Tuesday, June 7, 2011
17: The Book of Lor
Recap: Lor was tricked by Hermes and bound by Gleipnir, the unbreakable cord that once held Fenrir. He is now in the hands of the Egyptian authorities. Thoki, in the meantime has been reunited with his half-brother Slepnir (an 8-legged horse). Slepnir and Thoki are plotting (through various pantomimes and hand gestures) a rescue attempt.
Officer Daud Latchkara was worried. He got the distinct feeling that something weird was going on. First of all, the guy in the holding cell was seven and a half feet tall, and well over 400 lbs. His partner, Hicham, thought the man was probably American. They had a lot of fat people, right? But the red-bearded giant wasn’t fat, he was just HUGE, and the few phrases he spoke were in perfect Arabic. Granted, it wasn’t a Cairo accent. Daud would have been hard-pressed to put a country or region to that accent, but there was no stutter and no mistakes. It was slow and deliberate, but it seemed that everything this giant did was slow and deliberate.
Daud was more worried about the man’s bonds. He and Hicham had tried every implement in the station; scissors, nail cutters, box cutters, and a pair of gardening shears from the janitor’s closet. All were lying in a sad broken pile on his desk. Whatever was tying this poor bastard up, it was unlike anything he’d ever seen. In sad defeat, they helped the Giant hop to one of the cell beds where he lay without moving. His little black eyes blinked reflectively, but he did little else.
Despite the man’s terrifying stature, Daud felt nothing but empathy for him. This moron was obviously the victim of some targeted crime — maybe because he looked so odd.
Daud clanged his tray on the cell bars to announce his presence.
“I’ve brought you some food,” he said.
“Thank you,” said the man.
Daud was momentarily stymied by the fact that the man’s hands couldn’t even take the tray. “Looks like I’m going to have to feed you then,” he sighed. With a few groans, he sat on the hard floor and ripped off a piece of the pita.
“I would appreciate it,” said the Giant meekly. His stomach answered with a rumble that Daud could feel through the floor.
“So what’s your name?”
“Ah, you’re from Scandinavia then? Or are you German?” asked Daud, giving Lor some of the lentil stew on a piece of pita.
“The first one,” said Lor, after swallowing.
“Sweden?” guessed Daud.
“I don’t know. It was first a lot of countries, and then one big country and now it’s four or five. It’s hard to tell. Anyway, I never saw much of the land part anyway.”
“Did you live on a boat?” asked Daud, confused as he gave Lor some of the cheese.
“No, I lived in another world apart from this one. It was made of ice and snow… and more ice,” said Lor.
Daud paused, his hand hovering in the air. Some of the lentils fell off the soggy bread and landed on his pants cuff.
“I came from Jotunheim, land of the Frost Jotun. Every day we waged war on humans and the gods and when they weren’t around to fight, we fought each other.”
Daud tried to fight against the impulse to jump to his feet and run away. Clearly Lor was insane. Daud tried to regain his calm, reminding himself that the man was tied up and couldn’t do anything to him.
“There a lot of you Jotun?” asked Daud. Maybe this was a gang he was part of… or a cult.
“No. I’m the only one left,” said Lor.
“Oh,” said Daud, sighing in relief as he held up the glass of water with a drinking straw. At least there weren’t a throng of large red-headed men walking around Cairo.
“So why are you the only one left?” asked Daud.
“When the Frost and Fire Giants descended on Asgard we were picked off by the Aesir, who were like nothing we had ever seen. I tried, but I was outmatched almost at the beginning. I had relied too much on my strength… and didn’t expect to fight a woman.”
“Skadii, goddess of mountains and skiing. She was practically Jotun, a true child of snow and ice… and I was not prepared.”
“Did you fall in love with her?” asked Daud, checking his watch. Where the HELL was the second shift?
“No,” said Lor, to Daud’s surprise.
“But I didn’t want to fight her. I didn’t want to stamp out that light. So I ran away.”
Daud didn’t know how much credence to give to any of this until Lor sighed mournfully. Suddenly there was a chill in that stifling cell. Daud had only seen snow a few times in his life but there was a metallic tang to the air that he recognized as the hairs on his arm rose. It smelled like snow. He lifted up the glass of water to give Lor and then dropped it. It was so cold that it burned his hand.
The glass shattered on the concrete floor but there was no splash of water. Instead there was a cylinder of ice rolling across the floor; a straw was sticking out of it like an antenna. Looking up at Lor, Daud screamed. The Giant was covered in frost and ice, like freezer-burned leftover wrapped in foil. His eyes were still alive and sparkling, but his beard was now frozen into crystalline spikes — or were they? The more Daud looked at Lor the more it seemed that Lor was made OUT of ice. His muscles were becoming smooth facets on pale glittering skin the colour of milk.
Closing his eyes and grunting loudly, Lor made another valiant effort to break his bonds. With a loud cry that shook the police station the taut ribbon snapped and fell rigidly to the floor.
Daud spun around on the slick floor and scrambled out of the cell, slamming the door shut. Skidding to a halt at his desk he lifted up the phone just as the power flickered and died. He waited for the back-up generator to kick in, but nothing seemed to happen. He was trapped in the dark in a freezing cold station with a monster made of ice.
Daud offered any prayer he could think of to Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and Saint Michael to keep him safe. Every second he felt certain that the cell door would go flying across the room like crumpled tin foil and the icy giant would tear through the station... but there was only silence.
Screwing up his courage, Daud grabbed an electric torch and cautiously approached Lor’s cell. The giant was still lying on the cot, head on his arm, staring at the wall. He was free of his bonds, but otherwise nothing seemed to have changed.
As Daud relaxed a little and summoned up the courage to yell for Hicham downstairs, he heard a stifled sob from Lor’s cell.
“I ran away,” Lor whispered.