Thunder rumbled and lighting flashed white in the distance. The storm had come on suddenly near an hour ago, and hadn't lowered in intensity since it began. Angela dried the big red clay pot she had been washing and placed it back on the stove. Sighing, she looked around the kitchen and then, satisfied with its cleanliness, went to join her little brother in the living room. She found him lying on the big brown leather couch, absorbed in one of his many books. He shifted constantly, moving from his stomach to his side then back onto his stomach.
Scott was a small boy, even for his age. He had just turned ten a month ago, but his bones still poked through his pale skin. He had spiky strawberry blonde hair and the most beautiful cloud grey eyes. Angela watched him as he kicked his legs leisurely back and forth and turned to the next page in his story. She smiled as she watched his facial expression change with what he was reading, sometimes mouthing the words of the characters as they spoke.
Angela turned her attention to the big open fireplace in the center of the room. Deeming it too dull for her liking, she tossed another small log onto the fire and watched the flames hungrily engulf their prey. She noticed a dirty plate on the floor next to Scott. It had what remained of a few chocolate-chip cookies: nothing but tiny crumbs. Half annoyed, half entertained by his antics, Angela said,
"So that's where the last of my cookies went, hmm?"
Scott smiled without looking up from his book.
"Mhmm, and they were delicious."
Shaking her head and laughing, Angela bent down and picked up the dirty plate. She returned to the kitchen and switched on the faucet. An unexpected stream of hot water hit Angela's hand, burning her. She yelped and instantly recoiled, and accidently dropped the plate she had been holding. The plate shattered, sending lethal shards of glass over the marble tile floor. Angela leapt back to avoid the shards as quickly as she could, but only succeeded in impaling her heel with a stray sliver. She bit her tongue to keep from cursing at her bad luck, pulling herself up onto the counter. Scott immediately dropped his book and ran over to his big sister. He stared at the glass and then up at his sister.
"Are you okay!?"
Angela nodded hastily, still holding her wounded foot.
"Yeah, yeah I'm fine
could you go get me as first aid kit?"
Scott nodded his head and ran off down the hall to retrieve the kit. Angela winced as her finger accidently touched the small piece of glass now imbedded in her heel. Scott returned with the first aid kit, and Angela proceeded to painfully remove the glass and begin sanitizing the wound. Scott watched his big sister as she cleaned the wound.
She was so brave. She never let on to how bad something hurt or how upset she was. Whatever was happening, she was always smiling. And, just like his mom, she loved unconditionally. Though Angela never saw it this way, Scott always looked to her as he would his mother. She was the one he felt safe with, the one he trusted with his secrets. Not even his father knew half of the things he told Angela.
Suddenly Scott's dog, Charlie, as he had been named, a big black and white Siberian husky rose from his comfortable fire-side bed and ran to the sliding glass door that looked out over the vineyards. He growled menacingly, and then let out a series of harsh and painfully loud barks. Angela moaned and covered her ears.
Scott, can you please get him to stop?"
"Charlie! Here boy! Come here!"
However, Scott's coaxing achieved nothing. The animal continued to bark wildly and also began to scratch at the window. Angela did her best to ignore the animal and continued to attend to her injury. Scott ran over to Charlie and took a hold of his collar, trying to pull him away from the window and calm him down, which only resulted in the dog whining and howling louder.
"My gosh!" Yelled Scott above Charlie's racket. "Looks like Mischief has visited us! Ha, ha!"
Angela, not fully understanding him, titled her head and said,
"What are you talking about?"
Scott gave up holding onto the huge dog, allowing him to run back to the window and continue barking at the raging storm. He crossed the floor to the big brown couch and picked up the book he had previously been reading. Walking over to his sister, he flipped back a few pages and held up the book. Angela took her eyes from her now bloody foot and looked at what he was pointing to.
It was an illustration. The drawing depicted a pale, sickly man dressed in a black tunic and silver armor. He was hunched over with a wicked smile on his face, rubbing his hands together.
"Mischief," Scott said again. "That's him."
Scott pulled the book back to him and flipped through a few more pages. Angela smiled inwardly as she watched her little brother immerse himself in his fantasies.
"His name's Loki, he's a liar and a trickster. He brings chaos and misfortune usually, but if you can get him to like you, he may give you gifts."
"Oh, is that so?" Angela said, continuing to pull glass out of her foot. "What does it take to get him to like you? He sounds pretty mean to me."
Scott flipped back and forth a few more pages, his eyebrows wrinkling together as he sought out an answer.
Scott thought a little while longer, then abruptly closed the book and shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know, doesn't say anything about him being happy."
"Oh, well isn't that too bad," Said Angela. "Apparently he was never happy then."
Scott adopted an almost scholar like stance, chest puffed out and a hand on his hip.
