Helping the Cauldron

So we ran towards the nearest rock outcropping again, and shortly after we began running, one of the demon’s heads came flying over us and landed in front of us, thudding to the ground so hard it shook. The demon head was still yelling and its wild eyes rolled around and saw us and kept screaming. I looked back over my shoulder and saw the body toppling in the other direction. Ivanka had killed one of them, it seemed, and had the other two well in check. They were swinging at her and trying hard, but they were moving slower and slower, swinging wildly and staggering and near the foot of one I saw what I’m pretty sure was an eyeball.

“Why doesn’t she help the people in the cauldron?” Brigitte asked.

“I don’t know,” I told her. “I don’t know if that’s allowed.”

“She should dump them out,” Brigitte said.

We huddled in the rocky outcrop watching the rest of the fight. Pretty soon, a second demon fell, thwomping to the ground and shaking the whole land again. Some dust fell off of the rock above us and the other demon began trying to run away. Ivanka wouldn’t let it and kept stabbing at it with her sword until it, too, fell down, dead or whatever it is that happens to demons.

I thought about that for a second as Samson started to walk out. I clutched Brigitte’s hand tight to me. Don’t let go,” I told her. She looked at me and nodded.

“Hey, are they really dead?” I asked then. Samson looked at me.

“Sure looks like it,” he said.

“That’s what we thought about you,” I pointed out to him.

He stopped then.

Ivanka was circling around on her horse and now she began to come lower. We could still hear the screams of the people in the cauldron and Brigitte leaned in. “Shouldn’t we do something?” she asked me.

I didn’t know what to do or what we could do.

Ivanka landed and Brigitte’s arm came around me, now, protectively. And jealously.

She looked at us.

“Ivanka, it is a pleasure to see you again,” said Samson.

Ivanka nodded at him and looked at me and at Brigitte.

“Ivanka, this is my girlfriend,”

“Lover,” Brigitte interjected,

“Lover. Her name is Brigitte.”

“I’m pregnant,” Brigitte said. “With Rachel’s baby.”

Ivanka smiled at that and smiled directly at Brigitte, who just stared back at her and clutched me tighter.

“You are?” Samson asked.

I wondered how that had not come up during the time that they’d been looking for me.

“Yes,” Brigitte said.

Samson looked at Ivanka, who shrugged.

“Wait, do you two know each other?” I asked Samson. “I thought you only recognized her from the waterspout.”

“I know Ivanka, and Ivanka knows me. She brought you to me in the waterspout.”

“She did?”


“I thought she was trying to get me out of Hell.”

“She was. By bringing you to me. She had to hurry, too, because we never know when you are going to leave Hell again and we’ve come close a couple of times.”

“Why was she bringing me to you?”

“Because I asked her to.”

Ivanka got off her horse and came over and stood in front of me, and Brigitte shoved in front of her.

“Can I help you with something?” Brigitte asked. Weird—because that was the first thing she ever said to me, in that restaurant just about a week ago or so, give or take a bunch of extra time in Hell.

Ivanka looked at Samson, who said “We ought to bring them both.”

“Where? We? Who?” I asked. I’d held onto Brigitte’s hand when she’d stared down Ivanka.

Ivanka pointed to her horse.

“We’ll need help,” Samson said. “Get your friends.”

Ivanka pointed at the demons.

“Then we’ll start walking.” He seemed unperturbed about everything, taking it all in stride. I was not unperturbed at all.

“Where are we walking too?” I demanded. “Maybe I don’t want to go?”

“You can’t stay here, because you may be right about the demons. Ivanka seems to think that they’ll wake up, too, that she’s only put them out of commission for a little while. If they can mend the way I’ve learned to, then you don’t want to be around here when they do. And I would think you’d want to stick near Ivanka, for the protection. Plus, I want you to come with me.”

“Why are you so interested in me?”

“All in good time,” he said. “We need to get going.”

“I don’t want to leave until I know what’s going on,” I said.

“Maybe we should go,” Brigitte said, “I don’t want to go with her,” and she shot a look at Ivanka, “But she did help us and if those demons are going to wake up or come back to life or whatever, we should get out of here.”

Brigitte looked again at the cauldron of souls and said, then, “But can we help them, somehow?” We all looked over there.

“No,” said Samson.

Ivanka shrugged and got on her horse.

I said “I don’t know what we can do.” The truth was, I always felt sorry for the souls I saw in Hell, too, and wanted to help them but I never knew what I could do, either. Even the discovery that I could bring someone out with me like Samson or Naked Girl…

“Naked Girl,” I said. “Where is she?”

Brigitte looked at me. “Why?”

Ivanka was on her horse now and winging towards the cauldron.

“We do not have time for this,” Samson said. He was eyeing the demons and I swear, he checked his wrist like he had a watch on it. I almost laughed.

“I’m responsible for her,” I said.

“You sure are responsible for a lot of naked people,” Brigitte said, as she watched Ivanka fly around the cauldron once. It was hard, I realized, not to be jealous of that. Ivanka was about as perfect a woman as you could find. She made me get all hot looking at her even though I didn’t want to. Perfect, I guess, but also seven feet tall and really big, but she just radiated sexiness.

“I love you so much,” I said, and turned towards her. “I don’t want you mad at me. But I brought her out of here only to bring her right back and I feel like we should help her.”

Brigitte leaned in and kissed me. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I just get so jealous.”

We hugged until Samson said “Well, now what is that Valkyrie doing?”

His voice implied an adjective or two in front of the word valkyrie but he didn’t say them.

We looked and Ivanka was flying right up to the cauldron, near where the giant flames at the bottom were licking at the rock-pot and heating it up. The screams had become background noise now, horrible background noise but we didn’t keep focusing on them. Ivanka was touching parts of it with her sword, poking it, here and there, and then she suddenly swung once, twice, three times, four times, and there were flashes of light and smoke and it was like lightning striking the cauldron. She flew up and away from there, her horse moving fast, and the section of the cauldron she’d cut out fell onto the ground with a thump! And water started pouring out of the cauldron, a giant steaming hot waterfall of screaming boiled souls.

“Oh, for crying out… let’s get out of the way of that,” Samson yelled, and we had to, because it was coming straight at us, this river avalanche of souls and water.

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