It’s too much.
I’m heart broken and soul smooshed, and it wasn’t supposed to be this way at all.
I had a Ghost Collective looking out for me – any one of them could use their borrowed, plastic bodies to destroy the strongest people on Earth, and most fictional people out of comic books, too.
There was just only one person they feared – Helena, the Grand Supreme – and she wasn’t even a person any more. If the Universe were a huge girl, with galaxy clusters for cells, then she’s that girl. She controls all of Time and Space. We’re just a speck on a particle on a tiny bit of nothing, and that’s how she treats us.
That’s what the Ghost Collective told me it felt like when Helena killed them all on the 4th of July, while Mom and I were watching the ashes of fireworks slowly float down to the Mississippi. She hunted them down through time and space, every last variation from all parallel Fringe places. She tore them apart barehanded, like a paper-shredder, but seemed more concerned about her dress made up of punk patches – she took the time, to stop time, to individually deflect each spray of blood that came anywhere close to her.
She was 16 and everything, and seemed to care about nothing. I know how she feels.
No, really. Helena has her problems, but everyone thinks it’s due to the crazy computer system that’s taken her over. Before that happened, she was really quite cool and loving. Now, no one knows if she’s even in there anymore, or if she’s now just the ultimate flesh weapon, aiming for the final target.
Me – that’s who. Who I trust, who I trust…
The Ghost Collective is trying to stop her from reaching me, but it’s all a big joke. We’re all just bug bugs on top of bed bugs, hiding away in this mattress world, hoping for an exposed knee to bite. That’ll teach her, until she starts to fumigate.
I learned all about bed bugs at the Minnesota State Fair – they’re Minnesota’s Newest Nightmare!. I was there yesterday, and today, and I’ll be there tomorrow, too.
We rode the Jefferson Lines down a few days ago – once Mom left, and turned off her crazy mind control, it was a snap to get bus tickets and take the ride down to Minneapolis. It didn’t take much more than an hour, and I liked to see all of the trees and grass in between the strip-mall heavy towns. Tokie came with me, along with fake Dad and Gabby. I don’t know her too well yet, but she seems to be Tokie’s nurse or something.
Did I mention that Tokie is totally pregnant now? Well, as much as a Ghost can be. For some reason she likes to project in to her plastic robot thing using her “real” appearance, which is full of literal baby fat. It really suits her – she looks awesome.
No. She is awesome. Before today, I was still annoyed by what I thought was her creepy stalker self, all obsessed over me for no good reason I could tell.
After today, as I screamed and screamed and screamed on the Skyflyer, now I totally get where she’s coming from.
I can totally remember everything that I was forced to forget, including the other lives when we were in love from the soul on up and the skin downwards.
Like I said – it’s too much to handle right now, above and beyond my almost-sunburn, and stomach still ballooned out with dairy products, so Tokie and I looked like twins.
We’ve spent the past few days together, but today was the day that they threw caution to the wind and finally let me have my memories back. Because of that, it’s hard to concentrate on this world when I have 237 other ones to explore, all of the past times where I met my end.
So, I’m going to cheat a whole lot tonight, and use Tokie’s logs to help tell the story. Everything that’s said was said, and I’ll do my best to cut out the boring parts, unless they’re totally rad and worth yawning over.
The Bus Ride
My hotel is over in Bloomington, right across the street from the fucking Mall of America. I insisted on that, because after suffering more than a month of the tiny Crossroads Center in St. Cloud, I deserved a proper sized Justice to hate, and indoor Squarepants roller coasters.
Anyway, I also knew that there was a bus stop across from the mall, one of those Park and Ride things with a city block of dirt for the cars. The 4 of us just lined up nearby at the bus stop – $5 for a round trip ride to the fairgrounds – and we managed to bypass the 50+ people already in line, to stuff onto the bus that was about to depart, as standing room only cattle.
They let me go in first, so I stood next to two cute, overly made up and pierced girls, who had matching t-shirts from some booth at the Fair. It was a bit after 9AM, so I guess their employer had slacky standards – the fair opened at yawny, sunrising times.
Anyway, so I listened to then for bit, before I started to mess a bit with Tokie.
Me: So why did you hide your baby bumper before we got on the bus?
Tokie: I didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, and try to give me their seat, only to feel my plastic shoulder.
Me: But don’t you need to rest your weary soul or something? Don’t they do that up there?
Tokie: Honestly, I don’t know what they do…. did you see that?
