"Don't worry," she said. "I have a plan to make money. I'm going to write books."
"That's not a plan to make money!" I, and every published author reading this, shouted.
Reader, she ignored me. Somehow, while working two jobs and getting her Masters of Library Information and Science degree, the Smithie finished the first in a planned trilogy of YA novels. She's polishing up the second draft, preparing to submit it to agents. Rather than giving you the 8,573rd excerpt from my Work-Not-In-Progress, I thought you might like to take a look at something that's done. She'll probably have the other two books out and have inked a movie deal before HID FROM OUR EYES is on the shelf. That's my girl.
THE FETTERS OF FENRIR is the story of Fenrir, The Wolf who Swallows the Sun, the oldest child of the Norse trickster-god Loki. One of the three harbingers of Ragnarok - the death of the gods - Fenrir was separated from his two siblings and sentenced to live on Midgard - Earth - in his human form, an eternal, unchanging and very bored sixteen-year-old. Until the day he's whisked away to Asgard, the home of the gods, and imprisoned at Odin All-Father's pleasure...
The cell they always put me in was not particularly high security. There was nobody else in the building, of course, for their safety, but I honestly wasn't sure that the doors even locked. They didn't have to. The chain on my ankle would keep me wherever Odin wanted me. If he wanted me in the cell, I was going to stay in the cell.
Bed, chair, pile of blankets, small table with a couple of washing materials on it. Nothing too fancy, nothing too horrible.
“Do I have anything to read?” I asked.
Omaar pointed to the space underneath under the bed. “National Geographic, 1972-1985.”
“That's... a lot of National Geographic.”
“Yeah. Should keep you busy for a while.” He smiled at me, almost like he was kind of sorry I was stuck here.
I dozed off in the middle of an article about African wildlife. Then I woke up unexpectedly in the wee hours of the morning. The very, very wee hours. It took me a bleary minute before I realized what had woken me.
Footsteps in the hallway.
But not the usual tramp-tramp-tramp of soldier footsteps, or even the lighter, self-important step of the Asgard bureaucrats and politicians. No, these footsteps were slow, and clearly assisted by a cane. Thump, thump, drag. Thump, thump, drag. And another set of footsteps – tap-tap-tap-tap. And a third – thump-tap. Thump-tap.
Thump, thump, drag.
Thump-tap. Thump-tap. Thump-tap.
I admit, it sent a shiver up my spine.
Clearly, events were deviating from the normal routine. I hopped out of bed and put my shoes back on just as my door creaked open.
Three old women stood in my cell.
Two leaned on canes. One was upright. All were a little hunched over. Their faces were weathered, even a bit twisted, but all five of their eyes gleamed clearly. (One was missing an eye. The others might have been missing a few teeth.) Dark cloaks wrapped around their bodies.
I stared at them. They stared at me.
“Hello?” My voice came out squeakier than I had intended. “Um, what are you doing here?”
The tiniest woman chuckled. “You don't know us, but we know you, Fenris-wolf.”
“It's Fenrir,” I automatically corrected them. “And almost everyone in the nine worlds knows who I am.”
“They know your name, maybe, but they don't know you,” the tallest one told me.
“We know your past,” said the middle one.
“Your present,” said the tall one.
“And your future,” added the third.
Now I knew who they were. “Norns. You're the Norns.” The three prophetesses, seers and vision-workers, sometimes appearing as beautiful maidens and sometimes as wise, wizened crones. Just my luck that they appeared to me as crones.
I'd never had them visit me before.
“Are you here to tell me my destiny?” I asked. “Because you're a little late for that. Everyone knows the destiny of the Children of Loki.”
“We are not here to tell you of things that may come to pass,” said the tiny one. “We are here to bring you a gift.”
“A gift, Fenrir-wolf,” echoed the other two.
“A gift?” I pointed to the bed. “I already have all the back issues of National Geographic that a guy could want, so...”
“Do not jest with us, Fenrir, son of Loki!” The tall one pointed a gnarled finger at me. I took a step back. Hey, you try facing down three creepy old ladies who can tell the future and only have five eyes between them at two in the morning. See if you do any better. “Your very life is at stake.”
“Odin All-Father means to kill you,” the middle-sized one said.
“What?” I mean, I knew he hated me and my brother and sister – my whole family, really, dad included – but kill me? “That's not going to happen. I haven't done anything. They control me completely, I'm not a threat or anything-”
“You are wrong, Lokison.” The short one laughed, a dry sound, like a spark making twigs catch flame. “You have been a threat since the day you were born.”
What do you think, dear Readers? Any advice for the yet-to-be-published author?