Tuesday, June 28, 2011

19: Fetch

“I got him,” said Thoki jogging up to Slepnir.  Lor was standing silently behind Thoki. It was hard to tell if he was lost in thought or just lost.

Slepnir shied away from the giant, snorting.

“Of course I don’t expect you to carry him,” said Thoki. He tried to sound reassuring, but really Thoki was disappointed. He had thought that maybe Slepnir had some sort of super-strength that would have solved this problem. Looking at the horse again, however, Thoki realized that there was no way that Lor would even have fit on Slepnir’s back.

“We can just… um… fly… on… er… broomsticks,” he finished lamely.

“Like Harry Potter,” gasped Lor.

Thoki sighed at Lor’s failure to grasp sarcasm.

“Damn it. Looks like we’re walking,” muttered Thoki.  

A bone-splintering howl penetrated the eerie silence and his head shot up in alarm. There was a loud blast and a blistering wind as something exploded and burst into flames knocking Thoki to the pavement.

Standing silhouetted against the light of a burning car was Fenrir.

“…or running. Running is good,” said Thoki, scrambling to get his feet under him.

“I gotcha now, runt!” roared Fenrir.

Slepnir screamed and reared; the whites of his eyes shone in the flames. In one fluid movement, Lor scooped Thoki up and tossed him onto the horse. As soon as his backside hit Slepnir’s flanks the horse’s eight legs became a blur. Thoki looked around to see Lor standing stalk-still against the billowing clouds of illuminated smoke.

“Lor! C’mon!” he shouted.

“I’ll hold him off!” Lor shouted back.

“NO, you moron! I came back to GET you!” Thoki screamed over his shoulder, but Slepnir had gone too far away.  Thoki grunted in frustration before grabbing Slepir’s mane and trying to make him turn 180°. Three of Slepnir’s legs followed suit but the other five wanted to keep going forwards. Thoki hit the pavement, jarring his injured arm and knocking his head on the concrete.

 Slepnir untangled himself and, ears flat against his head, he screamed at Thoki.

“We have to go back!” said Thoki from the ground.

Slepnir pawed the ground menacingly.

“I mean it! Every time Lor and I split up, everything goes wrong! We’re going back!”

The horse snorted and tossed his head.

“Look, you can of dog-meat! I know I can’t fight Fenrir, but I can’t leave Lor to face him alone.”

Slepnir’s head lowered. He looked ready to charge.

“Go ahead! I don’t care! Don’t you get it? I don’t care what anyone does to me anymore! I’ve already been tortured, humiliated and killed. There’s NOTHING anyone can throw at me that will make any difference now.”

Slepnir stepped back a little, his head cocked to the side.

“I dunno about that. Maybe I just don’t know when I’m beat. But I’m not afraid of Fenrir anymore. The worst he can do is kill me… and I’ve been there already.”

 Slepnir shifted between looking forward and looking back, torn in indecision.

“Do what you got to do,” said Thoki.

 Slepnir gave Thoki a sheepish stare before galloping away at full clip.

 “Can’t say I blame you,” sighed Thoki as he picked himself off the ground and started loping back towards Lor. A sudden idea came to him and he changed course towards the police station’s back door.

 “Fenrir might be able to tie me into a pretzel knot… but he’s dumber than a sack of hammers,” Thoki muttered to himself with a thin grin. His heart wasn’t in it. For all his bravado about not being afraid of Fenrir, Thoki knew something he hadn’t told Slepnir — it was all bullshit.

When he came out of the station again, he saw them — two titans locked in mortal combat. Fenrir had let his wolf-side take over and was now biting and clawing at the Jotun in a frenzied fury. Lor’s arms were straining against the wolf’s power, sinews standing out like writhing snakes. Sweat glistened off his ruddy face in the orange light as he withstood Fenrir’s onslaught of blows. He didn’t give one inch of ground, he didn’t cry out, and he didn’t budge, but he wasn’t fighting back either. To do that would have given Fenrir a chance to claw at his stomach or throat, which would have finished him.

He was losing.

Thoki realized it instantly and knew he had only a second to act. He clutched the item he’d fetched from the police station in his sweaty hand.

“HEY, STUPID!” shouted Thoki.

Both Lor and Fenrir stopped fighting for a fraction of a second to look at him, and with an inward groan, Thoki realized that he should have probably been more specific.

 “FENRIR!” he shouted and the wolf’s head grinned at him.

 “Rrrrunt!” he growled through canine incisors. Fenrir couldn’t talk very well in this form. “I’m frough playin’ wif dis Gian’,” he spat. His jaws snapped closed around Lor’s head and with a violent shake, let him sink to the ground. Thoki froze, suddenly unsure of his plan.

“NOW ITF YUR TURN!” he shouted crouching to get a powerful start to his charge at Thoki.

Thoki gulped and held the item aloft as high as he dared.

Fenrir paused ever so slightly.

