Sunday, December 6, 2015


When I was a child, my father
(a child of the fifties, of
TV serials and canned dinners, a child of
a mother with no maternal instincts,
who nevertheless did pretty well),

told me of the nuclear bomb drills
how he and his classmates crouched
under useless desks
and were told, "This will protect you!"
though they never believed it
but thought
that death would fall from the sky

I will tell my children, someday,
of how I,
(a child of the twenty-tens, a digital native
news blaring in bright colors from every screen)

how I and my classmates
crouched under desks in the
lockdown drills
preparing for armed intruders
for AK-47s and bullet-marked walls
how we were taught to huddle
in corners, to stay away from windows,
to be
and pray the gunman would pass by

(of the day a medical center
eight miles from my college campus was
how we were warned to stay inside
and heard helicopters through the dormitory walls)

I wonder if my children
will have drills
warning of enemies in their schools
(their home)
or if someday the constant fear
the pictures of bomb-blasts and kids with body armor
and pockmarked walls
the so-called shelter of flimsy desks
will abate.

I doubt it will. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Telling Them How You Feel

Nobody tells you how your hands shake.
Nobody tells you about the dread
The airless
When you say the words,
Give the syllables to them like
Baring your secrets for the world to see.
Spit out your heart between
Shaking lips
And wait.
Wishing you could suck the words back in
Lock them away, make it

Nobody tells you how your hands shake.
Nobody tells you about the euphoria
The airless
When they respond, and it's
Better than you ever hoped for.
When they say the words,
Accept you, and
Give something back.

Nobody tells you how your hands shake.
Nobody tells you about the relief that washes over your whole body
Loosens your shoulders
Lightens your head until you're
Weightless with

For Cal
written in memory of 10/26/2014

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Battle of the Right Hand

first off, sorry about the lack of capitalization in this intro. my computer's shift key is broken.

i found this piece from my sophomore year and reread it, and it held up surprisingly well, so i thought i'd share. the assignment was to write about why a villain became evil. i chose captain hook, because if you read the original peter pan novel, peter pan himself is one creepy little demon. some of the piece also references another book, capt. hook by j.v. hart, which chronicles james 'jas.' hook's teenage years and time at eton. that's where jolly roger comes from. it's a pretty good book, if a bit of a tough read at times, and it gave me a lasting literature crush on jas. hook (which, oddly enough, didn't really diminish when i read peter pan shortly after) so there's that. (it didn't hurt that capt. hook is illustrated by brett helquist and jas. is really hot. and that stupid overconfidence and sexy, sexy honor code. mmm.)

anyway. here's the story. hope you enjoy.