Me: What? Oh… hah! Look at that little dog mooning us from that SUV!
Tokie: I didn’t know that they rubbed their ass against glass, but I guess it figures.
Me: Yeah… good times. So anyway, what do you mean you don’t know what they do up there? Aren’t you one of them?
Tokie:It’s hard to explain. I’m not actually dead yet, but once my big girl pops out, then I’ll graduate to the big time.
Me: You’re not dead yet? Then where are you?
Tokie: That’s not something I can talk about on the bus. I’m in good, attentive hands, but everyone pretty much cares more about Sarah than me. I’m just the SUV, and she’s the dog that wants to jump out of the window.
Me: I’m sure she’s an extremely cute dog, or baby, or goddess – what is she, anyway? You gave me that big speech yesterday, all about Massive Cloud Burst come alive, and I tried reading your crazy blog, but I’m still not getting it.
Tokie: She’s my daughter, but she also created us all. Anything more than that is bound to kill your pre-fair buzz.
Me: OK, OK, but I expect more info soon. Can’t you use your built in micro-projectors to make a palm sized power point or something?
Tokie: I haven’t tried it out yet, but I think I could adapt the hologram to actually shoot killer lasers and shit.
Me: You definitely have to show me that one later.
Tokie: Alright – GPS puts us about 30 minutes away from the fairgrounds.
Me: My buzz is being killed – come on, we need another car full of dogs or kids, or maybe….
I’ll spare you another 45 minutes of my free association, but eventually we made it past the University of Minnesota, and down a few two-laned roads to the bus parking lot. There were city buses from all over the greater Minneapolis region, and hundreds of people lined up between the bus lot and car parking lot for tickets. It was already starting to get hot, but I saved my plastic protectors from melting, by waving them over to the super-short ticket-having line.
I don’t know how many tickets I bought from Cash Wise – close to a hundred? I just went all out, figuring that some of my ghost guests were bound to be game, and if they weren’t, then I could always give them away, or flash them at people in line – “too bad for you, I already bought all of the tickets!”
Not that my asshole-dream scenario is even possible – there was something like 500 million people at the fair. Well, 50,000? It seemed like that, as we walked over the wooden bridge, past some trucks and storage huts, and beyond the booth selling the blue, discount coupon books for $5. Of course, I had already bought a few a few days ago, and I was fully prepared to tear out each and every bargain that involved licking, or crunchiness, or booths in the shape of man-sized barrels of root beer.
I don’t just love the fair, I want to marry it, and save all of the cotton candy sex until our honeymoon. I’m so serious – Weezer is going to perform one of these nights, and they have 4H fashion shows with 13 year old girls. I tried to get Tokie to falsify some 4H credentials so I could act young and join the festivities, but no go. What good is a life-sized Figma for a friend, if you can’t abuse the privledge.
Speaking of which….
The Main Entrance
Me: Before this is over, I’m going to force you to enter that big barn and watch all the livestock being born.
Tokie: I will never enter the Miracle of Birth Center. Never.
Me: I thought you were Pro Birth?
Tokie: I’m pro Baby, but anti Birth. Life begins when you get that cute thing out of me. I don’t need to obsess over screaming and baby-related fluids
Me: Are you even going to have to go through all of that? Don’t ghost babies just walk though your walls and all that?
Tokie: I don’t think you get it. She’s a real, live baby, and I’m the almost-ghost. I’m going to have to give the last bit of my life, so that others can hear her first cries.
Me: D, Depressing! D, D, Depressing…. well, I’m going to sneak into the Miracle of Birth Center one of these days. You can wait outside and look for the end of the world or something.
Tokie: Speaking of which, did you read that website I gave you last night?
Me: Dark Antenna! Brother Douglas! Oh man, I had to stop myself from cracking up, especially since it’s true. It’s true, right?
Tokie: Yes. Some of his insights are more assumptions than actualities, but the big parts are right on. Cassandra made sure to see to that – he’s one of her pet projects.
Me: Oh yeah – is Cassie going to come back again? She’s a trip.
Tokie: I’m sorry – she has business to attend to, hopping from PRS to PRS all over the world. Since she died, she no longer has control of Time, but she still manages to get around.
Me: 5 dollar foot long! I want you to show me that trick again with the light rail fair gates!
Tokie: The Infinite Subway is not a toy, alright? Besides, that’s the whole reason we’re in this mess.
