Content Warning: Violence and Gore
I scoffed at his bad Hannibal Lecter impression, “Hilarious Hyp.”
“I thought so. What happened, Thanner? Left your sense of humor in San Francisco?” Hypnos asked, smirking widely.
I growled my response and tossed his plate of food next to the chessboard. Hypnos nods and limps to the table. It appears every step and breath causes him pain. It must be the aftermath of what Nemesis did to him on the mountain top. She gave him a good taste of his own medicine. He stops in front of the plate, putting a hand on the table for support. He smiles when he unwraps it.
“Oh! French fries! My favorite. You do care, little brother,” Hyp says.
He smiles appreciatively, taking a small handful of fries and popping them into his mouth. He closes his eyes as he chews, savoring it.
“Thanner, you are the best gods damn cook I know,” Hyp says.
He grimaces as he takes a seat and lets out a slow breath once he is settled. His skin is pale and small beads of sweat stand out on his upper lip and forehead. Nem really let him have it. I take the seat across from him as “In the Pine” continues to play on its loop. Hyp wipes the sweat from his lip and brow with the shirt sleeve.
Meanwhile, his victims scream in an enraged cacophony for his head, for his heart, for his blood. The weight of the dagger is enormous. I watch him eat the food, relishing every bite. I force those voices to the back of my mind with the rest of the vocal white noise that exists back there. It stopped my head from throbbing and brought my focus back as Hyp finished.
“Who is this singing?” I asked.
“Ariel Henderson. She’s no Leadbelly, but it’s the best damn cover of this song,” Hyp says.
“No one is Leadbelly. It’s nice,” I say.
We begin a game of chess, talking as we move our pieces across the board.
“I thought you would come to see me sooner,” Hyp says.
“I was busy cleaning up your mess,” I say.
“My mess?” Hyp asks, feigning injury in his voice.
“Thousands are dead Hyp and by your hand alone. Don’t you dare play dumb,” I growl.
Hyp smiles as he moves a pawn to block my knight. He winks at me as that smile becomes a knowing smirk.
“No, Thanner, those pawns, those valiant sleepwalkers, they sacrificed themselves. My hands are completely clean. They did it because they loved me,” Hyp says.
“They did it because you implanted the suggestion into their minds. You really are a monster,” I say.
Hypnos laughs, and my stomach turns in disgust.
“Can’t fool you for shit, Thanner, but you can’t blame me for trying. You’ve always been a soft touch. I could go to the Kings and claim it was the water that made me do it, but we both know better. Had you drank it and not imprisoned me, we could have brought peace to countless worlds,” Hyp says.
“You haven’t learned you can’t do that to people,” I say.
“Ants, Thanner, ants in an ant farm. After the hive mind I implanted them with in the world I chose to experiment on, there was no more war, greed, arguments. They worked together like one big happy family. So what if a couple of thousand ants die for the greater good? A good you and I could have brought them,” Hyp says irritatedly.
“Hyp, you can’t…” I begin.
“No, no, Thanner. Don’t you get on that moral high ground with me, not after what the Second World War did to you. Seeing the shell that it made you into was when I first drew up my plans to suggest to the mortals that war was bad. I even took my ideas to Olympus, and they rejected the plan. So I left like you, determined to take matters into my own hands. I thought when we finally met up, you would see things my way,” Hyp says, painfully.
Hyp looks away from me, tears welling in his eyes as he focuses on our game. Hyp wipes at his nose with the back of his hand. The silence between us has a heavy weight to it. I feel his sincerity through our twin sense. The song is the only noise in the coffin. It is a moment of weakness, and Hyp hates those. This won’t last long. He will put his wall back up to protect himself.
“The path to Tartarus is paved with good intentions,” I say.
Hyp picks his head up, and the game show host smile sits promptly on his face. There is a bare hint of tears in the light of his eyes.
“Don’t I know it,” Hyp says.
“Indeed, you do. And you must someday learn that the ends do not justify the means,” I scold. “You took control of Nem and tried to force her to murder me.”
“I was upset about our falling out. I am over it now. Besides, I know you have a bottle full of the water in your cottage. I know it calls to you. I can feel it. Drink it, Thanner. What are you waiting for? My influence only gets stronger and stronger down here while Hades is away. I will be free soon enough. Then you and I can blow this pop stand together,” Hyp says.
“And do what? Start your unnatural crusade of conquest?” I ask.
“Got a better plan, and we bring Nem along as a good sleepwalking slave sister,” Hyp says, smiling victoriously.
“You’re impossible. You truly are a monster, Hyp,” I say.
I feel deflated that he can retreat into this ridiculous notion again and again. The voices of his victims surge forward, crying out for vengeance. My head begins to throb and pulse. Hyp is sitting there cackling as if I have told him the world’s greatest joke. I am at a loss for words as I watch him laugh and pound the table.
