Book of Hades
I find it difficult to leave the darkness behind me. It seems to follow wherever I go. I often feel lost and consumed by it, like my shadow is the evil part of me I cannot shake off. The more light shines on me, the longer my shadow. They tend to match up perfectly.
After my recent troubles, I decided I needed a break. I checked that my cameras were working perfectly, scared the crap out of everyone to keep them in line, then slammed the gates of the Underworld behind me. Charon knew whenever someone needed a ride, sometimes he took his time, but on this day, he was ready for me.
“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 jumped off the boat before he even had time to stop. Leaping the last few feet to the bank, I mumbled about him being an insufferable, greedy, old git as I strode towards the exit that led up top.
I had my car waiting for me outside the entrance. I needed a more permanent place to store it. I really need a garage or something. I made a mental note to explore my options in that particular area. I would have needed to buy it and build a car park. The only thing I could say about my entrance, it opened onto a beach through a small cave. There were other entrances, but that was my personal door, as it were. Only two doors were used, mine and the one for anyone else who found themselves at my gates.
I got into my car and took a deep breath. I was bloody annoyed by my responsibility to babysit the souls and the foulest, most dangerous creatures in existence. I wanted to forget my recent troubles and just find some enjoyment in life. What is the point in being immortal if life is one long bloody nightmare? I was determined to have some fun and pushed my anger to the back of my mind so I could relax.
“Right,” I said, pulling my shades from my inside pocket, where my Bident was also hiding, and sliding them on, “fun.” I knew I was trying too hard, and my problems were still there. Music will help drown out the thoughts. I started up my car and pushed play on my rock CD. Electric guitars blasted as I hit the gas, leaving my problems behind me temporarily.
I cruised down a quiet road. Shops were mostly empty, and not many people were around. I let my mind drift away, like the musical notes that were coming and going just as quickly. I was finally relaxing. I was becoming content—
“Bloody Tartarus!” I swerved my car, narrowly missing a telephone pole that had suddenly snapped and crashed into the road ahead of me. Sparks spat and hissed as I tried to avoid them.
“What was that?” I was a little shocked. I’d never seen it coming. “Was that you, Brother? Angry with me, are you?” I supposed it was Zeus. I had no idea why he would have done it, but I did not believe in coincidence or bad luck. That had been pretty good timing. Only my excellent driving skills kept me from crashing.
It appeared to be a warning. Of what, I didn’t know, but electricity was my brother’s thing. He did love his lightning bolt. “No more warnings. I do not take kindly to threats.” I pointed at the roof of my car as I spoke, then laughed. I looked in my rearview mirror at the pole in the street. It made an unusually long shadow stretching across the road. The sun was too high to cause that. Strange, I thought.
I continued my drive, ending up at a small bar. It looked a bit rough and ready, but that was normal for me. Might as well call it a Tuesday. I turned off the music and got out of the car. I turned on the security system and walked through the door of the dark and gloomy public house. I liked it. It was quiet and secluded. Only a few people were sat at the bar. The rest of the room was empty. A pool table was in one corner and an old record-playing jukebox in the other. It was playing Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. One of my new favourites, actually. The carpet was a blood-red colour, and my feet slightly stuck to it as I walked. A few tables took up the rest of the room. I navigated around them and stood at the bar.
“What are you having, friend?” the barman asked me. He kept looking at my hair, his eyes darting up and down as he spoke. I think he was amused.
“Scotch, large, no ice.” The two people sat at the bar were giggling like schoolboys beside me. He nodded, pulling out a bottle and glass from beneath the bar and pouring.
“Problem?” I asked with a smile.
“Nah, no problem. We were just wondering if you would sing us a song, Ricky Nelson.” They all burst into hysterics, even the barman. I was confused. I had no idea what they were talking about. I guess human jokes have changed along with everything else.
“Who?” I said, holding my drink to my lips, too confused to tip it and drink.
“Ricky Nelson was a singer in the 50s. He had a cut just like that.” The barman pointed at my hair.
