Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Ratatosk scurried up the gnarled back as fast as his sharp claws would take him. Occasionally he’d pause and cock his head as if thinking, “Did I drop off the rent cheque.” Being a squirrel, however, rent cheques weren’t a concern and thus decided, he’d break into a run again, until he was simply a blur of red fur on the world tree, Ygdrassil. He was going to insult Eagle today. That was his job. There was a constant war between the eagle roosting in the top branches of Ygdrassil, and the dragon eating the roots at the bottom. The two had never met, and each would probably have ignored the other if not for Ratatosk. It was his job to run insults from one to the other. It had been fun at first, but the eagle and the dragon were sadly unimaginative when it came to hurling slurs. After nearly 3,000 years, it was getting old.
Currently they were stuck on “stupid head.” Ratatosk was about to deliver (for the 6,782,411th time) the message, “no YOU’RE a stupid head” from the dragon.
On his various trips he saw things; things on Earth and things above and beneath it. And for Ratatosk, seeing was saying. It was impossible for him to think anything without saying it aloud. He’d scramble over root and twig uttering a constant babble of chatter. This, supposedly, was the beginning of rumours.
One month ago he’d seen something interesting, and had run on his trip downward muttering,
“Well, well, welly, well! Loki’s third son is on earth now! He broke out of Hel ages ago and has finally made it to Earth. He’s looking for The Chaos! I wonder what that will mean. I wonder if he knows what it would mean. “
A large clawed hand had snatched him off the bark and brought his twitching nose up to a hair face.
“What was that about my brother,” growled Fenrir.
Now, a month later, Ratatosk saw something else that made him chatter incessantly to himself.
“Loki’s fourth son is coming to Earth! Well well well!”
Ratatosk is one of the reasons why humans only just tolerate squirrels.
“Are we ready?” asked Lor.
“Soon,” sighed Thoki. He hated this.
He’d been pondering plots and plans all afternoon. Getting to the Obelisk would be tricky a second time, and this time Hermes and Goodfellow would be waiting for him (possibly with back up). Everything had jumped into his mind from disguises to distractions, to a zip-line suspended from minarets, but they all fizzled. Sadly “Lor running up and hitting people” was the strongest plan and the others didn’t even come close.
Thus resolved, they decided to wait for the cover of night. People might be assholes, or the gods might be invisible, but jailtime sucked and witnesses weren’t wanted. Besides, he liked the night. Night was cooler, quieter, more intimate. It also didn’t make his face a livid lobster red (like it currently was). A break from UV bombardment would be nice too.
He’d stolen a new set of clothes (before his current outfit disintegrated entirely). They were a pair of new black jeans, and a white cotton tunic shirt. It was a cheesy souvenir “dress like a native” shirt, but Thoki felt comfortable with it. The style and the length felt like home, even if it smelled of baked air and SPF 50 (another “investment” of his). A leather belt in the middle and a new pair of shoes and he suddenly felt like a million dollars. All that was left as the sun sank was to keep the butterflies in his stomach down.
He started humming under his breath to keep his nerves under control. Most people would hum a classic tune like “Ride of the Valkyries.” Thoki didn’t see the point of that one. For one thing, Valkyries had simpler tastes in music, Wagner being seen by them as a blow-hard. Thoki’s mother, Sigunn had been a close friend of the Valkyrie Olrun and he knew for a FACT that the large woman’s favorite song was “Hey Mickey” by Toni Basil.
That was something that worried Thoki. The Valkyries were singing “Hey, Mickey you’re so fine. You’re so fine you blow my mind,” thousands of years before Toni Basil was even a zygote. The gods were playing baseball before America was colonized by white man. How was it that time seemed to bubble like that in the immortal plane? It was as if the gods existed for eons, while at the same time existing in the present and centuries into the future at the same time. Odin had only looked about fifty years old, while at the same time, he had been fifty for eternity, BUT (and this was the part that made his head ache) at the same time he’d lived for centuries for only fifty years.
Thoki shook his head to relieve the buzzing sensation of time-space theory trying to wrap itself around his brain.
