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Heathen Stories and New Myths ~
The boy slunk erratically towards the bus stop in the haze of the late
evening. His paces on the cracked sidewalk took the slow tone of one who has
somewhere to be but feels themselves too important to care when they arrive.
Streetlamps just turning on glinted in his droopy eyes which swaggered with his
swaying head as earphone cables pumped heavy metal music in tempest screams into
his ears. His mouth worked soundlessly to copy the blaring lyrics slamming into
his eardrums as his head jerked up and down when enthusiastic crescendos were
Further up the street a dog was pawing quizzically at a trash bag left out for
collection and it raised its shaggy dark brown head to appraise this lanky
stranger to its domain. The dog sniffed at the night air and which was wafting
down the street, assessing the quality of the invader along with the afterglow
of the asphalt which had been baking not a few hours before and pulled back his
ears with distrust.
The boy shuffled on his way, oblivious to the world save for the first
sensations of the evening chill which had begun to seep uncomfortably into the
holes in his jeans and ragged t-shirt. He wished he had thought ahead to bring
one of his several jackets, maybe the faded denim one with the valknot on the
right breast and half peeled off logo of that band he liked on the back. That
was his favorite, though he realized that it too had many holes in it. But that
didn’t matter, he liked the way the holes made him look; rugged, traveled,
someone you didn’t mess with because he might have a knife or something. The boy
smiled. A knife. It would be so cool to have a knife. When those dicks in school
picked on him he could like, pull it out and wave it around and then they’d know
to get the hell away, because he’d stab them. So cool. The boy made a few
stabbing motions as he imagined how cool it would be to stick his knife into a
few choice tormentors. He imagined the shocked faces he would see and how good
it would feel to hurt people. His favorite part of the song was coming up. His
lackluster pace slowed even further as his mind’s eye took him to a music stage
in the middle of a packed outdoor theater. He saw the swarming crowds of
ravenous fans as he raised his fist and delivered the bellowed lyric into the
quiet night in that high airy whisper which sounds like a scream when you hear
it in your mind.
“Odiiiinnnn…,” the boy hissingly throated into the deepening shadows.
“RAWRF!,” barked the dog in a loud snarling reproach which reverberated off the
very night and began to growl hatefully mere feet from the unknowing child’s
The boy’s eyes went wide as twin moons with shock as his fantasy world was
violently ripped away by the dog who, finding the stink of this shuffling
loiterer as offensive as his whispers made its anger known. The boy stumbled
back from the growling beast, the pendants on his neck violently clinking as he
reeled back into the road.
Five stumbling steps saw him safe, and he took two more as he remembered that it
was an angry dog that had broken his reverie. His baffled brain shot his gaze in
every direction to find the hazard and he involuntarily locked eyes with the
beast. The beast’s predator stare met the fearful dopey gaze of prey.
“N-nice dog…” the boy lied as he hunched a little lower and extended his right
hand in a warding gesture. He never heard the words as his music was still
blaring a cacophony into his ears but he thought it was the right thing to say.
Maybe he should throw some food so the dog would chase it. Maybe he should shout
for help. Maybe he should back further away. Solutions tried to race their way
across the boy’s vision but found themselves blocked by the beast’s implacable
stare. So there the youth stood, hand outstretched and “Nice dog,” unheard but
tumbling repeatedly out of his mouth.
The boy’s endless loop of indecision was broken when he realized that half of
his outstretched arm was growing brighter by the instant as the other half of it
was growing unnaturally darker. His head turned to see the twin eyes glowing
bright in the darkness. The radiator teeth opened wide for him and the sound of
claws screeching on the pavement drowned out the screaming voice of the singer
in the boy’s ear’s.
