Transcript of Asgard Data Vault Item Access #AI5893–129FJ (Audio)
You got that thing turned on this time?
Yes, the recorder is on. Please describe the incident that preceded the disappearance of Thor and Loki from this Hall.
I already told you what happened. You fucked up the recording and now we’re doing it again. As if I’ve got nothing to do.
Do you see that blinking light?
I see it.
That light means it’s recording.
You see this empty glass right here?
I see the glass, yes.
This empty glass means I ain’t talking ‘til I get one looks just like it only full. And don’t put too much ice in it.
[Sigh.] Would you be so kind as to start, ah, re-start, your statement while I’m fixing your drink? I’ve got plans for dinner, and I imagine you do as well.
You got yourself a deal, Mr. Suit.
[Chair scrapes floor. Footsteps fade away.]
Plans for dinner, shit. I work nights. Like I’m going out for sushi or some such? [Cough. Knuckles crack.] Name’s Josué Cruel. People always ask: Yes, it’s my real last name. I guess it goes back to France. Normandy, long-ass time ago. I don’t know. I’m from the Dominican Republic. Born there, anyway. Now I’m here. What I do here is clean up after the gods and all the stupid bullshit they get up to. They’re big on mess. They talk a lot of fancy talk, but what it comes down to is battles and parties and wormholes. What do those things have in common? Mess. That’s where I come in. It’s not a bad job, compared to some. Working nights is no treat, but the Hall is empty most of the time, which is nice. People I don’t mind, not too much, but these gods, man, they’re something else.
[Footsteps approach. Hard object set on table.] Here you are.
What have you covered so far?
Have you started on the events of two nights ago?
Wasn’t anything basic about that.
Have you finished with the basics?
Turns out I have. [Ice cubes tinkle. Sip.] Heavy on the coke, light on the rum, man. You should slip a little mineral water in there, like the Mexicans do, cuts the sweet back a touch. Really improves the drink.
Tell me, is the ice content up to standard?
You got the ice and kept everything inside the glass. Better’n those idiot gods did the other night. [Ice tinkles. Sip.]
You’re too kind, really. I believe you were recalling the events of two nights ago?
I show up, water’s dripping everywhere and it stinks. Big ol’ stink. Rotting seaweed and iodine and fish guts baking in the sun. Kind of stink that reaches out and slaps you in the face, makes your eyes water. Loki’s got a big ol’ chunk of coral reef floating in the center of the hall. He’s got the reef, the ocean, giant sponges and sea fans and everything — parrot fish munching away, little fish darting around like liquid glass come to life, barracudas cruising up top looking all silvery and pissed off like they do. Looks cool as hell, I’ll admit, and everything’s great, only the magic or plexiglass or whatever Loki’s got holding it all up is leaking.
What did you do?
My job. I got to mopping.
Do you know for a fact that Loki brought the specimen to Asgard?
Look, man, you been here longer’n me and I know better than to use the words “fact” and “Loki” in the same sentence. But I don’t think it was Thor, and I didn’t see anybody else in the hall. [Ice tinkles. Sip.]
So you showed up and the specimen was already here.
That’s what I said. You make me repeat myself, we’re going to be here a long while, and you already told me you want to get to your dinner.
Please, go on.
So this big ol’ fucker’s dripping everywhere, I’m mopping up seawater, and Thor and Loki are arguing about music. Christmas albums, if you can believe it.
For the record, can you tell me more about the argument?
That a joke?
Nevermind. Thor was playing with his hair and arguing for Once Upon a Christmas by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. He’s drinking again, by the way.
I know. [Sigh.] We all know. And Loki?
Johnny Mathis’s Merry Christmas.
[Ice cubes tinkle. Sip. Ice cubes rattle.] Little heads up for ya, this one’s about done.
We really need to get this done.
Don’t worry, I’ll keep going.
[Chair scrapes floor. Footsteps recede.]
