Chapter 7: A Human Work
“I just need to know that you promise not to accept what I say right off the bat. If you do, you’re crazy. But if you don’t after giving it some thought, you’re also crazy and stupid”
-The Old Man
13 August 2021: The Present
Felix Sand has romantical love only for the lady-folk, but even he has to admit that the dude who walks in the door to the much-maligned HH is like movie-star good looking, which makes him uncomfortable and suddenly aware of the fact that his own precious little face probably couldn’t carry a blockbuster, even with makeup.
Being in the company of especially attractive people has always made Felix really uncomfortable, which is a factor he’s always blamed for a lot of his interpersonal relationship woes, since he knows that it’s groups of attractive people banded together who generally have pretty good lives, certainly better than one moderately attractive-to-average bloke managing the cosmos’ only Hamburger Purgatory.
So a lot of involuntary staring goes on, one to the other (one being Felix and the other being this handsome man), and even Squatch is getting in on the action, himself mostly preoccupied with how close it is to Winter and how much better he likes the name Yeti than Squatch: he thinks of the Yeti as a more of a majestic misunderstood beast than the Sasquatch, which he feels like everyone understands exactly as much as they want to, what with the blurry photos and such. He also derives a great deal of pleasure from when Felix shouts “yeh-tay!” and this does, in turn, cause Felix an odd kind of satisfaction, which he guesses (and if he knew that this was possibly belittling to the one human being who Felix would call a buddy and vice verca, he wouldn’t say it) is kind of like the way parents feel when they play peek-a-boo with newborns.
So the handsome man walks up to the counter and looks Felix right in his eyes, and it seems to Felix like the handsome man’s eyes are a different color than they were when he came in, but are still what someone might call “radiant” or some such, and he tells Felix that he called in the order for the burgers those few days ago, and says he just forgot, it slipped his mind as things so often do, aint that the way, etc., and he (the handsome man) wouldn’t mind being the one to dispose of the refuse since it’s his fault anyways, and Felix looks over at the soon to be Yeti, and Squatch shakes his head in a “no” motion, and Sand turns back to the hombre and says it’s no worries but we’ll take care of it on-site, as it were, nothing for you to worry about, gent.
“It’s no trouble, really. I’ll just toss it on my way back out.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“I insist that you stop insisting.”
“We can’t have our customers in here handling moldy things. It’s against regulations.”
“Don’t make me take it.”
“I don’t think you’d take it. It would be a very strange thing to get bent out of shape about to the point of physical action.”
“So it would seem.”
“Are you going to order anything? There’s other customers.”
“Are other customers.”
“What if we made a deal?”
“What kind of deal?”
“I’ll allow you to wield a fraction of power.”
“I’m not sure what that means.”
“Give me the bag and find out. You have nothing to lose here except some moldy burgers.”
“You drive a hard bargain.”
“You have no idea.”
“Excellent. You are now a wielder of the Morningsword, and the strength thereof.”
“Sounds neat. Take the bag.”
And as the handsome man exits the old man enters, who sees the handsome man and the handsome man sees him, and the look on the face of the handsome man is a lot like the look on the face of someone who has just caught a very big fish and the look on the face of the old man with the older walking stick is a lot like the look on the face of the fellow who’d been fishing that spot for fifteen years without any measure of success.
“You’re a damned fool!” shouts the old man at Felix. “You don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t know the consequences of what you’re doing. You have literally no applicable knowledge and yet here you are, playing God!”
“How can I relax? How the hell can I relax!?”
“Listen, I don’t know what either of you are driving at or getting after, but I just got rid of him, and you need to stay out of my burger joint. If it’s any consolation, I switched bags. I can’t have rotting meat out in the front of my goddamn restaurant. That’s insane. I threw that bag away and put up another one to keep Squatch happy. When you see that dude, ask him where’s my sword.”
2 March 1989: The Present
It is precisely AM 6:04:34 when Aleph Atom Severe’s living room implodes with brilliant light, unsightly in it’s beauty, painful in how refreshing and wonderful it is. A.A. having formed the habit of waking up extremely early to write before he goes to do what he’s grown to refer to colloquially as bank books. He prefers the term “book banker” contra “book jockey.”
This is something he doesn’t know how to react to this early in the morning or at any other time of day or at any other time, ever, period. Also, no one does.
From within the light somewhere comes a voice, and within that voice is some kind of supernatural warmth and also it is terrifying. It is all frightening enough that Atom has stopped thinking of ways that it could all be set up with floodlights and megaphones. Of course, then there’s the voice, and it about peels the skin off of Atom’s face. Atom isn’t sure whether he hears or feels it more, but he certainly does both, in very big ways. The best way to describe it would be to say that he hears it with his whole body and that he feels it with his internal organs just as much as anything else. He can feel his heart physically hurting as he endures the voice, and he can’t even make out what it’s saying.
The inside of his mouth tastes like battery acid and the paint is peeling from the walls of his room. His eyes are shut as tight as he can clamp them, but he sees red still and can almost make out shapes.
He feels his left arm begin to throb and also vomits.
The light mercifully fades, and the voice becomes lower and clearer.
“That was one-tenth of one percent of my glory. You have now seen that.”
Atom responds by vomiting for a second time.
“You are the one who requires proof, not the Wanderer. The Wanderer has lived long enough to believe, but your intellect is now such that belief is hard for you. Well there you have it. I am Thor, a messenger. I am the lowest on what you’d call the totem pole. There are seventy time seven angels above me, each more glorious than the last and all of us paling in comparison with the one ahead. What you have just seen is literally the absolute most a human can bear before going insane and dying. We have learned this over the course of millennia.
“The Wanderer had hoped that he’d get to see me, but it is you, sir, who require proof. This is proof. Very few get proof. Very few are so important that their belief is essential and must be obtained at all cost. But there are hard times coming, and I have not blinded you only because you will need to be able to see. But it would have been very easy for me to have blinded you.”
“What do you want?”
“Are you listening?”
“The Wanderer will come back to you. You will not kick him from your doorstep. You will listen to what he has to say and know that it is true. You will not ask him who he is. If he tells you, you will consider it an undeserved reward for something you have not done, a privilege to have that kind of knowledge. You will reveal to him all of the terms of your deal with the handsome man, and you will do what he tells you to do. You will not see me again but you may see the like of me again. You will consider that a privilege as well, and react accordingly. Repeat my name to me.”
“That is a corruption of my true name, but it is closer than any human who I have ever revealed myself to, which says something about your character. Your brain, as enhanced as it is, isn’t even equipped to hear my name correctly. That is the ridiculous majesty of even me, the lowliest of the angels. Literally the equivalent of what a sports metaphorist might call a ‘scrub’ or a ‘benchwarmer’ or an‘eternal second-string,’except that they don’t even begin to describe just how lowly I am in that company. And yet still, I am the most absurdly magnificent thing that you are capable of processing with your senses. So know that. I could have literally melted you with light. Not with heat, with light. Do you understand how ridiculous that is? Do you? Listen to the old man. If you go back to sleep right now you’ll have the most vivid nightmares you’ve ever had, about me. Good morning.”
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