Updated: Sep 5, 2022
“This time I’m doing it. Funny I'm so calm,” she says, looking down from the edge of a concrete slab on the top floor of an abandoned business center.
Of course, she knows it’s not a video game. She won’t bounce back with two more lives left, she reminds herself. Her brains will be scattered down there in the least glamorous way. Her mom might scream when she sees her, but she screams all the time anyway, screaming is so natural to her. Her dad… what would he do? He would scream at mom and give her a good thrashing for not bringing her up as a decent young woman. What else? She hopes they will never find her.
Her eyes travel to the spot where Dimitri and her sat two weeks ago, right before her high-school finals. He said he wanted to listen to her read her school thesis about dadaists, and she believed him. Dimitri brought a bottle of vodka that he sucked on while she went on and on about Tristan Tzara and Andre Breton, wandering why he behaved that way if he truly cared about dadaism. When the vodka was over, he forcefully threw the bottle against a concrete wall and laughed, as if it was something to laugh at. She flinched and edged away from him, but Dimitri suddenly reached forward and kissed her on the lips, filling her mouth with vodka-flavored saliva, pushing his tongue deeper into her throat, so deep she was afraid she might choke. It lasted a few seconds, but felt like eternity. She withdrew and ran away, leaving behind her school thesis printed on 36 double-spaced A4 pages. Her first kiss was ruined so badly. There wasn’t much left in life, she thought. When she walked towards the bus stop, sobbing and wiping her tears with the sleeves of her hoodie, page №17 landed quietly on the pavement in front of her. The epigraph in the top of the page quoted Tzara: “Always destroy what is in you.”
The clouds are slowly coasting in the sky. She thinks of the suicide scene from “Der Himmel über Berlin”, her favorite movie. She returns to the edge of the slab and walks along it, her arms outstretched, cautious not to lose balance.
“Are you here, Cassel?” she whispers a question to her guardian angel, and immediately responds. “Probably not.”
Only punks come here, to fuck and get smashed. She hates them. She hates everyone. She feels the tears rolling down her cheeks. She is angry. Frustrated. She is desperately sad, lonely like no one else in this world.
She reaches the opposite wall and slides down against it, hiding her face in her hands. Distracted and confused, she pays no heed to a piece of live wire protruding from it. The moment she touches it, her whole body starts to seize. The buzzing in her head increases, until the only thing she can see is a galaxy of stars. Finally, she moves slightly, losing the contact with the wire, and falls limply to the floor. She is unconscious.
“Wake up,” says an unfamiliar, somewhat demanding voice.
She opens her eyes and notices a woman in shining armor, her luxuriant red hair topped by a winged helmet, holding a spiked wooden shield with her left hand and a spear with her right.
“Move,” says the woman, pushing her with the spear, not too hard, but enough to make her uncomfortable.
“What? Who are you?” asks the girl, crawling back along the wall.
“It doesn’t matter,” replies the woman. “Tell me, why did you want to kill yourself?”
The girl looks around the floor of the abandoned business center.
“I don’t know,” she replies hesitantly.
It’s already dark, well past midnight. The moonlight is seeping through the crumbled walls. If she didn’t kill herself, he parents will. She tries to scramble to her feet, but cannot — her arms and legs are still weak from the electric shock. The woman holds out her hand and helps her to raise herself. The girl looks her straight in the eye.
“Am I dead?” she asks quietly.
“Of course not. You are immortal,” replies the woman.
“Am I? Why?” asks the girl, startled.
“You are a valkyrie, one of us,” says the valkyrie. “Come here, I’ll show you.”
She takes the girl by the hand and brings her to face a piece of broken mirror leaning against the wall. In the mirror, she sees her reflection dressed in armor and a winged helmet. Suicide is for the weak, she thinks, admiring her warrior-like reflection. And I am strong, like you. I will fight until the end.
“I won’t let anyone hurt me,” she says to the valkyrie.
But no one replies. The valkyrie is gone.
She looks back in the mirror, but instead of the shining armor and winged helmet she sees a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans worn at the knees and between the legs. The shoelace on her left shoe is undone, and she squats down to tie it back. She goes back to the edge of the concrete slab, picks up her backpack and goes down the spiral staircase. She knows that no one at school will believe her, that her parents will scold her for coming home late, but she isn’t afraid.
Because she is the electric valkyrie.
The cover: "Valkyrien" by Peter Nicolai Arbo