The Night’s Homecoming: The Eventide Stakes

Male Announcer: From Olympus Channel 10, we welcome you tonight to the Eventide Stakes. We have an exciting evening ahead, so let’s get things rolling.

Female Announcer: You’re right, Bob. The weather is perfect for tonight’s event. Fall is definitely in the air, but there’s not a cloud in the sky. 

Bob: And it’s a good thing, Sheila, because, for this event, the participants will be racing along an actual star path.

Sheila: <smiles and bats her eyes> Oh, Bob, stop pulling my leg.

Bob: <looks chuffed> I’m not, Sheila. *winks at camera* Maybe that’s one of the pets?

Sheila: *giggles and pretends to look below the desk for an errant pet*

Bob: But seriously, Sheila, I kid you not. I had to double-check it myself when I read the production notes. 

Sheila: <smoothes her hair> Well, you’re going to have to explain this to me, Bob.

Bob: Don’t I always?

Sheila: <looks confused>

Bob: Well, Sheila, Urania, the Muse and Goddess of Astronomy, is in attendance. She worked a bit of magic this evening, and the stars from the constellation Cassiopeia have dropped lower in the sky and have temporarily brightened so that they can illuminate the path of this race.

Sheila: <shakes her head> I still think you are messing with me, Bob, but if not, let’s get things underway because this is something I need to see for myself.

Bob: Copy that, Sheila.

The Olympus Channel trailer runs, showing various nymph and satyr broadcasters as the music blares.

A camera drone flies high above the island, flitting through the black of night, capturing the beauty of the treetops as they reach toward each other in the moonlight. Another camera pans a rocky beach and the small waves that lap against it before coming to rest on the edge of the forest, the starting line of the race. 

Finally, a camera focuses on a hodgepodge of animals: a large muscled dog nearly blacker than night itself; a pair of white tigers standing shoulder to shoulder; a blue-green dragon with a long snout and beautiful scales; a she-wolf pacing in small circles; and a large grey cat, surprisingly undisturbed by the large animals surrounding him.

Bob: <distinctly paler than before> Is that…

Sheila: A dragon? *gasps*

Bob: …a cat…in the middle of all of those…

Sheila: Beasts.

Bob: <startled> *looks at camera* Uh, Shelia, I don’t think that’s the right…

Sheila: <through clenched teeth> Don’t mansplain to me, Bob. 

Bob: <reproachful> Well then, let’s go to Casey, on the ground, for introductions. 

Casey: Thank you, Bob. Sheila. Well, I feel very lucky to be part of this evening at Eventide. It’s such an unusual race that will be taking place, I think we can be assured that it is the first of its kind. Let me introduce you to the participants.

Casey steps back and stands near the gigantic black dog. 

Casey: *motioning* First, we have Adrastos. He is the familiar of Lady Nyx, the host of this event. *walks down the line to the next animals* 

Next, are the white tigers, Din and Las. They are companions of Eros, the god of love. *Fans herself slightly over the thought of Eros.* 

And since you can’t have love without hate, here is this lovely she-wolf, named Hate. She’s here with Dinlas, and before you ask, Bob, yes, the tigers are named after him. Hate’s sister, Jealousy, recently suffered injuries and is unable to race tonight. We wish her a speedy recovery. 

*smiles and replays the last moments in her head to make sure she got things straight* 

Sayeh is up next. This fabulous creature may look dangerous, but goddess Artemis assured me that she’s completely safe. Nymphs and satyrs don’t have to worry as long as they take care to not cross Lady Artemis. 

And last, but certainly not least, we have Dugo. 

Bob: <interrupting> A cat, Casey? Is that an everyday mortal cat? 

Casey: Yes, Bob. He is a typical housecat. I understand that Dugo has no powers in our myth-verse, but he’s recently been adopted by Lady Urania, as his owner passed away. 

Sheila: That’s quite a line-up, Casey. Do the oddsmakers have a favorite?

Casey: I’m not a gambler, Sheila, but my money is on Sayeh. That wingspan is impressive. 

Bob: <jutting his chin out> That makes sense, Casey, but my contact at the Olympus OTB is giving Adrastos pretty favorable odds. 

Sheila: Either way, this should be a good race.

A hush falls over the crowd as the stars of Cassiopeia appear brighter in the sky. The constellation casts a glow over the island, lighting a path for the race. An elongated w shape cuts through the night, sparkling over flora and fauna to detail the course. 

