Tale Three – Chapter Four

Now, as both of our viewers will no doubt have noticed that it was been 3 weeks since the last post. This definitely has nothing to do with the fact I forgot to finish my chapter… twice. As I would never do this. You may also think that it’s taken three times as long to write therefore it will be three times as good, right? Wrong. Anyway I feel I’ve already hyped this up as much as I can and you can barely contain your excitement any longer, so here it is. Maybe next week we’ll post on time, who knows!

“I look ridiculous…”

“No, you look great.”

“Why can’t I just wear my clothes?”

“Because I’m trying to make you a little less Columbine and a little more Cumberbatch.”

He’s trying to mould me into a version of himself for his amusement, but I will not be moulded! I will be the sculptor that shapes the world in my own visio – ”

“Now, what are you going to say?”

That is no business of yours… and there’s the slight problem that I have no idea what to say to her.

“I’ll take it by your dumb silence that you haven’t a clue. So, pretend I’m her, what do you want to say to me?”

“…”

“Just say anything.”

“Uhhh…”

“Say something! Anything!”

“Errrr, if you try to repress a sneeze you can burst a blood vessel in your head or neck and die.”

“Maybe a ‘hello’ would have been better.”

“I panicked.”

“Jesus, this is going to be harder than I thought. Just remember to keep it simple, maybe make a comment about the weather or something, get the conversation flowing. So, what is this project about?”

“We have to read The Epic of Gilgamesh and create a modern day parallel.”

“Okay, I don’t know what any of that means. Just remember that anyone you ask, will tell you that all you need to do is be yourself.”

Be myself. Okay, I can do that.

“However, in your case you need to be as far removed from yourself as you possibly can be.”

“Great advice.”

“Happy to help! Now go get her.”

Starbucks. The worst place in the world. I can barely hear myself think over the incessant drone of complaints about the trivialities of life. How I shall love to watch this place go up in flames when I –

“Welcome to Starbucks, what can I get for you?”

“Coffee, please.”

Would you like that a Grande?”

I don’t care.

“And your name?”

“Hades.”

“Huh?”

“Hades!”

Why even ask for my name? You’re going to spell it wrong anyway.

“Coffee for Rabies… Coffee for Rabies.”

Idiots.

“Hi, Hades!”

There she is. Remember, keep it simple. Say hello then talk about the nice weather we’re having…

“Nice hello we’re having.”

Nailed it.

“Ha, so ready to start?”

“Yeah.”

“Whose idea was it to make a modern parallel to an ancient text anyway? Seems like such a silly idea.”

“I dunno.”

*Sigh* “Anyway, where shall we begin?”

Tale Three – Chapter Three

We’re back! Hope everyone had a great Christmas yadda, yadda, yadda. Have some fiction!

“Welcome everyone. I trust you all, as responsible 16 year-olds, had good, productive weekends. No partying? Plenty of studying? Your blank yet derisory faces I shall take as my confirmation. Since you must, therefore, be very prepared and the year is coming to a close it’s time for you to begin your end of year project. This will be the basis of your final grade for your sophomore year. Now I know that prom is in a few weeks but quite frankly 2000 year-old books are more important. So, ‘what’s the project?’ I hear you ask. Good question, your task is to read The Epic of Gilgamesh and create a modern-day parallel. To explore Mesopotamian teachings and apply their knowledge to today. I’m not expecting you to write a novel although, if you did I’d probably give you an A, what I’m looking for is anything that demonstrates a clear understanding. It could be a performance, an essay, a presentation, a deft display of abstract miming. Anything! I want you to do this assignment in pairs, pairs that I have already decided and no, you can’t ask to switch partners. Ashley, you are to work with-”

