I’ve put it off for far too long. I was worried that once Zeus found out I’d left the Underworld, Hades would soon hear of it too, and send me back. Irrational thinking, I know, but just the thought leaves me paralyzed.
That needs to end. Hades can do no such thing. From what I can gather, he likely doesn’t even have any interest in imprisoning me in Tartarus again. After all, it seems like all of the Gods and Goddesses of our time are out in the mortal world now.
It’s time to face Zeus, to seek refuge. I can’t go on living behind this dumpster. Literally, I can’t. Some men dressed in uniforms, their cars ablaze with red and blue flashing lights, came to me yesterday and escorted me out of my abode. They were nice enough to give me shelter for an evening—even if it was dingy and overcrowded with mortals that smelled of stale breath and urine—but they made it clear that I was not to return.
I’m just thankful Rebel managed to join me, and that she was able to send all of her critters scattering, so we were sure none perished beneath the men’s trampling, careless feet.
But now we have no home to go to, but I’ve heard Zeus holds reign over a building where we might reside—for a price, no doubt.
I’ll have to think about what I can barter with later.
For now, we walk.
Nyx gave me the directions a few weeks ago, but I’ve been too reluctant to attempt the journey.
Today’s a different day, though. Today, we have no choice.
To my surprise, Rebel and I reach the main entrance of the Olympus Administration building in nearly no time at all, almost as if merely thinking about it summoned it before us. I wouldn’t be surprised. The Gods and Goddesses I once knew wasted no opportunity to flash their magics.
My hands are clammy, centuries’ worth of fear coursing beneath my skin. So I do what I always do to make myself stand a little taller. As Rebel and I stroll through the front door, I release a wisping trail of nightmares and shadows in my wake, like a floating train to my black gown. The tendrils flicker and flare all around me until I am surrounded nearly entirely in darkness—beautiful, unrelenting darkness.
There, I feel a little better already.
Using the directory, I send myself up the elevator, to the top floor where Zeus resides.
“Melinoë!” he bellows when he sees me. “It’s been so long. How have you fared?”
Behind me, my shadows flare.
“How have I fared?” I spit, cocking my head. “I have been trapped in the Underworld for millennia! Left rot like a forgotten pet! And then, what do I find when I finally manage to break free? All of the other Olympians—ones that did far more atrocious things than I ever did—are free and roaming the mortal plane. Is this some kind of twisted joke? I’ve fared by pure survival instincts alone! By dreaming of the days when I’d see the sun again, or the moon, or breath in fresh air!”
My chest heaves with every word, and by the time I get it all out, I can hardly breathe.
Zeus sits quietly for a moment, contemplating, running his fingers through his thick beard while he looks me over.
Finally, he holds up a hand. Sparks flash at his fingertips, a low rumble of thunder echoing throughout the room. “Put your nightmares away, Melinoë, unless you’d like to see who could endure each other’s wrath longer.”
I grit my teeth, biting back a retort that I know will only get me sent back to the Underworld. Though I am powerful, I can’t go head-to-head with Zeus. My shadows would stand no chance; light defeats the dark.
My shadows creep back into the crevices from which they came, but Rebel stays on my shoulder, reared and ready.
Zeus nods his approval. “Now, we can preoccupy ourselves with our tumultuous and horrific pasts and discuss exactly why you were sent to the Underworld, and the many reasons that Hades and I might have for sending you back there—”
I wince, recoiling so hard that I almost trip over the hem of my skirt.
“Or, we can move forward and forget the past. You can tell me why you’ve really come here today.”
It isn’t much of an option. I don’t want to go back to the Underworld, not when I am just starting to get a taste of the freedom I’ve longed for all of my life.
Avoiding eye contact, I nod.
“Good,” Zeus says, a welcome smile returning to its former place. “Now, tell me, what brings you to the Olympus Administration building?”
“I…I have nowhere else to go. I was told that—Nyx told me that some of the others have taken shelter here.”
It’s not worded as a question, but Zeus answers anyway. “Yes, many of the immortals of Olympus are welcomed here. However, this building is primarily used for business. If given a floor like all of the others, I suppose you could use part of it for personal uses. Which begs the question, Melinoë, what business can you conduct from the Olympus Administration building? What services can you offer mortals and immortals alike?”
My mind empties. Though I had worried myself with things I might barter with in exchange for the roof over my head, I was not able to think of anything other than undefined debts.
“Something, say, similar to a service you’ve provided in the past,” he adds, squinting up at the ceiling as if he is straining for the thought, but it’s clear he has something specific in mind.
“What did I provide in the past—”
And then, it hits me. Gods and Goddesses would come far and wide for what I was able to give them.
“Dream A Little Dream?” I ask, a hint of excitement in my tone.
He nods grandly. “Even immortals have limits, and no one can do it all. But you, you can make them feel like they can. And the mortals? The mortals are just as desperate, if not moreso, to be able to live out their most cherished dreams.”
Zeus isn’t wrong. Before I was in Tartarus—and even after—the Gods and Goddesses would request my Dream A Little Dream service regularly. But since they’d lived extravagant lives of mischief, wonder, and betrayal, most of the requests they had were for mundane things like, “I’d like to dream about eating a grilled cheese sandwich from the mortal world,” or “Give me a dream of the human experience of running late to work.” Despite how normal their requests were though, they were meaningful. The Gods and Goddesses needed me. I was of service to them. And what’s most surprising, I actually enjoyed it; I actually found it fulfilling.
Hesitantly, I sneak a glance at Rebel. Instead of judgment and caution though, all I find from her eight eyes are silent, blinking encouragement.
“I’ll do it,” I practically yell, unable to contain my sudden sense of eagerness. “I’ll start Dream A Little Dream up again, open to all, mortal or immortal.”
“Wonderful,” Zeus claps. “I’ll have Hermes show you to your floor then.”
When the elevator door dings open, Rebel and I join Hermes inside and the three of us make our way up to the floor. My floor. In just a day’s time, I’ve managed to secure us shelter, obtain a new job, and squash a conflict that is Gods knows how old.
At least, for the time being, until Zeus finds out what I really plan on doing with my floor. Oh, sure, Dream A Little Dream will be reopened, but I think I have another business venture to pursue. I’m thinking of calling it All Nightmare Long, a special, secret program for only the most vindictive sorts. With my powers and the creativity of their beautiful minds, I will be able to transmit nightmares at the beckon of those who have been most wronged.
I wonder if anyone will have me use them on Zeus.
170 total views, 1 views today