A Little Help From My Friends

“It was three thousand years ago. I was naked, Dad pissed me off, so I sprinted across the sea to a place named Carthage. Ended up over tilting the scales of some guy named Hannibal, who went on to make something of a name for himself. After that, it’s been a blur of booze and booty.”

Wiping blood or whatever the fuck that was off her shoulder, Atë stops next to me. With her arms crossed, she takes in the destroyed, red drenched room. 

“Talk about a dramatic ending…” she says as I stand up and look at her.

“Hey, sis, it’s been quite some time. Sorry about the mess you’ve walked into.” I gesture at the viscera covering her. “Speaking of mess.”

She looks down at herself, picking something else off her shirt in disgust before raising a brow. “Well, I was bored, saw you walking around, and decided to follow you. Lucky me…” She gestures towards the dead mess of tentacles on the altar. “Friend of yours?”

I sigh and look at Scylla’s lifeless body. “She was more of an assignment than a friend. You’re looking at the corpse of the one and only Scylla. Consort of Charybdis, Terror of the Deep, etcetera.” 

Atë tilts her head at the quivering mass. “Well, she looks like bad sushi now. Does Charybdis know?”

I shake my head and stare at the ground. “Unless he can sense her, he doesn’t know yet. I don’t even know what to tell him. I had to kill her. I had no choice. I doubt he will see it that way, though. Just another powerful immortal to add to my list of people who hate me.”

Atë snorts and cracks a smile. “Join the club.” She drops her hand and offers her arm. “Wanna get out of here? Normally, killing makes me hungry, so I assume you must be starving.” 

I smile back briefly. “I could go for some street food and a good night’s sleep. I can’t even recall the last time I had a solid night’s sleep.” I hook my arm in hers, and we exit the chapel. “So, how’s the family been these last few millennia? How’s Dad?” 

She looks at me with a smirk. “Oh, I am definitely the wrong one to ask, given that I have been in Tartarus after trying to kill said Dad. You really have been away for a while.”

I shrug half-heartedly. “He probably deserved it, knowing how incorrigible he is. What did he do to awake your ire this time?”

She slows her pace a bit. “What’s the last thing you remember, Caerus?” 

I stop to think for a moment. “It was three thousand years ago. I was naked, Dad pissed me off, so I sprinted across the sea to a place named Carthage. Ended up over tilting the scales of some guy named Hannibal, who went on to make something of a name for himself. After that, it’s been a blur of booze and booty.”

She bursts into a fit of laughter. “Quite the pirate’s life for you. Let’s see…I was tossed out and literally banished to never return. Everyone forgot about me. I spent the next few centuries creating mischief and death with mortals while plotting my revenge, and then a little nightgoyle led by Kronos gave me a window…” The smile faded from her face as she continued, “and when I say window, I mean releasing the Titans, you know, again. Big fight, bigger loss, and,” she makes a couple of wild hand motions, “poof! Tartarus.”

I stop dead in my tracks. “Actually? I’ve heard Tartarus is no vacation, even for us.”

A somber expression passes across her face before she shakes it off.

“No. It’s not. But, ya know. Try and end the world and fail, and well, you get a nice little door prize in the size of a cell with no view. Anyways… Didn’t you mention street food or something?? I’d rather not have the stench of rotting flesh coat my outfit much longer. I didn’t see any street-side areas when I followed you, so use that luck of yours and find us a food stall.” 

“I can’t really use it on myself. Irony and all. So guess who gets to be lucky for a night.”

I wave my hand at Atë. “Find food. Caerus needs sustenance.” 

“Can this luck also work on getting rid of people, just as a general curiosity??”

We head out the door and down the steps looking down the cobbled street, and head back to the OA. 

“Yes, but again, I can’t use it on myself. Kind of like Eros can’t shoot himself in the ass with that absurd bow of his.”

“Hmm, good to know….” Atë trails off for a moment before coming back to earth. “Anything in particular you’re craving?”

“I’m partial to gyros, but I won’t say no to any roasted meat.” I look at my suit and realize the blood has soaked it through. Atë is also covered in flesh and scraps of organs. “How did you get covered in this shit, anyway?”

“Well, I don’t know if you noticed this Caerus, but you made quite the mess back there. I walked into the chapel and immediately had guts splattered on me from someone who managed to end up plastered to the ceiling. How did you even do that?”

I laugh heartily. “Not a damn clue. However, our current appearance would draw too many questions, though. Hold still a moment.” I summon all the goop to my hand and drop the ball of guts on the ground with a sickening thud. “There, all nice and clean. You should probably be the one to interact with the mortals.”

