Erebus followed Emily down the hallway and out the exit. He surely thought this was the end of the wretched dream in which he was trapped. But what he was unaware of was this was only the start. They walked across the quad and away from the school that had trapped him once again. He didn’t speak, but only followed the spikey hair blonde who had come to him in his dreams. He had no other choice; she knew what was going on and promised to get him out once and for all.
Erebus’ dark shadows still climbed the inner walls, begging to be released. Wanting to protect him from whatever danger may be lurking. His thoughts went to Emily’s comments about the Trickster. Erebus grew bitter and dark. Pissed about this fake world around him, annoyed that he was being forced to play along. He did not understand the meaning behind it all and immediately, he had to know.
“Where are we going?”
But Emily didn’t speak. She walked down the street, carrying on until they came to the beach. Erebus recognized where she was taking him, but was only more confused. They walked up to one of his private caves of solitude.
Emily stood to the side. “Enter,” she commanded.
The shadows surrounding Erebus eased somewhat. Feeling safe, the tightness in his shoulders and chest relaxed. Did she bring him home so he could be released from this nightmare?
He went to speak, but she raised a finger aside her nose, pursing her lips she blew quietly. “Sshhh.”
Erebus entered the dark, cold cave, letting out a sigh of relief. A noise that should have surely echoed off the walls of his domain, but instead, he was faced with deafening silence. Normally he may not have noticed or even cared, welcoming the silence after a busy night. But this was anything but normal. Turning back to speak with Emily, Erebus was met by the large black door that closed off the entrance to the cave. He hadn’t even heard her close the door behind him. Walking further into the cave, he saw that everything was as it should be.
Satisfied he would not find the trickster inside the confines of his cave, Erebus stretched out on his bed, hoping that if he just lay down and close his eyes, he would wake up and all this nonsense of high school would disappear.
No sooner had Erebus settled in did he see a light shine off on the far side of the vast emptiness of the cavern. Startled, Erebus shot out of bed.
“Who’s there?” he grabbed for his black hole ring on his finger, but it wasn’t there. A loud noise boomed across the other side of the cave. Erebus’ shadows went into attack mode, but locked still inside the shell of the mortal skin Erebus wore, he was unable to change into his God form. Erebus was trapped.
What appeared to be an apparition of Nike flowed through the cave, and she was rubbing her elbow.
“What is going on here?” Erebus waved his hands in front of him going right through the ghost in front of his eyes.
“Hey, Big E, I’m here to help you.”
“This is so bogus. This is the work of the Trickster.”
“Think what you like, Big E, but I have been sent to help you.”
“Help me? Help me with what?” Erebus crossed his arms, sitting back on the edge of his bed.
“To help you realize that change in your life is good.”
“I’ve realized it! I went on a date and it was horrible,” he grumbled and enjoyed stewing in his own self-loathsome attitude. “I’m content on living a life by myself in darkness. I have my shadows to keep me company. I don’t need to find love again. I’m fine alone. Besides, I’m sure Eros will stop by occasionally.”
But Erebus was only fooling himself.
“Oh, come on, E, we both know that is no life to live, especially when one is immortal like us. Your fans will miss you and you will miss them.” The apparition pulled on his hands. “We don’t have long.” Nike continued to float around Erebus. “Tonight, you will be visited by three― spirits.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Erebus cocked his eyebrow. “I’ve seen this before.”
Nike raised her finger aside of her nose just as Emily had. “Sshhh.” She furrowed an eyebrow at him. “Without seeing what has been, what is and what may come, you will never know true happiness.”
“I already have true happiness― this cave.” Erebus stood up from his bed and began to shoo Nike away. “Now begone with you and let me sleep.”
Nike spun around before disappearing altogether. “The first will appear by high tide, the second at the same time the following day, and the third will follow at dusk just before Nyx paints the sky black with night. Each will carry a message; be sure to listen.”
But Erebus had already climbed into his bed that was deep within the cavern, ready to be rid of this ridiculousness.
When Erebus arose the next day, he was surprised to see the sun was well past its spot for a midday sky. He grabbed for his phone, but remembered he had no cell service down in his caves. He would have to make a trip to see Heph. Maybe there was something he could build to accommodate some modern technology in his hide-out spot. Erebus retreated back into the cave to grab some clothes when the tide rolled in. He quickly closed the big slab of a door behind him. Puzzled by how fast time had moved, Erebus went to rest in his favourite chair. His stomach grumbled, wanting food, but with high tide upon him, he couldn’t exactly go out for something fresh. The box of crackers he stored in a makeshift cupboard would have to suffice. What I wouldn’t give to be able to teleport.
Sitting in his chair, Erebus pulled out a book, settling in for the night. A yawn escaping his mouth he couldn’t help but be surprised by his need for a nap. If Eros had been here, he would have poked fun at him. You fall asleep once for three months and you never hear the end of it. Taking a bite of a cracker, Erebus suddenly remembered his dream from the night before Emily had brought him to the cave. She had led him here to believe he was meeting the Trickster that was responsible for his high school groundhog day experience, but instead, he had fallen asleep and dreamt of Nike. What was it that Nike said? Erebus continued to snack on his crackers until he couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore.
The loud sound from the other side of the cave reverberated off the sides of the cave, startling Erebus awake.
“What?” he blinked rapidly, trying to wake himself up.
What appeared before him was the most angelic figure; light shone from her head, fingers and toes. When she came closer, Erebus could see that it was Artemis, at least a version of Artemis. Her brown wavy hair fell in loose delicate waves all around her. She was without her usual bow and arrow, and wore a white flowing gown. It was a side of Arty Erebus had never seen before. He rubbed his eyes.
“Arty, is that you?”
“Erebus, I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.”
Erebus stood from his chair. “Say what now?” He was confused.
“I have come so that you may learn from your past.”
Erebus groaned. “Oh, this― alright then…and what have I need to learn?”
Artemis spun in circles rapidly around him, making him unstable. He put out his arms to grab hold of her, but she went right through him. “Come with me.” She moved towards the big black slab.
“I wouldn’t open that if I were you,” Erebus warned.
Arty shrugged her shoulders and proceeded to move the slab door. No water trickled in; the waves had been pushed aside for the exit. Then Erebus remembered Arty’s ability to manipulate the elements. As soon as they were clear of the shore, the high tide returned.
“Shall we then?” Artemis jumped on the back of Sayeh and took to the sky.
“I can’t.” Erebus hung his head low and shrugged. “Something about being here, I’m not able to fly.”
Arty landed Sayeh softly on the ground beside him. “That’s okay, we can walk.” She jumped off and joined Erebus on what was left of the beach. She guided Erebus through the streets and back in time, coming to a stop outside an old shop. Erebus stumbled upon seeing it, raising a hand to his mouth.
“I haven’t seen this place in…forever. We used to come here as kids.” The rundown shop flooded Erebus with memories from his childhood. So many things had changed since then. A few millenia will do that, I suppose. He loved coming here with his family. When they grew older, before they married, he and Nyx would still come here. Erebus thought he was Mr. Suave, showing off his dark skills for Nyx and failing miserably; he was always trying to make her laugh back then.
The day became evening and everything grew dark, Nyx was riding in her chariot in the sky, painting it full of stars. Erebus revelled in her beauty and he called out to her, but she carried on without so as a nod.
“She can’t hear you,” Artemis offered. “None of what you will see this evening will be able to see you or hear you in return. These are but reminders of what has passed.”
Arty and Erebus continued on and found themselves in a hut next. Children were running around everywhere making noise, things toppling over all around them. But the loudest noise came from another room within the hut. Someone was screaming.
“Get this child out of me!”