Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggity jig...

I figure I should do a wrap-up post of my trip to England.

So the last day was relatively uneventful. We went to Windsor, but the line to the palace was too long and it was too expensive, so we wandered around trying to get rid of the pounds we hadn't spent. We bought random souvenirs and watched some cricket. I didn't get how it was played at all.

Then we attempted to return the car. It was damn hard. Even our GPS, Jane, wasn't sure how to get to the car rental place. It took us maybe an hour of driving around to find it.

The airplane ride was long and boring. I watched cartoons that only rarely held my interest and read Strangers in Paradise. I also wrote a lot. I even slept a bit towards the end.

Now I'm back and working again. I should add that I will still be updating this blog, even though I'm not away! It will probably be more stories and poems than anecdotes about my life now, though. But if you enjoyed my tales of England, you should certainly stick around!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

England Day 6!

Wow, I've had internet issues! So expect a long post.

So yesterday! Seems like such a long time ago. We woke up in Bath and ate breakfast at the hotel. Then we wandered around and and bought some clothes. Then we went to the Roman Baths.

This was a very, very cool museum. We could walk all around the Baths and there was a cool audio tour and I really wish there'd been internet in last night's hotel because I just don't have time to cover this in detail with all the other things we've done. But there was really interesting commentary by Bill Bryson. And holographic images on the walls!

It was really cool.

Also there were all these pigs on the streets in Chicago cow style. They were beautiful. There was one that was so entirely a Rocky Horror pig. It was hilarious. It was based on the legend of King Bladud, the founder of Bath. They have such a cool founding legend. Boston has history, Bath has legends.

I want to go back there some day. I think I could live there.

Then it was off to Stratford-upon-Avon for Hamlet!

I'm going to save Hamlet for last because it was so awesome that I don't want to rush through it in an attempt to finish the blog post. So Hamlet, then we went to bed.

In the morning we visited Anne Hathaway's cottage which was very pretty and then went off to Oxford. We ate lunch and looked around then saw this rather silly production of Twelfth Night where Antonio was a puppet and the company had gone through Violas like popcorn. This was Viola 4 and she wasn't off book. But it was very fun anyway!

Then it was off to the hotel in Dorchester where there was (theoretically) no internet except I seem to have managed to find some anyway. This is the least pleasant place we've stayed so far.

So! Hamlet!

Oh my god, it was amazing. What I kind of didn't realize in the excitement of OH MY GOD DAVID TENNANT was that Patrick Stewart was playing Claudius! And let me tell you, he NAILED the role. He was also the Ghost, which I thought was just too cool.

Oh, man, there is no way I'll manage to say everything I loved about this show. There was too much.

The set was completely made out of mirrors. The floor was mirrored tiles and the back wall was made of six mirrors that could move. Occasionally they'd bring out other set pieces, but for the most part, this was it.

In the first scene the two guards kept shining their flashlights on the ground so the beams bounced up and hit the faces of whoever was talking.

The costumes were all pretty much modern dress, and oh man, they looked so good!

Oh, the ghost? Was also Patrick Stewart. He did both. It was just so...guh.

Hamlet made a very clear transition from sane to "mad." He rumpled his hair up after meeting the ghost and the next time we saw him, he wore a red t-shirt and jeans. And no shoes or socks. Also, he looked so young the entire time!

Polonius was hilarious. He was such a doddering old man. During some of his lines he'd just trail into mumbling and there'd be an awkward pause where everyone would lean in to see what he was going to say next and he'd suddenly be like, "Oh, where was I?"

Ophelia and Laertes were also great. Ophelia found condoms in Laertes' suitcase and mocked him when he was telling her not to fool around with Hamlet. And when Ophelia went mad? She was so much more insane than Hamlet. She was not faking it. And Laertes was so pissed. They both were really good.

Gertrude was wonderful. She went from being a glamorous queen in the first scene we see her to a tortured mother and widow in the end.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were awesome. They were, of course, confused for each other, and bawdy and always together, and complete snakes. Brilliant.

