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Sep 21 2010

The Wolf in the Fault and Other Stories

I have to admit something: I may be an atheist, but I’m also a complete sucker for Norse mythology.  When I shared my home with cockroaches, I even sacrificed them to Odin.  It’s somehow more satisfying that way.

Every Thursday, I squee with glee, because I know it’s Thorsday at Lockwood’s place.  I love all of the old Norse gods and goddesses, their monsters and giants, their epic tales and their strange Nordic sense of humor.  A good portion of my writing has been inspired by them.  The imagery, the poetry, all of it’s just perfect for creating something fantastic.  Seeing Lockwood’s posts on the subject brings back all the delight of discovering that non-Greek and Roman mythology kicks serious arse.

Last Thorsday, Lockwood had a bit up on Loki, which inspired David Bressan to delve until he came up with a connection between Norse mythology and earthquakes.  The rest, as they say, is the History of Geology, which in this installment shows the mythical connection between the dire wolf Fenrir (Fenris, if you prefer) and earthquakes (and sparks a little reaction of its own).  Before professional geologists, earthquake science went to the wolves, eh?

Ragnarök obsesses one of my main characters, Chretien Pratt.  The twilight of the gods provides a fitting metaphor for what the world faces in this series (I’m not nice), and imagery of Fenrir swallowing the sun at the end of all things haunts him in his unfinished origin story, where he’s learned he’s fated to speak the world’s eulogy:

I dream of nuclear winter, ash like snow covering the bare branches of blasted trees and shrubs, broken walls of houses, pitted concrete and melted asphalt where streets and cities used to be.

There are no people here, just the great wolf Fenrir swallowing the sun.  When I look at him, I see that he has Jusadan’s gray eyes, and he is weeping.

***

Fenrir’s mouth burns from the heat.  The sun is halfway down.  Only a sliver lights the landscape now, and it’s thin and cold like watery gold moonlight.  Ash drifts down; heavy, silent, bitter.  I smell charred wolf flesh, old decay from a billion rotted bodies, the burned-ozone tang of radiation.

Shades of the dead fill my vision for a hundred thousand miles.  I only see a fraction of them here in this charred shell that used to be a city park, but they represent the totality.  Through them, I see all the rest, and all of them hear me.  I stand on the crumbling edge of a fountain whose statue melted into the pool halfway through the war, hand clenched around the handle of a scythe sharp enough to slice the quarks from a photon.  I have to speak, but I still don’t know what the words are.

I never wanted this.  I never wanted to be the last, and now I am forever.

Someday, we’ll talk about Odin as well, who has the unfortunate fate of being munched by Fenrir there at the end.  Did I mention I’m not nice to my characters?  Well, the Norse were really not nice to their gods.

That’s probably why I love them so.