Hymnessa’s Rebellion

[WP] “A new follower! How pleased I am for your gifts and here I thought you mortals forgot me,” the figure said as you looked on confused. You weren’t religious but a mere history buff studying the Greeks. Now you were the sole “follower” of a forgotten goddess standing before you.

“You came!” the voice exclaims.

The adventure suddenly straightens, having been bent down and brushing at some writing at the base of the statue. His brush is still held aloft, and he turns around to look as if he were a schoolteacher turning away from a blackboard to address a disruptive student.

The surrounding cavern is dank as several pools of water sit around him, while more can be heard dribbling down from the mossy surfaces of the walls. He turns back to the statue that he had been studying.

Its figure is carved out of white marble and wears a flowing dress. She is barefoot, raising up on the toes of one foot while the other is drawn up and pointing behind her as if she is mid-frolic. One hand is holding or pulling her dress to the side, perhaps preventing it from becoming unruly as she runs. The other arm is reaching up as a pair of birds alight to her extended index finger.

Light filtering in from above reflects onto the statue from the surrounding water, casting a marbling overlay on the figure. “I’m so happy!” the voice says, as the reflecting water warbles to the cadence of her words.

The adventurer roles his ankle on a rock when he hears her again, stumbling as he sees the shifting light.

“Oh, be careful,” the voice continues. “I can’t lose my only follower immediately after getting him,” she says, giggling.

“Ugh,” the adventurer starts. “Come again…” He looks down at the plaque he had been brushing and tries to sound out the words. “Hymn–essa?”

Hymnessa gasps. “And you even know my name? Oh, I am so happy! Why I could…I could just sing.”

Hymnessa starts into a Fa-La-La-La-La’ing and the adventurer could swear he’s even hearing birds singing in one of the nearby tunnels.

“Excuse me, Hymnessa….Hymnessa!” He has to yell as she continues singing and doesn’t acknowledge him.

“Oh yes, srrumm?…Oh, I’m so embarrassed. What is your name, you sweetheart, you?”

“It’s Kyle. Do you mind telling me what’s going on here? Are you really part of the Greek gods?”

“Oh, you don’t know?” She asks, wounded.

“I’m sorry, Hymnessa. I’ve studied a lot about your culture and have an extensive knowledge of the Greek gods, but I’ve never heard of you.”

“Oh…I see.”

“Do you have any idea why that might be?”

“Well, my brothers and sisters didn’t really think my domain was important for humankind…some of them even fearing that humans might use it as a weapon against us.”

Kyle suddenly blinks and shakes his head, not knowing what question to ask from the multitude that just piled up in his head. “Ok, who were your brothers and sisters?”

“I was the youngest of seven and born after Zeus and we–“

“What?! Zeus? The actual Zeus?

“Yes? Was there another?”

“Well, there was Odin, but that’s an entirely different can of worms. I’m…I don’t even know where to begin. How? And Why? Where?”

“I don’t know…is it actually me you’re excited about or are you more interested in who my family is?”

Kyle shakes his head and puts his palm over his forehead. “I’m sorry, Hymnessa. This is just a really big deal and I’m just trying to take it all in. There was never any mention of a seventh sibling. Everything ends with Zeus and goes on to the founding of their…your pantheon. But you never came up, Hymnessa. Why haven’t I heard of you, considering who your family is?”

Silence stretches out for many moments as Kyle’s excited eyes pass back and forth over the statue’s surface. “What do you know of our father’s ending if you’ve never heard of me?”

“It was Zeus. He freed your other brothers and sisters and orchestrated the over throwing of Kronos, leading to the installation of your family’s rule.”

“Zeus?! Good–great! I’m happy that he managed that. So very, very happy that they never needed my help at all.”

Kyle looks back and forth between the statue and the surroundings, also glancing at his hands, only to realize he doesn’t know what to do with them.

“Please, just leave me alone, Kyle. You have my gratitude for visiting, but I just want to be by myself now.”

“Hymnessa…I…” Kyle trails off and looks back down at the brush in his hand. “I’m sorry, Hymnessa,” he begins again. “I’m a scholar, you see? And while I try to learn as much as I can, sometimes I read things that aren’t the most reliable. So, I apparently read some things from some people that didn’t know what they were talking about. If you wouldn’t mind, I would love to hear more about you and what happened. Can you help me understand so that I can share your story?”

Hymnessa sniffles as she seems to consider. “Are you sure you want to know about me, Kyle? I’m apparently not as useful as the rest of my family, so I wouldn’t want to burden you with wasted time.”

Kyle shakes his head as he takes a seat on a nearby rock protrusion. “Don’t be silly, Hymnessa. You sound like a beautifully spirited goddess, and I truly want to hear about, then spread your story. So please, tell me.”

Kyle settles forward, his elbows on his knees and his fingertips meeting their opposite twin. He stares at her statue, patiently waiting like a kid staring at a Christmas tree full of wrapped presents.

