Summers in St. Albans

Started by Holger Heyerdahl, October 04, 2018, 12:25:31 pm

Holger Heyerdahl

October 04, 2018, 12:25:31 pm Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 09:45:52 am by Holger Heyerdahl
St. Albans. 2495

It was summer. Holger Heyerdahl, with a shock of unkempt fiery red hair nearly down to his shoulders, was watching his father, though he pretended he wasn't. Hans, the elder, didn't like his children prying into his business. And Holger didn't feel like he was prying, exactly, but he was watching. From this distance, around the house where the goats and chickens were kept, Holger couldn't hear exactly what his father way saying to the other men, but he could tell Hans was angry. Some of the louder words drifted over to the boy doing his chores. Another half-hearted scoop of hay went from the bale to the trough.

Soon, Holger's older brother, Hafthor, joined them, their father's old rifle in his grip. The men, apparently unarmed or not looking for a fight, raised their hands in surrender and backed away. Once they were a safe distance, they turned and walked back down the path to where their land rider was parked at the end of the lane. Before getting inside, one of them turned and called to his father. "Tomorrow, Hans!"

Hans considered their words, and, though he seemed to consider not, nodded after a moment. "Tomorrow!" Hans said. The men left and Hans and Hafthor returned to the house. Hans stopped halfway between the house and the pen in which Holger found himself and frowned, seeing his son shirking his chores. "Get back to work, son. Dinner will be ready soon." With that, Hans disappeared inside of the house.

"Hafthor!" Holger said to his brother, calling him over. "Who were those men?"

Hafthor stopped and looked at his brother, then walked over. It seemed to take him ages and, to Holger's eyes, his brother seemed older by the time he arrived at the gate. "You and I will go to the mine tomorrow to work."

Holger's face lit up. "Really? A real job?" He said in only the way a naive young child can about the prospect of forced hard labor.

Hafthor scoffed. "You are a child. One day you will see." He said, shaking his head. Hafthor hefted the rifle up on his shoulder and exited into the house, leaving his younger brother to wonder.
Dialogue Color - Orange

Viktor Söderberg

St. Albans. 2495

- A small town Christian church

It was Viktor's first summer as a teenager. By all rights he should be playing in the mud, getting into trouble. Maybe starting some fights. His three younger sisters had passed the time having adventures. Exploring the rock quarries and bringing home all manner of flora and fauna.

Instead of doing these things and spending an abundance of time with his peers, Viktor was teaching himself to read. He wanted to read the Bible, but he'd settle for whatever he could get his hands on. He'd officially started teaching himself to read a few years ago, but now that he was past the younger material, it was really a challenge for him.

He sat in the local church, a feeling of serenity encompassing him. He was staring hard at Genesis 11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. He was wondering about the implications of this. He knew that the two most common languages in the verse were English and Chinese. Even now, people on St. Albans didn't all speak one language. What would it be like if they did? What was the common language in Genesis? Chinese, he guessed.

Eventually he heard the front door open and close. It would be Pastor Daniels in for their lesson.
"Young Viktor," he said in a warm friendly tone, "shouldn't you be out with kids your own age?" He chuckled at his joke. He said the same thing before every lesson - three to four times per week. "How goes the studies?" 

"Fine, sir. I'm still trying to read Genesis. It's pretty difficult. Would you like me to read to you?"

"No, thank you, son. Tell me about what you are reading."

"I read about how in the beginning of time there was only one language. I was thinking it might have been Chinese. I also think maybe this could be why things were so peaceful then, like you always say. If everyone spoke the same language maybe there would be fewer misunderstandings and less to be mad about."

"Perhaps you are right, Viktor. Why don't we discuss that for today's lesson?"

. . .

Later that day -  Viktor's family home

Viktor sat in his living room waiting for his father Eiler to return home from the mine. His parents didn't really understand his attraction to the church, but at least they didn't discourage it. Julia, his mother, was cooking and singing. When his father came through the door, he and his sisters all cheered and jumped up to say hello, not caring that he was covered in dust, sweat and grime. They enjoyed a hearty supper together - rich warm stew and grainy seed bread.

