In a remote estate distant in the mountains something mysterious and bloody is going on, and it's all FOR THE MOTHER!
For the Mother by Mark T.B. Shields
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Astrid’s newly married grandparents had immigrated to America from a small Scandinavian village as teenagers a lifetime before she was conceived . In a similarly small California town, they opened an even smaller general store which grew just enough to support them and their one child; a girl named Synnove. The two of them worked very hard and when their only child grew up and married a fine young man from the city by the bay, they bought a small cabin in the nearby mountains on the lake. After a life of hard work and the birth of their first grandchild, they retired to the small cabin.
Thanks to her grandfather, Astrid had always loved Norse mythology. Growing up she had spent most of her summers with her grandparents by that quiet lake. Her grandfather took it upon himself to tell Astrid the many legends he brought with him from his childhood home. She loved him telling and retelling her fantastic tales as they sat by the bonfire each summer night. He told her tales such as “Sif and her Golden Hair”; “Sigurd and the Dragon”; and “Thor’s Fishing Trip”. He seemed to know them all and when he inevitably retold her a story some night months later , they were always nearly identically. He retold them as if he were relaying history; he retold them with passion;. he retold them like he believed them; and she remembered every word.
Of these stories her favorite was always “The Death of Baldur''. The tragic tale of how Odin's wife Frigga's favorite son Baldur was killed by his blind brother Hodur aided by her adopted son Loki. In the tale, a jealous Loki put the arrow in the hand of Hodur that killed Baldur the Beautiful. She always wept by the time it ended. Forever hoping that this time Baldur would survive.
After high school she applied and was accepted at Stanford where she chose her major, Actuarial Science, as a way to ensure future financial success. Although interesting to her, she wanted something a bit more light-hearted to break up the difficult class schedule. On a whim she decided to take an elective in the spring semester of her Junior year called “Early Scandinavian Folklore & Mythology” . This class soon became the highlight of her week. At first it was the fact that her knowledge of Scandinavian folklore rivaled that of her professor. She became a textbook example of a “Subject-Matter Expert” for the course and it made her very happy that the other students asked her for help often. She seemed always to be the first to answer questions in discussions and to have the last word when it mattered. Astrid loved the class as it was a way to always feel like she was close to her summer home and to help solidify a rather high GPA.
This unintentional mental domination of the other students went on for nearly half the semester when her world changed forever. A handsome young student started to audit the class and immediately put everyone’s knowledge in that hall to shame. He usurped her position at the top of the class by having the ability to fill in holes of every legend they studied no matter the obscurity of it.
The mysterious new student was not only well versed in Scandinavian Mythology, he was what one would call a perfect physical specimen. In his usual attire of t-shirts and cargo shorts one could see an insanely muscular body that was only highlighted by his long blonde flowing locks and sky-blue eyes.
To her girlish delight he introduced himself to her one day after class. It took her by her own estimation a good sixty seconds before she was able to respond. As he introduced himself as Baldur and looked into her eyes her first thought was “Yes, you are a god”.
When Astrid finally spoke all her timid voice could say was her name “Astrid”.
“Yes, you are divinely beautiful” he said and when he asked her to walk with him, she was literally helpless to say no.
That afternoon as they walked around the campus talking; she thought to herself that she was falling in love with a man she had just met. She didn’t know how this was possible, but she knew it was true. That night she lost her virginity to this God among men and less than a month later they were married. From that point on they were bound for life.
Astrid was glad to be finally meeting Baldur’s family. Although they had been married since late spring, this winter trip had been their first chance to come together. During the eight-hour drive from Stanford to his family homestead near Mt. Whitney, her excitement grew.
“Are we there yet?”
Not taking his eyes off the winding mountain road Baldur said “Astrid, we are officially five minutes closer than we were when you asked the same question five minutes ago.” Running her hand down his powerful arm she cooed, “I know, it’s just that I have never met your family and you have told me so little about them.”
“We’re just like most families. We fight, but love each other. Mom is overbearing; dad is solemn; and my brothers are out to kill me if I don’t watch out. You see, a normal family dynamic. We should be at the cabin soon.”
She glanced at the odometer and smiled knowing they were very close. She giggled “Only about five miles out.”
“Correct” was all he said as he turned up a driveway and drove under a stone arch emblazoned with their family's name; Borson. As they pulled around the last corner and the home came into view Astrid was stunned. He said they had money, but the home that sat before her was at least 20,000 square feet.
“How can your family afford this? You mentioned money, but this looks like money should not be a problem for your great-great-grandkids”
Baldur pulled into the eight-car garage and said "It won’t be. We are very financially secure." After he hopped out of the car he swung around and grabbed her door. "Welcome home." She smiled and followed him in.
As they entered the living room his parents sat sipping what appeared to be iced tea.
"Mother. Father. We’re finally here." His dad stood and helped his pregnant wife to her feet. "Are we the last to get here?"
"Yep, your brothers are downstairs preparing for later. This must be the wife."
"Mother, father meet Astrid. Astrid this is my father, Odin and my mother Frigga."
Astrid extended her hand. “Great to meet you. Baldur has told me so much about you.”
