The art gala dear Patrick or Peter (whatever his name was) arranged was in full force. I had arrived a little before the start time of seven. I needed to get in fast and didn’t feel like answering questions, so I was already dressed in my lovely mortal’s attire. I’d stolen a suit for this party the day before. It was the normal black tux with a white shirt beneath; the only things that stood out were the diamond cufflinks.
I passed the front of the lines, flashing the badge I had taken the previous night. The guards and socialites greeted me by name. Pierre. That was his name. Well, I was close enough. I got the P right, at least.
The inside of the gala was almost as bright as the parking lot outside. White floors and walls almost blinded my vision as the lights above buzzed. Mortals. If they weren’t blind by now, they soon would be. I had to squint at times when the light reflected off certain glass casings. It must have made me seem more attractive, because it only increased the women (and sometimes men) who greeted me. Either that or they knew our dear friend Pierre was loaded.
I had to remember I was playing a mortal man once again. My walk was too precise, too upright. Mortals slouched and were unkempt at times. I could tell by the stares I was receiving that I was drawing too much attention to myself. Suck it up, Ate, we have a mission.
I was currently admiring one of the old Gods’ statues in the center of the room when someone approached me. The strong scent of perfume told me it was another rich socialite who thought money equaled power.
“All alone tonight, Mr. Mercier?” she purred, coming to stand next to me.
She tried to hide it, but the slurring of her speech told me she had been dipping into the wine being passed around with a heavy hand. Mortals and their alcohol tolerance. I turned to face her; her soft round face beamed with a smile almost as bright as the diamonds she drenches herself in. I smiled back, responding, “I don’t have to be.”
Her eyes lit up at my meaning. She probably thought she was about to be the luckiest girl in the world tonight. Only for her, it would not be the case. I could use this to my advantage, though. If I was seen heading downstairs to the section I needed to be in with a drunk date, it would make more sense. Trying to sneak downstairs, even with the level clearance I had, would draw attention but this…this might work to my advantage.
It only took a few seconds to convince my lovely new date to follow me down for a little recreational artwork. I mimicked her drunk act the best I could as we hobbled and bumped into things on our way to the lower levels. A door with a security box blocked my way to the basement-style arena down below, but lucky for me, Pierre had all the clearance. A few flights of stairs and voila, sub basement.
We were home clear, or so I thought.
“Excuse me, sir and miss, you can’t be down here.”
A tall security guy stopped me.
I turned and saw he had another guy with him, dressed in the same outfit. Both men fully loaded with handguns and other various security items.
“Excuse me. Do you know who this is?” my lovely drunk date proceeded to go on.
I raised my hand cutting her off, “Fellas. Relax, it’s fi—”
“No, sir, sorry. We’re under strict orders that no one is allowed in the sub basement. Even someone as prolific as you,” the main security officer responded.
Seriously? Not even this clearance level could get me downstairs? On the one hand, it told me the artifacts I was searching for were authentic and down there, while on the other hand, it meant my illusion was not going to work. Sighing, mostly to myself, I knew that only left me with Plan B. Fine then, we would do it the hard way.
I shoved my date towards the security officers. All three people looked at me, confused. I dropped my illusion, the image of the man they had known as Pierre no longer present. Shock lit their faces at my appearance. My eyes burned gold. My voice slipped into an octave meant for the chaos I was about to cause.
“She was stealing, and there are others here who are involved, too. You need to shut the entire place down until you find everyone,” I whispered, time seeming to stand still.
Their bodies swayed for a moment under my trance. As soon as the last word left my lips, they snapped to, as if they had been suddenly awakened. The security guards immediately grabbed her. She struggled against them, admitting to a crime she did not commit.
I turned back to the door that blocked my prize just as the place lit up like Christmas. Alarms blared, and people shouted to go towards the exits in an orderly fashion as the sounds of chaos broke out. Smiling to myself, I slid the key card, and the tiny red light on the box turned green.
The door closing behind me drowned out any sound from the commotion above. The only sound I heard now was the clicking of my heels as I took the steps leading down. Once I reached the bottom floor, I felt for a light switch against the wall. As soon as I hit it, the basement area lit up, a dingy yellow haze from lights long worn. If the lights weren’t an indicator of how old this place was, the grey dusty walls were just as bad.
They must have used this place for a shipping area. Pierre had his hand in more things than just art, that’s for sure. He bought and replicated every work he sold, claiming they were all originals, when in fact every piece from here to America was a carbon copy of something else. I had to hand it to him though, it was a smart move.
Shrugging, I stepped further inside. The room stretched several feet. Both sides were stacked with crates. A few statues and large items were scattered throughout the space. But what I was looking for was something easily missed. I moved through the jungle of boxes and crates, looking for the only statue I came here for.
I had almost given up, thinking I had got my sources wrong. I still had not seen it, but given that Pierre had more than an armada of items in here, maybe I just wasn’t looking hard enough. I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw just a semblance of the marble hand. My breath caught in my throat before coming out in huffs of excitement. I moved the crates that blocked my way with so much force, they went flying. I uncovered what I came for.
There, on ivory and marble, sat the bane of my existence. My chest tightened just at the sight of this crystallized version of him. The centuries of buried anger tried to surface, and the room felt tighter. Crates and relics that were close to me suddenly started to disintegrate as the rage and ruin seeped from my skin. Closing my eyes, I sucked in a deep breath, tilting my head back.
Control, Ate, control.
I repeated it over and over to myself as my teeth clenched tighter. Taking one last shaky breath, I opened my eyes. My composure returned once more. I took in the sculpture in front of me once more, this time with less edge. It wasn’t as big as the original…oh, no. This version had to be remodeled, reshaped and hid from the world. It was a lie, just like my existence, which in turn made it perfect. No, this statue was said to have been destroyed in the fifth century. Lost to the world and no longer at the temple of Olympia. It was perfect. What better way to show my family just how much I missed them than with the only living statue of Zeus?