I hitched Sleipnir to a stand in the bicycle rack opposite the D. I. Vine Employment Agency and sighed. After aeons of loyal service to Asgard, it had come to this. Me, the mighty Odin, All-Father, downsized and laid off. Another body on the scrap heap of life.
“There just aren’t enough warriors anymore,” I told Sleipnir, as he tried to settle his eight legs into the rack; they probably don’t design such things for mythical beasts. “Spineless these humans, spineless. Always talking and mediating. There are no proper wars anymore. No wonder Freyja and I can’t make ends meet. How can anyone lead an army of dead warriors when there aren’t any warriors left?” Straightening my cloak across my shoulders, I grasped my spear and strode forth, declaring “My name is Odin.” I wasn’t convinced.
A sign in the window declared ‘No god too small. All beliefs catered for.’ I took aim at the door, then realising that a less destructive approach might be preferable, lowered my spear and opened it by hand. It was a strange feeling. Inside the world turned into a mistuned monochrome of grey and beige furniture and carpets, complemented by the vomit-white walls decorators call Magnolia. It’s my opinion that most humans have either become colour-blind or are just plain ignorant. A minion, dressed to blend in and wearing an emblem declaring ‘Hi! I’m Dave,’ looked up from pecking at his keyboard with an index finger and gave me the kind of ingratiating smile that makes me want to start smiting something. I lowered my spear once more. Clearly, this was going to be harder than I thought.
“Good morning. How can I help you today?”
I flourished the letter I had received a few days before. “My name is Odin and I have an appointment.” I said. The minion winced, covering his ears and cowering. I coughed back my embarrassment. “Sorry, my previous employment required a loud voice.”
“No problem.” Dave squeaked. “I’ll get you started on the aptitude test and then we’ll take some details.” He motioned me to a seat that appeared to be designed for a child. “This is just a short test. It should take you about 15 minutes to complete. Type your responses in the box at the bottom of each screen and then click ‘Next’ when you want to move on. Just give me a shout if you have any questions.”
“Don’t you want to see my smiting?”
Dave held up his hands and smiled that smile.
I felt my wrath rising. It took all my will not to smite him right there.
Adopting a patronising tone he said,
“The kills, ahem, I mean skills, test is after the panel interview, sir.”
I filled out my name and read the first question.
‘You have six days in which to create the world. Describe your top priorities, and complete the flowchart showing your order of work.’
I stared in disbelief. Six days?! That had to be a typo. Only a cowboy could create a world in anything less than a couple of billion years. Six days! My name may be Odin but I’m not crazy. I moved on.
‘How many genders would you create?’ Well, that depends on evolution; it’s not something you can control. The temptation to start smiting returned. A spot of rain landed on the back of my hand as my eyes misted over. I brushed the thundercloud away and checked my temper. I needed a job, killing off a potential employer wouldn’t lend itself to high job security and good references. Things were bad enough at home and it would be more than I could stand to see my little Freyja crying again. I scanned through the rest of the questions.
‘State your preferred order of these seven commandments and then add three of your own choosing.
What is your preferred method of mass extinction?
What would be the length of a calendar year?
Please draw a star chart of your proposed galaxy configuration and indicate the position of your solar system therein.
State the length of your preferred working week in standard days, giving the number of days of rest.
Compose a hierarchy chart of deities showing employee relationships and priority of worship.’
I was aghast. I pushed back my chair and rested my head on the desk. It felt smooth and cool against my forehead. I needed to feel like a real God again. I lifted my head and looked at the screen. Where was the creativity? I slammed my head down on the desk. I felt pain, and it was good. I looked up once more, rereading the last question. Where was the spontaneity? I hit desk a second time, my forehead throbbed. Where was the randomness? Again and again my head hit the desk. Small drops of blood spattered down. Did I want to work for people like this? With a final satisfying smack, the desk top gave way.
A wise person once said pride goes before a fall. Me? My pride was in ashes in the halls of Asgard. Livid, calm and blooded, I stood. Dave walked over and did whatever these people do with their electronic contraptions. After a few seconds a piece of paper wafted out of a printer. Dave turned it over, it was blank. He studied it for a moment and then said,
“I’m sorry sir. You’re not the kind of God we’re looking for.”
‘Spineless.’ I thought, ‘These people are spineless.’ A telephone rang. Dave bent to answer it saying,
“I’m sure you can find your own way out.” Grasping my spear, I aimed it squarely at Dave.
“It will be my pleasure.” My voice boomed and echoed around the room. It was time to find some real warriors in this world, and if they wouldn’t come to me, then I would go and find them. I raised my spear and the door crashed to the ground. I strode outside, raised my face to the heavens and cried. “My name is Odin.”