"Come now dear, we’re family now. Give your new mother a hug." Reaching out Frigga gave Astrid a hug and Odin followed suit. While still holding her Odin asked if she liked the house.
"How could I not? It is the most beautiful home I have ever seen." “Thank you. The family has been working on it for a while now. It was my fathers and his father before him. When I die, it will get passed on to the next generation. This place is what you would call the family home.”
Releasing the hug Astrid replied “Well, it’s truly breathtaking lovely, and it truly is great to meet Baldur’s parents.”
“Hush dear.” said Odin. “We are your parents as well now. Baldur, let’s go help your brother's downstairs. Leave the women here to get acquainted."
Pointing, “After you Father.”
As the two men left the room, Frigga grabbed Astrid ’s arm, "Come, child. Let’s get a drink,”
As they walked, Astrid asked if everyone in the family was named after a Nordic god.
"No, just the three of us. My other two sons are Larry and Christopher. Not as interesting as Baldur, but still good names. Now come sit. Drink some mead. We cracked open a barrel. I will warn you though, it will knock you on your bum." Astrid walked over and grabbed a mug off the coffee table. "What brand is this?"
"Borson, we make it ourselves."
"Obviously you guys make it yourself, you’re Nordic gods," Astrid took a drink and was amazed. "This is incredible."
"Thank you, now come sit, before you fall. We have so much to talk about." Astrid sat after taking another sip. Her face was already getting warm.
"Now Frigga or should I call you mother?"
"Call me mother that is what I am."
"Ok mother, I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t think you should be drinking.”
“And why is that?”
“Well, because of the baby. Research shows” Cutting her off and rubbing her own belly, Frigga said “I can assure you this child is perfectly fine. I drank with all of my children and you can see how they turned out”
“But nothing, our family all drank the mead and have given birth in this very home”
Astrid was sure she had heard her right. Europeans had not even gotten to California until the 1800's and as impressive as the home was, over 1000 years was a mistake spoken by a drunk old woman.
Frigga took another drink of her mead and let out a sharp quick cry. Chuckling she said “The baby wants to join the world soon. Either that or she wants more mead. “
“ You are an amazing woman. How is this possible at your age you even conceived? How old are you? I have so many questions? I am so sorry if I stepped on any toes.”
“Nonsense. No toes were stepped on. You are family now and as family you are free to know these things. This body is 84 years old and the child will be born tonight I would guess.” “But shouldn’t you go to a hospital. No offense, a woman your age having a baby is incredible, but complications make it far too dangerous to do here. Put down that drink and let me call an ambulance.”
Finishing another mug Frigga relays, “You will do no such thing child. All my sons were born at here. This body knows its job and it has never failed.” Standing to go get another drink Frigga continued “Baldur said he had found the perfect wife, strong and independent, and I have to agree. We are a powerful family and you are now a part of us”
Before Frigga could fill her mug, Odin came back into the room “It's time my dear. The food is on the table," and left the room as he had entered.
Frigga said “Splendid, just splendid” Holding out her old hands, “Now child, help an old pregnant woman to dinner. We have prepared a special meal for just this occasion.” Not knowing what to say, Astrid got up and helped Frigga down the stairs to the dining room.
The dining room was breathtaking. The logs were stacked side by side and on end perpendicular to all the other logs she had seen so far. On one wall was huge stone fireplace that held small trees burning at a temperature that would have made walking into the room unbearable were it not for a large opening in a sidewall. The opening looked out upon the mountains and the valley below and the view was breathtaking. The four chandeliers were made from the bones of dozens of animals with each arm holding candles large enough to burn for days. From the wax collected under the chandeliers Astrid guessed that 100’s if not 1000’s of candles had lit this room. A thirty-foot table was filled with an unbelievable variety of foods and the centerpiece of the table was a roasted goat sitting on a huge platter.
As the women entered the room the men all stood up and toasted them “For the Mother'' and downed their full mugs. Odin grabbed his wife and walked her to the head of the table taking a seat at her right hand. Baldur grabbed Astrid and did the same with her at the other end.
Frigga stood and said, “By the gods, let us feast” and sat back down.
Larry and Chris stood and served the feast. Larry drew a pitcher from a huge barrel sitting in the corner and walked around the table filling all their mugs. Chris carved the meat in the middle of the table in a manner that more resembled ripping than cutting. The two husbands went around the table collecting food for their wives.
When the plates were set in front of the women, Astrid thought a 300-pound lumberjack would have a problem putting a dent in this thing. She looked around for some utensils, but saw none save the large carving knife Chris had used to cut and rip the meat. Frigga on the other end of the table grabbed food off her pate and ate with complete loss of manners.
With a mouth full of food Frigga yelled across the table to Astrid “Eat and drink my dear. I promise you will not eat another feast like this for a long time.”
Astrid looked down at her plate and picked up a piece of cheese. She took a bite and was enthralled by what she tasted. Next, she grabbed a piece of the goat and again could not believe how good it was. She washed it down with the mead and stopped.
“What are these spices? I’ve never tasted anything like these?”
