Not My Name
I take a moment to collect my thoughts. They come sluggishly, with great effort.
“Once… once upon a time there was a woman.” My thoughts fray and tumble. Nidar eyes are odd…. so green. Where was I? “Oh yeah, this woman, who was working as a trucker. Her name was Sandra Översten. She was 26– and a mother of two cute munchkins, as Hermann would call them.”
I put on finger on the rim of the glass that held the mead and I swirl it around. “The children are really cute. Twins, a girl and a boy.” I look Nidar square in the eyes. “Ever had children?”
He gives me an indecipherable look. “Yes.” The word ‘yes’ can be said in a thousand different ways, each one with its own meaning. His ‘yes’ is curt and broken. “Anyhow. The dad of Sandra’s children is a deadbeat, and with two kids starting primary she needs money. Now, a trucker doesn’t make much in the way of income. So what’s a woman supposed to do?”
Greyscale looks at me with a rapt look but remains silent.
“She can either start doing something illegal, maybe traffick drugs from Norway for example. She could start to ply the world’s oldest profession. And a less… a less honest woman would probably have done something along those lines. But not Sandra. She tighted the proverbial notch on her belt and took extra shifts.”
I remember a detail which makes me laugh a little. “The police report even listed that she’d been a Girl Scout in her more impre… impres…. in her more impressionable years.”
“Now this was somewhere in June…. 2012.” I frown. Something is wrong…” No that’s not the right year.” I blink. “Same month, except it was 2013.” I open my mouth as to speak, but the words won’t come out. They’re afraid- they know what’s coming up next.
Eventually I manage to squeeze them out. “For close to three months Sandra worked tripple shifts. Then-” I stop. It’s too much. I thought I was over it. A year of mourning should have been enough. That’s what the shrink said. But know I am beginning to wonder.
Tears well up in my eyes. I can feel my nose closing up, snot filling my airways. Nidar gives me a small piece of paper and I blow my nose in it.
“Are you sure you want to continue?” Not really, but once you’ve started, you should finish. But I don’t say that. ” So. It’s 2013. Middle of August. On a bridge. It’s raining, the worst rain anyone has ever seen in a decade.” I put my two index fingers, from both hands, left and right respectively on the table.
I perform the motion. The two index-fingers travel on a paralell path. Just when it seems that they will pass each other without incident the right finger sverves sharply, hitting the left. Greyscale shudders. “Yeah, there you have it.” I wipe my nose. “That’s how two kids lost their precious mommy and had go to Social Service- where I am sure that they will be taken care of, and that’s how I lost my big sister, my father, my mother and my left eye. The rest is as they say, history.”
I look at Greyscale. He seems oddly out of focus… and it looks like he has six green eyes, three heads and a dozen arms… “Hey, kid, are you alright?” “You know, my name is…” The last thing I remember is hitting the table with my face, and thinking that’s pretty hard. Must be mahogny.
The boy sinks down on the table, drunk and oblivious to the world. Nidar checks him. His pulse is steady, and his breath could kill a horse, but other than that, he seems fine, if albeit drunk. “Ah the first time is always special.” He lifts him over his shoulder, carefully. He doesn’t want him to spray vomit all over his newly bought house.
He walks out of the kitchen and puts on a couple of bunny slippers. As he does, he thinks about young Rune’s story. An experience like that… will either make him a man or monster, but either way, he’ll have work his way through it. For a moment he thinks of a different time, a different place; one where a thousand men fought and died, where men became mad beasts, filled with fury, and the din of clashing shields. But that was a long time ago, he reflects.
He opens the door to his house and carries Rune out. With a kick he closes the door. He walks up to his new neighbour and knocks. A short stocky man opens the door. They both look at each other, equally surprised, for a couple of seconds.
Hermann breaks the silence first.”I have not seen one of the Great Wyrms in over a millenia.” Nidar smiles. “Hey to you too Geberson. Long time no see, eh.” Hermann winces slightly.
“I go by the name of Hermann Schwartz these days, not Geber. And certainly never Geberson.” Hermann looks at the unconscious form of Rune .”Why do you have my ward, and more importantly, why is he unconscious?”
“This? It’s nothing. He just had a mug of very own home-brewed mead, viking-style.” Hermann groans. He continues.” I think it was a tad too much.”. He makes an impatient motion toward the unconscious boy. Nidar hands him over. “So how long have you been here, Hermann?” “Close to a century. Now is there something you want to say, or can I make sure that you haven’t poisoned him with your witch-brew?” Hermann’s words come out harsher than he’d intended.
Nidar holds up his hands in the universal sign for peace. “Look, I am sorry if I brought up old memories. Wasn’t my intent. Having just arrived here, I could use a friend.” Hermann gives him a slightly mollified look. “Second…. this place… is it what I think it is?”
Hermann grabs a penlight from one of the ubiquitous pockets that seems to adorn his vest and checks Rune’s pupils. “I need to get this young man to bed.” His expression softens. “I know what it’s like to be alone and afraid. We will grab a beer sometime.” He looks past Nidar and up. Nidar turns around and follows his line of sight.
The sun is about to set. The last rays of light baths Fallowfell in a fey haze, where nothing is as it seems. Buildings appear brighter than they should. Shadows twist and turn. There air is still, unmoved by neither time nor mankind. There is a tune in the air, like someone is playing a violin, a violin that only they can hear.
“You’re right though on one thing. Fallowfell does remind me of the Forgotten Realms.”