OMG: Fanfiction

Urd's Deadly Wish

By Andrew D. Johnson (email: androo@home.com)

Keiichi Morisato, his wife Belldandy, Goddess of the Present, and her sisters Urd, Goddess of the Past, and Skuld, Goddess of the Future, were driving in a rented car across the Arizona desert towards the Grand Canyon. Keiichi was on summer break from his technical college, and had saved up a little money for a trip by delivering pizza. Urd and Skuld also did the same, naturally telling no one they were deities. Belldandy, meanwhile, watched over her and Keiichi's baby daughter, Randako. The baby half- mortal, half-goddess was now just learning to walk and use her own powers. The scene was an ordinary one, with the four adult passengers arguing over which music to put on. Keiichi was a big-time Frank Zappa fan, Belldandy preferred Michael Bolton and Sting, Urd liked Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, and the Beastie Boys, and Skuld was president of the local N'Sync fan club. "All right already!" Keiichi shouted in frustration. "Since none of us can make up our minds, let's see what's on the radio."

"Keiichi-chan, we're out in the middle of nowhere. We won't be able to get any stations!" complained Skuld.

Urd glanced at the barren, red-rock landscape stretching in all directions. "She's got a point. Considering this is rural America, the most we'll be able to find will be some inbred country singer whining about how his wife left him and took everything away from him. Bell, can you remind me why we decided to just fly and drive instead of just teleporting? We could be looking out over the canyon right now if Skuldie here had decided to teleport via a TV screen instead of through water."

"Dammit, you know well that my way of teleporting is by water vortexes!" Skuld snapped. "Your problem is you refuse to see things through anyone's eyes but your own self-indulgent…"

"Girls, girls, calm down," Belldandy told them in her normal calm, pleasant tone. As the middle child, she always tried to act as the diplomat during Urd's and Skuld's frequent quarrels, but ever since giving birth she had taken on the role of a peaceful mother figure more than ever. "Since we all have different methods of teleportation, it would have been hard to all travel together. Besides, this method of travel, however slow and tedious, gives us a chance to see the American countryside. Aren't you two thankful for a chance to see Father's wondrous creation after being cooped up in your offices up in Heaven for so long?"

"Yeah, it is a lovely getaway," Urd reasoned. "So, what say you turn on the radio, Kei-san."

Keiichi obliged. Just as Skuld was concerned about, he first turned the dial to find just static. Using her mental energies, Belldandy held the car in a correct course on the road while her young husband turned the dial. They went briefly past a dreaded country station, followed by a mariachi station, followed by something else. "For God loves you so, so why don't you show how much you love Him by donating money to my glorious cause? And remember folks, the more you spend, the greater are your chances for eternal salvation! Send check or money order to: The Rev. Jeremy Fallout, c/o Praise the Lord Productions, 777 Pearly Gates Parkway, Devawendowna, Georgia 32657. Don't delay! What if the Apocalypse happened tomorrow?" Keiichi eagerly turned off the radio if this was all they would be able to pick up out here.

"Who was that guy?" gasped Belldandy. "I happen to know as a daughter Kami-Sama, or God as English-speakers call Him, and He certainly wouldn't condemn to hell those who don't have enough money for someone who talks about Him on the radio!"

Keiichi still wasn't entirely familiar with all the nuances of American culture, but he thought he had somewhere heard of this guy. He knew about Christianity-he happened to now be Jesus' half-brother-in-law- and he had also bumped into a few missionaries back in Japan, mostly Mormons. "Got me, Bell-chan," he muttered. This was the first time he had ever traveled to America, and the long distances and utter lack of people provided quite an unhealthy dose of culture shock. He yawned and hoped that they would arrive at their destination sometime soon. Then suddenly a large billboard loomed out of the red southwestern dust. "LOOK OUT FOR NUMBERS ONE AND TWO". Shortly thereafter came another one. "FEELING HUNGRY? DON'T FEEL BLUE!" Next, "TAKE A BREAK FROM THE OL' CAR SEAT", followed by "DROP IN AT HENRY'S GAS AND EATS!"

"Hey, girls," Keiichi announced. "My English is still a little rusty, but I think there's a diner coming up. Wanna stop for lunch?"

"Sounds nice after all that driving," Belldandy answered. "I hope they serve tea there."

"I hope they serve beer and pretzels," Urd added. "And some pickled eggs would be nice."

"I just hope they have a bathroom!" Skuld gasped. She had been holding on since Phoenix.

Henry's Gas and Eats was your average dusty greasy-spoon roadside diner, but the travelers nevertheless thought it would make as decent a place as any to have their midday meal. Particularly since just beyond it was a blue sign reading: "LAST FOOD & GAS FOR 80 MILES". Faded vintage movie posters and memorabilia from America's glory days hung on the walls, including, Keiichi noted, an ad for a burger joint somewhere out there that sold something called the "Atomic Bomburger". He wondered what his friends back in Japan, not to mention his conservative parents, would think of that. He and Belldandy took seats in one of the booths by the windows, under a slowly turning ceiling fan. It provided very little relief against the searing Arizona summer heat. Meanwhile baby Randako amused herself by lifting up napkin holders with the Force and then letting go, causing them to clatter to the ground. "Randako, stop that and sit still," Belldandy chastised.

"Koku," Randako answered, sticking out her tongue at her mother and smiling. Her parents were obviously annoyed, but it was also all they could do to keep from bursting into laughter. From now on though, they probably shouldn't let Noble Scarlet spend so much time around the infant. That naughty little angel of Skuld's was enough trouble already.

A weathered old lady who looked like she had once been rather pretty in life sauntered over to their table. "Welcome," she greeted. "What can I do you for?"

"Uh, miss," Keiichi requested, in English. "I'm from Japan, and I'm only still learning English, so could you please try to talk a little slowly?"

"Japan, eh?" she responded, her eyebrows raised. "Well then, welcome to America. What would you like?"

"I will have…the bacon cheeseburger with fries and a root beer," he ordered. Of course he had eaten hamburgers many times before, but since hamburgers were an American dish, it seemed obvious that they would probably be better here than back home. After all, Megumi had gone on a foreign exchange trip to California the year before, and she told her brother the American versions of sushi and tempura were just plain awful.

"Do you serve any tea? Namely the Darjeeling brand?" Belldandy asked. Being a goddess, she had command over all the languages of Earth, but since Japanese was the one she used most frequently, she had a bit of trouble pronouncing some words in English, and actually talked in a Japanese accent.

