The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Four (Part 13)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

Joe was over halfway finished with the plans by evening—well ahead of the deadline Karl had set. He was pleased at his progress. Joe’s enjoyment of architecture almost made him forget how far he was from home.

Joe was able to work undistracted until Marta opened the door around six-thirty. She carried two plates, each with a large sandwich. “Hello, I am Marta, and I will be your waitress today,” she joked.

Joe was glad to see her, and not just because she was bringing food. “Thanks,” he smiled, as she handed him one of the sandwiches.

“It is my pleasure. I also have my meal; do you mind if I join you?”

“Of course not,” said Joe, “if you don’t mind sitting on the floor with me. I don’t want to get food on these papers.”

“Yes, I see. How are they coming along? The papers, I mean to say. May I look at them?” She set the plates on the floor, then came over behind him and rested her hands on his shoulders as he showed her the drawings. Marta seemed interested, so Joe began to explain the different details in the plans. As he talked, she began massaging his shoulders.

Joe let out a groan. “Ohhh. . . that feels good.”

“You certainly are tense, Mr. Stadtler,” observed Marta as she worked his muscles. “Relax.” Marta’s hands were strong, and Joe couldn’t help but do exactly what she said.

The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Four (Part 12)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

The work went surprisingly quickly. A lot of the “designing” entailed simply copying views and notes from the sketches and arranging them into a usable format. Joe was amazed at how well thought-out the plans were. This was more than a building that imitated an old castle style; it was a very precise replica of an authentic castle tower.

Joe was soon caught up in his drafting, and worked all morning without a break. At noon, there was a knock at the door.

“Come in,” called Joe without looking up. He heard keys fumbling at the lock and went toward the door. It opened as he got there, and he was surprised to find a pleasant-looking middle-aged woman entering with a large bowl of soup and some bread. The woman smiled and said something rapidly in Norwegian. Joe took the food and thanked her as she left. Through the window, Joe saw the woman walk away from the trailer and he realized that he had not heard her lock the door. He excitedly tried the door handle.

It turned easily.

The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Four (Part 11)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

When Joe got to the trailer, Karl was already waiting there with the door open. He wasted no time with pleasantries. “Do you understand all the sketches and what is to be done with them?”

“I think so. They were pretty clear. But I am a little confused about one thing.”

“And what is that, Mr. Stadtler?”

“You keep telling me that I’m building a castle. But from what I can see in the ‘sketches,’ your castle consists of a single tower.”


“You mean that’s how it’s supposed to be?”


Then why does it have such a huge foundation? And this big wall around it? They look the size of a castle, but you’ve only got the one tower. It doesn’t make sense.”

“Whether or not it makes sense is none of your concern.”

“Of course not,” Joe said sarcastically, “I’m only designing it. Who cares if I understand?”

“Mr. Stadtler, may I remind you of the amount we are paying you? I should think that would be enough to quell any unnecessary curiosity.”

It was almost true. The thought of ten million dollars for two week’s work helped some. But it was uncomfortable to be told so little, and it was making Joe edgy.

“Now, Mr. Stadtler, unless you need clarification of any of the design specifications, I suggest you get started. We plan to start building in four days.”

“Fine,” said Joe curtly. The door swung shut as Karl left the trailer, and Joe sat down at the desk.

The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Four (Part 10)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

Joe woke the next morning feeling sore but well-rested. He sat up and stretched his back. The cot hadn’t been very comfortable, but it was better than he had expected, and he had apparently needed the sleep more than he had realized. He stood and went to the door, then stopped as he remembered that he was locked in. Shaking his head, he cursed the situation and went to the window. Karl was coming toward the trailer, and Joe waited while Karl let himself in.

“Good morning, Mr. Stadtler,” he was greeted as the door opened. “Won’t you please come with me?”

