Portals, Potholes and Primadonnas

Grabbing my navy-colored, wool Madison-fit blazer from the coat rack, I slipped it on and buttoned the top golden button. The anger was welling up inside so strong I didn’t even bother to check if my gig line was straight in the full-length mirror beside my office door. There was a good chance it was going to get rustled anyway.

The waiting area was empty except for Charon who stood there arm outstretched with a fresh cup of coffee ☕ for me in a Styrofoam cup, not one of those Eco-Friendly paper cups which would just leak all over my center console anyway. He knew me so well.

The only sound you could hear was chatter from the large LED screen television mounted on the wall. Normally, endless reruns of reality shows would be playing here for the unfortunate visitors, but it appeared a special Breaking News conference had pre-empted the endless monotony of bickering twenty-somethings. I briefly looked at the screen as I grabbed my coffee from Charon, a politician wearing an ill-fitting suit with a bold red power tie declared global warming a hoax—at least one thing was going right for me today.

The digital display flicked steadily as the elevator ascended past the Styx to the underground parking garage reserved for the Olympus Administration Building. A brief pause in the muzak—an old Billy Joel song—and the announcement from the speaker signaled my arrival to “Parking. Level G3.” A gentle ding followed and the doors glided open spilling light onto the asphalt outside.

Quickly, I made my way to my Maserati sitting in its reserved space. Admiring its aerodynamic lines, my hand traced from the aggressively sculpted front grille across the pearlescent Italian red hood. Sliding inside, the black leather sport seat cradled me softly in its embrace. The engine started effortlessly and the radio instantly kicked on. The unmistakable guitar riffs of Judas Priest filled the car’s interior from the 10-speaker surround sound. Pressing the aluminum pedal, the engine revved—the legendary sound that could only come from a powerful, naturally aspirated V8 assured me all systems were go.

Throwing the car in gear, I sped up the ramp leading to the exit. The tires squeaked as they firmly grabbed the corners, but you couldn’t hear them—Mr. Halford’s powerful voice was reverberating from the walls …You’ve got another thing comin’

As the Maz leaped from the garage out onto Olympus Boulevard, I saw in my peripheral vision a grotesque face resembling a dragon peeking with its golden reptile eyes from behind one of the pillars. Was that a gargoyle? Didn’t we banish all of the gargoyles in the 7th century? I’m sure we sent them all down to the mines. They make excellent foremen. How did one get up here? “Hmmmrph,” I grunted out loud. One problem at a time.

The beauty salon was right next door to the Dark Sparks Café, so it didn’t take long to reach. Zipping into a curbside parking spot, I was already heading for the door before the sound of the engine faded. Reaching over my shoulder, I double-clicked the key fob and was rewarded with the soothing Boop-Boop sound of the doors locking and the alarm engaging.

The front doors shuddered as they both flew open and bounced off the little rubber door stops. A woman with long brown hair yelped as she leaped from the chair frightfully. The equally stunned hairdresser stood with a pair of shears in her right hand and a three foot lock of brown hair in the other. It’s a wonder this place ever gets any business.

Without missing a step, I strode to the rear of the establishment where Atë would be seeing clients in a private room. With a twisting motion in the air, the locked door flung open easily. Inside, Atë had her back turned presumably preparing for another victim. The victim in this case was a young, blonde woman with a sunbed tan. She laid nude on the esthetician table with a fluffy, white towel covering her for modesty.

The sound of the door caused her to sit up in fright clutching the towel tightly to her. A cartoon pony tattooed on her right breast peeked comically over the towel as though it were curious too. A rainbow flowed from its colorful mane up over her shoulder and down her arm where it disappeared again beneath the rumpled towel. With an exaggerated wave of my hand, I sent the table—blonde and all—sliding across the floor out into the front area and slammed the door behind her.

Atë stood there defiantly with a wooden applicator in her hand. Not exactly, the image for an epic showdown I would have imagined.

“The killing of innocents will stop.” Hot, blue flames danced from my eyes punctuating my resolve.

She stared back icily wanting to give the impression she would not be intimidated by my power. “Then, give me what I want.” Her face softened when she said this betraying a portion of her true motives. Whatever her true intentions for all of these killings were, I would not be persuaded by her.

I furrowed my brow at her and she responded by placing her hands upon her hips. Not interested in playing these games all night, I held my hand out in a gripping motion and raised Atë slowly off the ground until her black, boca klogs slipped from her feet and settled on the ground beneath her. “I said… the killing of innocents will stop!” With this roar, the small jars behind her rattled and fell over onto the floor.

Atë’s face said she wanted to say more, but resigned to the idea I would not be listening to anything she had to say at this time. I released the force that held her aloft and allowed her to drop on the floor among a hardening patch of wax and a dusting of what must have been some kind of pre-epilation powder. She brought her hands up to cover her face and I could hear the beginning of gentle sobbing. On that note, I turned and strode out of the room and back to the street.

The engine started back up with a roaring purr. I punched the function button on the stereo and the satellite radio kicked in. The automatic windows rolled down as I deftly maneuvered out of the tight spot. Atë stood in the doorway watching and was greeted with the lyrics “…it’s broken now, don’t ever look my way, don’t even think I’m playing. ‘Cause I f***in’ hate you…”

As I sped down the street making my way back to the office, I thrummed my hands on the steering wheel allowing the angry voice to soothe me. Without warning, a flash of light appeared in the road ahead of me—a portal had opened.

A strange dwarf-like creature hopped from the portal and looked in the direction of my oncoming car. It smiled a big, grimy toothed smile framed by a long dirty beard braided in a single lock and accented with a rune-carved bead. With expert skill, he turned his pickaxe over and rapidly carved a gaping pothole into the street and disappeared back through the portal before it closed in on itself.

This whole scene played out in the matter of seconds—the Maz skidded towards the brand new pothole, the front wheel caught and the car began flipping down the road rear over front…

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Lord Hades (C.E. Robb)

Lord Hades (C.E. Robb)

Senior Staff Editor / Network Administrator
C.E. Robb is the pen name for an established technical writer, editor and curriculum designer. At night, they craft table-top role-playing game supplements, world-build a SciFi Solar Punk setting, write a novel about Hereditary Witches, and blog the exploits of the Greek God, Hades, for #ThePantheon. Somewhere between all of that, they find time to rough house with their Jack Russell and enjoy the outdoors. #WritingCommunity and #DNDCommunity Supporter
Lord Hades (C.E. Robb)

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Lord Hades (C.E. Robb)


  1. Uncle:

    Thank you for putting her back in her place! But what the what is up with that portal? Let me know about the dangers we face when you’ve got them assessed and I’ll help you draw up our battle plans.

    Pallas Athena

  2. Well, I wondered when that fiery temper of yours was going to make an appearance, Uncle Hades. But save the Maz, will ya?


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