I love this kind of stuff, cloak and dagger, Illuminati, super-secret crap. Lurking in shadows and sowing discord comes naturally, but usually, I am alone in those deep dark shadows. This time I have company with me.
Also, it isn’t dark so much as blinding heat. We are in the desert, any desert…pick one. We are everywhere and nowhere. Well, we are somewhere…you just don’t get to know where that is.
Neither do they. They being Eros, God of Love, and Clio, the Muse of History. Who I had managed to convince to come with me blindfolded and led only by one so unpredictable and proudly irresponsible as me.
You see, the time has finally come to give my beloved Eros and Clio their presents for producing spawn. I had held off at their gender reveal for reasons that will become apparent, and besides, I feel I did enough that day…what with birthing their children for them!
This whole event has taken much more in the way of planning than I normally indulge in. I hope they appreciate that. I had to secure their permission for the special circumstances with which to give them this gift. They need to trust me completely, as they cannot change their minds after we begin. More importantly, I had to get permission from the gift.
Thus we find ourselves in the barren waste of this mortal world, making our way to a spot where wonders will be found. A spot known only to me. Na, na, na, na.
As we make our way through the dunes, I sense their apprehension, and frankly, it just makes the whole thing more delicious. I’m making gods nervous. Well, to be more specific, I’m making Clio nervous. Eros is too like me to be frightened by the unknown. In fact, I feel he is almost as excited as I, and he doesn’t even know the best part yet.
“Maybe you should tell us just a little more about this gift before we go too much farther, Eris?” Clio asks, a hint of worry in her voice.
“That would spoil the surprise,” I chide as Eros laughs.
“Maybe just a hint then?” Clio urges.
“Hmm, maybe,” I think aloud. “But first, did you bring what I asked?”
“You mean locks of our children’s hair? Yes, against my better judgment, we did,” Clio says bemusedly.
“Easy enough to get. The raptors take after me in the looks department. I’m sure mortals will have them portrayed as golden cherubs!” Eros boasts.
“Good, good. Clio, no peeking!” I shout suddenly. I have no reason to believe she was peeking. I’ve been going full Orpheus here as I lead them through the hot sand, never looking back at them. But Clio’s chirp of surprise with no snarky comeback leads me to believe I was on the money with that one.
“Eris, put her out of her misery,” Eros says with a laugh. “Give us a hint.”
I roll my eyes good naturedly as I smile.
“Fine. You see, there once was a tall man, a grumpy sort and very hot-tempered. He always acted on impulse, which is one thing we had in common, and we became friends. I introduced him to a nice girl, very limber.” I wink uselessly as I finally look back at their blindfolded visages. “And anyway, we all had a gay old time. Then my friend gets this great idea! Hey Eris! Let’s play mixed doubles tennis against your dad and that flappy bird girl that’s always following him around. Now naturally, I thought this was rad, and we play. But, it doesn’t go so well. My friend ends up in the slammer, and he asks me to keep an eye on his lady and their kids.”
I can almost hear their mouths drop open as I lay this all out.
“Eris,” Eros sounds surprisingly serious now, “where are we going?”
“Look for yourself,” I stage whisper.
They remove their blindfolds as we approach a gigantic rock face. Large gaps in between masses of stone almost form a face. Steam springs from every crack, and with each puff comes noises. The sounds of something or somethings alive.
“Step closer. She won’t bite.” I wink. “I’ve asked her not to.”
They step gingerly toward the stone formation, and an unearthly sound erupts from below. It is a mix of a serpent’s hiss and a whale’s song in equal measure with just the touch of something altogether alien running through it. Eros and Clio jump back, Clio half-tackling her husband as she tries to climb into his embrace.
They both look at me expectantly.
“Well, I got to thinking. Why would y’all want such little terrors? Then I thought, Well Uncle Hay certainly likes having that slobbering goofball Cerberus around, so I can see the appeal. And that’s when it came to me. The perfect gift idea.”
“Eris, what are you saying? Down there is…?” He looks at me, her name not leaving his lips.
“Yep, she is.” I nod proudly. “I helped her find this hiding spot after Dad and you-know-who got into it.” I walk towards the mouth of the crag and lay a hand upon it, peering down.
“Hello agapití kyría…” I hum, and a small green tentacle slips through the cracks. It slowly slithers up, like a baby offering its little finger, and wraps itself softly around my hand. I look at them and gesture them closer once more.
“What exactly is your gift, Eris?” Clio asks warily.
“You see, E still is who she was always meant to be. She is the mother of monsters in ways only Lady Gaga can dream. Not as often since T went away…” I say sadly, gently caressing her proffered tentacle as I refer to her lost husband. “She knows that each little bambini she bears will find its way into…let’s say, significant situations. She much prefers situations like Cerberus’s to that of…well most of the others.” I make a stabbing motion with my free hand.
“So you’re giving us…” Eros’s voice fades off as his eyes return to the crevasse and the slithering emerald appendage wound around my hand.
“I’m facilitating a connection.” I smile. “Not today, probably not tomorrow, maybe not for years and years. But eventually, two of her little monsters will seek out your two, and they will share a bond only the King of the Underworld could understand.”
Eros and Clio share a look, emotions flowing from one to the other in a way only people in love can understand. So obviously, I find it quite baffling. His smile matches her look of concern. Through some unspoken communication, their expressions eventually shift. They meet in the middle, joining in a look of calm serenity and finally a nod.
“Alright,” Eros says, his smile slowly returning.
“Bring the hair closer,” I instruct.
Clio approaches carefully, holding a small pouch aloft. She kneels by my side and slowly draws the bag open as I guide her hands towards the crack in the rock.
“Let her get the scent,” I say calmly, feeling Eros’s body heat as he hovers protectively behind us.
Soon the green tentacle loosens from my hand and instead dances upward. With a surprising amount of gentleness, it lays itself around Clio’s hand, giving her a warm and almost comforting squeeze.
“Eros,” I say softly, guiding him around to my side and motioning him to put his hand out as well, laying it next to his wife’s. The jade feeler releases Clio’s hand and moves to Eros’s, taking his hand in a similar fashion.
“Lay the pouch down, Clio,” I instruct, and she places the little bag on the rock’s surface, just a small glimpse of hair falling out. We all watch enraptured as the green snake-like arm winds around it.
A soft, almost purring sound erupts, and Eros and Clio grasp each other’s still outstretched hands as we watch the sliver of green disappear back into the rock.
“You’re welcome,” I say, breaking the heavy silence with a cackle.