With his sisters asleep, Viktor was enjoying some quiet time in the small room they shared. He had been trying to read some more when he overheard his father's deep voice.

"I don't mind him doing book learnin' and church learnin', you know that Julia. I just wish he'd spend time with boys his own age. I don' know that it's right he spends all his time with that preacher. He should be boy. Run around. Get scraped up. Play some games. He needs some friends besides that old man."

He didn't hear his mom's response, but he imagined her nodding.

"Imma take him down to the mines tomorrow -" He stopped as if interrupted, then continued, "No, not to work. He's a might too young for that yet. In a couple-a years though. But maybe he can meet some of the other miner's kids. More'n the boys he sees in town, anyhow."

Viktor grinned in excitement. He liked meeting new people, he just spent so much time at the church and learning to read that he'd forgotten about making friends and "boys his own age." Maybe he could even talk to some of them about God.

Holger Heyerdahl

October 05, 2018, 08:40:44 am #2 Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 09:45:09 am by Holger Heyerdahl
The foreman looked down at Holger, who had not yet hit his adolescent growth spurt. He scratched at the stubble on his chin, spit on the ground, and looked back behind him, unsure. The man who had been at their house the night before him reassured him with a nod. The foreman sighed and looked back at Holger. "How old are you, boy?"

Holger, standing as straight up as he could, looked at his brother before answering. "Fifteen." Holger said, his brother nudging him with an elbow. "Sir." He added.

The foreman sighed again. "And you?" He said to Hafthor.

"Nearly eighteen, sir."

The foreman nodded. "You're big enough for the mine." In a large barrel nearby, shovel handles reached out from the darkness, waiting to be used. The foreman grabbed one and handed it off to the elder Heyerdahl. Hafthor accepted it and waited a touch too long for the foreman. "What're you waiting for? Get to work!" Without delay, Hafthor took off down the track and into the darkness of the mine. A worker handed him a helmet on his way in, and they disappeared from view. The foreman looked at scrawny little Holger, again shaking his head. "Wait here." He said to Holger. The foreman went over to the man from the night before and talked in hushed tones.

Holger just knew he was in trouble. He had to do something, fast, to make sure he got the job. He racked his young brain, trying to think of something. And then, like a lightning bolt to the brain pan, he thought of something. He flashed back to five years earlier, when he was ten. Sitting on his father's lap as Hans showed him the buttons on the tractor he would later sell for a fraction of its worth. His father telling him this would be the thing that would change their fortune. Holger remembered the buttons. He remembered playing in the seat when his father and older brother weren't looking, twisting the wheel, playing at operating. "I can drive!"

The two men turned to look at Holger, surprised. The man from the night before laughed and shrugged. The foreman came back over and looked Holger in the eye. "Who taught you to drive?"

"My father."

"What'd he teach you to drive?"

"A tractor."

"What kind of tractor?"

"I don't know that."

"Hrmphf..." The foreman looked back at the man from the night before, who nodded. That's what it would be. "Well I'm not putting you behind the wheel of a rig by your onesie, am I? You'll load loose gravel into the trucks and when they're loaded, you'll sit in the cab with the driver and he'll show you what's what." The foreman looked back at the man from the night before to see if that would suffice. The man nodded.

Holger was given a shovel and guided to his area of work. The boy was beaming with pride at his new job. As he walked, he looked over and saw another boy, about his age. Viktor, he thought his name was. The other boy, as blond as Holger was ginger, was standing next to his father, a man who Holger recognized but didn't know. Holger gave Viktor a wave. The moment was fleeting, as they all are, and Holger went to his first day at work.
Dialogue Color - Orange

Viktor Söderberg

October 05, 2018, 10:47:40 am #3 Last Edit: October 05, 2018, 11:07:33 am by Viktor Söderberg
Viktor, who was tall but lanky for his age, stood a bit shyly behind and to the right of his father at the mine entrance. There was a bit of trouble. Viktor wasn’t technically meant to be there as he was not working, but Eiler clearly had some clout in the mines. He wasn’t the boss, by any means, but he was well-known and well-respected. Eventually, they were let in and Viktor was told to stay out of the way until lunch time.

“Look and learn, kiddo, but don’ touch nothin’ and don’ get in people’s way.”

