Six Impossible Things (The Barrowman Remix #5)
“Okay, I am here now”, Greyscale grunts as he enters the villa after his little mountain-trip. He is not the only one that has been on a adventure by the looks of it; Lionheart’s clothes are torn in wide strips and he smells of blood, Perenelle is covered in something that look like white paint but smells like bird-shit, Hermann is wearing a diving wetsuit and an equally grumpy expression, and Merith?
Merith sits at the kitchen-table with a razor and a blue conch that feels vaguely magical.
“Excellent, thus we have everything. Now, who shall perform the Ritual?”
“I thought that you could do it?”, he asks, surprised. Merith shrugs. “You’re the one who has actually witnessed the Ritual.” “You’re the better theoretician when it comes to magic. Hell, you are magic.” Merith smiles at him, a grandmotherly gesture. “I will guide you, should you require help, although I don’t think it will be neccessary.”
Greyscale looks at Hermann’s face, a familiar face, one that pleads with him. He makes the call. “Let’s get the show on the roll then.”
He looks at the table, and the six strange items.
A small vial, containing the breath of a fish, in this case a salmon. Check.
A bigger bowl, hermetically sealed, containing the spit of a raven. Check.
Bloody sinews, taken from a big mother of a bear, according to Lionheart. Check.
The beard of a woman. And I am so not going to ask where she got it from. Check.
Roots hewn from an ancient mountain. Moria has got nothing on Thrymheim. Check.
A conch filled with the light sound of a cat tip-toeing on a window sill. Definitely check.
And so here it goes.
He summons a torrent of magic from within, which manifests as a light and he the source, burning like a second sun. Glowing with a nimbus he first opens the vial and unleashes the Breath. He grabs hold of it, and suddenly it’s a tangible thing in the air, like vapor.
He rips open the bowl and pours the Spit on his hand. A whispered word in Ancient Swedish and the fluid moves upwards, like quicksilver, unhindered by neither gravity or reason.
He takes the Sinews and tie them into a knot. Magic pulses through them, and they become limber once more.
He takes the Beard and throws into the air. A conjoined burst of fire and magic, and the little tuft of black hair grows wings and hover in the air.
He puts a hand on the stony Root and it sprouts flower and bloom.
He holds up the conch to his ears, and as soon as he hears the tap-tap sound he makes a sharp cutting motion. Black imprints of a Cat’s Paw appears on the table.
He extends his palms out, and slams the items together in a hug. And now for the hard part. He clears his mind, and focus on an ideal, an abstract notion, a sliver of a tenth of a word.
Magic explodes, and the six impossible things flow together in a boom of light and magic. When Greyscale opens his eyes, once more, a pink tie lies on the table. Hermann frowns. “Is it supposed to be a tie? And why pink?” “Because that’s what I thought of. And pink is the traditional color as far as the story goes. But there is more to it than meets the eye…”
He puts one finger on the tie, gently, and it changes and become necklace. A bracelet. A earring. Perenelly walks up to the table and holds the earring up. “That’s quite nifty.” “I do try. And on that note– you guys are going to have to produce the juice for the Ritual, because I am out.”
“Alright”, Hermann acts as the commander and they clear the kitchen and start the preparations. In short order they have him and Rune stripped, painted with the proper runes in blood, runes which seems to move in Greyscale’s vision. But maybe that’s just all the magic I have spent talking. Yeah, let’s go with that.
“Are you ready?”, Merith finally asks. He looks up, makes the beginning of a joke. “Is one ever ready-” Rune coughs, a bloody reminder of what they’re doing, the bet of the life of a young man. “Yeah I am ready. One thing though; where did you get a magical conch?”
Merith writes a rune with a bloody brush on the center of his chest. “It’s somewhat amusing that you would ask. I actually liberated it from one of your Uncles.” She draws the same rune on Rune’s chest, then places the tie around his neck. Heh- that was almost funny. “Which one?” “Ryujin.” Greyscale blinks. ” You stole it. From the Sea Serpent. A man whose hobbies include making tsunamis, earthquakes and burying civilsations.” “He sank one of my favorite ships during Bakumatsu, so I had to get back at him somehow, didn’t I?” She looks between him and Rune.
“Now we’re all set.” “Wait, we weren’t ‘ready’ when you said ready before?” “We were ready, but I just wanted to see if you’d have seconds thought.” He looks at her- Lionheart uses his distraction to plant one hand on his shoulder in a calming gesture.”Right, I am ready now. For sure.” “Don’t look at me like I am insane. And here goes noooothningggggg-”
The final word of Merith’s sentence is dragged out with a metallic screech, and Greyscale’s soul is split apart.
I don’t know how long I have been Here. And for that matter I don’t know where ‘Here’ is. Here is a place of black mottled shadows, of shades of gray, a world of black and white, and by the looks of it, I am standing on some kind of tower.
When I arrived Here, I made the mistake of looking down. You know how Nietzsche said; look down into the Abyss, the Abyss will look back? I looked down.
Without any measure of time, I have divided the time spent Here in days. On day 1, I arrived here, I looked down and then I started to cry. Then I started to think about where Here is. Hell? Outer Space? But then I remembered my Dante, and concluded that I am probably in Limbo.
