Blondhilda and the Escape from the Insane Asylum
by Chris Hugh
The Norse goddess looked down at Stan fondly, her great bosom heaving in happiness.
"Now we can be together forever, my Stanley!"
Stanley Chester Brown, fabulously successful graphic novel author and former lawyer, proudly stood on his tiptoes. He kissed Blondhilda's gorgeous lips and the entire Hall of Valhalla erupted into applause. Shields clash, swords rattled, goblets clinked (and were quickly drained), and many mighty fighting men and mighty fighting wenches yelled "Aooga!"
The cheering grew and fed upon itself and thus was much prolonged. Approval rang though the great Hall of Valhalla, small riots broke out, and great property damage came to pass. And Odin, Chief of the Viking Gods, was well pleased. By and by, the acclaim reached a crescendo and died down, and as the wounded were led from the Great Hall, Odin clapped Stanley on the back.
"You have done well, mortal. You have brought me the horn of the great Ram, and thus won the hand of the goddess Blondhilda. I thank you. The beasts of Asgard, who will no longer be harried by literal-minded mortals, thank you. And most of all the great warrior Billy Bob thanks you. He wore out the old horn on his Dodge pickup in Asgard traffic and we're been trying to get him a new one for twenty-five years."
Loki, the shape shifter, Norse god of mischief, strode up. He had a warm smile of white Chiclets, but his grey eyes were cold as Dentyne Blast. He put out a hand and Stan shook it nervously. "Good job, mortal," he said.
Loki tossed his pale straw hair and turned to Odin. "I have something for you!"
Odin took the small scroll from Loki and read it slowly, his eye scrunched up, his lips sounding out the letters. "Now, that's good thinking, Loki," he finally said. He turned to Blondhilda and chucked her under the chin. "Go drink some ale and celebrate, punkin. Stanley will be along in a minute."
Blondhilda gave Stan another kiss, and as she turned to walk away, Loki mischievously took the sword from the sheathe she wore across her back. Stan opened his mouth to object, but Odin cut him off and Blondhilda disappeared into the crowd.
"Here sport," Odin said, handing him Loki's scroll. "Take care of that, and we'll see you in a couple minutes." Then Odin planted his feet and cried out in a godly manner, "Invigorate!"
At that cue, Stan began to dissolve into scrambled atoms, his mouth moving in silent protest. As Stan faded away to be transported to the mortal world, Loki tossed him Blondhilda's sword.
* * *
Stan awoke on the floor of Kraken Auto Parts with a cop kneeling over him. "Sir, can you hear me?"
Stan stared at her, uncomprehending. He was still woozy from being dematerialized, transported through the reaches of time and space, and reconstituted molecule by molecule. "I'm a doctor, not a broadband signal" he muttered.
Officer Murphy stood up and looked over at the Kraken Auto Parts clerk. "*Is* he a doctor?"
The clerk had cold grey eyes and pale hair. "Nah, he's a comic book author. He's not a doctor. He's a crazy Star Trek nut, that's what he is. Put him in jail!"
"I can't lock him up for that. But I'll get him out of your hair." She looked down at Stan and stroked her chin. "First I'll see if he needs medical attention. If not, I'll give him a lift home."
Suddenly Stan stood up and shouted, his eyes unfocused, "The horns are a gift, gosh darnit, Odin! Don't worry about it!"
Stan abruptly thrust the rolled-up platinum-colored fifteen-percent-off Kraken Auto Parts coupon Loki had given him toward the officer. She saw the metallic glint and moved instantly. She caught Stan's wrist and pulled him, using Stan's own momentum to propel him forward, upsetting his balance. She stepped behind him, twisted his arm up and brought him down into an uncomfortable squatting position with his other hand pressed hard against the floor to keep himself from cracking his knees onto the concrete floor. As she moved, she twisted her body away from the object in Stan's hand. She used a pain compliance technique to make him drop it, and made an annoyed tsking sound when the coupon fluttered out of Stan's hand to the ground. She stood him up.
The pale clerk bounded over the counter and ran up to them. "Don't let him go!" he screamed.