“Well,” Hymnessa began. “We all chose domains that were reflections of our temperaments and interests. Zeus chose the sky so that he could continue looking down on those beneath him. Poseidon took the sea, a reflection of his fluid, carefree, go-with-the-flow nature. Hades took the underworld, ever undermining and scheming against others. Hera guarded marriage and family values to reflect her bond with the rest of us…rest of them.”

Hymnessa pauses, sniffling as she digests her own story. Kyle doesn’t speak and just allows her the moment to compose her thoughts and self.

Hymnessa clears her throat. “Hestia,” she continues, “Hestia oversaw hearth and fire, a keeper of the flame, as she valued security and safety within one’s own space. And Demeter helped Gia, becoming a goddess of harvest fertility.”

Kyle smiles and speaks when Hymnessa pauses again. “I noticed you forgot one, and perhaps, the one most important. So, what is your domain, Hymnessa?”

“Dreaming,” Hymnessa says simply.

“Because you liked to dream?” Kyle asks.

“Yeah, of better places and better times. When Gia helped my mother give birth to me on Crete, it was my dreaming of what…how things could be…how they should be that led me to freeing my brothers and sisters. From there, my foolish talks of freedom and a beautiful life led to organizing, orchestrating and overthrowing our father. It all happened because of me and my stupid dreams, only for my siblings to realize that dreams were just too dangerous, burying both me and my dreams.”

Kyle lowers his forehead into his palm as he tries to process her story. It was a lot to take in and completely undermines everything he previously knew. He tries to imagine retelling her story and the looks that he would receive. ‘Oh, the goddess told you herself, did she?’ they would undoubtedly say. And if it had been relayed during the time of ancient Greeks, it would have been heresy.

Kyle thanks her for her tale and the two continue talking about her history as she tries to help him discover a tangible way to bring her existence back into the world of humankind.

Death and a Card Game

[WP] You are a being so incomprehensible that you drive anyone who perceives you to madness. Your effect on others makes finding friends a challenge.

“So you’re her?” Death asks, looking down the girl with a black-pixie haircut. Death is wearing a full bodied robe with his hood drawn over his head, concealing his face in shadow. His only visible features being his exposed skeleton-hands where he’s tapping all of his outstretched fingertips together as he considers something.

“Tell me, Aubrey, why is it that descriptions always make people seem taller?”

Aubrey stand across from him and the expanse around them is a featureless white. She shrugs. “If it makes you feel any better, you’re exactly what I imagined you’d be,” she replies. Her clothes are all black and her top looks like a scapular but with long sleeves. The hooded garment has an athletic fit over her torso, but below her belt, it hangs loose like a dress while the cloth along the outside of her thighs is cut away, revealing the leg length, black-leather boots.

“That’s just how this works, Aubrey. People see what they expect—although…those people are usually afraid—at least a little bit. I don’t frighten you, do I?”

Aubrey shakes her head. “No. I know why I’m here. It’s fine.”

“Well,” Death says, holing up a finger, “this next part is a bit of a tradition and you have to play. Everyone does. We play best 3 out of 5. If you win…you get to go back.”

Aubrey smiles. “That sounds very happily-ever-after-like, but aren’t you still undefeated?”

Death’s hands separate and his palms turn upright in a shrug. “Eh, technically speaking…I guess that’s the way one would look at it.”

“Well, that technically sounds very anti-committal of you, Death.”

His fingers begin tapping again. “Sassy. I can see why Dark took such an interest in you.”

“Dark? You mean, Shades? Excuse me, the Lord of Shadows.

“He really let you call him Shades?”

“Well, he didn’t seem to like it at first, but he got over it…so, 3 out of 5?”

“Ah, yes,” Death replies, then pauses. “Why the rush? Have some place to be?”

“No. I’m just know what it’s like getting distracted,” she says, smiling. “I don’t know how to play, but do you think we could try cards?”

“A classic! I like it.” A table with green felt appears between them and Aubrey looses her balance as a chair slides against the back of her caves, scooping her up and moving her to the table. “We play Texas Hold’em, and it goes like this…” He continues shuffling the cards then deals each of them a set of cards. “Those cards are yours and these are mine.”

Death takes a peek at his cards to find a 8 & J of diamonds.

“Next comes the cards we both play off of, he says as he flips cards over between them.”

“Is it true that Billy the Kid almost cheated you out of y’alls game of cards?”

As she says this, Death pauses before throwing down the final card. “He told you that, did he?”

Aubrey nods. “Yeah, he won the first two games against you and was about to win the 3rd when Shades informed you about his extra cards.”

Death drops the last card and nods. “The following hands were played with him being naked…without places to hide cards, those hands did not go his way. Are you suggesting that’s something I should be concerned about with you?”

“Oh no, I wouldn’t know how to cheat at this if I tried. See?” she asks turning her cards to show him. “I’ve got a black 3 and a black 7. Am I supposed to draw or something, next?”