Ancient Literature. Age old stories romanticizing the path humanity took to get to here. How sad. I wonder if their writings would be the same if they knew this was where they were heading. I doubt it. I can only imagine their disappointment at how great kings and heroes have given way to the Kardashians. Will humans 2000 years in the future be sitting in Ancient Literature classes studying E! articles about Taylor Swift’s procession of boyfriends? Maybe she’ll be their Henry VIII. At least the Professor seems to share my disdain for the present – and prom, that puts me at ease in this class, takes a slight edge off my cynicism. And with no reason to go to prom, the exception being mass murder (I know what you’re thinking, just wait), I won’t be rushed with this project.
“Hades, you are paired with-”
Let me guess, Dionysus, or someone else who can’t carry their own wei-
“Persephone.”
Shit. So this is fear. I’m split between the desire to thank the Professor and to see his spine removed from his body. What do I do? I’ve been handed this opportunity on a silver platter but I’m yet to develop the means to take it. Do I allow myself to squander it? No, I must take it. I mu-

“Hey partner.”

“H…… I….. P….”

“”Hi Persephone, I can’t to wait to start this project with you. How should we begin?”” Is that what you wanted to say?

“Yes?”

“Good. Meet me at the Starbucks on fifth at eight. See ya then.”

I think that went rather well.

*******

I’ve got just under three hours. Should be enough time to get myself together.

“Hey! Hades? Is that you? Can you bring me a bottle of water?”

“Fine.”

It’s as if he doesn’t get enough water spending half the day in the pool.

“Here.”

“Cheers Bro.”

I hate him.

“Hey, hold up. Got any plans for tonight?”

“I’m meeting with Persephone to start our Ancient Literature project.”

“Ahh nice, she’s cute.”

“She is pleasant, yes.”

“Ask her out.”

“What? Why?”

“Because you’re a loner and I’m starting to worry that without some happiness you’re gunna shoot up a school or something.”

Shoot up a school? I would never lower myself to such undignified methods.

“What would I even say?”

“When are you leaving?”

“Around seven.”

“Ok, I’ve got three hours to work with. I think I can do that. You ready?”

“Ready for what?”

Tale Three – Chapter Two

They walk past the window. Scurrying about their pointless lives. Drinking their coffee, complaining about traffic. If only they knew. If only they could possibly fathom what was coming. The glorious rise of my underworld. I will be in command. I will rule them al-

“Excuse me?!”

“Welcome to Olympus Department Store. How can I help you?”

“How much are these shoes?”

“I’ll check for you.”

Look at her standing there. On her cell phone, talking to some ‘friend’.

“No, Scarlet I’m on my way. I just needed to stop off at Olympus. Some weird Goth kid is helping me and he’s totally useless. Probably on drugs or something.”

Not knowing that soon they will both be at the mercy of my illimitable power! They will beg and plead for their meaningless liv-

“Well?”

“$69.99…”

And she was gone. Back into the meat grinder of the world. How long must I wait for my ultimate rise?! My shift nearly over. I can retreat to my sanctum. I can already hear the bark of Cerberus my faithful friend. You shall sit at my side as we plunge humanity into the dark abyss of my underwo-

“Hi, Hades isn’t it?”

Persephone. Beautiful Persephone. She knows my name?

“Um. Hey.”

“You’re in Professor Homer’s Ancient Literature class, right?”

“Yeah.”

“I thought it was you. I’m Persephone but everyone calls me Cora.”

“I know.”

“Great! I was wondering if you could help me? I need a dress for the prom, but I don’t know what to get. All my friends already have their dresses. Aphrodite looks incredible, she’s so full of it.”

Of course I’ll help. I’d do anything for you, I lov-

“Are you going to Prom?”

“Prom is an foolish concept. It shall be done away with when I unleash my rule upon the world.”

“Huh?”

“Nothing, I didn’t say anything. I haven’t decided yet.”

“You should, it’ll be fun. Hey, you’re the guy with the cute brother, right? The one on the swim team.”

Of course she likes Poseidon. They all like Poseidon. Captain of the swim team, washboard abs, tall. It doesn’t matter, when I fulfil my great vision I shall take her for my own and she will be mi-

“Is he single?”

