Written by E.A. Morrissey
by E A Morrissey
For nine days and eight nights have I walked this wretched path, 'twas only a few hours ago did the Hel hound let me pass by. The inquisition was short, blood was on his maw, bones did he chew. His feral yellow eyes hypnotized me, learn all about me he did, his curiosity was peaked?
"What say you good man? Why didst thou take this road of suffering, this road only knows one way, thou canst see why!" At last the wolf finished his pickin's, the marrow was dry, the taste of mans suffering no more, in a nonchalant way the bone was tossed on the heap with the others. "Go no further, for if you do go on and come back from hells gate thou shalt be pickin's for me, didst thou take the wrong road, for the road to Bilskirnir lies a hundred leagues to the west? What say you good man, dost thou have a tongue in thine own head?
"Know not I, Guardian of Hells passage, a compulsion is upon me to see your mistress. Why I took this road I know not, but the compulsion is e'er great and my curiosity is peaked. Before the journey all I remember is dreaming of pleasant things, there I was on this road to Hel. Yea, I did see that junction you talked about, and yea I can confirm the distance of the fork in the road, but I was compelled to take the right fork, the one that took me here. Let me pass to see thine own mistress."
"Thou art very brave, or very stupid good-man, nothing shall hold sway, the way is not barred for the likes of thee, only the way out! Fare yea well good-man, one such as I wish what you deserve? Remember well good-man, if we meet again, I shalt enjoy sucking your marrow, as thou wilt be aware when I do, for the marrow of good-men is the sweetest!
The time passed as I set foot on the bridge that crosses the river Gjroll, Mogud stands in my way, with her hand out waiting for "payment of passage." In my minds eye I see that she is talking to me, somehow I understand what she is saying even though it is an archaic form of my own language!
"Payment, 'tis required! That pendant thou ware around yon neck shalt suffice. "
Instinctively I wrapped Thors hammer, safely within my left hand!
'Twould seem thou wilt not give this up? Well for what its worth, it shall not protect the likes of thee! Well give me a finger then, from thine own left hand, this shalt be payment enow!
In my detached sense of being I pull the 'fourth' of my left hand and pass it to Mogud, with glee she swallows it, relishing the taste of my flesh, she moves aside, allowing passage. I ask her which way after I cross the bridge? All she said was let my feet do the walking, for they know. At this point, I though, are my nails well manicured, what a silly thought to have, until I realized her ship is made from the uncut nails of men who walk this way.
I Walk for what seems like hours, o'er hill and Dale, not unlike the English country side of my youth, my feet knows the way, so I take it all in, e'en the cold? Hmm, the cold, something I have avoided o'er the years, looking for warmer climes for me and mine. Topologically speaking I take it all in, thinking what it is like to live here?
"'Tis not so bad, once you know your lot in life?"
There she was the shroud of death in front of me, her body concealed within a long green cloak, but her face is uncovered. Her long raven black hair gleaming in this desolate place, a face of unimagined beauty with green eyes, so green that it reminded me of the flora in springtime of my youth in England. Something I took for granted, till now!
My thanxs for the kind thoughts, 'good-man.' A soul such as thee pleases me, curious in nature, good at heart, shout of heart, prevailing 'gainst the odds. '
Please correct me if I get your station wrong, mistress of death, guardian of those who die a straw death. The moment passes without incident , so I presume I addressed her correctly. Pray tell Baldur's prisoner, why didst thou seek me out?
"'Tis thine own curiosity that takes you too me, in your life wert thou pragmatic. In your youth didst thou attain the right of self-determination. Dist thou remember those days discussing Theology with your friends, the Franciscan monks. Didst thou remember how they guided you via all the questions you asked? Didst thou remember how you forsook the institution of the church so you could talk to the "Old feller" as you call him, directly! Dist thou remember, all that research you did regarding your faith, the higher up the Theological scale you became, the more agnostic you were? Didst thou remember researching your past, the beliefs of your fore-fathers, sitting on thine own fathers knee, hearing the stories of the past, hearing stories of your hero, Thor, the Thunderer! You took this road long and long ago, whence thou accepted the possibility of other divinities, if thou accepted Thor, thou hast to accept his life and the gods of his life. Look at the stories you wrote, were they not real in your minds eye? Say naught for I know the answer, since thou art here!"
