• Ollie Horsfall

The Vikings Beneath my Plane

Side note: I took part in a writing challenge this evening. one hour to write a short story incorporating the following words:

Uncle, Wooden, Old, Coat, Mine, Viking, Story, Realise, Gone, Blisteringly, Discern, Car.

Here's what I came up with:

This was my first time going to a funeral. I was sat with my uncle and I was looking out of the window. I didn’t understand fully that my dad was gone. I didn’t know what it meant that he would be lying in a wooden box, six feet under the ground and that his eyes would never open again.He was gone.

I wasn’t so young that death was obscure to me, I was maybe 8 or 9, but my only knowledge of death came from the stories he would tell me based in Norse Mythology. The elves in Alfheim, the giants in Jotunheim, the Gods and their petty squabbles, the trolls that would turn to stone in the sight of sunlight.

As we flew above the Fjords of Sweden into Denmark I imagined a great battle. The roars and shouts of Berserkers and men with their horned helmets wielding mighty battle axes.

I saw the Norse gods: Freyr, her pale face marked by death, Odin with his eye fixed on the battlefield with his ravens Huggin and Munnin circling the scene, Loki, grinning maniacally from atop the shoulder of a Jotnar and Odin’s favourite son Thor drumming the sky with thunder.

I saw the Valkyrie shepherding the spirits of fallen viking warriors out of this realm and on to Valhalla where they would await Ragnarok. The clash of swords, the roars of death the beautiful melody of iron clashing with iron rang deeply in my ears.

We were on our way to my father’s final resting place. My Danish father. He didn’t die in a spectacular way like the vikings of old; he was taken in a car accident. Icy roads and a drunk driver falling asleep at the wheel will do that.

No epic battle, no glorious afterlife, just a man lost to history, and I was left behind. My Uncle as my guardian. Dad told me the stories his father told him when he was my age in the hopes that they would teach me the same lessons they taught him.

The turbulence of the plane and the black cloud we were approaching weren’t scary to me, they just fueled my imagination further. Thor flew past, Mjolnir held high as bolts of lightning struck the ground below us, causing great plumes of fire to erupt from the scorched earth.

The co-pilot spoke softly, so softly we couldn’t really hear, there were words: ‘engine’... ‘fuel’.... ‘Storm’... ‘landing’ but I didn’t really hear and my Uncle simply patted me on the head. He wasn’t very good with children.

It took me a strangely long time to notice that the plumes of fire I had imagined below were actually coming from the wing. We couldn’t hear the co-pilot because of the noise of a broken engine. People began to scream, but I continued to watch the scene unfold.

Surt, a fire giant fated to kill Freyr climbed from a deep crack in the shell of the earth, the heat spewing forth in a blisteringly powerful blast that turned those unlucky enough to be stood before him to ash. He grabbed Thor in his outstretched hand and threw him into a pit below. Then he turned to Freyr who surrounded herself with Jotnar (the frost giants) who raised their cobalt shields. Surt roared as he charged towards her, bringing a clenched fist down on her protectors, scattering them, their sheils crumbling to dust as Freyr rose her blade, etched with marking of death and struck him deep in the heart.

The sound of the engine had stopped. My Uncle was arguing with a steward.

“We can’t die on our way to a funeral, what will my obituary look like?”

“Sit down sir, we are making a controlled descent into copenhagen and the affected engine is turned off, there is nothing to worry about. The fire seems to have extinguished itself.”

Still staring out of the window I caught a vision I would have never expected: something that belonged to me. My father, mine, in his tattered vest and soggy raincoat, riding on the back of a horse his arms around a beautiful Valkyrie adorned with shining golden armour. He waved at me and winked. The battle below disappeared into obscurity as the kindness in his eyes seemed to eradicate any fear, any turmoil that was coursing through my immature mind, I had thought that he was not safe. He was happy, and somewhere he would do good. He was safe and I knew he was watching over me.

I knew that one day I would see him in valhalla, we’d sit at the great table feasting and drinking and even though the battle against grief wasn’t one I fully understood, it was one he had prepared me for. His stories made me brave and I would face life with the power of those stories to fuel me and guide me, knowing that one day I would give the same power to my own child.


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