To read this weeks TerribleMinds Flash Fiction Challenge, click here.
If you would like to see some the photographs in questions (I used Gullfoss, Iceland as my trigger — I mean inspiration), click here.
She steps through the Falls, through the Portal From Somewhere Else, the power of unrelenting, frigid plumes dancing about her pale skin and silver hair.
Ice grows in the space behind her, as deep as a Frost Giant’s arm is long, lest an unsuspecting Man stumble upon the Portal and find himself where he should not be.
She flicks frozen droplets from her black robes, brushes a film of damp from the long, thick, black lashes framing her silver eyes.
Death examines her scythe and dries the blade on her clothing, then begins to climb.
Her bare feet leave high arched prints in a lacy dusting of snow.
“I’m here!” she calls to seemingly empty air. Folds her arms. Taps her foot. Waits. “I don’t have all day!”
A vaguely man-shaped figured draped in rags and leaning heavily on a walking stick appears on the horizon where the perfect white clouds dance with pristine spray and sparkling crystals.
His stride is impossibly fast and, as he closes the distance between them, he straightens, grows taller, more broad. His clothing swarms, dark ravens against the snow, and when they meld into two birds it is from richly fur clad shoulders they depart.
He swings an enormous hammer up over his right shoulder.
“Hello, love,” he says, leaning down to kiss Death’s cheek. “You’re looking well.”
“So are you, Dad. What did Thor do now?”
“Don’t ask.” Odin sweeps his fur from his shoulder and lays it over a nearby rock, bowing his daughter gallantly to sitting. He settles beside her, sets Mjolnir down, links his fingers together, and stretches. “Thank you for coming.”
“Did I have the option of saying no? Because the booming voice from the heavens thing spooked my target.”
“You used to call them —”
“Don’t say it. Please. They’re targets now.” She toys with her low slung, silver-link belt. “They have to be.”
“Of course, love. Forgive me.”
They watch the clouds for a time.
Huginn and Muninn circle back around, landing close beside Death. Huginn hops up onto one of her legs and she strokes his feathery chin; he nuzzles her neck.
Muninn sticks his beak down her cleavage and comes out with a fish.
“Smart boy,” she praises.
Huginn looks at her with huge, dark eyes.
Death pulls a second fish from her pocket and tosses it to him. “Sweet boy.”
Both ravens flap their wings and launch into the sky.
“Manners, lads!” Odin chides.
Thank you! Huginn calls over his shoulder.
Cheers, sweet cheeks! Muninn adds as they fly away, treasures clutched in their talons.
Death turns her face to the sun’s rays and waits a while longer. Eventually, she says, “Dad, I love seeing you, but I have a tight schedule today and I’m pretty sure this wasn’t intended as a family reunion.”
“Your mother has one of those planned for Jol. Make sure you keep the date open this time. I heard about your disappearing act from the last event for aeons.”
“It’s not like someone else can do my job.”
“I’m aware love, and so is she, but she’s your mother. Driving you insane and instilling you with disproportionate guilt are only two of the perks of her chosen profession. Maybe you’ll find out someday?”
“I’m not fishing. It’s only that Osiris mentioned you and Annubis have had dinner a couple of times and I wanted to let you know I approve. Not,” he qualifies as Death raises a single eyebrow at him and purses her lips, “that you need my approval.”
“Damn straight,” she agrees. She moves closes and Odin puts his arm around his daughter. “I’m glad I have it though.”
The sun touches the horizon, doesn’t quite set, hangs suspended between life and death.
“I don’t want to do it,” Death says quietly.
“I know,” Odin tells her, setting his chin on the top of his daughter’s head, tucking her hair behind her ear. He kisses her cheek.
“They’re the best of us, Dad.”
“Because only the death of the light at the hands of darkness brings the dark and only out of darkness can light be reborn.”
“Was it me, last time? I don’t remember.”
“Nor I, child. It wouldn’t be a new beginning if any of us remember the previous end.”
“Baldr and Loki are my brothers. Please, please don’t ask me to do this to them.”
“The Wheel is already turning, love, and the Norns have the extra large shears out today.” He holds her closer.
She dashes tears away with the heel of her hand. “But Loki isn’t —”
“No. Not now. But I shall make him so. I too have my part to play, love, and mine tears me apart as much as yours does you. You take Baldr’s life. I take Loki’s soul.”
“I’ve never taken a life with anything except my scythe. What if it hurts him, Dad? What if my brother dies in pain at my hands?”
“Then I am so very sorry for you, child, but you have always struck true.”
Death draws the mistletoe dart from her robes and studies it, the head glinting darkly in a sun that is already rising once again.
“Head,” Odin says, tapping the steel patch bolted into his cheekbone, his orbit. “Or heart,” he taps his chest.
“Head. Or heart,” she whispers. She rises and kisses his bearded cheek.
“You are our savior,” he tells her. “Even if I’m the only one who knows it.”
She nods. Shivers.
And walks into the sun.