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It’s dawn when I wake. The sun glows on the horizon, silhouetting the Armadillo and the Finnieston crane behind us, streaking the sky with deep pinks and oranges. There’s a morning chill in the air, but Frej seems to have unlimited body heat and I’m toasty curled in his arms.
He snores softly over my head and his arm fell over my lap sometime in the night, but it’s fine. I could shove it out the way if I wanted to, but I’m too comfortable. I blink, slowly coming-to, feeling rested and — whole. Strangely… solid.
I yawn against Frej’s chest, then notice an enormous woman marching determinedly towards us. I shrink back, before it dawns on me that we’re not her target. Yells and thuds fill the air as some wee guy gets a doing a couple of hundred years ago. The woman must be six foot four with a stunningly hacket face and glorious boobs that could brain a man at ten paces. Her dress is a dull blue, made of a rough, hemp-like material which flaps round her ankles as she marches right into the punch up.
A load of men, flat caps and shapeless trousers held up by rough leather braces, are standing about, smoking and cheering the fighters on. The woman grabs the bigger guy by the scruff of the neck and flings him head first into the water. He gives a wee yelp followed by a splash and the woman claps her hands together as if to say job done, then marches on her way, followed by a chorus of jeers and boos.
Spoil sport! The shouts ring in my ears as I gently kaboom them away and notice that Frej is awake. He smiles, then points to his cheeks with a questioning look, as though to ask if I’m happy enough to smile now. I give him a shaky grin and nod, then add a thumbs up for good measure, which succeeds in completely baffling him.
He copies the gesture and softly touches the pad of his thumb to mine, which sends such a dizzying stream of shivers through me that I have to get up before —
Well, I just have to get up.
‘Breakfast,’ I say, miming eating, and he nods eagerly.
He obediently follows me through the gap in the fence and we make our way towards Paisley Road West and breakfast rolls. I can’t help feeling a bit responsible for him seeing as I may have inadvertently whooshed him through a millennium or so, but I’m also not entirely sure what I’m supposed to do with him. Just keep focusing on the next step, I remember. Breakfast, head back to Nathan — and then we’ll see.
I admire the way Frej seems to take the modern world in his stride. After several days of Nathan doing cartwheels at the sheer thought of microwaves — he watched in horror as the woman warmed our toasties up the other day and refused to eat food with radiation running through it — Frej’s quiet curiosity is strangely calming. A motorbike roars past, and Frej watches it with a sort of mild awe, a frown playing on his face as though he’s trying to figure it out.
I suppose there was more acceptance of the unknown in his day. Perhaps it’s easier to accept the notion of witches and gods and motorbikes if you know that the world holds more wonders than you could ever conceive of. We think we’ve got it all figured out, that’s our problem. I could Google right now how a motorbike works, but because I can’t Google the white light that crumbled the hairy pig to dust, the sheer thought of it makes my breath catch in my throat.
Frej is of a people who sailed blindly towards the horizon just to see what was beyond it. Much, much later generations insisted that the world was flat, hell, we’ve got our fair share of science deniers today, yet the vikings navigated great seas in tiny wooden boats with nothing but shards of glass glinting sunlight. I steal a few glances at him as we pass Ibrox and his eyes widen at the sheer scale of the building. Wait ‘til I tell him it’s just for men to kick balls at each other.
I can’t help but wonder about his life. He’s sailed the North Sea, that much is self-evident. Has he been to Iceland? Newfoundland? Did he plunder Iona or Lindisfarne? I know I would probably be horrified if I knew half the violence he has doled out in his lifetime, but judging from the maze of scars I can see on his neck and hands, I can’t help thinking that those monks put up more than a fight than they were given credit for.
Something happened and the three of us fell through time. A wee tremor runs through me as I take the notion in. There’s no point in getting my knickers in a twist over the believability of it, because it happened. It is. I think it’s connected to the Shadows. I think that the Shadows aren’t shadows, but people living their lives in days gone by. For some reason, I can see them. Promise me you’ll never help them. I helped Frej. Was that what Morag was trying to tell me in that café on Duke Street all those years ago?
Suddenly the thought of what must have gone through the vikings’ minds when a modern woman leapt out of the ether in running gear and nutted their leader hits me, and I snort with laughter. No wonder the poor boys had a collective hairy canary. Here I thought I intimidated them with my seagull impressions and they’re probably having nightmares about my trainers.

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