top of page


WARNING: Contains Disturbing Imagery and Language. Discretion is advised.

art by Kim Holm (@denungeherrholm)

“He’s late,” grunted the man on the left-hand side of the bench. He ran his tongue along the inside of his bottom lip to dislodge a wad of chew stuck on his bottom teeth. 


“He’ll be here,” said his companion calmly. The man twisted the wrist strap of his white cane around his fingers. “Just give it time.”


“Please. We’ve been here for nearly an hour. How do you know the old bastard isn’t passed out in a gutter or shooting up in some crack den?”


“Have you forgotten what it is I can do, and what I have done, for the past millennia?” The man looked to his friend and lowered his dark glasses. His piercing blue eyes shimmered like a swarm of fireflies as he raised an eyebrow. The man with the reddish-grey beard scoffed and folded his arms. 


“Yeah, yeah,” he said, “‘Watcher of the Nine Realms’. I get it. But for fuck’s sake, Heimdall. It’s every goddamned year for nearly two thousand years at this point. He hasn’t been right once and he’s getting worse with every year.”

“He only has to be right once,” Heimdall said calmly. 


“So he gets to torture us with ten thousand false alarms? Being the old shithead that cried Armageddon?” The red bearded man shifted uncomfortably. “Every year he makes us get ready for war and every year he’s wrong. Doesn’t care what kind of a toll that takes on us.” Heimdall leaned forward, his eyebrows raised and together.


“What kind of a toll is it taking, Thor?” Thor shifted again and folded his arms tighter around his broad chest.


“It’s…it wasn’t that bad…until…you know…’65.”


“Ah,” Heimdall leaned back, “Vietnam.”


“Yeah,” Thor said quietly. “I can kill thousands of giants, trolls and ogres with no issue. But…kids. They were just kids. I…” His voice choked up as his dark eyes welled.


“I understand,” Heimdall said. “I saw it too. Every single one.” The two sat in silence on the bench. The park around them was an expanse of white snow and a gentle flurry of snowflakes was just starting to fall. They watched people dressed like eskimos walk past with their heads bowed against the cold. The longest winter on record, the news reports said. That’s what they had said for the past four years; each winter getting colder and longer. Seven months this year. Seven months since the first snowfall and not a single day above 25 degrees, most hovering at or below zero. A few blocks away, a garbage truck rumbled by like a tank in the slush. The noise made Thor flinch.


“Just a truck,” Heimdall said.


“Fucking hate those things. Put my teeth on edge. Can barely —,” a raucous yelling to their right cut him off. The two looked over and Thor nearly jumped to his feet.


A man dressed in a closet’s worth of dirty and torn clothes was stumbling to them. He pushed a rusty metal shopping cart filled with an assortment of blankets, cardboard boxes, plastic bags of aluminum cans, and other items that looked like they belonged on the garbage truck. Everything was wet and a dusting of snowflakes clung to the top most surfaces like powdered sugar. The old man had a long beard whose filthiness was only outdone by the grime and dirt of his face. The three or so beanies on his head were pulled down to his eyebrows. One eye was bloodshot and sunken. The other eye socket was just a mass of dirty, lumpy scar tissue. As he yelled again, Thor and Heimdall could see the last of his yellow and grey teeth. 


“Dear god…” Heimdall said with a groan. The old man with the cart got closer. His yelling was a mix of tone-deaf singing broken up by outbursts of intense yelling at someone who isn’t there. Thor and Heimdall watched as the old man just walked on by. One of the wheels of the cart got stuck and made the cart swerve slightly. The old man stopped and kicked the wheel a few times, then stood straight as if realizing something. Thor started to put a hand up to hail the man but Heimdall stopped him. “No. Give it a…” the old man looked over with a dark narrowed eye.


“The fuck’s wrong with you?” his words slurred together. “You sayin’ summit to me?” He staggered over to them, leaving his cart behind. He got about a foot in front of them and they could see all the thick scars, deep wrinkles, and scabs covered in layers of dirt. 


“Jesus…” Thor said, but the old man burst out laughing.


“Jesus? That fucking mamma’s boy virgin? What are you calling on him for? I got way more pussy than he ever could, and I didn’t have to fucking die to get my belief. He —.”


“All-Father,” Heimdall said calmly. The old man stopped and looked at him. “We’re here. Now what?”