Murphy had her baton out in a flash. "Just back right up, sir."
The clerk did so and showed her his palms in an appeasing gesture. She lowered the baton. "I'm sorry," he said. "But that guy's crazy. He thinks he's Blondhilda's boyfriend. Ask him! He ought to go to the crazy house."
"Blondhilda, huh," the cop was intrigued. Blondhilda was her favorite graphic novel heroine. She still held Stan's hands behind his back, but she put the baton back on her belt. She kept her eyes on the clerk as she asked Stan, "Are you Blondhilda's boyfriend?"
Stan turned his head to the side and answered in a frenetic whisper. "Yes. Yes, I am. We wandered Asgard together seeking the two-tone horn of the great Ram. We faced many dangers and met Odin and I bought the horn of the Dodge Ram pickup here and now I long to be reunited with my true love, Blondhilda."
"See?" the clerk crowed. "He's mental! You should put him away!"
"Well," the cop addressed the clerk. "He might, um, what you said, but I can't lock him up for that."
"But look what he had with him!" The clerk pointed to the store counter and the object that lay on the floor, partly hidden by the toe kick. It was Blondhilda's Sword of Violence and Action, unsheathed, its honed edge glinting in the fluorescent light, its tip wickedly sharp.
She could lock him up for that.
And thus Stan was determined to be, due to a mental disorder, a danger to himself or others and was accordingly 5150'd for a 72-hour involuntary psychiatric hold.
* * *
As Stan was loaded into the back of the police car, Blondhilda wandered through a rip in the fabric of space and reality and into the Waxes-and-Washes aisle of the Kraken Auto Parts store. She bore two cups of mead and a come thither expression. She frowned around at the empty store and then bowed to Loki, her flaxen waist-length hair spilling over her shoulders. "Where's Stanley?"
Loki gave her a curt nod, grinned and pointed toward the store entrance.
"I don't see Stanley there," she said. Then she squinted through the windows and glass door. It was night and the glass reflected the interior of the store, but her sharp eyes could discern some figures outside. "By the way, who is that manacled man in the black and white chariot?"
Loki laughed maniacally as Blondhilda's eyes grew wide in recognition. She dropped the goblets. "My Stanley!" she called and ran toward her true love. The goddess gave a piercing cry as she neared the front of the store and the entire glass wall shattered and rained down as she ran into the parking lot. The patrol car had just pulled away. She ran after it, her shapely legs hammering like pistons, but it picked up speed, and although she ran like the most amped of Arctic reindeer, it pulled away from her.
But she did not tarry. In the distance, a tall glowing green beacon changed to yellow and swiftly to red. Red lights flashed and then held steady at the back of Stan's chariot, and the chariot slowed and stopped.
Blondhilda ran furiously, her five-inch thigh-high battle boots pounding the black asphalt. She slowed as she neared the chariot, so as not to smash into it. The beacon light remained red as she approached the chariot.
The cop at the stoplight, made a short 'all clear' transmission over her radio, checked her beeper, dialed her cell phone and fiddled with some buttons on her on-board police laptop. Then she looked around, noted the intersection was empty, and pulled through the red light, drove a short distance and accelerated onto the freeway, leaving Blondhilda far, far behind.
* * *
Two days later, Blondhilda arrived at the San Gotham County Jail. She had lost the trail of the one black and white chariot, but had followed myriad others until she came at last to their great roosting place, the Police Station. From there she had been directed to the County Jail, and having no money she had been obligated to walk which had taken her much time and caused the goddess to feel something she had never felt before: tired. And taught her first mortal complaint: urban sprawl.
Although she did not know it, her very life depended on Stanley's belief in her, and that belief was waning. Her time in the mortal world had diminished her wardrobe as well as her powers. Instead of standing six feet tall, not including her five-inch dagger heels, she now stood five foot six including her mere three-inch stiletto heels. Her waist-length hair was now bra-length, she was actually wearing a bra, and her low-cut skin-tight armor had turned into a sleeveless mini dress. She was weakened, but she had finally arrived.
The goddess walked through the doors of the jail. "I come to claim Stanley Chester Brown!" she cried.