As Casey walks off camera, the gods and goddesses step behind the line and talk with their familiars, giving final instructions and words of encouragement before the race begins.

Bob: Everyone quiet. We’re just waiting for the signal. 

Sheila: *perches on the edge of her seat, staring at the monitor*

A horn blares.

Bob: They’re off. The horn frightened Dugo, so his jump in the air gave him a bit of a lead. Adrastos followed close behind…

Sheila: Which only seemed to make the cat run faster, Bob.

Bob: I cannot blame him, Sheila. 

Sheila: Hate is running neck and neck with Adrastos now. She’s definitely fierce. 

Bob: Sayeh is lumbering a bit behind the leaders at the moment, but I think she’s waiting for an opening. 

Sheila: Din and Las are loping right behind Sayeh, but wait…

Bob: It looks like Din caught sight of a field mouse. He’s distracted.

Sheila: Now his brother is, too. 

Bob: That poor mouse doesn’t stand a chance. Las took a swipe at it. Din crouched down and pounced, catching the mouse between his front paws. Las is trying to get it away from Din. 

Sheila: <laughing> Now they are wrestling with each other like kittens. 

Bob: It looks like the mouse escaped. 

Sheila: Hate and Adrastos are still fighting it out for the lead. 

Bob: Speaking of lead…where did Dugo disappear to?

Sheila: I don’t know, Bob. One second he was there, and the next…

Bob: Oh! There he is. He circled back and caught the runaway mouse. 

Sheila: Ewwwww.

Bob: Adrastos is nosing ahead. Hate is slowing down just a bit.

Sheila: She’s probably worried about her sister.

Bob: Din and Las have stopped wrestling, but now they are preening and seem to have lost interest in the race. 

Sheila: Bless their hearts.

Bob: Sayeh found her opening. She’s pushing her way through between Hate and Adrastos. She’s gaining on him. 

Sheila: He’s running hard now. They are coming into the final stretch. Hate is still hanging in there, but it looks like this will come down to Sayeh and Adrastos.

Bob: Adrastos put his large head down and is running faster. He can probably smell the dragon at his heels. 

Sheila: Sayeh is so close to overtaking him. She seems to be biding her time once again.

Bob: Hate gave a good effort, but I think she’s going to take the bronze. 

Sheila: Sayeh is eye to eye with Adrastos. That has to be unnerving for him, don’t you think, Bob?

Bob: Yes. I’d feel a little hinky if I was him. Look, Sayeh just tucked her wings in close to pass. 

Sheila: He’s not giving up. Look at the musculature of that dog. 

Bob: It is impressive. No doubt.

Sheila: They’re close to the finish line. Adrastos changed his gait and is really pushing now.

Bob: But Sayeh is pulling ahead. She’s inching forward and stretching to expand her lead. Adrastos’ legs are almost a blur.

Sheila: It’s Sayeh to the finish!

Bob: Sayeh takes the gold!

Sheila: Lady Nyx is waiting to award the winners. Isn’t she glamorous?  

Bob: I’m speechless just looking at her.

Sheila: Bob, that must be a first. I don’t think I’ve ever known you to be speechless. Casey, over to you.

Casey: I’m here in the winner’s circle with Lady Nyx, Sayeh, Adrastos, and Hate. Each will receive a medal, and Sayeh will receive a special favor from Lady Nyx for the win. This has been a race for the ages, and I feel fortunate to have been part of it. Back to you, Bob.

Bob: <still staring at Nyx>

Sheila: Thank you, Casey. Bob is still speechless. That will do it for us tonight. We’ll be back next week, broadcasting a chariot race at Olympus National Park. 

Cameras fade to black. Sheila takes off her microphone and leaves the broadcast booth. The lights dim. The camera crew and production staff mill about for a few minutes and then head backstage. Bob remains, still staring into the dark, speechless over Lady Nyx.

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Urania (Kimberlee Gerstmann)

Urania (Kimberlee Gerstmann)

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Urania is portrayed by the author, Kimberlee Gerstmann, who is finally working her way out of a serious post-MFA slump. When she’s not writing, taking care of her menagerie (and/or extended family), she’s railing against injustice, and advocating for/teaching art to children. | Original God (OG) - Charter member of All in the Pantheon | #WritingCommunity
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