“ALL THE WAY TO NIEFLHEIIIIIII…!” was the last thing the boy heard before the
sound of screeching tires, and the bellowing car horn overpowered his senses. He
blinked and saw that he was still standing in the road. The sounds of a
thundering vehicle faded behind him and he twisted his head to see the receding
twin red lights of the truck blazing in the dark. He glanced about in the now
quite silent night and caught the figure of the dog, quite pale, loping away up
the road. The boy ran his hands up and down his torso, checking for damage or
other signs of being run over by a truck in the flickering lamplight but found
none. He noted that his music was no longer downing out reality and he looked
down to see his ipod and headphones between his legs in the street. He picked it
up, noting as he did so that he could hear nothing coming from the ear pieces.
Frigging truck made him break his ipod.
“Asshole!,” the boy shouted, raising a thin middle finger raucously in the
direction the truck had vanished in. Well, he’d just have to take the ipod back
to the store his mom had bought it from and say that it had just stopped
working. They’d have to get him a new one then. It didn’t look too badly beat up
he thought. He pocketed the gadget with a huff.
The boy let out a long breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and glanced
down at his hands which he hadn’t realized were still shaking. “Fuckin A,” he
observed to no one in particular.
After a few more shuddering breaths the boy resumed his journey towards the bus
stop. His mind, no longer downing in crashing sound, malingered over the
startling events which had just happened.
‘Stupid dog. If that frigging mutt hadn’t gotten in his face he never would have
been in the road to begin with. I wonder how much frigging booze that asshole
who was driving had drunk. Maybe he was talking on a goddamned cell phone at the
wheel. That must have been it. Frigging cell phone drunk ass truck driver almost
killed me. Maybe it was some chick at the wheel, sucking at driving. Stupid dog.
Maybe it’ll go up a few streets and cross over so that stupid drunk chick can
run over it with her frigging truck.
He pulled the ipod out again but the screen stayed blank when he tried to turn
it on. He tried to give it a few daring thumps but it remained unresponsive. The
night was growing rapidly colder and thin bands of mist began to swirl about in
The boy liked mist. It was a reminder of everything that was dark and cool in
the world, though in seeing it now he began to feel a bit uneasy. He reached
into his other pocket for his cell phone as the minutes without seeing the
glowing song filled screen of his ipod made him hunger unwittingly to see a
glowing electronic face. The phone however, remained dark.
“Figures,” said the boy. His stupid sister was always unplugging the charger so
she could turn on her reading light in the den.
It got colder, darker, and more misty as the boy walked on. He started to feel
the first knawing pangs of hunger settling into his guts as he looked ahead to
see the bus stop looming darkly out of the mist before him. The street light
above it seemed to have burned out or not come on in the dusk so it was hard to
make out the solitary figure who sat on the thin bench below the rain cover.
‘Dammit,’ the boy thought, ‘It’s probably some crazy old fart who’s gonna try to
get me to rub his shoulders or something. Lotsa weirdoes out.’
The boy slowed his pace to give him time to assess the person he might be forced
to speak a few words to while waiting for the bus to arrive. Whoever it was they
didn’t appear to be too tall, and they didn’t appear to be too bulky. He
approached further. They had long hair, what looked like a narrowish face, and
breasts. The boy felt himself relax; it was a chick, and the boy immediately
wondered if maybe she was hot.
The boy’s stride lengthened into a bad impression of a carefree stroll and his
arms went up in a fake stretch with the obvious attempt to smooth out the
unkempt wisps of his hair which had never been combed today. He wondered if she
would recognize the band on his t-shirt or ask about his cool pendants. He hoped
she was hot for every step closer to the bus stop he took he was less
The darkness made the woman’s features hard to pick out but her hair was dark
and her face narrow. She seemed to be wearing some kind of light tight fitting
sweater which made the boy’s gaze snap down involuntarily to her breasts but he
made sure to snap his eyes back up in case she was looking at him. She was
looking at him. How could she not be? There seemed to be nothing else but the
two of them out in this mist filled night. The boy smiled awkwardly, like he had
gotten the steps of how to smile mixed up but still arrived there in the end.
The woman did not smile, she just looked at him, her gaze sweeping up and down
quickly, taking his measure before looking away.
