JE: The Hermetic Garbage of Jenny Everywhere Act II, part II
mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Sun Dec 12 21:44:52 PST 2021
Jenny headed up to her apartment on North Wintle Street in Westbrook,
Wisconsin. In one set of continua, she'd grown up here in the suburbs
raised by generally well-meaning white parents. It tended to pick up a
lot of strange hyperdimensional phenomena for an unassuming city, so
Jenny spent a lot of her life here, even in the worlds where her parents
had cut her off.
She shared her apartment with Julie Jacobs, her sister, who'd recently
become an instagram influencer. She passed back and forth between a
large number of careers which usually tended to end in disaster, from
landscaper to circus acrobat to giant robot pilot.
"How was your adventure?" said Julie, scribbling in her journal as Jenny
"OK, I guess," said Jenny. She let out a heavy sigh.
"What is it?"
"It's Mom," said Jenny. "I mean, not our Mom. Archon Midnight."
"Oh, right," said Julie. She was wearing a deep blue necklace, glowing
faintly, which nicely complemented her red hair. A gift from her latest
boyfriend or girlfriend, no doubt.
"I know I'm not being fair," said Jenny, slumping down in her chair
after putting on the tea. "There's so many worlds where my parents are
dead, or not talking to me--like the one you're from--and I should be
thankful she even talks to me, but..."
"I mean, she is one of the most powerful people in this city. Seems
completely fair to me."
"Yeah," said Jenny. "We had a talk, I tried to be all hero-y about it
but couldn't really keep it up. I've stood up to so many rulers and
politicians all over the hypercontinuum, but around her I just feel...
"It's OK," said Julie, stirring up the tea for her. "So my date's coming
over in a bit. I'll be heading out to the seaside. Try not to let the
apartment get burned down while I'm away, OK?"
"It won't. Nothing happens here anymore," said Jenny.
There was a knock at the door. Julie opened it, and in stepped a
gloomy-looking individual dressed in a black suit, with black lipstick
and nail polish.
"This is Death," said Julie. "I think you've met, right?"
"We have," said Jenny uneasily.
"Hello," said Death in their deep sepulchral voice. They did not look
Jenny in the eye.
"Well, you two have fun," said Jenny. "I'll, uh, sit here a while." She
watched as the two walked out arm in arm and ran the calculations on how
long this one was going to last. "The worm doth woo the mortal, death
claims a living bride," she quoted to herself.
"Well, I'm right back where I started," said Jenny to the empty
apartment. "Why am I so depressed lately?" She tapped her fingers on the
table beside her reclining chair. "Everything's the wrong way around. I
should be able to shift between different stable realities. Instead, I'm
stuck in one place and reality is shifting around me. And now I'm at one
of the few points of relative stability left in the collapsed cosmos,
and I hate that too." She let out another sigh.
She tried to distract herself by checking her phone. She'd made the
mistake of setting an alert for "multiverse," and from her current
21st-century-ish positionality it was mostly articles from
bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping entertainment news sites about the next
phase of Marvel movies, Space Jam 2 or other cinematic franchises. She
turned off the phone in disgust. Maybe she should read something.
She looked at her bookshelf, past the Plasmanomicon, the Jack Kirby
Eternals omnibus, the special edition of the Bible with all the sex
scenes left in, the collection of unfinished stories about her from
across the continua. She picked out Moorcock's Cornelius Quartet and
flipped open to The Condition of Muzak, on page 704:
Perhaps it did have something to do with losing his faith in rock music.
The best performers had either died, decayed or fractured, leaving
behind them a vocabulary of musical ideas, lyrical techniques, and
subject matter, styles and body languages which had never been given the
opportunity to mature but which had, instead, been aped by the very
world of Showbiz against which they had originally revolted. And
everything else was just the same--a load of oily entrepreneurs...
She slammed the book shut and folded in on herself.
What was once a tool of freedom and imagination became another vector
for the accumulation of capital. That was the way it was with
everything--music, the internet, the multiverse, book publishing itself.
Well, there was nothing she could do about it, except go out and get
some more jam for her toast, maybe.
Beware the march of ideas, the creepy librarian had said. All kinds of
ideas were marching through Jenny's brain, and she needed to focus on
something definite and concrete to manage them. Like toast.
So she headed out to the convenience store the next block over. It was a
beautiful day, but her phone was sending her incessant alerts about
chaos flows from ARCHONET, the computer program that administered the
city with its select conclave of organic advisors. Going about their
daily activities and pretending as best they could that nothing was
wrong, everyone in the city was walking a razor-wire's edge. Grigoris
were stationed all over the city to keep watch. Jenny could see the
winged, many-eyed mechanoids in the distance, patrolling the perimeter
of the local farmer's market.
