Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
The room is dimly lit by four great fireplaces, each set at cardinal points. Outside the tall lattice windows, a storm howls, its keening baffled by noise suppressors embedded in the windowsills. Inside, the room resounds to someone soloing their soul out on an electric guitar.
This room, once spartan, is cluttered with several lifetime’s worth of goods and chattels. The only clear space is in front of the southern fireplace, where a trio of huge wooden chairs – mere degrees from being thrones – are arranged facing a low table set before the fire.
A door opens by the western fireplace.
In the leftmost chair, a figure raises a hand and flutters it down to wring a final, plaintive power chord from the instrument before letting silence creep out from wherever it’s been hiding.
“Hail and well met! How goes the waiting game?”
A fist with the middle finger raised rises into view from the chair. The fires flare, then settle back.
The visitor chuckles and treads lightly across the room, frock coat swinging in time with her stride.
“Surtr, you should take your handsome self outside more often. The world’s not going to end for a while yet.”
“No, Gerdr. You know the world ends when I am called. That could happen anytime.”
The tall woman steps round the chair to face the black-skinned, ember-eyed immortal.
“Much as it’s in keeping with your reputation, this ‘lone Norseman of the apocalypse’ routine has gotten old. To be honest, it got old several centuries ago, but no-one had the courage to say anything. If the Aesir can get out there and enjoy this protracted end of days, why can’t we jötunn go and do it better?”
He reaches down and throws the lever that cuts the amps, then places his Fender Broadcaster into the cutaway in the side of his chair. Leaning forward, he points toward the north.
“Petty diversions! Odinn’s raising wolves in Alaska. Frigg’s got some organic farming thing going in California. Loki seems to be content ruling the roost down in Goulburn, and I’ve pretty much lost track of the rest of those lightweights, – except Thor,” he waves his hands in exasperation, “the Lord of Thunder is a drummer in a heavy metal band. Their last album was called ‘Ragnarocking’, for Freyja’s sake!”
She laughs: “I’ve heard it. Overenthusiastic about beating up giants, but competent. You could play, you know?”
Surtr goes still as she lightly rests a hand on his bicep.
She leans down and whispers in his ear: “You could play with all sorts of things, if you wanted.”
He turns his head to gaze into her eyes. She sees the embers in his eyes become flames.
“I could, could I? I know of a certain Vanir who’d object to me playing with your… Things.”
Gerdr leans closer: “If you and I were playing in Havana, he wouldn’t find out for a long time.”
“You do know he and I are meant to go at it right after I set fire to the world?”
“If he can tear himself away from ‘bestowing pleasure upon mortals’. He really is quite… Dedicated. To that, anyway. Me? A bit too old for his tastes.”
Surtr chuckles, covering her hand with his: “What’s three millennia between friends?”
She grins, resting her nose against his cheek and whispering between planting little kisses at the side of his mouth: “Think of it as giving him a reason to turn up.”
The fires blaze.
“Only the one?”
“Got tired of waiting.”
Their laughter echoes as they depart.
“Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky ..”? 🙂
Another T.A.R.D.I.S tale Jae, in that your stories hold such enormous weight and yet you compact them so seamlessly. An entire tome is under 600 words. Excellent.
Thank you, Hari.
I’d like to take credit, but they just tumble out of the storymaking engine in my head like this. All I do is tidy them up a bit.