"No, ma'am, I'm afraid we don't," answered the waitress. "Say hon'," she continued in that typically friendly fashion Americans try to show to tourists and other out-of-towners, "I don't mean to impose, but you sound a bit Japanese yourself. Yet you don't look Japanese. Where you from?"

"Umm," she began. She then used the alibi she frequently told people back in Japan. "I'm the daughter of a Swedish diplomat living in Japan. But, uh, my parents were both killed in a car crash when I was a baby, so I was raised by some friends of them."

"That's too bad," the waitress answered.

"Oh, don't feel too sorry for me. I get sad and cry about it from time to time, but I'd just rather go on with my life.

"And who is this guy?" she asked regarding Keiichi.

"I'm her boyfriend," he answered. He had heard that most Americans didn't get married until after college, so he didn't want to offend or shock this little old lady's sensibilities.

"And whose is this child?"

"Uhh…" Keiichi had to think of another alibi quick. He couldn't very easily claim that Randako was the daughter of teenage Skuld, or that the booze-swilling Urd had just dumped her in her sister's lap while she went off to the bar for a pint or two. Or three. "She's my sister's daughter. But she has to attend a meeting in Phoenix, so we decided to take her with us to the Grand Canyon. That's actually why we're here in America; my sister had a business meeting, so she offered to get tickets here for us so we could see the country. It's our first time in America." Both smiled at the waitress, silently hoping she would just quit asking so many questions and leave. Was she this curious about all her customers? Heaven help them (almost literally) if she would ask about the blue diamond-shaped tattoos on Belldandy's and Randako's foreheads.

"Interesting story," continued the waitress, still sounding for all the world like a KGB agent, or FBI agent, whichever was the most distrusting and intrusive. But fortunately she decided to end her prying there. "So, what'll it be, ma'am? Sorry, but we don't serve any tea here."

A vegetarian, Belldandy noticed with some disgust that almost all the food items on the menu seemed to have meat. Most restaurants in Japan provided at least some vegetarian meals. Westerners sure seemed to like their beef. "Uh, I'll have some coffee with sugar and cream, please." This long road trip had made her tired, and she could use some caffeine.

"I'm sorry, ma'am, but we don't serve caffeine here. It's corrupting, you know."

The two were surprised. Keiichi had learned in his World Cultures class in high school that some members of the closely related Middle- Eastern monotheistic religions, or Christians, Jews, and Muslims, eschewed alcohol, but coffee? Caffeine had the opposite effect of alcohol; you didn't have to be a chemistry major to know that. But he didn't want to argue with this lady.

Belldandy decided to order a lemonade, since even soda obviously was not an option. After thanking the lady, she handed him a small pamphlet. "By the way," she added. "If you get bored in the car, this might make some interesting reading." She smiled amiably at them and then walked back to the kitchen. It was about then that the couple noticed they were the only people in the room. An ominous silence hung in the hot, stale air. A small chill ran down Keiichi's spine, since in many hackneyed American horror movies this signaled that something scary was about to happen. He picked up the small, cheaply printed pamphlet. The caption on the cover read, in large, bold letters, "WHAT IF YOU DIED TOMORROW?" At the bottom of the cover smaller letters indicated that it was produced by some kind of church. Keiichi shuddered and stuffed it behind the salt and pepper- shakers. He thought Christianity, and most organized religions on Earth for that matter, were supposed to be kind and loving towards others, yet this message was downright scary. It seemed to him just short of a murder threat. Besides, Kami-Sama Himself had told him he was a decent, kind, upright citizen who seemed to have a pretty good chance of getting into Heaven when he died. He didn't need to read a piece by someone who claimed that if he didn't follow God in their certain, specific vision, he was damned to hell. It was this quarreling, he and his wife felt, that was at the root of most conflicts throughout the world.

Urd was quite disappointed to notice that the bar was not only empty, but darkened and closed. "Shit," she muttered in her usual gutter-mouth. "Some Jack Daniels would really have tasted good about now." Nevertheless, it was pleasantly cool inside compared with the summer swelter outside, so she made her way to a stool and sat down, her head slumped on the counter. Gawd she needed a beer. She hadn't felt so bitter since she had been Jesus', Buddha's, Thor's, and Shiva's designated driver.

"Hello, Urd," called a pleasant British-accented voice. Feeling like she had been accidentally hit by one of Skuld's Setsubun rays, she suddenly quit sulking and glanced upward. Right in front of her was a dapperly dressed bartender in a red tuxedo and black bowtie, neatly combed blond hair and a slightly unsettling smile on his face. "My name is Lloyd. I'll be your server today."

Still not knowing just what the heck was going on, Urd looked around the room. It had suddenly become filled with people, all dressed strangely in '40s era costumes. None seemed to be noticing her, though. The dusty jukebox in the corner was now neatly polished, and was playing a jazzy, Andrews Sisters-sounding song about pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. "Jeez, Lloyd, I didn't see all these people when I first came in."

"Oh, don't mind them, Urd. They're just my regulars. I think they all might recognize you, though. You're quite the legendary drinker."

"Jeez," she thought aloud, "you drink Odin under the table just once and suddenly you're a legend in every bar in the universe. Every place I go now is the place where everybody knows your name. But I could kill for a Jack Daniels now."

"What a coincidence," Lloyd calmly answered. "For you see, we back in Heaven foresaw your arrival at this establishment. I am actually a third-class god, a servant of Dionysius, God of Alcohol and Pleasure."

Urd's eyes lit up. "You're kidding!" she gasped. "Although I know Dionysius pretty well, and I've never met you before, but, well, I'll take your word for it. You seem to know your hooch pretty well."

Lloyd continued to smile his eerie, slightly evil grin. "It's been a long, dull, hot trip for you, hasn't it, my dear? I can see what you've been thinking ever since you left Phoenix this morning; all driving and no booze make Urd a dull girl."

"How did you know that was on my mind?" gasped Urd, feeling a little scared by now.

"Your thoughts have been coming out of my mental fax machine all morning," Lloyd answered. He produced a thick bundle of papers on which the sentence, "All driving and no booze make Urd a dull girl," written repeatedly. "Now I can offer you a whole bottle of the stuff," he told her. "But for a price."

"Well, don't worry about that," Urd answered. "My wallet's right here."

