Chechnya has quite a lovely countryside. Too bad it’s ruined by the place being a purgatory of prejudice and prehistoric policies.
Thankfully, the portion of this little country I am currently occupying is only marred by the corpses of those who had upheld those policies in the first place. If anything, I feel it is a bit of an improvement. The bodies belonged to the men, and even a few women, to my disappointment, who had carried out the atrocities of this place.
Turning, I look at what they call a camp. Other groups have referred to places like this as camps as well. Those people also met a sticky end.
What the place really was was a prison. A gulag of sorts for people deemed subversive. Specifically, anyone suspected of being anything other than perfectly heterosexual or cisgender. So many horrors were committed here, these people were dragged from their homes and pulled from the street. They were then taken to this archipelago of sheet metal huts, united by a surrounding wall almost as high as Troy’s.
Many were beaten, tortured, starved, sexually assaulted, and often murdered, simply for being different. Hell, many here were actually straight, but the mere suspicion that they could be otherwise was enough for them to be taken and their lives destroyed.
I am in my male form. My clothes are in fashion with the local youth. Russia, of the modern era, was a bit behind. Not as behind as I am, of course, but they tend to wear the best the 90s had to offer. I am wearing chunky shades with gold rims, a black track jacket with gold stripes, a Pink Floyd “Darkside of the Moon” shirt, dark wash jeans, and my trusty combat boots.
It wasn’t hard to garner attention out here in the sticks. It was even easier to turn this little camp of theirs into a kicked bee’s nest. The residents of this charming little hellhole just needed a reminder they outnumbered their captors. With a little dash of chaos on the residents’ side, it seemed the staff was having a string of bad luck impeding their efforts to quell the riot that ensued.
I giggle to myself, still seeing them, even though they’ve long vanished into the woods. With my help to stoke the fire in their empty bellies, to get the adrenaline pumping through their weakened veins, it was a romp indeed. So taken with the mirth I feel and the fullness in my stomach, I almost fail to notice movement out of my peripheral vision.
Through the haze of my euphoria, I see a man approaching. He appears between the trees as a looming shadow before I see him properly. His beard is long and wild, his hair longer and, if anything, even wilder, matted with leaves and dirt. His manner of dress is all too familiar to me. A ragged cloth serves as a makeshift cloak, he wears no shirt, ripped and filthy old-fashioned toga style skirt, leg wrappings, and instead of shoes, his feet are wrapped in cloth.
He could’ve easily been a friend from my days on the wrong side of the dumpster or the star of a back alley production of Jesus Christ Superstar. I thought the latter was probably a lot closer as I smelled the sweet scent of divinity coming off of him. It is quite potent too, even with the sprawl of corpses. That man is the one stinking up the place with his stench of power.
I may have been attracted to him under other circumstances. He held an unwashed allure, disheveled sense of fashion, and a casual attitude, perhaps even fondness, for the massacre surrounding us. He seemed to savor the blood staining the ground and the smell of filth in the air as the bodies begin their biological spiral. Despite those positives, there is something about him that is putting me off.
“Hail, Discord!” he bellows with gusto, nodding to the bodies at my feet before meeting my gaze.
I shrug and smile. I don’t startle easily. I enjoy surprises. I’m always up for a little drama, especially dangerous drama. If he means me harm? Well, that is all the better.
“Come for a sacrifice?” I smirk, kicking one of the bodies with my foot.
“No, no. I wouldn’t dream of it, Eris. This is all yours,” he says with an air of gentility unsupported by his rough-hewn first impression, “and what a masterpiece of evil it is.” He claps as if I just finished a violin solo.
“Evil, you say? Well,” I smile wider, bearing my teeth, “you seem to know my name. Do I get to know yours?”
“Kronos.” He has the gall to wink at me as he says it.
Kronos, King of the Titans, the former Lord of the Universe, God of the Harvest, Keeper of the Sacred Law, Olympus’ most wanted, also my grandfather. That explains why the happy trail decorating his washboard abs isn’t doing for me what it usually would. Unlike some of my family, I’ve ruled out full relatives for that particular pastime, for my own reasons.
“Kronos, huh? How exciting. Come for a family reunion? Good idea to start with me. I’m only a little bit more welcome than you, most days.” I laugh.
“Something like that. Let’s say, I hoped your tutelage under your favorite sister was a good sign for how receptive you might be to my offer.”
“My Kallis,” I sigh happily.
“She and I had something of a partnership recently, as you may know, One that fizzled out a bit. I was hoping, maybe, you’d have it in you to take my…our plans the rest of the way.” He talks as if he’s proposing a small business merger, or a bid for local representative, not overthrowing the gods.