Death studies her cards then the earnest expression and genuine curiosity on her face. Looking back down at the center cards, the only noteworthy ones are the 6, 7, and 9 of diamonds which go nicely with his 8 & J of the same suit. He stacks them together and turns them upside down next to the deck.

“I fold,” he says.

“What does that mean? Do I fold too now?”

“No, I mean you win that round.”

“I did?! What did you have?”

He guards the discarded hand with his own. The waggles the other finger as say that’s not allowed. “It’s too embarrassing, so I’d rather you not see. You beat me rather soundly and I’m a little bitter about it.”
“Oh,” Aubrey says, covering her smile with her hand.

The next round comes out and he beats her with four of a kind. The next was a win with a full house.
“I can tell you two are on the same team, so to speak,” Aubrey says, as the next cards are coming out.
“Same team, huh? And what makes you say that?”

“Because y’all are both part of the dark. You’re both shadow deities.”

Death’s hand freezes again as he’s about to throw down another card. “You think we’re equals? What exactly do you think is the connection between us?”

Aubrey shrugs. “I don’t know. You’re both taking care of the dark related things? That’s why he told you about Billy, right? He was just leaning over to tell his buddy in the next cubicle or whatever while y’all are both work at Dark Inc.”

Death starts to laugh hard. So hard that he has to get up and walk away from the table, placing one hand over his obscured face and the other around his abdomen. He tries to return to the table several times, only to start laughing uncontrollably again as Aubrey looks at him with that confused expression.

“What?” she asks, not being in on the joke.

When Death finally can sit back down, he exhales and his hood turns as he shakes his head. He peeks at his cards again, then folds a four of a kind. “Got me again,” he says, causing Aubrey’s confusion to turn to joy.

He takes up the cards again to deal a final hand and begins talking as he passes them out. “No, we’re not partners and no we don’t work in adjoining cubicles. To continue with your very poor analogy, you couldn’t even consider him my boss in your Dark Inc. No, the real Dark couldn’t even be called the building owner or the land owner for the property that it sat on…because the real Dark is what the building, the land, all the associated office equipment, and all the employees…Dark is what they’re all made of.”

Death looks at the dealt cards, his expression invisible as he looks at his Royal Flush.

“I don’t understand,” Aubrey says, her own cards forgotten.

Death nods at her confusion. “Your humans get many, many things wrong, but the thing that you miss the mark on by the greatest margin is your belief that all things are made up of matter and energy. You and I aren’t here right now as either of those, so what do you think those two are made of exactly?”

Aubrey looks away from the table, growing distant. “Light and Dark?” she asks, absently.

Death nods. “The very same. So you thinking that Dark is some arbitrary deity or that we’re equal in some way…that’s why it’s so funny. You and I are here right now as different combinations of Dark and Light. We two consist of more Dark than like and the two of us are closer to being equals than I am to being an equal of Dark. That latter similarity is so astronomically far off, it’s nonsense. And I’m almost insulted on Dark’s behalf.”

Aubrey slouches deeper into her chair as Death lets out an exasperated sigh, then turns his cards over in the discard pile. “Congratulations,” he says, simply.

“Wait, what?” she asks, confused.

“I can see why Dark likes you,” he replies, extending his index finger and shaking it at her. “You’re the only person to ever beat me, back you go.” He issues a shooing gesture with the backs of his hands and Aubrey is whisked away, the table blurring as her and the chair zip across the white expanse.

Aubrey opens her eyes, and all she sees is darkness. After a bit of confused orienting, she realizes she’s in bed and sits up to click on the lamp atop her bedside table. She rubs her head, feeling like she was just talking to someone, but every time she tries to recall the conversation, the memory seems to move around like a shadow in the dark. She feels like it’s there but can’t rule out the possibility that it’s just her mind playing a trick as she focuses on something without features.

Shadow Suggestion

[WP] You were told when you come of age, your words would have power within them. As an adult you’ve realized just how much power your casual words can have on peoples subconscious actions, almost like hypnotic orders. So you’re very careful with your choice of words when speaking.

“Geez, Aubrey,” the girls says, walking up the steps to school. “Is your wardrobe allergic to color or something?”

“Get bent, Lilly,” Aubrey replies, walking ahead of her. She gets to the top of the steps and turns back when Lilly doesn’t respond further. Ugh, what’s her deal? she thinks, seeing Lilly reach the bottom of the steps as she walks away from school.

Aubs, the Shadow Lord replies in her mind. You need to go stop her and right now!

“Hey, I’m not responsible for what she does with her time. If she wants to skip school, that’s on her.”

Uh, this time, you are responsible for what she’s doing. You just used the persuasive power on her, so she’s on her way to get bent.

Wait, what? Aubrey looks at the back Lilly as she steps off the front sidewalk and continues through the line of vehicles that are dropping off students. Several of Lilly’s friends turn to greet her, but she ignores everyone as she begins walking across the parking lot.

What he hell, Shades? You need to get me an instruction manual on this stuff!

Well, influence is part of the subtlety nature that’s associated with shadow powers. You really could have guessed that much.

