Time is an interesting concept. As immortals, we have the luxury to see it for what it is – an idea. Like money, it only works when everyone agrees to label it and use it as a unit of measure. And, also like money, mortals are forever complaining that they don’t have enough of it.
You dice it up in varying units and name them by years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds. Then you run your lives by it, sometimes missing the act of actually living because you are so busy measuring and complaining about it. The funny thing about time is that when you break the agreement, you can live outside of the construct and simply be. You are a human…being. Suddenly, you can live an entire lifetime in the blink of an eye.
That’s what happened as I hung upside down outside of the 91st floor of the OA building. In that last nanosecond, as Zeus’ fingers loosened around my ankles – or, more accurately, her ankles – our minds exploded with thoughts and memories that were barely distinguishable from one another. Calculations collided with recollections that simultaneously flashed forward and zoomed backward. All of it folded into itself, into now.
Her mind raced through her experiences and offered up a dizzying reel of her existence. I saw everything and experienced all of her emotions associated with her life events. We were filled with the pure love for her mother. Our heart lifted with the carefree joy of playing in a sandbox. We re-lived holiday feasts with family. We delighted in giving gifts. We thrilled in receiving gifts. Together we remembered her first crush, her first kiss, her first love. Everything right up to the moment when I borrowed her body and sent her awareness to sleep.
She was wide awake now, though. Disoriented and panicking. Who could blame her? The last thing she remembered was walking into a coffee shop to grab her morning bean brew before heading off to her job. Now she was suspended high above the earth, upside down with a tornado spinning nearby and a bird entangled in her hair.
My thoughts, on the other hand, were more practical. “If she is already scheduled to arrive at Sulfur Springs next week, as Hades claimed, would that mean she would survive the fall today? Would she linger in agony for a whole week? Am I the cause of her death? How could I be so reckless with her? Can I get the vine around her ankle before Zeus lets go? Can I pull us back up? Can I wrap Zeus up tight enough to toss his arrogant ass out of the window? What the hell was that? Was that a nightgoyle? Holy Hades! There is a pack of them! How are they not in Tartarus?”
“Wait!” I yelled up to Zeus.
His fingers immediately tightened around her ankles just as a wisp of vine shot out and wrapped around her calf. At least I knew that the fall wasn’t the cause of her departure next week for her relocation to Sulfur Springs Resort & Spa.
Zeus smirked smugly. “I win.”
“Whatever, jerkface. We have a more serious problem. Pull me up.”
“Not until you say, ‘please.’”
“Oh, for fu…please.”
He nodded and dragged me halfway back up. “And you’ll do what I ask, right?”
“I don’t actually need you to pull me in, you know. My vine can do it.” I snapped back at him.
“Don’t get too cocky. I can break that vine and we can start our negotiations all over again.”
I sighed. “Fine. I’ll do what you ask. Just pull me up now!”
He smiled and pulled me the rest of the way through the gaping hole, where a window existed only two minutes before.
“I’m glad you finally see it my way, Mox,” he said as he began to unwrap a vine from around his waist.
“I didn’t say that, Z,” I replied while pointing back to the window. “We have a bigger problem than our petty quarrels. I saw nightgoyles out there.”
“What?” he gasped and turned back to the window, leaning out to look. “I don’t see any nightgoyles. Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m sure. It’s not like you’d ever mistake one for a bird, you know. And it’s not just one. It’s a whole pack of them. They are circling the building.”
He leaned out further, looking up into the clouded sky. “I’m still not seeing anything,” he called out to me.
In that moment, time stood perfectly still. Once again, the girl and I were bombarded with thoughts as our minds collided.
She was still stunned, nearly in a state of shock. She wondered where she was. Who was that guy leaning out of the window? Why did her hip burn? Why was there a bird in her hair? Where was her coffee?
Meanwhile, I saw an opportunity to be helpful. I’m nothing if not a helpful Goddess, after all. Zeus couldn’t see the nightgoyles from that angle. Clearly, he needed my help.
I snickered and tightened the vines that were wrapped around his legs and torso as I walked closer to him. Two more vines sprung out and curled around his arms, cocooning him. It only took a quick jerk and a tiny push to send him out the window.
“Hey! What the…”
“Can you see them now, Z?” I asked as I giggled gleefully and watched him swing back and forth like a pendulum.
“Well played, Moxie. Well played,” he called back up to me. Then his eyes widened. “Woah! You weren’t kidding. Those are nightgoyles!”
“I told ya so,” I called back. “Now, let’s discuss the terms of this agreement.”