Joe followed him without a word as they went outside, where he caught the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee. Others were coming outside; there were already almost twenty people gathered on the hill eating breakfast and chatting. Karl led him over to two tables where there were several coffeepots and an assortment of breads and cheeses. “Help yourself, Mr. Stadtler. Have all you want; there’s plenty,” said Karl, gesturing toward the tables. “But don’t take too long, because we’d like you to get started by eight o’clock. I’ll meet you in your trailer before you begin.” He left without giving Joe much of a chance to respond.

Joe shrugged and turned back to the tables. He picked up a foam cup and filled it with coffee. As he moved to look over the spread of food, he heard someone come up behind him.

“Good morning, Joe.” It was Marta.

“Oh, Hi, Marta. Can I, uh, get you some coffee?” She nodded, and Joe filled a cup and handed it to her. Sipping his own cup, he remarked, “This is really good stuff. I’ve never tasted Norwegian coffee before.”

“Actually, don’t tell Mr. Lund, but this blend is from Sweden. I prefer imported coffee.”

“I can understand that. This is good.”

“So, what is it that you’re doing here?” asked Marta after a moment’s pause.

“I have no idea,” Joe muttered.

“No, I mean, What are you building?”

“You don’t know either?” he asked incredulously.

“I haven’t been told much. I’m just here to help—but I don’t know what I’m helping with. I was only told that my knowledge of Norsk history and artifacts had been ‘highly recommended.'”

“Really? Same with me—they wanted me as an architect, but they wouldn’t tell me why. All I know for sure is that it’s supposed to be a castle.”

“A castle? Here? But why?”

“I’m not really sure. Like I said, I haven’t been told anything. I mostly just play prisoner and do what they tell me.”

“Yes, I know what you mean. I’ve been here for a week already, and I’ve done very little related to Norsk history. Like carrying food to people in their trailers. What does that have to do with anything I know? Of course,” she added with a smile, “I am glad that I brought your food.”

“Yeah…” They stood briefly in silence, then, to change the subject, he asked, “What time is it, anyway? I need to set my watch.”

She looked at her wrist. “It’s 7:53 exactly.”

“Okay… thanks,” he said as he turned the hands on his wristwatch. “I’d probably better be going. I’m supposed to meet Karl before eight. I guess I’ll see you later,” he suggested as he turned to leave.

“See you later, Joe,” called Marta after him.

One Thousand Words

1000 words. Every day.

That’s what real writers say you should do: write 1000 words every day. Honestly, it seems like it isn’t enough, and at the same time, it seems like a real challenge. Where am I going to find time to write a thousand words? Where am I going to find enough ideas to express with that many words?

Jon tentatively reached out toward the bark of the tree, placing his hand on the hump worn smooth by the caresses of thousands upon thousands of other hands which had been placed in the same spot. He inhaled sharply—involuntarily—as the wood grew warm under his palm and his neck began to tingle. Suddenly, Jon was in a field, vast and green, surrounded by butterflies. At least, he thought they were butterflies; they fluttered and shimmered in the air around him; now seeming to flap their wings, now seeming to float on the light breeze without flapping at all. It was beautiful. The most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Jon laughed.

Turning toward where his father had been standing, Jon asked out loud, “But how do I get back?” Instantly he was in front of the tree again, mouth open in astonishment, hand still resting on the tree. The palm-polished knot had been glowing softly, and as he pulled his hand away, the faint light quickly faded.

“Good,” smiled the old man, ignoring Jon and speaking to Arto. “This is good,” he repeated. Then he walked away from the tree, muttering happily to himself about preparations and ceremonies—Jon wasn’t sure exactly what it meant, but he saw something on Arto’s face that made him excited. It was a look Jon hadn’t seen before. Part of it was happiness, which was rare enough, but the other part, the part that filled Jon with hope and wonder, was pride.

Arto said nothing. He just stood there and smiled quietly for several minutes. Jon began to fidget. Finally, he cleared his throat and ventured, “Papa?” Arto nodded, and finally spoke.

“Well, let’s go home and get you ready.”

