|Akseli Gallen-Kallela - Lake Keitele, 1905|
I enjoy coming here, though I'm not doing it very often. It's like strong medicine. Very good when you really need it, not so good when you abuse it. The sight reminds me of Innisfree. A colder, less rainy Innisfree that I've never been to, just like I've never been to the real Innisfree and I probably never will. It's like the paradise that's within easy reach, but only as long as you don't actually go there. It ain't exactly real, or it's real but it ain't exactly there, just like democracy in Leonard Cohen's understanding. See, this is something I can only properly do here. Sure, my mind goes astray a lot of times and wherever steps might take me, but in here, there's no straying away, just a vast open freedom across the body of water and beyond. And if I want Leonard Cohen to explain me how Jesus was a sailor for walking across the water and to argue the exact contrary with him I only need to say 'I'd like to speak to Leonard...' and through the dark, clouded, thick glass on the bottom of the bottle I see him pulling close in his dark suit, with the hat pulled over his face trying to convince me that he never loved me whilst I'll laugh and tell him it doesn't matter, even though we both know it. And just by sitting here, between two of my best friends, in complete silence, looking at a lake isle that is only Innisfree in our imagination everything that's wrong is being put to rights, everything that's sick is beginning to heal. And boy, do I need a lot of healing after a night like the last one...
Whoosh! A fireball drops across the pale white sky, hitting somewhere behind the hill on the opposite side of the lake with a strong thud and something that, I'm sure, is a bit of an explosion too. by the time the shock wave reaches me I've already rolled my eyes. Of course I enjoy the spectacle of it, it's majestic, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna give him the satisfaction. I know how the conversation is going to play out, I'm well aware of the gloating to ensue and I enjoy that as well, but I also need to concentrate on playing my part well. Otherwise we would not be blending into the rightful order of the kosmos, will we? So what shall it be this time?
There's a huge fireball brightening up the distant sky and a second later I can see it. Oh, wow, that is one majestic beast. I try to take the sight of it in, I know it won't be for long. It's huge, green scales, its gigantic pointy teeth, the yellow armored belly and the immense jaws that could change landscapes in a second... I wish I could see it in a slow, relaxed flight, I wish I could ride it and see the world through the eye of the beast... oh, that will take some convincing. All I see now is an unorderly, fast panic as the dragon is trying to break free. He pulls back flying downwards, spits another scorching jet of fire that I'm sure will destroy the livelihood of a few farmers too poor already, and flies away as fast as he can I a wide circle across the lake. Oh wow... this is it! It's gigantic and scared and for a second it looks like he might've escaped. Of course I know that's not the case and the barely felt whirl of air generated by an object moving at very high speed confirms it for me. Just as the dragon reaches the north side of the lake and his flight is changing into a steadier pace, I hear the hit, reverberating like something a lot stronger than it actually is. The poor animal is thrown backwards all the way back above the lake's surface and before he's got any chance to steady himself Angel is already above him, hitting and pushing with unstoppable force. There's one more flame coming out before they hit the water, less spectacular than the first one despite being so much closer. He must be tired, the poor thing... No effect, of course, but a few treetops on the island catch fire. Then bubbles of air rising to the surface for some time, I think I even saw the water brightening up yellow for half a second from the effort of a flame trying to reach the surface and I cannot help but feel sorry for the poor dragon, even though I'm well aware there's nothing to worry about and he's as safe as it can be. It's all just an act designed to... I don't know. I suppose I should be impressed? I mean, sure, it's great visually, but once you've seen the magic from behind the curtain... Once you realised there's only mortar and bricks behind the eyes of the saints in churches that barbarian hordes tried to pull out, you know for sure the actual saints aren't there. Oh, yes, I know, we've had this conversation so many times, it's all as magic as you allow it to be and yes, I'm fully aware of this too, but I do enjoy calling bullshit on it all. It's like our little game.
It's quite now, so good time for a drink. And while I slurp with the thirst of a dog that's just beaten his own record at running around the lake and quietly thank Mr. Jack for his hell-bringing heavenly nectar I feel him coming. Dusting himself off without really needing to, realising he's completely dry then adding the dew drops at the end of his long black locks and heading towards me with the pride of a child who's just finished his first artwork on the living room wall. I have to pretend I don't see him, of course.
'Did you know that was the Loch Ness monster?'
'Was it?' I mock surprise badly.
'Yeah, but not the lame-ass one in the picture. Daily Mail, what do you expect?'
'Was it really the Daily Mail that published it?'
'Made by them, not only published.'
'Oh, wow... Why am I not surprised?'
'Anyway, this is - or was - the Loch Ness monster. Like for realz.'
'Yeah, stayed there for some 10-15 century, though I'm not sure he was still there when the picture was taken.'
'So what's gonna happen to him now?'
'I locked him up'
'Bottom of the lake?'