Eventually he decided to hum something more his style under his breath:
“No more, Mr. Nice Guy… No more Mr. Cleeeeeean…”
“We ready now, Thoki?” asked Lor.
Thoki checked the window of the abandoned flat they were squatting in, the sun was now a thin line of pink icing on the cityscape and the white moon graced the sky like a careless watermark.
“Yeah, let’s go,” sighed Thoki, his bravado deflating.
He didn’t know why he thought the Obelisk would be unguarded. It wasn’t a real thought with any sense behind it. It would have been down-right stupid to expect it, but never-the-less upon seeing the two figures on the steps to the landmark, Thoki moaned.
“I’ll take care of it,” said Lor comfortingly. Without another word, he wrapped a meaty hand around Thoki’s torso and lifted the little man bodily off of the ground. Thoki winced at the tight grip but let Lor place him carefully on the giant’s meaty shoulders. He shifted his legs so that they dangled on each side Lor’s neck and got a grip on the ginger curls that rose chest high on him.
“All buckled up?” asked Lor.
“Yep,” answered Thoki in a thin voice.
The walked past the ornamental trees to the large pavement square, where the Obelisk loomed darkly in the night sky. Two figures stood in the moonlight. Hermes and Goodfellow were sitting on the dais steps as calmly as if they were waiting for a ride. It appeared there was no one else waiting with them.
This made Thoki insanely worried.
Lor had wiped the floor with those two tricksters without even breaking a sweat. Did Hermes and Goodfellow honestly think they could best the giant after that first encounter … or did they have something up their sleeves?
Thoki’s palm connected with his forehead. “Of course they’ve got something up their sleeves. They’re tricksters. It’s like asking if a novelist has a liquor cabinet,” he muttered.
Lor lumbered close enough to see the starshine in the tricksters’ eyes and Thoki decided to break the silence.
“Ill met by moonlight, jackasses,” he pronounced.
Robin Goodfellow shot him a dirty look.
“Thoki we need you to drop this stupid obsession of yours,” said Hermes.
“Nothing doing!” spat Thoki.
“I thought as much,” sighed Hermes. Thoki noticed the Greek’s hands were resolutely behind his back. Did he have a gun? “You give us no choice then,” sighed Hermes.
“Ah, hell. Lor, crush his head,” said Thoki.
“Okay,” said Lor reaching forward.
That was when Hermes’ hand whipped out from behind his back. Thoki flinched and even Lor stopped in his tracks. Both awaited the blinding pain of bullets ripping through their skin… but it never came. Looking up, Thoki saw that instead of something shiny, metal and lethal, Hermes instead was holding something very different.
For one thing, it was fuzzy. Squinting in the dim light, Thoki made out something pale and fluffy and with two winking glass eyes.
“Is that a toy pig?” asked Thoki, nonplussed.
“Yes,” said Hermes in a musical voice, directed at Lor. “Do you like the pig?”
“Yes,” said Lor.
Thoki craned his neck to the side to catch Lor’s reaction. To his horror, the giant’s currant eyes were wide and shining. They were fixed squarely on the pig in an expression of rapt enchantment.
“Oh crap,” choked Thoki.
“What do you think his name is?” Hermes asked Lor in the same jolly musical voice of a Kindergarten teacher.
“Mr. Babbington?” asked Lor.
There was only a slight pause as Hermes’ brain restarted. He’d obviously been anticipating an answer like Hammy or Sir Oinks-a-lot. “Yes, that’s right!” he answered. Hermes squeezed the pig’s tummy and it emitted a few darling squeaks.
“What’s that Mr. Babbington?” he asked the toy in dead earnest. He pretended to listen as more squeaks echoed off the concrete and were swallowed by the night.
“What’s he saying?” asked Lor in awe.
“He says he likes you, Lor! He says he wants to go home with you!”
Lor let loose a whimper of impatience. “Can I hold him?” asked Lor with longing, his sausage fingers inching shyly towards the pig.
Hermes deftly stepped out of his reach. “Mr. Babbington would like that very much, but he needs you to do something first.”
“What’s that?” asked Lor hungrily. Thoki’s stomach turned to ice.
“He needs you to put your friend, Thoki down,” said Hermes.