Me: I still don’t get it…. wait. I keep passing by this booth every day. Come on! “All You Can Drink Milk For $1” White and Chocolate! That totally seems like something worth throwing up for.
Tokie: I totally think they just take all of the milk from the Miracle of Birth, give it a few shakes, and sell it right there.
Me: Mmmmm… Miracle of Birth Milk… I’d buy that for a dollar.
Tokie: No. I’m still not going to let you preorder that Robocop figma.
Me: Anyway…. so really? You’re going to give birth on New Year’s Eve?
Tokie: Apparently they have it planned down to the second. I feel sorry for Douglas, spending most of his life preparing for the end of everything, and everyone thinking he’s crazy for it.
Me: Jenny Ghost should pay him a visit, and stop giving him such a hard time for once.
Tokie: She’s pre-occupied with a certain someone that definitely should throw that dollar down to the pavement, and step away from the milk!
Me: Oh… you’re no fun anymore.
Tokie: Really, do you want me to crack open the Python? I’ll do it.
She did it. I’ll refrain from sharing the next 20 minutes of obscure Palin-isms and funny walks, but it ended with milk in my belly – both kinds.
Yeah, I’ve having a blast. The first day I randomly ran from booth to booth, from new tractor to old statues of Linus and Lucy from Peanuts, but after a while I constructed a plan. It’s a really great plan, full of equal mixes fried food on sticks and cheese curds, plus this chocolate milk shake there was a coupon for – I get one of those daily, ’cause it beats Wendy’s Frosties to death in an alley somewhere.
Minnesota knows its dairy. You can see the cows where it comes from, the object in question in big glasses of joy, and so many variations of milk products, that everyone is obviously enjoying. Their skinny and huge stomachs alike shout out to the sky, Milk!
I like these people. It’s not a diverse crowd, but they’re nice and focused on all of the simple things that can make you happy for two weeks yearly. My idea of that is a bit different, like when I heckle the Minnesota Twins players as they do exercises on a small field, or when I heckle the tween skateboarders during the competitions on kinda pipes. I like to heckle, but I do it with freshly squeezed lemonade in one hand, and variations of meat delivery systems in another.
So… yeah. I think I’m at that part when you’re starting to yawn. I think I know what’ll take care of that – the Midway.
When you walk in the fair from the bottom, there are lots of animals – poopy sheep, stinky horses, shitty cows. They’re cute, but from more than arms length.
Surrounding the animals are all sorts of booths, mostly inside of buildings in massive installations. Test a dozen shower heads by running your hands through their cleaning blast. Buy a furnace, or a couch that does something clever, or hats with eagles on them. It’s really American, and not in an overly Republican way, even though there’s a Republican Party Of Minnesota house you can visit. They have Real Solutions for Real People, and so does Minnesota Public Radio, or all of the TV stations, or the Ellen tv show booth, which I’m pretty sure involved dancing in some way.
No, the fair has people everywhere, and they’re not out to get you, or to judge you too heavily for looking a bit too punk, too fat, or too geeky. Everyone is invited, and even though everyone doesn’t actually show up, it seems really fair and balanced – pay your way, and everyone wins a prize.
Really – there was a booth like that on the Midway. Who wants to pay for a guarantee to win a prize – isn’t that called shopping? I want to pay for a guarantee for a greasy slice of pizza, or a chance to squirt water at a licensed character, to perhaps win another licensed character? This is a place where the highway patrol are not out to get you, where there is a room full of paintings made out of corn kernels, where you can get free cups of Ocean Spray crantastic drinkables, just because you showed up.
You are special and important there. Everyone is. Together, we can change a fenced in bit of the world, one bargain coupon at a time.
OK, enough of that. Now for the bit where my mind is blown and I’m forced to grow up.
Me: I really need to go on another ride. I have too many tickets burning holes in my backpack.
Tokie: Hey, um, we need to talk for a bit. Seriously. Let’s sit over there.
Me: You’re torturing me, making me sit right in front of a booth where you can spend your tickets on many chances to lose!
Tokie: Seriously. I’ll just come out and say it. Do you want to kill yourself?
Me: Huh the fuck? Come on, there will always be more tickets.
Tokie: I read your blog from St. Cloud. You mentioned suicide a few times, like it was a joke. Do you want to know why?
Me: It’s nothing…. it’s just that sometimes, after Mom left, I get these flashes of dread and doom. It’s like I want to jump in front of the nearest car, but I so totally don’t want to. Really, don’t worry about it.