Taking only a short break from stuffing food into her face Frigga responded “They’re herbs from a time long forgotten. Now eat”
Astrid continued to eat. The meal was like no other she had ever had. All the foods were exceptional. As if reading her mind Larry walked over and topped her off her mug. Any gratitude she may have felt was lost in the moment she grabbed her mug. Mead, cheese, meat, mead, meat, vegetable, meat, mead, oblivion.
During the feast Astrid lost all conscious thought and in oblivion she passed out from far too much drink.
Even as Astrid’s body began to slowly return to her control, her mind was instantly aware of itself. Feeling both an extreme cold wind and unbelievable heat at the same time, she opened her eyes and tried to adjusted to the sight of a huge fire burning halfway between the low balcony she sat outside on and the mountain cliff over which a blizzard wind was blowing.
As she tried to stand, she found herself tied to her chair by a rough hemp rope. Her fear was instantaneous and all consuming. She screamed to be let up, but was ignored by four shadowy figures standing nearby.
While looking around for any way to free herself, she noticed that the four hooded figures were standing in front of Frigga, who was laying on her back tied to a wood table. Her mouth was uncovered so her screams could be heard if anyone was listening.
The wind brought the chants of the men “For the mother, for the mother” again and again.
This mantra punctuated by Frigga screamed “Get it out. By the gods now it is the time my children. Now get it out.”
One man walked between Frigga’s legs and another moved around to her head. From where she was laid Astrid could see it was Odin between her legs, but could not tell who went to her head. Astrid screamed “Untie me you assholes!” The men ignored all she said.
Odin raised his hand, and all went silent for a moment. He spoke in a voice more powerful that she imagined this old man could produce. “It is the midwinter solstice and the time for a new mother has arrived.”
The other three men resumed chanting “For the mother” and continued getting louder and louder as time went on.. Odin produced the large carving knife from under his clock. Passing it around, each son cut Frigga as the knife was passed to him. Frigga screamed with every cut. Stunned to silence, Astrid could only stare as this madness unfolded in front of her.
As the knife returned to Odin, he spoke again and the other three men went silent. “The midwinter solstice has come again and with a new mother chosen. Her old body shall be renewed as all that is old shall become new again. May this child be acceptable to our goddess Frigga. May many seasons pass in the new. May we find a splendor by her hands.”
The three sons each knelt and kissed their mothers weeping naked body. As they stood each repeated “For the mother”
Without warning Odin sliced Frigga open from her pelvis to just below the ribs opening her womb. Frigga screamed in pain. The son at her head took the knife still in her body and completed the cut from ribs to throat loudly breaking each one as he cut through it. Frigga was still crying out in pain as Odin took the daughter from her belly and the son took her heart from her chest.
Two of the sons picked up the dead woman and walked into the pyre with it. One moment they were there, the next all that was left were their screams of pain. Even if they had tried to escape the heat rendered that impossible.
Odin, carrying the child, walked to the edge of the cliff. Standing there he raised the child in his old shaking hand and began speaking in a strange language, “At the dawn of a new millennium we speak. Dette vintersolverv var en spå fra mange måner siden. En død skal få nytt liv og hva var gammel skal bli ny igjen. Brenne den gamle og nye skal stige. Aske til aske, blod til blod, For mor.” As he finished speaking to the night, he lowered the child and kissed it. With a smile on his face he said, “I love you Frigga, now and always”. Standing for just a moment more he stepped off the cliff with the infant into the oblivion. The wind coming over the cliff stopped as suddenly as it had begun.
Astrid could not see what had happened to Odin and the child from her vantage point. The sudden stillness did nothing to allay her fears and with a soft voice she began to plead with the cloaked figure standing next to the sacrificial table. Growing louder her pleas went unnoticed by the motionless man.
After many long moments everything changed. A wind so powerful that it suffocated the blazing pyre flames and brought about a night only lit by the full moon. It struck the cloaked man and knocked him back to Astrid ’s feet. He was still… motionless and Astrid was able to finally confirm what she already knew; her husband had killed Frigga. He had killed his own mother and he had left her tied to a chair to witness these horrors.
Screaming at him and begging for answers he finally broke his trance. Rising; with his mother’s heart still in his hand and the knife in the other; he turned and closed the distance between himself and his wife. Astrid was helpless to stop what came next. Baldur took the still warm heart and forced it into her mouth, cutting off her cries. With savagery she thought impossible from her sweet husband, he forced her mouth closed on the heart. Her teeth severed off a chunk of the heart and held it in her mouth. Her last rational thought was that, “That flavor. It’s Figgas blood”.
She greedily devoured it and pleaded for more from the man she loved. He cut her free and dropped the knife. She stood and took the once beating heart from his hand and said, “Jeg tar dette hjertet av min mor. Jeg lever av det. Jeg spiser det. Jeg skal bli det. Dette gjør jeg for mor.” before devouring it in ecstasy.
A short time later the husband leaned over and picked up his sleeping bride. Carrying her inside he took her to the new moon bed. As he stood watching her, she awoke with a smile on her face. Turning her head, she saw her husband and exclaimed “Odin my Odin. Oh, how I love The.”
Her Husband smiled back at her and said, “Frigga, you are so beautiful. I love you Frigga, now and always. For the mother.” The End
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