“Er. I don’t know.”

“Probably not, no one that gorgeous ever is. What do you think about this one?”

I am overcome with a crippling longingness, a desperate sadness, a doomy vertigo that poured over me at the sight of her. I must tell her how good she looks in that dress. I must articulate my response to her profound beauty…

“It’s nice.”

“I think I’ll take it. Thanks so much for your help! See you at school”

The end of the day. Finally I can return to my dwelling. Poseidon would have to be the first to go. All his wenches will watch as I-

“Hades! Stop daydreaming and get in the car!”

Tale Three – Chapter One

Here we go. The start of our third story. Enjoy! (Yes I know it’s short)

Slowly she walks, frail and unsuspecting. Each step draws her closer. Closer to me. Further into my domain. My underworld. Such insignificance deluded into self-importance. Just a few more steps. She’ll never realize the spec she is, they never do. I prefer it that way. Let them lean into their ignorance. Let them indulge in their tunnelled view of the world. Let them know life. Then, take it awa-

“Hi. My husband bought me this sweater for my birthday last week but silly Dan, he still thinks of me as that 22 year-old he married. He’s so sweet, there’s no way I’d fit into an 8 now but you know, at least it shows that he hasn’t notice me aging… does that mean he doesn’t notice my looks at all now? Oh God. . Stop it Lillian, Dan loves me just as much as he did on our wedding day. The trip to Saint Tropez proves that.”

“Would you like an exchange or a refund?”

“Hmm well I don’t want Dan to think I don’t like the sweater so I better exchange it for a different size.”

“All the sizes we have are hung up by the shoe wall.”

Sweaters. Marriage. Such trivial matters. If only the world was filled with meaning. But then, I suppose, there’d but no fun in taking it. I shall not dwell beneath humanity for ever. I will ri-

“Is this 10 too tight? I feel it clinging to my hips. It does make me look slimmer though. I’ll go try on the 12. See which one I prefer.”

She’ll be the first. Then onto my bro-

“Hadeees! Little brother! How are you? How’s the shift?”

Then onto my brother. Zeus.

“This shift is but an opening chapter in the rise of the underworld.”

“That’s great but have there been any customers?”

“That lady over there is exchanging a sweater…”

“And you know what to do? Put it through as a refund and a new purchase?”

“Yes brother.”

“Awesome, you’ll go far here. I can see it now. Hades, assistant store manager.”

Ok my brother will be first. The apple of my father’s eye. Store manager at just 17, head boy at school and just offered a place at Yale. All things that will be null when I recreate this world. And his precious Hera. Almost as cherished by my parents as my two older sisters. Zeus shall watch as I-

“So the 12 doesn’t sit right, it’s too baggy. I’ll have to go with the 10 and change potatoes for quinoa. Maybe I’ll even go back to the gym.. I’ll call Gabby and tell her we’re gunna start spinning again. I wonder if José is still there. Anyway, thanks for the help. You’ve been great.”

“Thank you for shopping at Olympus Department Store. Please come back soon.”

Manslaughterer – Chapter Six

Britain to leave the EU. Trump to be President. Will the concluding chapter to this story bring an even bigger surprise? Find out below….

With notable lethargy Rick fumbled through the front door of Russell’s house and sat at the bottom of the stairs a few feet from the door. His body gave way to a slight tilt and his head rested with weight on the oak bannister. He’d been awake most of the last forty-eight hours but it was the anxiety that pushed his head to the wood. Russell followed him in shortly after, his step immeasurably lighter, unburdened by the considerations of the future that plagued Rick. Upon closing the door Russell bent down and gathered the day’s mail from the haphazard pile on the floor. The usual collection of bills and pamphlets with one exception. A letter in a pink envelope, scented with something faint and alluring. It was absent of an address or stamp, evidence of its delivery by hand. With the vigour of a small child at Christmas, Russell tore through the envelope to reveal what was hidden inside. A single A4 piece of paper, folded twice, sat blank in Russell’s hand. Blank except for a single line of text handwritten at the top and a faded paw print, pressed in ink at the bottom. The text read:

We got your message. Meet us at the abandoned Nexaco warehouse. If you don’t know where it is, find it.

