"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."

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