The glass shattered, sending flames in every direction. People that were in the immediate area were engulfed in flames. Some dropped to the floor, rolling around frantically, and others ran away from the blast.
It all unfolded before my eyes in slow motion. I watched Hatred shimmy and dance her way through the crowd. A large smile stretched across her face, and her eyes closed, enjoying the sounds they made like it was a classic song.
I became so fixed on her I almost didn’t notice the man that caused the carnage. He ran toward the back with another lit bottle in hand. I followed him until he disappeared into the back, which I assumed was the kitchen, and flames burst from the doors.
Pandemonium ran rampant, fueled by the once happy bar patrons. They all ran toward the front door at the same time. The ones that didn’t stay on their feet were trampled by the people panicking as they tried to escape the flames.
I stood in awe of the tragedy. The tragedy Melpomene had predicted before the event, and that drew her there. I turned around to an empty bench.
Where had she gone? Why had she left? If the pull of tragedy had led her there, then why had she fled the scene?
I didn’t have enough time to contemplate the answers to those questions. Hatred shimmied up to me, bouncing her shoulders to the rhythm of the screams.
“It has been too long, Dinlas,” she said.
“Not long enough,” Jealousy scoffed.
“Oh, no, did I wreck boy’s night out?” she mocked.
“What are you doing, Hatred?” I asked, stepping closer to her.
“I was called here,” she answered. “Well, I was called elsewhere to a quaint little house where such an unfortunate event had occurred.”
“And you followed us here, waiting for your moment to pop out?” Jealousy interjected.
“This is why I never cared for him,” she said to me, ignoring Jealousy’s comment. “Jealousy is the worst mortal emotion. It makes them desperate, pathetic, and crazy.”
“Where were you?” I asked.
“The trunk, silly,” she laughed. “I knew you would be driving yourself insane feeling me but not being able to locate me. I was close, but you couldn’t see me. I couldn’t resist.” She clapped her hands and rubbed them together quickly. “So, what’s the plan? What are we going to do next?”
“We are not doing anything,” Jealousy snapped.
“Oh, come on, Jelly. You know I love road trips—”
“You weren’t invited!”
“Neither were you!”
“Enough!” I shouted. “First, we need to get out of here before we draw more attention to me.”
“You don’t think talking to yourself in a burning building would seem normal?” Hatred mocked.
“Let’s go. Now,” I said, walking toward the exit.
I sauntered between the burning bodies, keeping my focus on the front doors. The sounds of sirens could be heard from a distance, and they were closing in. I had no idea what I would say if I were confronted by a witness.
“What gives, Dinlas?” Hatred said, standing over one of the bodies. “You’re not going to heal this one? What about that one?” She pointed at another one closer to the exit.
I ignored her.
“I hate her,” Jealousy growled, following me out the door.
Mortal eyes zeroed in on me as I left the burning bar. I forced myself to cough to prevent any further suspicion. That seemed to work for most, but the waitress and injured truck driver weren’t distracted. They kept their eyes on me as I walked around the crowd, huddled together, muttering things to each other.
I didn’t care what they were saying or what they thought. I could only think about Melpomene and how different she was. She was unlike anything I remembered and knew about my minions.
She spoke of tragedy and how she’s pulled to every one of them in different places. She was flustered at the notion I had followed her or watched her movements above ground. Most importantly, when tragedy indeed struck, she’d fled from the scene undetected.
I approached my car, and the trunk was open. I slammed it shut. The air was colder than it had been when I arrived. My breath was thick, making me think of smoke. I reached for my pack.
I leaned against the car, taking large puffs as I stared up at the sky. There was no doubt I was intrigued by Melpomene. She was right about tragedy striking wherever she ended up. What happened in that bar was a terrible catastrophe. Normally, I would have had the strongest urge to heal and help everyone in there, but that time was different.
Melpomene captured my curiosity and piqued my interest. I had to know more. I needed to find her.
“It will be near impossible to find her,” Jealousy said, leaning against the car next to me.
“I know,” I replied.
“Not exactly,” Hatred added.
“Why do you do that?” Jealousy growled.
“You undermine everything I say and go against everything I say—”
“I can’t help that you’re wrong all the time,” she interrupted.
“I am not!”
“Yes, you are!”
“She will be impossible to track!”
“There you go again, wrong as usual!”
“Stop it!” I yelled.
Jealousy clammed up immediately. Hatred hummed a tune, fighting back her urge to chuckle. They drove me crazy when they were together. It was why I’d left them behind in the first place. It was too hard to think or make sense of things when they argued.
They were both right. Melpomene would be difficult to locate because she’d always be moving, and she didn’t know where her legs took her from destination to destination. But if she got into any situations that invoked hate or jealousy, I would be able to narrow down her position.
I climbed into the car and turned the key in the ignition. Hatred jumped into the front seat. Jealousy groaned in the back, folding his arms as he stared into the mirror at me.
“Wait, where did you get your power? How did you channel it so intensely?”
“Why are you sitting shotgun?” Jealousy jeered. “I sit shotgun.”
“Not tonight, kiddo,” she said over her shoulder, keeping her eyes on me. “I’m glad you asked me that question. I’m going to answer it with a question of my own. How much hate could a god or goddess summon if they channeled their entire existence into that one feeling? I don’t know how or why, but the anger and hate burned hotter and brighter than I ever felt from you.”
I smiled at the thought that Melpomene could channel more of my power than me. It fueled my desire to find her and know more. I didn’t care if it took me decades. I would find Melpomene again.
- Love Short Lived - January 20, 2023
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