It was an otherwise unremarkable day in the City of Olympus. The weather was pleasant and the residents hurried about their normal mundane routines. Sunlight gleamed off the pristine white finish of Hades’ ride as he drove down the mountain and pulled in curbside at the Dark Sparks Café. After he wrecked the Maz, he had thought long and hard about what to replace it with. He, finally, had decided on a new Porsche prototype. It was good having friends in the industry, so he could get whatever he wanted.
Although the new Taycan model was an electric car, he had decided it was smart to start transitioning his portfolio into the renewable energy scene. Even though he had a monopoly on the resources below the Earth’s crust, you couldn’t argue with making profit off something free and infinite. Brushing some road debris off the fender, he smiled and went to retrieve some delicious, Hades-grown Special Dark brew.
When he walked inside, business was good. Business people were draining their coffee while pouring over newspapers. College students peppily tapped away on laptops—presumably working on their blogs, not the philosophy paper due at the end of the week. Hades spotted his favorite table was open out on the terrace. All signs indicated this was about to be a good day.
When he arrived at the counter, the barista stared at him coldly with her hands hovering above the computerized POS terminal. Hades stared back waiting for the customary greeting. There was none. He cocked his head slightly to the side and squinted his eyes a little. Was she new here? Who hired this woman? How does she not know me?
Resolving to not blow his gasket, “Good morning. I am quite happy to be here at the Dark Sparks Café. And yes, you can bring me my order now.”
The barista rolled her eyes so hard the little girl in the Exorcist would have been jealous. Thrusting her hands on her hips, she replied, “Yes, sir. I’ll bring your order as soon as you tell me what you want already.”
That familiar burning rage started creeping up inside Hades’ torso. He could taste the ethereal wisps of sulfur beginning to reach the rear of his throat. Clenching his fists inside his pockets, he forced the fire back down. With a jerk of his head towards the nearby wall, Hades stared heatedly back into the impertinent woman’s eyes.
Sensing that she should look where directed, she saw quite possibly her worst nightmare. The man before her wasn’t just another rude businessman with more self-importance than worth. Nope, this was definitely not her day. There, in a glossy 8×10 inch photo with a beautiful teak wood frame, was the smiling visage of her boss’s boss’s boss’s boss or something like that.
She felt her jaw slowly creep open at about the same rate in which her eyes widened. She was positive she would need to make a courtesy check in the bathroom, that is, if she survived the next five minutes without a heart attack.
Hades decided that the desired effect was achieved, and he would rescue the young woman from her current situation. She wasn’t due downstairs for at least another fifty years anyway. “Now that we have been properly introduced,” Hades peered around to read her name tag, “Alexandrina…I’ll take a large Special Dark coffee. That is my usual for future reference.”
Alexandrina nodded her head enthusiastically and punched the appropriate key on the touch screen. “Anything else, Lord Hades?”
“Hmmm…yes, I think I will stay for a little while. I’d like a Rialto Sunrise, please.”
“Ummm, sir, it’s 11:15. We stopped serving breakfast fifteen minutes ago…”
A hint of blue flame fluttered around Hades’ head and from his eyes, before quickly fading back to normal. “Sweet sliced ham, pepperoni, hot capicola, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, fried egg…light Italian dressing…on a croissant. PLEASE.”
Alexandrina rapidly blinked in terror, tapped the order into the terminal, and rushed to get the order prepared. She returned with Hades’ order outstretched and an apologetic look on her face.
Hades smiled and took his order. “Thank you. See you again soon.”
As soon as Hades strode out the glass door to the terrace, the young woman tried to breathe again. She passed out instead.
Noticing the manager approaching over the top of his newspaper, he folded it and set it down. Taking a sip of his coffee, he wondered out loud, “Now what?”
“Forgive the intrusion Lord Hades. My apologies for Alexandrina’s behavior. I assure you it will never happen again.”
“I’m sure it won’t. She and I had a pleasant chat, I would think. I hope she is quite alright?”
“Oh yes, sir. A little shaken, but no worse for wear.”
“Good then.” Suspecting the manager wasn’t done, Hades eased back into his chair. “Anything else I can do for you, dear Mitros?”
“Aaah. Well, that is, yes. If you have a moment, there is something in the back I would like to show you. Something only, YOU will understand.” Mitros punctuated this last statement to impress on the level of importance and secrecy he wished his boss to understand without the nearby tables dog earing their conversation.
Hades grabbed his coffee and followed the manager to the back of the café.
“Last night, I was doing inventory, preparing to complete this month’s purchase orders. When I went into the store room…right here…an old man with a scruffy beard appeared. I dropped my clipboard and ran out into the kitchen.”
“Where did he come from? What did he want? I hardly expect someone was trying to make off with a box of coffee, no matter how amazing it is,” Hades jested.
“No, sir. I don’t think he wanted coffee. In his condition, I don’t think he had a need for coffee.”
“Well, you see…I think it was a ghost.”
“A ghost, sir. He was dirty and I could sort of see through him. He was dressed in old tattered clothing, and he had chains about his wrists and his ankles. When I retreated to the kitchen area, he glided right through the door.”
Hades leaned in thoughtfully to his favorite manager. “What happened next, Mitros? Did the ghost tell you who they were? What they wanted?”
“He just kept shaking his chains and beckoning with his finger. Oh, and the groaning. He sounded like he was deep in despair and misery. He was mumbling a lot…in the Old Greek. I could barely understand him, but I think he said his name was Quintus. Quintus Laevinus. And then, he vanished into thin air, just like he had appeared.”
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“Oh, I was so scared, sir. Frightfully so. Then, I thought maybe I was working too late and just needed more coffee, perhaps. When I saw you come in this morning, I thought I better tell you. You know, just in case it wasn’t night delusions.”
“Aye. Thank you, Mitros. I’ll look into it.”
Hades got a refill on his coffee and headed back to his office to look through the files. When he arrived, Charon was waiting with a folder outstretched in his hand.
“That’s just plain freaky, Charon. If I didn’t know better, I would think you were spying on me. Thank you.”
Charon nodded and returned to his duties.
Hades sat down and opened the folder. Just like the others in the system, the first page read:
Mortal ID: 0413-21-615047QL
Name: Quintus H. Laevinus
Birthdate: 13 Aprilis 21 BCE
Est. Terminus: 15 Iunius 47 CE
Profession: Unknown / None
Chaos Probability: Medium
Expected Time of Arrival: 1 November 100 CE
However, beneath the personal information in the header, everything was written in ancient Latin. Hades sighed with frustration; so much for this being a good day. Grabbing his cell phone off his desk, he hurriedly sent a text to Charon. After a few moments with no reply, he punched the intercom button on his desk.
“Charon, can you come here please?”
Before Hades had time to barely blink, the office door opened, and Charon strode into the office effortlessly to stand before the wooden, executive desk. Hades looked at his faithful servant and asked, “Did you get the text I sent? Demeter said she got you a phone and taught you how to text.”
Charon shook his head with a negative reply. With a grunt, he made a motion, as though he was tossing something over his shoulder.
“So, you tossed it into the Aveinos, huh? I figured you hadn’t changed on me. The same old ever reliable technophobe, Charon.”
Charon merely smiled in affirmation.
“Ok, in any case, can you get…” Hades flips the page back in the folder. “Pliny the Lesser. Yes. Pliny the Lesser appears to be the author of this report. Can you hunt down the historian and send him to my office immediately?”
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