In his mind he was Seth Morrigan, Destroyer of Worlds. He controlled time and space, life and death. He walked in darkness, and he swallowed the light. The sun would not rise, because he did not wish it. The snow would not melt. No birds would sing. No one would ever turn on the stove and sing softly to themselves while making breakfast again, because he did not want that, because he wanted stillness and silence and darkness, because he wanted everything frozen, unmoving, unchanging. He would never get sick, or grow old, or die. He could stay in his garage forever, reading and doing experiments, and the world would not bother him. Because it would not exist. Because he would not allow it to exist.
In reality, the sun was rising and Sarah would be expecting him soon. She’d be making her waffles now, stirring the batter. Singing to herself, probably. She always did that. It annoyed him.
The Gotterdamerung would have to wait. He needed a couple of days to prepare the ritual. Everything should be ready by Christmas. That idea amused him. Everyone frozen around their trees, under the mistletoe. Little kids holding Salvation Army bells that would never ring again. An orphan standing in the road, looking into a warm well-lit house with a happy family, frozen in time, the snowflakes above his head never falling on to his dirty hair. Groups of people standing with their mouths open mid-carol. Oh yes. He would be a benevolent god, freezing their tears, or letting them have one moment of frozen joy that would never melt into misery.
But waffles came first. Ugh. He hated waffles.
Waffles were full of syrup and butter and they didn’t burn very well at all. He’d tried to burn them but they’d just sat there, looking at him, being all “Haha, you can’t burn me!” He’d planned to use the ashes in an alchemical experiment.
He’d hoped to create a potion that would make her stop, that would make her have nightmares about waffles, the same horrible nightmares that he had. He tossed in his sleep, sweating, dreaming of the syrup glooping and glopping, filling his lungs until he couldn’t breathe, with the yellow butter like the sun beating down on him, pressing him into the syrup. If she had those nightmares she would never want to make waffles again. She’d do something else for breakfast, like pancakes or fruit parfait. Anything but waffles.
He opened the back door. He could smell the waffles. He could hear her singing.
She stood there in front of the stove. Singing. Making waffles. Killing him.
One day he’d make those waffles burn.
“Good morning! Don’t these waffles smell lovely? And the snow is so beautiful, and it’s almost Christmas.”
He took a plate of the waffles and followed her to the table. He didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything to say. She had made her waffles again, and she thought that was enough, that the waffles would make him happy.
He knew her secret thoughts, the things she never said.
He knew that she cried in their bed when he spent all night in the garage. He knew that she read her cookbooks and her romances, talked to her friends from work on the phone, and wished that he would come in and be with her, talk to her, look at her, notice that she existed.
If only she wouldn’t make the waffles.
He smushed the butter down into the waffles. He pressed his fork into the little ridges so that the syrup flowed out and over. He imagined himself in the syrup. Drowning. Gasping for breath. Reaching up, looking for a handhold, but he couldn’t find one because he’d already destroyed all the ridges.
Sarah ate her waffles quickly, like a nervous little bird. She watched him hungrily, and as soon as he swallowed the last mouthful she spoke.
“So I was thinking that we could have a Christmas party. I could invite all the girls from the work, and you could see if anyone at your lab wanted to come, and we could get a tree, and I have a mistletoe I could put up, and you already put up the lights.”
“I could make fudge, and eggnog, and lobster thermidor, and anything else people wanted, and you could go out and get some wood and start a nice fire in the fireplace, and we could play Christmas music on the stereo, and oh, Seth. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?”
“You want to invite people here? You want to have a big party? You want to make me collect wood, make me be nice to people, make me talk about the snow and the cold and whatever stupid trashy book they just finished reading and the latest celebrity gossip? On Christmas? That’s what you want?”
“I’ve got something to do already that day. It’s very important. You wouldn’t understand. It’s alchemical. Rainbows, unicorns, ancient legends, all that sort of thing. Nothing you’re interested in. You can have your party if you want, but I can’t be there. Sorry.”
She just sat there, looking at him. Not saying anything. Probably thinking about waffles. Damn it.
She got up, picked up her plate. He followed suit. She looked at him, again. She spoke, and her voice was very soft.
“Thank you for putting up the lights. Oh, and I thought I should tell you. You might want to know. I’m pregnant.”
She took her plate to the sink. He heard the water rushing, filling up the basin, the tink of the plate against the metal. He heard her sobs.
In his mind he was in a vast white field and the sky was bright blue above him, and everything was silent and still and he was alone and no one needed him, no one hounded him with parties, with lights, with voices and small talk and trees and fires, and there were no thoughts, no feelings.
He left her alone in the kitchen, and he went to find somewhere else. Something else. Something that would make sense, that would help him deal, help him understand.
He needed a drink.
Across town, Lilith Parker dreamed.
She dreamed of unicorns.
She dreamed of rainbows.
She dreamed of prophecies, of glowing blue potions, of werewolves eating the sun. She dreamed of the twilight of the gods.
She dreamed of death.
She woke up terrified.