“Are we dead?” Ben asked. His mouth suddenly felt very dry, and his balls had somehow crept up into his throat.
“I’m afraid so,” Mama Frigg said, “I might have to chide my husband for that, since not too long after you saw him, a truck carrying a heavy load of timber jackknifed for some reason, and the load it was carrying broke the restraints.”
“We were killed?” Steve croaked.
Nathan nodded, “Brains blowed right outta stinkhole,” he said giving a low whistle as he shook his head, “Won’t give ya boys no mo den dat, it warnt pretty.”
“Then, seeing him,” Ben said, shaking his head, “It meant…”
“That he’d decided to mark you for the Valkyries,” Mama Frigg said, “Yes. But since we were in the area I decided it’d be best to pick you up and simply escort you myself.”
“But, then who, who are you?” Ben asked, turning to face Nathan, “You’re not a Norse god, are you?”
Nathan brayed with laughter, “Oh no mon, not I. That big fella you see back here, he a Norsie, him Thor, big man wid da hammah, while dis gloomy one ova heah, he be-“
“Ares,” said the man named Aaron, “God of war. Now that we’ve dispensed with the names, are we there yet?”
“Always de impatient one,” Nathan drawled, “Dey call me Anansi, de trickstah, the spidah, and many otha tings.”
“But you’re not all Norse?” Ben asked, “Then where the hell are we going?”
Nathan/Anansi laughed again, “Ah dese ones eh? Dey tink it’s all so simple as one place fo’ one, one place fo’ anudda, and so and so be it. Ain’t to point to be worthy only to end up in jus one place! Rahtid!” he laughed, “Ain’t no one place mon! They’s many, MANY places, but we all get to visit from time to time.”
“What?” Steve asked, frowning as Nathan/Anansi rolled his eyes. At that moment Mama Frigg motioned Ben over, whispering something in his ear as he felt compelled to listen. When she was done he leaned back, narrowing his eyes in question. She merely nodded, smiling as she kept her eyes straight ahead. Turning to Anansi, who was now staring at him again, Ben spoke.
“Anansi, tell me a story.”
The deity leaned back with a content look, “I thought you’d never ask…”