“Point me toward the way out?” I asked, feeling the forced grin still plastered across my face. Charon obliged, silently pointing, before pushing off from the dock. I pulled my hood over my head and then made my way back to the surface.
“I wanted to change her perception of me. I wasn’t evil, and I wasn’t a beast or monster. Although, I acted the part and was bloody good at it. It came naturally to me. My dark half was reserved for the Underworld and its occupants, but the rest of me was for her. The good side of me.
The scent of the mint patch overwhelmed me as I entered the grove. It was growing wild, untamed and uncared for, spreading even onto the neighboring trees. In the midst of the brilliant green was a single, dead tree. A face with flowing hair was carved into the dark trunk. At the base was a small tombstone, with the words Here rests Minthe engraved upon it.
I reached out to touch her, but stopped myself at the last moment. My hands hovered inches away from her, desperate to heal the pain with my touch, but I was terrified. I didn’t want to taint her perfect skin with my unworthy hands. ”
“What?” I asked him. He looked away and put his hand out. “Bloody Tartarus, are you serious? You want me to pay for the creature to be aboard?” He continued to stare into the distance with his palm outstretched in superior silence. I shook my head and flicked a coin at him, which he caught without even looking. “Take us home, you bloody old swine.”
I took my Bident from my inside pocket and ran for the gates. My loyal servant, Bion, was already there to see what had caused Cerberus’s outcry. As I reached them, Bion was trying to calm him down, but my dog was angry and snapped at him between growls and shaking his heads.
Some kings wear a crown and cloak to show their station and status, but I am more than a king. My brother, Zeus, has his lightning bolt, and Poseidon has his Trident. We would be significantly weaker without them and much more vulnerable. They are weapons of kings among gods. Who needs a crown?
I felt pity for him. It suddenly became clear to me that he had nothing that he cared about in his strange life, except for those coins. The idea of him losing the only things precious to him while in my kingdom was something I could not stomach or stand.
“This is your kingdom.” He pointed his paddle at me accusingly, like I was to blame. He’d hit me with the paddle once, and it bloody hurt. I pointed at him with a look that said don’t you bloody dare, and shook my head as I looked at his paddle, which I suspected was about to come at me. “You need to get this place under control. You have allowed too many things to go wrong since you decided to play in that circus upstairs.”
“Really?” I asked him, completely shocked. “Now?” I motioned around at the shadow that was so close we could smell it—if you could smell shadows, of course. “My taste in decor can wait. Besides, this is the Underworld where dead people live. What do you expect?
“You have not changed, old friend.” I chuckled. “Enjoy your drink. I am sure we will bump into each other again soon.” I drank my scotch and straightened my suit jacket, brushing it down with my hands and patting my hair to make certain it was not messed up. I have to look my best for the big return.
“You got it, partner.” Her eyes lit up at my request, and she pointed a finger at me knowingly. “I got just the thing for you, and it hasn’t been festering in the bowels of an animal or come out of one’s backside.” She turned and began fiddling with one of the machines. It looked complicated for just coffee.
“Get me the Tartarus out of here, Charon.” I went to step aboard, but he thrust his oar in front of me. “Oh, the bloody greed of you knows no bounds. What do you do with these coins, anyway? You never bloody go anywhere to spend them.” I thrust a coin at him and pushed him aside to get on board. He never answered me, as usual. He just pushed us away from the foggy bank and took us across the Styx.
I wanted her to give herself to me willingly, to love me. Did I feel guilty then? Yes, and no. I was a very different god in the old days. I was arrogant and angry a lot of the time. I was no longer that god. As time drifted by, I became more open-minded about life. As I watched from the shadows of the Underworld, I began to enjoy the changing world above me.
The darkness played tricks with your perceptions. Colours danced in your mind’s eye because the brain took over. Damp air filled your lungs, and your feet squelched and cracked on the sticky, crunchy surface. Shadows were the only visible things breaking through the blackness and dimming the dancing colours.