Horror flash fiction

"Skalden Ord"

By C.R. Langille
Mar 8, 2019 · 480 words · 2 minutes

Head explosion

Photo by Bash Fish via Unsplash.

From the author: Words have power for those who know how to use them properly. See what happens when a classic tale comes to life.

If I told you that a pastor, a mute, and a grad student were locked in a hostel in Scandinavia, it would sound like the beginning of a bad joke. I’d take a bad joke over the truth. Hell, I’d take a nightmare even. You can wake up from nightmares. The spots of blood that stained my shirt was real.

            It wasn’t my blood. It was from the pastor’s wife. Sally, or Sarah or something. I couldn’t remember and I wasn’t about to ask the pastor. Besides, it was the skald’s death that was the important part. The poet choked on a piece of ham while he was telling us a story. That simple twist of fate looked as if it would be the death of all of us.

            Something…no, it, slammed into the front door and motes of dust fell from the rafters. The mute stared at me with an expression full of fear.

            She ran to the door and braced it with her body just before the thing slammed into it again. I nodded to the pastor and we pushed a large china cabinet over to the doorway. Whatever tried to breakthrough continued to pound on the heavy wooden door, but for the moment at least, it held.

            “Won’t take long,” the pastor said.

            The first words he uttered since his wife died, and they were less than inspiring. I paced around the common room. What occurred outside went beyond the realm of science. I couldn’t figure it out. None of my college courses had prepared me for this scenario.

            “What if we try the back again?” I asked.

            The mute shot me a cold look that said, don’t even dream about it. She was right. The last attempt didn’t work out well. My gaze flickered to the pastor’s dead wife—what was left of her anyway.

            “What then?” I asked.

            “We need to finish the story. His story,” the pastor said. He pointed to the table where the skald lay slumped over a plate of cold food.

            Perhaps finishing the story would end it. As if in answer, the thing hit the door again. The sharp crack of wood echoed through the hostel and the cabinet crashed to the ground.

            “Do you know the story?” I asked.

            “Beowulf, but I don’t know it well enough to finish it.”

            I deflated. I had skipped that literature class. The mute tugged at my shirt. She looked up at me with big eyes that told me everything. I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony.

            “You know the story?”

            She nodded.


            The door blew to pieces. The room grew quiet as I held my breath. Something coughed out a phlegm-filled chuckle.

I read the mute’s lips as she mouthed a single word. Grendel.

C.R. Langille

C.R. Langille writes dark urban fantasy and horror.