Bian -4- Ay, Caramba!

Somewhere, past the edge of imagination lies a land called...

by Erin Halfelven


Chapter 4 - Ay, Caramba!

I heard them talking before I came completely awake.

“Will she be all right?” a man asked.

“She’s just cold,” a woman answered. “I don’t know why she fell over.”

The pronoun didn’t bother me because at first I didn’t realize they meant me. It all seemed so dreamlike.

Then the man snorted. “It might be the thunderbolt she threw at Hustab. He’s dead.”

“Dead?” The female voice seemed taken aback.

“Blew half his face off. Pieces of skull and brains lying beside him. I found her with this Dunnar’s grinder in her hand.”

I started to come awake then. “Dunnars molnir” was what I thought I had heard and somehow I knew that a molnir was a grinder, but my mind also translated it to Thor’s hammer…. I realized that all of what I had been hearing was in that distorted gibberish from before but while half awake, I could understand it.

The memory of my… transformation, the fight in the snow, my shooting of one of the combatants, came back in a rush, and I must have made a noise myself. For a moment, I thought I might be sick. I coughed.

“Heo den varken,” the woman said. “Alenna, varke say.” And I understood that, too. “She’s waking up. Alenna, wake up.” Was my name now Alenna? How did they know that?

I felt soft womanly hands on my cheeks and forehead. I opened my eyes and looked around. The first thing I saw was Blondie, the man with the blue and gold armored jacket. And he had my Glock in his hand, holding it by the barrel as if he intended to pound nails with it.

I couldn’t help it; I laughed at him. How could anyone look at a Glock and not know which way round to hold it? “Give me that Glock before you hurt yourself,” I said, reaching for it. Except it didn’t come out that way. What I heard myself say was “Gay mik glocka den dow ontar dow self mit dayet, ikka.”

“Glocka?” he said, looking at the pistol. “Ne, ne, dit not er en glocka. Enne er en hommar. Ont say den hobed?”

Well, he was right. It wasn’t a bell. A bell? I shook my head violently. “Glocka er han navem. Lilla glocka ger en stark sterya. Unt mika dit haba.”

Now he laughed, though his eyes looked worried. I didn’t blame him; I was worried too. I was carrying on a conversation in this gibberish and I only half understood myself. What I apparently said was, “Glock is its name. It’s a little bell that makes a loud noise. And it’s mine.” Odd that Glock, the name of the gun, seemed to mean bell in this language.

“En stark sterya, ikka. Ig har eldri hard den kalle Dunnar mit en glocka,” he said wonderingly. Likely no one had ever heard of calling Thor with a bell. It wasn’t in any legend I knew of, either.

“Dit verkeda, den dit ikka?” I grumped at him. It worked, didn’t it?

We had both ignored the woman in the room who still had a hand on my shoulder. She was another blonde, perhaps about thirty years old. “Gay dow den ikka, dunkelnarry,” she said to Blondie. When she reached for the gun, I had a sudden vision that she would accidentally put a finger through the guard. A Glock has only a trigger safety; a clumsy ignoramus handling it is the last thing you want.

I sat up, not having realized that I was lying on a bed until that moment. “Ne! Ne!” I shouted. “Gay mika dit!” Give it to me!

Blondie shrugged and handed it over, butt first.

I took the Glock before the woman could, smiling to have it back, but then I made the mistake of glancing down. Tits. I was naked to the waist and maybe lower because my legs and hips were covered with a colorful quilted duvet-thing. “Ay, caramba!” I said.


The woman, whose name seemed to be Kilda, helped me get dressed. A little nudity didn’t bother either of them but I wasn’t used to being a girl and being a naked girl in a room with a blond giant was too much. At least he turned his back, grinning, after getting one good look. He had to be nearly a foot taller than Kilda, and she towered over me by several inches.

Being dressed meant a tunic-like white undershirt long enough to reach the floor with a bright blue thing like a mid-calf length vest over it. The undershirt was wool, and the vest was something like cotton but stiffer. She slipped my feet into some of the softest leather boots, dyed red, I had ever worn and hung about half a pound of silver links around my neck. A heavy chain held a thing like a saucer suspended near my waist, pale golden-colored with a tree painted on it in green and brown.

Kilda wore a similar get-up, but her undershirt was tan, and her overvest was gray stitched in red. She had a simple chain around her neck with a small gray medallion hanging from it. The medal had the same tree design etched into it instead of painted on.

She pulled the clothes out of a free-standing closet, called a keldringer, and a stack of trays in a frame that served as a chest of drawers. The only mirror in the room was handheld and went back into the tray after she had shown me what I looked like.