“And that’s amusing?” I looked at the three of them in turn.
“You did hear him say the 50s, right?” the other guy said, finally getting into the conversation.
“Wait, you are all laughing at my hair? You are…what’s the expression you cretins use these days? Eh…oh yes, taking the piss out of me?” I looked at them. I was not finding it amusing.
“Eh, yes,” the first guy who made the joke said like I was stupid. “Do you not know what sarcasm is either? What stone you been living under, Ricky?” They all laughed again.
“Not a stone, a cave,” I said, making them all laugh even harder. I finally drank the scotch in one mouthful before continuing to speak, “And I don’t take kindly to people trying to belittle me. I’m the one who does the belittling.”
They were all crying. One guy made the mistake of standing up and putting his hand on my shoulder to stop me from falling over. I grabbed his thumb, snapping it back, causing him to flip through the air and land on his back with a scream.
“Get out, freak. I don’t like fighting in my place. Take it outside.” The barman pointed a large shotgun at my head, which he must have kept next to him under the counter. The other guy backed away with his hands up.
I looked the barman in the eyes, tilting my head slightly before snatching the weapon from his hands. He also backed away, with his hands up, as I held the weapon and pointed it at him. After a few seconds of intimidation, I bent the barrel in half and dropped it to the ground. I took out a wad of cash and floated a note at him before walking towards the exit.
I caught a shadow out of the corner of my eye and spun around, anticipating an attack from one of the three men. They were still in the same place as before. They flinched when I spun and faced them, ready to fight. Something seemed off. That was the second piece of darkness I had seen, the second unnatural shadow.
I looked around but could see nothing. I walked out of the bar towards my car. Once again, I saw a shadow zip by from the corner of my eye. I spun around again, and nothing was there. What the bloody Tartarus is going on? I walked towards my car once more and entered it. I continued to look around for any more weird patches of darkness or shadows that did not belong. I saw nothing.
I drove to my new house. I had only been there once, and that was only to look around before I bought the place. I had not had the time to explore it and it seemed like the perfect place to go to relax.
I was not far from the entrance to the Underworld, so it wasn’t far to travel. The bar was only a short drive away. I arrived and pulled up to the gates. I had been given a security code to open them but didn’t have the patience to remember or find where I had written it down. So I pulled out my Bident and gave them a zap.
They opened, and I drove through, pulling up outside the door. I entered the house and found it was empty. I hadn’t got around to buying furniture yet, only a leather easy chair which stood alone in the centre of the dining hall. The house had twelve bedrooms and bathrooms, a dining hall, a lounge, an office, and a swimming pool room. I wouldn’t use any of the rooms. I wasn’t planning any dinner parties or inviting people over for a sleepover. I sat In my chair and looked at my phone. The Underworld was just as I left it, nothing happening.
I once again saw something from the corner of my eye. A swift, dark movement whipped past me and vanished as I looked up from the phone screen to catch a glance. It was driving me mad. What is it?
I looked around the house and found nothing. I returned to the dining hall, and my chair was on fire. It was an electric one, and the remote hung over the side with sparks and smoke coming from it. The rest was one big flame.
“What?” I said out aloud, motioning to the fireball with both my arms outstretched. “If this is a joke, Brother, it isn’t funny anymore!” I looked up, shouting at the ceiling.
I pulled out my Bident and pointed it at the fire, causing it to slowly die and eventually flicker out. I was not nearly as good with fire up top as I was in the Underworld. I shook my head tiredly. The day hadn’t gone the way I wanted. I left the house, got in my car, and headed for the entrance to the Underworld. I was done. The pole was still in the road, and it was surprisingly still sparking. Nobody moved that thing yet? I went to drive around it, and that burst into flames as I navigated past it.“Alright! I am leaving! Enough!” I shouted. I looked back at it in my mirror just as before. Again the shadow was huge, this time pointing the opposite way. How? It must have been a big joke. No other explanation, right? It couldn’t have been bad luck or just coincidences. And the darkness that was not normal…it followed.