"No, this bill is non-monetary. You see, not all of us up in Heaven have approved the marriage of your sister Belldandy to a mortal."

"Well yeah," she answered. "I could see why Dionysius would be. He and Bell dated once, he's probably told you. And Loki-he once had a crush on her and tried to kill Keiichi's sister Megumi as revenge!"

"Well yes, there's that," Lloyd continued. "And also the fact that some of the more conservative deities feel that even courtship, let alone marriage and sexual intercourse between a deity and a mortal, is blasphemous."

"Heh heh," Urd embarrasedly laughed, blushing.

"So if you want this whiskey," Lloyd went on, his face not changing a bit, "you are to kill Keiichi Morisato and your sister. Belldandy may have assured him that he has a seat in Heaven, but I shall deal with the proper procedures to see that he goes directly to hell. And as for Belldandy, her earthly body of flesh shall be destroyed, and as punishment for her dallying, she shall be stripped of her titles, replaced as Goddess of the Present and cast into hell. A different section, of course."

Urd was shocked. A god actually had such awful designs! Of course, this was not the first time that the heavens had tried to drive the two lovers apart (one attempt had, of course, nearly destroyed the world) but even the most conservative deities she knew had at least grudgingly accepted their marriage. Something didn't seem quite right here. It seemed almost…demonic. But that whiskey sure looked good, and it was hot out…

Urd took the forty pieces of silver and swigged deeply from the brown bottle. It had never tasted so wonderful.

Belldandy was casually sipping at her lemonade and Keiichi playing "got-your-nose" with Randako, when suddenly an ear-piercing shriek eminated from the ladies' room, where Skuld had gone when they first went in. The door flew open and, with her eyes wider than usual, she dashed out and towards their table.

"Skuld! What's the matter? Your face is pale!"

"Oneesama, I was in the bathroom, I went to wash my hands at the sink, turned on the water, and…b-b-b-b-BLOOD!"

"You cut yourself?" Keiichi asked. "Hold on, I think Bell-chan has some band-aids in her purse. But can't you heal yourself with your powers?"

Skuld was obviously in a state of hysteria. She could barely even speak clearly. "No, you don't understand. I t-t-t-t-turned on the faucet, and…b-b-b-BLOOD CAME OUT!!! LOOK AT MY HANDS!!!!" She held them up, and the two nearly passed out themselves. Her hands were dark red with blood! Even the strong-hearted Belldandy felt sick when she saw the ghastly stuff dripping off her fingers.

"I wouldn't worry about that," a familiar voice said behind them. They turned to see the kindly old waitress standing at the door to the kitchen. "That happens from time to time. I should really get it fixed." And then something even wilder occurred-she vanished. Right before their widened eyes. It was like a light bulb fading out. For about five seconds the three just stood there dumbfounded, not knowing what exactly had just happened or how to react. Then they all broke into full-fledged screams. Keiichi then glanced to his left. Blood was pouring out from the restroom doors, in a great gushing flood, spraying against the walls, knocking over a hat tree.

His mind reeling, adrenaline pumping, and bladder leaking, Keiichi shook his head. And then it was all gone. The madness was gone. The room was empty and not even the ceiling fan seemed to be working. In fact, the café looked like it hadn't been open for years. Then he turned around and screamed a bit more when he thought he saw two dead bodies lying at his sides. Then he took a closer look at them saw they were just Skuld and Belldandy. Skuld's hands were clean now. The two young women seemed to have fainted, and were just lying there effectively knocked out. Now that the insanity had passed, Keiichi's mind went into explanation mode. What the hell had just happened? Did it really happen or was it all just some horrible vision or nightmare? Speaking of which, was this trip real? Was he about to wake up back home in the temple? To assure himself, he pinched himself on the arm. It hurt, and he didn't wake up. This abandoned diner was real as the days he had met and married Belldandy, and that horrific vision really had appeared before his eyes. One thing was for certain though, he wanted to get out of here as quickly as possible and never return! But first he would have to find Urd, and that would probably be easier said than done. But just then, he heard something. Not the sound of more rushing blood, but something more like oompah music.

Keiichi opened the door to the bar, marked "NO ONE UNDER 21 ADMITTED". Despite the stupefying horror he had just witnessed, what he was about to see cracked him up. The karaoke machine in the corner was turned on, and a typically soused Urd sashayed around on the stage, belting out, "Oh show me the way to the next whiskey bar…/Oh, don't ask why, oh don't ask why/Show me the way to the next whiskey bar/Oh, don't ask why, oh don't ask why/For if we don't find the next whiskey bar/I tell you we must die/I tell you we must die/I tell you, I tell you, I tell you we must die…" She was swinging a 32-ounce bottle of Jack Daniels in her right arm as she did so.

"Uh, we'd like to leave, Urd."

"Okay (hic). Whaddever you shay." She then went into a flying leap off the stage. "Heeeeere'sh Urdie!" she yelled drunkenly.

"All right, let's get you in the car. This is kind of an emergency. I'll explain to you once we get on the road and far away from here.

"Yeah, yeah. Buh yuh know wa' would…really hi' th' spot now, Kachichi? A niiiiice spot a' red rum!"

Urd helped Keiichi carry the stunned bodies of her two sisters out to the rental car in the parking lot. Before getting in, he took one look back at the café, shuddering at the sight of its blank, broken windows. He hadn't noticed it when he first walked in, but the building looked quite dilapidated. Most of its windows were broken, the paint was faded and peeling, many of the roof shingles had fallen off, and the neon sign above the doorway was missing a few letters, so it read HE R S G S ND E TS. There was even some graffiti scrawled on the side. The decrepit place must have been abandoned for years. He had tried to relate as much of the terrifying story as possible, but Urd was a bit too drunk to comprehend. "Anyway, let's just get out of here a.s.a.p. What a horrible place!" He then glanced at Belldandy and Skuld, lying asleep in the back seat. "Aww, Jeez, those poor girls need medical attention or something. There's gotta be someplace around here where we can get them some help." Just then he remembered barreling past a turnoff toward some forgotten towns about just a mile back. Well, he wanted to at least get the two some smelling salts, so those places would probably be as good a place to bring them as any. As he turned the ignition key, he noticed it had grown considerably quiet. Urd's drunken rambling seemed to have dissipated for now. He glanced over and noticed, with some satisfaction, that she had fallen asleep. Of course, 32 ounces of Jack Daniels would do that to anybody. Randako, who until recently had been crying hysterically, had also stopped and drifted off in her car seat. For now, all seemed well.

