Inside, the coffin was quite spacious. Like that one tv show, you know, the British guy who flies through time and space. It’s larger on the inside. Well, whatever, I needed to get out and rejoin my Pantheon family in the fight against the Titans. I began to summon my will as I closed my eyes and focused. The air made a whooshing, rushing noise around my ear. I summoned the will to blow that door open. It was the same as when I moved objects with my mind, only this was a greater task because it was a prison made for a god.
What year was it when I came to the world of the sleepwalkers…it was…it was…nineteen fifty-six.
It was a bright pleasant summer day when I stepped out of the rift into a park. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until…their voices, their rushing feet, their smiles, the blank dreamlike expressions on their faces as they knelt before me with cries of, “Master!”
They prostrated themselves before me: every man, woman and child in the park I encountered. My heart raced and I broke into a nervous sweat. I was not a god to be worshipped. My breath came out in shallow pants. A girl rose up; she must have been sixteen. She approached me in a slow, shuffling walk and took my gloved hand.
“You will follow. You will follow, Thanner,” she said in a dreamlike voice.
I shook my head in disbelief at the young girl, addressing me by the nickname only used by my twin. I took her hand back and nodded.
“Lead the way, dear one,” I said.
She led me to a massive outdoor amphitheater. I saw where we were going as we moved down the rows to the stage. On the stage was a large bronze statue and a familiar face, close enough to my own: my twin, Hypnos. We stood before it, and I read the plaque: “The great God Hypnos”.
She looked up at it in complete adoration and awe. I looked up at it as if someone was pulling a joke on me and a cosmic one at that. She fell to her knees before the statue.
“Master!” she cried out and prostrated herself before it.
“You have to be kidding me!?” I said to myself.
The wind whipped around me at a gale-force level. My wings and eyes were now open. I summoned my will from the bottom of the pit of this prison I had been placed in, and focused it on the lid. I sent my will to the lid. The wind rushed past me in a deafening whoosh, like a miniature tornado, as it slammed into the lid again and again and again, until it exploded outward in a shower of debris. I flew out to freedom. I anticipated a fight when I landed, but I shouldn’t have worried, or should’ve remembered, when Hyp was not on this world, all the sleepwalkers do was stand around staring blankly at the distance, waiting for my brother’s return. I walked past, in and out, as well as around, the blank people, making my way to the scythe I buried here years ago. You heard that right; I had a second scythe. I got it from a version of me who once sat bound in an attic of a haunted house at the end of the world.
I stood there, marveling over the statue of my brother, as the theater (his temple) filled silently behind me. The girl, the one who led me to the statue, rose up and faced the crowd of sleepwalkers. She smiled absently at them and addressed them. I turned to face them.
“The Master’s word is sleep,” she said.
To which the congregation replied, “The Master’s word is sleep.”
Their eyes fluttered, rolled up, and they fell over into sleep. From behind me, someone applauded.
“Love that trick, don’t you, Thanner?” Hypnos said from behind me.
I turned slowly as he placed a hand on my shoulder. I stared into the face of my brother. His black and gold-flecked eyes regarded me warmly, with a smile to match. I should have known then not to trust it. I was filled with joy to see him, but slightly confused as to how he ended up here. We embraced each other, breaking into laughter, and patting one another on the back. At that moment, all worries and cares were put aside. There remained only happiness to be in the presence of my older brother.
“Hyp, how did you get here?” I asked.
“Well, Thanner, after the four-way fistfight between Hades, Charon, you, and myself, I wandered around the Underworld for a while even after you fled. I thought about all that was said and done before wondering if you were right. Maybe there was a better way. I found, by pure luck, some metal ore that your blade was made from, so I had Hephestus forge me this…”
Hypnos removed a dagger whose blade glowed in an all-too-familiar color pattern. I heard it sing for Hypnos the way my blade sang for me. I nodded my head. Lady Luck seemed to have blessed my brother, but the truth was, she always favored Hyp over me. That was the way with everyone, though.
I looked over his shoulder at the statue of the Great God Hypnos and then back at my smiling brother. Then I turned to look at the sleeping people and back to him. He nodded with an all-knowing smile on his face.
“Ask, Thanner, I know you want to. Yes, everyone in the world is under my influence. Everyone in this world right now sleeps, and that includes the gods,” Hypnos said.
