It happens again. The same dream. My body topples backward as a voice rings out fierce and angry. “You will never return! There will be no home for you! No place in Olympus or the Heavens,” the voice bellows as the floor beneath me shakes from his anger. Thunder echoes, the sound deafening as electricity dances across the sky above.
My head shoots upward at the display of power before my body is hurled backward by an unseen force. The sinking feeling in my stomach lurches forward, swallowing me whole as I fall. A black abyss, littered with stars, envelops me as I tumble through the clouds. My grappling hands try to reach, to grab hold of anything, but it’s too late. Faster and faster I fall, my body alight from the speed.
Right before I hit the ground, my body jerks awake, startling me from my nightmare. I sit up so fast I make my own head spin. Just a dream, Ate. Just another fucking dream. Strands of sweat-drenched hair cling to my face as I use the back of my hand to push it away. I live and relive that damn memory so many times. Why after so long, does it plague me now?
Turning, I throw the covers off and sit up. Maybe I just need some air. My feet don’t even register the cold marble floor as I walk over to the balcony. Along my way, I grab a robe that had been thrown (among other things) across one of the lounging chairs. The cream-colored curtains dance in the wind next to the open space. As I open them further, light cast shadows from the night sky near my feet. The air takes a crisp bite at the dampness on my skin as I watch the lights from Paris city below. Mortal lighting could never match the light of the Cosmos. I almost feel sorry for them. They will never see it for the beauty that it is, but then again, neither will I.
I was kicked out. Abandoned. Exiled. All over a stupid favor. I mean, what choice did I have? If Hera asked, how could I say no? I feel like a part of me wanted to impress her; show her my skills. Prove that my mischief could trick even the King of Gods himself, my father, Zeus. A part of me longed for Hera’s acceptance, since I never knew who my mother was. Not that I loathed my father or anything, but it was merely a simple trick. So I did as she asked, and it cost me everything.
My memory flows back to being tossed out and forbidden to return. I spent over a thousand or so years in a rage. I started wars just to see the destruction. I tricked men into the most senseless and careless acts of violence. But it didn’t help. No, all it did was make me cold. I longed to return home at one point, but now all I longed for was revenge. I wanted him to hurt as much as he hurt me.
Sighing, I adjust the robe tighter around me as I crossed my arms. Soon, everything would change. My skin crawls at the thought that the Gods no longer resided on Olympus. Are any of them in exile, too? Shaking my head, I crush the thought. It doesn’t matter if they are. No one but Prometheus ever looked for me, and he couldn’t find me because I did not want to be found. It has been easy to hide. Not many remember me to begin with. I have no statues, no relics. My name barely exists among the Gods or humans, and I have a feeling I know why. Only one God was strong enough to erase me, and only one God would be pissed enough to do so. It’s okay, though. I have big plans for a family reunion with dear old Dad.
Although my plans had almost nearly been ruined when I ran into one of the Gods a lot sooner than I thought I would: Erebus, God of Darkness. The funny thing is I thought he wouldn’t know me since I was in exile for a while, and then in hiding. I first thought he only sensed me, but when he spoke, I knew that he knew too much. It sucked, because if the delicious God would have only acquiesced to play dumb, I wouldn’t have had to temporarily dispose of him. So instead of him ruining my surprise for my family, I sent him to the dream realm. I couldn’t risk him telling them I was here before I had a chance to do it. No, just like any game, certain strategies and moves had to be made precisely to win. And the game I was about to play I was going to win. Plus, I wouldn’t show up empty handed, which is why I was currently in a hotel room in France.
Movement from behind me catches my attention as I peer over my shoulder. A form in the bed shifts as sleep-filled eyes look at me. “Hey, you’re up la—” His words stop in his throat as he takes in my appearance.
I must have changed back to my true form during my little nightmare fiasco. No longer was I the busty blonde he met at a swanky art gala he hosted. I was now the Goddess Ate: long black hair that reached down my back in waves, eyes of chocolate brown, and a slender yet curvy frame. The mortal had touched heaven and not even known it. Although some would probably say Hell.
“Wh—Who are you? Where is Hailey?” he stutters, moving to sit up.
Turning with a slow smile, I walk toward the bed, my stride anything but human. I could hear his heart rate from here, beating like a rabbit stuck in a cage. As I approach, his eyes never leave me.
He doesn’t move or try to run (although he couldn’t anyway). Stopping just a few inches from the edge, I let my eyes glow their true golden shine for a moment. What can I say? I’m dramatic.
“Would you believe me if I said I forgot I had you tied up Paul…wait, no, Peter, it’s Peter, right?” I ask, squinting to think, as I wave my hand toward him. “I’m terrible with names. Live a few thousand years and everything goes, from Moses to Stacy.”
I cock one eyebrow as I smile coldly. “A very bad time for you.”
He stammers once more. “What do you want?”
“That’s the age-old question, isn’t it? ‘What do you want? Why are you here?’” I mock as I stand up, turning away. “What I want, Parker…or Patrick. Whatever. What I really want, you can’t give me. But you can help.”
Shrugging my shoulders, I cross to the dresser that’s close to the front of the room. I saw him put his wallet and keys here beforehand, and what I needed was inside. I hear him struggle behind me as he tries to get up, but since he is tied to the bed itself, I’d say I have plenty of time to get what I want and leave.
Reaching for the wallet, I open it, dumping all the contents out. One plastic white card stands out, and I know what I found. Bingo. One wave of my hand and I am fully dressed. Smiling to myself, I turn toward the door.
“Wait. You can’t leave me like this,” he snaps from behind me.
My hand barely lands on the doorknob, and I pause at his words. “Why? Housekeeping will find you, after I call, of course, and tell them something horrible has happened. And then when they show up and see one of the most prolific art dealers tied up, it will make the news.”
He starts cursing in French so fast that it even takes me a second to realize what he is saying. Before he even finishes his next sentence, I appear in front of him, my body dissolving into black smoke and materializing in front of him. I grab him by the chain. I pull him to face me so that the next words I speak will be understood clearly. “I would watch your tongue if I were you. I am not one to be trifled with. I am the Goddess of Ruin, and when I say your precious wife is going to find out about this…” the laugh I let escape was cold and heartless as I continue, “ Oh, and it is going to ruin her.”
I let go of him. He shakes my hand off, the anger apparent in his face. It only takes me a second to pop back in front of the door to leave…not like I needed it, but like I said, I’m dramatic.
“Wait! Just wait. You can’t do this to me. Please, I will lose everything,” he begs.
The door is already open with my body halfway out when his words stop me. A brief emotion, long buried, flares to life in my chest at his plea. I quickly extinguish it beneath the centuries of hate and anguish I carry inside me.
“Sucks, doesn’t it? One simple mistake and your whole world…crumbles.”
I don’t hear his last plea as I slam the door behind me. I have plans, big plans. After all, if the Gods are back, I need to welcome them, and what better way to do that than with a gift.