And let's not forget Horatio! Now, I really love Horatio. And he was so good in this. He was always the one who laughed at Hamlet's jokes when everyone else clearly wanted him to just shut up. And they didn't cut out the suicide line at the end! Man, I loved this show.

Back to Claudius. He just had such dignity! After the play he just walked up to Hamlet and shone the light in his face clearly wondering what he knew and he was just so calm and collected. And in the end, when Hamlet's already poisoned him, Hamlet just handed him the cup and he drank from it meeting Hamlet's eyes the entire time and died. He wasn't forced. True, he was already dead, but still. It was just...wow.

Hamlet! He was so good! He was just wracked with grief in the beginning, and he did the fake madness so wonderfully! He was clearly having a great time, and after he killed Polonius there was a chase scene and they ended up duct taping him to a chair! And he delivered "To be or not to be" really well. That's a hard speech, since everyone knows it so well. And not really central to the plot, yet completely unable to be cut out. He barely acted it at all. He just rocked back and forth a little, staring at the audience and standing all but still. It was great.

I really loved this. I did.

The intermission came at a really weird point, though. When Claudius is praying and Hamlet comes in and thinks, oh, this is a really convenient time to kill him, and then he raises the dagger and bam, lights went out.

It was so television. I could practically hear the voice over saying, "Don't go away! We'll be back after these messages!"

Another cool thing, remember the mirrored set I told you about? Well, Polonius hides behind the mirrors a lot. And when he's in Gertrude's room and Hamlet hears him, Hamlet shoots, the lights go out, the mirrors spin, and when they stop, they're cracked. They stay that way for the rest of the show.

It was just so cool. I cannot get over how awesome it was. I'm sure I'll think in a few minutes of something I can't believe I'd ever forget to mention, but honestly? I could go on forever about this show. But I won't.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

England Day 4!

Well, today was quite an adventure! We left Linnea's house at far too early in the morning and drove to the airport to get the car. Mother was terribly nervous about driving on the opposite side of the road. I was too tired to care, so I fell asleep. We got a GPS system to help navigate, though. Her name is Jane. She's not as talkative as Sylvia, the GPS system at home, but she does get the job done.

Then we went to see Stonehenge! Now, people have told us that Stonehenge isn't worth it. They said, don't bother, it's highly overrated.

Those people were dead wrong.

Nothing is cooler than driving over a hill and being like OH MY GOD, THAT'S IT! THAT'S STONEHENGE! And we couldn't go right up and touch the stones, but we could get close enough to see it well. Plus, because of our unfortunate early rising, we got there before the crowds.

It's beautiful. And so awesome and old. Really, really, really worth it.

Then we went to Amesbury for breakfast. Mother got this weird meat pasty that she didn't much like. And by not much like, I mean she hated it. I got this tomato cheese thing that I enjoyed.

We saw Woodhenge too, but it was kind of boring. They had these cement posts in the ground to show where the wooden posts used to be and this shrine that was sort of cool. Meh.

Then we started driving to Avesbury to see the stone circles. Mom was doing very well on the left side of the road, but hugging the curb a little too much. She hit it and our tire blew out. Luckily, we were near a lumber yard where these nice guys helped us change the tire to the spare. We continued on our journey.

The Stone Circles were sort of cool because we could actually touch the stones. We could also touch the sheep. And, unfortunately, the sheep shit. I got some on my foot, which I didn't discover until I showered a few hours ago. Ah, the curses of a stuffy nose! Or maybe blessings, come to think of it.

We continued on to Bath, where we were met by TONS of traffic and a hard-to-get-into parking space. Our hostess at the Oldsfield Bed and Breakfast is the nicest lady ever, though. Her name is Julia. She offered us water and gave us a map and showed us how to get to places and helped deal with the car company for replacing the tire. Seriously, nicest lady ever.

After a quick email check, we left to explore Bath. I've yet to find a comic book store, but that's okay. There's always waiting until we get home. We had a delicious dinner at this french place and went home to watch Shakespeare in Love.

