Marek smiles, shakily reaches for Maeve’s hand. He grasps her bloody and bruised fingers and brings them to his mouth, kissing them gently.
“Marek?” she whispers, her eyes focussing on his face for the first time in months.
“I’m here,” he says, in a soft, staccato voice.
She stares wide-eyed into her husband’s eyes. “Is the storm over?”
“I was trying to get in to the storm cellar…”
“But I couldn’t open the door.”
“We don’t have a storm cellar, my love,” Marek whispers, tears trickling from his eyes. She shivers, and Marek scoops her up into his arms. He holds her close to his chest, stroking her hair. He kisses the top of her head. “I’ve missed you.”
They hold each other for a long time, listening to one another’s heartbeat. Out in the yard, Loki approaches with a tiptoed-hopping gait, landing each leap silently, without disturbing the loose topsoil. In fact, Loki leaves no footprints at all. As he approaches the little house, he peers in through the open door. Maeve is curled in Marek’s lap; the two of them seem lost in each other. “Brother?” he asks quietly, and waits several minutes for Marek’s reply. When none comes, Loki clears his throat and asks again, louder: “Brother?” Loki steps forward.
“If you take one step into this house, which is forbidden to you, I will rip out your eyes and roast them for my dinner. I will lash you, naked, to four posts in the field, one at each limb. I will let the coyotes and crows have their way with you, like the traitor Prometheus, until the darkness takes you. When you return from that place, I will summon you again, and again lash you to those four posts in my field. You will be forever eviscerated, over and over, until the people, centuries from now, build a shrine to you as the God of rebirth. And still you will die alone, over and over, to come back to this realm tied to four posts, knowing that the animals sating themselves on your genitals will be revered as your servants.”
Loki freezes in place. He smiles broadly. “You always had a way with words, Brother.”
“You are bound to this realm until I release you, bound to my dominion. Yet you may not approach this house.” As Marek speaks, a blast of wind forces Loki to stumble back into the yard, blinding him with sand and grit. He sprints toward the road, but as he approaches, the wind again forces him back. Loki roars in frustration, his face twisted with rage.
“You have no right!” Loki screams. His skin begins to ripple. “I am not responsible for your bitch’s insanity! She was born to it!”