Hearts of Tomorrow
Ed. Nancy Schumacher
Publisher & Category:
Midnight Showcase Fiction (Melange Books)
Gerhard is taken to Valhalla by Elin, a Valkyrie, after his death. Unaccepting of his fate, he leads his soldiers to the Ifing, the river border between Asgard and Jotunheimr, home of the giants. If they cross the Ifing they will fight their way back home to Midgard – but will their Valkyries let them go?
SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Gerhard Schmidt, thin of body and with a ghostly white face crowned by short dark hair, stared at the savage figure leaning across the wooden table. The huge warrior wore a dark red long sleeve tunic and a thick leather strap that ran from one shoulder to his hip from which was suspended a sword in a scabbard. From behind the massive shoulders, the sharp blade of a single headed battle-axe glimmered in torch light. A score of huge warriors in padded jerkins, chain mail coats or animal skins, boisterously and eagerly crowded around him. The smell of sweat, burning wood, and roasting meat filled the air.
The bright-eyed warrior with a broad wind burned face marked on the left by a scar from forehead to chin, framed by long blonde hair and a huge drooping mustache, grinned broadly. He shoved a large tankard of sparkling mead forward. “Tomorrow, my friend, tomorrow! Battle! Until then, eat and drink!”
Gerhard didn’t answer, but with wide-eyed shock slowly surveyed his surroundings. He was in a smoky stone hall so vast that the line of torches faded into distant shadows. An endless row of embossed wooden shields decorated with ravens, eagles, wolves, and dragons was the only decoration on the stone walls. He looked up and in the gloom above, saw that the rafters were giant spears with broad heads, and the roof was made of overlapping round shields.
Filling the hall were long wooden tables and benches around which were clustered armored, cloaked warriors of a bygone age. Lithe, shapely young women with long hair hurried between the tables with pitchers and platters overflowing with food. The women shouted and laughed and danced away as the burly warriors grabbed at their buttocks or tried to pinch their large breasts. Sometimes the women let themselves be pulled close so that the warriors could feel them with abandon, nuzzle their throats, or bury their heads between full breasts.
Gerhard examined himself; he still wore his tan/brown/black forest camouflage smock over his field blouse above his stone-gray wool trousers that were tucked into his well-worn marching boots. His MP-43 Maschinenpistole with its curved 30 round magazine rested across his chest. He reached up and removed his sweat and grease stained Einheitsfeldmutz, or officer’s field cap…