Tuesday, May 31, 2011

16: My Brother, the Horse

Recap: Thoki was just menaced by his half-brother, Fenrir, in an ambush. Thoki narrowly escaped when his youngest half-brother Slepnir appeared and flew him to safetey. They were unabe to rescue Lor, however, who was tied up in unbreakable ropes and left for the police.

Slepnir, alighted gracefully atop the roof of a nearby apartment complex. Thoki scrambled off his back and turned to look at his estranged half-brother. After a moment’s awkward silence, Thoki dove forward and embraced him. Slepnir returned the gesture by nickering and chewing on Thoki’s hair.

Slepnir was another parasitic shoot on Loki’s warped family tree. The eight-legged horse’s origin had its roots in a bizarre bout of circumstances that could ONLY happen to omnipotent deities. In summary, Loki’s gift at shape-shifting resulted in his becoming Slepnir’s mother. Loki was thoroughly ashamed of his foal and Slepnir was immediately pawned off on Odin. One of the few times Loki had ever spoken to Thoki like a son was when he was forbidden to go anywhere near Odin’s stables.

Thoki was afraid of horses and shyed away from them as a rule, but this outright ban on the stables made them all the more attractive to young Thoki. Filling his pocket with carrots, he ran down to the stables at night to find Hermod the stable-master fussing over a thin fuzzy thing that seemed to be made of knees. It freaked Thoki out, thinking that it resembled more of a spider than a horse, but the forlorn look on the foal’s face was unmistakable as was the quiet resignation on Hermod’s broad face.

“It won’t eat,” he said gruffly. “I’ve seen it before. The poor thing is heartbroken.”

“I think I would be too if I suddenly found out my mom was a red-headed son of a bitch who said ‘let’s dialogue about that’ all the time,” said Thoki.

Hermod said nothing, but his mouth twitched a little. “We can’t help our family connections,” he said.

 “Is he going to die?” Thoki asked. It seemed to Hermod, that the inquiry was less out of concern than out of academic curiosity.

“He may. You want to try?” asked the stablehand, shoving the bucket of mash into Thoki’s hands. He gave Thoki a look that said, “surprise me,” and then walked out of the stable.

Thoki sniffed at the bucket and wrinkled his nose. “No wonder you’re starving. Look what they’re feeding you,” he said, dropping the bucket. He pulled out the carrots from his pocket and offered them to the horse. The horse sniffed the vegetables and then nibbled them experimentally. He seemed to like them but was having trouble chewing through the tough orange flesh. Thoki thought about this, and then grabbing a carrot and chewing it thoroughly, spat the whole thing into the mash bucket. He offered the premasticated carrot and mash to the foal, who gobbled it up appreciatively. Thoki finished up with the rest of the carrots, spitting the chewed-up chunks into the pan.

“I know this is gross, but this is how they invented mead, so I guess it’s okay,” said Thoki through crunches.  “So you’re another one of Loki’s mistakes, huh?” he mused.

The horse looked up at him with large dark eyes. It didn’t speak — it wasn’t designed for speech —but it had very expressive eyes that seemed to say, “you too, huh?”

“Yeah,” sighed Thoki. “Me too.”  The horse extended a mash-covered nose and nuzzled Thoki’s face.

“Hey! Stop it!” laughed Thoki, trying to keep foal away.

Since that day, they were true brothers. They were never thrown together much. When Slepnir grew from a colt to a Stallion, Odin lent him to any Aesir that needed him and Thoki was never included in that circle.

 In fact, up to now, on this wild night in Cairo, Thoki had never ridden him.

Thoki clutched his dislocated arm, hissing with the pain and looked over the rooftops, trying to discern what was happening in the park. It was no good;  he and Slepnir had flown too far away to see what was happening to Lor. All they could see was the distant wink of police lights.

“We have to go back for Lor!” he shouted , spinning around to look at the horse.