Tomorrow is Hamlet Day!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

England Day 3!

Last night we saw Spamalot. It was awesome! Mother thought she'd hate it, but she was wrong. Shockingly. Hate Spamalot? Ha! But yes, it was hilarious.

Today we went to Notting Hill, which is this cute little neighborhood with a street and flea market-ish place called Portabello Road. Julia would have loved it. So many shoes! And earrings! And random weird stuff! I finally got a new necklace, which is lovely. And we bought some raspberries for a pound! From a woman who really seemed like the witch from Hansel and Gretel. She was old with very white hair and a crooked nose and she said "darling" after every word. "It's a pound, darling. Thank you darling. That's not enough, darling." Mother got confused and gave her ten pence at first. It was amusing. Then we ate lunch and people watched.

We left the raspberries at the hotel when we went back to get our luggage. And the shirt I sleep in, which is sad since I've had it since fifth grade, but honestly, not a tragedy. We took the wrong train and ended up in South Chesington or something. It was okay, though. We managed to get to Linnea's after a while.

Her little girls are the most adorable children ever! We talked about Harry Potter and played soccer football and frisbee. And chatted about food and writing and everything! Emma, the older one, gave me this poster of the Doctor and Donna she had that she didn't want. It was so sweet. And Emma also complimented my horrible attempt at an English accent!

Now we're reading (or in my case, writing) because mom can't sleep and I can't sleep when someone else is awake. At least it was productive!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

England Day 2!

Hello everyone who's reading this blog! You may be wondering, what exactly is Shana up to? The answer is, she is traveling around the UK. And talking in third person, apparently. Anyway, we flew in Sunday night/Monday morning. We didn't actually sleep on the plane. And the hotel didn't have our rooms ready at first. So we gave them our stuff and wandered around London half-asleep. We hung out at the National Gallery and I entertained Mother with the stories that inspired the paintings. She hadn't known most of them. She says she's never had that much fun in a museum before. Clearly, they should hire me to write those audio tour thingies.

We attempted to explore the Tate Modern and the Globe Theater, but the first didn't have anything in the big room to look at and we were too tired to go up to look at the photo exhibits and such, and the second we could only go into with a tour. Or a play, but nothing was showing that wasn't sold out on the days we were in town. So we ate lunch and went back to the hotel. I read for a while, managing not to fall asleep mainly because Artemis Fowl is utterly AWESOME. I've said it before and I will not stop saying it. I love that series. I'm not sure how critically good it is, but damn, I can't get enough of it!

Then we went to the Mac store to get a converter for my power chord and ate dinner. At this point I was pretty much in a daze. We went home and I fell asleep pretty quickly at 8:30ish.

Then we slept for twelve hours. Well, on and off.

Today we wandered around Leichester Square and hung out in Forbidden Planets comic store. My mother wouldn't let me buy anything because it's cheaper in the US. Hmph, I say. Hmph! I wanted to buy a comic book in England! Blah. Then we walked back to St. James' Park and read and ate lunch in the grass. So many people were picnicing! I thought about Good Omens. We had ice cream. I'm leaving very soon to hang out in a flea market and hopefully get a new necklace. Then we're going to Spamalot! Hooray!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dr. Horrible

Everyone go watch Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog right now. It's so amazing. The first two acts are up and free. It's a musical about a supervillain by Joss Whedon. And like I said, it's free, but only until July 20th! Don't miss out because seriously? This is the most awesome thing ever.

Yeah, all three of you who read this blog will love it.

And by three, I probably mean one. Hi Mom!

So I leave you with a quote from Dr. Horrible.

Peace out!

Well, not literally.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Story: A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life.

On Thursday, Joan jerked awake half an hour before school started. How had she overslept? She had gone to bed directly after finishing all of her homework at 3:00 AM. It had been the most sleep she’d had all week! She cursed and jumped into the shower and out again, throwing on her clothing and brushing her hair at the same time.

“You better not be late to school,” her mother warned her. “Every single tardy goes on your report card, and colleges could see it.”

