PYRAMID POWER — snippet 30

 

PYRAMID POWER – snippet 30:

 

 

Chapter 20

 

 

            The one-eyed god shook Jerry so hard that he was afraid his head would come off. “Where has he gone?” he demanded, bubbly spittle spraying Jerry.

 

            There was no point in trying to pretend that he didn’t know who Odin was talking about, and anyway Jerry was less than sure that he cared. He didn’t really care about anything right now. He thought it very odd that this hall decked with shields seemed to look like a weedy parking lot with the very recognizable Museum of Science and Industry in the background. If only the pain would end.

 

            The one-eyed god stared at him furiously. “Who stabbed him?”

 

            “It must have happened in the melee, Allfather,” said a distant voice.

 

            “Hel. I need answers out of him. I can’t let him die yet. Get me Idun. And put him down on that bench. I will need my gambanteinn….”

 

            And it all faded into darkness. Noisy darkness, with occasional visions of a sunny parking lot, with dandelion heads nodding, spreading their seed like drifting stars across the great darkness. Then there was a taste of spring, scents and flavors he’d never known that he’d encountered, but stirring things from the recesses of his mind. Smells of wet dogs, and mushrooms and blossoms, and somehow the icy freshness of a water drunk from a mountain stream. It was from somewhere in his youth. Somewhere very early in life with his grandfather, and his grandfather’s dog, neither of which he had a conscious memory of. Something had triggered all these things with a feeling of wellness… and apple.

 

            Apple? He wasn’t even that fond of apples. Well, not store-bought ones. He could remember, now, picking one and eating it straight from the tree, together with an old man with white hair and a wet dog that seemed to grin at him. This apple in his mouth tasted more like that. He chewed, weakly, and the juice flowed into his mouth.

 

            Somehow with it came strength. Not a lot, but enough to chew again.

 

            He’d been stabbed. Surely he shouldn’t be eating? He swallowed the juice anyway. It was both sweet and tart, and something about it had brought an old man and his spaniel out of a photograph he’d barely remembered back to mind. Jerry’s grandfather had died before Jerry turned four. So why was he giving his grandson an apple again? This one was even better tasting than that one had been. Jerry swallowed the mouthful. He could remember, now, that he’d implicitly trusted the old man. So he swallowed. It was all an illusion anyway. He was dying. Funny. He hadn’t realized that you’d feel better when you died. He opened his eyes to see if there really was a clear white light at the end.

 

            The woman was beautiful enough to be an angel, which was awkward for a self-avowed atheist. But Odin, standing behind, her bore no similarity to either Jerry’s grandfather, or St Peter. 

 

            “You have some questions to answer,” said Odin, grimly.

 

            “Not until he has finished eating the apple,” said the woman, her voice calm and sweet. She handed him an apple, with one slice off it. “Eat,” she said.

 

            So Jerry took a bite. He just hoped that Idun’s apple wouldn’t take him all the way back to teen acne again. But he was sure that it had brought him back from the very brink of death. He chewed very slowly and very deliberately. He might not have a lot of time to think after this. Besides, it was a very good apple.

 

            “Thank you,” he said, once he’d swallowed. “It is the best apple I’ve ever eaten.”

 

            She dimpled. “Asgard forgets. Enjoy,” and she walked away.

 

            Jerry took another bite. Odin wasn’t going to wait for him to finish it though. He grabbed Jerry again, and lifted him with two hands by the remains of Jerry’s jacket. “Where. Is. Loki!?” he hissed into Jerry’s face.

 

            Jerry still had half of the apple in his hand and a fair amount in his mouth. And this apple was just too precious to waste. He managed to push it into his pocket, and store the bite in his cheek. Jerry was sure Loki would not still be on the gallery. “Minstrel’s gallery,” he managed to gasp out.

 

            Odin put him down. “Bind him and guard him. We’ve searched every inch of this building, and I think that Loki has escaped, from what happened in the kitchen. But I’ll check.”

 

            So Jerry was tied up and left to finish chewing the piece of apple. He had a feeling he’d better enjoy it, and that the next while was going to be rough.

 

            He was dead right.

 

            Odin came back, fuming. And then began a long, exhausting, unrelenting interrogation. The only thing Jerry had to hold on to was what Loki had told him: to tell Odin what he wanted to know was also to die. And there were no two ways about it, that bit of apple had done him the world of good. He wasn’t ready to die.

 

            Gradually the questioning shifted. Now Odin wanted to know how Jerry had helped Loki to free himself. And just what Jerry had done with Kvasir’s mead and Heimdall’s horn.

 

            At least it was easy not to betray anything about the last two. But what he did say was enough to convince Odin that he was a very powerful sorcerer. Or maybe it was whatever Skadi—still apparently stuck in Loki’s pit under an enchanted and only slightly used handkerchief—had said to Odin.

 

            Eventually, after what seemed like several eternities, Odin stopped questioning him, and Jerry was put into a fairly ordinary cell under constant guard. It would appear that whatever Odin had said to his Einherjar it had included some pretty harsh words on the value of staying sober and not ending up in the pit with Skadi.

 

****

 

            The Krim registered protests with the Device. The Krim-possessed god needed some self-will. It was no pleasure, no vicarious experience otherwise, to enjoy the pain and death energies, to revel in the flesh. But this one had far too much and it was as stupid as it was devious. Yes. There was a need for the belief-constructs necessary to animate this Ur-world, but this prukrin-energy source had threatened the Krim before. It must die, and die soon. As soon as possible!

 

            The Device was not designed to agree or disagree with the masters. But if it could have nodded its head it would have. The energy requirement of keeping a prukrin transfer portal active were too high when there was no fresh material to input.

 

            Fortunately, from what it had gleaned of the physiology of the victim species, what the local god planned would perhaps not be fatal for a god, but was going to be rapidly so for a man.

 

 

About Eric Flint

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