On day 2, I started worrying about food. Then I decided that I don’t need food, because I am probably dead, and the dead don’t eat. But then I started to think about what exactly I am now, for if I am some kind of ghost, then I have to be made of something, something like energy, and energy cannot be destroyed, merely preserved or changed, and that in turn got me thinking of slippage, because what if I am like a fart in the wind; an expellation of hot air, destined to be diminished?
On day 2.5 the darkness around the tower receded for some reason. I wonder why.
One day 3 I prayed. I prayed even though I am an atheist, and I think that there is nothing wrong with stem-cells or gay people, or gender-equality. I prayed for my immoral soul– the time when I masturbated to Perenelle Flamel’s shapely legs (cmon, I was 14 and had just entered puberty), that time when I snuck laxatives in Ragnar the Asshole’s coffee and watched him shit his pants in junior high, that time I was happy that my family died instantly rather than suffering for hours like in some bad medical soap-drama.
It’s now day 4. I am bored. I am hoping for something to happen. Anything, anything that will break the ennui. Ringwraiths. A pale man in a black robe with a chessboard and scythe and who I will ask, ‘who are you’, to which he will respond, ‘I am Death’.
I hope that- “Hey there.” I jump high at sound of the voice. The familiar voice. Greyscale’s voice. And then I hug him like there’s no tomorrow. You have to understand, being alone with only your voice inside your head can affect a guy. It can affect a guy, and start to drive him bonkers. But then my logic reasserts itself. Why is he Here? How, more importantly, is he Here? If he’s Here, then odds are that he know where Here is.
As I ask him those question, having untangled myself, something flashes through his eyes. An impulse to lie? Guile?”Look we don’t have time for a thousand questions. The CliffNotes goes like this; you’re dying, as I speak, right now. But we can fix that. So I am going to need you to shut up, save those questions for later, and do as I say. Can you do that?” I nod reluctantly, and restrain myself, even if I want to ask him a thousand, no a million questions.
Greyscale looks around at shadowy landscape. “Anytime now Merith….” Merith? As in Nurse Merith? The school-nurse? I file that detail away for later.
And then we move. Except we don’t. I know that makes no sense as far descriptors go, but it’s kinda like when you’re on a train, and the train moves, and you feel it in your knees, but you, yourself don’t move.
We’re standing in a long hallway. Looking to the left I see no beginning, looking to the right I see no end. I turn to Greyscale, who is looking frantically for something. “Where are we?” “We’re in your seele-haus, your psyche, your livsven, your soul I guess we could call it.”
I stare unbelieving at him. I am not quite sure I buy whatever it is Greyscale is selling, even though he saved me. I don’t believe in souls or mumbo-jumbo like that. There is a pling and we both look up in the direction of the sound. Green neon arrows have appeared on the ceiling, pointing us right.
Now I am pretty sure that there were no neon lights there a second ago. Spooky.
“Come.” We start to walk and I look at the various doors of the hallway. Each and every door we pass is unique. One door is carved out of wood, with little birds sitting on the knob. Another is made seamless from a piece of steel, or I think it’s steel.
One door is made out of diamond, with beams of light captured in it. If this is my soul…. then where does these door lead to? Another question I make sure to ask Greyscale when this is over.
One door we pass looks like something out submarine, with the Roman numeral for ‘five’ on it. As we pass door Five, I hear the high-paced breath… no grunt of something large, and I can spot cloven feet under the door.
I plow into Greyscale, who has stopped. I glance over his shoulder. The hallway has transformed. Right in front of us is a door. It’s almost embarassingly normal compared to the others I have seen, although it frightens me. The door looks like any you’d see at an office, or at government bureau, but I can tell. If I walk through that door, I will change, and whether for the better or worse, I can’t tell.
My inner monologue is broken by a thunderous crack. The hallway, or what we can see of the hallway is crumbling to dust. Greyscale takes my hand and puts it on the handle of the door. He holds up three fingers. “When you pass through this door, you will face a test. It’s not a test like you’d get in school, where failure is optional. You fail this test and you will never fail anything, ever again. So whatever you do– succeed, no matter the cost. Two, things are not what they seem. I know I sound cryptic, but telling you the truth at this stage would just freak you out. So don’t trust your eyes, trust your instincts. A third, and perhaps the most important thing.”
The crumbling is about ten metres away and moving closer to us. “Hey!” I look at him. “In this place you are strong. This is the inner sanctum of your soul – you make the rules. Your very own Matrix, in this place you’re Sazed!”
“Now go!” I wrench open the door and step through.
Greyscale wakes up in the kitchen. The others look at him, concerned. “I am fine… I am fine.” “And Rune? What about Rune?!”, Hermann practically shouts. “He has entered the Door of Souls. The only thing we can do now is hope. Hope for the best.”
What Greyscale doesn’t say, is that should their little homemade ritual not work, then Rune will not die- something much, much worse will happen. He’ll come back, come back wrong, come back a monster. And there is only one thing you can do with a monster.
End it’s suffering.