“I’m leaving now, Mom!” Joan yelled. “Bye!”

She didn’t stop to eat breakfast. Breakfast was for the weak. She could always grab a cookie at Coffeebucks when she went to buy her Triple Gigantico Caffeinator.

A Block. Joan was in her seat five minutes early with her pencils sharpened and arranged on her desk by size. She was hoping her AP Chemistry teacher would write her college recommendation, so she wanted to seem as prepared as possible. She smiled brightly at her teacher when he walked in the door. He started talking, and she opened her notebook.

Hello, class, she wrote. Did you do your homework?

Joan worried, sometimes, that her notes were not thorough enough. She didn’t want to miss a word of the brilliance that came out of her teacher’s mouth, so she wrote everything.

Paraphrasing would be the ultimate travesty.

B Block. Gym Class. Joan had thought carefully about which gym class looked easiest. Eventually, she had chosen the course labeled Pretending to Exercise While Not Doing Much at All. It was a fairly rigorous course. Joan walked an entire lap around the field.

C Block. Joan’s free. It was really nice to sit back in the library and do some of the homework do Monday. She didn’t want to get behind, after all.

D Block. Honors Mathematics. The weakest point in her nearly bulletproof schedule. Her math class was not Advanced Placement. She tried not to let any of her friends see her sneaking into the room with the students who were not as clever as she was.

I’m not one of them! She wanted to shout. I occasionally have trouble in mathematics, but I’m not one of the slower students who cannot learn everything by the AP exam!

Some of the horrifically stupid students in her Honors class were taking only one AP class, or even none!

Lunch. Joan was always ravenous by the time lunch rolled around. She went down to the cafeteria.

They were serving her favorite meal! Fried grease on toast! With extra added sugar!

She knew it was healthy. It came with an apple. Even if she didn’t eat the apple, the thought was still there.

E Block. Latin. Joan had worried that AP English, AP Chemistry, AP History, and Honors Mathematics were not enough. She felt she needed a language. French and Spanish were too common to even consider. Luckily, Latin would look good on any college application.

More importantly, it would help with the SATs. Joan had taken them for the third time last Saturday, and she still had not managed to break 2300. All four of her tutors were very disappointed.

Finally, school had ended. Joan raced off to her job at the Center For Helping Little Children. Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday she would go there and help little children. On Tuesdays and Fridays she had a different job. She volunteered at the Society of Protecting Our Furry Friends. She already had a college essay planned out about how saving puppies and little children had entirely changed her view of the world.

At five, she said good bye to her supervisor and went home for dinner. She snagged a power bar off of the counter and went into her room to finish all the homework she hadn’t finished and start the homework due later.

She went to bed at 4:30 AM.

Story: Carnal, Bloody and Unnatural Acts

You want me to tell you Hamlet’s story? It’s not a happy one, I warn you. You know the ending, of course. Hamlet dies. The king, the queen, the advisor and both his children, the two false friends, all of them died. That’s when you showed up, my Lord Fortinbras.

I wanted to die too. Hamlet has been my friend for years. Living on while he’s in Heaven – it just doesn’t seem right. I suppose I should start at the beginning, though.

I went to Castle Elsinore several months ago to pay my respects to the dead king. I hadn’t expected to be assailed with tales of ghosts the moment I stepped onto the grounds. Bernardo and Marcellus are two guards of the castle. When they told me they had seen King Hamlet walking the castle grounds, I of course didn’t believe them. Ghosts? Simply tales made up to scare small children. At least, that’s what I’d thought.

Bernardo and Marcellus convinced me accompany them on their watch and see if the ghost appeared. I was surprised and terrified out of my mind when the ghost actually did appear. I was expecting a trick, not a real ghost.

Marcellus and Bernardo asked me what they should do. The only thing I could think to do was tell Prince Hamlet what we had seen.

