Friday, August 15, 2008

Chapter Five-Beyond the Seven Seas

More on my disappearance after the 20th. For now-

Here. There are notes to myself still in here and odds and ends that aren't quite tying in yet but I can fix that later. Here's dem bones. (c:


He had taken a wrong turn. At least, that’s what he was going to tell Boreas when he saw him. He was late. The day was quickly spelling trouble for him. A pig of his word indeed! Damn the fates. They always seem to have different ideas for those trying to do right. He stopped for a moment to get his bearings. He had no idea where he was. He had spent half his day covered in slime and now here he was, lost in London with a very angry Boreas waiting for him on the other end. Well, he assumed he was angry. He was usually angry. But he had to see her again! It was crazy and it took him well out of any way that he knew to get to where he was going but impulse being the devil it is, he had followed her. Sometimes we’re programmed to break the rules. It seemed to suit him. He hadn’t really intended for her to see him, that was sure to cause problems later on but things never happen the way they are expected. Causes a lot of disappoint in the end. He had learned to stop expecting. The pleasure of being out of the dampness of the sewers overruled his worries-it was so much better in the open. Let Clio run around in the filth of London and see how ready she is to suggest such a thing again. Ha. He’d do it his way for a while. Liberties were meant to be taken after all, and he could make up his own mind just fine. He scurried along, tucked into the shadows of the looming buildings of London, hoping he was headed somewhere familiar. Things were very different up here. He wandered the streets until the voice in the back of his addled brain began to chirp loud enough for him to listen.

He should take cover.

There was danger in being seen.

He was running out of time.

He peered around the next corner and scrambled towards the open drain that led back into the murk. He took a final look around and unceremoniously and without grace sloshed his way back into the underground of London. He supposed he should be looking towards the bright side of things, but with time hanging like a heavy mantle around his neck the bright side was increasingly difficult to find.


Desk. Window. Corner. Door. Desk.

Desk. Door. Corner. Window. Desk.

Boreas followed his own footsteps around the dingy and damp office he was renting in London’s Upper East Side. The brown-paneled walls stared back at him and the air was ripe with his own scent and neglected brandy. The glass in his hand had been refilled and emptied. The bottle sitting atop the table slouching against the far wall was looking bare and he was becoming restless. He could go out. But he had to wait. And he was drunk. Or getting there.

Desk. Window. Corner. Door. Desk.

He hated to be kept waiting.

The air outside was growing thick with rain and cold and the inside of his office was freezing. The window against the far wall leaked and the radiator had given up a long time ago.

He went back over to the table that held his one source of entertainment and pulled the top off of the bottle. He sloshed the last remains of the bottle into his glass. With his thin lips he sucked the spilled sour drops off of his wrist. The rest he wiped on his shirt. The cuffs that used to be white had turned gray and the buttons were slightly askew from being worn and slept in for too many days. His jeans clung to his thin frame like leaves on a winter tree. The gray was showing in his dark hair.

Cleanliness may be close to godliness but he had no desire to get any closer to the gods than he’d already managed. Not that it had been his choice. Things rarely were these days.

He drank the last of his brandy.

Desk. Window. Corner. Door. Desk.

The rain started and the walls began to weep as reflections of running water drained down them.

If it weren’t for that stupid pig I wouldn’t be here he thought angrily. His thoughts tumbled out of his control spurred by too much brandy and the blood in his brain caught fire.

If he could kill Apollo he would. Unfortunately, even he was above delusion. It simply wasn’t an option. There was no option at the present but to wait. Regret has a way of seeping into the most hardened of souls. He wanted his muse and to go home. He wanted to never have to deal with another fool woman. They always caused nothing but trouble for him. He spun sharply on the worn heel of his boot.


The thunder shook the walls and Boreas stopped his pacing long enough to pick up the chair he had ungracefully knocked over in one of his previous rages. Pain shot through his lower back and knees. The weather always brought him pain.

He was old. Too old. What could he do?

He sat down heavily and leaned his head back against the window. The cold glass burned some of the fog out his mind.

He had been a fool so many times before. There was no reason now should be any different. He closed his blue eyes. The lines on his face weighed on him like rocks in a sinking ship.

The conversation from earlier in the evening replayed in his brain like a bad horror flick. It had not gone well to say the least. Meetings involving Kalliope hardly ever went well for anyone. Especially not him. She had thrown salt and he had spent the night licking his wounds clean defending something he had no interest defending. Nothing above self preservation and even that was becoming a questionable cause.

They met at the (insert place name here) around 8pm as discussed. Kalliope had come strutting in on the arm of Apollo and the smell of her over priced perfume made him want to gag as he took his seat opposite her. Apollo, the little lap dog, took a seat next to her followed by Clio and the others. They left a chair open where the missing vixen of the hour should have been. It seemed both honorary and insulting. The diner was poorly lit by the pitiful hanging lamps and the table was too small to fully accommodate all of them, but things weren’t quite how they used to be and these provisions would have to do for the time being. Kalliope had been the first to speak. Of course. Her voice rang in his ears like a note played off tune. There was nothing to be expected from her words, Boreas knew her slippery tongue. She was teat fed on insinuations and hidden propaganda. She was intoxicating.

Her slanted eyes didn’t blink as she looked at him, her hand looped loosely over Apollo’s.

“Well, where is the little fucker.” Kalliope didn’t ask questions. She demanded.

“Late. Missing. Off tramping around with our missing idiot—“

Boreas set his lips in an even thinner line and started again.

“If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll have gone back and we will be hearing from him shortly” He gave his most placid face and wrapped his hands around the gray cup. He picked at the porcelain paint with a dirty finger nail. He considered the consequence of actually putting the cup to his lips. It seemed too much of an unnecessary risk for such a pitiful payoff. Instead he let the humid warmth seep into his palms.