As Russell read the message aloud Rick’s head parted from the bannister, a worried yet curious frown began to show on his face.

“Who sent you that?”

“I have no idea…”

“You’ve never got anything like it before?”

“I get letters everyday Rick, just like mo-“

“I meant letters like that! Have you ever got a letter like that one?”

“No.” Rick stood up from the foot of the stairs and leant with one hand on the adjacent wall. The silence that accompanied this moment was broken when Rick turned from the wall and returned his gaze to Russell.

“It has to be about Jeff.”

“Why?”

“Because coincidences like this don’t happen. But I don’t understand about the message, when and to who did we send a message?”

“Maybe it was by trying to kill Jeff?”

“That does seem the most likely but it’s not really a message. Unless the message they took from it is that we want Jeff dead.”

“Yeah. That.”

“Does the message have a time on it?”

“Not that I can see.”

“Let’s go now then.”

“Ok but do we want Jeff dead?”

“Do you really think he’ll stay quiet for the rest of his life? I’m not taking that chance.”

The roads out this side of town were worn and neglected. The erratic effect this had on the suspension of Rick’s aged Acura TSX mirrored perfectly the panicked nature of his and Russell’s heartbeat. Their journey was filled with a back and forth of questions all of which led to no destination. A single line in a single letter had led them here. A faint hope that this was the solution and the end to their ordeal. They pulled into the industrial estate that housed the abandoned Nexaco warehouse. Not much else stood here. Three unattached trailers missing their trucks lay to the east and a rust-laden water tank dwelled in the west. Sitting indecisively between them was the warehouse. Windows boarded, branding smeared. All but one entrance was dressed in chains and padlocked. The west side door remained ajar, its dressing of chains slumped on the floor alongside a pair of bolt cutters. Rick eased the car to a stop behind the water tank, out of sight of the road. He then ushered his gaze from the steering wheel over to Russell, who was holding ‘MC Hammer’ with a tightness of grip they both wished they had on the currently unfolding events, and said “shall we?” They both exited the car with feigned confidence, their surroundings firmly harboured in their awareness. It was a quiet part of town, if it could even be consider part of town, with the only sound being the drone of a nearby highway. Only the occasional pickup truck bearing a family’s supply of firewood would disturb the peace of the immediate vicinity. In spite of this the two of them moved with haste towards west side door. Arriving at it they carefully slid the fallen chains out of the path of door and opened it fully. They went inside.

The darkness of the warehouse, of which the light switch placed beside the entrance provided no sanctuary, was overwhelming. It masked a large majority of the inside, only subsiding in the few places where rays of sunshine fought through the boarded windows. The air was dank and thick, the rancid smell belied the emptiness of the warehouse. “Hello?” Rick called out. The echo to which was the only response. “Go over there and try to find a working light switch, I’ll check over here. If there’s no one here we’ll just have wait.” They headed off in different directions and it was not long before the dark obscured them from each other’s vision. Starting at one end of the north wall, Rick scoured his eyes over every steel shelf, every work bench, every wall cabinet. All that populated them were a mass of rusty tools, empty paint cans and other things that would be at home, unused in a garden shed. Getting to the other end of the wall took Rick time and it bore no fruit as his hope for any source of light dwindled away to the point where it had almost vanished. It was at that point he reached a large lever-style switch with a thick wire climbing up from it towards the ceiling. “I’ve found a switch!” Rick shouted out into the darkness yet from the darkness, no reply came. “Russell?!” This time a reply came but in the sound of a metal object falling to the floor. The sound rang throughout the warehouse making its already immense size seem infinite. Immediately after, one of the beams of light from the boarded windows was broken by a shape that disappeared as soon as it was seen. One final call “Russell?! What are you doing?!” was the last thing Rick remembered.