I lean forward into the cracked mirror in my cabin and inspect my moustache.
            Hmm. Not too bad. It is not yet long enough for the look I intend it to have, but it will get there soon. I believe it quite complements my face. My long, pale face, framed by the scraggly black curls that have plagued me since childhood, will never be handsome, but a moustache will give it ferocity, which as a pirate captain I shall certainly need more of.
            “You would look good with a moustache, Jolly. Or a beard. Perhaps you should cultivate one.”
            “What, me? Absolutely not. I haven’t got the guts for it.”
            “It could hardly make you look worse.”
            “Ha ha. Why don’t you grow one? Every captain needs a trademark.”
            “I’ve got one already. A trademark, I mean, not a beard.”
            “True enough, Jas. Hook.”
            Something thuds against the deck. I look up. Is it?
            “Captain! It’s the boy!”
            It is the voice of my trusty bo’sun, Smee. In an instant my sword is in my right hand, my left clenched into a fist as I run from my cabin and dash straight up the stairs.
            Starkey is fighting the boy, clever, clever Starkey, exiled from England for the murder of eleven schoolchildren. This is one child he cannot kill.
            “Stop,” I cry. “He is mine.”
            Mine indeed, after all that this child has done.
            The boy lands lightly on the deck, a smile baring his pearly teeth. I consider myself a brave man; I have not flinched from brutality and bloodshed, but something about this youth unnerves me. It is strange that such a demon inhabits a body that, to the eye, seems so innocent and pure.
            Innocent? Hardly. This little boy has vandalized my ship, murdered my crew, and taken my island and my freedom.
            “Pan.” My boots clack against the deck.
            “Hook.” He bows. One of the things I most hate is that he thinks he has grace; he thinks he is the center of the world. 
            I step forward, my sword darting to him. He parries easily. Our swords flash crimson in the light of the sunset. The one affirmative thing that can be said about this beast is that he has good form in swordplay.
            “Why, Pan?” I demand a reason. There must be a reason.
            “Why what?” Pan smiles that terrible cocky smile and for an instant
            “Jas! Land ho!” Jolly smiled that charming cocky smile and I ran to his side. He was right. Shimmering in the mist of the sea was—what was it? An island, yes, but it was more than an island; its green shores were somehow enchanted. I knew this as surely as I knew that I was Captain Jas. Hook and that Jolly Roger, standing beside me, was the best friend any man could possibly have.
            Pan’s sword flashes by my ear and I jerk away, spinning to parry his next blow. The duel has become more intense now; we are past the preliminary courtesies. I am forced to leap up onto the poop deck. Pan simply flies after me. How can this inhuman monster fly so easily? What gives him the right?
            The island was so beautiful and rich that we proclaimed it our home. My crew was happy there, nearly as happy as they were when they wallowed in the bloodlust of battle, sword to sword with England’s finest admirals. It became our hideaway, the place to rest and recuperate that we might go out and wreak havoc on England once again. Jolly called it Neverland, because we would never be found there.
            I swivel under Pan’s blade, rolling across the planks of the ships. I misjudge, falling hard onto the main deck. Pan’s crow of triumph leaves me with time to reclaim my blade, and I slash at him as he soars over my head.
            Jolly was my one true friend, the one person I trusted implicitly. He had not shied from me at Eton, where my yellow blood, long curls and frightening temperament had made me a pariah. When I left England, he signed on with me and when I mutinied and took the Lady Anna he became the first mate. He had good—no, excellent—form. He was the one person I was terrified of losing.
            “Why do you come here?” I yell to his small silhouette in the sky. “Why do you kill my men? Why this island?”
            “It is mine. My Neverland, and you are an evil person, and your men are mine to kill.” Pan has descended to the deck and we battle directly once again.
            The sheer wrongness of this answer is intolerable. I found Neverland before Pan; Jolly Roger named it. I am not an evil person—am I? I do not think it is evil to go against an empire that never cared for you, that threw you away for the crime of defending the basic rights of men.
            Pan slashes and a yellow fleck appears on my wrist. I have odd yellow cells in my blood, an “unexplained mutation,” and the term mutant was often used at Eton. The sight of my own blood is one more factor adding to my fury at Pan, Pan the demon, Pan the monster, Pan the devil with a child’s face.
            Neverland was our Eden for a time, until one day Smee caught sight of a flying boy. I told the crew to leave him alone. He was of no interest to us.
            Until he killed Jack Havok.
            After that, we were wary. Jack had underestimated the little bastard, and I was determined not to lose another man through the same mistake.
            We never attacked Pan. We left him alone, as we had left the savages who shared the island with us to their own doings, but Pan was not like the natives. He would attack, slyly, for no purpose other than his own amusement.
            Pan leaps into the air and swoops over my head. I duck. A black curl drops to the deck like ash from a burning house.
            I was going to leave. Pan had made Neverland intolerable for us; I had lost too many men to risk staying. Jolly advised me to set sail and not look back. “It’s not ours any more, Jas,” he said, “it’s his. Let him have it. We can find another island, a better one, where he’ll never follow.”
            Then, on the night before our departure, Pan broke in and scuttled the ship. We were officially scuppered.
            Pan chooses to remain in the air. No. I must kill him. Now. Tonight.
            I leap for the mainmast and climb, sword between my teeth. Sweat slicks my curls to my neck. The demon must die.
            Pan perches on the end of the mast now, his feet hovering a few inches above the sail. I take my sword in hand and balance as if I were on a high-wire, advancing towards him. It would be bad form for him to back away now, where I cannot follow.
            So we stayed on Neverland because Pan had forced us to. We fought him back and we tried to hunt him down, but he was just too damn fast.
            It was dusk, the sun searing the heavens with its final breath, when suddenly Starkey gave a cry. The boy swooped over the deck, killing Roberts with a blow to the neck. He landed atop the mast and crowed his triumph as his minions climbed over the railings and we raced to our positions below.
            “Pan! Do you remember him!” I am almost there now, only a foot or two from Pan, and I must keep him where he is.
            Jolly ran to my side, tossing me my saber. I caught it. He grinned at me, fierce and confidant. “Someday our foes may win, Jas…”
            “…But not today!” I finished our old war cry and heard a call. We spun to fight back-to-back against the small horde of children.
            “Remember who?”
            We had become separated. I saw that three of my men and two of Pan’s lay dead. Pan was still overhead, engaging occasionally but flitting from battle to battle in his fickleness. I spun to face the nearest Lost Boy and knocked him aside, for it is bad form to kill a child unless it is unavoidable.
            That said, Pan is not a child. He is the devil incarnate.
            “Jolly! Jolly Roger!”
            I glimpsed Pan again, and my heart lurched. He was the most formidable of them all, and he was fighting Jolly.
            The deck is so very far below, and I am acutely aware of how little support air offers me…
            I leapt onto the rail of the ship and ran to them, desperate to reach them before my friend was hurt. Seeing me, Pan became fickle once more and glided upwards.
            “You killed him!”
            Jolly turned, his face glowing with the flush of battle…
            I swing my sword. Pan parries. My balance is precarious. “You killed him, Pan.”
            Blood spilling across the white of his shirt, red blood veiling the tip of Pan’s thrown sword protruding from his chest…
             “I forget them after I kill them,” he says carelessly.
            I held my truest friend, the best man in the world, as he died.
            I glimpse something green or gray in the water far, far below but I cannot let it distract me. Our swords cross and cross again, Pan light as light itself and me swaying like a drunkard.
            That battle was a draw, but it never felt like one. We buried Jolly Roger on the shores of Neverland and re-christened the Lady Anna so that it would echo his name. It felt that day like some part of me intrinsically linked to my very center had been ripped away, something more important than even a limb. More important that a heart.
            There are tears blurring my vision, from both the memory of Jolly’s murder and the sharp wind that has sprung up. No! Bad form! But no matter how bad the form, I cannot stop them, and they are the reason that I am not quick enough to block Pan’s swipe, the swipe that severs my right hand and sends it spinning like a broken kite with a yellow tail.
            For a moment, I feel nothing besides the impact, which sends me reeling. But there is nowhere to reel to, and now I am falling as well.
            Something breaks my fall, and my leg too. This does hurt, and I cry out as I spin across the sky. A coil of rope has caught my leg. I am hanging upside down, with no weapon and yellow blood dripping from where my arm should be.
            In the haze of red sky and yellow blood and white pain, the strangest thought occurs to me:
            I took the name Hook after the weapon with which I killed my first man. Now it seems that this name will mean something even greater to me.
            Pan is hovering by me, laughing demonically. I feel the blood rush to my head. “How can you not remember?” I scream.
            “Not remember what?”
            I may be a pirate, perhaps I am even evil, but at least I have the common courtesy to remember those I kill.
            Pan swoops away, leaving me in this position of pure humiliation. Peripherally I see several men swarming up the mast to disentangle me, but my attention is focused on Pan. He drops to the deck and kicks my hand overboard before flying away.
            The nerve of this boy is unbelievable. He has no respect for anything. Anything.
            As the rope is unwound from my leg, as I am lowered to the deck, as the stump of my wrist is bandaged and a hook is fetched at my command, I vow that I will hunt Pan down. I will kill him. I will avenge Jolly Roger and the other members of my crew, and I will take Neverland back from the insanity of this demon-child.
            Whatever it takes.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Christmas in Geartown (an unbelievably late Christmas story)

I actually wrote this before Christmas, okay? I just didn't think to upload it until now. But it turned out pretty well. So here it is: Christmas in Geartown.

Geartown, by the way, is a small village in my particular version of Steampunk Victorian England, a storyworld I've been working on for a longer project. It's a place where mad science runs rampant and most of the characters are minions. I have a whole lot of characters for it and I like writing about them just to get to know them better. They're fun!

 I will update this story later with an illustration, once I get said illustration scanned into my computer.

It occurs to me now that a character list would probably be helpful, as most of these guys have rarely seen the outside of my head. See the end of the story for notes.

Here we go.

