According to the powers that be (er, apparently according to Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network), May is Short Story Month. To celebrate, the Literary Hub staff will be recommending a single short story, free to read online, every (work) day of the month. Why not read along with us? Today, we recommend:
“Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” by Wells Tower
“Office Space with vikings,” is how I sell Wells Tower’s “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” to non-readers who ask me for reading recommendations. I think that’s actually a good hook for anyone, but there’s so much more happening in this story. Beyond the window dressing of a darkly funny pillage-and-plunder mission, there is a sneaky coming of age tale at work—not the first coming of age in life, but the second one, when your ratio of responsibilities:time is suddenly and irreversibly out of whack. Millennial parents beware: this one will hit home.
The story begins:
Just as we were all getting back into the mainland domestic groove, somebody started in with dragons and crop blights from across the North Sea. We all knew who it was. A turncoat Norwegian monk named Naddod had been big medicine on the dragon-and-blight circuit for the last decade or so, and was known to bring heavy ordnance for whoever could lay out some silver. Scuttlebutt had it that Naddod was operating out of a monastery on Lindisfarne, whose people we’d troubled on a pillage-and-consternation tour through Northumbria after Corn Harvesting Month last fall. Now bitter winds were screaming in from the west, searing the land and ripping the grass from the soil. Salmon were turning up spattered with sores, and grasshoppers clung to the wheat in rapacious buzzing bunches.