After backtracking about a mile, Keiichi pulled off the road a bit to take a close look at the road sign marking the turnoff. Riddled with bullet holes, it read, "STEPHENSVILLE 20, KINGSTON 15". Now why would the farthest town appear first on the sign? But right now Keiichi was not in the mood to ponder such questions. Seeing no other place around, he eased the rented Toyota onto a road paved with cracked, crumbling asphalt and laden with potholes. Considering the jarring bumps the car went through and noises, Keiichi was surprised his passengers didn't wake up. Despite the clear, sunny weather, the drive in appeared threatening. They were driving through arid Southwestern scrub country, with sagebrush and pinion and juniper-covered hills and rugged-looking red cliffs on the horizon. Nary a house or even another creature, let alone some lazy cattle on the other side of the pasture or some crows which took off in front of them, could be seen.

Once again, Keiichi felt very far from home. He wondered how much further he would have to drive, and if the car could make it. After about another mile, even the shoddy asphalt disappeared and the car was now bouncing down a washboard dirt road. Great. How much longer would he have to continue on this?

The road wound on down through the barren hills, into a gently sloping glen. Cottonwood, tamarisk, and sycamore trees shaded the canyon bottom, shading the road in a calming, yet slightly ominous effect. But they were actually climbing higher into the nearby mountains, and as they did so the trees grew thicker and perennial bloomers were replaced by evergreens such as ponderosa pines. And the road grew rougher. Suddenly it became apparent the car couldn't take it anymore. It fell into a rather deep pothole and Keiichi then heard an ominous "clunk". The car simply wouldn't budge an inch. He banged his hands against the wheel. "SHIT!!!" he yelled, hoping that Randako wouldn't hear. He normally didn't swear, but this time… Grumbling, he turned it off and got out. Before he left the vehicle, he shook Urd awake. "Hey, wake up!" he told her.

"Huh, wuh now, Kami-sama?"

"Uh, this is Keiichi. I was driving to a nearby town, but the car stalled. Now we both have to get out and ask for some assistance."

"Ohh, my head. I've got a bit of a hangover, Keiji. Lemme just rest here a bit."

"Okay, then. Watch over the car till I get back. I don't know what I'll find out here in these woods, but something's better than nothing. And hopefully there's at least something." He then left Urd slumped in the front seat, clutching her aching head. As soon as he was a few feet away, he heard her puke. "Oh jeez Louise," he muttered to himself. "I just hope she leaned out the window at least."

The woods grew dark and foreboding, and despite the summer warmth that had enveloped the desert below, Keiichi now felt rather cold. Still there didn't seem to be any signs of life. Even the birds seemed to be absent. But the sign had said there would be a town coming up. So where the hell was it? Just then his question was partially answered when he came upon two mailboxes at the feet of driveways jutting into the trees. But which to go to? The first read "MARSTON". But the driveway just curved deep into the forest, and the house couldn't at all be seen. Also there was a large pile of newspapers in the drive, and the box was weathered and not very well-maintained, indicating that the resident there was out on vacation or something. The house across the way, on the other hand, looked a bit more convenient. The mailbox at this drive was shiny and looked well-used. It read: "FRANKENFURTER-(A Scientist)". And the house itself was surely a sight to behold. A huge Victorian mansion, it towered above the pines, with eerie gables, foreboding gargoyles, and wrought-iron spires, weathervanes, the works. Whoever lives here must be quite the provider, Keiichi reasoned. Feeling more than a little tense, he timidly made his way across the broad, grassy front lawn to the double doors. A fleet of motorcycles and European limosuenes were parked out front, and Keiichi thought he heard frantic music from within. He hoped he hadn't come at an inappropriate time, but knocked anyway. The doors creaked open, and Keiichi found himself confronted by a short, wrinkled butler with stringy hair.

"C'mon in, m'lad, the party is just getting started," he invited. Keiichi followed him into the stuffily furnished entry hall before he could say anything. After a long walk down a short corridor, the butler threw open the doors. The college student couldn't believe his eyes! The master of the house was throwing a full-fledged fete with a full buffet, huge punchbowl, and costumes! But strangely, the crowd seemed to be all men, with petite little mustaches, skin-tight pink leotards, pink triangle and rainbow symbols everywhere…a banner on the wall reading: "NAMBLA CONVENTION"… Uh-oh. Keiichi didn't like where this was going one bit.

"Uh, I'd just like to use your phone, here in your lovely home. I just want that and nothing more."

"Well, wouldn't you like to chat awhile, here with your fellow pedophiles, and tell me how you love this décor? 'Cause I'm just a sweet child molester, from Childsburg, Pennsylvaniaaaaa!" Keiichi turned around to face something almost as terrifying as the ghostly lady back at the abandoned diner! An extreme flamer, clad in bondage gear, with whips in both hands and a huge pink triangle tattoo on his chest, glaring at him with hungry eyes. He screamed once more and this time it was nearly his turn to pass out!

"Now just listen here," he addressed the flamboyantly gay man of the house, "You just strike me with fear. For I am straight and happily married to a girl."

"Oh, that don't matter to me," Mr. Frankenfurter replied. "Any guy's my cup of tea. Don't get your panties in a curl." He then sashayed in a very feminine style towards an old-fashioned cage elevator. "So make yourself at home. This mansion is yours to roam. And later I can pull my train into your station." The next verse was more staccato and hesitant. "We'll meet up in the lab. Lay out on a slab. This moment shall only heighten antici…"

He stayed silent for a moment before some voices shouted out, "Say it!" Then a hailstorm of popcorn and frankfurters pelted them.

"Pation," finished Dr. Frankenfurter. Then went back into full song once more. When the rest of his entourage got back into formation once he went back into the chorus, Keiichi ran out screaming. "'Cause I'm just a sweet child molester, from Childsburg, Pennsylvaniaaaaaa!"

Wanting to erase that horrid memory from his head, Keiichi bolted from the house, not looking back, not even holding any angry thoughts about it, because being angry at a person, place or thing involved thinking about it, something he never, ever wanted to do again. The question was, now how would he get his car fixed, and where the heck were they going to spend the night? They probably would be marooned here at least another day or so. Keiichi was still pondering on how they would get out of this mess when someone tapped on his shoulder. He practically jumped out of his skin when a twangy, elderly voice behind him asked, "Kin uh hilp ya suh?"

