Sunday, March 13, 2005

Tales From the Way Down (Part 2)

How Mimir Met Judas Janet

Mimir had been in the pit of the Way Down for months when he first met Judas Janet. He hadn't eaten in days. The boy who normally brought him food had been hauled in for trafficking in necro-dust. It was unlikley he'd ever been seen again, or indeed that anyone else would venture under the rusty sign of the Way Down. At one point Mimir had pondered venturing as far up the stairs as the golden one would allow. Hanging out a sign. Perhaps telling fortunes. He had a talent for that. He had seen the future reflected in the golden world, and what he remembered was more than most knew. But always he stayed instead in his pit.

He had begun making a bar out of old wood the boy used to bring to him. The room was large, but empty. The darkness lurked in the corners like a skittish beast. It withdrew from the light but its presence was still felt. A bulb had burnt out shortly before the boy's last visit, and it had not been replaced. That made ten out of dozens, but their loss was conspicuous. Mimir had a bed in a small room he had carved out of the back area, behind where he built the bar. He was aware that he must have looked awful. The stitches around his throat itched maddeningly at the worst times. His previous razor had grown dull and the boy had not brought him a new one. He had learned to ferment the brown water that came out of the taps, and the resulting alcohol would have killed him had he not already been cursed with eternity.

In his time there, he had made several sets of rough tables from rusted iron hulks lying about the room. He hadn't a clue what the place's old purpose had been, but it had the materials he needed to make his club. The bar was plank wood, the tables and chairs of rusted metal. Still, there wasn't a sharp edge in the house with which to scrap the scraggly hair off his face. He longed for a good pair of scissors to cut oily locks out of his eyes. Maybe a bar of soap. A bottle of gin. A pack of ciggarettes. God, how he missed ciggarettes.

A few days before the boy had vanished, Mimir had put an ad in the paper for further help. He wanted to start his bar. But he needed people to work it. His name carried weight in the occult underground, but apparently not as much as he'd hoped.

She changed that. She ran into the Way Down one night. Strung out on necro-dust. That insane, corpse-powder grin on her face. Cheeks white like bone. Silver piercings gleaming around her head like a bent and broken halo. She shivered under a ripped black coat, fishnets, and the last remains of a top. Her boots were covered in blood, old and new. Judas Janet was already a minor legend in the occult underground, but this was the real side of her. The one the stories didn't mention. Not Judas Janet the archaeologist, the grave digger, the corpse robber...but Judas Janet the necro-dust junky. Fix after fix to kill the voices of the damned in her head. Flesh that broke and died and returned to life under the power of blood infused with the cup of Christ. Not a mark on her arms.

The cops were after her. They hated her. Excommunicated by the Church, wanted for six counts of theft, three counts of murder, two counts of extortion, and that one charge involving a judge, the mayor's daughter, and a video camera. The cops hated her, chased her, and the only place she could go was down to the Way Down. She didn't know it at the time, she was too busy chasing the ghosts of past love. Her eyes were red and black from the dust, vision addled to the point of fantasy. If she'd known, if she'd seen, she might have avoided the stairs. Instead she face-ground her way down the stairs, two floors worth, into the basement of the Way Down, right into the scraggly haired Mimir.

At first she thought he was a ghost. Scraggly hair, all oily and gnarled. Stitches around his neck, red and raw, leaking blood that wasn't quite the right color. She didn't look too great either, the necro-dust tinge to her flesh. The stairs hadn't helped. She had broken bones, a punctured lung, and her nose was practically gone. But the piercings fixed that. The Cup of Christ studs reconstructed her flesh from nothing, but they didn't clear the dust. That was pure devil's jizz. Bonafied necromantic powders cut with cocaine and rat poison. Guaranteed to give you a sight of the bleak afterworld shortly before you joined it courtesy of a blown out heart. But Janet...she was alive. Thanks to the piercings. So she managed to get out the words, "Hi...I'm Janet..." before she collapsed.

And that's how Mimir met Judas Janet. Of course, how they set up the Way Down is a whole other story, and a far more interesting one.

NEXT: How Mimir & Judas Janet Founded the Way Down (or "The Torrid Story of Juda Janet and the Brief and Sordid Affair With the Necro-Dust Kingpin, Tom'o'Troubles, and the Resulting Aftermath" or "How Mimir Got Laid")


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