Headed North

Emma Wyrick

Jakob sat and held himself up with weak arms, feeling the blood rush away from his head. Drawing in a sharp breath he expected pain but didn’t face any. His breath echoed through a noiseless void, the world distorted by black and white dots. Then like thunder the world filled with sobbing voices and a hand grabbed him under his arm and pulled him up. Looking into opal brown eyes, sightless pearls acting as a centerpiece.

“Hey..welcome.” 

His neck hardly supported his head as he lurched upwards, “Where..?” 

“I’ll explain some stuff while we travel, just follow.” 

With no energy to protest he was dragged along by the boy as he walked with purpose, arm locked in with his and supporting his weight. Jakob watched as a crowd of others, divided in twos like him and this stranger, picked up weathered red wings, put them on, and lifted their weary companions whose skin looked bleached of any blood. 

“You liked the Norse gods story most, yeah?” His companion picked up his own pair of wings, white palms brushing over the feathers, contemplating the color and thick leather straps for a split second. “That’s a rhetorical question, If you didn’t I wouldn’t see you here.” Jakob felt a pulsing pressure on his chest and his head ached while he thought of how to respond. 

“Yeah..The stories made the most sense to me.” 

The boy walked behind him and gently wound his arms under his, holding Jakob by his shoulders and they lifted off the ground. “Same, my parents used to sit us down at the table and have us pick a book from my dad’s shelf,” he talked softly, “and there was this big like..tome he owned full of all the tales. I’d always just grab that and reread it,” his voice trailed off. 

“You have siblings?” Jake looked up at him as best he could, realizing the wings didn’t flap like birds so much as glide upward. 

“Had..” The boy’s eyes flickered, a pained expression crossed his face while he examined Jakob’s face. “We’re-” His focus strayed from his smooth voice to faint yelling. The yelling blended into the distance. He felt embarrassed that he didn’t hear him and decided to not ask again. The boy looked disappointed at the lack of acknowledgement and looked ahead. A blackbird glided next to them now as they rose toward the clouds. 

Their feet landed softly on mint-green grass sitting on top of the clouds, Jakob’s touching first. A faded rainbow stretched next to them, being poked at by the other collection of paled boys as every other one undid the thick leather straps connected to feathers. The boy outstretched his hand, “lets get ahead of the crowd?” 

He found himself being pulled along again, stepping heavily over the rubble of pure white marble. Eyes still glued back at the few perfectly squared stones left, he felt the words worm their way through his lips, “Asgard..?” 

The boy shot a glance back, the disappointment slipping away to a sad look of recognition. 

“Help me with the door.” Together they struggled to push the giant wooden door ajar, shoes dug into the indents in the stone path. 

Each foot step echoed on the reddened wood as they walked together past broken thrones and walls emblazoned with gold, shimmering in the sun coming through holes in the roof. Seven thrones sat unaffected, a small piece of what had been before. Jakob realized the other boy had grabbed his hand again only when he was being dragged downward, bowing to two figures slumped in the main thrones. As he bowed his head, the raven swooped down from the rafters and sat on Jakob’s shoulder. He felt a jolt and watched as black and white dots overtook the orange-red floors. 

Jakob tried to sit up, only to be pushed back down by red and blue gloved hands, he noticed a tube running the length of his forearm and disappearing in between blue uniforms. 

Everything hurts, he thought to himself, vision slipping back to a blurred and dotted view of the throne room.