As I float through the dark ether, in space, in nothingness, I start descending into the blackness. Now I can smell my destination. It is cold and dark and musty. An instant feeling of dread and fear overtakes me.
Despite my wants, I awaken in my new reality. The dank, moist air and its smells have stayed with me. My bear shirt is drenched. There is a thick mist about us, not thick enough to be rain, but thick enough to form droplets on our faces and chill our lungs.
I am one of twelve hands, carrying a body on six shoulders.
He is our brother.
Everyone around us is mourning his death.
The elders of the tribe go before us, as the women sing songs for the dead. I’ve always loved their singing. Their voices carry me off to faraway places — make me forget where I am. Somehow, just somehow, it makes the women singing the songs look more beautiful too.
We stop at the entrance to our sacred burial ground, a cave in the side of our ancestral hill. There are some runes carved over the entrance, but I cannot recognize them. They are not from our tribe. For sure, they are not the runes that Odin the Allfather gave us:
The tribe’s elders sing the magic runes, and the slab of granite moves like a feather being pushed with one hand by our shaman. We walk more than one-hundred paces in between vertical walls in the cave. The walls are wet and rivulets of water are trickling down them. The elders are holding small burning sticks, and the shaman goes ahead of us all.
“Verdammt!” curses the man in front of me.
We are hunching down, with a body on our shoulders, crawling in a pitch black cave with water dripping on us. He must have twisted his ankle on the uneven ground.
We reach the center of the cave.
We can finally stand without hitting our heads on granite. The shaman holds out a protecting hand, in his old crackling voice he says, “Go no farther. The gods are here.”
In the middle of the cave, we see nothing. We stand in a circle, with our backs pressed against the wet walls. The shaman speaks again, “Take no further step, lest ye be taken up with the gods!” We still see nothing. The small burning sticks that the elders hold are useless in this black pit of doom.
“Stand back!” screeches the old shaman. A blue light now plays at our feet, and spreads itself, dancing and flickering around the perimeter that our feet define.
“Don’t move!” he screeches again. Then, in the middle of the cave, the impossible happened: the blackness got darker. I could feel the air move towards the center of the cave. I could feel an invisible hand pulling me towards the center and downwards.
“Now!” came the shaman’s final order.
We hurled our brother towards the center of the darkness. We did not hear anything, except the wind building up to a deafening, sucking sound. I tried to grab the wet granite walls, holy god of thunder, do not pull me in!
— I am not the dead one! — I was not called!
The wind burns my face and whips my hair in my eyes. I can’t hear a damned thing…and then… it finally dies down.
The elders say the last rites of our tribe, “Odin vera með þér bróður.”
I say to myself; ‘can we finally leave this Hel hole!?’
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