Of Thorns and Lightning

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A Quick Intergalactic Road Trip

“She’s ready. You have to take her to Asgard.”

♦️

It was a rainy Monday afternoon when William took Maize’s Saab to his mechanic to run a diagnostic test on the fate of her car. The car was a rust bucket and probably a healthy dose of dangerous with an immediate need for replacement, but William was going to do his best to get her car back to her. He knew how much it meant to her. He knew that it was going to be more trouble than it was worth, but it would be worse for him not to try. It wasn’t long before his mechanic walked out of the garage to the waiting room to meet him.

“Give it to me straight, doc.” William said, standing up from his chair and facing his mechanic who was wiping his greasy hands with a grayed rag.

“It’s terminal, Mr. Townsend. The outlook isn’t good, you’re going to have to pull the plug.”

“Is it really that bad?”

“Yes, sir. The whole thing is gone. It all broke down at once. It would cost much more to try and fix it than it would to buy a new car. It had complete organ failure, if you will. It just... died.”

“So, what’s the plan?”

“Sell it for scrap.”

Taking it all in, William thought of his plan of action.

“I’ll be back soon. I’m going to bring her here to get everything out of it and say her goodbyes, then I can have it towed to a junkyard.”

William didn’t want to break the news to her, especially if she too was ill and was just waking up. That was the last thing he wanted to do, and he didn’t want to put one more bad thing on top of her shit sundae, but it’s what he had to do. It had to happen eventually.

He entered her room, Thor already watching over her. His timing was perfect, she was already stirring and beginning to come alive again.

“Maize, Maize, are you waking up?” William asked in a soft, sing-song voice. After he had spoken to Thor he went to check on Maize like he had promised, but she was already out cold. He kept an eye on her, but she slept like a rock for almost an entire day. William was concerned that she had been sleeping for so long, and she was starting to sweat then shiver in her sleep. He sat in her desk chair and it reminded him of all the times Talia had been sick and he was there to take her temperature and bring her soup. It wasn’t long before he realized that she was waking up and he rose from the chair over to her side. He watched her eyes open, and he knew she was awake. She was still processing William’s presence and his voice rang in her head as if she were underwater. She felt like shit, but that was nothing new.

“God, you’re really burning up.” He mentioned softly, placing the back of his hand on her forehead. It was a fever he had never felt before, so he took her temperature only to find that she had a 105-degree fever. That was something worth hospitalizing her over, but Thor didn’t seem to think so. He too had been sitting in her room, keeping watch over her. He didn’t want anything bad to happen to her before she could make it to Asgard.

“She’ll be fine. With her accelerated powers of healing, her cold should be over in about a day.”

“Accelerated powers of what now?! She gets those?” William said, the first he heard of it.

“Yeah! All gods have it, it’s in her blood, William.” Thor explained, thinking William should have known that already.

“I’m afraid this is pneumonia, or it’s going to turn into it fast.” William said as he voiced his concerns.

“William, let it run its course. We’ll keep an eye on her and it’ll be alright.” Thor reassured. William was insistent that someone was close by to watch over her, and they took the responsibility in shifts.

“Pneumonia?” She asked, her voice ragged.

“No, I’m just worried. You just have a little cold, you’re going to be fine. But, when you’re feeling better, we have to go on a quick trip.” He spoke, sitting on the side of her bed, facing her. Her pale and ashen face looked up at him from behind the pillows. He took a deep breath, breaking the news to her.

“I took your car to the mechanic today, Maize. Everything failed all at once. It will cost more to fix than it’s worth, and it’s probably best to sell it for scrap. So, when you’re ready, I’m going to take you down to the shop so you can get all your things. Okay?” He spoke gently.

“Okay. We can go now, it’s fine.”

“Are you sure? You’re really sick.”

“Yes, let’s just get it done and over with, okay?”

“I think you should rest a little longer-”

“William, we’re going.” She said, rolling over and letting her feet touch the floor. She stood up and slipped on her Ugg boots as well as curbed her nausea upon standing and walked out her bedroom door. She was insistent, and William knew there was no way of stopping her. He followed her out to the elevators where they went down to the garage. They got into his Audi and exited the garage, William driving carefully through the storm. It had been raining on and off since the night at the club, and it seemed as if it was never going to stop. William wondered if it was some kind of omen.

They arrived at the garage and William held an umbrella over them as they transitioned from the parking lot to the inside of the building. He helped her stay stable before they were taken back to her Saab.

“William, can I have a minute?” Maize asked. He obliged and backed off a touch, letting her get into her car by herself and revel in the last few moments she had with it.

Maize grabbed a bag from the glove compartment and was moving the contents of her car into it. She took out all the pens, loose change, lotion and important documents as well as everything else in her car, remembering all the moments she had had in the car and all the places it took her. The car was a part of her life, and she took a few minutes to lay down in the compact backseat and feel the soft but worn cloth upholstery against her skin. She took her Swiss Army knife and cut a patch of it, just so she could have one piece to remember the vehicle by. But she also needed to lay down because she was incredibly sick and had exhausted herself by the light activity. Though, Maize knew when it was time to part, and she exited the car with her bag of belongings in her hand. She closed the door tenderly and placed a gentle kiss on the roof of the car, saying her final farewell. She turned to William, and William knew that it was time to go. Maize waited in his Audi while he closed up with the mechanic, and Maize had already begun to fall asleep. When the car began to move, it was like a baby being rocked to sleep in its mother’s arms. Maize was out cold once again, and William had an idea.