'Yeah, there's a double gate with a good locker, he's gonna go live in the center of the earth now. He's fine, he's got his brothers... his whole family is there.'
'What was the show about then?'
'What do you mean?'
'You were trying to impress me, didn't you?'
'What'you on about?'
'Come on... look at you, big muscly angel wiping the floor with the massive dragons whereas I struggled with a silly little demon and you had to come to the rescue...'
'It's different, you know that. That was your demon. It's a hard fight, no matter the size. Though in all fairness he was completely out of shape last night...'
'Yeah, yeah, yeah...'
The evening before was harder than we were both pretending it was, though for reasons that are not yet clear to me. I'm sure the lesson will be presented to me in due time, with a huge slice of humble pie on the side. I didn't notice anything wrong until I actually turned the light on in the room. I didn't see him, I can't really describe how I knew he was there. When there's a mouse in your room, you get to see the mouse. I'm sure I didn't see him, peripheral vision or not. I FELT him.
'Come out! Come out, you asshole!' I shouted immediately. I jumped on the bed and threw my hand underneath, but didn't find him straight away. It actually took me a good few minutes of moving sheets and furniture about and just as I was about to move the bed I saw him trying to run through the wall. He was unlucky, really, they usually bit but this one was scared more than anything. By the time I grabbed his leg it was too late for him, I ducked the bite easily. I grabbed both his feet, grabbed both his hand around his back with my right hand and fixed him on the floor. Then put his feet and hands together and stepped on them with my left foot. I stood up through his loud screechings and wailings and pushed my right foot heavily in his spine a couple of times, in the vain hope he'll stop. I lifted my sole high off the ground and pushed down as hard as I could. I've been told this is how they suffer the most though in all fairness I like the squishing sound they make more than anything. Then, as his horns flew straight into the wall and the organic matter that moments before was making up his head splashed across the floor, I felt a stabbing in the lower back.
'Aaaaargh! There's two of you. You stupid bloody bollocking bastards!'
It was painful as hell, but I knew I had to move fast. I twisted my right and grabbed his neck to bring him around the front. he stayed in the bite, the little bastard, of course they knew how to cause pain much better than I did. his canine tooth came in deep and as I pulled the creature in front of me I felt his teeth grating against my spine, then leaving a deep ridge cut through the skin. It was painful, but it was over. Once I had him in front of me, holding him by the neck, it was easy going. I smashed his head against the wall a couple of times for good measure, but it wasn't really necessary. I have enough experience to deal with the little ones by now, they can only get away if I let them. And I wasn't going to let this one. He screeched and wailed too, of course, though fainter than the first one. 'I must've gave him a good smashing' I thought. For a split second I even felt sorry for him. But no, he won't have it easy. Hands and legs behind the back, down on the floor...
The demon pushed just as my right foot was about to touch the floor. I heard the imp's neck snapping, but by the time I was on the level with him his head was still moving. His eyes were closing and opening very slowly as life was leaving them and I thought he looks somewhat like an aborted fetus. Only lighter. Nevermind that, I had to concentrate on the demon.
The demon was laughing. I haven't seen him that self assured in a very long while. His skin was darker than usual, looking a bit like dark red wines. Rioja, or Bordeaux, all the ones I don't like. He was still in a pretty bad state, I could see the white from two of his ribs, but there were small patches of fur scattered over his body. He pulled head of the imp clear from the body and threw it out the window. Then swallowed the body whole and let out a huge burp. I didn't really mind his awful stinky sulfurous breath. On the contrary, it reminded me of the fights we had. Angel or demon, who doesn't enjoy a good fight? But I was surprised at my inability to fight back. I tried to stand but my body said no. The demon let out a loud, malevolent laugh, took to steps towards me then hoofed me straight up the wall. I felt the bricks moving on the outer face, but that was obviously the last of my worries. The moment I fell down his hoof punctured through my stomach. I tried to stand but his other hoof was already on my neck. Hands were useless in situations like this, I know, so I stopped moving for a moment, trying to figure out his moves and where I can catch a break. He tapped my sternum with his huge pointy nail, then cracked the rib cage open and pulled the heart out. With a foot still in my stomach, he stoop up again and looked at both myself on the floor and my heart in his hand in delight. He started eating it with big bites and long chews and I could do nothing but watch him. When he was about halfway through it he took a small step forward and raised his left hoof.
'Oh no, it's the head smash!' I thought, and closed my eyes in expectation.
'Oh no, not the head smash!' I heard, and suddenly I felt my body being released from pressure. I looked sideways, which was actually looking up as I was laying, and I saw Angel tackling the demon to the ground. Then I must've passed out for a few seconds because when I opened my eyes again the demon was nowhere to be seen. Angel was looming above me. He gave me an arm and helped me stand up, then started running his fingers across my skin to close the wounds.
'Listen, I'm in a bit of a block with my two teen lovers' I said. 'Can you help me with it?'
'I will, of course I will. But we've got some restoration to do first.'