|Skinwalker ch. 2 (standard:travel stories, 6274 words) [2/5] show all parts|
|Author: Eutychus||Added: Jan 15 2018||Views/Reads: 403/206||Part 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (685 more lines)
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