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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
A critically wounded Marine has an out of body experience in the wrong afterlife.

Submitted: March 04, 2015

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Submitted: March 04, 2015



Lance corporal Jonah Glassberg was serving his third and last tour of duty in Afghanistan. He had decided against making the military a career. He had saved as much money as possible for someone of his relatively low rank and was planning on attending the City University of New York on the G.I. Bill. At the moment, however, his plans seemed in jeopardy.

The war was winding down. Many allied troops had already been sent home, leaving a power vacuum that had emboldened the Taliban. They were attacking in broad daylight now, in numbers greater than ever before, and the Marine squad found itself under intense small arms and mortar fire.

"I'm hit! I'm hit!" the point man screamed. Without hesitation, Jonah dashed across 30 yards of open ground. He attempted first-aid but it was useless. Private Huerta had been killed in action. Then, he saw the platoon leader go down. Jonah again dashed across no man's land, exposed to heavy enemy fire. He was hit in the buttocks. It hurt like hell, but it didn't slow him down. Dragging the man to safety behind a low rock wall, Jonah returned withering fire on the enemy.

By then, the Taliban fighters were practically on top of the Marines. They were so close that Jonah tried to throw a grenade, but it slipped from his hand and landed by his feet. He rolled away, but it was too late. The explosion mangled his right leg. The pain was intense, and he saw himself losing blood at a frightful rate. Attempting self aid with one hand while firing his rifle with the other, Jonah slipped into unconsciousness.

The next thing he saw was the woman. She had piercing blue eyes that flashed of fire and ice. Her blond hair was blowing wildly in the winds of a gathering storm. She was dressed entirely in black. She had wings like an angel, black as her robes. She was wearing a horned helmet. She stood astride him, holding a great shield and a broadsword.

Something was definitely wrong. It wasn't supposed to happen this way, at least, that was not the way Jonah had been taught.

The woman was a Valkyrie, a Chooser of the Slain, a maiden of Norse mythology who plucked the bravest of the brave from among the fallen of the battlefield. Her job was to deliver the warrior to Valhalla, the Hall of the Heroic Dead, in Asgard, the home of the Viking god Oden.

She lifted him effortlessly as Jonah looked back at his body, motionless on the desolate rocks of Afghanistan. Then, he looked at himself. It had never occurred to him that souls leave the body stark naked.

She mounted her horse and yanked Jonah up behind her. He clasped his arms around her waist as she thundered into the clouds, surrounded by brilliant bursts of lightening. "There has to be some mistake." Jonah shouted to be heard over the roar the ferocious maelstrom. "I am just a Jewish boy from The Bronx. I really don't belong in this afterlife. Look, I'll tell you what. Why don't you drop me off somewhere, say, Brooklyn, and we can call it a day, okay?"

The valkyrie dumped him unceremoniously before the massive bronze doors of Valhalla. Viking shield maidens ushered him inside the vast hall to join his fellow einherjar, the select heroes, at a feast of thousands, actually tens of thousands. They led him to a rough bench before a long table and introduced him to his team leader. The man's forehead was branded with a skull and cross bones over a pair of lightning bolt runes, the insignia of the Waffen SS. 

"Oh, no!" Jonah exclaimed. "I'm not working with Nazis. You people had better get your heads screwed on straight."

"Easy, mate." said the man seated next to him, the man with a kangaroo branded on his forehead. "We're all the same here. The past doesn't matter. Besides you haven't any choice, so I recommend you not get angry over it. It won't change a thing."

"Tell me," Jonah inquired, "what exactly are we doing here?"

"We are preparing for Ragnarök, the battle at the end of time. We will fight alongside and against gods, and you are highly honored to be chosen for our group. We will be in the vanguard. We will be the first to engage the enemy at dawn. Facing into the rising sun, we will meet to slay and be slain by the hordes advancing from the east, the men with ice on their helmets."

"You're in elite company with us." the Aussie continued. "You find yourself alongside the defenders of Masada, the Alamo and Stalingrad. Here be legionnaires, both French and Roman. Here be Picts and Slaves, Celts and Turks, Mongols and Gurkhas, Boers and Zulus and Her Majesty's Own, Sikhs and Tamils and Bengalis, Incas and Conquistadors, Boxers and Maori. That man yonder is Lancelot of the Round Table. Oh, yes, he really exists. Arthur is here too, but he's seated up front with the kings and princes. If you'd like, I can introduce you to Geronimo, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Somewhere in this crowd, you'll find the mighty Ajax who fell attacking the gates of Troy, and Leonidas who led the Spartans at Thermopylae. The ones with crosses branded on their foreheads were Crusaders. The ones with the crescent of Islam fought with Saladin when he defeated Richard the Lionheart outside the walls of Jerusalem. The chrysanthemum brand is worn by many famous samurai."

Glancing at his reflection in a shiny cup, Jonah saw the brand on his own forehead. It was a Magen David, the Star of Israel. He closed his eyes and held his broadsword high over his head. He knew he would do his people proud come Götterdämmerung, the Twilight of the Gods.

The next thing he saw was the woman. She still had blue eyes and blond hair, but she was wearing sea-foam green hospital scrubs. She was taking his blood pressure. "Welcome back, Marine." she said in a cheery voice.

"I'm alive? How bad is it?" Jonah asked.

"The doctor will be in shortly to give you a report." she replied. "Until then, you just rest and gather your strength."

Jonah turned his head to the side. On the wall of the hospital ward were plaques showing the patches of about 100 military units. One, near the center of the display, caught his eye. It was a golden orb like the rising sun. Embossed upon it was the black silhouette of a woman on a horse with a shield and broadsword.

It's funny how waking up from anesthesia can play tricks on a guy's mind.

Copyright © 2015 W.C. Bell; All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2019 Whiskey Charlie. All rights reserved.

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