Keiichi was relieved to see that the figure standing behind him was a kindly-looking old rube wearing greasy overalls, a flannel shirt and a floppy New England Patriots cap. "Uhh," he began in his rusty English, "My name is Keiichi. My car broke down a ways down the road. Is there a mechanic here?"

"Yah cah bruk down? Dun' wurry. Uh'm a mechyanic."

"Umm," Keiichi continued, more than a little baffled. "Do you speak English?" he inquired.

"Ayuh," the mechanic continued. "Ah'm a Down Eastuh. Ah moved heah ta Arizona because Maine's jes' too wicked cauld. Ah mean wicked cauld. Ya nevah seen winnah 'till ye've seen a real Nah'eastuh! But it broo- ahdens ya too-ahlerance fah the elemence. If ye kin stan' a Nah'eastuh, oah myanige ta pahk the cah at Hahvud Yahd, ye kin dew anythin'."

"Okay," Keiichi slowly instructed him, enunciating every word clearly, "My car is over here. I think you said you're a mechanic, so I'd like you to fix it. Can you do that for me?" He led the amiable but unintelligible rube over to his car, showed him the damage, and then the mechanic said he would "quahll fah a tauw troock."

In about an hour, the man gave them a ride to the hamlet of Kingston, Arizona. It was a pleasant-looking, faded, provincial burg that looked like it hadn't changed a bit in about 40 years. As newcomers to America, Keiichi and the gang hadn't expected every small town in America to still have malt shops, a neatly groomed town square with shady trees and a memorial to the World War II dead, and to still be driving cars from the '50s and early '60s! One would still expect John Kennedy to be president. On the way into town, they had passed the town's main income source, a huge copper mine and smelter. Belldandy was right; it had been worth it to skip teleportation and just take the old-fashioned way to the Grand Canyon. It was worth it to glimpse the charm of small-town America.

They all got a room in the Grand Hotel, a lavish old structure dating from sometime in the 1800s, when the town must have first been founded. Room service managed to provide some smelling salts for Belldandy and Skuld, who both eventually came around.

"Oh, my head," Belldandy groaned, rising haltingly to her feet. "What happened, Kei-chan?"

Keiichi didn't want to bring back the traumatizing memories, so he lied. "Uh, you went to use the ladies' room in that café back there, saw a scorpion in the toilet, and fainted. Same with you, Skuld."

"Ughh," the young goddess sighed. "Could you have room service bring up some coffee ice cream? It's almost time for 'Gekigangar'!" Noticing there wasn't a remote on the TV, she got up and turned on the old Philco set. Funny, it still had rabbit ears, a black-and-white screen, and UHF knobs. Keiichi had only heard his parents talk about sets like these, from when they were growing up in the '60s. It took about a minute for the tubes to warm before the picture came on: "…and you'll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush with Pepsodent!", went a commercial jingle. Pepsodent? What the heck? But even stranger were the programming announcements: "Up next: 'The Twilight Zone', followed by 'American Bandstand', featuring a hot young Negro girl group from Detroit, the Ronnettes!" Skuld tried changing channels, but found there were only twelve in all! And none seemed to have "Gekigangar". What was going on here?

"Uh, Skuld," Keiichi told her. "Belldandy and me are going to take a walk and explore around here. We'll be back before long."

"Yeah," Urd added, a sly smile growing on her face, as if she had something to hide. "Good idea. We'll hold the fort down, as the Americans like to say." Skuld, meanwhile, continued flipping through the limited channel selection, desperately trying to find her beloved "Gekigangar."

It was quite a lovely place, your typical American small-town street, lined with drugstores, malt shops, antique shops, and whatnot. Was this for real, or had they stumbled onto the set for a remake of "It's a Wonderful Life"? First stop was the Western Auto mechanic shop, where the kind old Mainer and his assistant, who fortunately spoke standard English, were working on Keiichi's rental car. "Well, we think we may have it ready by tomorrow, son. But jeez Louise, I've never seen this kinda car before. Toy-o-ta?"

"Yeah, Toyota," Keiichi replied. "It's a type of car from Japan. I thought you guys would have known that."

The two mechanics then broke out laughing. "A Japanese car?" bellowed the assistant. "Well no wonder it broke down! Japanese products, they break down so much, company repairmen probably live in their offices!"

"Hey!" Keiichi shouted, obviously offended. "I happen to be from Japan, and all I can say is where would you guys be without the Sony Walkman? The VCR? Video games? If it weren't for us, your technology wouldn't have gotten any further than the slot machine!"

"Sony Walkman? VCR? Video games? Jeez kid, you little guys must be eatin' too much flied lice! Or maybe all that radiation from Hiroshima rotted your brains!" Keiichi was now furious, and would have started fighting with these brain-dead bigots if Belldandy, ever the diplomat, hadn't pulled him away.

"Well, hey, little lady," one of them cooed to Belldandy, "what's your name?"

"It's Belldandy," she answered. "And he's my husband, by the way."

"Well, don't tell him I said so," the mechanic muttered, "but you're certainly quite a dandy belle! By the way, I seem to have lost my phone number and hotel room key, mind if I have yours, toots?" He then groped toward her chest, some drool oozing from his mouth!

A few seconds later the two stormed out of the garage, leaving the main mechanic with a red mark on his cheek and a bleeding nose. "That'll teach them," Belldandy sniffed. "I got a blue ribbon in the Heaven Lacrosse Competition, Kei-chan."

"Freaking jerks! Bell-chan, what the hell is wrong with this town?" Keiichi wondered aloud after they left the garage.

"I-I don't know," Belldandy answered, as confused as he was. "It's like we stumbled into some kind of time warp."

"I don't know about you," Keiichi declared, "but I feel like doing some investigating. What do you say we go to the library?" Belldandy agreed, and the two followed a large blue sign indicating the way.

Even stranger, the local library didn't seem to have any computers, just the old-fashioned card catalog system. But the two had gotten a bit used to such strangeness by now. Fortunately, they did have newspaper archives from the nearest major newspaper, the Phoenix Gazette. The husband and wife both looked through together, looking to see what the heck had happened in this strange town's history. And eventually, they found it. Both didn't think it would be so easy, but in the end it was. The most recent paper dated from July 30, 1962. Keiichi was so shocked he read the main story aloud: "Vibrations from mining activity in the U.S. Copper Corporation mine at Kingston, near Prescott, cracked open the bottom of two mine runoff pools just before dawn yesterday. The corrosive liquids, which contain several poisons and acids, leaked into the groundwater supply which provided Kingston with drinking water. By 9 AM that morning, before any warnings could be issued, the entire town, some 1500 people, had been poisoned. Their organs had literally been dissolved inside them by the horrible liquids. Kingston, Arizona, has become America's newest ghost town."

"So, we're literally in a gh-gh-gh-ghost town," Keiichi whispered to his wife.

"It sure seems like it," Belldandy added. "These souls must still think they're alive, and that it's still 40 years ago. But that's not my greatest concern. You see, Kei-chan, when a person dies, a passageway must be opened between the world of the living and the world of the dead. The process usually goes smoothly, which is why people don't see ghosts all the time. But sometimes people don't quite know they're dead when they die suddenly, or when they die with frustration or vengeance, their souls remain in the living world as ghosts. And sometimes when a great number of people die, the passage between the living and dead worlds never fully closes. Then countless numbers of spirits, including some demons, can pass through." She looked up toward the ceiling with a fearful look in her eyes. "I don't mean to alarm you, Kei-chan, but I can detect the presence of some evil in this area. I believe a demon may have broken through."

"Hey, so Uh guess ye've found out about ah little town secret," said a voice over their shoulders. Surprised, Keiichi and Belldandy turned around to see the old Maine mechanic.

"Wh-what are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be working on our car?" Keiichi stammered, his eyes wide at the thought of what he thought might happen next.

"Ah, wuh finished," the rube told them. "Oh, by the way, I suppose yuh wonderin' how Uh knew ye'd be comin' inta ah town. Well, let's just say wi've bin dyin' ta meet ya." He smiled wickedly at them. Keiichi glanced around to notice he, his wife, and the weird mechanic were the only people in this library. And just then something almost as shocking as the events back in the café took place.

After speaking, the old man bent down and let flow from his mouth and nostrils a cascade of blood. As he did so he uttered a horrific, guttural sound like a dinosaur gargling. And as if that were not awful enough, Keiichi noticed pink chunks of flesh roll out of his orifices along with it, perhaps pieces of his throat, tongue and brain, as well as teeth. Keiichi turned away as fast as he could, but poor Belldandy was overcome with disgust. She clutched her stomach, bent down and vomited on the library floor. As soon as she was done she began screaming hysterically.

"Hee hee, ye like that?" cackled the twisted old man. "So let's see how ye like this!" Looking for all the world like some horribly lifelike Halloween mask, with blood dripping from his lips and nostrils, the rube grabbed an ax from behind his back and swung it over his shoulder.

Belldandy was still just paralyzed with fear, only able to stare with wide, disbelieving eyes and shriek at the top of her lungs. It took Keiichi to snap out of it and grab her around the waist to leave. "Bell- chan, let's run like hell!" Stumbling from their cases of shock, the two jumped to their feet and galloped toward the door as fast as their legs could carry them. But the old Down Easter mechanic was surprisingly fast himself. About twice or thrice the two could feel the breeze of the ax blade and even hear it whoosh by just inches behind their heads, and the whole time both could hear the old man loudly and madly cackling, gnashing what was left of his teeth and spitting out blood. As they twisted their ways through the tall shelves and tables, they both wondered if they would ever get out of there. And how exactly did this library grow so large now that they were in danger and being chased by a madman?

Finally Keiichi and Belldandy both made it to the front entrance. Putting all their weight into the effort, they both shoved the huge front door shut so the horror inside could not pursue them. But it persisted. A loud chop resounded against the hard wooden surface. Once more the ax plunged into the surface. Obviously this wasn't the time to stick around. "Come on, Keiichi," Belldandy urged him. "We have to warn Skuld and Urd!"

The two made their way to an antiques store window, which reflected light like a mirror. "Quick, through here!" urged Belldandy. She took her husband by the wrist and dragged him along with her through the glass. Keiichi was obviously unnerved at first, but at soon as his face touched it, he instantly found himself in their hotel room bathroom. "You guys!" Keiichi frantically screamed. "We have to lock the doors and call the police! There's a killer loose out there!" And then the silence struck the two. Skuld and Randako, for some reason, were nowhere to be seen. Urd just quietly sat at the hotel room desk, her back turned. She seemed to be writing something on a sheet, the overhead lamp on. It cast the only light in the room, as the blinds were drawn.

Belldandy timidly walked forward. "Uh, Oneesama? What are you writing?" Urd didn't answer. Belldandy approached her and asked her sister once more, but Urd didn't answer until she was right behind her shoulder.

"You like it, Bell-chan?" Urd asked, turning around slightly. An evil gleam could be seen in her eyes, and her teeth looked almost like those of a shark. Belldandy gasped and stepped back a bit. "It's my latest composition. Here, read it." Urd gave the manuscript to her little sister, and Keiichi nervously approached to take a peek.

Both were baffled. The pages just read over and over again: "All driving and no booze makes Urd a dull girl." On some pages the indentations changed, on some there was no spacing at all between words, but on all pages it was just the same words.

"Hey," Keiichi observed. "I think I saw something like this in a movie. I forget what it was called, but it was about this family marooned in a hotel in Colorado for the winter, the hotel's haunted by evil spirits, and then the main character goes crazy and tries…uh…to…kill his family…"

"Very good," Urd sneered. "Your memory serves you quite well. Too bad it won't have much use for you in HELL!" Urd then reached into hyperspace and pulled out another ax! Then, before Belldandy could even react, she opened her palm and shoot out a yellow ribbon. The ribbon then flashed around her little sister's body and even mouth, effectively bounding and gagging her. "Hee hee, I didn't know you were into bondage, Bell-chan," she sarcastically added.

All this happened in less than half a minute. Keiichi just stood there, dumbfounded. "Urd, I knew you were easily tempted, but this…Wh- what's happened to you?" he gasped.

"Hey look, I'm kinda busy right now, so I haven't got time for explanations. By the way, in case you're wondering why Belldandy isn't able to use her powers to break those bonds, this is the same kind of ribbon that one Ataru Moroboshi once tried on Lum from planet Uru. Effectively blocks her powers. And now, heeeeeere's Urdie!" With a downright evil glow in both eyes, Urd charged toward Keiichi with the ax.

Keiichi screamed and ducked as Urd swiped at him, cutting loose the bronze bedpost. Whatever evil was clogging Urd's mind, it must be powerful enough to make her forget that he could use the bedpost as a club. Keiichi wrenched it free and swung it back, trying to knock the ax out of Urd's hands.

That didn't work, but it did cause Urd to step back a bit. Keiichi used this opportunity to duck under her next swipe and slip out the still- ajar door. He then slammed it behind him and tried to hold it shut with his back. In just a second, he realized what a poor decision this was.

Smash! Urd was apparently now swinging the ax at the door, trying to get him in the back! She missed on that attempt, but only by a few inches. And Keiichi could see a corner of the blade poking through. A few more chops like that and that door would be history. So Keiichi jumped away from the door and charged down the hall, the insane Urd right behind him.

Obviously he had no time to wait for the elevator to come up to his floor, so he rushed for the stairs. His legs pumping, his lungs gasping, Keiichi didn't know how long his body could handle all this running. And then suddenly, as he turned a corner in the stairwell, the worst possible thing happened. One of Keiichi's feet moved in the wrong direction, and he stumbled. Fortunately he managed to land on his arms, but that triumph was fleeting; Urd would soon be caught up with him.

The insane woman was soon on him like a tiger on its prey. "Yah!" she shouted, harshly swinging the ax at Keiichi's head as he struggled to his feet. The swing was far too close for comfort this time. He could feel one of his spiked locks being sliced away, as well as a burning sting as the blade shimmed off the very tip of his right ear. The two seemed to be moving in slow motion now. So Keiichi could feel every necessary muscle in his upper body flex as he, still not fully upright yet, seized the bedpost and swung it toward Urd's ax handle like a baseball bat. There was a harsh clanging sound as brass connected with hard wood. Keiichi could see Urd's individual fingers lose their grip on the upper handle as he knocked it away. And then, to his greatest relief, the horrible instrument flew towards the opposite wall and bounced off. But by this time he had managed to climb to his feet, and block Urd from reaching for the ax once more.

Now Keiichi had the upper hand. He swung the bedpost at her fiercely, forcing her up the stairs. Now things seemed to be moving in regular motion again. "Gimme the post, Kei-chan, gimme the post!" she shouted as she ducked away from his defensive swings, an expression of pure hate in her eyes. With each swing, they both advanced further up the stairwell. "C'mon, Kei-chan," she hissed, "I'll let Belldandy go if you gimme the post!"

"Yeah right," he grunted. "I've seen enough movies to (uff!) know better than to (oof!) fall for the old 'bargain with the victim' trick! You're going down!"

"No, Kei-chan," Urd growled, "I believe you are the one who's going down! You wholesome little- OOOF!" Keiichi did it! He managed to whack Urd in the side of the head, sending her down in one blow.

Usually not one to gloat, Keiichi nonetheless realized this was a significant moment. "Brought down by the old 'villain becomes overconfident' move. Oldest trick in the book." He then dragged the stunned Urd back into their room.

Once back in the room, Keiichi laid Urd on the bed, then retrieved the dreaded ax from the stairwell to cut Belldandy's ropes. "Oh thank you, Kei-chan, I was really worried there for a bit," she sobbed, embracing him tightly. "I hope she didn't hurt Skuld and Randako."

"Kami-sama help her if she did," Keiichi bitterly muttered. "Now let's just try to find them." The two searched high and low throughout the room before hearing a muffled scream-like noise. "The closet! Why didn't we look there first?" he laughed. "All that tension a few minutes ago must've affected my ability to think."

Belldandy opened the closet door and sure enough, there sat Skuld and baby Randako, both tied in yellow ropes. Both were freed in about a minute. "Oh Oneesama," sobbed Skuld, who burst into tears of happiness at the sight of her big sister and brother-in-law, "I thought I'd never see you alive again!"

"Koku!" snapped the feisty Randako, sticking her tongue out at the stunned Urd.

"But we're goddesses," Belldandy added. "How did she think she could kill us? And why did she want to kill us? I mean, I know she's easily corrupted, but…" Her face suddenly drained of color, and she then turned to her husband. "Kei-chan, what did Skuld and I really see that caused us both to faint earlier today?"

Suddenly Keiichi realized he couldn't keep the truth from them any longer. "Uh, Bell-chan," he began, "I don't know quite how to tell you this but…we saw a ghost in that café back on the main highway. A-and Skuld, you tried to wash your hands in the restroom there, but blood came out. I-I'm sorry, but I lied to you earlier. I just didn't want you to remember it again and faint once more."

"Kei-chan," Belldandy soothingly told him. "It's okay. You just wanted to protect us, and that's what a good husband does best. I probably would have done the same for you."

"Gee, thanks, Bell-chan."

"Don't mention it. Now let's bring Urd's body out to the car at the shop, so we can get out of this horrible place."

"Wait a second," Skuld added. "That café back there was…haunted? Y- you don't suppose that has anything to do with this town here, do you?"

"Well," Keiichi continued. And then he and Belldandy related the story of what had become of Kingston, Arizona, 40 years before.

"Holy chitlins!" Skuld gasped. "You mean this is a real 'ghost town'?"

"Yeah, I guess you could say that," Keiichi replied. "And it seems some sort of demon has possessed it and Urd, which is why she tried to kill us."

"Okay," Skuld answered. "So, what do you say we get the hell out of this place before that demon tries to get us once more."

"Good idea, Skuld, let's do just tha-AGGGH!"

"Hee hee, goin' someweah? TACK!" chortled a familiar voice. Sure enough, it was that crazy old mechanic in greasy, bloodstained overalls.

"Oh fudge," Skuld groaned. "Oneesama, please tell me that isn't Tack!"

"I'm afraid it seems to be," Belldandy sighed, her face bent into sheer terror. All their stomachs churned as thick blood and bits of flesh dripped from his flabby, wrinkled face. His skin now looked almost like a grim, oversized Halloween costume.

"Uh gals, remember I'm not familiar with the ways of the supernatural," Keiichi addressed the two young women. "Who in hell is Tack?"

"Tack," Belldandy timidly answered, "is one of the more troublesome demons in hell. He doesn't have a body, so he makes his presence on Earth by taking over those of mortals. Of course his presence actually destroys them from the inside, so he has to switch over to different ones every few weeks or so. Now he seems to have taken over the body of a local mechanic."