"Well, technically we can't know for sure, we don't have an eye-witness account of his everyday life, so then we can't actually say he was never happy."
Angela shook her head and laughed. She loved Scott's vibrant imagination and quick mind; he always had something to say that brightened up her day
even a day like this.
The sky was constantly alight with flashes of lightning, and every few moments thunder would boom out its presence. The power had already gone out, a few candles dotted the kitchen counters and coffee tables, but the real light came from the cheery fire in the center of the living room. The warm light cast a golden glow through the windows, out over the hills and the vineyards that made up the Cresley Family Winery.
It was this golden light that had gained Loki's attention.
Loki's fall from the Bifrost had sent him tumbling down through the heavens on a crooked and twisted course. He felt like nothing more than a rabbit in a snare. His whole life, he had been nothing but a puppet, a marionette, being skillfully maneuvered by a master puppeteer. But those days were over. Odin
he would pay for his sins; he would suffer dearly. He would be pushed to the brink of death, dragged to the very depths of fear and madness. He would know how it felt to have everything he loved, everything he cherished, brutally pried from his grasp.
Even as Loki fell through the gap between the realms, Odin's horrible words rang through his head.
Already, his sharp mind was working. The trickster refused to be so soundly beaten. He knew what he was truly capable of. Thor
soon they would both recognize and fear his power. Then, they would realize their faults. Their fatal mistake to ever challenge the God of Mischief.
Now, Loki found himself wandering Midgard. He had somewhat expected to arrive in the same place he sent the Destroyer, but his journey through the realms had been so warped he wasn't surprised when, instead of finding a sparse, dry desert surrounding him, he saw only rolling hills and vineyards. The storm had bombarded his already broken and bleeding body with cold, and although any other man would have been dead by now, these things were only mere inconveniences. But even as he trudged aimlessly on, he knew that he needed both shelter and rest. It was at that moment he noticed the shimmering, golden house on the hill ahead of him. It strangely reminded him of Asgard and caused pain to tug at his heart. Quickly shaking all thoughts of home out of his mind, the God of Mischief walked on.
The house was impossible to miss. It sat high on a lofty hill that overlooked miles of vineyards, like a king sitting on this throne, watching over his kingdom. Loki knew these mortals would not understand nor take interest in him if he portrayed his true identity. So, he instead decided he would appeal to the universal weakness of humans; emotion.
Willing his golden armor and flourishing green cape to vanish, his attire slowly changed to that of an ordinary man. Now, he was clothed in a pair of dark denim jeans, a white t-shirt, and grey cardigan. Loki focused his sight on the house ahead of him, peering through the driving rain. His sharp eyes made out two figures, one tall and feminine, and the other short and very small. A mother and child he figured. He also noted an animal in the home, which he instinctively knew to be a dog, as it was a common household pet among the Midgardians. Satisfied with his appearance, Loki now only needed some sort of noise to spark interest.
He looked to his right. A small passenger vehicle with a lone driver was passing by.
Loki closed his eyes and focused his mind, sensing the car grow steadily closer. The driver, a middle aged man, was on his way home after a long business trip. He was anxious to see his family; to hold his wife in his arms again, and this resulted in him going just a little too fast on a wet road. Then it happened.
The God of Mischief's eyes snapped open and he shot his out. The metal hood of the car suddenly warped and the wheels locked up. Tires sliding on the wet pavement, both the car and its driver were helpless, and the automobile swerved off the road, tumbling and rolling into a roadside ditch. Loki strode calmly over to the edge of the road and gazed down at his work. The small car was completely shriveled, the metal contorted and bent severely out of shape. It lay on its side, all of its glass windows shattered, the lifeless body of its driver hanging over the side, still strapped in to his seat.
The God of Mischief climbed down into the ditch and pulled the dead man out of his vehicle. Placing a cold hand on the corpse's neck, he tossed it carelessly away from him, watching it crumble disintegrate into the earth by his magic.
It was this crash that had reached Charlie's sensitive ears and sparked his barking. Even now, he clawed violently at the sliding glass door, desperate to discover what had caused such a strange noise.
Meanwhile, Angela and Scott had set up a game of chess and were just beginning the game.
"Do you want to be the gold or the silver?" Asked Scott as he lined up the metal pieces on the game board.
who goes first?"
"Gold always goes first."
I'll be gold then."
Before either of them could say another word, a sudden blast of cold air rushed into the house, extinguishing multiple candles and causing the fire to splutter and cough. Charlie had somehow managed to force open the glass door and was running full speed ahead towards the road, barking wildly.
"Charlie!" Screamed Scott. Forgetting his game of chess he ran after his dog out into the pouring rain.
"Scott! Get back here! You'll catch your death out there!"
