Golden Goose

Blinking lights at the end of the Cessna’s wings flashed like tiny lightning in the night sky. The dick in front of Ted Callan had called shotgun, which left Ted’s knees crammed into his chin. Despite the dragon-scale invulnerability his tattoos provided him, his legs were numb. Former football players weren’t meant for small planes.

The dick in question was Loki. God of mischief, Loki. He’d dressed like a glam rock star today, sporting bright purple hair, oversized sunglasses that made him look like a bug and a significant number of tattoos. He’d said he wanted them to match, to help Ted “blend.” Ted was covered head to toe in tattoos, but Loki’s disco ball shirt and leather pants didn’t really match Ted’s jeans and black t-shirt. At least Loki hadn’t said ‘trust me.’ Those two magic words always meant Ted’s life was about to go to shit.

“Trust me,” Loki said. “This is a much safer way to travel.”

Unsaid, was Loki’s original reasoning he didn’t bother to share with the pilot. “They’ll be expecting us on the highway.”

Today was the first time Ted had flown in an airplane since he’d been tattooed by a trio of Norse dwarves in a grotty motel room in Winnipeg. Those dwarves had wanted to use him to bring back the good old days of myth and magic. They’d given him nine gifts—and made Ted a lightning rod for trouble.

An inky storm cloud tattoo, like his dragon scales, a gift from the dwarves, moved just under the skin of Ted’s chest, matching the clouds outside the plane. That tattoo responded to the weather. The weather responded to his mood. Which meant a lot of unexpected thunderstorms. Truth was, the tattoo may be recent, but the storm had always in Ted’s chest. It was only the damage that got flashier with the dwarves’ handiwork.

It was almost near two years to the day since Ted had received his nine legendary gifts—and since Loki had introduced himself. He’d lost a few gifts, and traded a sun for the sword along the way. But he still had the storm. The hammer. The sword. The horn. The horseshoes.

Ted had expected something to pop up to mark the anniversary, but not that someone would steal his car. Granted, Loki had stolen the car for him, but Ted still wanted his ride back.

He’d spent the last two years fighting monsters. Protecting people from the rising tide of mythological bullshit. One thing he’d learned: if you let a monster take something from you, you have to fight to take it back. If you didn’t, they’d keep taking. It was just a car. But it was Ted’s. It’d been a gift. And he’d get it back.

Read more in Air: Sylphs, Spirits, & Swan Maidens from Tyche Books, Edited by Rhonda Parrish