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To Be Worthy (part X)

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“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…”

The End

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To Be Worthy (part IX)

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“Once, long ago,” Nathan drawled, “Was only dat deh most loyal an’ feeyas would be taken up. Now, we take what is left, dem dat be worthy o’ takin’ dat last ride t’ de final place.”

“What?” Steve asked, sounding more and more afraid as he shrank back from Nathan.

Nathan ‘tsked’ just once, “Wish we could tell yah boys dat yous was t’go home now,” he said in a solemn voice, “But ol’ One-eye don’t appear for jus’ anyone, and he don’t appear unless dose dat need seein’ has already sprang loose the coil.”

With the patois Ben was having some trouble understanding Nathan, but his mind was spinning like a top as he looked over to Frigg, who kept her eyes forward, a sad cloud having come over her eyes as Nathan continued to speak.

“Bit of a surprise really,” he chuckled again, “Woulda tought that the cahpentah boy woulda tried t’ claim dese two eh?”

“Or the fallen one that whines all the time,” Toby snorted, “Why people gave us up for them is still hard to believe.”

“No one wanted to be givin’ up eyes and livestock no mo’!” Nathan said, laughing aloud, “Y’all wanted too much in the end, jus’ like so many o’ you dat didn’t see what de ‘worship was doin’ to de people!”

“Nathan, that’s enough,” Frigg/Freda said from the front.

“Sorry Mama Frigg,” Nathan said with a chuckle, “Me mout, it gets away from me sometime.”

(to be concluded)

To Be Worthy (part VIII)

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“So you see boys,” Nathan said with a grin, sighing as he continued “These new people thought they were the ending and the beginning, they thought they’d surpassed the old people, and the old people weren’t needed any longer.”

Ben and Steve were both sitting quietly, listening as Nathan finished, though it was Steve who spoke next.

“You’re talking about something other than just people, aren’t you?”

Nathan ginned even wider, a strange look coming to his eyes as Steve just barely flinched, “No need t’ worry Mama Frigg,” he said, his voice taking on a depth and accent that he hadn’t had just a moment ago, “I’m tinkin’ dese ones might gwarn be irie.”

“What?” Steve asked, “What the hell kind of talk is that?”

Toby snorted from the back seat, “And these are the ones you thought to be worthy?”. His voice had taken on a deeper tone as well as rough, almost guttural accent that Ben and Steve both turning to look at him. The burly young man they’d seen was still there, but the hardened look in his eyes had been intensified a hundredfold, making it hard for either of them to maintain eye contact.

Freda, or Mama Frigg as Nathan had called her, sighed as she replied, “Your father appears to think so.”

“What’s going on?” Steve asked, his voice quavering slightly as he looked from one face to the next. He found answers in none of them, though Aaron and Toby were content to glower while Nathan smiled and patted the air gently.

“Be calm white boy,” he said in that strange accent, “Everyting gwarn be irie, you wait and see.”

“That’s patois,” Ben said suddenly, turning around just enough to meet Nathan’s approving glance and nod. “Isn’t it?”

“Tun up,” Nathan replied, “Dis one smaht white boy heah.”

Frigga smiled faintly, “That’s likely part of why he wanted him.”

(to be continued)

To Be Worthy (part VII)

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There were these people you see, some of the first in the world, not a lot of them by today’s standards, but enough of them that they populated a world that seemed too small for who they were, what they were. These people, they knew that this place had been given to them, that they’d been left here by something, or someone, for a purpose, but they just didn’t know it. So they made their own purpose, their own reason for being there, and in time they forgot what they’d known so long ago, when they first started.

You see, these people created other people, lesser people than them, not worthless, but not as big, not as there, not as knowledgeable about the world as they’d become in their long, long lives. They lived for a long time before deciding to create these people you see, they stayed in one another’s company for so long that they wanted someone else, another kind of people, that would adore them, look up to them, and wonder at the world in the same way they’d done back in their youth, that which they could remember. They wanted someone that could look up to them like they’d looked up to….someone, they couldn’t remember.

So they created these people, and for certain the people adored them, they loved them, and they sought to make them happy. But after a while something happened. Those people, they got these strange ideas in their heads, funny thoughts that the original people didn’t put there, or at least couldn’t remember putting there. It was something handed down you see, something they didn’t plan for, couldn’t plan for, and therefore couldn’t really understand in the language of another being, even those that had come from them.

These people, they had gifts that the originals had given them, they had abilities that were lesser, but still great in their own way, and with those abilities and gifts they created a new world, new images, and new people, if you can imagine that. In time they even sought to forget the original people that had created them, keeping only their memory around, much as you might remember your grandpa from time to time, but not with anything other than a passing fondness. The originals were forgotten, left behind, and relegated to memory, and in some cases not even that.

They were forgotten, which was worse than being dead.

(to be continued)

To Be Worthy (part VI)

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Ben and Steve found themselves staring longer than they should have, particularly because they were staring as the three young men made their way into the vehicle.

