Fished in!

I was spared further looks from Brigitte because the dirigible suddenly listed to the right and we all tumbled; the crackling that we had heard was a direct shot from one of the cops' ray guns and the dirigible was tumbling.

Doc jetted up and was scootling around the hole as Brigitte yelled "Hang on to something" and I grabbed as the dirigible suddenly began to drop like a rock, but the thing I grabbed was Mr. Damned Soul's hand, and he grinned at me and shook my hand out of his and I fell out of the dirigible carriage.

I've been in free fall a surprising amount recently, both here and in Hell and it's never a pleasant experience. I definitely worry less about falling when I'm in Hell, which sounds weird but it's not really because while I'm in Hell, and whatever one is doing in Hell should be worrisome, should be extremely worrisome, I also kind of associate Hell with a dream, of sorts, in that I go there only when I fall asleep here, even though sometimes I'm there for weeks, months, there when I'm only asleep for, say, an hour or two here... taking naps can be hard when if you doze off you might, like me, have a whole adventure in Hell and then wake up and it's dinnertime...

But I'm getting distracted. I was falling and I had plenty of time to worry this time because I only fell for a second or two before a net enclosed me and a balloon inflated and I was being reeled down to some big gun-cannon thing the cops had. They'd evidently shot the net out of it and the net had gotten me and the balloon held me up while they fished me in. I supposed they had this because of all the people who have dirigibles and airwings and stuff. They must need a way to catch people who can fly.

I wondered why they still had cars. Maybe the cars were faster. There had to be some reason for it. Maybe they were just old-fashioned.

I was all twisted up in the balloon-net, being pulled in, but I managed to crane my neck and look up and I saw Brigitte scowling down at me, and Mr. Damned Soul peeking over the edge, and Doc-- Doc! Where was he? I hadn't been without Doc in this world, well, in the two weeks I'd been aware that I was in this world.

I couldn't see Doc.

I didn't like that Brigitte was scowling.

Then I heard a voice.

"She's definitely one of them."

It was Reverend Tommy. He was with the cops.

Brigitte was still scowling at me, I was sure, as they pulled the net to the ground and deflated the balloon and I was lying in a heap looking up at two cops and Reverend Tommy.


"I don't think I'm anything like you," I told Mr. Damned Soul. "Look at you. You're... you're smelly and wretched and dead and damned."

"What do you think you are?" Mr Damned Soul asked me in that kind-of-croaking voice he had. It was probably choked with salt water; maybe it had been for centuries!

"What does that mean?" I asked. Brigitte had backed away from him a little and was kneeling next to me.

"What does that mean?" she asked.

"Well, you're not smelly, so far as I can tell, but maybe that's just the fact that I've been submerged in Hell's ocean for years and years. You might be wretched. I don't know. I don't profess to see into your mind the way you profess to see into mine." He paused. "You're probably also not damned. Well, not all of you, anyway.

But you are dead," he finished.

Then he reconsidered.

"Well, not all of you, maybe."

"Is that why she doesn't share?" asked Brigitte.

"Don't ask him things," I said. "He's just some dead guy that I accidentally fished out of Hell."

"Accidentally? I don't think so," said Mr Damned Soul. "I sent Ivanka looking for you, and she found you and she brought you to me."

"What?" I asked.

"Who's Ivanka?" asked Brigitte.

"A Valkyrie," I said.

"What's that?" asked Brigitte, who probably had not had much Norse mythology in her southern school.

"A Valkyrie is a mythological creature who traditionally was sent by Odin to choose warriors fallen in battle and convey them to Valhalla," said Doc.

"It's her lover," said Mr. Damned Soul, raising a hand and trying to point a finger at me, but his wrist was broken and while he could work his fingers, the finger pointed at the ground between us.

There was another crackle of the ray gun and the sirens continued to drift up as Brigitte looked at me, dismayed.

"You have another lover?" she asked.

Doc scrambled up to pull on the lever and try to take us higher, but we were rising more slowly now.

"Not exactly," I said.

"Not exactly?" Brigitte asked.

"She does," Mr. Damned Soul says. "Exactly."