Darn it, Notte, showing up in the middle of another person’s story again. Well, I suppose he can’t help himself. 😀
As always, this is unedited, shared for the sake of accountability as I get it written. Enjoy!
I confess I never honestly thought I’d meet Notte in this lifetime. It was remarkable enough to know a few of his children, to have been recommended by someone in his general sphere as a person who could help them make the transition from human to not with as little angst as possible. Still, even with that –
He’s younger-looking than I expected.
I suppose it is a feature of growing older myself – that peculiar perspective which haunts the aging, in that “young” and “old” both revolve entirely around our own appearance, meaning those markers move throughout our lives. Once, I’m sure I’d have thought him quite grown and manly. Now, he seems barely more than a boy.
He must have been barely out of his teens when this happened to him, whatever it was, nineteen or twenty, and I’d say had not lived what one might call a difficult life. Of course, that’s just current appearances; for all I knew, he wore a hardened scowl in years past, eyes flashing with rage or some such thing that would give a different impression.
Indeed, as he approaches us, I revamp (ha! I made a pun) my observations entirely.
From the coif of his hair to the perfectly smoothed blue of his midnight velvet suit, every inch of this man is planned.
It may be preference, too. I won’t discount that. Yet can any man this polished be even casually unaware of himself and the impression he gives?
“Old friend,” he greets Death.
Death nods, perhaps an acknowledgment, perhaps an echo. Neither man touches the other.
And Death waits for me to do his speaking for him.
“Greetings,” I say. “Among the Mythos, I am Ranier Blood, Kin and rather new psychopomp. It’s a pleasure.” A little bow from the waist seems appropriate, positively European and old-fashioned.
And then Notte looks at me, and for the second time, I abandon all impressions of him.
That, in those eyes, is horror.
No, I’ve chosen the wrong word. Hunger is closer, but I don’t know anything remotely like hunger that could carry with it something so frightening, so big and bloodied and absolutely threatening.
I’m reminded of one time walking in Chicago, when I was being tried out at a few foster homes that did not work out. I was fourteen, hands in my pockets, miserable in the cold and loneliness of the world, and walking past an old wooden fence which had seen better days. In fact, I thought if I brushed into it, I might get a splinter – and I did not have a coat, in spite of the weather, so this would be bad – so I moved slightly out of its reach.
That saved me.
The dog behind that fence may not have been rabid, but it was mad, and it slammed into that splintered, jagged, weathered wood with no consideration at all for its own safety.
The fence cracked, fell almost all the way to the sidewalk, and had that dog not been chained – and had I not been arm’s length away – it would have gotten its jaws around me.
It frothed and rowled, choking itself against the massive chain that held it back, and I could see in its eyes that it hated me, wanted me, held a very personal desire to rend me to shreds, and did not care if it put its own eye out or choked itself to death as long as it could kill me.
Heart pounding, I ran away. I was probably safe. The chain was newer than the fence, huge, thick, and tight on its throat; but there was no way to feel safe, no matter what facts presented themselves.
And that exact moment is what this brought to mind.
Notte wouldn’t attack me. He was absolutely in control of himself, safe, as genteel a person as could ever be desired in any society.
He still scared the absolute shit out of me with one simple glance, with just the moment of being in the spotlight of his attention. It wasn’t as though he frothed or scowled. His expression was perfect – welcoming, gentle. Photogenic, absolutely designed to put one at ease.
I was not at ease.
“Yes, Dr. Blood,” he said, and returned my bow. “Among the Mythos, I am Nox Eterna, called Notte. It’s a pleasure to meet someone spoken of so very highly by my children.”
Goodness, flattery from the devil.
That wasn’t very kind. “Thank you. Those whom I’ve met are remarkable people.”
“Of course they are.” The tiniest smile tilts his full lips, narrows his green eyes, and his unspoken I picked them, after all, what else would they be? was loud and clear. “I’m very proud of them.”
Death had yet to say a word. Well: nothing for it then but to proceed. “Please come in and sit.”