Thoki squeezed it.

It went, “SQUEAK.”

Fenrir skidded to a halt, starring at the fluffy pink, slightly bedraggled Mr. Babbington in Thoki’s hand.

“You want the toy?” asked Thoki in a bright excited voice.

Fenrir gave an excited whine, while hanging back a little, as if to say, “I would not be averse to having this toy, yes.” His tail betrayed him as it thumped the sidewalk causing large cracks to spread through the concrete.

“You want the toy?” Thoki asked again, waving the pig invitingly.

 Fenrir whined again and lifted a forepaw. The concrete under his wagging tail now had a crater the size of a punch bowl.
“Who’s a good wolf?” said Thoki squeezing the pig again.

 A large pink tongue, like a giant hagfish, lolled out of Fenrir’s mouth as he rolled on his back in a show of good will.

“You want it!”

 “Yeah!” shouted Fenrir.

“You want it?”


 “GO GET IT!!!”  shouted Thoki, and reaching his arm as far back as it would go, threw as hard as he could.

Thoki’s stomach sank as Fenrir launched himself in the air and caught the pig in mid-arc. To his surprise, however, Fenrir trotted back to Thoki and dropped the very wet pig in his hand. He bounced in anticipation.

“AGAIN!” barked Fenrir.

“Kay,” said Thoki wishing he could throw harder. Another idea struck him and he reached his arm back for a second time.

“GO GET IT, FEN!” he shouted. Fenrir followed the projected arc and took off, his claws sending chunks of cement flying as he sped away.

As soon as he was out of sight, Thoki ran to Lor’s side. It didn’t look good. Lor’s face was covered in blood and his breathing was shallow and labored.

“You okay, buddy?” asked Thoki, more out of blind optimism than any real hope.

“I been better,” Lor managed weakly.

“Shit. We have to get out of here before Fenrir gets back. Can you walk?”

“No,” said Lor. Thoki briefly reflected that Lor was the type to say, “I’ll try” or “I can manage.” The fact that he cut through niceties to the bald truth scared him.

Just as Thoki was about to dissolve into hysterics at his hopeless situation, he felt a tug at his sleeve.  He turned in time to get a wet, snotty nuzzle from Slepnir.

“Came back, did you?” he asked sourly.  

Slepnir implied nothing, as he leaned down to let Lor grab his mane. In a few painful movements, they managed to drape Lor over Slepnir’s back and were now making awkward progress down the pavement. They moved as quickly as they dared and their impeded speed drove Thoki nearly insane as he expected any minute for Fenrir to come barreling at them, teeth bared.

“Fenrir gon’ com’ back?” mumbled Lor.

“I hope not.”

“S’been a while. Did you throw farther then?” asked Lor.

Thoki reached behind him and pulled out the plush pig that had been crammed into his belt.

“The only lesson my Dad ever taught me: If you can’t win, don’t play.”

After what seemed like hours (but was in fact 24 minutes), they arrived back at the flat they’d been squatting in. Lor dropped onto the couch that was moldering against the wall. Thoki looked around for something to clean his wounds with. Slepnir stood out of the way began eating a rattan basket.

Lor was already looking better, his Jotun blood made him damn-near impossible to kill, much to Thoki’s relief. It was just as well since there was nothing to treat wounds with around the flat but filthy carpet and a toxic-looking bottle of ancient furniture polish

“Goin’ take a nap for a while,” mumbled Lor.

“That’s fine. Go ahead,” said Thoki with a sigh.

“Sorry everythin’s gone wron’.”

“It… it’s okay. I’m beginning to think this Isfat thing isn’t worth the trouble,” said Thoki with a catch in his voice.  “I just wish… I wish I could have gotten a look at that obelisk.”

As Thoki angrily wiped away an escaped tear he felt warm breath snuffle on his neck. He looked up to see Slepnir with something in his mouth.

“Whatcha got there?” he asked his brother, taking the scrap of paper from him. It was a damp postcard. The address and text blocks were blank, indicating it’d never been used, but turning it over, Thoki stopped dead. On the picture side was a crisp clear photograph of a phallic tower hewn from ancient red sandstone.

“It’s a postcard of the obelisk?” Thoki gasped, laughing in hysterics. “I-I-I can read it! It’s right here!” he stammered. “But it’s just one side of it.”

Six more cards fluttered down from Slepnir’s mouth. They showed the Tower at various other angles and light.

“You did it!” shouted Thoki. He jumped to his feet in feverish excitement and hugged Slepnir’s neck. “YOU DID IT!! You are the BEST freaking brother EVER!!”
Slepnir nuzzled his cheek happily.
“Where the hell were you keeping those?” Thoki asked in amazement.


Becky Wilson aka Valkyrie1008 said...

BLINKING BRILLIANT! Shows even giant monster wolves are puppies inside hehehe.

Larry Kollar said...

Way to go Thoki!