His return to consciousness was accompanied by the touch of something light and coarse brushing across his face. This was sharply contrasted by the blunt force of the fist that followed. His head rocked back and vacantly gazed at the now present light coming from the ceiling. As his head returned to its natural position, thick blood dripped from his mouth. The blood’s destination was an object perched on Rick’s lap. A ball of string. Formerly white, it now resembled a globe with countries marked in red. More disturbingly, however, were his fellow occupants of the warehouse. In front of him stood a group of cats or, more accurately, a group of people dressed as cats. An assortment of vibrant pastel and fluorescent costumes juxtapositioned with the industrial weapons hanging by their side.

“Wake up.” The evident leader of the group’s voice was cleared of any diction by the mask he wore. The angled length of pipe that rest atop his shoulder swung down to his side as he approached Rick. He grabbed Rick’s chin, checked his eyes for cognisance and then grabbed the ball of string before heading back to his position at the front of his group. “Why do you challenge us?”

“Challenge wha- What the fuck are you?!?” Rick finally managed to break silence but the words were yet to flow with the same ease as the blood.
The leader laughed a slow laugh.

“You cannot rescind a challenge just because you have been caught.”

“I seriously don’t know what you’re talking abo-“

“DO NOT PLAY COY WITH ME!” His voice was a sudden eruption that echoed around the room.

“Two nights ago, you were seen leaving THIS ball of string on our turf, therefore challenging us for that turf.”

“This is crazy, you’ve got it all wrong.”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah, yeah. Just let me explain.” The leader swung the pipe around, testing its weight.

“We are not known for our mercy. For good reason. However, I would like the entertainment of watching you try and talk you way out of this. So, Rick, please, tell us how you mistakenly challenged a gang of Furries.”

“Furries?! That’s what you are?! I thought Furries just fucked in costumes?”

“We’re aware of the public perception of us. It only describes the surface. Do you no longer wish to explain yourself?”

“Sorry, I’ll start.” Rick recounted the events of that night, not a single detail amiss. It drained him, both of energy and hope. For the first time the precariousness of the situation hit him. He’d escaped one sentence into the jaws of one far worse. During the course of Rick’s story, the leader had been brought a chair in which he now sat. One hand sat on the angled pipe and the other supported his head.

“I liked it” he said, rising from the chair, the pip returning to its origin on his shoulder. “But I did say earlier that we are not known for our mercy. Regardless of whether you intended the challenge, the fact is the challenge was made and we must respond.”

Rick, seeing no reprieve, bowed his head in acceptance. His thoughts raced back to the moment he accepted Russell’s request for help. Jolted to speech he asked “where’s Russell?” his question was met by silent staring. “At least let him go, he’s just an idiot.”

“It’s a little late for that.” The words held the leader’s hidden command as two others moved forwards to either side of Rick. With ease they lifted his chair and turned him one-hundred-and-eighty degrees. Now he stared directly into what used to be Russell’s face, the dripping remnants of his childhood friend. His body slumped and tied to a chair. Rick cried softly as a hand squeezed his shoulder, then progressed up his neck, nestling in his hair, pulling his head back, hard. At the moment Rick expected the knife, he was instead deafened by explosions. The room now appeared infinite, blinding white light stretched out omnidirectionally. As the room came back into view Rick could only see what was transpiring due to his chair lying flush on the floor, his head tilted back, viewing the scene upside down. Half the Furries lay bloody and dead, the others scurrying in disarray, being picked off one by one, bullets passing through their skulls meeting no resistance. They all fell. The bodies strewn across the warehouse floor. Men in tactical gear then converged on Rick. The first to arrive above him looked down with a wry smile, he peeled off his goggles and removed his helmet, the policeman from the hospital wiped the beads of sweat off his head and spoke.

“I think it’s time to discuss ongoing investigations.”

