This flash fiction story is based on a picture prompt (below) from the Instagram #pleasantwordschallenge! While thinking of this story, I came across Micah 1:3-4 (For behold, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire.) This is the verse/story that Brother Sebastian tells Bodil that she reflects on. I hope you enjoy this short, Viking themed story!
“Let no man weep for the sorrow we have caused the gods. Let us instead rejoice in the sacrifice that we make to keep our people safe.”
The words of the high priest washed over me, not as rain – balmy and cooling, but rather like the firestorm my father swore Tyr once threw from the heavens. Not that I believed in Tyr. Or Odin. Or Thor or Loki or any of the other gods my family spent hours crafting idols of.
How could I have trusted Ulf with my secret? How could I have told him that the strange monk who came to us, hoping to wash our sins away with his words of the One True God, made sense? But of course, I knew why I’d trusted him. I’d loved Ulf since we were children and it was only natural I wanted to share with him my newfound enlightenment in the One True God.
Yet, because of my foolish heart, here we all stood, waiting for the priest to signal the death of the monk who I had come to trust in the past fortnight.
“Bodil.” Ulf’s voice was close to my ear.
I turned from him. “Go, Ulf.”
“I did what was best for the clan. And you.”
Needing to be away from him and the throng of people all awaiting an unfair death, I pushed through the crowd.
When he wasn’t being tortured for the pleasure of my people, Brother Sebastian shared wonderful stories with those who would listen. So far I and a few chickens had been his audience. Once, he’d told me the One True God had the power to make mountains melt as wax left in the hot sun.
Overcome by a need to see the mountains that flanked our land, I ran to the meadow that belonged to Ulf’s grandfather. There the mountains stood tall and staring up at them, I noted that the setting sun turned the sky to fire. Orange and red light bathed the valley and I clenched my fists, angry that the One True God had the power to melt mountains but wouldn’t free one man.
“Please help him.”
I waited for the sky to split open but nothing occurred. Part of me knew that it wouldn’t. Perhaps my faith in the One True God wasn’t strong enough.
The ceremonial chanting grew louder and I steeled myself for the final moments. But the triumphal shout never came, nor did a scream from Brother Sebastian. Instead, the chanting died and I was left breathlessly watching the orange sun sink.
“Your monk is gone.” I turned to see Ulf standing in the shadows.
“What do you mean?” I whispered.
“His shackles are empty. They’re searching for him now. If I hadn’t seen you at the ceremony…” he trailed off.
I turned back to the mountains which seemed to wilt under my gaze, their edges growing soft in the setting sun. In my heart, I knew Brother Sebastion wouldn’t be found.