Aidan needed a hobby, so he bought a metal detector. It was supposed to help him deal with the stress of caring for his parish in the north of England, but straightaway he developed an obsession with Vikings.
"They were all through here, you know," he told his wife Edie. "Absolute hordes of them. And they buried their gold and silver, all sorts of valuable things. People have discovered caches all over the countryside with metal detectors."
He was convinced there was Viking gold buried in the field behind the parsonage. That's why he had her carry the shovel out with him as he paced along swinging the metal detector back and forth in the gathering twilight.
Edie didn't like it. She was getting negative feelings, cold fear that ran down her back and clenched at her insides. The air was close, heavy, hard to breathe. There was a rumbling in the distance like thunder.
"Aidan, can't we go back to the house?" she said. "This feels creepy to me."
Aidan took his headphones off in exasperation and said, "Darling, why must you be such a stick in the mud? This could be our lucky day. The Vikings were all through this area of England, and they had a stronghold in York. They were known to bury hoards of gold, silver, and coins, and my theory is that there's some here. We could be rich! Can't you stop worrying for once and join in the fun?
"We don't need money," Edie said. "You're a parson, remember? We're not supposed to worry about worldly things like money."
Aidan put on his condescending face, the one he used when the parishioners didn't understand one of his sermons. "Dear Edie," he said, shaking his head. "Dear, sweet Edie. There is nothing in the Bible that tells us money is evil. I see no need for us to live like monks. There is nothing wrong with the money and fame that discovering a Viking hoard will bring us. Not to worry, darling."
"Worrying is my life," Edie said. "I'm a seer, remember? I'm always getting feelings, usually of dread, to warn me of danger."
"Pity," Aidan said, pursing his lips. "I used to think it would be delightful to be clairvoyant. However, you've convinced me it's no fun at all." He put his headphones on and began swinging the metal detector back and forth in the gathering dusk.
Aidan was the practical one, Edie knew. Not into the woo woo stuff like her, scoffing at her feelings and intuitions, preferring his Bible, his facts and numbers and spreadsheets to her vagueness and dread.
How did we ever get married, she wondered yet again. Opposites attract, but what about polar opposites?
Aidan was ahead of her, and she noticed that he was waving her forward. He'd stopped in the middle of a depression, and he was agitated, hopping about like he'd found something.
"Give me the shovel," he said, yanking the headphones off. "This thing is beeping like crazy. There's gold right beneath me."
As she drew near to him her heart started beating faster, and at the same time the coldness gripped her stomach harder. It was as if a hand had reached out and closed icy fingers around her entrails.
"Aidan, I don't think this is a good idea," she said.
"Nonsense," he said, grabbing the shovel from her. "You have done nothing but fret and worry throughout our marriage. I am tired of it."
He plunged the shovel into the earth and it went in easily. "Lovely," he said. "That rain shower this afternoon softened up the ground. This will be easy." He was right, too. In no time he had dug a hole two feet deep, when all of a sudden his shovel clanged against something made of metal.
"Did you hear that?" he said. "That's it! A Viking hoard! We're going to be rich, my darling."
Edie heard the clang, but she didn't like it. It seemed to echo in her ears forever, the overtones humming like fire, like the buzzing of insects, like a deep and upwelling rage.
"Aidan, don't," she said, as he leaned down on the ground to inspect the hole. "I don't think you should. I'm getting the strangest feelings."
"Damn your feelings," he said. "Do you expect me to pile dirt back on top of this and walk away? This could be the biggest archeological find in Britain ever. They'll name this after me: Aidan's Hoard. Got a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"
He scooped out handfuls of dirt, trying to uncover the hoard before the light waned. Dark clouds were moving across the sky, and there were flashes of lightning that seemed far off but were getting closer. It was getting hard to see, and the shapes of the trees loomed around them like black sentinels.
Edie didn't know what was happening. She felt lightheaded, dizzy, her body tingling strangely. She was trembling, shivering with cold in the summer evening.