Al Bruno III
It was morning in River City, one of the coldest on record but George Gordon was sweating his behind off. He was an asthmatic but even with his puffer handy he felt like he was suffocating. He couldn't breathe, he could barely move, his muscles ached from the simple act of steading himself. A horde of people pressed in on all sides and jostled for position. No one made eye contact, everyone just kept their attention fixated on the front doors of the Wal-Mart and the Black Friday bargains contained within.
It was almost time. George ran the shopping list through his head again-he had to find a certain toy, a particular laptop and a dozen or so other nicknacks. None of it was for him however, he had volunteered for this mission; volunteered because his supervisor Rex Alvin Peele had hinted it would be beneficial to George's career goals.
A ripple of movement went through the crowd. The front doors were opening. The Wal-Mart staff tried to control the flow of shoppers passing inside but there was no stemming this tide of consumerism. In the end they could only stand back and hope to God they didn’t loose any greeters this year.
George stayed on his feet and kept pace with the surge of humanity. He wondered briefly if his alter ego might be better suited to this kind of mayhem but he decided against it almost immediately. He wasn’t about to trust his debit card and pin number to a Viking avenger. Super hero or not.
A snarl startled George from his thoughts.
No not one snarl, dozens of them.
Up ahead the crowd was changing, growing taller, and greener. Their eyes became black and their mouths slavered. George Gordon knew what they were turning into.
Trolls! Actual trolls, not the internet kind.
George risked standing on his tip toes and saw the doorway to the Wal-Mart glowing. “Wait!” he shouted, “Turn back!”
But there was no stopping the eager shoppers and when he tried to stop himself from being pushed forward he only succeeded in getting knocked to the ground.
And now he was being trampled and tripped over. No one was stopping to help him.
There was only one thing to do. He pressed his fists to the sides of his head with the pointer fingers raised and shouted, “I summon... HROTHGAR!”
Suddenly the meek mannered DMV employee was gone, in his place was a blonde-haired burly man wearing a horned metal helmet and wielding a great sword. He was Hrothgar the Last Warrior of Valhalla!
And someone was standing on his pelvis.
With a mighty cry Hrothgar rose up to his full six feet in height sending coupon clutching potential shoppers flying in every direction. It took only moments for his steely eyed gaze to lock onto the strangely glowing doorway. He knew the sight of dark Asgardian magic when he saw it. Hrothgar's whipcord muscles tensed in anticipation.
He ran at the entrance to the store, crashing through the crowd until he was directly beneath the sickly green glow. Cursed runes had been carved into the metal of the doorframe. Any ordinary mortal passing beneath them would be transformed into a troll but Hrothgar was no ordinary mortal. The helmet he wore had been forged by the dwarven masters and would protect the Last Warrior of Valhalla from any and all enchantments.
With a single blow from his mighty blade he shattered the metal and glass of the doorway. He howled with victory only to realize that the trollish figures were not reverting back to human form. Instead they were turning to attack him, their clawed hands grasping.
Honor demanded that Hrothgar not harm the ensorceled humans so he scrambled atop one of the cash registers and leapt into the housewares department. Unlike his allies the Local Heroes he was no scientist, detective or well meaning chiropractor; he was merely a warrior but he knew only one person could be responsible for magic like this.
Hrothgar found his quarry in the pet department, a tall wolf-headed man dressed in a three piece suit. He was gloating and snacking on Snausages. “Well met old friend.”
It was Fenrir, Son of Loki. The newly made trolls were howling and making their way closer. Hrothgar’s battle-trained senses told him that as soon as they were done ransacking the ladies underwear department they would be on him.
He pointed his blade at Fenrir, “Let them go. Let all of them go or suffer my wrath.”
Fenrir laughed mockingly and drew a blade of his own, “Your wrath means nothing to me, coward of Valhalla!”
Honor demanded that Hrothgar avenge this insult. He roared and swung his blade in a wide arc. Fenrir raised his sword to parry the blow and it shattered liked so much glass.
“Er,” the wolf-headed man said, “um.”
And before Hrothgar could strike again Fenrir disappeared in a cloud of cold fire and humiliation.
With the Son of Loki, defeated the spell was broken and the shoppers were returning to normal. The experience had left them unmarked save for torn clothes and confused memories. Hrothgar spied an elderly man in a blue vest trying to stand, he strode over and offered his arm.
When the man shrunk away Hrothgar said, “Steady on old wolf. The battle is over and we are victorious.”
The greeter struggled to his feet and said, “You- you saved us all didn’t you? You’re a hero!”
“Aye, but I need no thanks. Glory is its own reward...” Hrothgar paused to read the man’s name tag, “...Phillip.”
“I still want to thank you. I know this isn’t much...” Phillip reached into his pocket and placed a smiley sticker on the Viking's helmet.
The Last Hero of Valhalla responded to this the way honor demanded. Thankfully the greeter survived his injuries but Hrothgar was never allowed into that Wal Mart again.