Christmas in Geartown


            Geartown was alive with the holiday spirit. The students of Geartown University had been loosed into the main street, where they set up various festive projects along the curbside. An automated chestnut roaster belched out festive-scented smoke as a girl turned the handle; a group of younger students tried to start up a sled powered by a perpetual motion machine, and Igor Wells barely dodged as an upright snowman with metal nuts for eyes and a spanner for a nose shot past him at an alarming rate. He righted himself, and then the two boys pelting after it knocked him onto his rear in the snow. “Sorry!” yelled the taller, brown-haired one with the goggles, as the slighter of the two, a lanky Asian boy with thick rectangular glasses, made a brave dive for the runaway snowman and missed.
            Wilhelm laughed and pulled Igor to his feet. He dusted himself off and they both winced in sympathy as the snowman hit the automated chestnut roaster, sending a gush of sparks into the air, scattering chestnuts everywhere, and causing the students huddled around the machine to dive to the ground for shelter. The ensuing argument between the Asian boy and a black student of indeterminate gender was a spectacle to behold.
            “Oops,” said Wilhelm, giggling behind her gloves.
            “Merry Christmas!”
            The two turned around and saw Jonas, a tall, slim University minion with brown skin and long blue hair pulled into a ponytail, strolling towards them. He was wrapped in a dark wool coat, his customary headphones acting like earmuffs and a purple scarf knotted under his chin, matching his purple eyes. His sister Rosie stomped along beside him, her red plaid coat clashing with her pink curly hair in an eye-searing manner.
            “Merry Christmas!” said Igor, waving happily. Rosie growled something that might have been “Merry Christmas” but also might have been “Bah! Humbug!”
            “Merry Christmas, Jonas and Rosie,” said Wilhelm. “Are you coming up to the castle tonight?”
            “If you’ll have us, then sure!” Jonas grinned, flashing white teeth. “Gormless makes the best Christmas dinner!”
            Rosie grumbled again and glared at a passing humautomaton so hard that the poor boy ran into the grocer’s as fast as his metal leg could carry him. The others, well used to her misanthropy, ignored this.
            “Hey, it’s Weasel,” said Jonas. He raised his voice and waved. “Hallo, Weasel!”
            Weasel trudged up to them, wrapped to his ears in a striped scarf. His orange hair stuck out at odd angles from under a green hat, and he was bundled into what looked like three sweaters. He nodded at them morosely.
            “What’s got you so gloomy?” asked Jonas. Weasel shrugged and tucked his gloved fingers into his armpits. Jonas laughed. “Come now, Weasel, it’s not that cold!”
            “Says you,” Weasel grumbled. “I hate this season.”
            Rosie gave him an appraising look. “A man after my own heart.”
            “I suppose we’ll just call you two Scrooge and Marley,” said Igor, smirking.
            “Hey, no!” exclaimed Weasel. “I don’t want to be the dead one!”
            Wilhelm looked at him. “What makes you think you’re Marley?”
            “I’m always the dead one.” Weasel tucked his nose further under his scarf. “Or the one who gets blown up in the end.”
            “Pretty sure that’s not what happened to Marley,” said Igor, laughing.
            “How would you know?” Weasel asked. “He’s dead. It never said how he died.”
            “Ick, I don’t want to be Scrooge,” said Rosie. “That means I accept this stupid season into my heart at the end of the story.”
            Jonas, Wilhelm and Igor laughed. Wilhelm turned to Weasel. “So,” she said, “are you coming up to the castle tonight?”
            “Can’t.” Weasel scowled. “I don’t get the day off.”
            “What!” exclaimed Jonas, as Igor said, “Really? On Christmas!” and Wilhelm blinked in surprise.
            “Mm hm. No Christmas off for me.”
            “But why?” asked Igor.
            Weasel rolled his eyes. “Professor Wiggins is Jewish.”
            “Oh,” said Igor.
            “Still, that’s pretty uncharitable,” said Wilhelm. “She really won’t let you take the day off?”
            Weasel glanced away. “…Yes.”
            “Hang on,” said Jonas. “Weasel…have you ever actually asked Wiggins for the day off?”
            “Yes!” snapped Weasel defensively. Jonas raised an eyebrow at him and the tips of his ears turned red. “Well, maybe not, but…she’s a maniac! I’m not risking my life just for a holiday!”
            Jonas laughed, and Wilhelm rolled her eyes. “Tell you what,” she said. “You tell Wiggins you’re taking tonight and tomorrow off and come up to the castle to have a drink with us, all right?”
            “Fine!” snapped Weasel, burrowing into his layers of sweater. “But it’s on your heads if she kills me!”

            In hindsight, they probably shouldn’t have started a snowball fight with Nina.
            The snow barricade was, fortunately, well constructed, thanks mostly to Igor and Jonas, both of whom had once worked as bricklayers. They huddled behind it with Weasel while globs of snow and the occasional bit of ice soared overhead.
            “Any ideas?” said Jonas.
            “We need to disable that snowball machine,” said Igor. “That way we’ll have an opening to take them by storm. I’ll take Wilhelm.”
            “I call not taking out Nina,” Weasel said quickly.
            “Are you sure?” said Jonas. “That means you’ve got Rosie.”
            Weasel nodded. “I’ll take my chances.” 
            “Spoken like a man who’s never fought Rosie before.” Jonas adjusted his gloves and looked up. “Are we ready?”
            “Ready,” said Igor, grinning.
            “No,” sighed Weasel, “but that’s never stopped me before.”
            “On my mark,” said Jonas, holding up three fingers. “Three…two…GO!”
            The three exploded from their fortress and pelted towards the girls’ snow barricade. Jonas leapt and belly-flopped onto the top of the wall, smashing a hole in the middle. Igor ran at Wilhelm, going for a tackle, but at the last second Wilhelm stepped aside, grabbed his arm, and flipped him head over heels into the snow.
            Weasel ran straight at Rosie, who barely had time to look up before he crashed into her. They struggled, wrestling and rolling over and over, trying to pin each other. Weasel was slightly quicker and better and dodging her blows, but Rosie had the unbridled fury of a caged puma. She knocked Weasel into the snow and pinned him, then grabbed a handful of snow.
            “HELP!” Weasel yelled as Rosie stuffed the snow down his collar.
            His teammates, however, had their hands full. Jonas was involved in what looked like a vigorous game of tag with Nina, who danced and dodged his every grab for her, while Wilhelm packed Igor into the snow as if he were a shipment of trout to be preserved. 
            Suddenly, a glob of snow smacked Wilhelm in the face, knocking her away. Igor broke the crust and sat up, only to be hit with another snowball. Wilhelm wiped the snow out of her eyes and swore.
            Igor looked over and ducked just in time. “What is that thing?!” he yelped, brushing snow off his coat.
            “It’s Nina’s,” said Wilhelm grimly, getting to her feet. Another two snowballs smacked her and she took a step backwards.
            The machine in question was cuboid in shape, with two wide bendy pipes emerging from opposite ends. One of these was planted in the snow, sucking it up, while the other flailed directionlessly, flinging the snow in every direction. Igor caught sight of the words painted on the side: Snowball Blaster 3000.
            “Oh dear,” he said.
             Wilhelm started towards the machine, then changed her mind and ran away instead. Igor stared after her, dismayed. “Don’t abandon us!” he yelled.
            “I’ll be right back!” Wilhelm shouted, sprinting towards the castle.
            “IGOR! HELLLLP!”
            Igor turned and saw that Nina had neutralized Jonas and had ganged up on Weasel with Rosie. They dragged the poor boy by his ankles towards the rampant snowball blaster, his struggles to no avail.
            “Nooooo!” Weasel yelled, clawing at the ground and finding no purchase in the snow. “I moved away from home to get away from thiiiiisss!”