He was surprised to see many young men there – only three or four years older than himself. Of course he knew he was expected to be working here himself in a few years’ time, but he could never quite picture it.

He walked a little away from his father, saying hello to men (as well as a few women) he knew from town or church. Many expressed surprise as seeing him there and a few even offered him a swing of an axe or a pass with a shovel. He knew his orders but the axe looked fun, so he had a go. The man who offered it laughed, good-naturedly, when the boys scrawny arms couldn’t make it pierce the compacted hard earth.

“Give it a few years, kid. You’ll get the muscle.”

He returned to Eiler to see another slight boy coming in. Viktor wasn’t sure if he knew the boy, but he looked familiar and around Viktor’s own age. He looked as though he might have the same problem with the axe that Viktor had. The boy waved and Viktor returned the gesture. He began to go over to say hello but the boy kept walking with a determined air. There was a look on his face that Viktor had seen on many a miner’s. A grit of “I’ve got a job to do. It might not be the most important of work but it needs doing and I’m here to get it done.”

After what felt like an eternity, the lunch whistle shrieked through the cavern. Eiler handed Viktor his lunch and told him to go find someone to talk to. He knew where he was headed. He walked straight over to the boy with the long flaming red hair, stuck out his hand and said, “Hi. I’m Viktor. May I join you for lunch?”

Holger Heyerdahl

October 05, 2018, 12:47:38 pm #4 Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 09:43:24 am by Holger Heyerdahl
Holger had never been so tired. His childhood had been filed with chores and work, but nothing like this. And to say it was all because of the physical activity would be a lie. Holger was stimulated and learning and felt useful. It was overwhelming. So when it was time for a lunch break, he could hardly sit still. But the man who was teaching him and impressed upon young Holger how important it was to eat, and so Holger tucked into his meager rations with abandon.

And so, his mouth was full when Viktor approached him and asked to accompany him. Holger could only nod and smile awkwardly to the other boy. After a moment he managed to swallow. "Hello, Viktor. I am Holger Heyerdahl. Are you working here, too? They put me in charge of the trucks." It was an untruthful boast, perhaps, but young boys on the verge of manhood often exaggerate to their peers. "Your father works here. My father doesn't. He takes care of my brothers and sisters."

And for the first time, that struck Holger as odd. His father was by no means a layabout. He worked. In fact, he had put in many years in the quarries and mines on St. Albans. But since Holger's mother had died Hans had stayed home. The family rarely went without food or necessities. How exactly had Hans been making ends meet? And now it made sense why Holger and Hafthor were going to work. To help provide for the family.
Dialogue Color - Orange

Viktor Söderberg

"Hello, Viktor. I am Holger Heyerdahl. Are you working here, too? They put me in charge of the trucks."
Before Viktor could proclaim his amazement at Holger being in charge of the trucks (and he certainly was amazed) Holger went on to talk of his family.

"I don't work here. My dad Eiler wanted me to come to see how hard and how well the miners work." A small lie. A sin all the same but he would atone later. He felt awkward telling Holger he was here because he'd "forgotten" to make friends.

Viktor noticed Holger was eating the standard miners' rations. It didn't look like there was enough and he was practically inhaling what little there was. The Soderberg's were not rich by any stretch of the imagination but they always had plenty of food. The lunch Viktor had brought was leftovers of the meaty stew and dense seed bread from the night before. He had more than he would eat. He thought about how he should "do good and share with others" because it pleases God. He also thought about how terrible it was when he was late to supper and his stomach growled in aching pangs.

"Here," he said, offering some of his food. "I packed too much this morning. I don't work yet. I'm only thirteen. But I volunteer at the church and I am learning to read. I only have sisters. My mom looks after them." He wanted to ask what Holger's mother did, since the boy didn't mention her but he thought it might not be a nice idea."It's real good of your dad to look after your brothers and sisters. I bet he's a great guy."

Holger Heyerdahl

October 08, 2018, 05:06:00 pm #6 Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 09:42:26 am by Holger Heyerdahl
Without a moment's hesitation Holger tucked into Viktor's offering. "My Father is a good man. Very strong. But it has been difficult since mamma died. My brother and I are helping now." He said through a mouthful of food. In truth, this was the fullest meal young Holger had had in a long time. He was truly greatful, but neglected to express that to his benefactor in his haste to eat.