“Well no shit you’re here,” the old man scoffed. “I’m here. We’re all here. What’s your point, you blind fucking bastard?” Thor rose quickly to his feet. Already a foot taller than most people, he stood a good two feet taller than the hunched homeless man. The old man just sneered up at him. “What you gonna do, ginger? Beat up a whittle owd man?” He put on a mock baby voice. “What you gwonna dwo abowt it?” Thor took a deep breath and looked at Heimdall.


“I knew it. Another false alarm. If you need me, don't.” He turned to leave when the old man’s voice came cool and calm.


“If you didn’t believe in me, why did you bring the hammer?” As Thor turned around, a roll of thunder sounded from above. The old man’s eye was clear and filled with life and his face was calm and collected. Thor took several steps and loomed over the man again. Cracks of thunder sounded again as if in sync with Thor’s footsteps. 


“Thor…” Heimdall said as he looked to the cloudy sky.


“What?” Thor said, still glaring at the old man. 


“I don’t think…” Heimdall began and was cut off by a large bolt of lightning hitting a nearby tree. The tree was a momentary shadow in an orb of bright white then burst into flames. People nearby screamed and fled. The three men stayed put and Heimdall rose and stood behind the old man - who began whooping and cheering.


“What did I tell you, boys,” he said with raucous joy, “Our time has come!” He grabbed Heimdall’s cane and for a moment he looked blurred, as if out of focus through a rainy window, and in another instant, the old man was straight backed, clean, and clad in steel and leather armor from several centuries ago. His beard was long, grey, and his single eye flashed like fire as he raised the golden tipped spear out of Heimdall’s grip. Two ravens, like black ghosts of smoke, appeared out of thin air and landed on Odin’s shoulders. 


A flash of lightning hit Thor and he no longer was in his coat and thick sweatpants. His broad, heavily tattooed torso was bare. His enormous belly sagged over the thick leather and iron belt that held up his deerskin leather pants. In his right hand was a thick iron, two headed warhammer - the handle only long enough for one of his gloves hands to hold it. 


Heimdall stepped forward, now in a suit of leather and bronze like the All-Father’s and hefted a long broad sword. The clouds above them darkened and swirled like a raging sea. The noon-day dimmed and soon it was almost as dark as midnight. Suddenly, the earth shook. Cracks split through the city, swallowing up cars and buildings as they became wide chasms. Emergency alarms blasted all around and everyone ran for cover. The park split with another violent earthquake and became a canyon a quarter-mile wide with dirt and snow cascading into its depths. The stench of shit filled the cold air from the burst sewer lines. 


Another earthquake brought a dozen more skyscrapers crashing down like houses of cards into clouds of debris and smoke. The three gods braced as they watched an impossibly large, dragon-headed ship rise out of the canyon that had been Grand Central Park. It crashed into the earth like it was sailing into ocean waters. Hundreds upon hundreds of men, women, and children leapt from the ship’s deck. They were grisly pale, all half rotten but entirely dead. Wielding weapons from every age of man, the souls of the damned and cursed dead raced out and attacked all the living people still running and screaming through the desolation of New York City. 


The last to disembark from the giant ship was a tall, thin man. Not decayed like the others, he was whole from his lumpy scarred head to his leather boots. His reddish blonde hair curled around his ears and his lips curled around his teeth in a sneering grin. His eyes were sharp and filled with a joyous rage as he turned to face the gods. He hurled a silver and black dagger at each of them. One of Odin’s ghostly ravens swopped and caught the dagger aiming for the All-Father’s eye. Thor deflected the dagger intended for him with his hammer and the knife sunk like a bullet into the pavement. Heimdall swung his broadsword just in time and split the dagger in two. Its handle veered off to the side while the blade sunk into his left shoulder. He grunted as he yanked out the metal and tossed it aside. The man from the ship laughed as he got closer and pulled out another pair of knives.


“What. A. Shame,” the man cackled. “Asgard’s finest, all alone. Where’s your army, All-Father? Tyr? Kvasir? Sif? Freyr?” None of the three replied as the man sneered. What. A. Shame.” he repeated. Another earthquake, the most powerful yet, shook and Loki cheered. “My children are free, All-Father! And stronger than ever!”


As another earthquake shook with violent force, those on the shores and beaches saw the water recede. A mile of seabed became exposed and what sea life that didn’t get yanked away by the rapidly retracting waves lay flopping and dying in the mud. Those with the presence of mind of what usually comes next ran. They ran even though common sense told them they were already dead. But the water’s didn’t return in the expected tsunami. No, what came looming from the horizon, growing bigger and taller, was the head, then neck and coils of Jormungandr - The World Serpent.


