Sometimes life can push a man to the edge. As I sit here at my desk I received a papercut from a maniacal piece of A4 paper, I too, was pushed to the edge. This resulted in my breathing becoming erratic and strained, my eyeballs turning bloodshot and bulging, whilst froth began to spurt from my mouth. I looked like a fifteen-year-old who’d just taken on the challenge of consuming both coke and mentos in front of their friends and peers and then realising, just a few seconds later, that the bodily result of this combination was not an urban myth and they’d just made a terrible, terrible mistake.
I’d gone Berserk.
The word Berserk derives from the word Berserker, which onlinedictionary.com reliably informs me is ‘an ancient Norse warrior who fought with frenzied rage in battle, possibly induced by eating hallucinogenic mushrooms’.
Sometimes in life going Berserk can be great. For example, your boss has just told you that you misfiled Form 11D… how surprised would he be when you pop a couple of fungal friends in your mouth, rip open your shirt and begin to strangle the shocked jobsworth with the end of your tie. I think that answer to that would be… very surprised.
The same applied to a battle. Sometimes having a small group of Odin worshipping, half naked, axe wielding weirdos who feel no pain or fear on your team can be great.
There’s some debate amongst history loving people (I believe they’re called historians) about whether or not Berserkers ever actually existed. In my opinion they are far too awesome not to have existed. But for those of you who like evidence to back up my wild statements there’s also plenty of that too. Way back in the first century AD, the Roman historian Tacitus described similar warriors within the German tribes. This was followed up on by the historian Prokopios, who spoke of ‘the wild and lawless Heruli’, a group of warriors who went into battle butt naked and played little notice to any wounds that were inflicted upon them, and who were quite possibly the predecessors of the Norse Viking warrior. There’s plenty of references to the Norse Berserkers in the sagas (poems, written by people with a deep hate of rhyming couplets, for Scandinavian and Icelandic leaders) where they are described doing the kind of things that would make Brock Lesnar (a UFC fighter and professional wrestler with a neck so thick you could use it to straighten out the leaning tower of pisa) look like a thing that isn’t very dangerous whatsoever. In the Volsung saga Berserkers are described as ‘mad as dogs and wolves, they bit their shields, were as strong as bears or oxen, they killed everybody, and neither fire or iron bit them’.
Being a Berserker is essentially pausing your life, entering a very long string of commands through your controller, and then activating God mode.