Meanwhile, Stan was in the bowels of the jail talking to a well-moisturized doctor from the $3000-per-day Drawn-Out Diagnostic Happy Brain Lockdown Facility. "I'm so glad we've made this breakthrough," the doctor was saying. "Let's gather your things. You can complete the rest of your three-day hold at Happy Brain Lockdown and then you can switch to a voluntary hospital admission. I'm sure that after a few months at Brainlock--that's our little nickname for our institute--you'll have forgotten all about this Blondhilda fantasy. Or, as I like to call it, this Blondhilda-related dangerous psychotic break with reality." He laughed but his smile did not reach his cold grey eyes. "Brainlock is very sought-after. We're one of the few facilities in the western world to still offer our patients leucotomy psychosurgery," he said, using the euphemism for 'lobotomy.'
Down in the lobby, an admiring desk sergeant directed Blondhilda to the correct area to wait. She sat down on a chair and picked up a colorful bound sheaf of paper with strange symbols upon it and pictures of animals. A young girl sat next to her and helped her sound out the letters.
Stan and the doctor completed the out-processing paperwork and went out to the parking lot. The doctor helped Stan into his minivan, helping him get buckled in and making sure to twist child safety lock on the door so Stan wouldn't be able to open it from the inside. The doctor patted the Drawn-Out Diagnostic Happy Brain Lockdown Facility decal on the side of the minivan and smiled through the window, his flaxen hair shining in the sun.
The desk sergeant told Blondhilda that the inmate she wanted to visit was no longer there and he could give her no more information. Dejected, she said goodbye to the little girl and walked toward the exit of the County Jail. She paused and carefully studied the door. She frowned in concentration and her lips moved. A tiny smile of understanding appeared for just a moment in her sad face and she "Push"-ed. The little girl had taught her well.
She walked outside and sighed. It was hopeless. She had no identification, no money and her only mortal education was that which the young child had just given her. She sang softly to herself "next time won't you sing with me" but it came out a dirge. She shivered. Stanley Chester Brown's belief in her was crumbling. Blondhilda sat down on the curb and tried not cry. She looked up, trying to blink back the tears, just as a large ice-blue chariot drove by. She could see Stanley in the back seat!
Blondhilda ran for Stan, but the minivan just kept going. She ran until her now-mortal heart seemed as if it would burst. Her lungs burned and her throat rasped. She called out, but her voice could no longer ring to the very mountaintops. She had a mortal woman's voice now, and Stan did not hear her. She watched the minivan pull out of sight, her lips moving as she read the decal on its side.
* * *
Two days later, Blondhilda stood unseen behind the landscaping at the Drawn-Out Diagnostic Happy Brain Lockdown Facility. She had diminished yet again. Instead of standing five foot six, not including her three-inch stiletto heels, she now stood five foot two in one-inch orthopedics. Her black mini dress had transformed into a beige twinset and brown tweed skirt. Her golden hair remained bra-length, but now it had a frizzy perm.
Blondhilda felt frail and uncomfortable, but her warrior mind was unaffected. Using her new alphabet skills she had tracked Stan to this fortress. She knew she did not have the physical strength to storm it, so she had surveilled it, discerning its functions, uncovering its weaknesses. It had taken two days, but now she was ready. The hour tolled three pm. Blondhilda moved into action.
She hefted a large shallow box, filled with items she had gathered after studying office behavior with the eye of a cunning predator. She strode up the walkway to the building, bumping into a worker who was leaving. She stumbled against the woman and reached out a hand, flustered. Then she smiled an apology and walked into the building, letting herself in with the keycard she'd just stolen. She flirted with the man at the reception desk, then walked to the elevators. She pressed the elevator call button confidently, as if it weren't for the first time. She walked with her flimsy box into the elevator. Stanley was on the fourth floor. She thought for a second and then pressed the "4" button.
* * *
Stan stuck his tongue out at a buxom Brainlock nurse. The nurse placed a pill on it and handed Stan a paper cup of water. The procedure was for Stan to swallow the pill and the water, open his mouth wide again, lift his tongue and then puff out his cheeks with his fingers so the nurse could see he'd really swallowed it.