Why Prince Hamlet and not King Claudius? Hamlet had always been my friend, and I knew that he would know I would not joke about this. I didn’t know at the time that King Claudius had killed King Hamlet, but it never even occurred to me to tell Claudius what had happened. Hamlet would want to know first, and that was reason enough for me to tell him.

When Marcellus and I found him, Hamlet was upset about the marriage of his mother and his uncle so soon after his father had died. Who wouldn’t be? It was a rather abrupt wedding. Hamlet was the only one who seemed to still be mourning the dead king.

Hamlet was as intrigued by the ghost as I’d thought he would be. He joined Marcellus and me the next night. The ghost appeared and bid Hamlet follow it.

Of course I tried to stop him. Marcellus and I both did. Though the ghost had the form of King Hamlet, we knew it could simply be a demon’s trick. Hamlet knew too, but he just didn’t care. He was that eager to hear his father’s voice again. He would not be stopped. Hamlet went so far as to threaten us when we tried to stop him.

We weren’t going to leave Hamlet alone with the ghost in such a state. We ran after him. When we’d caught up, the ghost was gone. Hamlet refused to tell us what the ghost had said, but he did make us swear by his sword never to tell what we’d seen. To this day, I never have, but Hamlet asked me to tell his story to the world, and the ghost is important.

It wasn’t until later that I found out the ghost’s message. He had told Hamlet that his death had not been a natural one. King Hamlet had been murdered by his brother, Claudius.

Hamlet had already disliked Claudius for marrying his mother so soon after his father died. Knowing the full story, though, made Hamlet loathe Claudius.

It was after learning the nature of King Hamlet’s death that Hamlet’s madness began.

I say madness only because that is what everyone called it. Hamlet was never mad. He pretended to have lost his mind to allay suspicion while he proved the ghost had been telling the truth and avenged his father. I’ll admit, there were times even I doubted his sanity. I worried that he took the act too far, and I blamed myself for telling him about the accursed ghost.

He was sane, though, and he thought of the perfect test. A play mimicking the death of King Hamlet as the ghost had told it. If Claudius had killed the King, he would be unable to hide his guilt when faced with such a clear representation of it. Hamlet asked me to watch for the King’s reaction so that we could compare after the show.

It went even better than we could have hoped. The King stopped the play after the murder scene and demanded light. Hamlet knew the ghost had spoken true, and he knew he had to kill King Claudius to avenge his father.

Have I mentioned Polonius at all yet? He was the King’s spymaster and advisor. He also was a bit of a fool, and very fond of the sound of his own voice.

He was there when Hamlet went to speak to his mother. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know Hamlet killed Polonius and hid the body. It had been an accident, but I don’t know any more than that of the circumstances.

The king sent Hamlet to England to have him executed. He did not know that Hamlet planned to kill him, but he was afraid. He sent Hamlet off with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two so-called friends of Hamlet who traded loyalty to their friend for the favors of the king.

While Hamlet was away, things only grew more rotten. Polonius’ daughter, Ophelia, lost her mind and drowned herself. Laertes, Polonius’ son, came pounding on the castle doors, yelling for revenge.

Luckily, Hamlet never arrived in England. He ended up on a pirate ship, and they brought him back to Denmark. Before even meeting the pirates, he switched the death warrant that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern carried with one asking for the immediate death of the bearers. That is the only reason that they were killed.

After Hamlet and I reunited, we found ourselves watching the funeral procession for Ophelia. I had not had a chance to tell him of her death.

Laertes jumped into the grave and demanded to be buried alive with Ophelia. Hamlet couldn’t take Laertes’ dramatics. He had loved Ophelia. He snapped. He jumped into the grave with Laertes, and the two of them fought.

When we had separated them, Hamlet told me more fully of his short trip. We received the message that the King had placed a bet on Hamlet’s dueling skills. He wanted Laertes and Hamlet to fence before the court.

Hamlet was uneasy about it, but he refused to be dissuaded. He agreed to fence Laertes.

He had been right to be uneasy. Laertes and Claudius had plotted Hamlet’s death. One of the blades had been sharpened and dipped in poison so potent that a cut would be deadly. In case that wasn’t enough, the king had poisoned Hamlet’s drink.

