Old Tom's Cabin

Old Tom's Cabin

A Story by R.Guy Behringer

     Ivar fell to the floor knocking over a pitcher of ale and upsetting the crock of mutton. The young viking growled through his teeth and a leg bone he was clamped down on as Old Tom’s one eyed dog tugged on it from the other end. Ivar, now on his hands and knees, whipped his head side to side giving his hairy opponent quite a fight. The old fat man sat on the opposite side of the rough timber table laughing uproariously. He stroked his long red beard and shouted encouragingly at his mutt. Ivar finally relented and the half blind dog ran to his own corner in the humble hut to enjoy the spoils of his victory. Ivar righted the overturned bench and resumed merry-making with his host.

“Ivar!” the old man shouted, getting the young man’s attention.

“Ivar, you will do great and terrible things.” he continued

“I have already done great and terrible things.” he said, not in a drunken stupor but with the smile of an unburdened heart.

Ivar refilled their tankards with ale and pulled another joint of meat from the crock. The two men toasted.


The young man studied his elderly host in a moment of silence and then said

“Why do you say this to me, old man?”

The portly bearded man put his tankard down on the table and looked into the viking’s eyes and said

“Son, I know you before.” the old man pointed behind himself.

“I know you now.” he pointed at the long haired warrior.

“ And I know you then.” he pointed past Ivar.

Old Tom took up his ale again and emptied it in a single gulp. He then dropped the dried vessel on to the table and gave the young viking a look that froze his Nordic blood.

“And because, young Ivar “Son of Ragnar”, I "AM" GREAT and TERRIBLE!” he said and then let go a belch that blew the window shutters open.


Ivar found himself on his a*s with his back against the small hearthstone and still holding his tankard. After shaking the shock wave off he looked up into the old fat man’s eyes, and for a moment he held his gaze. The room erupted in roaring laughter and the ale poured throughout the night.

    Ivar awoke on the back of his horse on a bright sunny morning. His heart was light, his mood was good and he felt better than he could ever remember. He knew he was leaving the old man’s lands now. Ivar spotted the mound of rocks marking the boundary. His mood soon changed though as he traveled further away.

Ten years later, in the Kingdom of Mercia. The Great Heathen army rolled over the Saxon army in the Battle of Repton.

    He walked through the field of gore. His arms hung limp at his sides, exhausted from the battle. Covered in blood and stumbling over corpses, the viking prince made his way into the surrounding forest. Tired and half crazy, his mind searched for reason. It found a good memory amongst all the horror and then fought to hold on to it. Scenes flashed across his war addled mind. His body started to shake as he went into shock. The warrior fell face first onto the loamy forest floor and curled into a fetal position. This wreck of a man laid this way for hours before he finally pulled himself to a sitting position against a Beech tree. The memory of Old Tom and his time in the cabin came back in a rush. The old man’s voice spoke into his ear as if he sat beside him. The voice was like a salve to his spirit. Ivar “The Boneless” raised his arms to heavens and wept openly.

The warrior lived on to do great and terrible things.

© 2019 R.Guy Behringer

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Added on January 8, 2019
Last Updated on January 8, 2019
Tags: Viking, Historic Fiction, Fantasy


R.Guy Behringer
R.Guy Behringer

Lincoln, CA

I'm a retired truck driver, married and a father of three grown sons, two pit bulls and one red heeler. I like to play guitar, build and rebuild rifles, hunt wild boar, Fishing, camping, gardening and.. more..