Loki snaps his fingers and an old-school record player appears. Fancy dark wood base, sort of a trumpet-looking thing instead of a speaker, brass all over it. He says, “Listen,” snaps his fingers again, and the record starts spinning. I’m not much for Christmas music myself, but the guy can sing, I’ll give him that. They listen for a minute, but neither one of ’em can stand it when they’re not talking.
Thor says, “Where’d you get it, anyway?” and Loki says, “Earth,” and hands him a telescope. Thor takes a second to get his bearings then holds the telescope to his eye and looks toward Earth. After a second he asks, “Was that lady sailing in circles when you grabbed the reef?” Loki grabs the telescope, squints for half a second, and says, “Yep.” He sets the telescope on the table and spins it, and Thor says, “I’m not sure the Jack and Diet Coke is helping her. At the very least, she should eat some more of those pretzels.” Loki says, “You’re one to talk. If that hammer didn’t come back on its own, you’d never find it.”
[Footsteps approach. Hard object set on table.] I found a bottle of Topo Chico. I hope you’re happy.
Color looks right. [Sip.] That’s a good one. Got to say, I didn’t think you had it in you.
Where were you in your statement?
Thor was getting all high and mighty about the lady on the boat drinking Jack and Diet Coke. Like there’s anything that fool won’t drink. When I lived in Reno, I had a lady friend who brought her own Diet Coke to the bar in little glass bottles. Wouldn’t drink anything made with soda from a bar gun. She added vodka to her Diet Coke. She always told me, Josué, don’t you ever drink soda straight. That shit’ll kill ya. [Laugh.]
Back to the night of the incident.
Right. So I’m mopping up seawater and listening to Johnny Mathis thinking the man can flat sing, that I’ve been missing out, and Thor and Loki are arguing about whatever, hockey, I think, and this enormous voice roars “Silence.” It seemed like it came from everywhere all at once. It echoed all around the Hall, like a giant bell. Filled it with sound.
Thor and Loki shut up. The record player skipped, then vanished. The drips stopped dripping.
What did you do?
[Sip.] I eased back into the hallway over there. I got a pee-aitch-dee in cleaning up mess, and one of my golden rules is to not get any of it on me.
Then what happened?
Well, the voice called out again. Rang out, if you want me to get fancy about it. It said, “I existed millions of years before you, and I will watch when you die, writhing and sniveling, and I will be here millions of years after your empty Hall crumbles to dust and blows into the depths of the Void.” And then it vanished.
All of it?
What was up in the air. It left its drips behind. Like I said, there’s always mess.
What about Thor and Loki?
They stormed out. You know how they are. Worse than my girls ever were. I’m glad there aren’t doors around here, or they’d always be slamming doors. [Sip.] My best guess, Loki’s in a dive bar on some dingy planet somewhere, and Thor’s hiding in a special palace he built for himself polishing his Brad Pitt action figures. But like I said, that’s a guess. [Ice cubes rattle. Hard object set on table.]
What are you doing?
Seeing if I can work Loki’s telescope. I want to see how that lady on the sailboat is doing.
You shouldn’t touch that. Don’t touch that.
You worry about your fancy blinking-light recorder, I’ve got this.
Josué, I must insist you put that down. Your contract clearly states humans aren’t permitted to operate the tools of the gods.
Man, she’s got jalapeño shrimp cornbread going. And collard greens. On a sailboat. In the Caribbean.
Mr. Cruel, I’m warning you for the last time.
You know what, fuck you and your suit. [Hard object rattles on table. Rolling sound. Hard object hits floor.] I’ve had it with all this nonsense. I’m gonna pack my shit, and y’all can ship me back to earth. I’m done. [Chair scrapes. Footsteps recede.]
[End of recording.]
Prompted by Kay Bolden (coral reef, Johnny Mathis Christmas album, Asgard)
Leave a comment with a living thing, an inanimate object, and a location and I will write a story based on your prompt and tag you when I publish it.