A loud, sharp whistle signaled the end of the lunch break.

Holger's eyes popped up from his food, unsure of what to do.

"Boy! Back to work!" The man with whom holger was apprenticing hollared.

Without delay, Holger popped up and rushed from the table. Halfway to the truck, he remembered something. Doubling back, Holger stopped back at the table and gave Viktor a look. "I forgot my helmet." And indeed he had. The boy picked up the helmet and, just before dashing off, he stopped again. "Thank you, Viktor." He said, and then returned to his work.
Dialogue Color - Orange

Viktor Söderberg

St. Albans. 2497

Summer had rolled around again to find Viktor, now 15, truly excited about the times ahead of him. He wouldn't be expected to start mine work for another two years and, in the meantime, he was studying Christianity and theology more than ever. His reading skills as well as his height (6'1") had surpassed any semblance of average. He had been told he could take a job in the church. It made him proud to think he could start bringing home a little money here and there. However, something had to be done first. Viktor must be baptized.

He'd never been baptized as a child. His parents had no feelings toward religion one way or another, so they didn't bother. Preacher Daniels had tried to baptize him when he started his studies, but Viktor refused. He'd been told that Christianity was a life-long commitment. Being as he didn't really understand much of Christianity at that point, he didn't feel right doing it then. But the time had come. He'd read his Bible cover to cover time and again. He knew in his heart of hearts that this was his God and that this was the right path to take. This event was important to him, so he made his family promise to be there in the church - just this once - to see him dedicate himself to God. There was someone else he wanted to attend, though.

Holger was no longer the small, underfed, scrawny boy Viktor had shared his meal with in the mines. He was tall, like Viktor, but where Viktor was still lanky-limbed and lean, Holger was practically a boulder. He wasn't sure if they were friends or not. Most of Viktor's free time was passed in the church, while Holger's days were spent underground. But, they were friendly enough and Viktor felt a connection with Holger. He was the only peer Viktor spent much time with. Outside of that, most of his time was spent with people either far older or far younger than himself. So, he wanted to include the other boy in this rite of passage.

He finally ran into Holger in town on Saturday, his baptism was the next morning and he hoped the invitation wouldn't be too last minute. He spotted the red-headed giant just before he ducked into a shop.

Viktor waved and called out from across the street, "Holger! Hey! Wait up a second! I wanted to ask you something." He jogged over and stood, nearly eye to eye with Holger, removed from door so they could talk for a moment without being in anyone's way. 

Holger Heyerdahl

October 24, 2018, 08:33:49 am #8 Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 09:41:41 am by Holger Heyerdahl
Holger, now tall and lanky, instead of small and lanky, crossed the street with his mind on other things. His brother, Hafthor, had quit the mine and was preoccupied with something called the Independence Movement. He was at meetings until all hours and argued frequently with their father. All Holger knew was they wanted the Purple Bellies to stop meddling in their affairs. They had never bothered Holger, and so he was content to mind his own business.

His siblings were now all old enough to mostly mind themselves, if they weren't in school, and so Holger and his father, picking up the slack left by Hafthor's politics, worked at the mines and provided for the family. Things had been strange the last year, with Hans working at the mine. A lot of hushed words behind the old man's back, some of which had caused Holger to fight for what he perceived to be his family's honor. But no one would tell him why his father was talked about only under breath and behind back.

His name met his ear and Holger turned to see Viktor. He wasn't not excited to see the other boy. If Holger were asked he would say the two of them were friends. But Holger was not concerned with Good Books and Holy Spirits. Viktor very much was. But Holger remembered Viktor's kindnesses to him over the years and forced a smile. "Hello, Viktor. What does your God tell you to tell me today?"
Dialogue Color - Orange

Viktor Söderberg

"Hello, Viktor. What does your God tell you to tell me today?"