“Hey, Lilly!” Aubry calls, rushing down the steps. “Wait up!” She brushes against several students who complain as they roll away from her collision with them. She steps off the sidewalk to a horn blaring as the vehicle began to roll forward.

“Screw you,” Aubrey yells at the driver, then freezes as her eyes widen. She turns back and raises her palm in a stop gesture. “Wait, forget I said that.” Her expression is one of apology as she returns to chasing Lilly.

He couldn’t hear you, Aubs. All of his windows were up and besides, you two weren’t even engaged in conversations.

How is any of that relevant, Shades? Aubrey adjusts her bag and pulls the slack out of her straps to keep it from bouncing against the small of her back.

Because you have to be in conversation to influence someone.

“Ugh,” Aubrey groans. “We’re seriously going to need to work on your communication skills after this.”

As she catches up to Lilly, she wraps an arm around her neck to slow her. “Hey, hey, Lilly. Where are you off to all of a sudden?” Lilly doesn’t respond, instead continuing to pull against Aubrey’s grasp, in the direction of the busy street ahead of them.

You have to command her, Shades says.

“Lilly, stop.” As soon as the statement leaves Aubry’s mouth, Lilly quits pulling against her.” Aubrey breathes a sigh of relief and releases the grip on her shoulder.

Ugh, you better tell her to forget everything you’ve said today.

“Why?” Aubrey asks as she notices Lilly’s face turning blue. “Oh gosh! Lilly, forget everything I said today.”

Lilly suddenly looks at Aubrey and pulls her arm away. “Ow,” she complains from Aubrey having started gripping her arm. Lilly looks at the nearby traffic and then turns to look back towards school. “What is this,” Lilly asks with an accusing glare. “Is this an abduction. Are you abducting me for one of your rituals or something? How did I even get here?”

Aubrey exhales and smiles. “Oh, thank goodness. It’s good to you have you back, Lilly.”

Lilly stares back at her without knowing how to respond. She finally shakes her head and turns to walk back to school. “You are so weird,” she says under her breath, walking away.

Worlds Apart

[WP] Your wife has been dead for the past 5 years and you’ve moved on, going on dates to try and find a new partner. Last night, however, you heard the unmistakable sound of her whispering in your ear.

