After we’d finished our conversation, I walked Hera to the elevators. I gave her one final hug behind the closed door, knowing her usual demeanor would return once it was opened.
As I went back into my office, I finally began to relax. I’d seen my sister and knew that all was well between us. It did my heart good to know that our bond was as strong, if not stronger, than ever.
I polished off the rest of the wine, then set to work organizing my desk. I went through each of the folders on my desk, one by one. Most were old cases that had long since been handled. However, a few of them seemed to be more recent and needed further investigation.
I lost track of time going through the files, looking up at one point to see that it had gotten dark. I called for some takeout, then made a cup of my special brew. The relaxing aroma was just what I needed to finish out my day.
I ate my food in silence, going over all that my sister and I had discussed. I hadn’t seen her that upset since our release. It worried me, as that feeling of dread was growing in the pit of my soul.
I brewed myself one more cup, then headed off to bed. I hadn’t slept since my return, but hoped the tea would help. I climbed into bed but found it hard to get comfortable. I was still sure this wasn’t my bed, but it would have to do for now.
It seemed I spent hours trying to get the chaos in my head to quiet down, but finally, sleep prevailed.
I’m at a party along with my entire family, enjoying the company and revelry. I feel the power of the intoxicating drinks flowing through my body. Then I hear a faint whisper calling me from the sea.
I slam back one more drink before rising to my feet and heading for the eastern shore. I know it’s a long walk, but something is pulling me along, and I can’t help myself. It’s as if my body and mind have drifted apart.
As I come to the top of a hill, I see a small farmhouse at the water’s edge. It reminds me of my cottage on Crete, and I feel even more compelled to carry on.
I run to the cottage, only to find it dark and empty. I can tell that no one has lived here in a very long time, but it still feels like home. In the corner, I notice a chest sitting against the wall. I open it to find a beautiful garment. I wrap myself within it, imagining the only man I’d ever truly loved, Iason.
As his face takes over my mind, I can feel his warm embrace. I feel the tightness of the garment grow around me, as though a strong set of arms hold me in their embrace.
I pull a half-empty vial of wine from my handbag and drink the remains. As I do so, I lose my balance and fall. I feel someone catch me and I know Iason is with me. Or is he?
Suddenly, the loving embrace is more of a power struggle. Whatever has me in its grasp is growing tighter still. I begin to fight, but it’s no use. I can’t move. I can’t scream for help. I can’t breathe. Then all goes black.
I wake to find myself in a dark room. The smell of must in the air and the sound of water dripping in the distance tell me I’m in a cave. But where? I try to focus my eyes, but to no avail. I get my elbows underneath me and push myself up until I’m able to get on my feet.
I stand perfectly still, moving only my hands to feel for something around me, but I find nothing other than complete blackness. My anger begins to rise, as I know I should be able to teleport myself out of this prison. I’m a goddess, but I have no powers. That can mean only one thing. I’m in Tartarus.
“Why the hell am I here?” I scream at the top of my lungs. “Whoever you are, you have no right to keep me here against my will. I am the Goddess of Sacred Law and I demand to stand before my accusers.”
As I stand there in the darkness, I hear a faint noise in the distance. At first, it’s only a buzzing sound, but it soon turns into laughter, shrill, evil laughter. Though I have no idea where I am or what’s around me, I walk in what I think is the direction of the sound. However, each time I move, the laughter intensifies and sounds as if it’s behind me.
“Enough!” I cry out. “Show yourself.” The laughter ceases and the darkness becomes eerily still. Then, I hear what sounds like stone scraping across stone. A beacon of light emerges in front of me, causing me to shield my eyes for a moment. I see a lone silhouette standing in the light.
“Aw, Demeter, we’re so glad to finally have you join us.” The voice is an odd combination of both male and female, as though a choir of demons has come to me in the guise of a single entity.
“Who are you and why am I here?” The sheer power of my anger causes a shower of stones to fall somewhere in the distance.
“Calm yourself, goddess, or we’ll return the stone. We’ve come to release you, as long as you promise to play nice.”
“What the hell does that mean?” I growled.
“You’ll see when the time comes. Now, return.”
I sat straight up in bed, my hair saturated with sweat. My hands were shaking and my heart raced. I had only known fear like that once before in my life.
I got up and went to the kitchen for a glass of water. I had no idea what time it was, but it was still dark outside. I wanted to call Hera, but wasn’t sure what I’d say. It was just a dream, right?
I made my way to my office, feeling a stiff drink might help calm my nerves. I turned on a small lamp that sat on my desk and noticed something lying on the carpet. It was an envelope that had been slipped under the door.
Though I was a bit unnerved, I went over and picked it up. On the front was simply my name, written out in a very lovely script. I pulled out the letter and felt my blood run cold.
“Dear Ms. Demeter,
This is Thanatos. I am sure you are aware by now of this incident of the mirrors and the warehouse. I have a lead and have borrowed the half-breed, Theseus, from your employ.
So tell me, Ms. Demeter, did you dream? Was it scary? Do tell. Whisper it to the darkness. Let me hear.
Did I mention this was Thanatos because this is Thanatos? Are you awake? We like your bad dreams. Do you like the half-breed in your office?
We speak in the voice of nightmares, in the voices of Legion. We will steal time from the gods! Time and old magic have awakened me!
This is not Thanatos! The God of Death is dead, and we killed him! We will meet soon! Now wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey.”
To my horror, the words on the note began to bleed and run onto my hands. They burned, peeling away the flesh and exposing what lay underneath. I heard the eerie laughter echo throughout the office. Whatever it was, it was here.
With a start, I sat up at my desk. I looked around and noticed that the files were still in my hands and I was still dressed. I’d knocked the wine bottle over at some point and what little was left had trickled across my hands.
I felt a slight breeze sweep across my face and noticed that one of the west windows had been opened. It was fairly windy outside, so I figured that was the cause.
I got my bearings, then got up to close the window. Before I could get there, a heavy gust surged in, sending papers and debris throughout the room. As the wind subsided, I heard that same eerie laughter drifting into the night.