However, my faith remains resolute!
"Does it? I see no proof, thou art here!"
If that is the case why am I not knocking at Satan's door right now.
"He has no need of thee, good-men are banished from his realm, in my realm good-men are accepted based on how they die. Good-men are cherished in my realm, too see them change, too see them strive 'gainst adversity, always loosing in the end, always realizing the failures they are! Whilst thou be the one, the only one too have the faith, the endurance too see things though?
"I have a gift for thee good-man, a challenge of sorts, 'tis time for thee to wake up in the mortal realm. I bestow a gift upon thee, a kiss, just a innocent kiss, art thou man enough for a little kiss? Call it a test of faith if thou wishes.
She moves forward, those green eyes captivate me; I can do nothing but stand there. She puckers her lips, she makes contact, her lips taste of strawberries, a tingle passes from her too me, time stands still for a few brief moments. The kiss gave me ideas of 'what it might be like,' she smiles as I am ejected from her realm.
I am aware of rushing toward my body, soul joining the body once again. I am aware of motion speeding though some plain of metaphysics toward my body. I turn my head left and right, trying to get a snippet of information telling me what this realm is? My movement was so fast, I could not glean where I was, but a voice called to me. All it said was "be steadfast, my son!" "Be steadf..." the voice was gone as I enter my body once more? I wake up, sweating, getting out of bed; my usual retinue compels me to make the bed!
That morning I change the dogma I'm used too, I look in the mirror, something I never do at first, I examine my face for evidence of the dream I had last night... nothing. I chastise myself for having such a vivid dream, something I've done many a time, so I move from the mirror to do my usual regimen, with a nagging thought that this last dream seemed more real than others I've had.
Before leaving the house, I fill Loki's bowls with fresh water and food. Loki, my German shepherd, stands next to me ears folded back instead of pointing up giving me that inquisitive look, I bend down and give him an extra hug, finishing it off with rubbing his ears, and him doing that "dog talk." I leave via the side door as I always do, going to the garage, deciding to take the 'Trans-Am' to work this day!
One, two, and finally three pumps on the pedal, I turning the ignition as the starter motor protests in turning the engine over. The engine coughs, the engine comes alive spuing gases that gives that familiar smell of race gas being forced out of the engine at 11.75 times higher than atmospheric pressure, into the exhaust! In a well-choreographed movements I move out of the garage, down the alleyway making as little noise as possible. I am always conscious of my neighbors, because the Pontiac is noisy, not Illegal, but noisy, down the alleyway I go only on 'fast idle" engine protesting all the way!
I'm fifteen minutes early today, so I decide to take PCH, I have no care in the world, so I stretch the TA, 'Bessy needs her tubes blown out today." After I pass Seal Beach the Throttle goes pedal to the metal, Leaving the residential area of Seal Beach, I hit that sweeping right-hand dog-leg where the cop sits with his radar after the apex, I care not! 'Bessy's 550 foot/pound of torque needs exercising, and like the good girl she is, she responds without complaint. I hit mid-apex, no cop today, I go for it, I hit third gear, the moment of trepidation is gone, replaced with concentration, knuckles white, following the true path, finally having to slow down as I near Huntington beach, Bessy protesting with the slow down, and normal speeds!"
"I'm not the first at work today, Peter the owner is there, hovering over the 'Clients' Range Rover, like me anticipating the moments when she will come to life. I nod, that look between us showed I was just as excited to see her run, like him! I slip under the car, doing a final inspection, as Quon, co-worker gets on top to do his part.
The only thing left is the harmonic damper to tighten; Quon with socket ready tightens the bolt, as I prevent the crank from moving. The tendons in Quons arms bulge as he tightens the Bolt, the socket slips! The socket and knuckle bar fall through he engine bay. I see it in slow motion, heading toward my face. I cannot move fast enough. Both the Knuckle bar and socket weigh twenty pounds, landing on my lip, pain lances though my body, I get out from under the car as fast as possible, knowing blood will be spilt.
In the bathroom I look in the mirror, skin is broken, but no blood. That should have been the warning sign, but I discounted it and went back to work once the pain reduced! It will heal I thought!
