You mortals and your peculiar aversion to all things dark. How was I to know that donning myself in black from head-to-toe would earn me such deathly glares? For me, a black gown is elegant, my two-toned hair resplendent. But the way these mortals looked at me when I walked through that door…
Let me start from the beginning.
After weeks of applying to untold hundreds of positions, I finally received an email from a place called Whole Latte Love, inviting me to interview for a position as a part-time daycare provider. Everything was falling into place. Soon, I’d have a job working with children, where I could corrupt their spirits and souls, and turn all of humanity into one living nightmare.
Considering the state of my shelter arrangements, and the fact that I was still living behind a dumpster, there wasn’t much for me to do in order to prepare for the interview. I ran my fingers through the knots in my hair—making sure to pick out any leaves and gravel—entered a nearby department story and sprayed myself with a flowery mist that I hoped would mask the stench that had glued itself to my skin, and walked the short distance to Whole Latte Love.
Here’s where the wide-eyed glares began.
A cheerful woman with plump cheeks led me to a room in the back.
“W-why don’t you start by telling me a little bit about yourself,” she stammered, her eyes shifting back and forth between the dark side of my hair and the light.
I straightened taller. “I am Melinoë…”
I expected more words to follow, but suddenly I couldn’t think of anything to say. There was the whole Goddess of Nightmares thing, and of course that I was the daughter of Zeus and Persephone, but neither of those pieces of information seemed to be items that one would share in an interview. Without them though, I started to fear that I was nothing more than a name.
Surely I was more than a title and a relation. I had, after all, been alive for millenium. One doesn’t live that long and not develop interests.
“I-I-I…am quite adept at making shadow puppets,” I finally said.
The woman seemed to warm to me, though her skepticism still showed. “Oh, the children would love that. What animals do you do? Rabbits? Kittens?”
“I’m most proficient with spiders, salamanders, and sharks.”
“Oh.” Her eyes fell to a piece of parchment in front of her on the table and she began scribbling. When she was finished, she resumed a perky, if not forced, tone. “What makes you want to work with children then?”
“Children are the key to the future,” I said, envisioning the havoc I could reek once I’ve corrupted my own little army of them. On our way back into this room, we walked by at least twenty of them. It wasn’t much, but a ripple in the pond and all that.
The woman gaped at me in horror, as if she could see the apocalypse through my eyes. For a moment, I looked at the room around us, afraid that I might’ve unleashed my fantasy into the world by accident. But, fortunately, a quick scan confirmed that I’d kept that nightmare all to myself. Perhaps the smile I’d attempted in an effort to appear pleasant had come across malicious instead.
I let my expression fall back to its usual flatness once more.
The woman cleared her throat, scrawled some more, and then pointed her finger at the page as she read. “What qualifies you to be a daycare provider?”
I tilted my head and stared up at the ceiling for a moment, reflecting on all of the souls of dead children that I’d shepherded through the underworld.
“I have many years of experience caring for children,” I assured her.
She squinted at me with pain, before jotting down yet another note. I was no expert on interviews, but something about her demeanor told me I wasn’t meeting her standards.
“And the last question,” she sighed, reading as she traced the words under her finger, “where do you see yourself in five years?”
A satisfied grin spread from the corners of my mouth. “As Queen,” I whispered. My eyes had already glazed over, allowing me to immerse myself fully into my sinister, horrific utopia.
When the woman cleared her throat, I came back to, just in time to find her already standing halfway across the room, holding the door open, and eagerly waving me through.
“W-we’ll be in touch.”
Confused, concerned, and not so confident, I took small, uncertain steps back through the building. Something told me that she wouldn’t actually be in touch with me. Something told me she wanted nothing to do with me and that she—one mere mortal—was trying to stand in the way of my glorious plans.
No, I wouldn’t have it.
Before I’d gone ten paces, I spun back around on my heels, a nightmare about suffocating on dirt and worms ready at my fingertips. But before I could expel it, I bumped into someone else. Someone with silver hair.
“Melinoë,” she said cooly. “I thought I heard you were interviewing.”
“Nyx,” I breathed, well aware that I was standing before the Goddess of Night, the wife of Erebus, who I’d sent to a nightmare prison for three months. Or rather, the soon to be ex-wife.
I could understand why she sounded so cross with me, and could also see how she might want revenge, but what I didn’t understand was why she was choosing this moment to confront me.
“What are you doing here?” I asked her.
“I thought you knew,” she paused, holding her arms out at her shoulders. “I own this place.”
My eyes widened, at first with disgust that someone as powerful as her would create something so…mundane, but then they widened further when I realized what that likely meant for me and this job. Regardless of if I submitted the plump mortal to any of my nightmares.
“I won’t be working here, will I?” I asked.
Nyx tilted her head, her demeanor softening. “I’m not against it, assuming this means you’ll leave Erebus and I alone.”
I scrutinized her for a moment. It was unclear to me what she was insinuating exactly. Did she think that me trapping Erebus in a nightmare for three months was only just the beginning? That was nonsense. I had nothing against Erebus; I was just doing what was asked of me. And Nyx? I had no qualms with her either, even if she had broken Erebus’ heart.
What I did find peculiar though, was how she was trying to protect him.
“I thought you separated from Erebus. Why do you care what is done to him?”
“You do not get to question my heart and motives.” Her eyes shut tight, her fists clenching. Darkness rolled into the room, ever so slowly. “Either we have an agreement or we don’t. Do you want the job?”
I bit my lip like one of the very children running around in the next room. “Well, I’m not necessarily fond of sleeping behind a dumpster anymore.”
“A dumpster—” she started, but then waved a hand at me. “The job’s yours then. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, from seven until eleven.”
I bowed deeply, a stream of black hair cradling one side of my face, and a stream of white against the other. Without another word from each of us, Nyx led me to the main entrance and propped the door open. Not wasting a second, I stepped through, walking down the sidewalk back to my dumpster.
“Oh, and Melinoë,” Nyx called from the doorway. “If no one’s told you yet, I suppose I should. Zeus has set up an Administration building. None of the Gods or Goddesses have to sleep in dumpsters. I’m sure he has a floor for you to reside, as long as you dedicate a portion of it to a personal business.”
Astounded, my jaw snapped open, but before I could hound her with the litany of questions that had started to pile up in my thoughts, Nyx retreated inside. I’d have to find another way to learn more about this Administration office.
For now though, I just wanted to bask in the pride I was feeling about obtaining a mortal job.
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