Mark Maker #7

Posted: January 10, 2013 in Viking novel
Tags: ,

(c) Amundr 2013
A trip of a few hours has taken me all day and now I feel I cannot go on. I think of you, my wife, every step that I take but now I feel lost. I must return to Valdr empty-handed, my exertions have brought us nought but a deepening despair. I turn and go down the slope. The tears freeze on my face.

I have retreated from the village with leaden steps. In the time it has taken me to struggle around the village on my rough skis I have seen enough. Pink snow and frozen corpses litter the roads, doorways and ravaged huts of the town. Men I have fished with and drawn a bow leer upwards into the swirling whiteness of snow flurries in a final grimace of unfair fate and uncaring gods. Torbjorn, Whitebeard and the youthful Lars lay where they fought to the death to protect their women and children. They failed. I have painfully searched each hut. No one is left alive. Not even babes. I want to sink into the snow and die with them.”How can no one have lived?” I scream into the pitiless white of the biting blizzard. The most draining, stomach churning realisation washes over me as I witness the aftermath of the massacre of my fellow islanders. All these simple souls have died until the last breath of the last left living has itself frozen into the pounding sky. So what of my beauty? What of my precious one? How could she possibly have survived what no one else here has? I want to take Torbjorn’s dropped dagger and cut my throat there and then to blend in with the already lost. To join their piled corpses. I cannot. Valdr waits on my arrival. Even if he is to die too, he deserves to know what has happened here. I gather what food I can carry and a few arms, some swords, another dagger and continue the retreat. The bitter snow will hide what is better never to have seen for a few months yet. Then in the Thaw, their poor shrunken and frozen bodies will be picked clean by sea birds after the wolves and foxes have taken what they want. If I was able I would pile them and burn all as is proper. I cannot even do this last ritual. Bile rushes up to fill my mouth. No help is here. No help, nothing anymore. How I get back to Valdr, I do not know.

White, blurring, cutting white. Snow slices my face and scratches my eyeballs. It’s impossible to move. My legs are stone. My mind is slush and dirty snow. I have become the hills, the track, the rocks that line the shore. I want forward. I cannot go. I want backward and backwards is denied me. Forwards is recognition of my Fate sealed. I need to know but I do not want to know. Not knowing means she is still alive. Not knowing means Valdr is still alive. Even if I am to be dead at last, I am trapped in no time like a slippery fish in net. I want to stay fish white in this hell of hope. Not knowing. Not knowing can claim me for itself. I will embrace it with my death. The dragon boat of Ragnarok can sail without me. The snow piles up in a drift around my ankles. I am slowly freezing under my many skins. I will become a tree with a cloak of needles covered in white. In the Thaw my bones will litter the beach’s edge.
“Asmundr!”
I hear Valdr calling me.
“Asmundr”
I feel the sword in his thigh white hot in my back.
“Get up!” He calls.
I feel the push in my back again.
“Get up!”
I am dragged up.
A wet, yelling face is in mine.
“Asmundr! It’s me!

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