Weeks went by, the 600hp Range Rover was deliver into the arms of a very excited customer, my work done another satisfied customer and money in Peter's pocket! My lip however festered into a scabby looking cold sore, it will heal I thought?
One morning a potential customer came in with a Range Rover, Peter introduced me to the customer, saying I was the Guru of "this and that." 'Twas a credit to the customers profession that before we talked business, he said, "Are you having your lip treated?" No, it's just a perseverant cold sore, it will heal! "That's cancer my son, if you do no t deal with this you are a dead man!" We went on with business, eventually charging him Thirty thousand for the pleasure.
Finally I came to realize something was wrong, it started with that rich dermatologist, I know my body well enough, I knew something was wrong! Hela had given me this nasty looking cold sore! One Saturday I went to see a friend, a friendship born because of him to start off with, later I preoccupied my time teaching his dying wife, the use of computers, she died because of tainted blood, one carrying the HIV virus, a woman who I watched whittling away, only to die smiling!
I get a call from Gary's office, I need to see you, and I comply seeing him after hours.
We are friends Gary and I brought together, closer because of his wife, he was standing in front of me, hesitant, not knowing how to proceed?
"The Biopsy results are in... you've got a rare form of malignant melanoma, we have to remove the tumor soon!"
Bull crap, Gary, how can trauma turn into cancer?
"It has happened, though very rare, otherwise you had it at the same time of the impact!"
As Gary gives me the good news, Hela manifests herself, standing next to Gary blowing a kiss at me, smiling. I take no notice of her, I didn't want to be considered mad! We talk though the possible scenarios, and what could be done! Gary's face said it all, he checked the tumor, it had grown 30% since the last time I saw him, he rechecked the readings again, not believing how rapid the growth was, all this time Hela was there blowing kisses at me, provoking me, what was I to do?
Would you mind if I get a second opinion, Gary said not at all, so I contact UCLA, the best pathologist in southern California. Dr Anderson looks at my sides of the previous Biopsy, his brow furrowed, he moved toward me, syringe in his hand giving me a local before I knew it. Mouth open, he administers the anesthetic, like a practiced surgeon, he takes the boring tool, inserting it below the tongue, though membranes into my Lymph-nodes, as he extracted a part of my flesh, Hela hovered o'er him, smiling a me, winking at me and blowing that fateful kiss! I went home that night despondent. Based on his actions I knew it wasn't good, so I got drunk!
The Vivid dreams hit me again that night, I left my body again terminating in a sphere of nothing, hearing nothing, seeing nothing except being aware that I was there!
Initially I heard whispers, gaining amplitude until I could hear what they were saying! With time, I could see faint images, faint outlines of two people who were talking about me.
"He has faith, but his curiosity is dominant, his pragmatic self is apparent too! Your form of restitution will not work with the likes of him, let me be his guide, for he will only question your motives abeit they are pure, he shalt question the 'goings on.'
The other form just patiently nods!
I pay attention to the one that is not speaking, his presence is warm, inviting, and peaceful, I question his motives in my minds eye, this is too good to be true!
"See, look at him, he knows what you are, recognizes what you are, yet he questions your motives, his life says it shouldn't be that easy. His peoples come from my stock, stubborn is he, all his life he has been designed to solve problems, because too him things aren't that easy? Look at him, listening, analyzing what we are saying. Yea, he is one of mine, out of time he might be, but a smithy, he is none the less. His presence in Bilskirnir will be welcomed, his existence would have a purpose!"
The other spoke, " He was mine at his birth, he was given the freedom of thought, unto this he questioned, he talked to me asking the right of self determination, thus was it granted. He looked to the past for answers, guilt of sorts and yet he questioned the future, worry of sorts! Thus, he is flawed, he recognized thus, aye he is his own man, let it be thus. He is welcome anytime. He is neither a hero, nor a miscreant; he is just a good-man! Though in sooth son of Erda, he may choose to be party not, he may choose otherwise?"
"How canst that be, damnation is the other choice!"
"'Tis for him to choose, Midgard's warder let it be thus, the choice was given, let him choose! Thus do I relinquish ownership, thus does he set his stage, my advice unto there is to do the same!"