“Hmph, neat trick. Don’t worry about the mortals. I’m pretty sure we can get as many gyros as we want, and they won’t even know we were here…” She fades out in a cloud of black smoke. After a few moments, she forms back right beside me, a steaming gyro in each hand. She hands one to me and starts to unwrap her own. “Speaking of, who else knows you are here?” she says between bites. “You’re gonna need time for a cover story before big, bad, and angry finds out his chick is dead and comes for your head…”

“Charybdis knows I’m here. What’s worse is that he alluded to my ex knowing as well. Her knowing would be horrible for me.”

“Ex? Fill me on that? Does she also have tentacles? You did mention a pirate thing.” She giggles as we continue to stroll along the streets, watching the humans. 

I glare at her intensely. “Do I look like a Disney pirate to you? Bottle of rum glued to my hand and a ridiculous hat perched atop my head? My ex is a Celtic deity named The Morrigan. She’s a shapeshifter, general witch, and master of invisibility, which makes it super easy to keep track of her,” I say with heavy sarcasm.

“Well, that does suck for you. So what’s your game plan now? Run from both of them?” Atë seems to have genuine concern in her voice. 

Much different from the sister I remember

“I guess I will try to hide out wherever I can. Obviously not at my casino or anywhere in Manhattan, mind you.” I stare down an alleyway and see a stray cat trying to get a scrap of food from a trash can. I summon the trash can ever so slightly, and tip it over, spilling the food inside for the cat to enjoy.

“Hide? Why not just stay one step ahead? You already know he will come for you, sooooooo,” she waves her hands, “get to him first.”

I snap back to the conversation at hand. “Charybdis? That sounds like a terrible idea. Oh, hey, I know I botched that mission you sent me on, but now I’m here to kill you. In doing so, I would enrage every sea monster alive.”

Atë grabs me by the shoulders and faces me. “You wanna know a secret? Something I have learned by repeatedly trying to kill deities much stronger than me?”

“Enlighten me.”

“Everyone and everything has a weakness.”

I let out an exasperated sigh. “It just gets tiring having to slaughter the masses. Say I manage to kill everything and everyone after me. What happens next? I just get a new list of people who are after me, and I’ve put myself in a possibly worse spot.”

Atë tilts her from head side to side. “Fair point.” She steps back and relinks her arm with mine. “I guess you could hide for the rest of your immortal life, but then again, what kind of life is that? Regardless, they are going to come for you. I’m just offering some advice on staying one step ahead.”

It’s my turn to smirk. “I’m a casino owner. I’ll just appease him with some gift or chip credit. Maybe a fancy dinner of…whatever he eats. Or a date with a new mate. Nothing gets you over losing a lover like getting under a new one.”

Atë grits her teeth. 

Guess I hit a nerve

“Yeah, you could always set him up with 12. I hear that works.” She shakes her head. “Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Say this plan of yours doesn’t work, what next? You always need a plan B, and then plan C, and then, well, you know the rest.”

“You know me, Atë, I never think more than half a step ahead. I fly by the seat of my toga. If even I don’t know what I’m doing, my enemies can never outsmart my plan.”

“Well, if worse comes to worst, I’ll help if I can. I’m running low in the friend department. Or reliable anyone department.” She finishes her gyro and crumples up the aluminum into a neat ball before effortlessly lobbing it into a nearby receptacle. 

“I have a retinue of mortals, and that is about it. I could use an immortal friend as well.” I crack a huge smile and slide my business card into her hand.

“Ok, so buy the big guy off. Hide from a psycho ex and maybe make it to your 5000 year birthday. Sounds like a plan.”

“Psycho ex is priority one. The absolute litter of bodies in the chapel were her lackeys.” 

She flicks part of an eyeball that I had missed off her shoe. “Oh yeah, you’re really fucked.”

I shrug again. “She has been chasing me for 500 years. I’ve managed so far to avoid her. This is new territory, though. I have never moved directly against her.”

“Yeahhh, don’t get me involved with that. Call me for other types of body disposals. In fact, any of those indirect missions are right up my alley. Lovers’ quarrels never end well.”

“Let me assure you. It ended about as badly as possible. She stabbed me in the heart with a sword coated in shark’s blood.” I rub the spot on my chest where I can still feel the pain of her betrayal.

“I’m changing my mind. I like her already.” A big shit-eating grin is plastered across Atë’s face. 

I stare deadpan at her. “Hilarious Atë. You should do standup comedy.” I stop and look up at the huge building in front of us. “You know, Dad sent me a letter a few weeks back. I assume it was summoning me home. I actually had no intention of following its instructions, but then again, I cannot control my own fate.” 

She laughs to herself. “Even you, sprinting butt naked, can’t outrun your fate. Time to face the music.” 

We press on the revolving door and walk into the bright lobby.

Caerus (Jason Elmassian)
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