"Oh, Uh..." his face fell slightly. Holger's voice sounded flat to Viktor's ear. His smile didn't seem to quite reach his eyes the way Viktor's excited grin had only moments before.
Maybe he had just caught Holger at a bad time. Or maybe this was a bad idea. He felt awkward now, but he couldn't very well just stand there and say nothing. His hand rubbed the back of his neck. 
"Well, no. No, Godly messages today, I'm afraid." A thin laugh bubbled up from his throat, and died in an instant. "I was just wondering. I have this thing tomorrow morning at the church. It's pretty important - you know I'm going to start working there soon. Well, I don't actually know if you know that, but I am and - " He was beginning to babble. An anxious habit he'd picked up in school where the kids weren't so kind about the weird boy with the Bible.
"I'm getting baptized. I wanted to ask you if you might like to come. Your family can come too, or you can sit with my family if you want. My mom asks about you. She wonders if you're doing OK. They all like you - my family, I mean. They said they'd all come, you know. This one time. For me."

His mother and father did seem to talk about Holger a lot. They often asked after him to Viktor. They talked about his dad as well, but never enough where Viktor could really hear what they were saying. It only seemed normal to the boy being as he and Holger were friendly and their dads both worked in the mines.

He took a deep breath to slow down and calm himself.

Speaking at a less manic pace, he continued. "Anyway, I know it's last minute, but I hope you can make it."    

Holger Heyerdahl

November 02, 2018, 08:31:35 am #10 Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 09:41:30 am by Holger Heyerdahl
Holger stared and waited for Viktor to cease his babbling. He was regretting this conversation already, though he would never admit it to the other boy. Viktor has been kind to Holger at a time he needed kindness, a friend when Holger needed friendship. But one thing Holger did not feel he needed was fellowship.

"I have to work." He lied. While perhaps not wholly untrue, he was expected to help out on the family's small farm on days he didn't have a shift at the mine, there were plenty of Heyerdahls able to work and he could leave for the hour it would take for Viktor's important day without much issue. No. Holger just didn't want to go and didn't have the heart to be honest with Viktor.

"Sorry." He muttered, turned, and walked into the store, before the other boy could respond and make Holger feel worse. Guilt was a feeling Holger was uncomfortable with. He didn't feel it often, his father always told him to stand behind your decisions and to regret nothing. And yet, Holger's heart pained him as he turned his back on Viktor.
Dialogue Color - Orange

Viktor Söderberg

November 02, 2018, 08:54:25 am #11 Last Edit: November 02, 2018, 09:01:11 am by Viktor Söderberg
“I have to work. Sorry.”

Holger was inside the store before Viktor’s words fell like dead weight from his lips. “Oh. Ok then.” But he was talking to the empty air in front of him.
He eyes fell to the ground and he felt the heat creep up his neck. He was embarrassed and his red face let the whole world know it. He was rooted to the spot for some minutes in shame.
Of course Holger didn’t want to come to his baptism. It had been hard enough getting his family to agree. Deep down he knew this was the right decision, but he wished he had someone close to him to help him celebrate his new path in life. The town preacher and the parishioners were kind enough and as close as he was with them it was a different kind of relationship. It wasn't the same as family or friends. Well, he had his relationship with his Savior to look forward to and that would have to be enough to sustain him through tomorrow.

Holger Heyerdahl


The fork went into the hay, which raised it up into the air, over the corral and showered the gathered goats there with the golden straw, though the aim was to cover the ground. Holger, who was holding the fork, banged it against the wooden fence and growled at the livestock, shooing them away from his work. The young Heyerdahl was in a foul mood, though he could not articulate why. It wasn't the work. That he was accustomed to, though the labor was hard on his back and boring when compared to his weekday job at the mines. No, something inside of him felt rotten. He wondered briefly, as he scooped up another forkful of hay, whether the goat's milk he had drank with breakfast had gone sour.

His younger sister, Helga, whose hair matched the straw he pitched, appeared from the chicken hutch, a basket in her arms. "Helga. Was the milk sour?" Helga stopped and cupped her ear. She was too far away to hear him. "Was the milk sour?" He repeated, louder. Helga, with a look that betrayed her annoyed thoughts, shook her head and kept walking. Holger frowned and emptied his load of hay into the corral, unconvinced that it wasn't sour milk that turned his stomach.