You’ve seen the result. The queen drank the poisoned cup, Laertes slew Hamlet with the poisoned blade, Hamlet slew Laertes and the King, and he stopped me from drinking the poison to follow him.

That is how all of these deaths came to pass. It was Hamlet’s dying wish that you, Fortinbras, should become Denmark’s new ruler. He asked me to tell you. I shall continue to live and tell his story. Good luck with Denmark. It may have begun to heal, but there’s a long way yet to go.

Story: The Tricks Life Plays on You

I hate Wednesdays. Little known fact: Wednesdays are Odin's days. Odin's a great guy, don't get me wrong, but have you seen any Loki days out there? Seriously, it isn't fair at all. I get such a bad rep. People are so biased against gods who like to have a little fun.

Right, so Wednesdays. This Wednesday, for instance. I was driving down the freeway, having a great time and listening to the radio when the music ended and some boring talk show began. I'd have changed the channel, but it was an interview with some religious studies major. I love listening to mortals talk about gods. It's just so cute.

Anyway, this chick, Dr. Amelia Nondieu had been doing a scientific study on gods in general.

Like we have anything to do with science. Totally ridiculous.

It was all very interesting and hilarious, but then she said something that made me stomp on the breaks.

"We've recently come up with scientific evidence that proves definitively that there is no higher power."

For about thirty seconds I just sat there, parked in the middle of the freeway. Then I cracked up.

No higher powers? What did she know? I wasn't going to let some stupid mortal tell me whether or not I exist. That'd just be stupid.

I changed the channel and stomped on the gas. I needed a drink.

Of course, fate would not be so kind. First, I had to deal with a speeding ticket. Me! You'd think gods would be exempt from that kind of thing. I mean, not that the idiot who stopped me knew I was a god, but still.

I mean, I was only going along at what, hundred, hundred fifty miles per hour? Sure, it's above the speed limit, but I wasn't hitting anything. Few near misses, just enough to get people scared, but y'know, all in good fun.

Cops don't think it's so funny, though. Wasn't too long until I heard sirens behind me.

I thought about letting them chase me.

Thing is, I really liked the car I'd stolen, and magic's really hard on a good pair of wheels.

I pulled over to the shoulder of the road and transformed into a woman. Body like a goddess, of course. Aphrodite, actually. Sure, she isn't in my pantheon, but have you seen that chick? Knocks the socks off Sif, our goddess of beauty.

Not that the uncultured moron in blue noticed.

"Hey, you got a license, Miss...?" he asked.

I gave a girlish giggle. "Lucy," I said. "Lucy Swindler."

"Miss Swindler," he said. "License."

I rummaged around the glove compartment and patted myself down. He watched my hands and I let myself flush.

"Gee, officer, seems like I don't have it," I said, pouting cutely. "Any chance you could let me off with a warning?"

He was tempted. I could smell it. Not surprising, considering the pheromones I was giving out. Gotta love mortals. So predictable.

"I...uh, I shouldn't," he said.

I leaned forward. "I'd be...very...grateful," I whispered throatily.

And he was mine. We had a nice tumble in the back seat. Best part was when I let the female enchantment go away. Poor guy couldn't figure out what had happened to the sexy babe he'd bedded. He was still babbling when I hit the road again. No idea what happened to him after that. Probably went home to his wife and wrote it off as a bad dream.

Yeah, I coulda produced a license. Could have even produced a badge or something. Heh, that could have been funny. I could have yelled at Officer Dimwit for ruining a case I'd been working on.

This was more fun, though. And a little more of a challenge. Seriously, I'm the God of Mischief. You expect me to do things the easy way? Trouble's the only reason I exist.

Problem was, I just couldn't get what Dr. Nondieu said out of my mind. Sure, I know I exist no matter what anyone says, but not all the other gods are as smart as I am. And truth be told, we kind of depend on people to exist. I mean, without mortals, we're kind of screwed. I mean, sure, Odin used the giant Ymir's body to create the world, but he wouldn't have if people didn't exist. People and gods created each other, you know?

