Monday May 2nd, 2016

The exercise:

Write something which has to do with: vikings.

Yeah, not sure how I've not used that prompt before.

Still difficult to speak. Maybe one more good sleep will do the trick?

Max had a lot of fun with my parents today. It's wonderful having help keeping him entertained, especially with me being sick.


They arrive under the cover of a night sky filled with star- and moon-obscuring clouds. The longboats slice through the sand and they are out and running before the beach has brought their crafts to a complete stop. Swords and axes and spears in hand, shields and iron helmets providing protection they don't seem to need.

Especially on this night.

They are expecting a village of vulnerable weaklings, of elders and women and children. Ripe for the plundering. Utterly unprepared for an attack.

Except look at them. Going from house to house, the confusion on their faces growing more prominent with each empty discovery. They are gathering in the square now, talking in their harsh language, but quietly. Looking around, at each other. But not up.

That's good. We are hidden here, in the highest branches of the surrounding trees, but I would not want them to look too closely, even at night. Because we are weak, and elderly, and far too young. Our warriors are far away, on a raid of their own. But we are not unprepared.

We were warned, and we have heeded that warning.

They linger for a few moments more before beginning to return to their boats. Is that fear I see on a face or two? Even better. They are less likely to pay us another visit if they believe our absence is magical or divine.

We do not wish to see them again. For if we do, we will not have the benefit of the warning we received this time. Not that he would have been able to tell us what they plan next without returning to their company, but the scout we captured has already been put to rest.

We watch them as they return to the sea. We breathe easier as they disappear into the darkness from which they came. We remain in the trees until dawn comes once more. Just in case. And only then do we return to the ground and our routines and tasks and try not to look to the sea between each heartbeat in our chests.


Greg said...

It sounds like your parents turned up at just the right time for you, and I'm sure they're enjoying the opportunity to play with their eldest grandson too :) How is the laryngitis making you feel then? I've always assumed it's just like a particularly bad sore throat, but the worst I've ever had was strep throat and that just made eating, drinking (and eventually swallowing) painful.
Wow, you must have a little more time than usual with this piece as it's very nicely done and a little longer than usual too. I like the revelation at the end as to how it all happened, and that the scout is dead already -- lucky your invaders didn't find his grave I guess! And the neat touch of making the village appear abandoned to appeal to the religious inclinations of the invaders is great too. The last line is especially effective, I re-read that a few times to appreciate it all the more.

The viking
Water dripped somewhere, but outside of the pool of light from a single, bare, lightbulb there was only darkness, and somewhere could be anywhere. The flex for the bulb was stapled to the rock of the ceiling and ran along a short way, accumlating black mould, before disappearing upwards through a rough hole that was probably natural. Inside the pool of light was a three-legged wooden table made from unsanded planks tied together with coarse, thin rope and legs nailed into place. Two wooden chairs, equally as crude, were next to it, and a deck of cards was stacked neatly in the middle of the table.
Bill, gentleman thief, sniffed and stretched, his arms reaching above his head and then spreading outwards like ballerina. An especially lazy one, since he was sitting on one of the wooden chairs. "Smells like dead mice in here," he said.
"How do you know what dead mice smell like?" Ben, also a gentleman thief, was standing at one edge of the pool of light staring out into the darkness. One hand shaded his eyes from above so as to protect his night-vision. "Are you on another weird diet?"
"My diet isn't weird! And no, I dated that girl who kept snakes, remember? She used to keep dead mice in the fridge to feed them with."
"You were eating broccoli stems wrapped in carrot peelings the other day," said Ben. His tone suggested that Bill might as well have been eating things he'd found on the floor in the darkness around them. "Don't snakes like warm, live food?"
"She microwaved them first," said Bill. "And that broccoli and carrot was an expensive fontaine."
"You're a gullible tw–" Ben's voice broke off suddenly, and his stance became tense and more alert. "I think they're leaving!"
"About bloody time," said Bill standing up. He and Ben were both wearing charcoal gray suits, black shirts and grey gloves with random white stripes. "I was starting to think they were going to stay the night. Right, killing the lights in three... two... one... now." The electric light died, just a dim orange squiggle remaining for a second, then went dark. Bill and Ben vanished, seemingly now just shadows in the darkness.
Ten minutes later they had walked through the catacombs to the exhibit where three viking warriors were held in climate-controlled conditions inside reinforced glass and steel boxes, and six different alarm systems protected them.
"Remember the Idol of Odile?" asked Bill as Ben's fingers gently lifted apart four types of conductive material and he slipped insulating caps onto the ends.
"Don't start," said Ben. A tiny jeweller's screwdriver appeared as if from nowhere and he started dismantling the casing of another system. "They say McArthur's still tracking it down; with his rep she doesn't stand a chance."
"What if these aren't all dead yet?"
"Then you and me are going to pay our dispatcher a visit and find out what the hell is going on!"

Marc said...

Greg - just a bad cough, really. A little more tired than usual, but not horribly so. It's like I coughed myself hoarse. I dunno, I've never had it before... it was annoying as hell though.

Thank you very much for the kind words on mine, they are greatly appreciated :)

I am pleased to see you returning to this duo so regularly. They are an entertaining pair and I can tell how much fun you have writing them.

Also: I will not be surprised when it turns out the vikings are indeed alive...