            Later, after the Snowball Blaster 3000 had run out of snow and started ripping up and hurling chunks of frozen ground, after Wilhelm had come back with a shovel and smashed it, and after Weasel, Igor and Jonas had been released, rubbed dry and fed with hot cocoa and Christmas cookies, Wilhelm allowed herself to relax. She curled up on the couch with a mug of cocoa in her hands and watched the fire in the impressive stone fireplace.
            Igor sat down beside her. “Merry Christmas, Wilhelm.”
            “Is it?” Wilhelm checked her wrist, then remembered that she wasn’t wearing her watch. “I thought we had a few more hours.”
            Igor laughed. “Merry Christmas Eve, then. Where’s Jonas? I lost track of him.”
            “He and Rosie headed home,” said Wilhelm. “Weasel’s staying the night, though.”
            “I know. He’s in my room.” Igor sipped his tea. “Where’s Nina?”
            “She and Gormless are up on the roof. I don’t know why, it’s just something they do every year. Something about waiting for Uncle Nicholas.”
            Igor laughed. “What, like Santa Clause?”
            “I think so. They won’t say.” Wilhelm shrugged. “It doesn’t do any harm, so I let them have their fun.”
            “As if you could stop them.”
            Wilhelm rolled her eyes. “Says the man who hid in the snow while I bashed the Snowball Blaster 3000 with the shovel.”
            “Point taken. Also, ouch.”
            They sipped their cocoa in silence for a while, watching the fire.
            “What are you thinking about?” Igor asked suddenly.
            “Oh, I don’t know,” said Wilhelm. “Christmas, I suppose…how many different Christmases I’ve had. With my family it was always very religious, but warm and kind nonetheless. Well, until the last few years anyway. Then with the Maladroit…That one was pure fun. It was just so different, but the warmth was still there, you know? And now, here in the castle…” She hesitated, thinking. “I suppose I should be sad, because technically I’m imprisoned, but honestly this, right here? This might be the best Christmas I’ve had since I was ten.”
            “Yes.” Wilhelm smiled. “I got to spend Christmas Eve with friends, having fun, with people who I care about and who I think care about me. I really can’t ask for more than that.”
            “Well, that’s one thing we have in common, then,” said Igor with a laugh.
            “This being the best Christmas. Christmas Eve, anyway.”
            Wilhelm looked at him. “What, really?”
            “Mm hm.” Igor took a long drink of cocoa.
            “What about when you were a child?” said Wilhelm. “What was Christmas like then?”
            Igor shrugged unhappily. “It…wasn’t great. You say you had warmth and kindness at Christmas, yes? I never got that feeling. It was always a bit nerve-wracking, to be honest. My father usually bought me something he wanted me to use, a gun or a hunting knife, and I’ve never liked hunting. I dreaded the gifts. The food was good, but the company…” He laughed a little. “Sorry. I shouldn’t be talking of this, it’s not very cheerful.”
            “No, it’s all right,” said Wilhelm. “What about Logan?”
            Igor’s smile was bittersweet. “He forgot about it until the day before. It was almost endearing, really. And I suppose we had a good Christmas—it certainly seemed so at the time…yes, it was good.” He grinned at her. “But this? This is better.”
            “You really think so?”
            Igor nodded. “By miles.”
            Wilhelm smiled and looked back at the fire. “Should we put another log on?”
            “I’ll do it.” Igor got up and threw a log onto the fire. It sparked and popped as he sat back down next to Wilhelm.
            “Hey, Wilhelm?” he said.
            “You’re welcome,” said Wilhelm. She frowned. “Wait, for what?”
            “For…I don’t know.” Igor laughed and shook his head. He looked down into his cocoa. “For being here. For letting me stay. For being my friend, I suppose.”
            “No problem.” Wilhelm bumped his shoulder playfully. “Besides, it’s Xix who let you stay. And you’re not too bad a friend to have. I think it breaks pretty even.”
            Igor laughed. “Thanks. And touché.” He glanced at her. “But really, thanks.”
            “It has been my absolute pleasure.”
            Wilhelm woke up to someone bouncing on her.
            “Wilhelm, Wilhelm, Wilhelm! Get up get up get up get up!” chanted an excited female voice.
            “Go ‘way, Etta,” she mumbled, pulling the covers over her head. “M’ tryin’ a sleep.”
            “Who’s Etta?” said someone nearby, and then the covers were ripped away and Wilhelm yelped as Nina’s face appeared five inches away from her own.
            “Get up!” cried Nina, shaking Wilhelm’s shoulders. “It’s Christmas!
            She bounced back and Wilhelm sat up and rubbed her eyes. It was not her sister waking her, but Nina. And Gormless, she realized, looking down at him from her bunk.
            “What time is it?” she asked.
            “Six thirty in the morning,” said Gormless. “Everyone else is up already. And by everyone, I mean Nina and me, because we’re going to wake up Igor and Weasel next and then find Xix, wherever he is. So…no one but us three, really.”
            “Of course.” Wilhelm pushed her hair back from her face and it flopped back into its customary spikes.
            “Come on, Wilhelm, get up!” Nina repeated. “Gormless is making us porridge and then we can open presents! Uncle Nicholas got you something too, so get up!
            “I’m up, I’m up.” Wilhelm shoved Nina off the bed. The fabrication lost her balance and fell from the bunk, but Gormless caught her midair. She grinned at him. “Thanks!”
            “Don’t mention it,” said Gormless, setting her on her feet. “Wilhelm, we’ll see you in the kitchen!”