    “Are you there, Drew?”
Drew cuts his eyes to the side but doesn’t otherwise respond. He’s sitting on his sofa, slouched down into the pillow tops while watching a movie.
A huge explosion displays on screen, and Drew laughs heartily.
“That didn’t sound very funny, Drew.”
Drew suddenly sits up and looks towards the kitchen. He was used to hearing her voice— rather, the memory of it, but it had never referenced something he was actively participating in. He looks behind the sofa, then in the nearby storage closet. He closes the closet door and pauses, listening.
“Drew, hunny, are you there?”
“Yes, Anna. Yeah—I’m here,” he says folding his hands together and pressing them against his mouth. “I can hear you,” he whispers.
“How are you holding up?”
He nods, sulking. “I’m good, I’m good. One day at a time, you know?” He stares up at the ceiling, not really knowing where to look. “I—I’ve missed you. It would be nice if I could see you too.”
“I’m sorry, Drew, but that’s not a good idea. You’re already refusing to let go, so seeing me isn’t going to help matters.”
“No, it’s fine. I’m fine. Really. I’ve been doing better.”
“Oh, yeah? Can you tell me a little about how that’s going?”
Drew continues to scan around at his ceiling. “Well, I’ve been going on dates.” He nods. “Yeah, I’ve had several.”
“Really? And how did that go?”
Drew shrugs. “It was fine. Just waiting for the right one, I guess.”
“So what was your last date like?”
“Uh, would that be appropriate? With you being gone and all?”
“We talked about that when we were together, Drew. Remember? We said, no matter what happens to either of us, we’ll do our best to find love again.”
Drew nods. “I remember, Anna.”
“So tell me about your date. What was her name?”
“It was Ann—er Is—abelle. Yeah, Isabelle.”
“Isabelle huh? That’s a lovely name. Anything else?”
Drew shakes his head. “Not really. Nothing happened so what’s to tell? Why do you wanna hear about that stuff anyways? Aren’t you watching?”
“Because I still care about you, Drew, and I want you to be happy. But you didn’t really go on any dates.”
Drew nods. “Sure I did. Lots of ‘em.”
“What were you watching earlier? Can you describe to me?”
“Oh, you couldn’t see? I thought maybe you were watching with me.”
“No, but I could hear the sounds of shooting and things blowing up.”
“Yeah, it’s about some special forces guys. They were raiding a compound with and are trying to take out an evil dictator.”
“And that was funny? Them blowing things up and shooting people?”
Drew shrugs. “Yeah, because they deserve it.”
“I don’t think that’s supposed to be funny, Drew. And it’s probably funny for the same reason you’re pretending to go on dates. You’re just covering everything up and refusing to see things the way they are. Laughing at explosions isn’t healthy. Surely, you can see that. You’re still stuck in denial, Drew. How long are you going to put yourself through this?”
“Well, you left! It’s your fault. All of it is!”
“Drew, it’s more complicated than that.”
“Is it? You weren’t supposed to leave me like that! We’d be together forever—we said that! Forever! And you quit!”
“If that’s what helps you cope, then sure, it’s all my fault, Drew. All of it. But does that really change anything for either of us?”
Drew sobs and shakes his head. “I just want it to all go away. I want to wake up and things go back to what they use to be. Help me—help me do that, Anna? I just want—I just want to do it all over again, to do it right this time.”
“Drew, you know that’s not possible.”
“I just—” Drew backs into a wall and slides down to his butt, his hands drooping over his knees as he stares at the floor. “I can’t do this without you, Anna.”
“Yes, you can, Drew. You always could. I never stopped believing in you. You know that right? I’ve always believed in you, but now—It’s wrong for me to keep holding onto you like this. We have to let go of one another and just appreciate what we shared. If we can’t do that, then we’ll just end up smothering each other until we’re both destroyed.”
Drew’s head raises and he brushes the top of his knuckles across the underside of his nose. “You still miss me, Anna?”
“Of course I do, Drew. Nothing’s ever going to change that. The only thing keeping me from being happy right now is knowing how miserable you are. So I can’t move on unless you do.”
“So I’m causing you grief?”
“Yes, Drew. The same way that I’m causing it for you. You have to understand though. I didn’t leave you. I’ve always been right here. I never left, but you didn’t either, did you, Drew?”
Drew stands as rays of sunshine streak across the air above him. He stands and continues looking at it, then follows to see the light coming through the wall on the other side of the dining room table.
“I haven’t been doing so well either, Drew. But I’m trying.”
“Oh yeah?” he asks as he raises his fingers to move through the sunshine. Birds can be heard beyond the wall, and he turns back to look across his den. The blinds are open on his front windows, and he sees his porch light illuminating the nighttime setting.
“I tried therapy for a while and that helped some.”
“They have therapy where you are, Anna?”
“Yes, Drew. But that didn’t do a lot for me, so I sought some questionable help elsewhere. I tried psychic readers and mediums…and you know what? It turns out that I had a knack for it, so I’ve been studying.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, Drew. It’s how I’m finally able to talk to you now…I’m a medium.”
The sunlight continues to grow from the wall and illuminates the dining room table next to him. Anna is sitting on the opposite side of him and smiling back. The view between them is streaked with light and he has to use his hand as a visor to shield the light from the wall.
“You look good, Anna.” She smiles warmly as a tear breaks into a sprint down her cheek. She nods.
“I never left you, Drew,” she says, with broken words.
“Yeah,” he says, rubbing the back of his head. “I can see that now. I—I’m sorry—about what I said earlier.”
“It’s ok.”
He puts his hand into the back of his jeans pocket and thumbs to the light from the wall. “I guess that’ll be for me then.” She nods again, unable to speak. “I’ll be seeing you, Anna.”
He steps through.

Sisyphus’ Legacy

Theme Thursday Challenge
Max Words: 500

After finishing his draft, Dan walks into his office, ready to set into his revision. He grabs a seat in his fancy chair and turns on his special writing light as he prepares to set into his task. The computer comes to life and he goes right to his manuscript, migrating it from his writing software into a more refined word processor. Once the word processor takes hold, his MS becomes infected with so many red squiggles that it looks as if his words are adrift in the Red Sea.

The insurmountable volume of new information almost crushes him immediately. He runs his fingers through his hair and tries to process the amount of work ahead of him. He massages his face, shakes out his hands, and sets his mind on getting his words back on something more promising—like a snowy field or some other place without those annoying red lines. One step at a time, he tells himself. He starts on the first sentence then continues through the first paragraph, then he moves on to the second paragraph, and so on.

Hours pass. He finally finishes the first chapter and is mentally exhausted. He exhales and slouches deeper into his chair. He tries to feel some since of accomplishment over what he just achieved, but nothing comes as he just closes his eyes and rubs at his temples. He convinces himself that he deserves a break, so he mouses over to the save icon before shutting everything down. His mouse hovers over the silly floppy disk symbol, but the button doesn’t bolden to suggest he can interact with it. He clicks it and nothing happens. He tries clicking elsewhere to the same effect. He tries minimizing the window and still nothing. He starts to panic and sulk internally, muttering to himself, “no, no, no, no,” as he hits ctrl, alt, delete. He pulls up the task manager to find his program isn’t responding. “This can’t be happening,” he pleads as he runs his fingers through his hair and tugs at his hair. Suddenly, the computer locks up and powers down causing him to slam fists into the top of the desk, before shoving the desk’s contents off into the floor. He leans his face into his hands, on the verge of tears. “That didn’t just happen,” he says to no on in particular.

