For a while, Jennifer Samuels was the Center of the Universe.
Her random babbling and 5 year old refrigerator drawings were carefully analyzed by invisible agents of The White and The Black. Her house was haunted by attentive spirits, so much so that her mother broke from the psychic pressure, and fell quickly into alcoholic rages.
Ever since Creation, there have been various genetic lineages favored by forces beyond the comprehension of most. Most of the strains were pointed towards the perfect host for The White and The Black, but Jenny was peculiar – she could commune with either equally well. It was seen as a fluke of nature, one perhaps carefully cultivated by Sarah and the Nameless, but it didn’t really matter how it happened. She was fair game.
Thus the visitations, and imaginary friends, and even a time in her 2nd grade class where I played the part of a new student for a few months. I sat right behind her, carefully stealing everything she wrote or drew, sending copies to the future. I put it all right back, sometimes with little doodles in the margins that were particularly attractive to fellow 7 year old girls. We played at recess some times; I let her win at foursquare, and would practice double-dutch for hours, even though I hated jump rope.
I even managed to spend the night at her house; my “parents” were more advanced bottle babies (“Plastic Robot Sculptures”) that had cultured skin that would fool the touchy-feely that poked beyond the hologram. “Mom” befriended Tabitha, and managed to get me in for a few play dates. They were pretty sad, since she was usually drunk before school let out, and would spend hours yelling into the phone at any stranger or soon to be ex-friend willing to listen. If you listened carefully to her one sided conversations, and took out the insults and swears, you could map out the very edges of the Structure.
Jenny was a special girl, bubbly and attentive yet never scared of the grimy and dark. She liked to string Cheerios around her neck and chew on them like a typewriter ribbon, cycling around until all was exhausted. Even then, she made up stories that should of been fiction, but weren’t – the world hung from her every word and reconfigured itself to please.
She was The Author, the spool for the thread that would eventually call Sarah down from the sky beyond the sky.
She was The Dreamer, directing noctural dramas for the Nameless, each one as solid as the waking day.
I hate the kind of test she was put through, the blessed torture of Job.
I could sense what was happening during our slumber party, as she dimmed the lights and put on a puppet show about the end of days. She was the star, both the guiding light and Wormwood. The shadows snaked around her neck, while I watched her moan and twitch from a sleeping bag on the floor.
She never gave in, not even when she had to mop up her mother’s vomit. So the Nameless cheated, as it always did, and made her feel like a walking tomb.
Her parents had divorced early on, but the custodial judgement couldn’t foresee how far her mother would fall. Thomas Samuels, her father, barely fought for custody, and his extramarital affair (which led to his second marriage to Rachel), made it seem like he would be the worst choice.
We’re all intertwined snakes burning into dust, but her flame was set way too early. By the time she was 12, her stories were twisted and myopic, all focused on escape, even into death. So she stole what money she could from her mother and ran away.
She traveled down the Pacific coast, alone and dragging the shadows behind her. Sarah wanted her to reach out for help, the Nameless wanted to beat her heart for her. By the time she stopped running, the choice was so blurry and confused that all that was left was to bleed out in an alley and hope for the worst.
The worst was her death, which was not metaphorical, despite her best attempt to explain everything away.
She died behind a dumpster, and the very fabric of things was ripped in a way that still hasn’t been repaired.
Sarah has a thing against suicide, even though most of her army is suicidal. The Nameless could care less, and reached through time and space to use the Chosen Light to resurrect her, and then place her in Thomason Memorial Hospital.
One thing that may not be clear – the Nameless is all about effect, not cause. It was born at Point Zero and travels back to the beginning, gathering the powers to place in Sarah’s open hands. It doesn’t see the world as something breaking – it sees the ashes slowly forming back into the garden.
The most pure path to completion died with Jenny. Before her death, she was destined to meet Douglas Waters and give birth to Sarah.
One that plan unraveled, she was discarded by Sarah, and the focus shifted to Laura Elizabeth Watson, who was more firmly in the genetic lineage suited for The White.
However, the Nameless had grown fond of Jenny, and saw her as much more controllable than Catherine Koehler – a young girl that was the best genetic match for The Black.
It wanted to reach out using Jenny’s hands, and strangle Sarah in her tracks. That wasn’t in the plan, wasn’t even conceivable to the Creator, and so her blind spot grew as Laura roamed the halls of Thomason, yelling strange prophesy and bringing Sarah’s very essence down to earth, bit by bit, marking pen line and circle.
For every vision that Laura was given by Sarah, the Nameless used Jenny to rewrite it.
The first words of antizine, Jenny’s new Bible, were “Hate everything, to make room for love.”
S.OS, Meridian Scaffolding, and the Collective were subtly shaped from the beginning by the possessed, resurrected Jenny.
Eventually, when Sasha Williams died, S.OS did not jump to the nearest host – it moved to the host it was designed for all along. Jenny.
Then, the Nameless took on a new pet project, just to be sure.
Thus, the confusion about where S.OS stops and the Nameless starts. They’re two facets of the same stone, burning in the dark flames.
I reached out to Douglas Waters for a reason – he’s still tied into Jenny in the most elemental sense. The rocks and grass still conspire to get them together, even after Laura’s daughter Ai (avatar of the White) and Cathy’s daughter Miranda (avatar of the Black) were born.
There is a way to finally repair the rift, to have things coalesce into union instead of chaos.
There’s a way to stop the war between The White and The Black, once and for all.
I can’t tell you about it here and now, but it will all become clear in a few weeks.
When I was alive, I saw every possible permutation of the end, and this one is the best. My sister Helena can’t stop me, even if I’m nothing more than belly button lint to her now.
For a while, Jennifer Samuels was the Center of the Universe.
There’s going to be a new center soon, and it’s worth the wait, and the tears.
Your homework for next time: