Missing Ragnarok

I remember when my mother made a hill of soft, loose dirt for me to lie upon, a place where I could grow more slowly than a grove of oaks; a place where I was safe from the eyes of gods and men.

How much time has passed, I have no way to tell. I have lived underground, a larva, becoming the kind of colossal being I once felt booming at the surface of creation.

Mother. The only sense I have of her is loss. A void where her enormous heart should be pumping with the slow enormity of a slumbering volcano.

There is no feel for my brothers and sisters, and even the gods are gone.

In the back of my mind, I knew. I felt the event, the clash of titanic forces, the screams of the lesser armies arrayed: men in their millions, destroyed by a single hurled spear; scythed to ruin in a handful of sweeping strokes, the heroes collected for centuries to provide a moment’s distraction, mere fodder against the gigantic onslaught.

I seek to stand, last and only of my kind, digging my hips free, aware, but never having learned to crawl, and having eaten nothing since before my birth. Weakened, I rise. I wonder if I can walk. It does not matter: I will.

The urge persists to visit the works of the inheritors, the men who—somehow—survived the end of the world.

Their paths are visible, spun like thread at my shaggy loins, cutting through the fog like strings of spider silk, glinting in the dew of morning.

Ice clanks and dangles from my skin; water drips, the fog increases as the sun moves over my hide.

The moon, too, is cold and dead, though it remains in the heavens—the great wolves in pursuit no longer. What trees remain are stunted; they would not make walking sticks for the dwarves.

I will start a campaign slowly. My legs will strengthen as I walk, my shambling stride becoming that of my missing tribe, in time capable of walking the known world in a single, long day, keeping step with the sun itself.

Relieving myself, half-emerged from my barrow, the nest I have known for an eternity, swelling with rainfall, feasting on minerals leached from the soil, I follow my impure water down the flanks of the hill, along one of the lines cut by haughty men. They must know it leads to them.

The pain of my mother’s loss shakes my frame, cracks and parts my frozen mouth, snow and sliding ice crashing from the tip of my craggy chin, crashing below like rolling thunder.

I can recall scraps of the tales told, of scuttling men in weak armor, their swords like stingers… they will know what has happened.

They survived when my kind did not, and the gods cannot save them now. Their settlements will answer to me—they will answer everything I command.

When I have heard their lies as to what transpired, I swear by her name that I will finish what the end of the world began.

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W. Sheridan Bradford writes horror (All Hallows, The Buzzkill) the old west (Rimfires, Sevenfold), contemporary western fiction (Born Again), science fiction (The Wreck of the Molon Labe), and is the author of numerous short stories and poems. Usually found in: Colorado, New Mexico, or Texas.

Show 2 Comments
  • Miranda Kate October 18, 2018, 9:41 am Link

    Lovely take on the prompt. Thanks for joining.

    • Sheridan November 2, 2018, 1:54 pm Link

      Thanks for the prompt itself: these kinds of things are great to toss the cobwebs in the morning!