            “I don’t want to open this,” said Weasel, eyes screwed shut.
            “Oh, stop whining, you big baby.” Nina pushed the box into his lap again. “I promise there’s nothing dangerous in it.”
            They were sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace of the most useable living room, with Igor and Wilhelm on the couch. Gormless was in the kitchen, tending to the porridge. Although he had come a long way with his anxiety problems since Wilhelm had arrived, he still didn’t feel completely comfortable around relative strangers like Igor and Weasel for long periods of time.
            “You always say that,” Weasel pointed out. “And then what happens? I get bitten or chased or trampled by mechanical bulls or electrocuted by wasps or stung by poisonous frogs or nearly drowned in syrup. Every. Time.
            “Not every time,” said Igor. “The automated teapot turned out all right.”
            “All ri—it exploded! A lot!
            “It exploded once,” Wilhelm countered.And you were wearing oven mitts and a visor. You were fine.”
            Weasel stared at them. “I can’t believe you’re taking her side!”
            “No, it’s all right.” A great deal of the energy had gone out of Nina’s voice. “It’s fine. I guess I am sort of bad with presents.”
            “You’re not bad with presents,” said Igor, patting her shoulder. “Weasel’s just a little justifiably suspicious, that’s all.”
            “Weasel, open the present,” said Wilhelm. “I’ll take full responsibility for the consequences. You can hide behind me if you need to.”
            Weasel hesitated, reached for the ribbon, and hesitated again. Slowly, he tugged at the bow until it came undone. He cautiously picked at the wrapping paper until the tape came away and peeled it off the box.
            He looked at Nina again and she nodded encouragingly.
            He opened the box, reached inside, and lifted out a sweater. Nina cheered.
            As sweaters went, it wasn’t a terribly good one. The stitches alternated between being so tight that you couldn’t get a need through them and so loose that Weasel’s whole hand could fit into the gaps, and it bulged in odd places. It also had three arms. But it was a rather nice shade of blue, with intermittent white trim and one patch of seaweed green.
            “That’s where I ran out of blue,” said Nina, pointing at the green. “Do you like it?”
            “Wow!” Weasel held it up in front of him, astonished. “You made this?”
            “Yes!” Nina bounced happily. “Well, I made a machine that made it! Yours is the first ever!” She quivered with anticipation. “Do you like it?”
            “I…” Weasel inspected the sweater carefully. Finally, he grinned. “I love it!”
            “Yes!” Weasel laughed with delight, his face aglow. “This is the first present you’ve given me that hasn’t tried to kill me!”
            Nina squealed and tackled him in a hug, knocking him over. “I knew it!” she shrieked. “I knew you’d like it this year! I finally got it right! Yes, yes, yes!
            Weasel laughed and hugged her back. Wilhelm looked at Igor and grinned, surprised. Igor smiled and shrugged. Neither had been expecting this.
            Weasel broke the hug and held out the sweater again. “You’re sure it won’t kill me?”
            “Not unless you strangle yourself with it!” Nina said happily.
            “Then help me put it on!”
            It took a concerted effort from both Nina and Wilhelm, but eventually they got Weasel’s head through the neck of the sweater and his arms through two of the sleeves, which also covered his hands and went on for a good six inches beyond. The third sleeve drooped sadly from the left side of the chest, and patches of his shirt showed through the knitting. A burlap sack would have been more fashionable, but Weasel’s glow of euphoria made up for it.
            “This is amazing, Nina,” he said, grinning at her. “Thank you!”
            “I’m so happy you like it!” said Nina, hugging him again. She turned back and grinned at Wilhelm and Igor. “Now for the rest of you!”



Wilhelm Grimsby: Human female, minion of Professor Xix, who lives in a castle on a hill above Geartown.

Igor Wells: Human male, minion working at Geartown University.

Jonas: Human male (or is he?), minion working at Geartown University. Brother of Rosie.

Rosie: Human female, minion working at Geartown University. Jonas's sister. Tends to be very grumpy.

Weasel: Human male, minion of Professor Wiggins, who runs Geartown's water system and works at the university. A bit cowardly. Scared of Wiggins and Nina, not without reason. Accidents tend to happen around him with alarming regularity.

Nina: Fabricated/reconstructed female (think Frankenstein's Monster), minion of Professor Xix. Lives with Wilhelm. A bit manic.

Gormless: Fabricated/reconstructed male, minion of Professor Xix. Very, very shy.

Definitions and other notes:

Minion: Someone who works for a mad scientist. Usually, but not always, a paid position. Weasel, Igor, Jonas, and Rosie are paid minions of the University of Geartown. Nina and Gormless are unpaid minions dependent on Professor Xix. Wilhelm is working off a prison sentence.

Humautomaton: My version of a cyborg.

The Maladroit: The pirate ship Wilhelm traveled on. Basically the reason she's working off a prison sentence.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you want more of these guys! :)

Monday, December 1, 2014


Mama, why is the market so colorful and gay?
It is the barbarians, they will be here today
Oh how we've awaited this wonderful day
When all the king's men will not keep them at bay
And all of the children they surely shall slay. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Take Back the World

This is a long one and I'm not too sure how the footnotes worked out, but I hope you enjoy.