‘Crap,’ thought the boy as she turned her head away from him. A long period of
sexual frustration rose like gorge to briefly attack the back of his throat and
he almost stumbled for a moment in his all too carefree walk. He stopped about
six feet from the woman and examined her more closely with a sidelong glance
carefully swept as to not meet her eyes. She was pretty the boy decided, in a
strange way. It was the kind of pretty that came of a well made creature. It was
not the lustful agony of the singers and nymphs but the redoubtable beauty of
someone whose features will remain on even into the eldest of their years. He
noted that she, at least, seemed prepared for the cold weather as her legs were
completely covered with some kind of blanket which he had taken to be a dress.
He stared into the mist for a moment as he processed what he had seen and then
made another probing glance. She was looking at him again when his eyes swept
over her and he decided that for her good looks he did not care for her eyes.
They were too deep and saw too much. It made him feel young, too young, like the
child he was trying to tell the world so hard that he was no longer. He guessed
she was in her late twenties and even though he wanted to keep his mouth shut
and will the bus to arrive his rising libido, excited by the adrenaline which
had recently surged through his veins, goaded his mind into racing through all
the options for small talk which could lead on to something more.
“Nice night…” he tremulously hazarded in a mumble.
“What? “ said the woman in a voice that flowed like black silk.
“I said nice night,” offered the boy a bit louder.
The woman swept her gaze around at the chill mist and darkness poorly
illuminated by the street lamps. “I suppose.”
The boy bit his lip.
A brief silence that felt like an eternity to the boy followed when he suddenly
heard an electronic skwak and a static hiss from his pocket from his pocket.
“(crackle)…EL … ULES THE FALLEN! (hiss) … IN TH … MISTS OF… LHIIIEEMMMMM!”
gurped the ipod as the boy hurriedly withdrew it. The woman seemed amused.
With a fierce hope he tapped the device’s controls as the small screen flickered
for a last second and then went black. “Dammit.” He sighed, replacing the music
“What happened to it?” came the black velvet voice of the woman.
The boy blinked, unsure of his ears and alarmed by the fact that the woman with
the starless eyes was speaking to him. But she was cute, and so his mind quickly
reviewed all the things he knew women wanted of men. It took him a moment before
he turned towards her and answered.
“It was busted… in a fight.” She nodded in a manner that made him go on. ‘I was
down… at the mini mart and there was this kid David.” The name of one of his
foremost tormentors sprang to mind. “He was there with some of his friends and I
came by. And David doesn’t like me because of some stuff that happened at
school. So…” he paused, wondering just where he was going with this,”... he
starts just yelling at me and coming over. He starts getting all in my face and
stuff. And I’m like ‘Just back off man,’ but he keeps yelling at me and his
friends start laughing.” He paused again to collect his thoughts. Ok laughing
friends, David, a fight. “And so I was about to walk away but then he starts
ripping on my mom. Saying that she’s like a slut and my sister’s a whore so I
went back over to him to like, you know, scare him. And then he just shoves me
for no reason so I shove him back and say he better not call my mom a slut
again. And so he says ‘She’s a total slut. What are you gonna do about it. And
that’s when I totally decked him.” He mimed the throwing of a clumsy right hook
as he spoke and then looked down at the woman to receive a due smile and look of
appreciation, but found only a blank face looking back at him. He swallowed and
decided he’d better make the rest good. “So David goes down and then two of his
friends jump me at once but I got one with a knee” the boy raised his knee
sharply to indicate a strike between the legs. “And the other I,” he faltered,
remembering that the music player had to get damaged in his farce. “He kicked me
here.” He pointed to the pocket that the broken player was in. “But then I
uppercutted him.” The boy mimed a left hook. “And then he went all down and I
left.” He paused. “So I don’t think they’ll be calling my mom or sister names
again.” He didn’t want to look at the woman again just yet. “I study boxing and
martial arts.” He could almost sense her eyes on him. He felt a lump in his
heart and his lips moved of their own free will. “It’s part of my religion.”
“Your religion?” a woman asked.