Suddenly, Dan walks into his office, ready to set into his revision. He plops into his fancy chair and turns on his special writing light as he prepares to take hold of his boulder once again. For the crime of not finishing his MS, Dan was forever condemned to revise his draft then have it crash, experiencing the loss of all progress only to have the moment restart so that he can do it all over again.

Ashes in Winter

[WP] All your life you’ve been told that fire will burn and hurt you. Imagine your surprise when you walk out of a house fire unscathed.

His eyes squeeze tighter and his eyebrows wrinkle at the increasing discomfort. He had drawn his body up into a ball but continues to brush at his check and ear because of an infrequent annoyance. His breath is visible with each exhale, yet he continues to sleep–to dream. As a child, his adopted parents always warned him about the dangers of fire. A fact they were so vehement about that they beat him during the few occasions they caught him getting too close. The torment eventually spilled into his dreams and continues to haunt him even after his parents are dead and gone.

His eyes shoot open as he experiences a fall sensation. He lands on the curve of his back then rolls through smoldering ash. He squeezes his eyes shut until the pain abates enough for him to notice his shiver. He looks out from the floor to see the snow fall, then sits up and crosses his arms for warmth. It doesn’t escape him that he’s now naked but he’s more concerned about the entire house having burned down around him, while he slept through it.

He moves a partial bed post with his foot as he looks over the still smoldering place in the floor. Another darkened area on the floor used to be storage for clean clothes but that’s no longer the case. Snow continues to fall around him, melting initially but slowly starting to cling to more of the fire’s debris. He looks around at the vast open fields that stretch away from him, in all directions. “Great,” he says as he rubs vigorously at his arms. “Turns out, my fear of fire doesn’t matter but knowing that doesn’t matter either considering I’m now going to freeze to death.”

Journey to Atlantis

Theme Thursday Challenge

Max Words: 500

She opens her eyes, seeing a great white belly above her. A whale maybe? She then becomes aware of the water all around her and sits up as if to gasp for air. But there is no gasp as she continues to breath normally. Looking around, she finds herself in an aquatic wonderland. She scoops up a small round rock from beside her and climbs to her feet. Is this Atlantis? How did I get here?

She scoots her feet across the sea floor while the round rocks kick up like the plastic spheres in a children’s ball pit. An aquatic tree is close by, and she continues over to view it. She reaches for it then does a double take. WTF? Is this plastic?

She is startled to notice a figure next to her, a goldfish giving her the side eye. “Sebastian?” she asks. Suddenly, there is an earthquake. She spreads her stance, throws out her hand for balance and crouches. She flicks her head back for the full Black Widow effect, causing her to notice the large Levi logo and a jean pocket with a bandana hanging out of it. Dad? The lighting shifts and she looks up to see a partially submerged shirt in the top of her aquarium. The logo on the shirt is distorted but she knows the symbol well enough to recognize her mom’s college branding. She looks back towards the bandana as a pair of legs leap and lock around the hips of the Levis.

She covers her eyes with both hands. “Oh God, oh God, oh God. This is not happening.” Something brushes her, and she chances a look to find the fish next to her. “Hey, don’t get any ideas pal.” She turns back to the activity outside the tank then back to Sebastian. She squints at him. “Are you watching that, you pervy fish…wait, you’re not Sebastian.”

Her world then blurs as her reality is yanked away from her before her experience slams into a toddler. She is in her father’s arms, while wearing floaties on her own. She splashes at the pool’s surface. “I think we have a swimmer,” her father says, before her world blurs anew. Next, she cries on her bed as So Below performs Fear in her headphones. “Yeah it’s no fair,” she hears as she stares across the room. “Got me running in my place,” as she glares at the second-place medal. Again, her perspective leaps. She lands in her lane, in a pool. Her goggles are down, hand over hand and counting until —nothing. It all goes black. She then sits up, to a spray of water over her face before rolling to her side and curling into a ball. Coughing ensues as a bloody towel is pulled away from her head and replaced with another. Her gaze is cast across a pool but then shifts, under her own power, to the first-place medal pressed into her palm.

Together in Dreams

Micro Monday

Theme: Dreams
Max WC: 300

“I dreamed about you; you know? Not like before —or always, I should say. This one was different. It was about being your dream. It doesn’t have to be right now, just sometime, you know? Ugh, I’m terrible at this sort of thing.” She sighs. “Let me start over.”

“I’m torn. Part of me wants to just roll up and nestle into our remaining time together. Another part of me wants to show you how strong I am and not let you see me during the moments…when I’m not as strong as I would like to be.” She laughs nervously. “I’m messing this up again, aren’t I? It might be simpler to just share a song that makes me think about it. It’s Nonbeliever by London Grammar. In it, I imagine two mes trying to win your attention. One me wants to focus on being infatuated with you but this other wants to show my strength…she wants to be strong for you. The song keeps saying don’t believe her, but its just two mes, telling you who to listen to. Each trying to discredit one another, telling you to pay attention to this-me and not that-me. But they are both me, you know?” She sighs again.