"I will take it under advisement, father of the three!"
'Twas time to wake-up, and i did , I was whisked away from that place, to do as I would normally do from day to day!
Three days later, the prognosis came in, I would be functional until the end, the end being nine months to five years. In my minds-eye, i knew the truth of it, but out-loud, I said 'screw you, I will fight it!' That night I prepared my son for the outcome, like a 'chip off the old block,' He handled the problem in a pragmatic manner, aware what will be, but dealing with it!
The months pass by, I continue to go to work, those sympathetic eyes of the owner and my friend said it all, but his mouth could say nothing, This day I lost the use of my right arm, no problem said I, for I'm left handed, 'tis a burden to be sure but I'm still productive. I could see in his eyes that I should go 'home to die' spend the last days with family! I played on his inherent goodness and his cowardly manner, I felt bad about that, but I wanted to finish my 'coupe de gras.' The Job was finished, I put my signature on that nameplate under the hood. Done, I thought, I picked up my tools, got in the Trans Am for the last time, after I said my good-byes, no regrets, wishing them well!
The ownership change of the house was recorded at the Local registrar, the arrangements for the Trans Am was made to follow me, via the sea! The time had come for me to leave and die, to be put to rest on my mothers soil. Discussions have I had with my son, asking him to look after his mother and having to grow up a little earlier than necessary, the burden will be high, but I know he will manage. For one last time do I look at my Son and his mother, turning around I walk with a slight limp down the gangway, refusing assistance from a stewardess, trying to regain some dignity.
The flight was a night flight and for the first time in ages I was able to sleep on a plane, the dreams came quickly! In the dream, I remembered that moment of weakness, that moment I asked for the old feller to rid me of my problems and make things anew! The old feller didn't answer me, but Thor did!
"Is this you, good-man speaking, dost thou wish for me to remove thy burden, is this you speaking or some near-do-well? Death is a private thing and as such to be handled alone! Why dost thou give up now? Thou wert the good warrior, accepting his lot in life, thou didst not give up, so why now?"
I'm so tired, was all I said, but Thor gave me the resolve to die with dignity!
"Thou hast to keep fighting, ne'er succumb to the eternal night, 'tis thy test we speak of! Be steadfast good-man.
So I did for the next few months, every night Thor and Hela would visit me, one telling me to be steadfast, stare Death in the eye with honor, the other telling me, am I the one to fill her void, to make her love as ne'er before? Hela was surely the seductress, whereas Thor said 'twas a futile attempt, many have tried, but none have succeeded? I asked both what they were talking about and they told me!
I listened and decided. I came out of my dream to a bout of turbulence. Next to me was a new grandma, flying to England to meet her new grandson, yet here was I oh so tired! I was so very tired yet the compulsion was within me to placate her, make her comfortable in the uncomfortable journey.
The turbulence stopped, the woman comforted, now it was time for me to sleep one last time, I said good bye to her with a smile on my face! I left my body and went back to that sphere of nothing, Thor and Hela waiting for me, Thor spoke first!
"The Hols of Bilskirnir awaiteth thee, thou hast earned the right to be one of the many, take my hand and I will take thee to the place I know so well!"
"And what of me, said the mistress of death? Art thou not the one to kindle the passions that I've ne'er known? Art thou the one? Whist thou not know if thou leaves with the Thunderer, my heart pangs for the sense of true love, whilst thou not take the chance?
I mulled over what they have said! Asking the question of Thor, I asked if the great doors of Bilskirnir are barred to me henceforth if I decide otherwise?
"Nay the doors are e'er open to the likes of thee! Ware good-man, if thou chooses otherwise, thou whilst have to get past the hell-hound Garm if thou chooses that way?"
"'Twould seem your eyes have decided, thou wert a problem solver in life, so in death thou shalt be. Mayhap thou whilst kindle the Heart of Hela? If not be industrious enow to pass beyond Garm the Hel-hound! I take my leave of you good-man, may you achieve what you strive for!
Hela takes my hand, but I stop, turn my head back to Midgard thinking of two regrets? Not driving Bessy on English soil and not saying goodbye to my mother and father! I stop resisting as Hela takes me to her domain.
Within me the 'Old feller' talks to me, "Good luck my boy!"