"Are the goats bleating about a lack of hay?" His father asked from behind him. Holger looked at his work and realized he had piled too much into their pen, though the goats didn't seem to mind. The kids frolicked and the mother's munched on the heaping stack. Cursing, Holger began to climb over the gate to even it out. Hans stopped him. "Leave it. We will give them less tomorrow." Holger obeyed his father, leaning the fork against the fence. Hans looked at his third born son with a furrowed brow. The elder Heyerdahl stroked at his mustache and considered his son. "You are distracted." He said, matter-of-factly.

"Yes, Father." Holger said, burying his gaze at the ground.

"What with?" Hans responded.

Holger hesitated before answering. "My gut, Father. I think that the milk was sour."

Hans scoffed. "The milk wasn't sour, boy. I drank it. My stomach is fine." The father considered his son for a moment. "What is it that troubles you? Be truthful, now."

"Viktor Soderberg." Holger said with a sigh.

This surprised Hans, and his bushy eyebrows showed it. "Eiler's boy? You two are friends, I thought."

"He asked me to go to his church this morning. He is to be baptized." Holger was quick to add, "But I told him I had to work. I know my duty."

Hans sighed, a low grumble like a mountain's foundation shifting. "Do you know what it is to be baptized?" His son answered him with a shake of the head. "It is to be washed clean. For God." Hans seemed to come to a decision. "Your friend invited you to a very important day for a Christian. What you feel is guilt for not being there for your friend. It is not good to live a guilty life, Holger. You should go." Hans turned and hollered for the rest of the family. "Sigurd! Fridjtof! Helga, Mona, Erna! Nils!" Hans rest a weathered hand on his son's shoulder. "We will all go."

Dialogue Color - Orange

Viktor Söderberg


The sermon was completed and it was almost time for the sacrament of baptism. Viktor sat in the back pew with his family. He sat between his parents Eiler and Julia, while he sisters Saga, Tori and Leo sat in a line youngest to oldest next to their mother.

Viktor would have preferred to sit in the front of the room, but it was enough to get his family there. He didn't want to drag them to the front where he knew they would all feel uncomfortable and awkward.

He should have paid more attention to the sermon, but if asked, he wouldn't have been able to say what it was about. He was disappointed and a little sad that his friend wouldn't be able to make it. Viktor understood about responsibilities, especially those to family. After all, that was one (of the very many) reasons he had chosen to work here at this church. This way, he could continue learning about the things he was passionate about but he could also bring home some extra money for his own family. His understanding, however, hadn't softened the blow.

Finally, he heard the preacher start the introduction to the sacrament and his name was announced to the church.

"So we welcome young Viktor Soderberg up to the pulpit that he may speak his Proclamation of Faith and be baptised into the Holy Church of God."

The boy took a deep, calming breath, smiling at his family, and rose to his feet without a sound. He stood at the end of the aisle, looking up reverently to the pulpit and the large wooden cross which hung above it. For a moment, the walk to the front of the building seemed dauntingly long. He said a little prayer for courage and humility and took the first step toward the new person he was about to become.

Holger Heyerdahl

Just as Viktor was preparing to speak, the doors at the back of the church swung open and a large, mustachioed man and his seven children tumbled into the room. The assembled congregants all turned to look at them. Most seemed to recognize the Heyerdahls, though it was clear that all wondered what they were doing there. Hans hadn't stepped inside of a church since his wife had died, and even prior to that his attendance had been rare, and while he never forbade his children from seeking religion, it wasn't encouraged either. "Children." He said, after a moment. "We will sit in the back. And be quiet." He shepherded the clan into the back pew and once everyone was seated, Hans held up his hand as if to say, Sorry about that. Please continue.

Holger, with his long fiery red hair and his advancing adolescent height, stood out in his family. His eyes met Viktor's and Holger gave a sheepish, awkward grin.

Now that everyone was settled, the crowd shifted their attention back up to Viktor and waited for him to begin.
Dialogue Color - Orange

Viktor Söderberg

November 28, 2018, 11:49:35 am #15 Last Edit: November 28, 2018, 01:09:34 pm by Viktor Söderberg
As Viktor began to speak, there was a commotion at the back of the room. A large group of people practically fell into the church. Despite Holger's declination of Viktor's invitation he was here. His whole family had showed up from the looks of it. The lad's face split into a wide grin to Holger's awkward smile and he nodded his head in thanks to both Holger and the elder of the clan.