Rick sat dirty and despondent in the police interrogation room as a procession of officers interchanged in a blur. The end of this procession was marked by the return of the policeman from the hospital. He started talking at Rick.

“Who’d have thought months of tracking that gang would’ve led to you. We saw them post that letter at Russell’s home and needless to say, we read it. Then we had to move quick. We got to the warehouse before anyone else and bugged it. I’ll get to the point. We have your whole confession on tape so feel free to sit there in silence because this investigation is over. You’re done.”

Manslaughterer – Chapter Five

“Jeffery!” Jeff’s Mum was pouring over the bed clinging to her sons arm.
“How is he?!” she directed her question towards the doctor.
“We’re still doing tests. He’s lucky, it could have been worse.” The doctor who’d come to do his rounds in what he was expecting to be an empty room had been standing there in a constant state of perplexity as he continued “There really shouldn’t be this many peop…” he was cut off by an excessive howl from Jeff’s mother. A man walked from the group up to the bed, Rick assumed it must have been Jeff’s father.
“We’re going to find the bastards that did this to you Jeffery.” there was a noise of agreement from the group of family members standing by the door “bastards” one of the chimed in with.
“Bastards.” said Russell who seemingly just wanted to join in.
“Who are you?” Jeff’s father asked of Russell who sheepishly looked at Rick for help.
“That’s Russell and I’m Rick…” the father looked at Rick then back to Russell who was holding out a cookie the nurse had given him with his coffee.
“Cookie?” he offered. The father, clearly confused accepted the offering and was about to enquire about them further but was interrupted by the Doctor, who was becoming annoyed with the situation.
“I must insist that everyone…” he was once again cut off by another howl from Jeff’s mother who, still leaning over the bed gripping on to her son for grim life seemed to be enjoying all the attention the crowded room was giving her. The father had just noticed the police officer standing uncomfortably in the middle of the room.
“Are there any suspects?”
“I can’t discuss on going investigations”
Russell was squirming in his boots, all the talk of finding the culprit was clearly making him uncomfortable.
“You can’t talk about ongoing investigations.” it was said with an air of sarcasm and was Russell’s attempt to end the discussion, however it only succeeded in drawing attention to himself.
“I’m sorry, who are you?” the father had turned to him again was keen to probe the issue further. Russell gave him a blank look as if to say ‘how have you forgotten?’
“Uh I’m Russell? I just gave you a cookie.”
Rick, who had actually just understood the question butted in.
“We’re Jeff’s friends, when we heard what had happened we came here to make sure he was okay.” he paused as he realised the opportunity for them to make their escape.
“And now we’ve seen that he’s fine…” he looked down at Jeff whose eyes seemed as though they were swimming around his skull and was muttering to himself about how he liked turtles, “we’ll be on our way.”
The two of them squeezed their way through the gaggle of family members and reached the door. They were passing through as Russell turned around and waved.
“Bye, Jeff!” perhaps surprisingly Jeff looked up with a big smile and waved back. The unassuming lack of mental acuteness these two possessed would be endearing if it weren’t so worrying. The police officer had helpfully lost interest in Rick and Russell as he was being hounded by questions from the group that still filled the room.
They made it downstairs, exited the hospital and began a walk, which turned into a run towards the car. Closing the car doors behind them they sat pondering over what had happened.
“Well, then,” chirped Russell cheerfully, “that’s that taken care of”.
“How?”
“He said he wouldn’t say anything.”
“You believe that?”
“Sure.” Russell sat with a smile on his face, he clearly did believe it. Rick wasn’t so credulous, but what else could they do about it now? The events of the last 48 hours swirled around Rick’s head. The apprehension of being caught was starting to dissipate with a lack of sleep, the worry that had plagued him was slowly being replaced with a kind of apathetic lethargy.
“So?” Russell’s question shook Rick from his languid state. The truth was he didn’t know how to answer him, all he knew was that somehow they had to put an end this.