If you're confused at this point, I don't blame you. It's really complicated and probably involves quantum

I turned onto the exit without slowing down. There had to be a good bar around here somewhere. I mean, there was a college nearby.

I parked my car and put on Baldur's face. He's our other god of beauty. He doesn't actually know that I sometimes wear his shape. Probably wouldn't be too happy if he knew. He's a little pissed about the fact that I'll someday trick Hod, the God of poetry and darkness, into shooting him with an arrow made from mistletoe, the only material that can kill him. Man, some people can hold a grudge.

I smirked at the mirror as I entered. I could feel the girls (and a few of the guys) turning to look at me. I sauntered up to the bar and ordered two drinks. One for me, and one for a pretty girl sitting at a table in the corner.

When the waiter brought her the drink, she looked up at me and smiled, so I walked over.

"This seat taken?" I asked.

"No," she said. "You bought me this drink?"

"Yeah," I said, flashing her a grin. "Name's Luke."

"Amelia," she said. "Nice to meet you."

"You too," I said. "I'm a God you know."

"Yeah?" she said, amused.

"Oh yeah," I said. "All my previous lovers could tell you."

Amelia laughed. "Actually, funny you should mention gods."

"Why?" I said, raising my glass to take a drink.

"I actually just published an article about that. I proved that God can't possibly exist."

I coughed, spitting my drink back into the cup. Disgusting, but what can you do?

"Amelia Nondieu?" I said.

"You've heard of me?" she asked, sounding pleased.

"Radio," I said. "You're wrong, you know."

She raised an eyebrow. "I wouldn't have taken you for a religious man. I mean, Luke may be a very Christian name, but..."

"You're wrong!" I said. "Look, I know Gods exist!"

She frowned. "You know, it's funny, but I could have sworn you had brown eyes when you walked in here."

I slammed my drink down and rushed to the bathroom. My face. How could I have reverted without noticing? I tried to change back.

I couldn't. It wasn't working. I had to get out of there.

I left the bathroom and swallowed the rest of my drink. "You're wrong," I told Amelia again. "Gods exist." She simply smiled.

I only barely managed to refrain from running to the door. I went to my car and willed my hands to stop shaking. It wasn't true. Gods exist. I exist. Nondieu knew nothing.

Once I was on the road again, I began to feel better. My inability to change? Just a momentary flux in my powers. It happened occasionally, especially around people who were that strongly atheist. Momentary insecurity. Science and religion were such entirely different realms that the idea of the two mixing was absurd. I shifted shapes a few times, just to prove to myself that I could.

Not a huge shocker that I got insecure about the article, though. The thing is, life's pretty tough for gods these days. All the old temples? All the prayers? Gone. People still worship the ideas I stand for, sure, but I haven't gotten a good sacrifice for centuries. Doing better than Thor, at least. No one worships storms anymore, but there are plenty of pranks and tricks and general nasty folk following me. Christianity kind of blows. One god taking all he prayers? Man, that's greedy. Okay, I kind of wish I'd thought of it first.

Anyway, studies like these could be self-fulfilling. If enough people believed that article, it could wipe us out. I almost believed her, and if I couldn't believe in myself, who would?

Forget mortals. I needed to make sure the stupider members of our pantheon hadn't read the article. Or that they weren't taking it seriously if they had.

I veered sharply off the road and drove to Thor's apartment. Of course the idiot lives at the top of an apartment building. He probably goes up to the roof during storms and waves his hammer Mjollnir around, too.

I turned into a bird and flew up to the window. I landed and pecked on the glass.

Thor didn't look up. Uh oh.

I pecked harder. He ignored me.

Great. I turned into a gust of wind and wriggled through the crack between the window and the wall. Not an easy fit, let me tell you.

"What's up?" I said, turning back into myself.

Thor sighed heavily and glared.

"Geeze, someone stick Mjollnir up your ass or something?"

