Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen (But probably mostly gentlemen, if we're honest. I can't imagine a lot of women hanging around here. Prove me wrong!) When we first started running this site, we separated ourselves from the pack a little bit by running Original Fiction, rather than just recycling the work of others, or yammering about TV shows. There's nothing wrong with that, and obviously yammering about TV is hauling the waggon here, but we just wanted to contribute a little bit as well as discuss the contributions of others.
One of the first things we did was ask anyone interested in doing so if they'd be willing to contribute original works of fiction to the site, and I'm very pleased to say that somebody has!
Charlie Starr, who you may remember from his interview here http://www.republibot.com/content/interview-charlie-starr-discusses-his-... has graciously seen fit to contribute one of his short stories, and we're very pleased to be running it online for you. If anyone else out there has anything they'd like to contribute, please don't hesitate to let us know!
As a slight departure from form for our site, this is *not* really an SF story. It's more like "Theological Speculative Fantasy" if we're not to put too fine a point on it. Submitted for your consideration:
The Twilight of the Gods
Charlie W. Starr
“I heard a voice, that cried,
‘Balder the Beautiful
Is dead, is dead!’
And through the misty air
Passed like the mournful cry
Of sunward sailing cranes.”
Storm winds battered the dark robed trio as they struggled through the forest, an ancient wood, black and sacred to the barbarian people they had come to enlighten, to love. Their packhorse, startled by a lightning strike, had bolted in wild terror straight into a flooded ravine. But they drove on by will and faith, every step a prayer for the storm’s subsiding. They were tired and cold, in fact shivering and aware that, unsheltered, they would not last the night. But the path had been lost and the ground sucked their sandaled feet out from under them.
Thomas, the youngest, suffered a gashed knee and limped behind. Seneca, the enthusiastic Roman born longed for Mediterranean skies rather than these dark clouds of the forboding North.
“We must push on, brothers,” spoke their leader, his Latin perfect if his accent Anglicized. “Courage, now.” And the monk made Bishop prayed in his heart: ‘Lord as you quieted the waters, so call these waves of wind and rain to lay down like servants at your feet.’
At that moment they topped a rise and saw a pinpoint of light through the darkness and trees. Smiles lifted with their hopes, and they increased their pace toward the possibility of shelter, of fire and warmth. The storm rose as much as their enthusiasm and fought their progress all the more. The bishop Boniface would not be deterred. Two weeks hence he would change the world of Germanic Northmen, the Teutons of Hessia, or be martyred in the attempt. If only he could get there.
Lightning struck again, within yards. Disoriented by the thunder and flash, Boniface did not see the tree falling toward him. Seneca rushed to save him but slipped and fell.
He screamed, “Father Boniface!” but too late.
The tree was sure to strike its mark, except that it did not. How it had slowed, or even, as Thomas thought, suspended its fall could not be explained but by miracle. Boniface simply thought he had moved out of the way in time. Seneca would not say what he saw; he was certain the lightning had brought spots to his eyes. He believed in miracles, but humility would not allow him to believe that he had been privileged, graced with the experience of seeing an angel.
In fact he had not. He had seen a man glowing white, armored, and wielding a sword. Within a few minutes, the three monks reached the door of an isolated cottage, where a kindly family welcomed them to fire, food, and life.
Outside in the raging sky, a great warrior breathed his last beneath the final blow of the fire giants. But he had saved the three men. Boniface lived though Balder died. And the sky shook from Midgard to the halls of Valhalla.
Copyright 2008 Charlie Starr
Part 2 coming soon!