Bigger than any mortal could comprehend, Jormungandr slithered into the shores of New York. He crashed through the docks, boardwalks, shacks, and city as easily as a child tramping through toy blocks. Venom oozed from his open, hungry mouth and the acid dissolved all it landed on. But The World Serpent gave no thought to any of them - the first casualties of a war that was just beginning. His eyes like twin burning suns glowed under his ocean muck encrusted brow as he searched for his quarry and its short-handled hammer.


From the west came another child of Loki. One of the earthquakes opened up a canyon across the west that swallowed the Rocky Mountains as if it were crumbling sand, and Fenris Wolf crawled out. Almost as impossibly massive as his older brother, the Great Wolf howled to the churning, snowing sky. The world went silent to anything within 200 miles of Fenrir as his howl shattered the senses of all. The wolf leveled forests and cities alike as he ran to the meeting place. In between snarls and barks of anticipation and hunger, one word escaped his curled lips. “Odin.”


Loki whooped and howled as his children approached. Crazed with the manic joy of chaos, his shrieks sounded like the bleating of a goat at slaughter. 


The World Serpent’s silhouette was a mile high as it approached. Thor glared up into the serpent’s eyes, knowing its pupils were staring into his. Centuries of fear, a millennia of planning and waiting for this moment. He tightened his grip on Mjolnir and the leather of his gauntlets of power creaked. Thunder cracked and a flash of lightning lit the sky as half a dozen bolts struck Jormungandr. The monster roared. Its face was thrust into clear, bright contrast and even so far down, the gods could see every crack, weed, and algae that covered his scales and teeth. 


“You can’t defeat us,” roared Loki over the thunder. “Your little static bolts do nothing, Thor.” Deaf to the mad god’s taunts, Thor tensed, then thrust himself into the air in a swirling storm of wind and lightning - headed to battle. Loki cackled even more and flung his pair of knives at Odin and Heimdall. As the two deflected and dodged, Loki sneered. “Weak! Cowardly! Abandoned by your people, your worship, and your minds!”


“It seems to us, Loki,” Odin growled. “It is your mind that has abandoned you.”


“It is not me you should worry about, you old fuck,” Loki said, pointing to the sky behind the gods. They turned slightly and looked up.


The wolf’s giant paws crashed through the city and its topaz eyes stared down at the All-Father. As lightning flashed in the sky from Thor’s battle, the wolf’s teeth - longer than a grown man was tall, glinted.


“All-Father,” growled Fenrir. “All-Father!”


To the left of the gods, the rusty, junk-filled shopping cart began to shake and buck. The earthquakes had sent the cart skidding in the slush and crashing into the snow. In one final buck like a stallion, the cart was no more and instead it was Sleipnir. The eight-legged horse reared up in another flash of lightning. Odin held up his spear and the massive horse galloped to him. It was like the ghost of a horse, slightly transparent like a frost covered window. The horse was twice Odin’s height, but the one-eyed god mounted his steed as easily as anything. The two shadowy ravens flew up and circled above as Odin took the reins of Sleipnir and urged the horse into a charge. 


Loki bared his teeth in a growl as he watched his first child that he’d mothered so long ago, sided with the All-Father against him. In a rage, Loki hurled a short bladed knife at the beast and grinned as the blade sank to the hilt into the horse’s flank. Sleipnir reared up and let out an echoing cry of pain, then charged forward and up into the air. It galloped on the air like it was climbing a mountain and Odin let out a battle cry as he rode to meet his adversary. 


Loki wasted no time watching the battles above. He lunged with a cry of his own at Heimdall. The Watcher of the Nine Realms raised his sword and tensed. Loki took the sword, a small scimitar like one, from his belt and the two blades clashed. “How does it feel, Heimdall? To know you will lose. That you were always destined to lose.” The two swung at each other - not to bring killing blows, but aiming to wound. Loki danced around like a spider while Heimdall carefully calculated his moves. 


“Poor, poor, lonely Heimdall. Able to see all things, but blind to the destiny before you.” Loki swung haphazardly and Heimdall took advantage. His sword skidded off the edge of Loki’s and fileted Loki’s skin off his forearm. Loki yelled and staggered backward, almost dropping his sword and clutching at his bleeding arm.