“Yeah. I believe in like, the old gods. You know, before Christianity,” the boy
muttered. He liked to tell everyone at school about his beliefs. They made him
different and special there, not like those other kids; the ones who didn’t like
metal music and were either preppies, jocks, emo’s, or some other clique. But
this was different. He didn’t think he really wanted to talk about religion with
a stranger at the bus stop, with this stranger at the bus stop.”
“Which old gods do you believe in?,” flowed the woman’s voice.
“I believe in… like the old Norse gods. You know like Thor, Odin, Loki, and
Baldar, and Himdul.’
The woman shuddered ever so slightly and the boy after a second was not sure if
it had even been a shudder. “Ah, those gods. Yes I am familiar with them. I
actually took a course on them in college.”
The boy brightened. He had something in common with this woman, maybe…
“Did you like it?,” he asked, his face over brimming.
“Oh yes it was very good. I found a few of the stories quite interesting.”
Something that might have been enthusiasm was carried on the woman’s words,
enough to make the boy know that this was the in that would draw a smile from
this cute chick.
“I’ve been totally studying it a lot at home.” The boy’s confidence rose. “My
favorite story is when Thor and Odin go fishing for that big ass snake and they
like catch it but it eats the hook and so they have to row back to shore.” He
chanced a direct look at the woman and saw her nod. “And I also like the one
where Loki’s got his kids right, and everyone’s all ‘they’re too dangerous and
stuff’ so he puts the snake under a rock, he throws Fenris into the sea, and he
kicks that creepy daughter out of Asgrad.”
“Asgard,” said the woman.
“I think the place that the gods lived was called Asgard.”
“Oh. Well I got the books but I like, skim them, so I can learn. They’re kinda
long in some places. I’m mostly interested in the battles and the Vikings and
stuff.” The relaxed a bit. He had an in. His eyes dropped down to the woman’s
“So how does that work as a religion?” The boy’s eyes snapped up to see that she
was looking at him with those impossibly deep eyes and his cheeks flushed red
“Oh um, well. Like how?”
“You said that you study boxing and martial arts for your religion. How does
“Well it’s like a warrior thing. You gotta be strong.”
“And do you do anything else.”
“Well I like music.” He blinked and realized just how unrelated his answer was
to the question. “Like Norse music. Bands that sing about the gods and all
“Do you write any songs yourself.”
“No I’m not good with words and stuff. I just like listen and study. Like
“Runes?” The woman’s voice was like a chess master playing a game against an
eight year old.
“Yeah they were like the symbols of the Norse faith before all the christians
came and oppressed us.” The boy fumbled with his pendants before producing one
with the rune Sigel stamped onto its battered surface. “This one is the rune of
strength and it’s used for power in magic.”
“So you believe in magic?”
“Oh yeah. I’m studying it in my books. There were all sorts of things that used
to be done in the old days.”
“What kinds of things?”
“Well they had these guys who came into battle and were like so freaked out that
no one could kill them. But they killed anyone who tried to fight them.
Berserkers. I think they used some trance thing. But like I said I’m studying it
all and that’s what I believe.
The mist was all around them now. Streetlamps fought a losing battle with the
gloom. There was a faint smell of something dead in the air that made the boy
wrinkle his nose suddenly and wonder where it was coming from. Far away he
thought he heard a siren wail into the night.
“Have you ever considered,” asked the woman’s velvet voice, “what it would be
like if your gods didn’t want you?”
“I… what?,” asked the boy, unsure of what he had heard.
The woman turned her head to gaze out into the mists. “Well, can you imagine if
someone said they were with a group of gods and thought themselves a part of
their world but simply was not? You said you study what you believe but I wonder
what it would be like if you had someone who really had no idea what the stories
that made up the backbone of their belief really said or got them wrong.”
The boy wasn’t sure what to make of her words. But he thought about it for a
moment, a pensive look crossing his face. “That would totally suck.” He
admitted. “But then again it’s not like gods get to choose who follows them you
know? Like they can’t just kick someone out because they’re a douche or
“I suppose it would depend on the gods,” pondered the woman as she shifted a bit
in her seat. “but the Norse gods were pretty willful. I could almost see them
kicking someone out. Maybe, if they had a follower who brought absolutely
nothing to them and soiled the very things they stand for just by being near
them they might just shut their eyes and ears to that one.”
