Taylor Brown
Black River

Taylor Brown - Black River

Taylor Brown’s short fiction has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The New Guard, CutBank, The Coachella Review,… Read more »
Richard Spilman
Church Camp

Richard Spilman - Church Camp

Richard Spilman is the author of two books of short fiction: Hot Fudge and The Estate Sale. He lives in… Read more »
Gabrielle Hovendon
From the Airplane, From the Water Tower

Gabrielle Hovendon - From the Airplane, From the Water Tower

Gabrielle Hovendon is an MFA student at Bowling Green State University, where she teaches creative writing and composition. Her fiction… Read more »
Dorene O’Brien
The Final Viking Voyage

Dorene O’Brien - The Final Viking Voyage

Dorene O’Brien is a fiction writer from Detroit. She has won the Red Rock Review Mark Twain Award for Short… Read more »
Rosanna Staffa
The Ghost of Chendu

Rosanna Staffa - The Ghost of Chendu

Rosanna Staffa is an Italian writer living in Minneapolis. She recently received her MFA in Fiction from Spalding University. Her… Read more »
Katie Cortese
Wakulla Springs

Katie Cortese - Wakulla Springs

Katie Cortese holds an MFA from Arizona State University and a PhD from Florida State. Her work has recently appeared… Read more »

The Final Viking Voyage

Dorene O’Brien

The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ship to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying:
Valhalla, I am coming!

—Led Zeppelin, “The Immigrant Song”

Our friends set sail when the glaciers in the fjords cracked and echoed like cannons firing through the valley, when the ice relinquished its frigid hold on the North Sea, when, in short, Sweyn the Dreadful demanded they go. Fifty Vikings heaved their longship into the frothing waves whereupon they put hand to oar and rowed with a passion typically reserved for seduction or marauding. Why were our heroes so fiercely bent? The trees had been burned up in the iron smelts, the grass eaten to the root by sheep, the crop soil stripped of its catch and hold. Leif Erickson (may his glory be safe!) had misnamed Greenland as its eager settlers learned when they landed on its rocky shores and swarmed over its raw terrain in search of anything green. Iceland was closed to settlement, the sod houses of the Kveldulf, Gufa and Svavarsson clans and their filthy Pictish servants dotting the landscape from shore to… Read more »