             Tristan Loke put his thin, manicured fingers together and smiled. “Now, what can I do for you, Mr. Reese?”
            A. Reese, a heavyset biker in leathers and shades, cracked his knuckles menacingly. He looked extremely out of place in the nondescript office belonging to his financial representative. “You can tell me where the hell my money is!” he snarled.
            “Ah.” Loke nodded reassuringly. “The fact is, it’s on its way to your account as we speak. There was some difficulty with the bank, as your previous assets were frozen because of a computer gaffe. The modem crashed and some financial records had to be reassessed, so that took quite a while to complete. And then there was the matter of the periphrastic in the checking account…”
            Reese’s expression was blank. Loke sighed.
            “To put it in your terms,” he explained, “a computer went no-worky and our bookkeeper mismana—fouled up, but it’s all sorted now.”
            “It better be,” snarled Reese. He was back in his element now. “Cause if it isn’t, then I’m gonna take you to the cleaner’s, pretty-boy.”
            Loke pressed his fingertips against his eyes. “Threatening your financial agent is not an effective or efficient method of operation, Mr. Reese.”
            “Yeah, well, am I gonna get my money or not? I made a hell of a lot on that last stunt gig and I wanna blow it all in one place.” His eyes glazed over. “I got my eye on a nice little Harley. She’s a beauty. You should see her! Five cylinder engine, red chrome, shiniest gal you ever laid eyes on. Beautiful. She’s got a high-tech speedometer and shiny exhaust pipes and—”
            “I get the picture,” Loke said, rolling his eyes. “Now, is there anything else you wanted help with?”
            “Yeah, there is.” Reese dug a handful of rumpled papers out from the pocket of his motorcycle jacket. “I need ya to look over these before I sign ‘em. It’s my contract for More Rapider and Enrageder 8. I’m playin’ the main dude with the wicked shades an the jacket an the cool bike.”
            Loke took the papers and flattened them. “You know,” he said, exasperated, “you shouldn’t carry important legal documents crumpled in your pockets. It makes for inaccuracy and unreliability later. Also, I’m not actually a legal consultant. I just handle your money.”
            “So handle the money in the contract an tell me if it’s legit!” yelled Reese, snapping from content to irate with alarming speed. Loke could almost hear the gears crunching.
            He raised an eyebrow without looking away from the papers. “You remind me of one of my nephews.” (He neglected to mention that that particular nephew was in jail.)
            Reese, unsure of whether he was being complimented or not (he wasn’t), crossed his arms and looked menacing. It was something he did rather well. “Look, wise guy, you handle the papers and I handle the awesomeness, okay?”
            “Norns help us all,” murmured Loke, shaking his head. He passed the battered papers back across the desk. “Your contract looks fine. Your money should be in your account by tomorrow. Anything else?
            Reese thought about it for a good long minute before shaking his head. “Nope, that’s it.”
            “Excellent. Val will show you out. Val!”
            A blond woman poked her head around the door. Her name was actually Maggie, but Loke tended to call all of his blond, female employees Val. It was a private joke.
            “Show Mr. Reese to the lobby, would you, Val?”
            “Yes, sir. Oh, and there’s a woman to see you. A new client, I think.”
            “Excellent. Send her up at once.” He rose and shook hands with Reese. “Great dealing with you, Al. I hope to see you again soon.”
            “Ya know,” said A. Reese, crushing Loke’s hand in his own, “you Northerners ain’t too bad. I always liked you guys. Thanks fer all yer help.” He left the office and immediately started hitting on Maggie-Val.
            The funny thing was that Tristan Loke looked just as out of place in his own office as A. Reese did, but in a completely different way. Where Reese was heavyset and powerful, Loke was slim and delicate, with a pointed chin, nose and ears. His chin-length red hair caught whatever light was available and glimmered with hints of gold and crimson, and his golden-green eyes sometimes unnerved his clients when he narrowed them in a certain way.
            Loke took out his iPad and tapped the screen, pulling up A. Reese’s financial account. He transferred just enough money to keep Reese happy to the bank account before diverting the substantial remainder into his own account in the Cayman Islands.
            Then he leaned back, studied the device, and wondered if he should drop Reese from his clientele.
            Sure, Reese was easy to rip off, and he provided Loke with lots of money—he’d bought Loke a rather nice villa on a small Caribbean island without knowing it. But where was the fun in swindling an idiot like Reese? The moron was so disorganized in his financial affairs that without his bank manager he wouldn’t have noticed anything wrong until he was evicted from his eight-million-dollar mansion. It was, simply put, much too easy. And it wasn’t like Loke desperately needed the money—he enjoyed having it, but he also enjoyed having to work to get it.
            He pulled up a list of his appointments and smiled. One o’clock: Minerva Thena. Now there was someone Loke could be proud of ripping off. Her keen intelligence and perspicacity made it very hard to trick her, but so far Loke was managing it. A delightful challenge.
            The office door opened and Loke hastily cleared the iPad screen, slipping the device back into his briefcase. He looked up with a smile.
            “Good day. Now what can I…”
            His smile flickered.
            The woman before him had appeared on many billboards and would appear on many more. She was shapely, voluptuous, with pouting lips and blue mascara-lined eyes; she was wearing the latest fashion in the form of a little black dress, but it was her hair that truly attracted attention. It fell in golden waves to her waist, thick and long and shining. Every strand had an ethereal luminescence. It glowed from within. It was what made her such a successful model, that incandescent quality that no amount of conditioner could achieve.
            Loke frowned, offended. “Sif, you cut your hair. It used to be to the floor!”
            Sif tossed her hair over her shoulder. “Hello to you too, Loki. Times change. Was that Ares I saw leaving your office?”
            “Indeed it was. He’s one of my most valued customers. But I made you that hair!”[1]
            “You didn’t make it. You just had it made, and that was only because you cut the original off.”            
            “Still. Cost me an arm and a leg, that hair. Cost me a mouth, too.”
            Sif rolled her eyes. “No, the mouth was because you lost a bet.”
            “Still. It was because of the hair.” Loki crossed to the door, opened it, and stuck his head through. “Val, don’t let anyone in. I am not to be disturbed.”
            He closed the door and motioned for Sif to sit down. She took the chair in front of the desk and pulled a compact mirror out of her glittery purse.
            “So,” said Loki, sitting opposite her, “how’s your husband?”
            Ex-husband, as of nearly twenty years ago.” Sif reached for her lipstick. “As I’m sure you very well know, Loki.”
            “Ah yes, Thor always was rather troublesome, wasn’t he? When does he get out of prison?”
            “I have no idea. Hopefully not for a while.” Sif rolled her eyes. “He never did adapt well to the times.”
            “Of course he didn’t. He’s been depressed since Odin’s Jotun[2] Treaty of 1815. Speaking of which, have you heard from Odin?”
            “Oh, you know him. Still up in Asgard liaising between the Pantheons, silent as ever, enigmatic as hell. Oh yes, how’s your daughter doing?”
            “Hel’s doing great[3],” said Loki, leaning back. “Got engaged a few months ago. It’ll be an…interesting wedding.”
            “Really?” Sif crossed her legs. “Who’s the lucky groom?”
            “One of those Grecian-Roman fellows, Hades. They met through their work.”
            “Oh my. That will be an interesting wedding. Isn’t Hades divorced?”
            “Eh, Persephone was never right for him. They split up the moment divorce became an institution. How are your kids doing?”
            “Ugh, don’t ask.” Sif began to reapply her still potent lipstick. “Thrud just graduated from the police academy, Ull’s still off being a mountain guide, Modi’s still in court-ordered anger-management therapy and Magni’s a stormchaser.[4] You know, flying into hurricanes and such.”
            “Really? Good for him! Hey, I heard Forseti[5] made it onto the Supreme Court.”
            “Well, we always knew he’d go far, despite his father’s untimely death.” Sif fixed Loki with a look which clearly communicated that eight hundred years had in no way been enough time to forgive him for killing Forseti’s father. Everyone had loved Baldur.[6]
            Loki spread his hands. “Hey, I know what you’re thinking, but I’ve changed. Honest! Do you see anything criminal about this office?”
            “Besides the fact that well over half of your clients’ money goes straight into the Cayman Islands?” Sif glanced at Loki from the corner of her eye.
            “Besides that.” He seemed unperturbed.
            “Well, there’s the appalling coffee.”
            “They just don’t make it right anymore.”
            “And the fact that you’ve been hiding from the Aesir since the First World War.”
            “Ah.” Loki nodded. “How long have you known that I was alive?”
            “About two years. I suspected a decade ago. Things started to look…fishy with some of the Grecian-Romans. Those who had taken up careers in acting didn’t seem as wealthy as they should be. When there’s a hint of trickery about, I always look for you.”
            “How touching.”
            Sif uncrossed her legs and leaned across the desk. “More importantly, how are you alive? I know for a fact that you haven’t touched one of Idunn’s apples[7] for nearly a hundred years.”
            Loki shrugged. “I have my means.”
            “Which are…?”
            “Why should I tell you?”
            “An interesting question.” Sif sat back and re-crossed her legs. “Do you want to hear another interesting question?”
            “What is there to stop me from going to Odin and having you thrown back into Niflheim for treachery, murder, genocide and embezzlement?”