“Guys, these are my boys, Toby, Aaron, and that grinning cat there is Nathan,” Freda chuckled as Nathan, a black-skinned young man with short, ear-length dreadlocks swinging as he moved about, clucked his tongue at her. Toby was a huge specimen, red-haired with a liberal amount of hair on his chin, cheeks, and upper lip, and a musculature that was obvious even beneath baggy clothing. Aaron was a leaner individual but no less fit as he moved with a grace that spoke of a young man that played sports, or was deep into something that had taught him how to move so naturally that he was more like liquid given solid form. Nathan was built quite solidly as well, though he was even leaner than Aaron, suggesting a type of wiry strength that was hard to gauge. “Guys, this is Ben and Steve.”

“They just passengers or are you taking them all the way?” Toby asked gruffly, plopping down in the third row seat as Aaron joined him, saying nothing for the moment.

Freda didn’t answer right away as she pressed her lips into a thin line, turning to glance at Toby in a mildly reproachful manner.

“What?” Toby asked, throwing his arms wide to indicate his confusion. Thankfully he pulled his left arm back just in time to avoid hitting Aaron.

“You know better than to just speak outta turn,” Nathan said, shaking his head at his larger friend.

“Oh like it’s the first time,” Toby said, rolling his eyes.

“Like what’s the first time?” Steve asked.

Toby offered a glance at Freda, his mother apparently, and then at Nathan, who just shook his head as he rolled his eyes before turning his gaze on Freda, who was already matching his stare with her own. She nodded once before turning back to the wheel, shifting the gear lever so as to get going.

“Guys,” Nathan drawled, “I guess it’s time for a story.”

(to be continued)

To Be Worthy (part V)

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After making their way up 117th in the direction that Ben and Steve had already come from, Steve commented on where they were going.

“We already came this way,” he said, “Where are your boys at?”

“They’re at work,” the woman answered, “By the way, my name is Freda, sorry I didn’t mention that before.”

“Isn’t Freda more of a Spanish name?” Steve asked with a snort, “You look pretty white.”

“Steve,” Ben said in a warning tone.

“What?”

“Oh he’s right hon,” Freda said, patting Ben’s left arm affectionately, “Freda is in fact Spanish in origin, it’s a variant of Frida, but my parents had a strange sense of humor apparently. As for my boys, they’re out of school right now so they’re working for a local contractor that does various work, and only one of them is mine, well, he’s a stepson anyway, but I love the kid to death all the same. The others I call my boys because, well, they’re around often enough that I tend to take care of them too.”

Freda took a turn onto a side street that led down towards what looked like an apartment complex, the tires of the suburban positively humming along the wet pavement as they sped along.

“You guys on work crew then? Or were you working around here somewhere?”

“How did you guess work crew?” Steve asked, “Do we look like criminals?”

Freda chuckled, “Most of the guys I see standing at that stop either don’t have a car and are off trying to find jobs, while others come from work crew since it’s one of the closest stops to Mabry.”

“We were on work crew,” Ben admitted, “Punishment for doing something stupid.”

“Well, we all do those things from time to time,” Freda replied, “It couldn’t have been that bad though since you’re out and on work crew.”

“Those your guys?” Steve asked as they pulled up to the front drive of the apartment complex. Three very different individuals were standing just outside the front office, and for one reason or another, neither Ben nor Steve could take their eyes off of them as they approached the vehicle.

(to be continued)

To Be Worthy (part IV)

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Ben chuckled, shaking his head as he walked back over to the woman.

“Is that ride still an open offer?”

“Of course it is,” she replied, flashing that smile at him, “Come on and hop in, I’ll get the heater going and we’ll go pick up my boy and his friends.”

“What kind of rig do you drive?” Steve asked with a frown, “That sounds like it could be a full load.”

“That’s why I drive a suburban hon’,” she said with a grin, “When you’ve got a group to haul around it’s one of the only ways to do it. My sled will cart at least seven to nine guys around depending on how close they want to get.”

“I call shotgun,” Ben said quickly.

“You asshole,” Steve said with a smirk as they followed after the woman. She laughed out loud at the exchange, stopping only when she reached a massive black vehicle that had both Ben and Steve both whistling as they took a good, long look at the impressive machine.

“Now is that for me or my ride?” the woman asked with a grin, cocking one hip as though to sway their decision.

“Both,” Ben said, feeling a slight flush creep up to his cheeks as he made for the passenger door. He didn’t see the woman’s gaze track his every step, stopping only when he was out of sight on the other side.

“Brown-nose,” Steve muttered, taking a few steps towards the rear passenger’s door. The woman just rolled her eyes as she hopped into the driver’s seat, looking almost like a child behind the wheel as she settled in.

“Alright gentlemen, seat belts,” she said, “It’s a rule on the road and a rule in my ride. Other than that, say what you feel you need to say and let’s enjoy the ride.”

