Catching Fire, Part I

Quote: “That’s the thing you’ve never learned as a species, you didn’t need fire.”

I shouldn’t have gone so close to Olympus. Every part of my body told me that this was a mistake, but I needed to see how you remember me. Nike told me that you honored me in a festival, and ever since, I’ve been watching things with my namesake in it. I can understand the science fiction, as my fire gave you civilization and the push for progress, but I don’t really understand the use of monsters in a movie bearing my name. 

Prometheia, an event to honor me. I didn’t know what to expect, so I tried to expect nothing. I dressed inconspicuous, which is to say I put on a disguise. I’m sure you’re picturing me wearing a pair of glasses with a big nose and mustache, and that’s not that far from the truth. I did my best to look natural, but there aren’t a lot of people who look like me. Your race has grown in more than a mental way, you’ve physically gotten taller. I stand out in a crowd; I’m too small not to.

At first, I was scared of being recognized, but no one seemed to care. They were there for the festival. They were there to drink and do something different. I understood that. I’d known several lifetimes of monotony. Few were alone and many were there with family. Some daughter got her phone taken away. She wasn’t that old, maybe twelve, but old enough to be annoyed. Her brother had a tablet, so the second her parents weren’t watching, she took it. They fought over the device, trying to pull it from each other’s hands before it escalated to pushing. The younger brother fell to the floor and started crying, and she shamed him just as quick.

It reminded me of my family. I hadn’t thought about Menoetius since I left Tartarus. He would always push me around, using his superior strength to justify keeping food from my hand, or water from my lips. “If you were stronger, you could get it back.” That’s what the world was to him, power and strength, and it was fitting that Zeus killed him.

I thought of my younger brother, Epimetheus. He didn’t understand the value of patience. He never tried to outsmart our older brother. He just struggled to stop him, and cried when He couldn’t. He reacted to everything, going with His first impulse instead of thinking things through, and that’s why the platypus has venomous spurs, and human beings have hands without the strength to do anything with them.

I remember seeing you in the early days. You tried to be faster or stronger or better at hiding, but you were bipedal and weak, and you smelled. You weren’t even fast enough at breeding to keep predators from devouring your entire species, but there was something you had that no other species did.

I used to watch you run. The wolves would be after you, or the lions, or the ten thousand things my brother gave exceptional abilities to. They would chase you, and some of you would die, but the others, you kept running. You ran for so long that you could catch up to the faster gazelle, or make eating you too much effort. You ran and panted and sweat and it was beautiful. There was something that drew me to you, it was your persistence.

The young brother grabbed the tablet and tossed it into the olive bushes. The sister punched him on the arm. The punch was clearly harder than the others, but he didn’t cry that time. No, his sense of righteousness put a smile on his face. He wandered off into the crowd to find something more interesting to do.

“Hey.” Their father got in my face. “You watching my kids?”

I put my hands up and chuckled. “I’m just bored.”

He pointed to the people in costumes. “The show’s that way.”

“I gotcha.”

I left his presence and stopped watching his children, and that was enough to placate his rage. That’s something Epimetheus never understood. You don’t have to bow to the will of the stronger, you just have to make them think they won.

They put on a show about me.

My stand-in was old, but had a great voice. He commanded attention as he justified the heroic act of stealing fire. It made me chuckle to hear him wax poetically in the middle of the act. How fast would I have been caught if I went on and on about how much humanity needed fire to survive?

That’s the thing you’ve never learned as a species: you didn’t need fire. You didn’t need civilization, or even technology. You might not have been the apex predators you are now, but you’d have made it. It was never about giving you the power to survive. No, my gift was more of a prophecy. Fire was a tool to the Olympians, another thing to exert their will on the physical the Titans formed, and everything that the Primordials are. They didn’t understand the power that a burning stick held, just as Dionysis thinks alcohol is nothing more than a way to forget now, just as you think the internet is a drug without side effects. I wasn’t just giving you a boost, I was giving Zeus a warning:

“You killed Cronus.

We killed Uranus.

What makes you so special?”

He didn’t get it. He found a rock, had Hephestus create chains, and I was bound. It wasn’t enough to keep me still. Zeus must’ve understood that I’d been made still for most of my life. No, Zeus had to remind me that he was stronger than me, that he could chain me down, deny me everything that was great, and fill my life with the pain of a devoured liver.

I cringed when they brought the eagle out.  Someone beside me laughed, but they didn’t know what it was like to be made a victim for four hundred thousand years. They don’t understand that I can still feel my liver being picked at, that I can still hear koráki. She squawks in my ear. She rips me open. She feeds me, and she doesn’t even have the decency to share.

I didn’t expect to cry at the show, but I did. It wasn’t when I stole fire, or when people in the audience feigned sorrow for my imprisonment. It was when they freed me. Hercules never freed me. I’ve never even met the demi-god. There was never that moment of kindness for me. No, all I got was an occasional chat with Persephone because I was easy to forget.

I didn’t understand why Hera gave me a laptop, why she encouraged me to write a blog for you, but watching that show, I think I do.

You love me.

Or at least you love the idea of me. I gave you the power to kill all the animals on the planet, to murder Gaia herself. You’re smart enough to understand that you wield a power greater than any God, and I knew that you were the only ones to wield that power, because you had the perseverance to keep trying after you destroyed a multicultural trading network, to use that knowledge to stop a plague AS it was killing you, to gain the power to nuke entire cities, and then stop. You understand that the gift I gave you is great, and you’re grateful.

I’m touched. I’m humbled, but I need you to understand that I couldn’t have given this gift to any creature. Do you really think I could’ve given termites fire and the world would be fine? They can barely handle architecture. No, you were WORTHY of fire.

I was going to end it there, but I’m not alone. How did Artemis…

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Prometheus (ASHNovelist)
ASH is a private person who would prefer to be a concept rather than an individual. You can interact with them on twitter @ASHnovelist. If you want to throw money at me, do it here:
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