The beginning was a funny place to start this story, with an email and a dead man. I sat at my desk in my offices in Chicago, Illinois. I owned and operated Mr. T’s Sweet and Sundae Shops. Perhaps you’ve seen it or heard of it; perhaps not.
As I was saying, I was going over my company reports when my iPad lit up. It was a special black one, and it only meant one thing: my family was attempting to reach me again. I got the occasional message, but I typically didn’t respond. I couldn’t tell you what was different about this time, but I got a funny “hair on the back of my neck standing up” feeling.
I reached over and read the screen: One new email: Sender – Hades, Subject: I need you. I absently rubbed at the side of my jaw, feeling the fist of the god who now summoned me. It had been seventy-four years since I walked away from the Pantheon and my life as a god. I slid the screen and the email popped up. I read it.
“Than, I need you. I am previously engaged in other matters in the Underworld. I need you in Connecticut. There’s a murderer, John Nolin, on the run and dying. Collect him, bring him to the shores of Lake Aveinos, and let Charon do the rest. I need you for this, Than. It’s time you came home to us. Lord Hades.
I realized I had not stopped rubbing my jaw since I opened the email. Time to come home – I ran over those words in my mind. Time to come home. My mother, Nyx, had sent me similar emails, which I had ignored. Maybe it was time after all. While I decided if I really was going to go through with Mr. Hades’ request, two more emails arrived on my iPad. One from my mother, Nyx, subject: Come home! And the other from my darling older sister, Atropos, subject: John Nolin. Sighing, I placed the iPad on the table as I pushed the call button on my desk. The intercom clicked on. “Nick,” I said, “Please bring in the steamer trunk.”
“Right away, sir,” Nick replied and the intercom clicked off.
I slid open Atropos’ email and began to read. “Oh, Mr. Nolin, you’ve been a naughty boy,” I said to myself. One of the double doors to my office opened, and my assistant, Nick, wheeled in a black steamer trunk covered in dust. The trunk was a relic from World War Two. He approached the desk and placed the key on top of it. “Cancel all my appointments for the next couple of days. I’m going to meet with my family,” I told him.
“Right away, sir,” Nick said and promptly left me.
I went to the trunk and stroked its black exterior, leaving trails of my fingers in the dust that had accumulated. I put the key in the lock, and it clicked into place. I turned it in the lock; the sound echoed in the office and the ground shook. I removed my coat and unfurled the black wings I had tucked under the long suit jacket I wore.
With an eagerness I had not felt in a long time, I threw open the case. Inside were three items, waiting patiently for me. I pulled out my cloak, the one woven by my mother. I took in its familiar scent of the night air as I draped it over me. The cloak hugged close to my body, and I felt her loving presence.
I removed my pouch and ran my hands over its dark purple silk before I tied it to my belt. Finally, I pulled out my scythe. As I held it in my hands, it sang to me. It was the song of the cosmos, of creation, of life, of death, of the yes and the no. It was a beautiful song, and those lucky enough to hold my scythe heard it.
I went to my desk, now in full vestments of my true self. I grabbed a pair of leather gloves. New England was cold this time of year, and I didn’t like my hands being cold. I put on my gloves and placed the iPad in the sack. Then I focused my will on John Nolin. I whispered the name, and the song of the scythe grew louder until the blade glowed, alit with the colors of the Aurora Borealis. The blade and I were ready. I sliced upward in the air and a rift opened. A couple of deep breaths, and I stepped into the rift.
I emerged in a forest in Connecticut as the cold fall air touched my face. The trees were ablaze with reds and gold, and there were several footpaths. I felt myself break out in a smile. I couldn’t help it, really, because this was where the fun began. This was where what I liked to call the merry chase, was about to start.