Book of Hades
I am very clear when I say I am not a bad god. Yes, I lose my temper, but we all do. I just seem to go too far sometimes, but that is often needed to assert control. Other times I cannot contain my anger, and my darkness devours a very unfortunate individual.
I was on my way to my new business venture, Coffee Kingdom, to find out what my partner had been up to with the money I had given her. She better have my leather seats, or there will be Tartarus to pay. My car was cruising, my music was booming, my shades were blocking out the brightness of the blaring sun, and my mood was good. After days of dealing with problems, a nice trip up top was just what I needed. I growled as I hit a pothole and shook my head. I couldn’t believe that my coffee shop stood on the corner of this shit hole of a street. What a crap heap, Cerberus doesn’t crap a heap like this, and that is saying something. I pulled up outside and got out of my car, cutting off Thin Lizzy, Whiskey in The Jar. Love that.
I looked up at a brand-new sign above the doors. Coffee Kingdom was written in big, bold red letters with a flaming background. She has style. I nodded with satisfaction before walking through the doors. The room looked completely different. The floor was a bright shining red, and the walls were a cool shade of blue. Leather chairs sat around strategically placed tables. They weren’t too big, more like stools, but I did see two recliner seats at either side of the window with a larger table. Huge coffee makers were lined up behind the counter, and three tills sat on the new marble countertop. She had done a masterful job. Several people were sat down, not a huge custom but more than before. It was only seven in the morning, so maybe that wasn’t too bad. I walked up to the counter where a little bell sat, weird, and flicked the little knob on top of it, causing a ping sound. Kate, my business partner and top quality designer apparently, popped up from behind the counter and gave me a huge smile.
“Hey!” she said with more happiness than I had seen from anyone in a long time, even my wife. “Where have you been, stranger?” she asked me, smiling from ear to ear.
“I have another establishment that takes up a lot of my time, my dear,” I answered her.
“Oh, you have another business? That’s brilliant,” she said. “So, do the leather chairs meet with your approval?” She looked proud of herself.
“Indeed, this place is perfect. How much money did I give you?” I asked her with confusion. I know I gave her a lot, but with the sign and coffee machines, leather chairs, countertop, and floor, I wasn’t sure I had given her that much.
“I made a few deals, and yeah, it’s true you didn’t give me enough for all this stuff. I got some of it on credit, but you’re good for it.” She winked at me playfully.
“Yes,” I said plainly, “yes, of course.” I pulled out another wad of cash as I had before and placed it down on the counter.
“Wow, I was only joking.” She stepped back slightly with a confused look on her face.
“Joking? So you didn’t get things on credit?” I was a little lost.
“No, I did get stuff on credit, but that’s on me. You bought your share in the business and put a lot more in on top of that.” I shrugged at her like it didn’t matter because it didn’t and nodded at the cash. “Alright, I suppose it’s your business as well, and if you want to pump even more money in, that’s fine with me.” She picked up the cash and placed it in the till.
“One thing,” she looked at me and nodded, “I want some high-quality product brought in. It isn’t cheap, but it is what I like, and of course I will fund it myself. I doubt any of the people around here could afford to buy it, so you won’t sell any.” I looked around the room at the few customers, and they didn’t look rich. They were average-looking people.
“Alright, what is it?” She was curious and a little defensive, although she tried not to show it.
“Kopi luwak, it’s somewhere between 35 and 50 a cup. You can get it shipped in. I’m sure you will figure out a supplier and all of that sort of thing.” I waved a dismissive hand at her. She could handle it easily enough. I knew nothing about Earthly business and left everything to her.
“What? That’s crazy. What kind of coffee is that?” She was astonished at my request. I guessed that was a lot of cash for one cup of coffee.
“Kopi luwak is a coffee that consists of partially digested coffee cherries, which have been eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet,” I answered her with a nod. Her face twisted into horror.
“So an animal eats it and craps it out, then you filter water through it and drink it?” she looked sick to her stomach.
“What Is the phrase I am looking for to explain it…ah, yes,” I said, holding up a finger as I summoned the words to find my tongue so that I could release them, “do not knock it until you have tried it.” I nodded to myself and smiled at her.
“No, sorry,” she held up her hands, “I think on this occasion I will have to knock it, I will have to knock it on its ass and stamp on it until it is dead, no way am I drinking liquid animal shit.” She laughed, and I joined her. That was quite amusing.
“Well, if you have none of my liquid shit, maybe you have something better?” I leaned on the counter and gave her a playful grin. I knew she was excited about her improved business and gave her a boost by asking for a coffee. Erg, when did I get so soft? Drinking this crap again? Hades, you have changed.
“You got it, partner.” Her eyes lit up at my request, and she pointed a finger at me knowingly. “I got just the thing for you, and it hasn’t been festering in the bowels of an animal or come out of one’s backside.” She turned and began fiddling with one of the machines. It looked complicated for just coffee. Steam blasted out a metal pipe-like device, and bits attached and detached from it. Can you not just pour the beans in and press a button? That’s what my home coffee maker does.
“Well, I will try anything once, Kate.” I realized that I really liked this woman. She was so happy to have her business, and it wasn’t much. Her dream was a simple one, and that intrigued me. “I shall sit at the window,” I said grandly. I must admit I was very much looking forward to testing out one of the recliners.
“Go ahead, I will bring your coffee to you,” she said over her shoulder as she continued to mess around with the coffee machine.
I walked to the table at the window and looked over the chairs. They were brand new, and it looked like nobody had used them. I sat down in one and leaned back. It was very comfortable. Kate walked over with what appeared to be a brand new coffee mug, another thing she had purchased. She knew how to make cash spread.