He pulled into the Gods garage and went over to the wall of keys. He was searching for the right one among the Ferrari and Audi keys, but his eyes landed on the right set. He took the ring off the hook and went back to Maize as quietly as he could, slipping her keyring out of the pocket of her hoodie. He clipped the new set on swiftly, knowing that the new car was certainly an upgrade, but it would never be the same car to her. He just hoped it would help, plus she deserved a replacement car. He shut the driver’s side door and walked around the car, opening the door on her side and carefully picking her sleeping body from the bucket seat. He shut the door with his hip and locked the car, taking her over to the elevators and bringing her back up to her room. He placed her right back where she was previously lying in bed, the sheets welcoming her. He placed the bag of belongings on her desk and made sure she was asleep and didn’t need anything else. He hoped that things would get better for her soon.

While it was Thor’s turn to guard her, William headed up to his office and room to try and get some sleep. He ended up intercepting the rest of the crew as they were stumbling off the elevator. It was apparent that the elevator ride disoriented some of them; he watched Ariel spin around and grab the wall for support, trying to straighten herself out. Talia was quickly becoming immensely sleepy and her eyes sealed themselves closed, leaving her in the dark to find her room. Luckily, Angelina was clutching onto Talia and was almost acting as a seeing eye dog for her by the sheer coincidence that Angelina couldn’t stand up right on her own. Jordie looked dazed with a thousand-yard stare in his eyes, but he also looked eerily calm. Meaghan was exhausted and Peter had a migraine to accompany his growing hangover. In a word, they were a mess.

William realized this and knew that when they were all sober, he would have to get them together to try and piece together the evening so he could figure out what to do with them. Could he punish them all? Should he?

Meanwhile, Maize had startled awake and felt very sick. She tripped into the bathroom and emptied the minimal contents of her stomach, but she hadn’t eaten since before she went out to the club. The acid burned her throat and left a bad taste in her mouth, but she made sure that she was done before getting up and brushing her teeth. She stepped back into her room and diverted her attention to the windows. She walked over to them and pulled back the curtains, revealing a threateningly dark sky with heavy, intense rain falling from the thick clouds. Maize heard the occasional low rumble of thunder and cracks of lightning. She turned to Thor, who was sitting in a far corner of the room, reading.

“How long has it been raining like this?”

“Saturday night, Ms. Leto,” He answered, looking up from his novel.

“What’s the weatherman saying?”

“I don’t particularly care for what the weatherman is saying because he can only speculate the weather, where as I can control it, but the last time I checked the TV he said it was some sort of freak storm system that was impossible to predict with the weather patterns they observed.”

“Is this you?” She asked.

“No, this one isn’t me.” He responded contemplatively, looking out the window with her. Maize then went back to bed. She fell into a heavy sleep, only waking up in a pool of cold sweat with the feeling of being unable to breathe. It felt as if her lungs were full of fluid and her throat was glued together with phlegm. The voices around her made her more quickly aware of her situation. William, Thor and two people in white lab coats and gloves were standing over her.

“Maize, you’re really sick, so the doctors are going to put an IV in your arm and start a treatment, okay?” William spoke. She nodded, slinking off her hoodie so her arms were exposed. She relaxed as the doctors found her vein and taped the IV tube in place. They started her on a saline drip as well as an antibiotic.

“What’s wrong with me?” She asked, her voice barely audible.

“Your fever spiked past 105 in your sleep. I called the doctors in. It’s pneumonia, just like I thought it might be.” William spoke. “Thor says you have advanced powers of healing but with that, the onset of disease is accelerated as well.”

The intensity of the storm increased. The sky was nearly as black as night and the thunder was monstrous, catching everybody in the room off-guard. The floor shook when the sky rumbled and cracked with lightning. William gave a look over to Thor, who shrugged to communicate he wasn’t controlling the storm.

“Thor, can I talk to you for a second outside?” William asked, Thor knowing that wasn’t a question. The men walked out into the hallway, leaving the door ajar.

“Have you tried fixing it, because this is getting crazy. It’s like a hurricane here, Thor!”

“I’m well aware, William. This isn’t my doing, and I’ve tried to alleviate some of the rain. The ground is flooding, and it’s worse than the man on the TV says it is. But, I have a theory.”

“Oh no. It’s not what I think it might be, is it?”

“Well, that’s quite vague, but I think that this storm is the physical manifestation of the storm inside of Maize since we know how badly this weekend left her. It started right when they all left her at the door of the club and has barely stopped since, right?” Thor spoke. “We noticed that the storm had lightened to a mere shower when she was at peace, especially in her sleep.”

“Can she even control the weather?”