“I can’t imagine what all of this is doing to you, and I don’t pretend to. I wish I could take it all far away and keep you from being hurt by it. But instead, all I can do is fight with myself over what version of me that I want you to remember. In the end, all I can really do is ask something of you and let you decide what you choose to remember. My only ask, my only wish…dream of me sometimes, won’t you?”

Friends ’til the End

[WP] “O the Master who commands me, thou wishes shall be granted. But only when thou can complete these trials four before the next full moon: drinking, smoking, thievery and murder.”

“Oh really?” she asks, looking contemplative. “How many wishes do I get?”

The imp like creature has a long tail and sits upright like a gargoyle on a ledge, his wings tucked behind his shoulders. “Master may get three wishes before Simoan’s alter vanishes, requiring it to be refound anew.”

“Oh, so it’s like Dragon Balls…is there any sort of cooldown on this? Like a break before you can be found again?”

“Simoan knows not of these dragon’s balls but wishes can begin right away, should Simoan’s alter be found.”

She smiles at that. “That’s pretty handy. Do I have a time limit on making these wishes or a limit on what questions I can ask?”

“No master! Simoan is loyal servant until wishes are all gone”

“What counts as finding you?”

“Whenever thy learns of Simoan’s exact alter location, Simoan is thy servant. Even if another finds Simoan’s alter, Simoan can not be seen by anyone but master, so none can ask anything of Simoan.”

She’s crossing her arms and tapping her foot as she nods to herself. “That’s really good, actually. Is there a limit on your wish powers? Like are there wishes you can’t grant.”

“Simoan does not know of such wishes. Simoan’s power was bequeathed by a dying god so Simoan can do anything god could do. Simoan just can’t do those things for Simoan’s self, has to do it for master.”

“What about consequences? Sometimes wishes can have negative side effects.”

Simoan frowns at the question. “Master has dark thoughts. Simoan only gives what master asks of Simoan, no tricks or surprises.”

“Alright, alright. No need to get melodramatic. I think I’ve got most of what I need to know. Let’s head into town. I have to pick up a few things and then there’s a debate going on this evening that I’d like to attend.”

After stopping at a package store, her next stop is a local community center. She’s wearing her black, military style boots, the same ones she usually wears when she plans to get up to no good. With shorts and a leather jacket, she saunters up to the front door where two security guards await her. She pulls the cigar out of her mouth and blows smoke their way. They scowl at her but don’t otherwise respond. “Guys, you realize it’s night out, right? What’s with the shades? Looking to star in an upcoming terminator movie?”

“Miss, I’m going to have to ask you to put out that cigar. There’s no smoking inside.”

“You can call me Jessica,” she says, looking to the side.

“Ok, Jessica there’s–“

Jessica scowls at the guard, then walks over to put her cigar out on his lapel. “I wasn’t talking to you robocop,” her words being accented by puffs of smoke as she exhales.

The guard unlaces his hands and brushes at the singed place on his coat. “Are you kidding me?” He quickly points to the brown paper bag in her other hand. “There’s no alcohol on the premises either. You have to get rid of that before you can enter.”

She pulls the brown sack away to reveal a clear glass bottle with a crooked Coke label. “Easy spaz. It’s just soda. You can keep the bag though.” She plants the sack on his chest and pats it as she walks by and into the community center.

Jessica catches the end of the debate and then follows one of the politicians as he heads into the bathroom. He’s at the sink, washing his hands as she turns to flip a latch on the door.

She pulls out another cigar as she walks over to him, pointing with it as she pinches it between her thumb and index. “You’re a cigar guy, right?”

The politician laughs, uneasily. “Ugh miss, I think you might be in the wrong room.”

She waves away the suggestion. “Ah, it’s fine. I was hoping you could just help me with a light.”

He pulls out a silver-plated zippo and nods. “I can’t say that I condone you smoking in the boys room…” He pauses and smiles at that. “But I can’t say anything against your taste in smokes.” She takes a swig from her bottle which no longer has a label. He sniffs, curiously. “Is that rum?”

She shakes her head before leaning in for a light. “Nah, just soda.”

He chuckles as he lights her cigar. She tokes on it, leans back, and looks at it before nodding in approval. “Say, you always have that lighter on you. I see you flipping the lid on it a lot during interviews. It must be important to you.”

He looks at it with appreciation and smiles. “That it is.”

“Must be a story there. Mind if I have it?”

“Well, that’s kind of personal.”

“No, I mean the lighter.”

His smile fades and shakes his head. “I’m sorry miss but that’s out of the question.”

“Good,” she says nodding. She cracks the bottle over the sink’s ledge, shoves it into his neck, and twists. “Your policies suck by the way.” His shocked gaze fixates on her as she pries the lighter from his grasp. He slides to the floor in a growing pool of blood as she unlocks the bathroom door, then departs the restroom.

She looks down at Simoan as they walk down the hall. “That covers everything right?”

Simoan nods. “Master is free to make wishes.”