“I may be a monster, but that is for Clio to decide when she writes the histories. You are so uptight. You need to relax, maybe get your ice-cold pecker wet. I would say Arty, but I heard she is diving for muffins these days. How about that little Djinn side piece I brought over? She was a good lay. Oh wait, no, you cut off her head,” Hyp says, still laughing.
“You really can’t change,” I whisper.
“Change!? I don’t need to change! I don’t need to learn! I will become the symbol of peace and hope! They will change! They will learn! So help me, when I am out of here, so will you! You will all see the plan works, and I was right!” Hyp roars, pounding his fist on the table.
Panic grips me. My heart races like a jackhammer as Hypnos sweeps the chessboard from the table in a fit of rage. The board breaks as it hits the ground, and the pieces scatter everywhere. He stands there, his fists balled up, looking like a petulant child. The room is suddenly a wash of blue-green, and I see Moxie’s eyes. They calm me, bringing me back to the situation at hand.
“What are you thinking about? Moxie?? Nice choice, Thanner,” Hyp says, with a victorious smile. “She is foxy. How do you think she will look, naked and on her knees, calling me Master?”
He had picked up on my thoughts through the twin sense. Rage, hot molten rage fills me as I fly across the table. I seize Hyp by his throat. The look of confusion on his face in any other circumstance would be comedic. I slam him against the wall and lift him off the ground. His eyes are panicked as he beats at my arm, trying to ease my grip on his neck. His eyes plead and beg for me to let go. I drop him, and he grabs his throat as he wheezes and gasps for air. I kick his stomach with the top of my boot. He goes up and then lays flat on his face. I start for the ladder to leave.
“She really got to you, Thanner,” Hyp chokes out as he sits up. “What did she do to you?”
“That is none of your concern. We are done,” I growl at him.
“No stone wall or iron bars a prison makes, Thanner,” Hyp croaks out as he gets to his feet.
“It will hold you long enough,” I say, climbing the ladder.
The moment I am out of his sight, I teleport into the shadows at his back, willing the potion to activate. He is still looking at the ladder as I draw the dagger. He turns his head as if struggling to hear something as the music plays.
“Thanner?” he says as I reach around him and plunge the dagger into the center of his chest from behind.
He gasps, looking down at the hilt of his dagger in his chest, with my hand on it. I lean in and whisper into his ear.
“It has been drenched in Hind’s blood. I had to raid Ms. Hestia’s stocks and made an awful mess. She will have to forgive me.”
Hyp gasps again as I pull the dagger out, the blade dripping with my brother’s gold ichor mixed with the red of the Hind’s blood. I step around Hyp and push him to the ground. I drop down on top of him, my knees landing on his hands as I straddle his stomach. I put the dagger into his chest again as he lays there, his face full of hurt and confusion. His mouth opens and closes like a fish out of water.
The dagger goes in and out again, making a wet, slick noise. With every stab, I force him to see the face of one of his victims as it appears in my head. Ichor runs from the sides of his mouth and out of the corner of his eyes.
I begin to scream with every plunge and pull of the dagger as the ichor splatter decorates the walls, the ceiling, my hands, my face, and my clothing. Hyp lets out breathy gasps with every stab. The ichor pools underneath him and soaks into my cloak by my knees.
Finally, the face of his last victim appears. It is Nem. With both my hands, I plunge the blade into Hyp’s heart and snap the hilt off. I toss it across the room, and it clatters when it hits the ground. I slide off Hyp, sitting in the pool of ichor on the ground. I am drenched, and the walls are running, the ceiling dripping. Hyp lies on his back and gasps for air.
And gasps no more.
The light has gone out of his eyes. That song is now the only sound as I cradle my brother’s dead body to my chest. I tenderly kiss his forehead as I close his eyes, rocking us back and forth.
Later on, I stand holding his corpse wrapped in white linen at the edge of the Primordial waters our mother Nyx used to create most of us. All the Primordials are here for my brother’s funeral. They hold torches at the water’s edge and above it on the rock outcroppings surrounding the pool. Nyx stands next to Nem, and they are holding hands while Hekate stands on the other side of our mother. Mr. Hades and Ms. Persephone are here, and they have torches as well. Erebus stands behind my mother, his shadows draped protectively over Nyx and Nem.
I begin to wade into the water with Hyp cradled in my arms. I am taking him to the deep to be reclaimed by the water that gave us life. As I trudge to the edge of the drop, one by one, my family tosses their torches into the water to light my way. As soon as the torch is dropped, they fade into the shadows.
The torches burn bright and swirl around me. I lower his body into the water and release it over the drop. It sinks below.
“I loved you, Hyp,” I say to the deep. The deep did not reply.