Angela jumped up and bounded forward, pain shooting through her foot. Without giving any thought to herself, she grabbed one of Scott's sweatshirts that happened to lie nearby and ran out the door after him.
Angela found him at the bottom of the hill, staring blankly in front of him. Charlie was still barking wildly, though the animal didn't dare go any closer to observe the situation.
Angela ran to him, placing the now damp sweatshirt around him. She shook him frantically, trying to get him to look at her.
"Don't you ever do anything like that again! What were you thinking?!"
Scott, still horrified, didn't answer. He was shaking horribly; though not from the cold. He slowly raised his hand, and pointed into the darkness.
Angela could see the fear in his eyes, and she immediately knew he has seen something that deeply frightened him. Releasing his shoulders gently, she stood upright and looked in the direction he was pointing.
A small, silver car lay in the ditch just off the side of the road. The metal was severely warped and all the windows were shattered. The still form of a man hung out the side of the car, still strapped into his seat by his seatbelt. His head was covered in blood that still flowed from a gash in his head, and both of his arms were sliced deep from the broken glass.
Angela, being trained as a nurse, lost no time. Ordering Scott to stay put, she scrambled down into the muddy ditch and made her way over to the wreckage. Pressing her hands to the man's neck, she felt for a pulse.
Amazingly, he was still alive.
She ran her hands over his neck and down his back, checking that no bones were broken. Finding no signs of a fracture, she pushed her body against his and undid the seatbelt, letting his weight fall on her.
is he alright?" Called Scott from the road.
"He's alive," yelled Angela in response as she laid the man down as gently as she could. "But he's badly hurt."
Angela put her ear by the man's face, listening for an exhale. A few tense seconds passed for Angela, and then she heard his breath, ragged and hollow. He probably has blood in his throat, she thought. She carefully pulled him towards her and cradled his head in her lap. She poked her index finger through his lips, trying to pry his mouth open. The man coughed and blood gurgled from his throat, dripping out of his mouth. Angela knew that she needed to get this man to the hospital or he wasn't going to live. So, with difficulty, she looped his arm around her shoulder and hoisted the half-conscious man up out of the ditch and led him up the road back to the house.
Once inside, Angela closed and locked the doors, then immediately set about making the wounded man comfortable. She removed his shoes and cardigan, then laid him on his back on the couch, tossing a thick, soft blanket over him. She bandaged his bleeding arms and then proceeded to dry his face with a towel.
"Is he going to be okay?" Asked Scott.
"I'm not sure, but the sooner we call an ambulance for him the better."
Angela went to the kitchen and retrieved a body wrap from the microwave. Returning to the man on the couch, she gently lifted his head and placed it under his neck. Then, almost involuntarily, she a paused and studied him.
His skin was pale, a trait Angela attributed to loss of blood. He has thin lips that were beautifully arched, almost as if they had mastered the art of lying. His hair was a deep black. It fell messily to just below his ear, wily and unkempt. His whole body, though slender and sickly looking, had a quiet strength about it. Angela was fascinated by him; he was the very embodiment of contradiction. He was handsome, and yet he held a certain cruelty about him. He was frail and lean, yet everything about him spoke a fierce vigor. He truly intrigued her.
Angela decided she had wasted enough time.
"Scott, would you bring me my cell phone please? It's on the entry table."
Angela stood slowly. She felt uneasy with this man here. Yes, he was injured and needed medical attention. It was just by luck they had noticed him, just a coincidence that she and her brother had found him and were able to help. However, she still felt anxious with this man in the house. He was a stranger. For all she knew he could have been drinking, perhaps that's how he had ended up in that accident. But it was also a very rainy night; it could have just been that the vehicle had spun out of control
"Here you go." Said Scott as he returned with her cell phone in hand.
Angela turned and took a few steps toward the kitchen. She crossed her fingers and turned on her phone, desperately hoping that she would be able to receive a signal.
Now, it was Scott's turn to stare at the wounded man lying on their couch. The small boy was also intrigued by him. He felt as if he had seen this man somewhere. His face, the way his body relaxed against the couch, his pastel skin, his mischievous face
it all seemed so familiar. So
Scott's scream was suffocated as Loki clasped his cold hands over the boy's mouth.
Angela breathed a sigh of relief as her cell phone found reception. She began to punch in three digits on her phone.
"Please don't do that."
Angela froze. A voice like silk slithered up her spine and caused her to tremble. She looked back over her shoulder to find the man standing tall, Scott cringing in fear at his feet. Angela's mouth fell open and cold fear clutched her heart. Her knees felt weak as she watched her little brother tremble in fear, crumpled unnaturally on the floor.
With difficulty, Angela pried her eyes off of Scott to look at the assailant.