“Yes, William. She can. She will inherit all of my responsibilities, and we are nearing the time where she is growing into some of those capabilities. It began with the vision, which is unique to her, and this is what followed. I didn’t expect it to be so soon, but you and I both knew that it was only a matter of time before she would become more powerful.”

“Well, we have to tell her to quit it!”

“She might not even be aware she’s controlling the storm, so there’s a good chance she won’t know how to stop it. We can do what we can for now.”

They both went back into her room which had become a quarantine, though William and Thor were less likely to acquire the contagious disease and were somewhat protected against it. The doctors informed them both that she would eventually need to be taken down to get a chest x-ray to assess the situation in her lungs. By the end of the day they would take her down, since the antibiotics will have had time to work in her body with her accelerated powers. Until then, William and Thor sat near her and tried to talk to her about the storm.

“Maize, I know you’re not up for a big explanation and lecture, but I need you to concentrate as hard as you can on stopping the storm.”

“I can’t control the weather, why do you want me to try?” She coughed.

“Well, it turns out you can. It’s a Thor thing. If you are subconsciously controlling it, you need to consciously stop it. Just try?”

“Fine, I’ll try.” She spoke, then closed her eyes. The room was silent and meditative. William kept his eyes glued on the sky, and the nearly-black sky lightened to a steely gray.

“Holy fuck.” He whispered, then turned to Maize again.

“Maize, it’s you. You’re in control of this storm, Maize. I know you have a lot going on inside, but try and find closure. For now, you have to let it go.”

The storm gradually lightened up to a heavy, but steady, drizzle. The antibiotics were starting to work, and she was falling back into rest. When it was time for the doctors to take her down for a chest x-ray, she already felt better than she did when she had initially woken up. It had been substantially harder to breathe just mere hours previously, and she was up to get out of bed. She was escorted out of her bedroom and over to the elevators, but she had caught sight of Talia on the way. William was frozen. The doctors tried to shuffle her away and get Talia out of Maize’s line of sight, but Maize had her targets set on Talia. The storm immediately intensified. Talia’s comments didn’t help.

“Oh, what’s wrong with you now, Thor?” She asked, mockingly. “Why the hell do you have an IV?! Just one more reason we all think you’re getting special treatment for every little god damn thing-” Talia spoke, annoyed. Maize wasn’t having it.

Maize broke free from the doctors surrounding her and took her IV bag stand with her. Before Talia could even think, Maize delivered the hardest roundhouse kick she had ever given as well as a knife-sharp right hook right to Talia’s face, knocking her out cold. At the same time, it felt like electricity was buzzing through Maize’s veins, and it probably was; the instant she used force against Talia, the storm was the strongest it had been, and a deafening crack of lightning struck the compound, sending them into darkness. Maize intentionally harnessed the power of the sky, which scared the hell out of everybody still conscious on the floor. Though, almost instantly, the emergency floodlights came on and partially illuminated the building. Jason announced that he was rebooting, and William had to run down and manually reset the breakers for the lights to come back on. All the fuses in the entire compound had been blown and he had to flick each and every switch. Gradually, the normal lights came back on, and Maize was shaking. The doctors gently picked her up off the ground from her kneeling position next to the knocked-out Talia and finished their journey down to get the chest x-ray.

Maize was tested, treated and then tested again before all traces of her pneumonia had subsided, as well as the storm. As she was feeling better, the sun rose and warmed the earth. Maize didn’t remember her encounter with Talia as hard as she tried. Her memory had blocked it out completely, but she and Talia were still kept separate. Nobody knew how to make things better, but they all knew that the Gods couldn’t live like they were. Everybody knew that it was time to take Maize to Asgard, with her developing powers she couldn’t delay it any longer. William hoped that in that time, he could finally work something out with his daughter.

Two days after Maize was completely cleared, Thor met her in the common room on the first floor. He sat down at the table with her, Maize just finishing up a snack. He got right to the point, knowing that it was past time for their journey. He knew Maize wouldn’t react well to him throwing this on her, but she was getting better and would have to follow him on a quick intergalactic road trip.

“Maize, are you well?” Thor asked.

“I think so, I just can’t believe my pneumonia came and went in three days, it doesn’t seem possible. I don’t remember a lot, either.”

“Oh, but it is very possible. I have so much to explain to you, and so much to reveal when we reach our destination. Step outside with me,” He answered vaguely, gesturing to the door.

“Do I need to bring anything?”

“No, Maize, just yourself. Everything you may need will be provided to you in Asgard.”

"ASGARD?! We’re going to Asgard? I’m not ready for you to take me to Asgard!” She shrieked, walking out onto the lawn with him, now very skeptical about what he was asking her to do and accompany him with.

“It’s time, Maize. Hold on to me,” He instructed, raising his hammer up to the sky. Maize knew that she didn’t have a choice and it would be the wisest decision for her to make to hold on to him tightly. She stood in his side and he supported her, blasting off into the sky at an incomprehensible speed in a tunnel of colors she had never even seen before. On the ground, a glowing ember-red crop-circle resembling symbol was burned into the grass, making William and the groundskeepers quite upset.

Thor and Maize had traveled millions of miles and lightyears in a matter of sheer seconds, and they landed on no other place, but the palace on Asgard.

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