I was back at the scene of the crime.
I hadn’t intended to return to the warehouse when I gave up on trying to sleep. I just thought that a run would clear my head. Or at least wear me out enough to fall back into bed and go unconscious the moment I hit the pillow. The dead end I ran into trying to track down that butler was bugging me too much, and my mind wouldn’t shut up. It kept coming up with all the bad things that could be happening around me. The butler could be working for Kronus and the Titans to try to take us all out. Or it could be a threat that has remained in the shadows until recently.
The worst was that this entire plan could have been created by someone on the inside, one of us, one of the gods. Enough of us were unaccounted for, and I had no clue what family drama had transpired in the last two thousand years. Plus, we all had a nasty habit of trying to fuck the rest of the family over when we were all in high pissocity. When you’re immortal, no one can convince you that life is too short to hold grudges, because for us it wasn’t.
I had thought myself in circles until I was about one step away from getting a corkboard, thumbtacks, and red string. I’d been there plenty of times, and it was not a fun place to be for anyone. Not me and not anyone who had to be around me.
So I’d thrown myself out of bed, pulled on some wrinkly workout clothes, and took a run around Mount Olympus.
While my body remained in motion, I was the closest to calm I had been since I landed back in the real world. It helped not to have any of my brothers around to turn my run into a competition. Eros always cheated with the flying. Phobos and Deimos were fucking giants and could practically leap four steps at a time. Dinlas wasn’t above playing dirty. That always left me in last place with my wingless back, short legs, and code of honor. It sucked. It was fun, but it still sucked, and races with those troublemakers weren’t very relaxing.
When I was my own competition, I was actually capable of meditation. That’s why I started jogging more after I met Mahatma. He encouraged meditation, but I just couldn’t sit still. I felt like I was wasting time and had too much to do. “Then you should meditate for two hours instead of one,” he would say with a serene smile. That was just one of his sayings that didn’t make much sense to me.
One day, he followed me after I ran off in anger and frustration at his passive form of protesting. I couldn’t understand why he was practically willing to kill himself, but not kill others for the rights he wanted for himself and his people. It made no sense to me. With Dad, Nemesis, and my brothers being my teachers, I had grown up on the break some yolks to make an omelet philosophy. Gandhi’s idea of peaceful protests was completely alien.
Anyway, Mahatma had tried to teach me how to meditate, but I couldn’t get the hang of it until the day that he followed me. How his frail, old body kept up was beyond me. I’d stopped to catch my breath, and when I turned around, there he was, beaming at me. “And you said you couldn’t meditate,” he teased me.
That’s how I found my brand of inner peace. I would go for a run when I was frustrated, and I wouldn’t stop until all the anger was gone. By the time that happened, I was often in a new place. This time, my meditation led me to the catalyst of my current nightmares. I stared up at the warehouse with its broken windows and exposed brick exterior. The only change to the setting was the iron chain and padlock keeping the front doors barred from all outsiders and a sign saying PROPERTY OF THE GOD COMPLEX. DO NOT ENTER. Someone had decided that there were too many loose ends with the dreams and the butler. The location was too dangerous for anyone to go wandering in, even us immortals.
So why couldn’t I turn around and jog…literally anywhere else? I could go back to the God Complex or to the foot of Olympus or…anywhere.
I’m never gonna sleep until I get some answers.
That was all the self-convincing that I needed. I marched up to the door, examining the chain and the lock. These weren’t just random pickups from the local hardware store. Hephaestus forged these, only the best for protecting the family.
I couldn’t break the lock or the chain, even if I used all my strength and whatever physics I could shamble together from the garbage around the warehouse. I was going to have to find another way in. Stepping away from the warehouse, I tilted my head back to look up at the tin roof. I considered the chances of there being a rooftop entrance. It was worth a shot. Now I just had to find a way up there.
I walked around the perimeter, looking for anything that could act as a climbing agent. There were no rain gutters. We did not need them from a construction standpoint with the sloped tin roof. All rain would just slide down like water off a duck’s back. The broken windows could act as hand-and-foot holds easily enough, but that was also a risky move with the glass shards that had stayed in the panes. There was also the question of how I would jump from the top floor windows to the roof. It would take a lot of parkour skills. It could be done, but not without wearing myself out and risking some heavy damage. And, if there wasn’t a rooftop entrance, all that work and risk would be for nothing.
The last option was the simplest. I would pick a window, knock out the rest of the glass shards, and slip through the opening. It would be a tight squeeze, and I needed to be careful, but it was the easiest option with the highest rate of success.
The window it is.
Doing another circle of the perimeter, I found the window that had the most glass blasted out of it. It turned out to be the second one toward the back, with only about forty-five percent of the glass remaining in glistening shards. A couple of elbow strikes later, and there was enough room for me to wiggle through with minimal damage.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out that going feet first was the wisest course of action; chances were that there were still glass and mirror shards all over the floor. Going in head first was asking to get lacerations all over my face, neck, arms, and chest. I was confidant my tennis shoes had a thick enough sole to survive most of the cuts. My tight grip on one of the mid-pane bars gave me enough stability to pull my legs up to my chest and snake them through the window. With only a few tiny cuts on my palms and ankles, I slipped into the warehouse and landed on my feet with ease.
I looked around and realized that I probably should have waited until daylight to search this wretched place. The candles, lanterns, and fairy lights that had illuminated the space had either gone out or been removed. The light coming from the crescent moon beaming through the windows was the only thing pushing back the darkness. Sunrise wouldn’t even whisper over Greece for another hour, and I was not willing to wait that long. This place was the vessel of my current nightmares. It was even creepier in the dark. I didn’t want to be here any longer than I had to, but leaving and coming back later just wasn’t an option. Well, it was, but not one I liked.
There’s got to be some matches or a lighter around here somewhere. I took a moment to allow my eyes to adjust to the darkness, waiting until I could make out the general outline of the room. I stepped cautiously toward the first of the three bars, trying not to jump at every crunch of glass beneath my steps. I was going to give myself a heart attack before I found anything, and this was one of those rare times where I was regretting my choices in life.
My hand landed on the first bar. Liquid drenched my hand, and I curled my nose in disgust. Judging by the smell, it was tequila. Okay, maybe a lighter or matches were not a good idea in this powder keg.
Out of ideas, I reached for my phone to see what time it was. The moment my hands closed around the plastic case, I cussed myself out. You’re such a fucking idiot. I yanked my phone out of my leggings pocket and clicked on the flashlight feature. A sharp beam of white light shot out of the back of my phone, casting a spotlight onto my surroundings up to about a foot in front of me. How does this make this whole place creepier? Must be that horror FPS game logic.
I went through that place with a fine-toothed comb. I was there so long I was able to turn off the flashlight as dawn broke. Just in case I had missed something in the dark, I went over the warehouse again.
There was nothing, not a single thing to find among the piles of mirror and window shards. Not a clue soaked in the wasted alcohol or cut to shreds from the violent return we made to the real world. There wasn’t even a footprint left behind by that suspicious waiter.
By the time I was done searching, I was sweatier than I was after running to this wretched place. My breathing was heavier than I ever remember it being, even after some of the greatest battles I’d fought in, and I was at my wit’s end. I even did more damage to the already ruined warehouse by pushing one bar over in exhausted frustration. I had to press my back to the chilled brick wall and slide to the floor to ground myself back to a sane place.
Don’t let him win. Don’t let him win. Don’t let him win.
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