Selene leaves, taking the sandwiches with her. Thank the gods. I thought she would never leave. I take a sip of my tea and eat what sandwiches are left, not because I am hungry but out of habit. I chew listlessly and swallow, not savoring or really tasting the food before me.
I haven’t left my cottage since the funeral. I must’ve looked a fright to the Titaness. I’d sent the clones out to do my tasks, and I have a clone working with Nick in the head office in Chicago. That was good. Good, indeed, it is alone time. Time to mourn and grieve, get used to the fact that I can’t feel him. I can’t even speak his name at the moment. I am afraid if I say his name, he might crawl out of the primordial goop, worse than when he went in. I know the fear is irrational, but there is no reasoning with the nightmare.
I jump and scream a little when my phone pings in the heavy silence. I let out an embarrassed chuckle as I grab the device. Seeing I have a text message from Arty, I slide my thumb across the screen.
Arty: Than! Sel is right. You need to get out. You are coming, and I will not take no for an answer. Don’t make me come down there with Sayeh and grab you. You know I will!– Moonbeam
Godsdamn it! She signed off with her nickname. I toss my phone onto the coffee table. I don’t respond. Arty knows me well enough. I rise from my chair and head to my room. I must get cleaned up.
Days later, I slide into the back seat of Selene’s Mercedes, and she speeds off. She is a madwoman behind the wheel. How in Tartarus did she acquire her license? I wonder who I need to threaten to get it revoked and suspended indefinitely. We arrive at a rundown warehouse, and they drag me inside, but I linger by the door.
It is all too much. The noise, the lights, the gods, the mortals are all overwhelming. I turn to leave, needing some air, but Selene’s yell freezes me to the spot. Eris’s catcall sends my heart thudding in my chest, and I feel the panic set in. I step out, close my eyes, and struggle to control my breathing, to think calm thoughts as the panic whispers to me.
“They think you’re a murderer.”
“It’s not true! It’s not true! None of them think that,” I tell the panic.
“But they do,” it hisses and consumes me whole. I can not control what comes next.
Strong, firm hands grab my biceps with an iron grip. I open my eyes, my heart thudding like a jackhammer in my chest. Selene and Artemis sneer at me, their eyes full of malice and contempt.
“Party is this way, Thanny,” Selene says in a high mocking tone.
“Come now, murderer, it’s time to face the music,” Artemis says, her voice sickly sweet.
“Unhand me at once, moon wenches! I can’t go in there! Don’t make me! Please!” I beg.
They cackle like witches from a fairy tale. My legs are numb and heavy, refusing to respond to my commands to flee. They drag me, and my mutinous feet follow. I whimper and struggle as hot, panicked tears flow from my eyes. I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I take in a large gasping breath through my mouth as we hit the door. Artemis looks over her shoulder, offering me a cruel smile as she reaches her free hand out and opens the door.
My heart feels like it is about to leap out of my chest as the moon wenches drag me into the black maw that waits behind the warehouse doors. Inside, things have gotten much worse. The gods stand around in a circle, laughing madly. The music has been turned up to an ear-splitting level, and my skull feels like it is being ripped open. I open my mouth to cry out, but all I can manage are more desperate gasps for air. I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!
The chatter of the gods and music stops as Selene and Artemis’s already vice-like grips tighten even more. Sweat drips out of my every pore and drops to the ground as I gasp. I can’t speak. Tears blur my vision, but I see them, all of them. They wear the same cruel smile as the two who hold me, their eyes filled with malice and glee. They advance, surrounding me. I let out a low whimper. It is all I can muster, all I can do at this point.
I feel the weight from their stares boring into me, and I want to flee. Yet I remain, my numb legs locking me into place. They raise their full glasses to me in a toast, Zeus’s higher than the rest. He raises his fist to his mouth and clears his throat.
“To the victor goes the spoils! The spoils being all our earned hate and contempt! No one can be more powerful than me! No one!” Zeus toasts and throws his drink at me.
