Attack on an Evil God
by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson
Chapter 4: The Opposition
Maggi was having lunch the following day when he noticed that some people at a table just out of earshot were giving him the eye. He recognized them from times before, but didn’t know any of them personally. Thus he found their sudden and rather obvious interest in him disconcerting.
They were an odd lot, all dressed in predominantly black or otherwise dark clothes, mostly hoodies, and had odd hairstyles. Of the four before him, one had green hair and another blue.
One of them stood up and walked to him after what appeared to be a discussion on who should. It was a girl, the one with the green hair.
“You’re Maggi, right?”
Maggi decided to agree with that.
“We saw you hanging around with Hansi and Freyja.”
“Why? You want me to relay a message to them?”
“No... not yet. We just want to warn you about them.”
“They seem decent enough.”
“They are dangerous.”
“Yes, I can explain it to you later. What time will you be getting home?”
Maggi looked at her, then at her friends, who were all watching them with the deepest interest. From Maggi’s perspective, the only thing they lacked at the moment was popcorn. So he told her. Predictably this resulted in her waiting for him to get to his car, where she and an associate of hers waited for him.
“Can you give us a lift?” she asked him with a smile.
“Depends on where you wish to go.”
“Oh, wherever you’re going.”
“Isn’t that out of the way for you?”
“You both live in the same part of town as I?”
“I doubt it.”
“What do you want?”
“A talk. In private. Your car isn’t bugged, at least not yet.”
Maggi sighed. Wasn’t that sweet? Giving a ride to a couple of paranoids. At least his life had gotten semi-interesting. The two nuts got into his car and introduced themselves. “I’m Fura Ösp,” said the girl, and the guy called himself Runni. Maggi could not decide which of them was weirder. Runni sat in the back, right in the middle, leaning forward all the time.
“Can I smoke in here?” asked the girl.
“I’d rather you didn’t.”
She sighed and began. “What did Hansi and Freyja want with you?”
“What’s it to you?”
“They are rivals, working to further the cause of global capitalism.”
“I thought they were just larpers.”
“No. They are agents of the government.”
“What do you mean?”
“Are they working for the government, or are they furthering the cause of global capitalism?”
“That’s one and the same goal.”
“If you say so.”
“I say so.”
“What makes you think they are government agents?”
“They are. They employ assassins.”
“Assassins? You don’t say.”
“Yes. They have already killed one of our own. Last week. Don’t you remember? It was all over the news?”
“I really try to ignore the news as much as possible, but you say that girl was one of your friends?”
“Yes, she was. She was a highly skilled member, and your friends had her assassinated.”
“Say, how can I hire an assassin?”
“Don’t make light of this. She was my friend.”
“Fine. You have proof of any of this?”
“None as such. But we have had a long-standing rivalry. We are enemies. We know of each other.”
“Yes. A good enemy is worth his weight in gold.”
“We want you to spy on them.”
“What? Why should I?”
“We shall reward you if you do. If you don’t, we can make your life a living hell.”
“That doesn’t sound oppressive at all.”
“No, you see we are reasonable people,” said Fura without noticing the sarcasm. “You have already been to Hansi’s place once. What can you tell us about how he lives? The layout of his home?”
“Nothing much. It is all pretty standard.”
“Is it true that he has an actual machine that kills fascists?”
“Oh, you know about that?”
“So it does exist!”
“Well... sort of. He had this robot-statue thing in his closet, and he told me it was such a thing. Without any proof.”
“Did you think he would turn that thing on and have it kill one of his cronies just to prove it to you?”
“Actually I thought it wouldn’t work at all.”
“Where is it?”
“It’s in the basement.”
“Oh, you must draw us a schematic of the basement.”
“Why? You plan to break in?”
“And steal the metal sculpture from Hansi?”
“And liberate the world’s only machine that kills fascists.”
“We shall let it loose. It will perfect its existence with meaning.”
Maggi just shook his head. Those people were even madder than Hansi and Freyja. The guy sitting silently in the back seat was especially disturbing.
“How come you are all so sure that thing even works?” he asked them.
“Because it is magical. Magical things always work.”
“Oh, you are into that bullcrap too? What stunt are you going to pull to convince me? Hypnotism? Pulling rabbits from your pockets?”
“We have our ways. We could show you the night-monster. It is called a mara.”
Maggi managed to keep a straight face.
“We found out how to catch it from them. They are very willing to divulge information to anyone they try to recruit, so we only needed to talk to people they’d spoken with and get all the information from them. Catching the mara is easy, finding it isn’t.
“First you have to find someone who is liked by the mara. It doesn’t chase just anybody. And not everybody will let us watch them as they sleep. We needed to force our way into the home of a person afflicted with the mara, and then we needed to make them sleep. That was harder than it sounds. And then the mara appeared on the third night, and we caught it.”
“Now it is in a box beside my bed,” said the guy in the back chuckling. “I kick it every time I wake up.”
Maggi nodded. “Aha... you want me to come with you to look at this night-mara in a box?”
“Oh yes! We put it in a transparent box. It was all we had at the time, but it works really well to scare new recruits.”
Runni pointed. “Turn here.”
Runni lived in a garage beside an apartment house in a quiet neighborhood. Inside was a small bathroom closed off with some plywood. The kitchen was just a table with a simple sink and a microwave oven on it. In the corner was a bed; against the opposite wall a sofa, a chair, and what looked like a table in the middle. The whole thing was strewn with pizza and other takeout containers and various other detritus. It smelled a bit like the inside of a garbage can.
“We just have to move this,” said Runni, pointing at the table. Maggi helped him pick up the top of it, which came loose, as it wasn’t attached, and they moved it to the bed. A paper cup rolled off as they put it down. Runni ignored it.
Underneath was a box propped up on blocks. It was mostly made of plywood, but had a clear plastic cover screwed in place. The symbols were on the side, but they had neglected to write the runes on top. And there was something inside, under what looked like a copper net.
Maggi stared at it, not knowing what to make of the thing. He wasn’t quite sure what he was seeing or if he was seeing anything at all. The thing in the box appeared to have eyes that radiated darkness.
“What am I looking at?” he asked. “It’s empty.”
“Can’t you see it?” asked the girl in return.
As Maggi looked at her, he saw the creature better out the corner of his eye; it filled the box completely. He looked back directly at it, and it was more of a faint blur that could be mistaken for nothing at all behind that net. Runni kicked the box and laughed.
“Isn’t there supposed to be a sign on top?” Maggi asked.
“It’s on the lid,” said Runni, pointing at the table top they had just placed on the bed.
“You see it, can’t you? Out the corner of your eye,” she asked him.
“Yes. What do you feed it?”
“Don’t be stupid. We know they must have shown you theirs and explained how it works.”
“You need four people.”
“We have four people. We have eight people. We have a legion. We have enough people to control many of those creatures, but we only have one. So far. They seem to be strangely common. But what we do not have is inside information.”
“Can’t you just magically spy on each other?”
“We haven’t worked that one out yet.”
“You could use the thing in the box.”
“Don’t you think we’ve tried? All information comes out blurred. Join us, you’ll be fighing against a fascist conspiracy.”
To be continued...
Copyright © 2017 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson