Dmitri was an idiot, and a confident one at that. It had seemed that the old traditions of Halloweens past no longer interested him and his friends, and to them the Ouija board had lost its magic. It was All Hallows Eve and Dmitri, Raven and Simon were in the unfinished basement of a nineteenth century house. The musty basement air was cold and reeked of mold. The corpse that they carried down the steps was heavy and limp and occasionally dragged on the floor when the burden was too much for the three to carry.
About a month ago Raven had showed Dmitri a small leather bag of stones, Runes she called them, and Dmitri had become obsessed. He pulled a small knife from his pocket as Raven and Simon propped the dead girl up in a metal folding chair.
“The Book says that the spells are bound with blood.” Dmitri said, looking to his hand, to the knife, then at the body. “I suppose hers will do fine?”
Simon flinched and turned away while Raven watched stone-faced as Dmitri carved resurrection runes into the ashen flesh of a ten-day old body. Old blood oozed slowly from the cleaved skin and the smell of death intensified the odor of the dank air. As Dmitri was finishing, Raven began to place the small rune stones in a circle on the floor around the chair and Dmitri. When she completed the ring he began.
Dmitri addressed the body, his hand on a page of the Hávamál;
“Þat kann ek it tolfta,
ef ek sé á tré uppi,
svá ek ríst ok í rúnum fák,
at sá gengr gumi
ok mælir við mik”*
“Dmitri, nothing is happening! This is lame; I thought you said you could do this. I wanted to talk to a dead girl tonight.” Raven spat as she threw her arms in the air.
“I’m trying! Just give me a minute.” He repeated the verse again.
“Maybe you’re pronouncing it wrong.” Simon muttered.
“What? Do you think you could do it better?” Dmitri glared at Simon. “Here try it!” Dmitri said as he shoved the book into Simon’s chest.
“Fine! I will!” Simon leaned into the circle, his face and the book near the corpse’s hanging head, “Þat kann ek it tolfta…”
“You say the old words well human.” The girl’s hand flew up to Simon’s neck. He struggled futilely to rip the cold hand from his throat, as she turned him, slightly, from side to side, examining his face. “You’d make a wonderful man servant.”
Simon’s eyes bulged as the girl’s hand clenched ever tighter and his soul drifted into a haze. A guttural sigh escaped his mouth as the remnants of his conscious left and a new mind-set of servitude entered. Simon’s eyes glazed and his skin took the likeness of a corpse. She dropped him to the floor, leaving him pawing at her feet. Raven screamed and the girl lifted a hand to her, pulling Raven’s soul from her running body as she attempted to escape the basement.
“You’re not the best choice, but you’ll do as my maidservant” The girl chuckled, watching as Raven too became submissive and subservient.
Dmitri stumbled backward uttering nonsense, his arms flailing about him. The girl walked toward him, leaving a trail of ice behind her and smiling half-cocked as if someone had said something amusing.
“You, poor Dmitri, have finally released me from Niflheim and now I’m here to collect what is due.”
Dmitri found his back against the moist stonewall and the wretched corpse smiling, her long black hair in disarray, the carved runes now like burnt scars in her arms, and he knew death was approaching.
“Be honored you’re the first, Dmitri.” She leaned close to him and whispered, “It’s been a long time since Hel’s been out, and I’m owed the souls of sinners.” Dmitri screamed and writhed as Hel plunged her fingers into his skull and drained his very essence from him. His body collapsed in a heap on the floor and the grey stain of his existence was all that remained. A spirit, now doomed to repentance in Hel’s venomous halls was all that lingered of the resurrector, and by night’s end Hel was determined to have her debt paid.
“Come my lovelies,” She called to Raven and Simon, “My pet is hungry and I think it’s dinner time.” Hel laughed maniacally as she left the dilapidated home and made her way into the street.
Cars honked and swerved as she stood in the middle of traffic, she took the souls of those who passed and laughed as the cars wrecked into each other and as the vehicles caught fire. Hel stooped to the ground, singing to the Earth until the ground shook and the asphalt cleaved enough to see the world’s fiery innards.
“Come out come out my darling! Mommy thinks it’s time to play!” she called into the small canyon. A massive beast came propelling from the depths, screeching and soaring ever higher into the sky. People came running from all directions to see what had caused such a disturbance. They gathered in lawns and on front porches, watching as the dragon landed next to Hel and as it threw flames into the sky.
“My precious Nidhogg, Mommy’s brought you dinner.” The creature screeched again as it rose into the air and sped into the throng of onlookers, picking up the closest in his claws and roasting those who ran.
Hel continued into the city as she basked in the glorious sounds of death and destruction, the ground freezing and withering behind her. She breathed pestilence into the air and watched happily as people moaned and convulsed in sickness. She plunged the blade of Famine deep into the stomachs of the rich and left plates of Hunger for the greedy. A parade of dark stained souls began behind her as she walked through the city streets, singing to the sinners and drawing them to her. She made her final stop in the prison at the edge of town.
“Knock, Knock, anybody home?” she chortled as the officers and guards reached for their firearms. She stood motionless as forty-three bullets pierced her flesh and forty-three wounds gaped open on thirteen prisoners. She smiled as the prisoner’s screams rang out and the guards stared open-mouthed at the unholy thing before them. Hel let them run, they were not the reason why she was there. She was due the souls of murders and thieves.
She opened the prison cells and waited for them to creep out. She tore out the hearts of twenty and the brains of another six, before she brought cleaner deaths to the rest. Hel was just finishing as the first rays of sunlight were appearing and she opened a hole in the Earth, leading back to Niflheim. Halloween was just begging as Hel lead her horde of ten-thousand to the frozen wastelands and into their very nightmares.
* (translation to English)
I know a twelfth one if I see,
up in a tree,
a dangling corpse in a noose,
I can so carve and color the runes,
that the man walks
And talks with me.
Just A Note: Hel was the daughter of Loki in Nordic mythology and she was banished to the icy underworld (Niflheim) by Odin. There she was allotted the souls of those who died of sickness and the souls of criminals. She had to take care of those who died of sickness or did not die in battle, but she made the sinners repent in a mansion she filled with the venom of serpents. She was often depicted with her dragon, Nidhogg, which she rode to collect souls.
Source: stanza 157 of Hávamál, Spell songs