I guess I’d known somehow so it wasn’t so much of a shock. I looked exactly like the girl I’d seen standing in the fake fountain back in Los Perdidos complete with long blond hair. The light in the room, mostly from two small, high windows and the fireplace gave me enough of a that I could see a familiar looking pair of green eyes. My own eyes looked back at me in a stranger’s face.

The big guy —and he was big; taller than the door to the room— was not named Blondie or even Dunkelnarry, like I thought I had heard Kilda call him. Rotgar was his name which, with my new understanding of the language, I realized meant Redfish. Or Redspear. A kind of fish called a spear? En gar, duu gar, Rotgar, blau gar?

Anyway, I started to speak when I realized something else. Dunkelnarry wasn’t anyone’s name; it meant something like dumbfuck. I giggled, looking up at him. The noise embarrassed me and caused me to giggle again. You couldn’t call it anything else, it was a giggle.

He had turned back around after I was dressed and he grinned back at me which made things worse. I kept trying to turn the titters into guffaws but it wasn’t working. He made faces at me, enjoying himself. “Stay gar den dunkelnarry ikka!” I said which only made him laugh. Stop playing the fool. Narry equal fool; dunkel equal… well, little thump; which could also mean… fuck.

I finally had to stuff a hand in my mouth to stop the giggles. And they both acted as if that were the cutest damn thing. Maybe if I could stay annoyed…. Kilda at least seemed a bit afraid of my temper.

Where the hell was I? What had happened? I had so many questions I wanted to ask.

“Var ams ig?” I asked. Where am I? It was English of a sort, like it had a lot of Danish or Norse or German mixed in. I could understand it and speak it which, when I thought about it, was a lot less amazing than having been turned into a teenage girl.

“In your sitting room in the castle,” said Kilda. Well, not sitting room and not castle. I had a sitting room, even if it was a “rom mid arda,” room with a fireplace? And “great house” would be the literal translation of “grotehus” but she meant something very like a castle, and how did I know that?

I looked around. “It’s not so great but grotty isn’t far off,” I muttered in my own version of English. The floor was stone and two of the walls, too. One stone wall had two windows, small and high up, but I could see gray sky with clouds and a patch of blue now and then. The glass in the windows looked lumpy and cloudy, too. The other stone wall had a fireplace. The two remaining walls were wood painted a sort of scrambled-egg-yellow and the furniture was painted wood in brighter colors. Besides the bed, there were two benches, two tables, the thing like a wardrobe with doors and the primitive chest of drawers. The benches and one table were red, the other stuff blue. There were two doors, too, in the wooden walls, both of them painted blue as well.

It wasn’t a large room, maybe twelve feet square, but I had trouble judging the size because I was the smallest person in it. “Ig amst lilla, ikka,” I grumbled. I’m so small.

Rotgar, the goof, nodded, grinned, and held his thumb and index finger up about an inch apart.

I looked away to keep from giggling again. I wanted to be angry with him for teasing me, but it wasn’t working. I kept sneaking looks, he was so big and seemed sure of himself. And looking at him felt dangerous.

“What happened to the clothes I was wearing?” I asked.

“Dey ger geblodt, ikka,” said Kilda.

They were soaked. I could understand that, not just the words, but rolling around in the snow probably did get them thoroughly wet. “Ond vo bist dets?” I asked. But where are they?

I got distracted noticing that the word “they” was said one way at the beginning of a sentence and a different way at the end and I didn’t hear her answer. “Say again?” I said and that sounded almost the same as the phrase in English would. I marveled at how I could use this language effortlessly when in my past life I had never been able to conquer the Spanish future tense.

“I said,” Kilda repeated, “They are hanging on the rack by the fire to dry out.” She pointed, too and I saw them—my uniform shirt and my white undershirt hanging from hinged sticks projecting from the wall near the fireplace. They were even right side up and out.

Rotgar wandered over there and examined the khaki shirt with its patches and badges. I saw his lips moving as he fingered my name tag. “Gal-lant,” he pronounced carefully. ”Why is the writing on this thing in Reymish?” he asked, turning to look at me.

I had no answer for him because I had no idea what the hell Reymish was. He didn’t notice my non-response because he had gotten interested in the buttoned pocket itself. Had people here never seen buttons before?

“Ach!” he said. “This is a very clever knotting, the cloth is folded and sewn to make a small pouch and it is held closed by this little knob thrust through the eye.” He laughed, evidently pleased with himself for having figured it out.

I couldn’t resist rolling my eyes when he looked in my direction and that made him laugh again and… that made me giggle again. Damn.

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This story is 1958 words long.