The love child of Ahriman and Lucifer flew to Germany yesterday, in the form of Number 8 – Susanna the destroyer of Hierarchies.
I met her at the Flughafen München – after passing customs, she immediately walked over to me, rolling a huge red suitcase behind her.
I could tell it was her since the whole world stepped aside to let her pass – she cut through lobby like a cheetah stalking in the grass. The girl at the RieseBank kiosk quickly closed the window, and an old man at the Edeka dropped a plastic Simalco Cola liter bottle.
She had a few days worth of stubble on her shaved head, and her black dress was Prairie Victorian meets Wal-Mart – elaborately tailored yet ultimately disposable. By the time she reached me, she pulled out a long, black, curly wig from her bag, put it on and straightened it out with one hand, using the other to wave to me with a slapping motion.
“Take me home,” she ordered, walking away from her bag so I had to roll it. That was the sum total of our conversation for the next hour, from the S-Bahn station to Münchner Freiheit.
I couldn’t help but steal long glances at her, as the other train passengers came and went. She’s like a Daguerreotype coming to life in your nightmares, a comely night hag pressing against your chest long distance. She owned the very subatomic particles that others merely borrowed – she ate her vegan soy jerky snacks with burning, existential certainty.
S8 to Marienplatz to Münchner Freiheit, and when we exited into the neon blue pillars and mirrored ceiling, she started to laugh confidently, like a CEO testing jokes she had made in Chinese sweatshops. “The Nameless is everwhere!” I didn’t get it, but I did get her bag as we went up the escalators.
A ten minute walk to my flat, and the first thing she did when stepping inside was to take off her wig, and dress, and throw them to the floor where she stood. Underneath, she was wearing an iridescent A-Shirt and panties, and her skin was pale and freckled. You couldn’t tell if she was 20 or 40 – she had a timeless, aching beauty. “I need tap water with salt,” she called to me like at a restaurant. “Where’s your bed? I’m taking a nap – put the water in a plastic bottle by the door.” Walked into my private space, and closed it.
I could immediately understand why Phone was so obsessed with her, even since he was a teenager. Susanna is elemental, a blade that cuts through this existence. When she sang for Masking Tape or Dust Lag, she made stars collide, and when she’s online, all packets follow her pulse.
I’m not being hyberbolic – she’s the prototypical Pure Land Antenna, bursting through even the First Hierarchy to taunt Godhood. In her absolute indifference, the Structure groans and begs for mercy. She gives no quarter.
While she napped or prayed or tweaked reality behind closed doors, I put her bag in the center of the living room, prepared her water, and then started to plan my escape. A meeting with Number 8, Ai’s flaming sword, always ends with complete acquiescence, or death.
I wanted neither. I was happy to play the archivist and spiritual adviser role for the past few variants, after Ai recruited me to provide more perspective at Point Zero. I’ve never been etched, don’t want to take sides, and above all hate to see the winged horse stagger under the weight of gluttonous victors.
Ai is so sweet, like being impaled on a spike of sugar. She doesn’t realize the acidity of her own praise.
I didn’t really understand this until Susanna came out of my room, took a swig of water, and then waved me to the couch.
“Ai requests that you will be etched immediately.” She pointed at her suitcase. “The apparatus is already attuned to you. If you comply, we begin tomorrow night.”
“I don’t have time for this. If I don’t comply?”
“You will be removed from the council at Point Zero. Someone else will be appointed to your role.” She smiled at me, like a cat welcoming mice. “Out of everyone, Ai is certain that you are the final key to the Solution, but only if you fully join the Collective.”
“If I comply?”
“I will give you Phone’s remains and possessions. We will spend 72 hours etching you. Then, I will personally train you for the next few weeks. Ai will give you your first and final mission.”
“How long do I have to decide?”
“The decision has already been made. You will now leave, and go to a hotel tonight. I have already written down the address and confirmation code.” She stood up, and pointed at the door.
“Leave immediately, while I make preparations. Return at 11PM tomorrow, and we will begin.”
I stared at her, and when her brow furrowed, I quickly grabbed my coat, the code, and my bag, and left.
I had just been thrown out of my own life. If I dared return, I would be plugging my Etheric self into a socket permanently, the better to grasp at the ankles of the sky.
I’ve lived the past day like it was my last. Long meals at my favorite restaurants, Cinema OV on Nymphenberger Straße, walking along the Isar, getting lost in the Deutsches Museum.
Now I’m back at the hotel, and the TV is unplugged. I have an hour to left before my fate is decided, before I step into borrowed shoes and learn how to tie them.
I can’t believe they would hold Phone hostage like this, dangling his final wishes like there were catnip.
Should I take yet another shower? Should I open the window wide and jump?
The water, and the wind, don’t share their deliberations.