In front of her in line in the convenience store stood a balding
middle-aged man in a ratty jacket. "That'll be 14 dollars, please," said
"Sure," said the man, "give me a minute." He rummaged around in his
purse to pay the cashier--he only seemed to have small change on him, no
bills. "I'm just--fuck you!" He slammed his fist on the counter. "Fuck
you! You're ripping me off!" His flesh began to quiver and warp itself.
Spines of bone grew out of his back. "Blood and souls! Blood and souls"
He screamed. Then abruptly he settled down, the spines retracting
slightly. "OK, give me a minute here. Have a good day." He put the
change down on the counter. "Blood and souls!" he screamed again, and
stumbled off. The battle-hardened cashier hadn't reacted at all.
"Sorry about that," said the cashier. "He just got out of the halfway
house. I'll talk to his case worker about that." Jenny nodded. She
thought back to all the time she'd worked the cashier and daydreamed
about being a pirate.
Just then, an Grigori hovered into the room. Jenny tensed and froze up.
"There has been an incident here," it said. Its voice was like a train
screaming to a halt.
"It's all taken care of," said the cashier, "really." He did his best to
explain the whole thing, only stumbling a little. The Grigori stayed
there and surveyed the room a while, fixing its eyes on Jenny, then
I can't go on like this, thought Jenny, I can't go on like this. She had
to start a revolution against all this, like she always did, but where
She sat down on the park bench by the courthouse and slumped. After a
while, someone sat down beside her. It was her ancient enemy, Typhaon,
the Fallen One, the All-Devouring Chaos, in the form of a glowing,
seething green orb.
"Oh god, what is it now," said Jenny.
"Jenny! At last, I have found you when you are at your weakest! Now, I
will destroy you once and for all!"
Jenny shook her head. "I can't do this, sorry. It's just not the same."
The Fallen One floated silently for a moment. "I suppose you're right."
They sat together for a while. "I can't go on like this," Jenny
eventually said. "I have to do something, even if it's just for me."
The Fallen One bobbed up and down, nodding.
"Good luck," it seethed. "But one day, I will return and you will pay
"Mhmm," said Jenny. She got off the bench and headed back to her apartment.
No one really knew what had caused the continuum collapse. Some said it
was an aftereffect of the Great Webcomic Crossover Wars of 2007, or the
various crisis events which happened in the big superhero universes,
which had been growing in frequency. Some said it was part of the
natural life cycle of the hypercontinuum. Whatever had caused it, its
effects could not be denied.
Jenny knew that she had to find a way to escape, to take apart the
system she was trapped in. That was hard enough when she was an infinity
of people working together across the hypercontinuum. Now she was just
one. But she still had all the knowledge and wisdom of all her other
selves in the multiverse that had been, and she knew one thing: she had
to start small, find something she could do and then build on that.
There was one thing she needed to do: go back to Glendalf and the Orcs.
They'd no doubt been trying to escape the terrible billionaire author's
mansion, and might well have gotten lost in Faerie. And even if they
weren't, she'd promised them an adventure. But was it even possible for
her to return to that frame of reference?
She couldn't just shift into Faerie like she did in the old days,
especially not here, where ARCHONET's ever-watchful eye did not look
kindly on forces of chaos and creativity. But there was one way she
might perhaps get into Faerie, the same way she did the first time:
through a book.
She picked up the copy of the Child Ballads off her shelf and began to
read the ballad of Sir Thomas Rhymer. Slowly she recited it to herself
and closed her eyes:
She turned about her milk-white steed,
And took True Thomas up behind,
And aye wheneer her bridle rang,
The steed flew swifter than the wind...
And now she was walking through a rooftop terrace garden like the one on
LoTempio Street. She saw a flock of monarch butterflies take landing on
the nearby thistles and violets. She loved watching the butterflies and
the movement of their wings; they put things into perspective. She hoped
they wouldn't be lost.
Through the terraces she walked, far past where the roof should have
ended, and gradually they grew larger until there were no more terraces
and no more concrete and she was walking down the paths of a wood, where
the trees grew thicker around her and the colors on the butterflies
wings grew brighter, and they moved so swiftly she was not sure if they
were butterflies at all. Animals, or something like them, skittered
behind and above her. The branches closed in and blocked out the sun.
She could see a voorish light in the distance. She was in Faerie.
END ACT 2
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