“It’s what?” Andrew asked.
“A drink,” I said. “Called the Midnight Sun. They serve it one day a year. Today.” We stood at the bar, backpacks lying at our feet. The tavern was dank and lit with a single candle. Two other men sipped their drinks in the shadows. Outside, the wind ripped at ice crusted snow, and through it, the sun burned through the night.
“I’ll try it.” Andrew shivered, blowing in his hands. “It can’t suck worse than the trail. How far away is the hostel?”
“Ten minutes – tops. You can’t backpack all the way here and not try the Midnight Sun. It’s a tradition among us Skjåns.”
The bartender emerged from the back, a gaunt scarecrow of a man with cavernous cheeks. “Get you?” he mumbled in his native tongue. I ordered for both of us.
Andrew peered out the frosted window at the sun glittering on dimpled snow. “I can’t believe the sun stays out all night!” he said with amazement. “How does anyone sleep?”
I smiled. “We drink, go to sleep, and the next day the sun goes down, like it should. But the Midnight Sun has to be drunk, or else the real sun will never set.”
“Heavy. Make mine a double.”
The bartender reappeared. One glass, half full of vodka sat in front of Andrew. Nothing in front of me.
“Where’s yours?” Andrew asked, leaning over his drink. The bartender raised his other hand and brought a hammer-claw down on his skull with a wet smack.
The sound of dribbling blood accompanied the howling wind. I filled the glass full and red and handed it to the bartender. He raised it to the window, took the first sip. The men lined up to share the drink, and we waited for dusk.