Slepnir’s ears swiveled back and his eyes grew wide.

“No, I’m sure Fenrir took off,” said Thoki.

Slepnir bared his teeth.

“I’m pretty sure,” admitted Thoki.

The horse trotted in a tight circle for a moment, then came back and nuzzled Thoki’s bad arm.

“I know I’m hurt! But I can’t leave him alone! He’s bailed me out so many times… I just can’t leave him.”

Slepnir cocked his head and nickered.

“What do you mean, that doesn’t sound like me?” asked Thoki in annoyance. “What did you’d think I say?”

The horse fell on the ground, rolled onto his back, and put all eight legs up in the air, like a cartoon corpse.

“Oh, ‘ha-ha.’ Very funny,” grumbled Thoki as Slepnir rose again and shook the dust off his dove-grey hide. He then nuzzled Thoki’s face again.

“Of course, I’m happy to see you,” said Thoki quietly. He accidentally bumped his left arm and bit back a wave of nausea. “You’re the number one person I’d have wished to see again.”

Slepnir gave him a penetrating look.

“Okay, maybe you’re the second person,” he said with a wry grin. The horse shook his head in exasperation. “Of course, a DOCTOR would be pretty high on the list right now,” Thoki added, looking mournfully at his useless arm.

Slepnir seemed to consider this. He then turned 180°and backed up to a yard’s distance from Thoki.

“What’re you doing?” asked Thoki warily.

Slepnir didn’t answer but hopped onto his forelegs before his third hind leg kicked Thoki’s elbow upward. There was a sucking sound and a sickening squelch while Thoki’s scream bounced off the rooftops. He was holding his shoulder, which felt like it had been dipped in red-hot lava, and his elbow

“WHAT THE HELL?” he screamed at the horse.

Slepnir screamed at him.

“Are you a trained medical specialist? I don’t think so!” countered Thoki.

Slepnir reared just a little to look menacing.

“Yeah, it’s in, but what about nerve damage? What about this gigantic bruise on my elbow? You could have shattered it, you eightlegged can of dogfood!” Thoki flexed the fingers on his left hand and tried to swallow the vomit rising in his throat.

Slepnir, champed but looked contrite. He cocked his head to the side again.

“NO, I don’t want you to reset my nose! Are you insane?” Thoki shouted, covering his face protectively.

Slepnir shook his head.

SURE you weren’t gonna kick it. If it’s all the same to you I like it broken,” Thoki said.  “Now what are we going to do with Lor!”


“Yeah, I suppose he’s safer in jail than he is with Fenrir. Thank God we’re not in Turkey or France. But I still can’t leave him there! …He needs me,” Thoki said as realization stole over him. I think I need him too, he thought.

Slepnir cozied up to Thoki, who finally accepted that the horse wouldn’t try any more first aid and patted his neck. Slepnir sprayed him with a tiny shower of horse-snot, but Thoki’d endured worse today.

“I know he’s a giant, but hey we’re half giant,” said Thoki. “We can’t help how we’re made.”

Slepnir cropped off some of Thoki’s hair and chewed it thoughtfully. Just as Thoki began to feel something in his left arm other than searing horrendous pain, Slepnir jumped up and ran in a circle. “You know someone? Who?” asked Thoki.

Slepnir bowed, so his short brother could clamber onto his back again.

“What do you mean, we’ll see?” asked Thoki in annoyance. But only had his rear-end nipped due to Slepnir’s impatience. “Seriously, WHO? I don’t do surprises, Slep.”
The horse shifted under Thoki until his weight settled comfortably. Then with a piercing whinny and a stomach-churning lurch Slepnir launched himself into the air again.

“Thank GOD I don’t have to roll down any windows to be sick out of,” said Thoki through white lips. 

1 comment:

Larry Kollar said...

At last, they have an ally! I can imagine Lor's rescue is going to be both messy and hilarious…

And Thoki was SO CLOSE to his goal.