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Timeless by Rick Haynes

The innkeeper poured more ale. The man with the scarred face picked up the tankard, downed it in one go, burped and made his way up the creaking stairs to see if the local whore was available.

All but one of the thirsty customers took any notice. Dressed in woollen trews, a faded black jacket and heavily soiled leather boots he watched and waited. As the last of the customers were thrown out, he rose from his seat, tossed a silver coin to the innkeeper and climbed the stairs. Removing his sword and dagger from behind a wooden box took seconds and on reaching the door at the end of the corridor, he didn’t hesitate.

One kick and the door flew open. Three paces and his heavy blade lay across the throat of the scar-faced man. The whore stifled a scream and ran across the floorboards. Even slamming the door in her wake failed to awaken her customer. But drawing a little blood did.

“Where is she, Uffe?” Einar spat the words out leaving a trail of spit on the man’s face.

“Leave me alone. I need a drink. Where… Aaah!” With blood running freely from his broken nose Uffe now found breathing through his mouth easier.

“If you don’t give me satisfactory answers, I’ll cut off your balls wolf-man and leave you tied to a stake so your tame wolves can enjoy a good meal.”

Uffe nodded as he began wiping away the blood from his face. “Inger is safe but lost. You know I am special; you know the gods favour me. But you could never understand the massive energy flowing through my body a few days ago when Loki visited me in the guise of a beautiful woman, your Inger. She begged me to use my power and send her into the future. I told her no, it wasn’t possible. She pleaded and I agreed.”

“You agreed? If I didn’t need to know what happened, I’d gut you now, you pathetic gutless pig.”

Uffe inhaled deeply. “Listen, I haven’t the power to send anyone to the future and I knew it was pointless to argue with Inger. Einar, you of all people know how stubborn she can be and that’s why I agreed. How could I know Loki was involved?”

“Go on. I want the full story.” Einar was clenching his fists as he moved closer to Uffe.

“She, I mean, Loki, told me to say the words. ‘Take this woman to the 20th year.’ I spoke the words but was shaking so much I repeated myself and said the 20 - 20 year.”

“You think me so stupid?” With a nose so close to his own, Uffe didn’t move. “So show me the master of trickery. I don’t see him. I think you are lying to me, Uffe.”

A flash of lightning hit the wall nearby. Both men jumped and turned around. A figure dressed in black emerged from the burnt ground. He bowed, smiled and laughed loudly, pointing at the open mouths of Einar and Uffe.

“I am Loki, the trickster, the god of many faces. And naturally, the god of mischief. You called me and here I stand.”

Uffe ran forward. “Tell him, show Einar the beautiful picture of Inger.

Loki waved one arm in the air and a picture of Inger appeared. Her long brown hair was pulled back from her face to cascade over her shoulders. With flawless skin and generous lips, she looked like a goddess.

Seeing Inger dressed in clothes he had never seen before, Einar took his time, wondering what Loki had done. “Where is she?” He demanded.

Loki shrugged. “She now lives in the year 2020. Her clothes are made of silk and cotton, her hair longer and luxurious, but most importantly any disease in her body has been cured.”

Uffe tripped and fell as he ran forwards. From his sitting position, he shouted at Einar. “I couldn’t stand against a God, could I? He promised me all I could ever wish for, and in return, all I had to do was to send a beautiful girl into the future. And if I didn’t, I’d be joining my kin in the Underworld.”

“Cut! Cut!”

“That’s enough for today everyone. Well done. Go home, relax, and I’ll expect you back at 8.30 am tomorrow.”

Hanging from the bar holding the gantry lights, Loki tried hard to suppress his giggles when he saw the humans departing.

After the lights faded away, Loki leapt. He made a soft landing. A flick of his fingers and the set was swathed in bright lights once more. ‘What a terrible script. I’ve seen better acting when the fairies come asking Freya for fertility charms. And, with all their knowledge gathered over so many centuries these humans still don’t believe in the gods. How foolish they are.’

Loki rubbed his hands over his chin. ‘Now, what mischief can I conjure up? Changing their minds about the existence of the Norse gods would help. Or, I could shape-shift into a savage beast. Better still, I could show them what a real god looks like instead of the pathetic specimen they chose to play me. Yes, what an interesting thought; playing myself seems the best option. If only Freya could see me now?’

He grinned as he licked his lips with expectation. ‘Maybe tomorrow is going to be a fun day after all.’

A flash of light and a goddess swathed in pure white robes appeared. “I think I’d like to join in your mischief Loki. I can’t have a human woman looking as beautiful as I, can I?”

Loki bowed low to Freya, the goddess of sex and fertility. “My wonderful goddess of love and infidelity, what a pleasure to see you again.” His scornful laughter faded away as he disappeared in a wisp of smoke.

‘I’ll play Loki at his own spiteful game. Whilst he plays himself, I’ll take the place of the long-haired girl with generous lips. I can visualise his shocked face as I undermine his every word. And after all his malicious acts against me, the sweet taste of revenge will soon be mine.’

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