"You!" she shouted, entering Stan's expensive private room and pointing at the fair-haired nurse. The nurse turned her cold grey eyes to Blondhilda. "Yes, dear, how can I help you?" she asked innocently.
"You are Loki!" Blondhilda yelled. No gust of wind blew back her dishwater-blond hair dramatically. "You have kidnapped my Stanley and I am here to rescue him!"
"Of course, dear," Loki replied in a tone of voice that made it clear she was placating a dangerous nut. "Let me just go out in the hall and I'll call some nice orderlies to help you with the rescue." She moved toward the door, but Blondhilda slammed it shut with her foot.
"No one will help you," she sneered. "The halls are deserted; all the workers are in the break room. I brought cake and donuts."
Stan edged away from the two gods, but Blondhilda took his hand. "Come with me, my love. Let's away!"
Stan grasped her hand and look at her with sudden hope. But then he looked down at her, at her clothes, and her hair and her shoes and hope turned to sadness. "No," he mumbled. "I really am crazy. It was all just a dream." He let go of her hand and sat down on the bed.
Blondhilda crumpled, suddenly weak. His belief in her was dying and so was she. She put out her hand to keep from falling. She leaned against the bedside table, panting, her frizzy hair brushing the table lamp.
Loki laughed again. Still disguised as a beautiful young nurse, he took an ugly long syringe from the pocket of his uniform and uncapped the long needle. He approached Blondhilda slowly, relishing every moment.
"What's that?" Stan said.
"Oh, just a little fentanyl, to calm this lady down so we can get her to her own room."
Blondhilda grabbed the heavy table lamp, intending to smash Loki with it. She couldn't lift it.
"Uh, isn't fentanyl dangerous?" Stan said nervously. "You better not do that."
Blondhilda grunted at the lamp and looked down. "Oh, my Odin! It's bolted down."
Blondhilda lurched away from Loki and crawled over Stan's bed, putting it between her and trickster god. "Hey, I'm serious." Stan said. "I don't know who this woman is"--Blondhilda clutched her heart and staggered against the far wall–-"but you can't just go shooting a woman full of fentanyl like that. It's dangerous."
Stan didn't know if he were mad or sane, but he knew right from wrong. He grabbed for Loki's wrist, for the hand with the syringe, but Loki batted him away laughing. Stan tried for the wrist again and his time Loki spun him around like a toy and shoved his face hard into the bedcovers.
Stan gasped, "You're not really a nurse, are you?"
Blondhilda had run into the bathroom on the far side, beyond the bed. She emerged and threw two hotel-sized bottles of shampoo at Loki, then ran out of ammunition. She looked around the room desperately. "Don't you have anything that can be used as a weapon?" she screamed at Stan.
Loki bounded over the bed, using Stan's body as a springboard. "What do you expect?" Stan panted. "This is a psyche ward!"
Loki caught Blondhilda around the waist, yanked her cardigan down to expose her upper arm, and held the syringe aloft. Blondhilda slumped and a tear slid down her cheek. She closed her eyes.
Stan looked at her. The woman looked nothing like the Blondhilda character of his graphic novels, the goddess whom he had brought into being. His goddess had the strength, stamina, intelligence and courage of legend. This woman had only...had only the intelligence and the courage. Suddenly she looked up, and Stan saw True Love shining in her eyes.
"I believe in you," he whispered. A golden light suddenly suffused the dim room. A chill wind arose. Loki staggered back.
For with Stan's belief restored, so was Blondhilda restored to her epic proportions, and equally epic was the ass-kicking she immediately delivered upon Loki, causing heartening amounts of property damage and culminating with a Loki-shaped hole in the side of the building when Blondhilda finally excused him from her presence.
Holding hands, Blondhilda and Stan snuck out of the facility. It wasn't strictly necessary to sneak out since Stan's 5150 had expired and he was free to go, but he didn't want to spoil the mood.
There was but one thing left to do.
* * *
"So, you want your sword, back, do you?" The cop at the San Gotham Police Station looked at them skeptically.
"Yes, it is a Great Sword and our passage back to the Halls of Valhalla!" Blondhilda said.