The other gods cheer, liquid raining down on me. I choke on some that goes into my open mouth as I emit another series of panicked gasps for air. A hand slides across my back and rests on my right shoulder blade. I look down at the female form of Eris, her eyes flashing gold.
“Not having any fun, Thanny?” she says, leaning in and kissing my cheek.
Then a hand rests on my left shoulder. I turn to see the male version of Eris smiling at me, his eyes burning with gold light.
“We can make it a good time, Thanny,” he says and kisses my other cheek.
The third form of Eris slides between my legs, smiling up at me as they produce a switchblade and activate it. Their eyes emit the same eerie gold light.
“Or we can change your outlook on things. Your current beliefs are not doing a lot of good, anyway. Wasn’t that one thing he said before you killed him, murderer?” Eris three asked.
“Hey! I got an idea! Toss him in,” Dionysos cries.
The room erupts with laughter and applause. Poseidon points his trident at the floor of the warehouse, causing the ground to shake and split open. The primordial pool rises from the depths of Tartarus. I let out a long, low whimpering cry as they begin to chant.
“Toss him in! Toss him in!”
Selene and Artemis drag me toward the pool, the Erises pushing me from behind. I am sure that my heart is about to explode and I still can’t breathe! I want to close my eyes, but they will not close.
As they drag me, my death aura begins to slip, the panic causing me to lose control. The mortal servers violently convulse and fall to the floor, dead. Nike checks the pulse of one and smiles up at me. Then the shouting starts.
“See! Murderer!” Nike gleefully accuses me.
“Broke your mother’s and my fucking hearts!” Erebus cries.
“Came from behind like a coward!” Adrestia accuses.
“I’d trade you for him in an instant,” Hekate sneers.
“Full fathom five your brother lies, Than!” Amphitrite yells.
“Hey, Skellie, got two special demons down there who look just like the twins!” Eros chuckles.
“They are going to eat your eyes out! I helped make them!” Clio giggles.
As I draw closer to the pool, they close in around me, as do the walls of the warehouse. I gasp louder as I let out a long moan.
“Please, no, no more, please!” I beg.
“Pathetic, not an intelligent bone or brain cell in your body,” Athena chides.
“It ain’t Tartarus, but it’s the next best thing.” Atë beams at me and twirls away.
They have me at the lip of the pool and turn me around to face Dikê, Goddess of Justice. She glares at me as I silently beg her for mercy. I see none in her eyes.
“Justice is served!” she yells as she kicks me square in the chest.
I fly backward into the water to their laughter and sink like a stone. I finally manage a scream, the sound emerging as nothing but bubbles as water fills my lungs.
There is a commotion from inside the warehouse. Multiple thuds break me from my paralysis, and I open my eyes. I wipe my brow, and on unsteady legs, I go in to investigate. Inside, I find everyone passed out on the floor. Concern fills me, and I go still. I ignore the low chanting filling the room and take a careful look around. A large mirror with strange yellow glowing runes catches my attention. On the table, sitting on a tray, is a champagne flute filled with ambrosia and a note. Understanding fills me as I look around again.
I grab the note and read it.
A libation for you. I regret not meeting you. Cheers – Gerard
I crumple up the note and toss it, watching as it lands on Selene. I grab the drink from the tray and raise it to the passed-out gods. I know deep in my heart that they would never do or say any of the things my panicked-induced mind insisted upon a moment ago. But as I toast their unconscious forms, the words that come out are still riding on that panic attack high.
“A toast to you, my lords and ladies. Don’t bother getting up from your ambrosia-induced stupors. Any of you, really, not on my account. Don’t worry about a thing. Thanatos will be here to clean up your messes! So here is to you all and whatever witchery that thing is!” I say, gesturing to the mirror.
I down the ambrosia in one gulp, then throw the glass against the floor. The glass shattering is most satisfying. And then…
“Oh,” I utter.
I fall face-first toward the floor. As I hit the ground, my gaze catches on the frame of the mirror. My vision narrows on a glowing rune of a scythe and my name underneath it. The light grows brighter, and then darkness consumes me.