The woman was in her mid-twenties, attractive and smartly dressed, as though for a business meeting. She looked directly at Albert and spoke, and although her voice was pleasant and smooth, he had no idea what she had said. He glanced quickly at Julia, who fluffed her feathers in an avian shrug and started to preen. Nervously, Albert looked back at the young woman. Why did she have to be pretty? He swallowed. “Erm...do you speak English?”
She looked confused for a moment, and then seemed to understand. “Ah...Anglishe.”
“Um, yes...” He looked at the unconscious man, and then said, “Well, I was doing a spelling...this same spell that I’m using now...but I made a mistake, and the spell exploded, and it brought a man with it. I don’t think he’s seriously hurt, but he’s unconscious.” She frowned a little, but nodded. “I’m guessing he came through the spell from...wherever you are. This is his.” He held up the card. To his astonishment, the woman reached towards him through the frame and held out her hand. Numbly, he passed her the card, and she took it, her fingers actually brushing his. She was no mere image. His heart began to pound---after all this, had he actually done it? Had he created an inter-dimensional portal?
The woman looked at the card. “Is de man still dere?” she asked.
“Yes...on the floor. I can’t really lift him up to show you.”
The woman said she would be back soon, and walked out of the frame. She was gone for about five minutes, during which Julia pretended to sleep and Albert fidgeted. When she returned, it was with two burly men who nonchalantly clambered through the gateway and onto Albert’s worktable, carrying a stretcher. The young woman stood on the other side of the frame, directing them in that melodic language, and Albert waited awkwardly until the men had lifted the little man onto the stretcher and backed out through the portal. When they were gone, the young woman turned back to Albert and smiled---God, she was pretty, especially when she smiled.
“Dank you,” she said. “Can I help you in any oder way?”
“Ah, yes, actually. Can you explain something?”
“Um...who is that man? And, where did he come from?”
“Where?” she asked. “Our company. In Anglishe...I would say, ‘Technical Help’. For magic. It is his job to fix spells wid problems.”
“No, no, I mean, what’s the name of the place where you are?” She looked confused again. “Erm, like, this is Earth. Here, this place, this world,” he said, gesturing vaguely around him. She brightened.
“Ah, yes. Dis is Asgard. We know of your Eard because we help wid your magic---I visit often---but, it is not in de same...ah, place.” She beamed at him one more time. “Dank you for contacting us, and have a pleasant day.” She stretched her arm to the side as though reaching for something, and vanished with a snap.
“Gods be praised,” Julia remarked. Albert looked at her.
“Since when are you religious?” he asked.
“Ever since you started communing with deities.” She hopped off her perch and on to his shoulder. “We can clean this up later. It’s dinnertime. Let’s go out to celebrate our own personal deus ex machina. Drinks on me.”
“Hang on a minute...” Albert’s mind was still churning. “You think that she’s...that they’re---”
“Yes,” Julia interrupted. “Once again, it’s your own fault for not paying attention in runes class. Some of us actually did our homework.” She fluffed herself up and shifted from foot to foot. “And we need to go now, because Polly really wants a cracker.” She swooped towards the door. “Any day now would be nice.”Still dazed, Albert shook his head and went to fetch his coat. As he was pulling it on, he noticed something glinting under the worktable, and bent down to look. It was one of the little embossed cards. He picked it up and squinted at the runes that spelled out, “Nissa Aven”, then smiled, and put the card in his pocket.