Viktor began his Proclamation of Faith with the Nicene Creed and then read the Statement of Faith he'd been writing for weeks.

"With the whole Christian Church I believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The living God, the only God,ever to be praised.

"The life of faith to which I am called is the Spirit’s gift continually received through the Word, the Sacraments and my Christian life together with my Brothers and Sisters. I acknowledge the gift and answer the call, giving thanks for the means of grace.

"The highest authority for what I believe and do is God’s Word in the Bible alive for his people today through the help of the Spirit. I respond to this Word, whose servant I am with all God’s people through the years.

"I affirm my intention to go on praying and working, with all my fellow Christians, for the visible unity of the Church in the way Christ chooses, so that people and nations may be led to the love God and to praise him more and more forever. To God be eternal glory. Amen.*"

Following his Statement of Faith, Pastor Daniels took Viktor through his affirmations of belief in the Holy Trinity, repentance of his sins and confession of Christ as Savior. He professed his calling and the entire Church was lead in a prayer while the Pastor poured the last of the Holy water into the baptistery. When he looked into the congregation during the prayer he saw his eldest sister, Saga, repeating slightly behind the synced words of those who could read or had memorized the prayer. It astonished him that she might pray even while the rest of his family, though their heads were bowed, stayed silent. He caught her eye and mouthed "I love you" and gave her a small wink.

Pastor Daniels concluded the prayer and motioned to Viktor to step into the baptistery. It was really just an overly large tub on a riser at the back of the stage - a donation from several members of the congregation a few years ago. But, it didn't need to be a fancy, built-in sunken area, like the ones he'd seen in photos, in order to complete the rite. It would do just fine.

The boy stepped into the vessel steadied by the Pastor's hand. He realized that his height combined with the tub made him too tall for his mentor to properly reach to support him for his burial in the water. With no prompting, Viktor slid fluidly and gracefully to his knees, closing his eyes as he dropped. There was a murmur from the crowd. Perhaps he wasn't supposed to do that. Perhaps they were only surprised that such a gangling boy could move so dexterously. Either way, the preacher pressed onward and Viktor felt a deep, reassuring calm sink through his entire being.
Daniels wrapped his left arm just below Viktor's shoulder blades. Viktor's left hand went up to block his nose and the right clamped around his left wrist. He then felt Daniels' right hand wrap around his own as an anchor to pull him out of the water when the time arrived. It was intimate in a comforting way. It made him feel safe and assured, even though he logically knew he couldn't drown in this few feet of water.

Suddenly, Pastor Daniel's voice seemed loud and booming above him.
"Viktor, son of Eiler and Julia, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit."
He dunked his charge into the water ensuring that he was fully immersed, keeping him under for a beat too long before pulling him back up. Viktor heaved as his breath dragged back into his body, but his face was content and serene when his eyes opened. He felt peaceful and slightly drugged. His jaw relaxed in a lazy grin and his eyes unfocused. His brain buzzed in a warm tone, all thoughts quieted. The preacher made the sign of the cross on his wet forehead.
"Viktor, I sign you with the Cross, the sign of Christ and welcome you, child of God, received by Baptism into the Holy Church. Amen"

The Pastor prompted the congregation to rise and they all recited the Aaronic blessing. He turned Viktor so he was facing the audience rather than the side wall of the church, water splashing in a small wave over the lip as he did.

Slightly behind and to the side of the youth, now, Daniels raised his arms to the heavens and recited clearly,
"In the name of Christ we welcome you, Viktor Soderberg. May we grow together in faith and be built up into the body of Christ in Love, to the glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen."

The congregation were dismissed for fellowship. Viktor climbed out of the tub and moved to a room behind the stage to change into dry clothes before going to find his family and the Heyerdahl's.

[*Author's note: This is a heavily edited version of the United Reformed Church Statement of Faith. The full version can be found here: 
Many thanks to them for helping me to write Viktor's words here]

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