High above them, Thor was dodging the snaps of Jormungandr’s jaws as the serpent lunged at the flying god. Bolts of lightning struck the snake, chipping away at the concrete hard scales. As the monster’s flesh got exposed, Thor directed stronger bolts at them and the monster roared each time. His anger was redoubled with each strike. In a mad dash to strike a blow to the serpent’s temple, Thor rode a tornado at the thrashing beast. Jormungandr saw and twisted just in time and one of his fangs sliced across Thor’s right shoulder. A deafening crack of thunder sounded as Thor cried out and plummeted to the ground. 


Fenrir’s breath was hot and clouded the winter air around him. Odin and his ravens darted through the clouds of steam to get close to the wolf. Gungnir, Odin’s spear, struck true and pierced the creature’s hide. But the flesh of a giant is thick, so the hits were shallow. Still, the wolf howled whenever the spearhead hit the tender, bruised flesh where Gleipnir had bound him. After one long howl, his entire head was obscured by the steam and Odin took his shot. Sleipnir whinnied. Odin lowered his spear and the two sped into the cloud. 


The wolf’s agonizing howl made Loki and Heimdall pause. Loki roared, “Motherfucker!” and swung hastily in anger. His arm stung, and bled, but his swing struck true. The sword landed heavily into Heimdall’s left bicep. The god’s arm fell to the ground and he fell to his knees. Blood pooled around Heimdall and pain filled his sight with white fog. Loki sneered and dropped his own sword, pulled out a short black dagger, and stalked towards him.


Thor’s collision into the ground leveled the area around him like a meteor crash. Most of the city around him had been swept away and destroyed by Jormungandr’s thrashing, but the rest fell to the shock wave of the god’s landing. Thor got to his feet, bruised and in blinding pain. He was tough to wound, and tougher to kill, but he gritted his teeth against the pain of what felt like several broken bones. Jormungandr grinned and venom dripped to the desolated earth and let out a throaty hiss. Thor tightened Megingjord, his belt of strength, and cinched the straps of his gauntlets tighter, and gripped Mjolnir. The World Serpent smiled. Thor gathered all his rage, all the sorrow for his lost sons and wife, and the anger and fear that woke him in a cold sweat every night. Two thousand years of memories and emotion filled him as he roared one last battle cry and launched into the sky. The World Serpent lunged down, his jaws open wide.


Gungnir was stuck in Fenrir’s eye. The bleeding flesh swelled around the shaft of the spear, making it impossible for Odin to pry it out. Instead, he broke the shaft, fashioned from Yggdrasil itself by the long passed dwarves, and smiled. Years, centuries, of nightmares and visions of his battle had haunted him and drove him half-mad. But seeing the broken splinters now, he knew the outcome. He reared Sleipnir back as the mist from Fenris Wolf’s howls dissipated. The beast’s massive, single topaz eye glared into Odin’s grey one. Both god and giant roared as Odin raised his broken spear and Fenrir opened his mouth. Timing was everything. Just as the wolf’s jaws engulfed the All-Father, and its teeth snapped shut, Odin hurled the spear with all his might down the beast’s throat. In the last second before the darkness overtook it, the wings of two ghostly ravens could be seen propelling the spear onward and down.


“How does it feel?” Loki said as he stood over the bleeding Heimdall. “To lose?” His scarred lips were no longer smiling, but curled with anger.


“Dying,” Heimdall panted, “does not mean I’ve lost.” Heimdall summoned all his strength as Loki drew back the dagger. “Losing,” Heimdall said as both gods swung a final time. Heimdall’s sword sunk deep into Loki’s side as Loki’s knife pierced Heimdall’s heart. In his last breath, as Loki’s green eyes faded, Heimdall finished, “Losing means I gave up fighting.”


Mjolnir burst out of the back of Jormungandr’s head in a geyser of blood, bone, and brains. The World Serpent’s jaws clamped down on Thor as toxic blood and venom covered the god and ate through him. The giant serpent crashed to the ground and neither moved again.


Fenrir thought he’d won when his jaws closed and he felt the All-Father and horse’s bodies crunch. But his triumph lasted only a heartbeat’s worth. His final heartbeat. The raven guided the spear shaft true and the splintered end pierced through to the wolf’s heart. His final howl of pain died in his throat as the wolf fell to crumple on the ground beside his brother.


The sky was dark, the world echoed with silence and all lay dead. As the last of the final snowfall of the world fell, the sky lit with the fires of a thousand suns. The giant sword of Surtr, the ruler of Muspelheim, pierced into the earth. The flames of Muspel engulfed the world. In a final clash of fire and ice like that which began the world, the Twilight of the Gods ended.

Text Copyright © Maximillion Almgren-Bersie 2023

bottom of page