In my town, tradition states that a person who trains well, fights well, and dies with a weapon in hand will immediately enter Valhalla. Our ancestors considered Valhalla like heaven. Everyone wanted to go there. The belief permeated society so much that even today when most people don’t believe in Odin or Valhalla, many traditions continue. Every child, from the moment they can lift a weapon, is trained to fight. People keep weapons in every room of the house. If someone looks or feels like they might die, they can grab a weapon, so they die with a weapon in hand.
Honestly, I’m not sure how many people still grab weapons when they die, but weapons still permeate houses. On the plus side, we don’t have a lot of crime. Most people know better than to try and steal or hurt one of us. It happens, but rarely.
Like most people my age, I trained to fight. Nowadays, the tradition of weapons has expanded to include guns, but we also have to learn sword or ax. I prefer the sword. Though I learned the traditions, I really didn’t believe them. They were just fun stories. Actually, I should say I didn’t believe them until I died.
Earlier this evening…Wait, I don’t know how much time has passed, but earlier, I died. I was cooking hamburgers on the grill, taking a moment to smell them as I prepared to flip them. Then I heard a crash, turned and some person shot me. The next thing I know, I woke up here.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around where I am. When I woke, I was seated in a chair in a dark room. In front of me on a lighted dais, at a long table sat five people. They looked exactly like paintings of Norse Gods. The one in the middle in a tall gold throne-like chair with gray hair looks like Odin. To his right, with blond hair, Thor and dark-haired Loki to his left. Next to Thor sits a pale beauty with cold blue eyes. Next to Loki sits another blond man only with gray sprinkled among the golden locks.
Right now, they are arguing about me, because after I opened my eyes, Odin asked “What are you holding?”
Looking down, I realized I still held my spatula, the one to flip the burgers. “It’s a…a spatula,” I stuttered.
Then the Thor guy declared, “That is no weapon. Send him to Hel.”
The Loki guy laughed saying, “Brother, how do you know that is no weapon? You’ve certainly never held one.”
Before Thor could respond, Odin held up a hand and asked, “Is that a weapon?”
Thinking fast, I replied, “Yes, sort of.”
“Explain,” the ice queen next to Thor demanded.
Taking a deep breath, using my true crime obsession, I began, “While the spatula does not look like much, it can be not only deadly but the most insidious way to kill. The person holding the spatula cooks delicious food, laced with a poison that no one would taste, but all would die.”
I paused trying to think of something else to say to convince them, but into my pause the people at the table started arguing. It looks like Loki and the ice queen like my explanation and want me to enter. Thor and the other guy do not. Odin just sits there watching me speculatively, with his one eye. They’ve been arguing for awhile now and I wonder how much longer it will last.
Suddenly, Odin holds up a hand, “Enough!” he commands. They fall silent as he continues, “I have made my decision.”