"Don't be crude, Loki," Thor said. "Haven't you heard?"

"Heard what?" I asked.

"We don't exist," Thor said. "Any moment we'll vanish."

"Great," I said. He'd heard. Why did thunder gods have to be so moody? "Don't you have a wife to explain these things to you?"

"Sif's out shopping with Baldur," Thor said. "Explain what?"

"Thor, you are like a brother to me, and I hope you understand that I mean absolutely no offense, but you are a complete and utter idiot."

He growled, eyes flashing. "There was a scientific study done that proved it," he said. The room darkened, and sparks ran through Thor's beard. I hate when he does that. He is such a drama queen. Plus, it scares the shit out of me.

"Quit it, Thor. My point is, are you really going to believe science? What has science ever done?"

"Microwave ovens," Thor said.

"Geeze, do you have to be so literal?" I asked. "Gods and science have nothing in common, Thor."

"But science proved it!" Thor said.

"Look, I'll disprove it." I punched him in the arm, hard. Not like I could hurt him, the big lout. "You've just been hit by a god."

"But the scientist said –"

"Who are you going to believe, me or a scientist?"

Thor glanced at me. "You're the Prince of Lies, Loki."

Why did my reputation have to catch up with me at the worst times?

"Yes, but I'm not lying right now, Thor. We exist. Clearly. And we're gods. Also clearly. Therefore, gods exist."

"What you're saying makes sense," Thor said. "But I read Dr. Nondieu's article. It made a lot of sense too."

"Where'd you read it?" I asked.

He handed me National Geographics.

"Since when have you read this sort of thing?" I asked him.

"I like the pictures of thunder storms," he said defensively.

"Someone's obsessed," I muttered. I flipped through the magazine until I found the relevant article.

"Watch carefully," I said. I grabbed hold of the article and ripped it out of the magazine.

"Hey!" Thor said. "That's my magazine!"

"Uh huh," I said. "And these pages are full of dirty, filthy lies."

"Hrmph," Thor grunted.

"Anyway, have I convinced you?"

"I guess so," Thor said reluctantly.

"So you'll stop sulking?"

"I wasn't sulking," Thor said.

"Yes you were."

"No I wasn –"

"It's not important," I said quickly. "If you're not waiting to disappear, my work here is done."

Thor's eyes flashed again. "You knew about this before?" he said. Thunder crackled outside. "You came here just to convince me it wasn't true?"

"Also for the pleasure of your company, of course!" I said quickly. "Stop it, Thor!"

"How do I know you had nothing to do with this article?"

"Would I do something like that?"

"You've made people doubt their own existence before," Thor said.

"How do you know about that?" I asked.

"You talk a lot when you're drunk. Last New Year's." Thor smirked.

At least it was better from the gloomy existentialism.

"I was too busy watching Baldur freak out about the mistletoe to pay attention to what I was saying."

"And you are a jerk for even bringing that plant," he said. "That's not even one of our traditions!"

"But it was funny," I said.

"Not to Baldur," Thor said. "He didn't calm down until Sif took him to that spa."

"That's funny too," I said.

"You're not nice, Loki."

"Please. He's freaking invulnerable to everything else. He's just a wimp."

"Loki," Thor said, eyes flashing again.

"Okay, okay, I won't do it again!" I said. "Well, until I eventually murder him, but hey, that won't happen until close to the end of the world."

"And you wonder why the other gods don't like you," Thor said.

"I think that's my cue to leave," I said. "Cheer up, Thor. No one likes a stormy thunder god."

"Bye, Loki. Don't let the door hit you on your way out."

"Don't plan to," I said, turning into a gust of wind again. "I'm not using the door."

I flew out of the window and soared down to the street. Convincing Thor had been a good idea. I certainly would never let Thor know, but the article had made me a little uncomfortable. It couldn't possibly be true, of course, but it had been worrying. Convincing Thor had also convinced me. I existed.

Some police officer had given me a ticket while I was away. With a snap of my fingers, I incinerated it.

It was good to be me.