            Loki nodded, and then said, “It’s amazing what a little nectar and ambrosia every now and then will do for a body.”
            Sif’s perfectly plucked eyebrows furrowed. “You aren’t that kind of god, Loki.”
            He shrugged. “You have to build up a tolerance, of course, but given time it’s quite effective.”
            Sif threw her head back and laughed. Her hair swished around her head in a motion that had been patented by an expensive shampoo company. “Oh, Loki, you’re always full of surprises!”
            “Unlike Thor, I know how to adapt.” He shifted in his seat, leaning forward with his chin resting atop his laced fingers. “Now that we’ve caught up on the small talk, Sif, what do you want?”
             “Hmm.” Sif sat back and tapped her lips with her compact mirror. “How to phrase this? I want you to help me take back the world.”
            There was a pause.
            Loki blinked. “I…never saw you as the ‘world-domination’ type, Sif.”
            “Have you seen the movies they made about Thor?”
            “You mean the ones in which he’s a superhero? Of course! They were hilarious.”
            “They were blasphemous!” Sif leapt to her feet and paced the office. “Those idiot mortals got just about every single detail wrong!”
            “Well, yes.” Loki smirked. “Thor isn’t nearly that intelligent in real life.”
            “I mean it! How can you take this so calmly?!” She whirled and pointed at him. “You were in them too! You were a dark-haired megalomaniac who was also Thor’s brother!
            Loki winced at the memory. “That was a bit embarrassing, now that I think of it.”
            “You and Thor are not brothers! You and Odin are brothers!” Sif turned again, her hair swishing perfectly. “The whole reason that the Aesir cannot kill you is that you have Odin’s blood in you veins! You’re more like Thor’s adopted uncle than his brother! [8]
            “To be fair, they got the adopted part right,” Loki pointed out. “And I think Thor and I had more of a brotherly relationship back in the old days. We were closer to each other in…well, not age, but maturity.” He snickered. “Besides, he was so much fun to tease. Remember the time he had to wear that wedding dress?” [9]
            Sif couldn’t help smiling at the memory. “That wasn’t one of your pranks, though.”
            “It was still hilarious.” Loki chuckled at the memory, then grew more serious. “But what was that about taking back the world?”
            “My point about the movies was that our stories have been—perverted,” snapped Sif. “No one remembers us, not the way we’re supposed to be. People worshipped us, Loki. They prayed to us. Do you see anyone doing that now? Don’t you miss it? Don’t you miss being loved?”
            “They loved you,” Loki replied. “And Baldur, and Freya, and maybe a few others. But Odin and Thor and me?” He smiled wickedly. “We were feared, not loved.”
            “So you miss being feared, then!”
            Loki stood up and walked to the window of his office. Sif watched him carefully as he folded his hands behind his back and looked out. The morning light outlined the profile of his slim features and set fire to his red hair.
            Sif smiled. “So you’ll help me?” She walked to him, stood close enough that he could smell her perfume. Her hand crept up to his shoulder and her pale fingers slid under his collar.
            Loki carefully kept himself from shivering.
            “We could rule this world together,” Sif whispered into his ear. “We could make the mortals fear us. You could be a king.
            Loki smiled slowly. “Mm-hmm. And you would be queen, then?”
            “Of course.”
            A car’s horn honked far below.
            He nodded. “Thanks. But I’d rather not.”
            Sif smiled triumphantly. Then Loki’s words sank in fully and she jerked away, glaring at him. “What?!
            Loki turned and walked back to the desk. He picked up a framed photo and looked at it.
            “I’m a trickster, Sif. I let other people make the rules, and then I break them.” He looked up, his golden eyes meeting Sif’s blue ones. “I may have wanted to rule once, but not anymore.”
            Sif stared at him, her hands curled into fists at her sides. “Why not?”
            “Honestly?” He shrugged. “I’d get bored.”
            “What?” She blinked. “But…but you’d have power!”
            “Well, ye-es, but that was more fun in the old days when it was a monarchy.” Loki tossed the photo aside and leaned against the desk. “These days it would be all cabinet meetings and bureaucracy and delegating and never getting a break for tea. I get enough of that here. It’s not worth my time.
            “Besides,” he continued, “do you really think this would get very far? Odin loves humans! Most of the Greek-Romans are pretty fond of them too! I don’t want to get their bad side. I mean, have you seen Ares? He’s three times my size and he has a gigantic sword!”
            “You got on Thor’s bad side plenty of times, and you’re still here!” snapped Sif. “I daresay Mjolnir’s[10] worse than any Greek sword!”
            “Ah, but Thor can’t kill me. I’m Odin’s blood brother,” Loki reminded her. “The Greeks wouldn’t have any problem chopping me into itty-bitty pieces. And they’ve always been of the stabby persuasion.”
             “You’re a trickster,” said Sif. “You could talk your way out of it.”
            “Yeah, maybe…” Loki raised an eyebrow. “Tell me, Sif, do you actually have a plan of how you’re doing this?”
            “What?” Sif hesitated. “Of—of course I do!”
            Loki smirked. “Do tell.”            
            She hesitated again, searching for words. Then she looked away. “My plan,” she snarled, “was to get you to make a plan. You’re the bloody trickster.”
            Loki nodded. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
            Sif stared at him. She narrowed her eyes. “These are excuses, Loki. What’s your other reason?”
            He smiled.
            “Mortals fascinate me. I mean, look at them, Sif. Yes, they’re changing the stories, but that just shows how amazing they are. The old ways can’t last forever, so they change the stories, make up new ones about us.
            “My point is that we haven’t been forgotten.”
            “Some of us have.” Sif’s voice dripped resentment.
            “Not true.” Loki shook his head. “Anyone who looks can find us quite easily on the internet. But the way that they’ve changed us—it’s a testament to their ingenuity. Making Thor a superhero, me a supervillain—I think it’s quite amusing. The humans underestimate each other. The screenwriters and the people who make comics, they want to keep us alive, but they’re desperately afraid of rejection. They think their readers won’t be able to understand us. They’re so scared of making unsuccessful art that they just use whatever’s popular and insert us into it—in this case, comic books. You can’t take it personally, Sif—it really says much more about their abysmal attention spans than it does about you or me.”
            The clock on the wall ticked. The sound of screeching tires floated up from the pavement.
            “Just to be clear,” Sif said through gritted teeth, “you are saying that you don’t mind being known as a ranting supervillain.”
            “Well, some of the fan art is truly disturbing,” Loki mused, “but yes, that’s what I’m saying.”
            Sif bent her head in a carefully controlled gesture. “Then I have no more to say to you.”
            “Apparently not.”
            Sif turned, her hair whipping behind her, and walked to the door. She opened it and then paused.
            “You realize, of course, that I cannot conceal your whereabouts from the Council of Pantheons. You’re a wanted criminal, after all.”
            Loki smirked. “Of course.”
            She turned and looked at him. Her beautiful face was ugly with hatred.
            “Look at you,” Loki said quietly. “You didn’t used to be this resentful. I feel sorry for you, Sif. Thor’s not the only one who can’t adapt to the times.”
            The door slammed so hard that the framed forged certificates on the walls shook.
            Loki sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Then he walked to one of the walls and ran his fingers across its surface. He pressed down and a rune glowed under his hand. A doorway appeared, revealing a secret closet.
            Loki had been planning his exit from the Tristan Loke Representation Company since the company’s inception. In the closet were stashed a suitcase full of money, well over a million dollars in various currencies and jewelry, as well as a stringed pouch with three sets of passports and drivers’ licenses. Each set had a different name on them, but all of the photos were of Loki.
            Loki slung the pouch around his neck and tucked it under his shirt. Then he hauled the suitcase out into his office, shut the door to the secret closet, and took a piece of chalk out of his desk drawer. He painstakingly drew a rune onto the suitcase.
            He tapped the rune and it glowed. There was a soft pop and then the suitcase was the size of a Barbie’s purse. Loki picked it up and tucked it into his breast pocket.
            He walked out of the office and strolled through the lobby.
            “Are you going for an early lunch, Mr. Loke?” asked Maggie-Val,[11] glancing up from her desk as he passed.           
            “Yep. Then I’m taking a walk. I won’t be back for a few hours.” A few hours would be plenty of time for him to escape.
            He knew there would a massive imbroglio when his embezzlement was discovered. It didn’t bother him. It wasn’t his mess to clean up. That was the way Loki worked these days: He had his fun and left the nasty bits for someone else to take care of. It was quite an agreeable way to live.
            Loki walked out of his office. He immediately noticed the two stern-looking gentlemen across the street. Sif certainly hadn’t wasted any time alerting the Pantheon Police about his whereabouts. He strolled casually down the street, stepping into the first dark alley he came to.
            Once he was alone, Loki smoothly shifted shape, going from man to rat in less than ten seconds.
            It took skill to keep his clothes within the shift, but Loki had mastered it long ago. When he took on human form, his clothes—and the suitcase in his pocket—would be with him, as well as the new identities.
            A common Rattus norvegicus skittered down the street and slipped into the nearest sewer grate, indistinguishable from any other rat.