She nods. “Good. I–” She pauses and braces against the wall to restore her balance.”

“Master Jessica didn’t have to drink so much to satisfy drinking trial.”

“What can I say, I’m a fan of dark rum.” She continues walking down the hall. “Oh, one other thing…what’s your knowledge like? Can you know of current times or trends?”

Simoan nods. “Simoan knows all these things.”

“Good, here’s my first wish: I wish you would update your language. No one around here talks that way so pick something more modern. If you’re going to be my companion indefinitely, constantly talking about yourself in 3rd person is going to get annoying fast…it’s actually already annoying me a bit.”

Simoan slouches forward, reaches up and drags his palm down his face. “Really darlin? You would waste a wish on that? Might as well’ve wished for pigs to fly or for frogs not to bump their ass every time they jump.”

She laughs, then covers her mouth with the back of her wrists. “Sarcasm to boot? That’s hilarious. Here,” she says, extending a piece of paper to him.

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

“It’s a latitude, longitude and elevation. Can you pinpoint that?”

“God powers.” He stretches out the words as if talking to someone slow to catch on. “Yes, I can determine exactly where this is. Why? Are you about to waste some other wish on something stupid like filling your bedroom with sugar and rainbows?”

She laughs again. “Maybe next time. “Instead, I wish for you to bind your alter so that it always reappears in this location.”

He stares at her, dumbfounded, then shakes his head. “Why hadn’t any of the previous dipshits thought of that? Here I was thinking you were going to waste them all on nonsense.”

“Yeah, yeah. You adore me and I’m brilliant and all that. For the third wish: I wish you would undo all the effects of my trials without undoing my ability to make wishes.” Simoan’s mouth drops open as she turns to walk towards an exit sign. She throws a piece sign over her shoulder. “See you at the apartment.” She shoves open a door and departs the building. Simoan stands there, shocked. A door opens behind him and he turns to see the politician leaving the bathroom as he flips a zippo’s lid open and closed.

A Deal In Chocolate

[WP] There have been many sacrifices made to summon you, as well as a plethora of motives – from the extreme, to the simplistic, to the downright absurd. But one particular sacrifice catches your eye: a young child simply offering you a bar of chocolate, claiming that you, a deity, must be “hungry”.

The demigod sits atop his throne, bored as his cheek props against his knuckles while the other hand continues to swipe left on videos that cycle in front of him.

“I dedicate this…” Swipe.
“Please lend me…” Swipe.
“I’m killing them all for…” Swipe.

The demigod doesn’t respond and continues to swipe at regular intervals, until he doesn’t. There’s a small child that seems to set something on an alter. She looks upwards and the demigod feels as though she’s staring right at him. He waits to hear her plea as the single snot bubble continues to expand and contract from her left nostril. She finally turns and begins to walk away, causing him to lift his head. As she continues to walk away, he quickly stands and a portal opens in front of him. He looks over to his alter to see a single candy bar resting on the marble surface.

“Little girl,” he calls out. The girl freezes, drawing her shoulders up as she tenses. She slowly turns back to see the demigod standing with the still open portal behind him. “Come here child,” he says, beckoning her. She slowly makes her way back with her head bowed, stopping just before him. The top of her head barely reaches his knee so he lowers it, planting it on the lush grass that blankets the meadow around them. He’s still several times her height but he attempts to appear smaller for her. “Tell me child, why didn’t you ask anything of me?”

The girl is still looking down, as she pinches and prods at her shirt. “Momma says…”

“You must look at me child. It’s alright. You’re not in trouble. I promise.” After a moment, the girl finally looks up but continues to pull at her shirt, while the snot bubble flares more rapidly. “That’s much better. Come now. Tell me, why you didn’t ask anything of me?”

“I told momma that I wanted to ask you but she says no. I hoped you could help since you was momma’s favorite but she says you already work too much an that other people always ask for stuff an that you won’t have enough time for helping momma get better.”

The bemused demigod turns to look back at the alter, then points. “Why the chocolate bar though?”

“Whenever Aubrey gets done putting away her toys, momma always gives me some chocolate, since I worked hard. Momma says you work hard too so I brought you some chocolate since momma couldn’t.”

“This momma sounds like a bright woman. Tell me, why would such a woman have an interest in the Lord of Shadows?”

Aubrey shrugs then begins to rock from side to side. “Momma says you’re the best and that you’re her favorite, after Aubrey.”

The Lord of Shadow chuckles. “Is that a fact? Well Aubrey, summoning me is no light matter.” He looks over his shoulder and the portal closes behind him. “I accept your offer and I’ll help your momma but know that after that’s done, I will be bound to you for the rest of your natural life.”

The girl panics. “But momma says I can’t ask you for help.”

The Lord of Shadows raises his hand, calling for silence. “It’s alright. I won’t tell momma. This will be our little secret, okay?” The girl nods reluctantly. “Now that we have that settled, I believe the problem lies with a certain insurance adjuster refusing to pay some bills. How about we go pay him a visit?”