Dreams of Thunder

The old man pressed his face to the glass, hands to either side to block reflections. The baby in the crib just in front was asleep, head turned to the right, one small hand up near its mouth. His eyes crinkled.

"Yours?" The intern was betrayed by scrubs and a carelessly but securely slung stethoscope. As the other turned, he frowned slightly, then his expression cleared. "New grandkid?"

"No, no. A charge, is all. A promise to keep."

"Oh...but you were looking at one of them, yes?" The young man's face was guileless. The elder sighed.

"One, yes. That one there." He pointed. "His parents...I donated funds for his care. I am his Godsfather."

"Oh, I see," said the doctor, reassured. "I'm sorry, you are...?"

"Alfie. His parents call me 'the Alfie.'" The older man turned to the doctor. "Might I ask a favor of you?" Weather beat on the windows across the hallway, rain lashing. "I have here two things for the child...they were his, really. Can they be put in his cradle with him?" He took from a coat pocket a small stuffed goat and a well-made toy mallet.

"Oh, sure. If we can disinfect them first, it should be okay," said the doctor apologetically. Surprise colored his face as he almost dropped the items. "Heavy!"

The doctor entered the nursery, and after a few minutes, a nurse came by and carefully placed both offerings in the cradle, waving at the old man with a smile. He smiled back, ducking his head in thanks. As she left, he gazed back at the boy, still sleeping fitfully.

"I learned much from Utgard-Loki, lord. They will not take your birthright from you." Then he bowed, and walked away.

Behind him, the child tugged on the goatskin and laid a hand on the massive stone hammer, eyes flickering behind closed lids.

Outside, the clouds screamed.