“How, Hyp?” I asked.
“The well,” he answered, smiling.
I stood in a cavern of black stone, filled with the sound of trickling water from the rocks dripping to the ground, echoing in the vast hollowness. A rushing, slapping sound of waves crashed in the far distance inside this cavern. The smells of moisture, wet rock, and earth permeated my sense of smell. In my hand I held a water bottle I took off a stone shelf. Thirty-two ounces is a good size, right? Oh, never mind.
They watched me as I went by, the sleepwalkers, their eyes turned into his. They gave Cheshire cat grins and snickered. He was in our world, watching through his disciples here. He knew I was going to escape…twin sense. He left threads of it for me to figure out. Echoes of memory appeared in flashes, something he and I often did. He was waiting for me to return, to play out whatever end game he had in mind.
I proceeded down the path to the well that the sleepwalkers made. My hand touched the damp stone, and I received a flash. It caused me to breathe in sharply and stop as I watched it. I saw the goddess, Ate, kneeling before Hypnos, with Chronos at his side.
“Show me again!” Hypnos growled.
Ate’s eyes flashed amber. Hypnos smiled proudly as he turned to look at Chronos.
“She’s ready,” Hypnos said as the image faded.
The echo caused me to stagger down the path as Hypnos’ arm draped over my back. He rested his hand on my shoulder. As we marched down the path together side by side, the gravel of the dug-out path crunched under our feet. I felt the excitement pulsing off Hypnos. He squeezed me as we approached, which caused me to smile. We came upon it – the place he called the well – as the gravel gave way to a gray, sandy beach area. The well was a massive body of underground water. The waves rolled up to the shoreline and rolled back out. We watched as we stood on the beach.
“There it is. I am not sure what type of magic it is, but it is the source of all my strengthened powers. You should have seen the look on Zeus’ face when I walked in and put him to sleep,” Hypnos said.
I knelt at the shoreline, filling the water bottle with the ancient black water. I didn’t want to drink it, but maybe someone else could when I returned home. There would be a lot of questions for me. I knew that much. I screwed on the lid and left.
I walked down the street to the looks and snickering laughter of the sleepwalkers. Memories followed me like unsettled ghosts as I neared the place where I buried the other scythe.
“You will bury it on the world of the sleepwalkers,” the other Than said, laughing insanely.
“World of the what?”
I only received a mad cackle for an answer.
“Look what I have done,” a sleepwalker said as I passed.
Another repeated it, and another and another until they are all repeating this mantra of their Master.
“Look what I have done!” Hypnos roared as the sky darkened, filling with lighting.
This world’s Zeus was responding to Hypnos’ mood.
“I have ended war! Hunger! Dispute! Death!” Hypnos continued to yell as the sky became full black, and lighting danced all over it.
“What you have done is take away their right to choose: their freedom. You muffled their souls, Hyp, their souls,” I told him.
“Choice? If I left them to choose, there would be wars and murders or worse. All I did was offered to you, and I will offer again. Drink and bathe in the well as I have. Become the most powerful you, THE GREAT GOD THAN! Join me, and we will go to our world and make them sleep there. Then with the scythes and my dagger, we spread the good news of the sleep to infinite worlds, bringing peace these mortals only dream about. All you have to do is take my hand and accept.”
“You’ve gone insane, Hyp,” I said.
“So be it, brother,” he replied.
And bolts of lightning rained down from the heavens.
My hands dug into the cold earth, and I knelt at the spot where I buried the other scythe. My hands, suit, and face all getting dirty as a gentle rain began to fall. Eventually, my hands hit something hard: the case, the black case with purple satin lining. One of two things I raised from the Underworld. The other being the coffin. The Coffin.
“You can’t do this to me, Thanner!” Hypnos bellowed from the straitjacket.
I said nothing, as I sealed the marks of the coffin with my ichor so it understood what it was holding. It was a draining experience, trust me. I pulled away, panting, as the marks oozed black, then glowed purple. I wiped sweat from my brow.
“Thanner, if you put me in there, the people won’t function without me. I will be trapped forever,” he said, a pleading tone in his voice.
“That’s the point,” I said.
“Thanner!” he screamed as I sealed the lid.
He continued to scream my name as I walked away, slicing open another rift, as I did right now. Only this time, I would not enter a different world…Than would go home to his world. I have a brother to catch, after all.