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Skinwalker ch. 2 (standard:travel stories, 6274 words) [2/5] show all parts
Author: EutychusAdded: Jan 15 2018Views/Reads: 118/40Part vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Jerry and Moe make it to the edge of the River Acheron and must deal with Charon to allow for passage into Hell proper. After a successful crossing (albeit not without a little drama), they make it to the castle of Minos.
 



As we spoke the crowd in front of us receded toward the river
noticeably. How big was that ferry? It must have taken hundreds of 
people aboard. But then if they all were as light weight as Moe seemed 
to have been, then it probably had no maximum capacity beyond how many 
could be crammed on board. Again a whistle blew, smoke belched, and the 
plume moved away from this edge of the Acheron. 

When the ferry made its next round I could see the boat by the time it
pulled away. It was a good sixty feet long with an upper level that was 
a third the size of the lower. There was an octagonal wooden pilothouse 
with a roof made of copper that had turned green long ago. Behind the 
pilothouse was the smokestack from the boiler and the whistle that 
punctuated the sense of dread that hung in the vestibule air. 

A bent-over old man in a short brownish robe stepped off the deck upon
the ferry's next arrival leaning on a pole that was perhaps ten feet in 
length. He issued orders and used his walking stick in much the same 
way a shepherd uses a crook. And when he met with stubbornness in the 
crowd he used it like a black belt in taekwondo uses a bo. 

As we approached the boarding area I was beginning to notice something
odd about the old man's proportions. From a distance I had estimated 
his height to be around six feet but as we got closer it became plain 
that had he stood to his full stature he would have been at least as 
tall as his walking stick. 

"Charon?" I presumed in Moe's direction. 

"Yes. The staff he wields so effectively is reputed to be the same one
he used to pole a much smaller ferry across the river in ages past." 

"Is he a demon?" 

"Unsure, but I don't believe so. Charon seems to care for nothing other
than his task. He is unmoved and unimpressed by anything the souls he 
transports do or say and he is unaffected by the intrigues of the demon 
population of hell. If he were a demon he would have his own schemes in 
play and would use his strengths, which are formidable, to an advantage 
in such machinations." 

"I have never seen eyes that glowed red anywhere other than the
occasional creature-of-the-week movie on SyFy, so I have a hard time 
accepting that he is human. What is he?" 

"Personally, I view him as an exaggeration. The long white hair and
beard exaggerate his age, which is already considerable. His 
temperament is an exaggeration of every degenerate  grouchy old man I 
have ever met." 

As Moe's final words trailed off I felt something cross the back of my
knees, tripping the hinge joint and almost causing me to collapse. I 
turned to see what had happened and looked into eyes that reminded me 
of the business end of a laser pointer. Charon looked me over slowly 
with what I could only interpret to be curiosity. It was at this point 
I realized that his pole had come gently across the back of my legs 
with just enough force to unlock the knees. He had wanted me to turn 
around. 

"You do not belong here," he said sternly. 

"So I've been told." 

"I only transport the dead. My ferry will not accommodate the likes of
you." 

"Sir, that is not entirely true. I understand you were forced to make an
exception several hundred years ago," Moe said. Judging from the 
embellished inflection on certain words I could see that he was playing 
to Charon's ego, if he indeed had one. 

"THAT didn't count. He didn't even need the ferry. He just walked across
the river and then stopped the flow so the ones He liberated from the 
first circle could cross." 

I recalled the most controversy-inducing clause of the Apostle's Creed


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This is part 2 of a total of 5 parts.
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