The greatest thing you can give an immortal is entertainment.
Hera never hated me. I embarrassed her husband, but I never made a big stink about it. Hera is more than the stories you’ve heard. What am I taking about? Hera is the Goddess of marriage, but Her husband cheats on Her. It doesn’t make sense, does it? You might claim it’s a bitter irony, but there’s more to it than that. She is half of the marriage that controls Olympus, and Zeus is usually away from the throne. Where did that leave Hera?
See what I mean?
Hera is a player and she always has been. She and Her husband know what they’re doing. They’re the power couple that invented good cop-bad cop, and they know when to switch roles. That’s why I was nervous when She came to me with a gift.
I didn’t know what the laptop was at first, but as Hera explained, I understood what they were offering me: communication. It was the groundwork of civilization, the building block on which all great things where made. Zeus threw me into a pit for the world to forget because he feared my words. Now, all of a sudden, I have a laptop.
I knew they were up to something, but I didn’t object. Hera had Warden Hades teach me the basics of internet searches, which meant some poor soul in Tartarus got a reprieve to walk me through the basics. Gods never do anything if they can make someone else do it.
That’s when I saw you. I think I was put on the rock to keep me from giving you something greater than fire, but Zeus didn’t understand that the moment I gave you something so amazing, His reign was destined to end. I don’t know how He’s spent these latest few centuries, but I can’t imagine He was happy when you split the atom, or when you saw Her face. You have done well.
History came first, and then porn. That was an experience I solely wasn’t ready for. For a time, I could understand why Zeus wanted to bite every fruit and drink from every cup. I’d like to say I caught myself from spiraling into the hole that is the internet, but I didn’t. I learned about you, and fell in love with you all over again. I’d spent so much time removed from you, that I couldn’t remain apart from you.
Watching wasn’t enough, I needed to talk to you. I don’t know why I started at pornhub, but I did. It was so much fun to read all of your comments and I wanted to be a part of that. I started small, with jokes, but it was only a matter of time before I fell into someone’s web.
She was beautiful in a way none of the Gods were: flawed. Every freckle and deformation fascinated me, and I believed her when she told me I was special to her. I learned how to mine your cryptocurrency to pay for her. I did everything I could to give her a happiness that went beyond carnal pleasures, but none of it was ever enough. I was one of hundreds, thinking that I was something special to her, a voice to show her that her path was a temporary success.
I thought about naming her, about calling that cam girl out so all of you could flame her, but what would be the point? She is using the tools she acquired to survive, and hopefully thrive. All of you are trapped in the same struggle, I know.
What got me out of her web? Not a burst of self awareness, or even a messy fight. No, her success escalated. She went from filming hookups between camera teases to filming scenes with professionals. She was still doing her shows, but it left gaps in our engagement, and the gaps were large enough for me to fall through her web. It took me awhile to realize that I meant nothing to her.
Koráki visited me. She thrashed my body, punishing my flesh for the sins of my mind. She left me hollow, but just alive enough to survive. When she left me, I called out to her. I begged for her to stay and finish the job that she never could. I was alone with my wifi, and I knew that I had to destroy the data miners.
Removing money was an important first step, because it took away my value. Once I stopped being important, she didn’t even pretend to care. I begged her, crying as I typed my selfish desires out to her, and she blocked me. My insides had been devoured for half of the past forty thousand years, but I’d never felt so hollow. I didn’t even have Persephone around to help put things in perspective. I’d remembered what it was to have someone, to know community. Losing it again reminded me what loneliness truly was. I cried so hard I thought I would die, but no one dies in Tartarus.
I felt like Hades visited me, that He sat on His throne and stared down at me. There I was, the great Titan who tricked Zeus, wallowing about a mortal who disposed of me when I could no longer give her anything. The thing was, the thing is…I would gladly give all I could for you. I gave you fire. I gave you my liver. I gave you my freedom. I would give more if you could find true happiness.
Wallowing there, feeling the eyes of the dead billions on my back, I realized that there was no happiness.
See, even the Gods are miserable; they’re just as miserable as all of you. We could be the personification of pure bliss, but there is no God, Titan, or Primordial who boasts such a title. There is some grand truth in misery, in the struggle of life, and none of us, not even the Pantheon, are any closer to learning what that is.
That’s when I realized that Hera was bored. She and all the Pantheon with their freedom, and their limitless power, were bored. She didn’t have to come down to Tartarus and offer me communication. She could’ve sent Hermes, or Nike, or a thousand other minions, but instead She came down, because she wanted to. I thought back on Her visit, thought about how she held the device out to me, how she looked down at me with pity and disgust. I remembered the tone of her voice, and every crease in her toga and tried to figure out what she wanted.
She wasn’t telling me to go to you, she was telling me to come to them. So I reached out. I found their little chat room, and stumbled into a fight between Aphrodite and Hera fighting over the most petty thing in the world, whether or not Aphrodite, the all-mighty Goddess of Love, should give Hephaestus His paperwork. I was convinced that it was a joke, that it was a show for me, but it wasn’t. I couldn’t even see what was going on. So I asked them for a camera, and of all Gods, Atë gave me that lens.
Hera and Aphrodite struggled over a stack of papers, like mortals fighting over a leg of meat, and what followed shocked me. Aphrodite caved. She gave Hera and Hephaestus what they wanted and left to cool off. Then, knowing that I was there, and watching, Hera gave Atë control. She said, loud enough for me to hear, “You’re in charge.”
What would you do?
Did I really have any other choice on how to proceed? Maybe I was falling into another web, or maybe I’m in a web right now, but I couldn’t shy away from opportunity. I typed to Atë as fast as I could, “You could let me out.”
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