“I would like the power to kill,” Tina tells the monster.
It is 1981. The sun is dim and has been growing dimmer.
“Then take it,” says the monster.
The sun is very big, but it is very far away. Four horses pull it around the sky. They belong to Mr. Sun and his daughter Iphigenia.
“These horses always get too hot and sweaty,” says Mr. Sun. “That’s why they have such a high mortality rate! But there aren’t enough left to sustain the breed. Soon we’ll run out!”
“That’s bad,” declares Iphigenia.
“She is available?” Tina asks.
“We could try ice horses,” says Iphigenia.
But the ice horses melt. Cold water splashes everywhere. The sun grows a little dimmer.
“I don’t think that worked,” opines Mr. Sun.
So Tina calls Jenna on the telephone. Jenna meets her by the road, with trees arching above. Tina takes her home.
“The sun is dying,” Tina says, in a businesslike fashion. “You have failed to keep it alive.”
It wouldn’t mean anything to Jenna if you called her Nephilim.
She barely remembers or understands that the monster has used her, more than once, to conjure gods. Not on that day, anyway; not on that occasion. The process blurs, sometimes, fades, shudders from your mind, if you can’t put it in a framework suited to your understanding.
Jenna does not know what she has done or what she isn’t for or why she answered Tina’s call;
But she can’t meet Tina’s eyes.
“We could try murderous horses,” says Iphigenia. “Their hearts would be cold as ice, but their bodies wouldn’t be!”
“Let’s!” declares Mr. Sun.
They lock the horses in a room. They kill one another. It’s a locked room mystery!
“It’s not really that mysterious,” says Iphigenia, after a while. “Just sad.”
Today’s pain is sharp and hideous and it lingers, like a burn.
Jenna is aware of screaming, sometimes. Mostly she is aware that she is going to die, that everything in the world is wrong, and that it is her fault. She has failed to keep the sun alive.
“We could try horses made of fire,” says Iphigenia.
“That’d make the sun even hotter,” says Mr. Sun. “We might burn up ourselves!”
“Let’s both do our best,” says Iphigenia.
So they hitch four horses of fire to the sun. They begin to sweat. The horses gallop. It is hard and it is painful and it is terrible. The heat washes back to them in waves, and the effort, and the straining of the horses against the reins. It is a wild and terrible ride, and Iphigenia can scarcely breathe during it.
She is laughing with exultation and victory when she realizes that
Somehow, it is over. Somehow, she has survived.
“That’s very well done,” says Mr. Sun. “I guess you should take over, now.”
The world is strangely cold on Iphigenia’s skin. She looks around. A girl is slumped against the wall. A woman in a white coat is looking at her with a distant air of satisfaction.
“Hello?” says Iphigenia.
There are walls on every side, and nowhere there is the sun.
“Can you kill?” says the woman. Her hair is blond and cut short.
“I am the sun,” says Iphigenia.
The woman walks to the window. She points at a passing car. “Them,” she says.
Iphigenia frowns. She is unsettled, unbalanced. But there is heat and the car is burning.
The woman stares at Iphigenia for a while.
“I understand you,” she says. Her words are flat.
Iphigenia blinks at her.
“I am Tina,” the woman says. “You are my daughter.”