Ben frowned a bit at that, but shrugged it off as he felt compelled to turn to the woman as he found her staring at him with those brilliant green eyes. He had no idea what to say in that moment, but somehow she appeared to realize this and just smiled wider, starting the vehicle with a heavy rumble as a blast of cool air suddenly struck him fully.

(to be continued)

To Be Worthy (part III)

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Ben blinked, trying to think of something, anything to say. The woman just continued to smile at him, those striking green eyes appearing to measure him as he felt almost exposed in a way, as though she was trying to size him up in a way.

“You guys look cold,” she said finally, “Would you like a ride?”

“Huh?” Steve asked, turning around finally. Looking to his friend he could see that Steve saw her, he actually saw her, which made him feel better in a way. But the slackening of Steve’s features and the look, that damnable look he gave to anyone that he felt wasn’t worth his time, irritated him to no end at that point. “Oh, no thanks ma’am, we’re good.”

She appeared almost unfazed by this, but the gleam in her eyes dimmed just a bit as Ben could see.

“You’re sure? It’s pretty cold out here.”

“Yeah, we’re sure,” Steve said, motioning for Ben to join him.

“Um,” Ben began, “Give me a second, would you?”

“Sure,” the woman said with a smile. The gesture didn’t quite reach her eyes as she looked to Steve. To Ben she almost looked disappointed, but she didn’t just disappear, nor did she walk away. As he went to converse with his friend though Steve looked at him as though he’d gone crazy.

“What the hell man?” he said quietly, “You lookin’ to get a little grandma tail or something?”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Ben asked, “She looks about as old as my sister.”

“So now you need glasses?” Steve snorted, “Look again man, please.”

Ben did as he was told and for just a split second he didn’t see a gorgeous, slightly older woman standing by the bus stop, but a very old and wizened lady that might have been more at home in a bingo parlor than on a cold and snow-covered sidewalk. But that image of paper-thin skin and hair gone to white was gone in an instant as he saw once again the vision of beauty that was even now smiling in his direction, her green eyes gleaming once again.

“Why don’t you look?” Ben asked, smiling back as he waved. Steve sighed, but did turn to look. Confusion was writ plain on his features as he looked at the woman now smiling at both of them.

“Well shit,” Steve said, “Maybe I’m the one that needs glasses. Where’d the grandma go?”

(to be continued)

The Supposed “Fragility”

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Just food for thought really, no other reason. The ‘fragility’ that can be affixed to any person or race is another manner of saying that one is about to over-generalize and assume that an entire group of people with any similarity are bound to think and behave in the same manner.

To Be Worthy (part II)

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Shaking his head he found that the figure was no longer there. He knew that he’d seen someone though. Had they just ducked out of sight? Why? Steve might not have believed him anyway had he seen the figure, but for now it was just more irritation as he stabbed at another piece of litter.

“You seein’ things now Ben?” Steve chuckled, “Did Odin just appear to you or something?”

“Kiss my ass Steve,” Ben muttered. It was bound to be a long day.

6 hours later….

A full day of litter-picking wasn’t hard but it was tough on the feet since they only spent a total of 2 hours at best in the work van being carted about by the deputy that had pulled what had to be shit duty at the Clark County Mabry Corrections site. Most of the people that came through here to perform court-ordered community service weren’t the worst of the worst, as those types tended to get left in jail. But he and Steve had had the dubious opportunity to be in the same van as a hotshot kid that thought he was something special.

“Man I’d have loved to curb stomp that little bitch,” Steve muttered, shuffling his feet to stave off the cold. Standing at the bus stop in the middle of winter wasn’t what he called fun, but then neither was getting busted on a Friday just so they could spend a weekend in jail. And to think, it’d been so they could go and get laid. The sad part was they hadn’t even managed to find the address that they’d been given by the two hotties at the bar that had supposedly wanted them. Maybe that was a good thing though.

“He wasn’t worth the effort,” replied Ben, taking a glance down the street to see if the bus was coming yet. The city bus was usually right on time, but with inclement weather things tended to happen from time to time.

“Hey handsome,” said a voice from his right, startling him just a bit as he snapped to attention. Casting his gaze to his right he could see a rather striking woman standing only a few feet away, a wry smile on her face. The first thing he was struck by wasn’t the flush that had come to her cheeks, no doubt from the cold and possibly from walking around in it. Instead he was drawn to the thigh-length duster she wore, the tan color seeming somehow vibrant, as did her bright red locks, which were bound up in several braids that had been bundled and tossed casually over her right shoulder. Eyes the color of a spring leaf regarded him what felt like an insane hunger as her lips parted in a smile. Somehow, some way, he felt almost overwhelmed by the woman, as though she were simply too much for him.

Glancing back towards Steven though he couldn’t help but gasp as he then cast his gaze to the woman.

“Something wrong big guy?”

(to be continued)