“Me?” I laugh once more. He doesn’t seem to take offense, but he does seem puzzled as if he expected another response.
“Why not? You’re my grandchild, Eris. Twice over, in fact. Our stories have always been cyclical. I believe you’ll help me because it’s our way. The same way I rose against my father, you shall rise against your own.”
“Oh, will I?” I raise an eyebrow in his general direction.
“Yes, why wouldn’t you? After he made you feel as utterly unwelcome as one father could?”
“You mean short of eating me, that is?” I smirk.
“Right,” he rolls his eyes, “the boy-king has it coming. He’s done far worse than I ever did. All I ever did was try to maintain order. They called my reign the Golden Age.”
“Golden? Like a shower?” He ignores my crude humor and continues.
“Look what they’ve done with the paradise I created for them!” He’s shouting now. Not like a scream, more like a TED Talk. He’s speaking for the back of the house with the confidence of someone who felt his words were worth that.
“My son’s reign has led to this.” He waves generally to the bodies at my feet, and the now-empty prison still burning behind us.
It is then I realize a mistake he has made, but I am unsure if he deserves to have it pointed out.
“Dad didn’t do this.” It is a version of what I had realized, but not enough to tip him off. “He’s changed. People change. Even gods. Chaos is change. What you’re offering is a step back, not a step forward. Talk more about your Golden Age. Get on FOX News and cry about kids these days and ‘making Olympus great again’.”
I whip off my shades and step toward him, my eyes now glowing gold.
“You and me?” I guffaw, “You are a classic authoritarian type. Everyone knows what you did. Mama G wanted you to let her monster babies free. You agreed so long as she backed you killing Pappy Sky. But afterward, you reneged and kept those suckers locked up where you could control them. Now you want to team with me? With chaos?”
It was his turn to laugh.
“You’re not the God of Chaos, Eris. Chaos is the formless entity from which all of us spring. My grandsire. You’re a petty war god with delusions of grandeur.”
“Language evolves, gramps. I am absolutely the God of Chaos by modern standards. Chaos, as in the opposite of Order. Order, as in what a totalitarian takeover may be considered. Remind me, what was your evil plan again?” I smile ever so sweetly at him.
“Now who’s thinking is outdated?” he retorts, his tone becoming less affable as he goes on. “That was then, Eris, this is now. Yes, I was once the maintainer of Sacred Law, the balance of things: planting the seeds, harvesting the crop, the cycle starts over, blah, blah. I’ve moved on from all that. That’s my daughter, Demeter’s, job now. I’m over order.”
“Oh, please.” I giggle. “Don’t make it seem like some sweet father/daughter moment, Grandpops. This wasn’t that scene in every Full House episode where the music kicks up, and DJ learns a very valuable lesson. It’s not like you gave it to her on her sweet sixteen with your best wishes. She, Zeus, the rest of them, they’re in charge of law and order despite you, after being involuntarily regurgitated from your stomach where you had every intention of letting them perpetually digest their immortal lives away. You’re not over order. It was taken from you by force, so you’re kicking up dirt and pretending to be a villain.”
“And you’re not?” he snarls.
“Ah! But I didn’t decide to be a villain, others decided that for me. You’re the one prancing around in your horned headband, furiously stroking a goatee, as you talk about evil, insert dramatic laugh here.” I sigh, with a smile, as I throw my arms out and twirl ever so slightly on the spot.
“So, that’s your answer?”
“You never actually asked me a question. But, I guess that’s to be expected, classic authoritarian and all.” I wink at him, an echo of his introduction to me. Classic, another word for antiquated, I think to myself, squashing a laugh. His sudden grip around my throat helps with that.
He moves fast for a geezer.
I smile, lopsidedly, as I let my head loll in his grip. Sure, he could destroy me in a second, but something tells me that’s not his move here. Even if it is, what a way to go.
“You’re not going to harm me, Kronos,” I say with a wink.
“Oh? And why not?”
“Because you know when you make your move, no matter what side I’m on, I’ll make things worse.” I smirk. Something registers in his mind. I see it click, and with a hiss, his grip releases.
“You’re making a mistake,” he seethes and backs up.
“I make a lot of those.” I wave as he walks backward into the trees, eventually fading into the shadows. But that’s the thing, as I said before, he was the one that had made a critical error, and it would cost him dearly.
You see, the thing I realized? The problem with his mindset that prevents him from truly being a great villain? The thing leaving him no more than some bitter old man? It is that he is so focused on Zeus. That’s backsliding. The chain went: Uranus, Kronos, Zeus, but the universe has already moved on to new rulers: humanity. They’re the problem that needs fixing.
And this villain’s job is just beginning.