"He's extremely evil," Skuld added. "He often manifests himself at the sites of great disasters, such as what happened here in Kingston."

"Heh heh, I see you know who I am an' awl about me, TACK!" Tack bubbled through a voice clogged with blood. "An' now it's mah turn ta dew the tawlking. I took advantage of theeat drunken slut's aylcohooalism ta try en bump alla yew ooaff! Ha ha, Uh ceean't believe theeat sooahced-up hooah agreed to keel ye fooah a booahttle of Jeeack Deeaniels!"

Both Keiichi and Belldandy were obviously incensed. Did Urd really agree to kill them both for a bottle of whiskey? As soon as they got back to Japan, if they ever did, they were going to enroll that lady in Alcoholics Anonymous. Skuld was about to break out her Setsubun rays when Tack opened his bloody hands and blasted out a length of yellow ribbon. In a matter of seconds, all three were bound and gagged once more. "Ha ha!" Tack cackled again. "En neeow it's time fah yeh great rewooahd!" All screamed under their gags as Tack advanced on them, his ax raised. Keiichi, realizing all seemed to be lost now, shifted close to his wife. And then something amazing, yet not too surprising, happened.

Urd woke up, a slight, bleeding gash on the left side of her head. She then stood up and shouted, "In the name of Heaven and all that is right, you shall not kill my family tonight! Snow shall fall, rivers shall run, and you shall return to where you came from!"

Tack then turned around, a shocked look of betrayal on his bloody face. "NOOOOOOOO!" he bellowed. "Uh thoout ye wuh ooan my side, ya liddle skank!" Keiichi's eyes widened as a portal opened behind him. A blinding orange light shone through it, and a heat unlike any other he had felt blasted through. He could also smell brimstone as well, and hear the tortured screams of the damned. It could only be the porthole to hell. Or perhaps Texas. Tack then seemed melt, as his extremities bent into hell's horrible suction, which eventually grabbed hold of his whole body and sent him, kicking and screaming, into the inferno. As soon as he vanished, the porthole sucked shut, like a closing mouth.

"Urd!" gasped Keiichi. "Y-you saved us! I don't think we can ever thank you enough!"

"Well," she joked, "you could start by cleaning my room every morning. Just kidding. I-I'm really sorry about how I betrayed you guys earlier today. After you knocked me out, Kei-chan, I had a dream in which Kami-sama told me of the error of my ways. So then I could sense you were all in trouble, so I woke myself up and, well, saved you."

"Well," Keiichi answered, "we've never been ones to hold grudges. But…we think you should do something about your drinking problem."

"Uh, yeah," added Skuld. "Now could you please kindly get these ropes off us?"

The rented Toyota was still in the shop, so the five all decided to hop into a "borrowed" 1962 Mercury Comet sitting in the town Ford dealer. Just before leaving the accursed place, there was something Belldandy had to do. Standing on the roof of the old copper smelter where all had gone wrong, she cast a spell to send all the confused spirits to the afterworld and close the hole between both realms so no more demons could sneak in. A huge hole formed in the air above the town square, and something looking like a huge bluish-white cloud formed above the buildings and houses, converging on the hole. It was all the restless spirits returning to where they belonged. It was also a sad moment for all of them, watching so many people leave the comfort of the living world. Although there was nothing else either could do about it, all three goddesses and Keiichi held each other's heads in their arms and wept awhile.

Night was falling, so all the travelers wanted to do now was find a place to sleep and decide what to do the next day. Keiichi, still trying to get used to the controls of a huge, vintage American car, finally arrived at the main highway. A sign across the road pointed north toward Prescott, the next main town, and south toward Phoenix. "Well," he told the crew, "that little adventure has sure worn me out. Where to?"

"Let's head north, to the Grand Canyon!" Skuld and Urd eagerly suggested.

"Aww, it's such a long way, and this trip has shown me more of America than I ever wanted to see," Keiichi grumbled. "What do you think, Bell-chan?"

"I'm with you, Kei-chan," she sighed. "Maybe next summer we can go to Disneyland, but that experience today has taken all the energy out of me."

"Jeez, it's two to two," Urd muttered. "How are we ever going to solve this dispute?"

"Ooh, let's ask Randako!" Skuld joked. But then something surprising happened again.

Randako's baby blue eyes lit up, and she shouted, "Gwam Cannon!" Her first words, other than "koku". All of them laughed aloud, and the traveling spirit was back. Keiichi eagerly turned the car north, and the four large red Ford tailights, early '60s vintage, vanished into the desert sunset like glowing demon eyes.

On the road again, Keiichi tried out the radio once more. Before long, he actually found an oldies station playing a song that helped wash away all the bad vibes of the previous day.

"When the night is cold

And the land is dark

And the moon is the only light we see.

No I won't be afraid

No, I won't shed a tear

Just as long, as you stand

Stand by me

So darling, darling, stand by me.

Please stand by me

Whenever you're in trouble won't you stand

Stand by me.

If the sky that we look upon

Should tumble and fall

And the mountains

Should crumble to the sea.

No I won't be afraid

No, I won't shed a tear

Just as long as you stand

Stand by me."

Belldandy wrapped her left arm around Keiichi's neck and closed her eyes. Keiichi sprouted a wide grin and felt warm and soft inside. As long as she stood by him, he felt he wouldn't have any reason to worry.

1 THE END

The characters of "Oh My Goddess" are property of Fujishima Koiyosuke, Animeigo, and Dark Horse Comics. All rights are reserved for them, since I don't plan to make any money off this bastardization of a story anyway. And all the Stephen King references are property of Mr. King and his publisher and production company. The "Heeeeere's Johnny!" reference is property of the estate of Mr. Jack Nicholson (who ad-libbed the line in the movie), the estate of Mr. Stanley Kubrick, the estates of Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon, Universal Pictures, and NBC Productions. "The Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" was performed by the Doors in 1967 but originally written for Witmark Music by Bertolt Brecht and Max Weill for Brecht's "Threepenny Opera". "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" is property of 20th Century Fox Productions. All rights reserved for them, so please don't break out your lawyers. Special thanks to Stephen Gaffney and Charles Cobb, who gave me the idea to write this fanfic and the former of whom introduced Keiichi's and Belldandy's baby daughter Randako. Hope you enjoyed this hackneyed piece of crap.