His eyes they were evil. Evil in every sense of the word. They were a deep, emerald green that glistened with malice and cunning. His stare invoked a horrible fear, and Angela was desperately afraid. Not so much afraid for herself, but afraid for her brother's life.
The man's icy voice shook her out of her trance. She saw his wild eyes flick to the cell phone in her hand, and immediately understood his demand.
"I said," Impatience and irritation rang harsh in the man's voice, and he set his foot on Scott's thin legs, threatening to snap them under his weight.
"Drop it." He began to press his foot down on Scott's legs, and poor boy cried out. As he did so, his body began to shimmer and, slowly, his jeans and t-shirt vanished, and he was suddenly clothed in black leather armor.
Angela immediately obeyed.
"Wait! Please don't! Please! Don't hurt him
Loki leaned forward, pressing harder on Scott's fragile limbs. Scott was screaming now, tears streaming down his face.
"Please!" Angela was beginning to cry.
"Be silent!" He hissed at her. "Keep your emotional pleas to yourself. They mean nothing to me."
Loki removed his foot from the boy and leaned down. Grabbing the child by his shirt, he pulled him to his feet. Angela took a cautious step towards her brother, desperate to feel him in her arms
desperate to make him feel safe again. She had been so foolish! What was she thinking!? Allowing some strange man into their home! And now
her brother was being abused by this mad man!
If he hurt her brother, she would never be able to forgive herself.
Loki held the boy by his throat, relishing the in incredible fear that practically radiated off of his two hostages. He had expected a mother and her child, and to a certain extent, these two did act that way. But the woman in front of him looked no older than twenty years, much too young to be this boy's mother, and so he assumed them to be siblings. However, this girl looked absolutely nothing like the pale boy he held by the throat.
Her skin was tan and smooth, a pure contradiction to the pale, dry skin of the little boy. She had rich brown hair that fell down to just below her waist. Her lips were full and pastel pink. But the most intriguing thing about her was her eyes. They were ice blue. The most vibrant and lustrous blue Loki had ever seen. The way her dark hair fell in front of her face, the way her eyes reflected each flash of lightning, it was beautiful.
But he couldn't see any kind of resemblance between the two.
Perhaps she was one of those caretakers, the hired help. Of course, why else would she care about the little boy? She had to take care of him. If something happened to him, her job would be in jeopardy. No wonder she was so anxious. How pathetic. Either way, the girl would most likely to just about anything for him to keep the boy safe, that's all he needed.
"Now, I trust you will be providing me a more suitable sleeping arrangement."
Angela, still completely focused on her brother, nodded.
I'll prepare a room for you
Loki shoved Scott towards the couch.
"Sit still, you hear?"
Scott nodded frantically and sat down on the edge of the sofa. Though he was young, he still understood the severity of the situation. His cooperation was vital.
Loki paced slowly back and forth in front of the couch, aware that the child was watching his every movement.
" Said Scott, his voice frightened and high pitched. "You
you're really him?"
Loki stopped pacing and glanced at Scott over his shoulder.
"I beg your pardon?"
Loki raised an eyebrow and turned to face the boy. He saw something in his eyes that was unexpected: wonder.
Loki. Bringer of bad luck, the God of Chaos and Anarchy."
A smile crept onto Loki's face.
"And how would you know so much about the God of Mischief?"
Scott glanced about, and then saw his book lying on the coffee table. He reached over and took it from the table, flicking through the pages until he found the section about Loki. He found the illustration, and held it up. Loki almost laughed as he saw the farfetched and inaccurate re-creation of himself.
"But that looks nothing like me, boy. How can you know that I am Loki?"
Scott brought the book back to his lap and turned the page. He scanned the writing for a moment and then began to read aloud.
The face of Loki is unmistakable, and unfortunately, impossible to perfectly recreate. Everything about the God of Mischief is evil, but one needs only to see his eyes, then they will know. There is no human with those eyes, for those are the eyes of a god. 'The eyes are the windows to the soul', it has been said. This has never been truer. One look into the eyes of Mischief, and you will understand for yourself."
Scott finished and closed his book, looking up at Loki, who was now directly in front of him.
"So," Scott said, "I could tell it was you once I saw your eyes."
Though he would never admit it, this fascinated Loki. This child, someone devoid of all the knowledge that comes with age, was able to recognize him by simply looking into his eyes. And not only that, but this boy could actually meet his eyes, and hold his gaze. Generally, whenever someone met his eyes, they turned away, afraid of him. It wasn't the same with this one. Oh, he was afraid, no doubt, but not afraid of him. He was only afraid of what he might do. That made all the difference to Loki.
guess I was right then." Said Scott as he curled up on the couch, knees tucked to his chest.
"Looks like Mischief did decide to visit us after all."