Especially when inhabiting the body of a cougar. :)
My first release from Samhain, in 2010, was a novella called Freya's Gift. It's was one of those sales where I believe fate had a hand and it launched my career with them.
It's not an easily categorizable story. You could call it an alternative history romance or a fantasy or a m/f/m menage or a 'need to get pregnant' tale but to me, it was all about how a people cope with overwhelming grief and find a way to get past death to live again.
Being that Halloween was originally celebrated as the day that spirits returned to walk the Earth again, it seemed a good story to feature today.
Freya's Gift about a lost Viking tribe in North America that intermarried with the Lenape natives but was hit by a sickness that killed nearly all the women in the tribe. (It was diseased water from a well used only by the women.) The tribal leaders, Ragnor and Sif, are at a loss as to how to heal them. To make matters worse, the men are beginning to fight over the few remaining women. Sif bears the scars of one such attack, by her husband's brother.
Sif eventually turns to the Viking goddess Freya, who stands for fertility, to help repopulate the tribe. She receives one sign from the goddess when she discovers a hidden spring.
Ragnor's sign isn't nearly so peaceful....
The cougar rose to full height, snarling, put a paw on its prey and screamed at Ragnor.
All the blood drained from his face.
The bear had been dangerous but the cougar was even more deadly. Yet it had saved his life. So magnificent, such green eyes, such fierceness, such grace. He could see why Freya favored the great cats. He wanted to honor this animal and prayed that he would not have to fight it and sink a knife into that beautiful flesh.
Ragnor swallowed hard, trying to regain his voice. “Secure our kill,” he whispered to his men, eyes never leaving the cougar. “Take it home. I will follow.”
“Ragnor, are you—” “Do it!” Behind him, Ragnor heard the sounds of furtive movement and whispered orders. The carcass slid
away, something that Ragnor heard, rather than saw. His eyes were all for the cougar.
Such a proud head. It seemed like a statue now, unmoving, like some godlike being. Perhaps it was. Perhaps this cat was one of those who drew Freya’s chariot. But what did the goddess Freya want with him? His death?
As the sounds of his men moving the dead bear faded, Ragnor dared a step backward. The cougar flicked its ears and posed over its kill.
Would he be another such kill? Surely, he would not be saved only to die now. He stared at the cat some more. He thought of Leif’s eyes in the moment just before he’d fallen on his own sword. They’d been lost and empty. These eyes, cat’s eyes, threatened to engulf Ragnor and conquer him. They deserved worship.
If you want to enter to win a copy of the story, simply comment below and tell me if you're ever felt visited by a god or a spirit in some form.