“Here you go.” She placed the mug down with a smile, and I couldn’t help but smile back and roll my eyes when she nodded at the cup. I looked at the drink and gave off a chuckle. “That is cool, right?” She was so pleased with herself. She had created a picture in the foam of my face.
“Very clever.” I looked at her. “How did you do that, my dear?”
“I watched some videos on YouTube.” She looked slightly embarrassed.
“I don’t have a tube,” I answered. Kate thought that was hilarious.
“You’re a weird guy, Mr. Shade. I never asked, is that a fake name?” she asked me. When I returned to sign the contract, we were formally introduced to each other. I learnt that I needed a full name, and Hades wasn’t going to get it done alone, so I mixed up my name and come up with Hades Shade. It was that or Dashe.
“My name is Hades, I have no other name, but for the purpose of business, I need a surname to be more normal,” I answered.
“Hades is a nice name. It’s weird that your parents would call you that, but I think it’s a cool name. Drink your face.” She pointed at the coffee mug.
“Oh yes, of course,” I answered again. Kate was bossy in a playful way, and I found myself doing as she said. I was still half convinced she was one of the divine and not completely human. I took a drink, deforming my foam face in the mug and swallowing the hot liquid. Hmm, not bad.
“Yes, it is actually quite nice, thank you.” I smiled. She laughed again and pointed at my face. “What?”
“You have a mustache.” She shook her head and continued to laugh as she walked back to her brand-new tills. I watched her caress one as she walked past and give it a loving look. She is really happy, very curious.
I was drinking my coffee and leaning back in my chair. I was so content, and relaxation did not exist in my life. Things were going well that morning, and I wasn’t buying that. I pulled out my phone and checked my security cameras in the Underworld. Normal. The fact that nothing was wrong was beginning to make me very insecure. It was strange. I tried to relax again and clear my mind. Everything is good. Stop being insecure. You are the Lord of the Underworld, for Tartarus’ sake.
People began to stream into Coffee Kingdom, and Kate was beaming at me as they lined up and looked at the beverages menu. I nodded at her, and she mouthed the words thank you at me. I got the strangest feeling. I felt good about myself. I had helped this person find true happiness, and it had cost me nothing, except money, which in the grand scheme of things is nothing. I was proud of myself, which is not something I had been able to say too many times in my long life, and I was proud of her. I gave her money, and she made a living dream out of it. Amazing thing.
“Can I get a coffee here, sweet thing,” a horrid-looking creature said, pushing people out of the way and making his way to the front of the line.
“Can you go to the back? These people were here first, sir,” Kate said. I stood up, and she shook her head at me, so I would not get involved. I stood and watched on, I would not be around that often, and she would need to handle situations like this herself.
“Oh, come on lovely, just give me a coffee, would yah.” He was swaying and looked like he had been drinking.
“No, get to the back,” she raised her voice at him and stood her ground. I watched on and wanted nothing more than to take the cockroach and squash him.
“Bitch!” he screamed and grabbed the till she was standing in front of, and smashed it on the ground, causing everyone to panic and back away from him.
“No!” she shouted and kneeled beside the smashed machine like it was a living person whose life had been snuffed out. That was as far as I would allow the situation to get. I stormed over and grabbed the man by his lank and greasy hair. He wore a tracksuit that was stained and worn like he hadn’t taken it off for a year. He yelped as I slammed him against the red floor.
“No, please,” he said with fear. He put out his hands like that would stop me. I took hold of both hands and snapped several fingers on each, causing him to screech.
“Don’t worry, my dear,” I said to Kate, who was crying over her broken machine. “It can be replaced. I will see to it. Give everyone a free drink, and I will take care of this piece of filth.” My anger was rising quickly. I was controlling it, but I couldn’t hold it for much longer. The look on her face, the heartache, it made my rage burn. I needed to get out of there. I didn’t want her to see my fury. I grabbed the man by his hair once again and dragged him behind me, his screams bouncing off the walls until we got outside. I took my Bident from my inside pocket and cracked him over the head with it. I didn’t want to get blood on my suit or hands. That stuff can be difficult to remove. I dragged him to my car and threw him in the boot.
I drove back to the entrance of the Underworld and dragged his unconscious body to the bank of the river Styx to wait for Charon. He turned up a moment later.
“Get me home as quickly as possible, Charon.” I gave him several coins and dragged the man on board with me.
I pulled his body off the boat and stomped towards the gate where Cerberus napped. I thought about letting my trusted dog have the cockroach, but I quickly decided against that idea. He was mine to torture. Cerberus woke up as I opened the gates. He growled, and the unconscious man woke up. The three heads of my pet began growling and snapping. The man’s scream was soul-shattering. I let this go on for a few moments, enjoying his terror. I held his head only a few feet away from the slobbering jaws before dragging him through the entrance and towards Tartarus.
I reached the gates and opened them with the screaming man kicking and begging between his shouts and sobs.
“Furies! Come here now!” my voice boomed, and the walls shook terribly. My tone became deep and evil, my rage exploding out of me. The Furies came from the shadows with fear plastered across their faces. “Follow me. This one is yours when I am finished. You can have him for as long as you like.” I was biting down hard. My teeth felt like they would shatter, and my jaw bones would smash against one another like two bulls running at full speed about to fight.
I spent the next three weeks doing unspeakable things to the man. I released my rage in full, and when I was finished, the Furies were dealing with a broken shell. I had destroyed his soul and torn him apart. I know I overreacted, but hey, I’m still Hades, and this is what I do. I have no regrets, and I hope the Furies never get bored with his company. Tartarus is his world now.