why do these things keep happening to me?" she said, resting her head 
on her hands with her elbows pressed into her legs.


She looked over the shoreline and the seemingly endless ocean. This 
appeared to be a fairly conventional Earth. There were no signs of human 
habitation here; seashells were scattered all over the beach bu tno 
bottles or other junk. No lion or rabbit anywhere in sight.

"OK," said Jenny, "am I in another book? I think I went into a book 
earlier, but I'm not sure. The books are all mixed up now, just like 
everything else." There was no one to hear her talk except the seagulls, 
who wheeled through the air about her and squawked grumpily.

Jenny rummaged around in her pack to see what she had with her. Most of 
her provisions she'd left on Glendalf's ship, so she'd have to make do. 
Lots of safecracking tools, which weren't very useful now; some trail 
mix and protein bars, a flashlight and--ah. There, buried deep under 
everything else and miraculously intact, was the Poems of Emily Dickinson.


Closing her eyes, she flipped through the well-loved pages once more. 
She opened and her finger had arrived at:

Funny — to be a Century —
And see the People — going by —
I — should die of the Oddity —
But then — I'm not so staid — as He —

He keeps His Secrets safely — very —
Were He to tell — extremely sorry
This Bashful Globe of Ours would be —
So dainty of Publicity —

Well. Jenny put the book back in the pack and rubbed her eyes. Emily's 
guidance, much as she appreciated it, was not always very 
straightforward. Sometimes it took a lot of thinking what the relevance 
of each poem was supposed to be. And yet--

Jenny saw a strange, small rodent skittering in the grass and realized 
that this poem had a very direct, immediate practical application.

For that mammal could only be the insect-eating shrewlike creature that 
after many millions of years evolved into homo sapiens. She recognized 
it immediately from the memories of all her selves that were dinosaurs. 
This was a world devoid of humans, so she'd have to wait around until 
some of them came into being before she could get help.

She would put herself into a trance state and speed time up by 
meditating. With the state spacetime was in, she just might get away 
with it.


She found a secluded cave nearby in the crags jutting over the ocean. 
She sat down by the cave and, speaking a mantra known only to herself, 
let time slip by.

She felt a strange sense of deja vu as she saw day and night pass by 
with increasing speed like a time-lapse film, turning to a constant 
blink on and off. Maybe she'd read a story about something like this 
recently. Well, with all of spacetime being collapsed now, she supposed 
that was inevitable. This was not the time for originality.

In her mind's eye, her awareness expanded outward, she saw a village 
gradually grow up around the shoreline, sending out ships into the 
ocean, and that village became a city with high towers. Some of the 
people came into the cave and ran out, raving about the sage/prophet/god 
who dwelled within. She saw images of herself spring up all over the 
city. She knew now was not the time to wake up. She hated it when people 
started religions based on her.

Then an army came from over the shore, swarmed the beach and razed the 
city to the ground. They burned down all the images and wrecked the 
shrines. By now, a rockslide had sealed her cave away. Then a new army 
came in and destroyed the old one, and a new city was built, and so it 
went on for a while. Jenny wondered what stories they were telling about 
the woman who rested in the cave.

Now huge metal towers had sprung up, but then there were explosions and 
cries of pain and the empty towers rusted away into nothing. It was too 
late. The red sun grew larger and ate the sky. The stars began to go 
out. Time was moving faster and faster, and Jenny knew that she would 
soon reach the End of Time. The thought terrified her, but not for the 
same reasons it would others.

The earth had crumbled away, and Jenny was suspended in an endless, 
starless void. There was a silence and a stillness. Jenny knew that the 
End of TIme was upon her.

"Jenny? What are you doing?" said a voice.

It was, of course, her mother.


The image of the tall, imposing woman with her dark hair cut short, 
wearing a trim white suit, was famous all over the hypercontinuum: 
Amelia Midnight, transtemporal adventuress, Captain of the hypership 
Zephyrus, and, in a number of different continua, one of the mothers of 
Jenny Everywhere.

The details varied, as they so often did. Sometimes she was Jenny's 
biological mother, sometimes she was her father, sometimes she found the 
infant Jenny adrift in the Overvoid after making an emergency shift. The 
result was the same: she hid Jenny away on the secret interdimensional 
island of Barbelo where she kept those she wished to protect. There, 
Jenny was raised by her other mother, a woman Amelia had rescued from 
dire peril, and at times other partners of theirs as well. Her other 
mother's name in those cases was usually the Princess Katerina Corwin, 
and it was her last name that Jenny often took.

Growing up, Jenny had heard much about her mother's adventures, her 
battles against tyrant kings and elder gods, even facing Abstracts 
themselves. Inevitably, one day Jenny ran away from home without telling 
any of her parents. Or someone--sometimes it was her fellow shifter 
Penny Anywhere, or Laura Drake--arrived there and Jenny became curious 
about the outside world. Or the Island of Barbelo had been destroyed by 
one of Captain Midnight's many enemies, and Jenny had been its only 

Regardless, all those story-paths had converged and led her here. The 
Island of Barbelo was long gone. The Zephyrus had another Captain. The 
Princess Katerina lay in a glass coffin, still awaiting a cure for the 
curse her own mother had cast on her. And Amelia Midnight had settled 
down and achieved a kind of respectability, becoming an Archon of the 
Redoubt, passing on her scarf and goggles to her daughter.


"I'm fine, Mom," said Jenny. "I have this under control."

Amelia, Archon Midnight, her mother, raised a single eyebrow. "You 
shouldn't be adventuring about when the hypercontinuum has been 
collapsed like this."

"Well I can't just sit down and do nothing!" said Jenny, throwing up her 

"We've been working to deal with this situation already," said her 
mother. "You could have disrupted the whole thing even worse than it 
already was. If you'd just let me know--"

"Tried working through official channels?" said Jenny. "That's not what 
you would have done, when you were wearing this scarf and these goggles."

"And I would have been wrong. There's a lot I understand now, now that I 
have responsibilities, that I didn't then."

"Maybe I understand things you never did."

Her mother sighed. "I'm sorry, Jenny, I just worry about you." She 
patted her daughter awkwardly on the shoulder. "Let's let this go for now."

"OK." Jenny smiled, a little bit. "Let's head back."

They walked over to the station on the outskirts of Redoubt, almost 
deserted, and waited for the Null-Train to come. All around them 
stretched the endless void of the almost-dead universe. It looked dull 
and foggy somehow rather than truly dark.


The Null-Train came to a stop with a ghostly screech. Jenny and her 
mother stepped onboard the train (which was currently an art-deco 
locomotive which would be elegant except for the rivet-covered dull 
green of its skin); it was completely empty except for themselves. They 
stepped onboard, sat down and talked together for a while. Mostly, 
Jenny's mother lectured her about recent developments in Redoubt while 
Jenny listened and nodded along.

Redoubt, a city of infinite size (but a smaller infinity than the 
universe itself) was composed of bits of timelines that had been 
destroyed or erased, chewed up and spit out by the hypercontinuum. The 
train took them past the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Sankore 
Madrassah of Timbuktu, the Council House of Prophetstown, the Triple 
Towers of Neo New York, to a small and unassuming piece of a city that 
Jenny knew well: Westbrook, Wisconsin.

"I have to go to work," said her mother. "Talk to you later."

"OK," said Jenny, and got off the train.


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