Tokie: Listen to me. It’s going to get worse. It always gets worse, thanks to Cathy.
Me: What do you mean? I don’t like where you’re headed with this.
Tokie: Your mother has been controlling you all of your lives. She took you away from the Collective so she could fully manage your life. So she could stop you from becoming who, and what you really are.
Me: At this point, I don’t give a fuck anymore. She’s gone, and I can finally think and act for myself. Everything is great.
Tokie: She’s not gone. She may not be here, but she’s shaped your mind so that you won’t be able to survive without her. Listen. She’s left a booby trap in your brain. If anything happens to her, or if she leaves, then….. if she can’t have you, then no one will, you know?
Me: I don’t fucking know at all! Stop playing with me and print it out in a huge font or something!
Tokie: Fine. We didn’t want to do this, but we have no other choice. Come on, follow me.
Me: Are you finally going to stop talking shit and let me spend my tickets?
Tokie: Yes. Go over there, and pick a ride for us to go on. The screamier, the better.
So I picked the Skyflyer. You get in these molded, yellow plastic seats, two of them to each bench. The benches are on metal wires, and then you spin around a central axis, before going up in the sky with the other riders like a moving pinwheel. Tokie and I got strapped in, and then we took off, slowly at first.
Tokie: Don’t ask me how, but we’re going to restore your memories of all 237 Variants.
Tokie: You’re going to scream. I’m sorry, it can’t be avoided. Just know that I’m here, and I’m not going to let you go.
Me: Of course I’m going to scream – it’s the Skyflyer! Everyone fucking….
Then, as we spun faster, waves and waves of self-mutilation hit me in the chest. Jumping off the Steel Bridge in Portland. In front of Max trains. Knives, a gun stolen from a cop, drowning in the Willamette River with a Fred Meyer plastic bag over my head.
Over 150 times. Sometimes it was an obvious suicide, and other times it was like I wished that car to hit me, or for the night janitor in that mental hospital to molest and suffocate me.
Everyone fucking screams when they die over, and over, and over, and even when I made it to my 16th birthday, I found some way to fuck things up, to….
I’m screaming because I don’t understand this. I’m screaming because I have something inside of me, a power that can destroy everything if I wanted to, or if I didn’t want to.
I’m screaming because I’m connected to everything. Even if I don’t fully feel it yet, I can remember every time that black flame awoke, when I burned everyone and everything around me. Everyone and everything I couldn’t even imagine, gone.
I’m screaming because I’m the end of the world, and my mother keeps trying to stop me. She’d rather I kill myself than go fully out of control.
I’m screaming because I was on the Skyflyer, but even after it spun to a halt, for a full minute afterwards, I was screaming at the top of my lungs, screaming at the sky, at the space beyond sky, at the power beyond the space – my birthright that I wanted no fucking part of.
Tokie held me close, until Gabby and fake Dad appeared out of nowhere, pushed back the crowds with their minds, and carefully escorted me away from it all.
I don’t remember the bus ride black to Bloomington. I can’t look at the world as it is, without feeling these little, tiny loops just waiting for my hook.
I’m so afraid that I’ll think the wrong thought, and make the moon disappear forever.
I’m so afraid that I’ll find another way to push Tokie away, that I’ll forget our long ago love that she never wakes up from.
I’m so afraid that in a month it will be October. Helena the Grand Supreme is coming for me in October, but no one knows when.
I don’t know how, but someone my Dad managed to talk me down, with his smooth plastic fingers hiding his broken yet loving spirit.
For a whole hour, he just sat next to me on the hotel bed, with way too many fancy pillows all over the place. He told me stories of his reckless youth, the kind that parents never share, for fear that you might follow in their mistakes.
He was honest, and he knew what it was like to be suddenly wrapped up in big, crazy stuff beyond your control. Sasha and the Collective did it to him before I was born, and they did it to me as well.
I felt good enough that Gabby and him went back to their own room, and Tokie is keeping me company while I finish up this entry.
I know that no one will read this but the Collective, trying to tell just how soon before it all goes to hell.
I can’t blame them one bit, but the answer can’t be written down or analyzed.
It’s right here in my head filled with lifetimes of memories. It’s right here in my heart that yearns for Tokie’s touch, back in Portland in the bathroom, a feeling I can never experience ever again.
She doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to find a way. Where she doesn’t die, where no one has to die, where I can meet the darkness shining brightly.
But first, I need to get some sleep – I still have a few tickets left to spend tomorrow.