Bleary eyed, I sat at my table with a mug of dark, beany brew in one hand, while I scrolled the headlines on my tablet with the other.
“GEOLOGISTS CONFIRM 6.9 QUAKE”
“SEISMIC ACTIVITY FROM DORMANT VOLCANO”
“ANOTHER TITAN CAPTURED”
I took a sip and grimaced. The coffee was cold. “How long have I been sitting here?”
Time and any sense of it was fuzzy, at best, lately. I rubbed at my mortal’s eyes to clear the weird, blue blur that had fogged her sight for the past few hours.
Satisfied the press was regurgitating the spin that our public relations machine had been churning out over the past weeks, I decided it was time to give the mortal a rest. Even with a Goddess at the wheel, you can only drive them so long before they give out entirely. I’d been fueling her on caffeine for two weeks, maybe more.
I dragged her exhausted carcass from the table to the bedroom. Kicking off our shoes, we stumbled to the bed, yanked back the comforter, and dropped onto the cotton sheets, where we sunk into a mountain of fluffy pillows. Pulling the comforter over us, we cocooned in the cozy warmth and reveled in the blessed silence. We watched the first golden rays of dawn beam through the window, bathing us in pale morning light.
Her blinking slowed and her eyelids grew heavier, sleep winning the battle against the caffeine that coursed through her veins. Random thoughts and images of the day flickered behind her half-closed eyes as her mind began to drag her into the blue hazed oblivion of sleep. The images morphed into strange beings and familiar faces, all through an odd azure fog. A blue-tinted woman became a blue-tinted Zeus, who then became a blue-tinted Hera.
My phone chimed loudly. Ching ching. Ching ching.
“Ignore it,” I instructed the mortal as she continued drifting into the swirling indigo chaos of shifting forms. A blue apple perched precariously on a pile of rubble before toppling over and rolling across the floor, stopping at a man’s shoe. That image gave way to a man pounding on a door. He turned to look me straight in the eye. It was Zeus, and he shouted my name.
The phone rang again. Ching ching. Ching ching.
“Fuck,” I growled and forced her eyes back open as I reached for the phone and glanced at the display, “Aphaid?” Why would they be calling me?
I tapped the screen and sighed, “Yes, Aphaid?”
“We are sorry to disturb you, but you are needed.”
“Needed where and by whom?” I asked, more tersely than I intended.
“It is the Queen. She…” Aphaid trailed off. They sounded uncharacteristically befuddled.
“She? She what, Aphaid?” I snapped.
“We are trying to collect ourselves, Miss.” Aphaid went silent for a moment. I heard them inhale deeply then they spoke again, “The Queen changed into a young girl right before she hit us with enough force to send us across the room.”
“What? You are speaking nonsense, Aphaid. Are you quite alright?”
“We are well enough to call, but the Queen is not. We do not believe she knows how to steer her carpet. You must come to her office now.”
Before I could speak I heard a click, and the connection went dead.
“The whole world has gone insane,” I muttered to the empty walls. I glanced back at the bed. “Ok, you stay here. I’ll go find out what Aphaid is going on about.”
I left the mortal resting and sped upstairs, materializing in Hera’s office. Aphaid blinked, raising two perfectly painted brows. “You startled us, Miss. Where is your mortal?”
“Resting,” I replied and looked around the office, “What in Hades happened here? Where is my mother?”
“That is what we were trying to explain, Miss,” Aphaid said as they pointed to the open window. “My Lady was not quite herself as she drove her carpet through the window. We haven’t been able to locate her.”
“And Zeus? Any change with him? Who is attending him?”
Aphaid’s blue skin seemed to pale. “We do not know, Miss. We thought to call you right away.”
“Fine. Get Ares or Dinlas over here and tell them what has happened to Mamá. Maybe they can track her down. I’ll go check on the King.”
I arrived at the darkened chamber, moving around a cart laden with uneaten food. The place was eerily quiet and stuffy. Zeus’s body lay still on their royal bed, beneath an ancient wall tapestry of he and Hera standing together on Olympus at their wedding.
“No wonder you act like you are dead, old man. This place is like a friggin tomb,” I said as I flung the doors open wider to let in light from the outer chamber.
