The long sheer robe I wear dances across the floor as I take a seat near a large bay window. I cross my bare legs at my ankles, stretching them out in front of me and onto the table. I am staying at a separate hotel from everyone else. Close, but not too close. My headaches have gotten worse. I am using my powers too frequently, and the wails of Tartarus scream at me. On top of that, I am having a hard time telling fantasy from, well, real life. Flashes of my prison greet me anytime my mind is not filled with visions of him. I can’t hold Harrison’s form for too long anymore, so I stay away when I can. And on top of everything else, fucking Athena shows up. I rub my temples, leaning back in the chair as the voices beg me to kill them both and just end whatever it is I am feeling for him. But I can’t. Not yet. It’s not time.
It’s midday in Switzerland, which means the sun should be out and shining, but the day turns dark and gloomy. The opposite of the weather prediction. Although I don’t care, my slight aversion to bright lights hasn’t eased up. I mean of all the places to be right now, Switzerland is beautiful from its white-topped mountains, unique scenery and local life. I wish I could enjoy it, but that is not why I am here.
But maybe it should be. I spent what I thought was a thousand years trapped in Tartarus, and now I am free. Sort of. There is a clause to my freedom, but does there have to be? I spent a better part of my years away from my family. I could leave again and never return. Hide as I did before. Only there was one problem. Erebus.
He would find me again. Like when I first came back to Olympus, and I had to ask Melinoë to help send him to the nightmare realm, so he didn’t mess up my plans. He always found me. But maybe not anymore. Being here, watching him with the others, I watch little peaks of happiness escape from him. The way he laughs or smiles. The way his eyes light up at a joke or something fun they did. And it breaks me. He doesn’t need me. He never did. And I was a fool to think otherwise. The hollow sinking pit hit me in my chest again. I couldn’t leave even if I wanted to. Call it infatuation, lust, or obsession, but I can’t force myself to leave even when every cell in my body revolts and tells me to go.
A light tap on my door pulls me from my thoughts, and I swing my legs off the table. Only the crew knows I am here, so it has to be one of them. The rapid heartbeat I hear tells me something has happened. I pull open the door, this time not completely naked. The light from the hallway spills into my darkened room. I recognize one of the female producers but can’t place a name as she hurries inside.
I close the door behind her, spinning to face her. “What is it? You guys don’t need me for at least a few hours. Those pathetic dates aren’t over.”
She swallows, holding out a large black tablet towards me. “Chuck said you would want to know immediately. He said you told him to let you know if anything gets too personal.”
Chuck? So that’s what his name is. I have been calling him Chase or boy half the time. Sighing, I roll my eyes. I wasn’t too concerned about the last few dates. What I see barely registers anything other than I am going to rip Amy’s lips from her face. I grab the tablet from her and turn it sideways, hitting play. The screen comes to life as the camera crew follows Athena inside. I watch as they smile prettily for the cameras, hugging and joking.
“Why am I watching this shit?” I turn to the woman whose name I don’t care to know.
She points to the tablet. “Keep watching.”
I turn back as a small woman comes forward, telling them about a couples massages. That seems stupid. Erebus wouldn’t. And again, I am proven wrong. Erebus did. And not only that, they flirted, flirted with one another! That hurts. The hairs on my arm stand on end like a fractious cat ready to attack as my anger rises, but it is mixed with something else. It feels like I have been stabbed through the chest with a searing hot poker. I am going to be sick. My stomach twists in knots as the video continues to play. And of course, the massages would be in the nude. Literally, every massage I’ve had was. So it’s not that that makes my blood boil and pound in my ears. No, it is the fact he watched her, stared at her, lusted for her. I watch as they laugh about something else, but I can’t hear. Bloodthirsty rage replaces my resolve, and black smoke dances across my hands as I clutch the tablet tighter. I can feel my powers slipping out of me, beyond my control, but I can’t stop it. Just like I can’t turn away from the screen in front of me. Watching him touch her breaks whatever is left of my fragile heart to pieces. He forgot about me.
Twin droplets of moisture hit the screen, and it takes me a few seconds to realize it is coming from me. White-hot blind fury fills my veins like acid. A crack appears on the tablet as it slowly starts to decay in my hands before breaking into pieces. The room vibrates as more of my ruinous nature begs to come to the surface. The voices from Tartarus urge me on, their screams and wails deafening.
Yes. Kill him. He deserves to die. It will make everything you feel go away. Trust me.
I did not do anything to choke them this time.
I let go.
The floor beneath me cracks and bends as the entire building shakes. Alarms and screams soon fill the entire structure. Pieces of ceiling rain as dust surrounds us, but I don’t care. I don’t stop. The female producer tries to say something, but her words are drowned out, and she is swallowed whole as the building tumbles to the ground. My body dissipates, and I fly through the rubble, emerging into clear air. The spot where the hotel used to be now looks like a meteor landed. A giant hole. Devoid of anything. Empty.
I am back in Harrison’s form at the main hotel as the other contestants do more conversing. Athena isn’t present, so my rage is tempered at best. Erebus got back from his double date, and I can’t stand the sight of him, so I do my best to avoid any possible interaction until it is absolutely necessary. Before long, it is time to cut more people to go home. I lean against the bar, swirling the brandy in my glass before finishing it off in one last gulp. The rest of the night goes by in a blur. I play my part like I am supposed to and exit as soon as I am no longer needed. I don’t care who goes home at this point. This hotel sits atop a nice ridge, and I cut the brakes on the car that will take whoever leaves next, anyway. It’s a long way down to the bottom.
Harrison’s room is the largest in the hotel, overcompensating is an understatement. I stand at the balcony, my hands behind my back as the night air weaves in and out of the room. The sound of tiny leather wings gets my attention. My imp has finally made it back from the errand I sent him on. He lands on my shoulder, his breath coming in little pants.
“Did you get it?” I ask, my voice monotone, as I look out unto the quiet night.
His voice rasps, “Yes, yes.”
He holds up a long silver vial attached to a chain necklace. The ruby filled contents dance as the moonlight touches it. A slow, deadly smile spreads across my face as I open my hand, and he drops it into my palm. I raise my other hand, petting him as he coos and closes his eyes beneath my touch.
“Such a good boy.” I smirk, turning back to the room. “Do you know what this holds, little one?”
“Yes, yes. God killer,” he responds, bouncing on my shoulder in excitement, his smile a toothy grin.
“Hmm, sort of. It just needs a little umph.”
I place him atop the dresser before opening one of the drawers. A long black dagger greets me. The handle is etched with markings from a time long ago. I lift the knife reverently, and using a single thumb, pop the top from the vial, making sure not to spill the contents inside. I pour the liquid carefully as I coat the blade to the hilt. I let it dry before I walk back onto the balcony. I hold it up in the moonlight and watch it shimmer, red iridescent flakes dance as I spin it slowly. Soon it will be covered in gold ichor. My imp flies back to me, landing on the railing, his tail moving from side to side.
“Ohhhh, shiny,” he squawks.
I hold the dagger up a little higher, snickering to myself. “Hinds blood usually is.”