That, Jon knew, meant there would be no sleep tonight. First, there would be the cheers, and the hugs, and the congratulations. Then there would be a bath—a head-to-toe scrubbing with scalding water, harsh soap, and pumice—that would leave Jon clean but probably sore. While he was bathed, he knew his grandmother would be cooking a celebration dinner while his uncle, the master tailor, whipped up a fine outfit suitable for the occasion. All through the evening and late into the night, people would be stopping by with small gifts, well-wishes, and more food as word spread through the village. Sometime after midnight, after the cooking-fires had died down, everyone would gather in the main room of the little house to sing songs, tell stories, and probably shed a few tears. Finally, just before sunrise, all would wearily make their way back to the tree, with Jon at the head of the procession: the place of honor.

Well, that was barely 500 words, and only if you count the stuff I said before & after. That block is part of a story concept I’ve had in my head for a while, and it’s the first time I’ve tried to write some of it down. I’m not really thrilled with it, but I am at least pleased that I wrote some words today.

The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Three (Part 9)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

Joe was awakened by the sound of keys at the trailer door. He sat up and looked out the window. He could see that it was just beginning to get dark, but he couldn’t see who was outside. He folded his arms in a show of impatience and watched the door as it opened.

The first thing through the doorway was a tray piled high with food. Joe couldn’t see a face—it was obscured by the food on the tray—but the legs coming into the room were distinctly female. Joe had trouble not staring.

The tray came down, revealing a face that was prettier than the legs it belonged to. The woman had long, blonde hair, perfect red lips, and bright blue eyes. Joe was awestruck and couldn’t seem to say anything. She spoke without hesitation.

Hallo,” she said, smiling sweetly, “jeg heter Marta.”

“Um, I uh… I don’t speak Norwegian,” Joe managed to get out.

“I’m terribly sorry,” she apologized in rather good English. “I said my name is Marta.”

“Well, it’s very nice to meet you, Marta.” He had composed himself, and flashed an impudent smile. “I’m sure you already know who I am. Everyone so far seems to know quite a lot about me.”

“Actually, they told me nothing about you—not even your name. I assumed you were just another employee of Mr. Lund. They sent me with food.”

“Please, then, call me Joe.”

“All right, Joe,” she repeated with a grin, and set down the tray. “Here is your food. It is only a snack, but it should be enough for now.”

“Thanks, Marta,” Joe said, and smiled at her. She returned it with a smile and a wink.

“Perhaps I will see you again,” she said as she moved to the doorway. “It would be nice to—” she paused, searching for just the right words, then finished, “learn more about you.”

“Yeah… bye,” he smiled after she was gone.

Joe turned to the “snack,” which consisted of approximately two full meals’ worth of bread, cheese, fish, and fruit—bread was by far the most abundant item on the tray. Whatever else they’re doing, at least they’re not trying to starve me, he thought as he began eating.

The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Chapter Three (Part 8)

Just starting? Be sure to check out The Legend of Slottsfjellet: Foreword and Disclaimer first, so you know what’s going on.

Joe wanted rest badly, but he was also curious about the drawings. As it always did, his curiosity took precedence over sleep, so Joe sat down at the table and began leafing through the sheets of vellum.

There were a few things that struck him as he went over the sketches. The first was the quality of them: Joe wasn’t sure that they could be called “sketches” at all. They were very precise, very detailed, and in many ways had the look of final plans. The second was the materials list: this castle was to be built in two weeks, yet it was exclusively made of stone, glass, and wood. There was no steel or concrete in it anywhere, not even in the framework or as reinforcement. The third and strangest thing he noticed about it—and Joe laughed when he saw it—was its size. Though the project included a complete and rather large foundation for a castle, the structure itself was not a castle at all, but rather a small tower in the corner of the plot.

Naturally, this raised even more questions, but it seemed obvious that Joe was not likely to have them answered any time soon. After another twenty minutes at the desk, Joe opened the small cot and tried to sleep.