[1] Sif is (or was) Thor’s wife. She used to have long, beautiful golden hair, but then Loki cut it off as a prank. Thor got extremely angry and to save his own skin Loki went to some dwarves called the Sons of Ivaldi and had them make hair out of real gold for Sif, as well as some other shiny things to apologize to the gods. Loki then made a rather stupid bet with some other dwarves, saying that the Sons of Ivaldi were the best smiths in the world. This eventually resulted in Loki’s mouth being sewn shut (because he lost the bet), but the upside was that the dwarves made Thor’s hammer to prove Loki wrong.
[2] Jotuns=Frost giants. They had a rocky relationship with the Aesir. (Aesir=Norse gods.)
[3] Loki has three children: the Fenris Wolf, the Midgard Serpent, and Hel. Hel runs the underworld.
[4] Thrud is Sif and Thor’s daughter, and Magni and Modi are Thor’s sons and Sif’s stepsons. Ull is Sif’s son and Thor’s stepson.
[5] Forseti is Baldur’s son. In Asgard, he was the one who judged disputes among the gods.
[6] Baldur was the god of light and a very nice guy. Everyone loved him. Except for Loki, apparently, who was responsible for his death. Long story. “The Death of Baldur” is one of the better-known myths; you can Google it if you like.
[7] Idunn was the caretaker of the Golden Apples of Immortality. These were what kept the gods alive, since Norse gods are not immortal and can be killed (like Baldur was).
[8] Odin and Loki met before Odin lost his eye and became wise (‘nother story). Loki was (and still is) a very weird Jotun (or possibly ½ Jotun—there are different versions) in that he’s not huge and ugly. He and Odin got along well enough that they cut their wrists and let their blood flow together, making them blood brothers. That’s why none of the Aesir can kill Loki—he’s their chief’s brother.
[9] True story. For once, it wasn’t Loki’s fault. The story is usually called The Theft of Thor’s Hammer.
[10] Mjolnir=Thor’s hammer. Pronounced mule-neer.
[11] As in Valkyrie. Valkyries=Norse warrior women who accompany Odin into battle.