“Yeah,” murmured the boy who, losing interest, was taking advantage of the fact
that the woman was no longer looking at him to get a long stare at her breasts.
The smell of decay was getting stronger.
“I can’t imagine that gods ask for much more than the understanding of
friendship between humans and themselves but if someone wasn’t even able to give
that they might cast them out. They might just tell them that they don’t want
them.; that they were tired of their pretending, their false friendship and the
dishonor that was being shown them.
“Uh huh,” said the boy still looking towards the woman’s breasts while she gazed
into the now nearly impenetrable mists surrounding the bus stop.
There was another skwak from the ipod in the boy’s pocket and his hand dove for
it immediately. He pulled it out quickly, but the earpieces still on full volume
remained stuck in the pocket.
“(hiss) …AST THEM OUUUT!!! (skwak) … ALSE FRIEN… (hiss) OWN PATH …LSEWHEREEEE!”
The earpieces snagged, disconnected and sent the gadget spinning into the thick
“Crap!,” shouted the boy as he stepped over to where the ipod disappeared into
the mist and stared downward. There was an almost wet rustling sound behind him
and he heard the velvet night speak.
“Well I’m not going to wait for this one any longer. Have a pleasant trip I
think I’ll make my own way home. I might be here some other time if you come
well around but I don’t think we’ll meet again.”
“What?” The boy stood up his music player the only thing on his mind. “Oh yeah,
good…” He looked around but there was no one there. “…night.”
“Shit.” He whispered quietly in case the woman’s hearing was good. Well she was
way too old for him anyway and her chest was too flat.
Then the smell hit him. It smelled of something dead. Rotting flesh, coming from
the bust stop. ‘Damn,’ the boy thought. ‘She must have been hiding a dead cat
under her blanket or something. Ugh. What a sick bitch.’
The boy pulled his t-shirt up over his nose and eagerly resumed the search for
his music player, anxious to be away from the smell. Then he noticed it. A faint
glow just behind his ankles. Not wanting to take the time to turn around the boy
bent full over, reaching back behind his feet to clutch at the flickering light
coming from his music player. His hands closed around it just as the light
winked off and even as his fingers began to tighten he felt his pendants slide
off his neck and fall into the mist. There was no sound of them hitting the
“God Damnit!,” cursed the boy as he leaned up and thrust his other hand into the
place where the pendants should have been. He felt only cracked concrete and
chill water vapor grasping at his hand.
“Hey!” A deep male voice called out.
The boy stood up, alarmed, as he looked about for the source of the voice. He
saw the silhouette of a man framed against the swirling mist. He seemed to have
on some sort of wide hat and had what looked like a staff.
“Yeah,” said the boy apprehensively, grimacing as the smell continued to assault
“You waiting for the bus?,” growled the shade.
The boy paused, more than a little frightened but unwilling to let a mugger know
he was easy prey. “Maybe”
“The bus isn’t coming. The last one already left. You’ll have to make your own
way home,” intoned the half bear voice.
The boy’s mind balked. It was a damn long walk. This might be some practical
joke and he still had to get his pendants. “How do you know? Who are you?,”
inquired the boy.
The boy could almost feel a wave of bitter disappointment wash over him from the
surrounding vapor. He watched as the silhouette moved the staff to take it in
both hands so that it was at a diagonal to the figure. One of the streetlamps
flickered brightly and for a second the boy saw that the staff actually had a
broad head that ended in a sharp point. “Transit Authority,” rolled the ursine
voice, “go away. Get out.”
Mists swirled as the boy ran. He sprinted far away from the terrible one in the
fog. He ran back the way he had come, back towards the dog, back towards the
truck, trying desperately to reach the dawn he had left behind when the shadows
While behind him a figure lowered a spear and spoke.
“Maybe one day you will learn and reach this place by a proper road.”
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