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Flash Fiction – Better Off Dead September 9, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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The world was empty and cold. No Fire, no Earth; the elements that had sung in Loki’s veins from the moment he was born were gone. His whole body was wracked with convulsions, and he lay on the hard, cold floor of his prison cell, helpless.  He was alive, but he only knew it because of the bone-deep ache that a dead man could not have felt.

The quiet, broken sounds of misery were all around him. He pried his eyes open to look around, but even his ability to see heat signatures was gone. All he could make out were vague shapes, lying in huddled, shivering heaps to either side of him. There was no sign of the New Dawn soldiers that had captured him.

Loki knew survival was as much a state of mind as a matter of physical strength – if he let despair settle in, he was done for. He forced himself to sit upright, pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them to conserve what little heat he could. Then he set about thinking of something to distract him from his predicament while he gathered his strength.

The only thing he could come up with was a silly, raunchy bar song about a miller’s son chasing a dairy maid around her cows.  His teeth were chattering, but he belted it out anyway. “Oh, I reached for her udder, but caught me a rudder, and the bull did bellow and blow! Hey ho! The hooves did fly, and so did I, for the bull rang my ding-dong-derry …”

“hey ho,” came a weak voice from across the room.

Loki sat up a little straighter. “That you, Andy?”

Anders let out a tired laugh. “Only you would sing about some poor bastard getting neutered, right after getting your powers stripped.”

A grin split Loki’s face. “Seemed appropriate.”

“What was the next line?”

“The sun may rise, and the cock may crow, but never no more shall I,” Loki sang.

“Hey ho!”

The sound of iron-shod boots rang through the darkness, and Loki shielded his eyes from a searing light that filled the room.

“Well, we may have one that is strong enough to be worthy candidate. What is your name, my son?”

Loki squinted from behind his fingers, and caught a blurry view of robes that were dyed in all the colors of sunrise. One of the higher ranking members of the New Dawn cult was standing over him.

“My name’s Lance,” Loki said, sticking to his cover story.

“Lance. Somehow I doubt that. But no matter, when you are reborn into the Light, you will receive your true name.”

Loki glared up at his jailor. “I like my name, old man. It’s unambiguous.”

“You are a fighter, I see. Such a shame for a man of your talents to die so young.” The older man sat down on a chair provided to him by silent, red-robed guards who stood around him, giving Loki a clear look at him. His hair and beard were golden, and hung long over his robes. A golden band was wrapped around his head, and a gem was set in its center, emitting the light that filled the cell.

He leaned forward a little, as if sharing a confidence with Loki. “You are dying, you know. Without the elements, your body’s systems will shut down one by one. It is a terrible way to go.”

Loki gave him a wary look. “What do you want from me?”

That earned him a thin-lipped smile.  “Straight to the point. Perhaps Lance is apropos. I want to give you a gift, my young warrior.” He reached out to grasp Loki’s arm, and the glow from the gemstone flowed down to his hand.

Loki jerked away, adrenaline giving him enough energy to scramble away from the creeping, liquid Light.  He pushed back against the wall, flat hatred in his eyes. “If that was an offer to join your little organization, I’ll pass. I have a problem with cutting down innocent women and children.”

“Those filthy nomads?” the man tutted. “The few we took may prove useful. The rest have been cleansed from the earth.” He shrugged, and stood up. “You are a strong one. And smart. I’ll come back tomorrow, and see what is left of you. Maybe by then, you will be ready accept that you belong in the Light.”

“I’ll see you in Hel first!”

He gave Loki a paternal smile. “You still believe in that quaint old myth? The Long Road to Hel? And you called my soldiers ignorant. The Sun is the only end to all roads.”  He turned away and the light went out, dropping the room into thick darkness again.

Loki thought of Grimm, and let out a mirthless laugh. “Are you ever in for a shock, old man.”  He pushed himself off from the wall, and crawled to where he had last heard Anders. “Still with me, Andy?”

“Nice man, that,” Anders croaked. He sounded as bad as Loki felt.

“Yeah, he was a real peach.”

“Think anyone’s looking for us?”

“I’m sure they are,” Loki lied. He thought of Nox, and wished he had never sent that last note telling her his trip would run later than planned. How long would she wait to send Grimm looking for him? He knew it wouldn’t work, but he tried to summon the old ghost anyway. What did he have to lose? “Grimmalkyn. Grimmalkyn. Grimmalkyn!”

Loki nearly jumped out of his skin when Grimm’s rumbling telepathic voice echoed in reply.

“Fireborn?”

Hope flooded through Loki. “Grimm! You found us!”

The hound’s voice faded in and out, as if coming over a long distance. “Not yet…Nox needs… more… landmarks?”

Loki tried to think of the glimpse he got outside the fortress where he had been captured. Triple peaks of a snow-clad mountain, and the walls of a large castle. A courtyard, done in the same sun motif as the smaller fortress in the valley. The sun itself rising in the east, between the first and second peak.

Grimm’s growl rattled around Loki’s mind. “…old Shadowkin fortress…south… of Winds…”

“You know where it is?”

The hound sounded bleak. “All too well.”

Loki gripped Ander’s shoulder. “Hang in there. Help’s on the way.”

Anders let out a weak cheer. “H’ray for our side. Let’s hope they hurry.”


<–Previous   –Beginning–  Next->

This flashfic is part of an ongoing web serial, updated every week as a part of #fridayflash on twitter.  If you are new to Nox and Grimm, you can Click Here to read from the beginning.

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Comments»

1. FARfetched - September 9, 2011

Well done — gave hope and left us wanting more!

techtigger - September 9, 2011

thank you! there is indeed more, next week 🙂

2. Tony Noland - September 9, 2011

You gave us the feel of the cell and the scrape of boots beautifully.

techtigger - September 9, 2011

thanks! I’ve been trying to make sure I get the ‘feel’ of the locations, without spending too many words on them. that’s always the challenge with flashfic 🙂


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