“Hashtag, get yourself together.”
The words had become like a ghost haunting the once proud, now broken man. His name is Dashell “Dash” Hills-Crosby, and he used to be someone. A trust fund baby, a socialite, an influencer. Now? He is a man undone. It has been several weeks since the incident, and it still hasn’t left him. It just sits in the back of his mind like a ghoul.
Everything seems different to him now. His life, his work, if monetized Youtube videos and ads on Instagram make a career, even his trusty eggplant beret, which used to be his fashion staple, now holds confusing memories and a preternatural sense of revulsion.
He can’t shake it. Seeing it. Seeing the world behind the world. Seeing everything, the rest of reality, the parts creeping and crawling behind our safe, normal lives. That terrible and yet somehow almost wonderful sensation of a veil being pulled back.
Everything he thought mattered in life was gone in a flash, with the smiling image of an entity in black. A person? Didn’t seem to be a man or a woman, but something in between…something more.
Ever since he’d seen it, his mind has been as cracked as his phone cover.
Even now, he sits on his bed, rocking back and forth, watching his computer screen as comments flood in from his latest IG post. Usually it is a bevy of “You’re the best!” or “I wish we were friends!” or he’d even grown to appreciate the occasional “You’re what’s wrong with the world!” But now they are mostly question marks and increasingly detached shows of concern. His posts have become increasingly erratic and nonsensical since the incident.
He sees that being in every shadow, and there seems to be more of those than are called for at 4:45 in the afternoon. The room is dank and darkened like a tomb.
A whistling cold whips through the summer air.
Those same shadows dance around him like devils in perdition. I laugh at him, pointing at him, watching him.
But are they shadows? His mind races. Was it…something else?
Even now, he sees the shades form outside his window, black wings beating against the air. Crows? Ravens? Not that it mattered. They watch him, too.
As he sees the blackbirds gather on his windowsill, his mouth agape.
Is this really happening?
Is that a sound? He is letting his mind race, and his paranoia builds to a crescendo in his beleaguered mind. Each intrusive, howling thought emphasized with a peck of a beak at his window pane.
There is a chill of anticipation in the room, like how you feel in a horror movie when it’s too quiet. Dash can almost hear someone screaming, “Don’t go in the basement!”. The sudden and completely unsubstantiated idea that he is not alone, now consumes him.
His adrenaline spikes, and he rises to his feet. Each movement holds weight as he feels his heart beating in the back of his throat.
“Hello?” he asks aloud. Only after having done so did it dawn on him he is now certain he is not alone.
“The maid was in the garden… Hanging out the clothes,” a voice chirps in an overly dramatic singsong rhythm. The sound echoes from every corner of his apartment. “Along came a blackbird, and snipped off her nose…”
The birds at the window seem to delight in this. The flickering lights exaggerate their movements as they jump up and down with ecstasy, cawing like madmen in the night.
Dash grabs his shake weight and wields it like a baseball bat.
“Whoever’s there… I’m warning you…” He groans while scanning the room for his phone.
He hears a distinct giggling noise, this time coming from his closet. He feels water gathering at his eyelids even as he musters the courage to grab the door handle and swing it open with one breathless thrust.
And behind it? Well, it is, of course, me. Eris God of Chaos, Discord, and Strife. Currently in non-binary form but with just a dash extra of male thrown in. My jet black hair is stylishly mussed, I wear black lipstick and a row of jagged silver studs on my left ear. The black gender anarchy crop top, ripped black skinny jeans, black combat boots, and a rainbow button that reads: Sorry I missed church, I was busy practicing witchcraft and lesbianism.
I smile and wave my hand in a lazy arc.
“Howwwwwwwwdy-Ho! Ready for the fun?”
About fifteen minutes later, he’s calmed down enough to talk to me.
“Who are you?” he whispers.
“I am Eris…most of the time,” I say with a giggle. “I’m what you would call a god, small g. A deity. An immortal being of great power once worshipped by your species. Still am, in some parts of the world.” I giggle.
“I’m an atheist?” He coughs, not meant as a question, but it came out like one.
“So am I.” I smile at him brighter with a wink.
“God of what?” He sputters.
“Chaos, discord, strife, confusion, general disorder…you get the gist.”
“I’ve never heard of you.” He appears to instantly regret this by the widening of his eyes. I roll mine.
“Yeah, I get that a lot,” I scoff.
“How’d you find me?” He sputters finally, as if he’d been holding it in. Once he asks it, he seems to gather himself together slightly more, willing to stick up for himself, but just a bit.
“You’ve been praying to me,” I say, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world because it should be. Damn mortals couldn’t see the bigger picture if you tattooed it to the underside of their eyelids.
“What do you mean? Praying?”
In answer, I stroll over to his laptop and scroll up from the bemused replies to the post he had made that garnered them.
“Would you look at this? You’re putting me into everything you do. You don’t need to call me out by name. You’ve created discord just by trying to express what I did to you, and you’ve done it all for me.”
“Because of you.”
“Same thing.” I shrug. “Your life is in chaos and your world in shambles. You have been so tightly wound for your first few decades of living that you could’ve fit up a flea’s backside with no lubricant.”
“My life is not in chaos,” he growls. I’m impressed. That was actually quite forceful. Good, he’ll need that spunk.
“Dude.” I finally laugh. “You have a label maker.” I point to the shelf over his computer, “I am willing to bet serious drachma that this is the first time any item of your clothing, save your shoes, has touched your floor.” I say picking up a pair of leopard print speedos off the carpet for emphasis.
“Okay…” he breathes, “that’s the who and the how. What about why. Why did you come to find me?”
“To put it bluntly, I’d like to get my life together.” I laugh at my own joke with a mad cackle. “No, but seriously folks, I want to get back my sense of purpose. Make my life make sense again. Really do chaos right. Get back my control, as contrary as that might sound. I want to learn to live in this new world and be part of it while still retaining my sense of me.”
“And you think I can help you?”
“You’re an influencer, no? Look at what you’ve built by simply putting opinions online for all to dissect and rebrand. I know you can help me, that’s not the question. The question is, will you?”
“Why should I?”
“How the Tartarus should I know?” I laugh. “You’ve got me there, kid. I just thought it might be fun for you.” I turn to walk away. “Enjoy your life, Eggplant.” I say, tossing his undies back to the ground.
“No, wait!” he cries. I grin before turning back. Mortals haven’t changed all that much since I last knew who I was…
When I meet his eyes once more, there’s something there. Something that I would normally associate with being the last thing in a box of evil…but that’s more the other Eris talking. I brush aside the fleeting optimistic thoughts and return to the warm, welcoming arms of sardonic cynicism.
“I’ll help you,” he mumbles, but he meets my eyes, which I am now sure are glowing dimly, whether I mean them to or not.
“Okay I give, why should you help me?” I grin, turning his earlier question back on him.
“Because,” he hesitates a moment, “I want to get my life together, too.”
“See? Me…working in service of rational thought and regaining clarity…” I smile brightly. “I’m growing already.”