"Well," the cop replied. He eyed them through the security grill of the property room and kept the sword on the counter, tantalizingly out of reach. "This here's a weapon. It's like a Saturday Night Special. It's an illegal weapon, probably. I'm not gonna just hand it back to you until I know why you need it. And no one needs a sword or any other kind of weapon. We'll melt it down. Destroying weapons prevents crime."
"But it is mine," Blondhilda said simply.
"Yeah, well," the cop chuckled. Then laid his hand lightly on the sword. Blondhilda watched dispassionately as a strange look came into his eyes. He suddenly straightened and declared, "I distrust the idea of freedom and democracy. I think society should be ruled by an elite of which I am a part." He looked down at his shabby uniform and protruding stomach and his eyes grew wider. His voice continued, for he was touching Blondhilda's Great Sword and thus he could not but speak forthrightly and truthfully. "I know gun control doesn't do anything but make honest people feel helpless and oppressed. Criminals can get guns the same way they get drugs. But I'm one of a minority of law enforcement officers that gets off on a power trip and that's why I want everyone else disarmed."
He jerked his hand away from the Sword and uttered a colorful expression.
"I want my Sword," Blondhilda said.
"No," the cop replied. He folded his arms over his large stomach. "Fill out a petition. Maybe we'll get around to looking at it before we melt the Sword."
A great pale light filled the room, and a chill wind blew. Blondhilda spread wide her arms and thunder rolled. Lightning crashed outside. The policeman's heart clutch in his chest, for he knew his doom was nigh.
Stan put his hand on Blondhilda's arm. "I'll handle it sweetie." The pale light faded.
He turned to the officer. "You know, we've got this thing called a Constitution. You've even sworn to protect and defend it. We've got a right against unreasonable search and seizure, and you're violating it."
The cop was shaking, but he still managed to sneer, "Take it up with City Hall."
Then Stan truly swung into action, for before becoming a fabulously successful author of graphic novels, he had been a lawyer, a prestigious Document Review Attorney working in the hallowed bowels of the Litigation Warehouse. And he had Googled.
"I won't take it up with City Hall, I'll take it up with Officer Murphy, who arrested me."
Stan continued. "This Sword is worth more than $400, so her taking it was Grand Theft. Give it to me, or I'll make a Citizen's Arrest of Officer Murphy right now. And I'll present the Citizen's Arrest paperwork to you, and under California law, you will be required to take her into custody."
"That's stupid, I'll just release her under—-"
"Under Penal Code section 849, of course. And it won't go on her rap sheet as an arrest, it'll go on as a detention. Except it will go on her rap sheet. In fact, I bet she doesn't even have a rap sheet now. How happy is she going to be that you're the one who created it for her? Even if you don't take her into custody, she'll have to be brought before a magistrate. How much do you think she'll like that?"
And the cop was cowed, for an unfamiliar feeling of enlightenment crept into his mind. He had touched Blondhilda's Great Sword, and some of the valor of that sword had penetrated his being. And Stan's words spoke wisdom to him, for discretion is the better part of valor. He knew that Officer Murphy would bitch him into oblivion if she had to go to court on her day off because of him.
He unlocked the property cage, and came out carrying the sword in two hands. He knelt before Blondhilda, bowed his head, and raised the Sword to her. She took the Sword and swung it high. Then she winked at Stan and gently touched the cop's shoulders with it and bade him rise.
Then Stan and Blondhilda turned to each other in the police property room and smiled. Blondhilda put her arm around Stan's waist and they were transported directly to the hot tub in Stan's fine home where they spent a very pleasant evening.
And though the officer never saw Blondhilda or Stan again, a change was wrought in him. His belly shrank slightly and his halitosis cleared up, though no other outward of the change in him could be seen. And yet, when he was transferred back to patrol, no longer was he satisfied to park his patrol car behind a dark building and while away the graveyard shift watching his hand-held DVD player or sleeping. He found himself patrolling, investigating and stopping crime, yet never infringing the rights or liberties of any individual.
Thus righteousness was served and Blondhilda's will was done. Pin It Now!