I moved closer to the bed, peering down at him. His chest rose and fell with each breath, but he looked so much smaller now. He appeared nearly human, so unlike the larger than life King of the World that we all know and…Suffice to say that he didn’t look like himself.
“Where are you?” I asked him, fully expecting an answer that never came.
I asked again, louder this time, as if the problem was my volume, “WHERE ARE YOU?”
“It’s been weeks, Z. You can’t just lay around on your ass, you know. Not with the world coming down around our ears. Get up, you lazy fucker,” I said as I punched at his arm.
I moved away from him, circling the room, my mind drifting back to other days, glory days. I recalled him at the great battle, commanding armies, his body strong and muscled. His hair flying wild as he ran headlong into the fight. He was so sure, so confident, so fearless. Now, he lay there motionless and vulnerable, a mere shell of the god that had been our king.
I flew back to him, “Get up. Get up now!” I raged. “Dammit, Zeus, you can’t do this! The Titans are loose and destroying everything we’ve built, everything that you’ve built. Mamá is barely holding it together. And, now she’s flown off to gods know where on some magick, fucking carpet, and we don’t know where she is. You have got to come find her! She needs you! We need you. Right now, the world needs you!”
I leaned in to whisper in his ear, “I need you. Come back to us…father.”
I stroked his sallow cheek, “You can’t die.”
I sat back up, the truth of my words striking me as I gazed on his face. “No. You actually can’t die, can you?”
The glimpse of him calling me, when the mortal was drifting into sleep, came into focus. Could it be? Was it possible that he was calling to me? I looked back at his still form, “There’s one way to find out.”
I patted his arm, “With any luck, you can kick my ass later for what I’m about to do.”
I hovered over him and reached out, scanning his thoughts.
“No. This can’t be right. You’re in there somewhere, old man.”
I tried again, this time exploring further.
There were no thoughts at all. Not a single image or even a faded memory. It was empty.
Then, I saw it – a gossamer, silver thread, quivering in the darkness. I traced it back to his mind and then turned, following it outward. The thread penetrated a vast darkness and seemed to go on for an eternity until, in the distance, I saw a dense blue fog. Yes! I recognized that blue.
“I’m coming Z,” I assured him.
I broke through the azure mists and caught glimpses of a city. It was no place I’d ever seen before. The thread grew thicker as I moved deeper into the foreign landscape, sapphire buildings rising up before me. Pale blue forms crowded a platform. Their bodies, such as they were, similar to my own except they glowed in varying shades of azure, indigo, and blue-gray.
The silver thread grew stronger and vibrated with lifeforce. I was getting close. I had to be. I followed the thread and began moving faster as I became more sure of its source. My speed accelerated and the buildings became a blur. Then suddenly, I slammed into a door that sent me reeling backward.
I looked at the plain, nondescript freight door, then back to the silver thread. It pierced the door and It was vibrating so strongly that I could hear it humming.
“Z?” I called through to the other side. Can you hear me?” I tried the handle, but it wouldn’t budge. “Z, it’s Moxie. I’ve come to bring you back. Open the door!”
I yanked on the door handle, but jerking back and forth did nothing to dislodge the barrier. Pausing to collect myself, I attempted to move through it, to materialize on the other side, but for the first time in my existence, I was unable to go where I wanted to go.
In frustration, I kicked and pounded on it. And, while the door had substance, I realized that it made no sound at all. The only thing I heard was the low hum of that thread.
I looked around for any signs of life, for any I might tap into for help. If I could find a body, maybe I could interact in this place. But, it was just me, the thread, and the door.
He was behind that door. I was certain of it. I needed help, but who? “Who can get beyond the door? Who can cross realms?”
I had an idea. “Z, stay right there. I’m bringing help.”
I snapped back to their chambers. Maybe I couldn’t get through that door, but I knew who could. Leaning down, I kissed his cheek, “We’re bringing you home, Z.”
I returned to my mortal, picked up the phone and tapped out a text, Than, I need you at The God Complex as soon as possible. Meet me in the Penthouse. – Moxie
I put the exhausted human back down on the bed, tucking a pillow beneath her head. “You rest now, mortal. We will have work to do very soon.”