“Evidently that’s assuming a lot on his part, don’t you think?”

Boreas threw his hands up in irritation.

“What I think, is not something that you, in fact, have to think about at all. Seems like you have enough problems with your own concerns.”

He would kill the pig when he got his hands on him.

“I didn’t think I was the main concern of the evening.” He said after a moment.

“Yes, well. About that. About her. The poor dear. Out there all alone, missing. Seems we have a bit of a problem on our hands, doesn’t it.”

How she managed to say it without sneering Boreas would never know. The physical effort should have cracked her porcelain skin.

“Uhm, can I say something?”

All heads turned to look and the tension in the air eased for a fleeting moment.

Clio cleared her throat. “I think we’re the least of the concerns here.”

Kalliope arched an eyebrow at her. Apollo just nodded his head. Boreas said nothing.

“Well, I mean, People aren’t used to this anymore. Muses went out of common knowledge a long time ago.” Clio pursed her lips ever so slightly.

“They have Google for their inspiration now.” Kalliope curled her upper lip like an animal. Or perhaps a child who has gotten a taste of something they didn’t like.

“Complain all you want about our replacements, it doesn’t change the fact that this is serious business she’s brought us. The Rules state very clearly that the boundaries must be obeyed. In fact, if you look back in history—“

“Save your breath.” Boreas cut her off more harshly than he had intended. “We all know the rules. I don’t give a fuck all about the rules. They’re broken. To hell with the boundaries, dear Erato showed us exactly how much those “rules” mean.”

“There must have been a reason. She’s not a complete fool. She knows better than to just let herself, uninvited, into the realm of the mortals.”

“You make it sound so poetic.”

“Yeah, well.” Clio gave Boreas a flat look.

Terpsichore was the first one to set off the chain of arguments.

“I don’t give her that much credit. It’s not like this is the first time.”

“Things were different then. Different times.” Then

"Were they really though? So different, that is? And SO AND SO.

“Things are different now though, we don’t have the same resil—“

Boreas’ open palm hit the table.

“Regardless!” If there was a more narrow sighted group anywhere he would love to meet them. “We don’t even know if she chose to leave this time. Are you all forgetting that? She disappeared. Nothing. No word, no warning. Just, gone. So in essence, it might as well be the first time! And Clio’s right. We’re not the primary concern here.”

They were Gods. Or near gods, at least. One fool-headed Muse was not going to change that. He would see to it himself if that’s what it took.

“How touching. You almost sound worried.” And so his wounds were laid open.

“Oh stop—someone has to think of someone other than themselves for once.”

Kalliope just glared at Clio. “Our time has passed long ago. Perhaps it’s time to move on.” She said in a quiet, breathless voice. They could almost detect hope behind the words.
“Are you mad?” The words were out of Clio’s mouth before she could register that she’d said them. “And then what would become of us? Things like this have an order, you know. A structure. There are laws.” She folded her arms in front of her on the table. Her boundaries were set.

“Besides—“she continued in a moment of boldness that surprised even her. Where is all this fire when my students refuse to listen to me? She wondered mildly. “It seems you’ve grown quite accustomed to the more secular pleasures.” Kalliope was not the only one who could play word games.

Boreas glanced around the table. The others were just sitting and watching, the momentary burst of opinions had run its course. They rarely had much to offer in these matters, they knew the pecking order. Of course, there wasn’t supposed to be a pecking order but between the combined egos of Kal, Boreas and Clio, there was no room for anyone else. They were not above the basic rules of nature.

“Perhaps I could become unaccustomed. There’s something to be said for knowing when you’ve overstayed your welcome. I think the humans have made it pretty clear, don’t you?” She was at once pleading and sarcastic. She was after something.

No one said anything for a few moments. They all knew there was truth behind what she was saying, even if it had to do with her own selfish agendas.

Everyone has a sunset.

“No one is going anywhere until Erato is found.” Boreas said at least, pinching his sinuses between his thumb and forefinger. He needed a drink. “Not until then.” He said on the exhale breath. The temperature in the room dropped a few degrees.

Things certainly weren’t as they used to be. In the past. He found himself looking back more often than he looked forward these days. There had been a time when the Gods had wandered freely. When inspiration ran without chains and life had rhythm. Certainly better than this oil slick in the rain they were living now. Yes, things had changed. The promised angel called Modernity had slipped into the marrow before anyone could do anything about it and fear and hesitance seeped into the Gods. They were shunted into a singularity, one where they could be controlled. An idea of greatness, of something larger than themselves but humanity was quickly trying to close the gap. Convenience and accessibility had taken over. They called it advancement, Boreas preferred Murder. There can be no progress when the past is forgotten. For all his resentment, he was, in essence, unaffected. The weather still changed, the winters still came, but even those were becoming less elemental and more dictated. The others, however, they were not as fortunate. For once, Kalliope spoke from somewhere other than her greed and her need for dominance. She spoke from the heart, if she could be credited with such an organ after all these years.

He couldn’t help but grimace at the irony. The magnificent Kalliope, Muse of the glorious voice, reduced to nothing more than a wicked and calculating wordsmith in an age that wanted nothing to do with her.

His bones ached with the confinement of his human form. Everyone has a sunset. Even the immortal.

The false daylight of lightening coming through the flimsy window pane startled Boreas out of his slump. The meeting had ended with no resolution in sight. So here he sat, cold, sore and drunk with no idea what to do next. Waiting was the next step, he supposed. And he hated waiting.

He creaked to a standing position and flung the window open, letting the rain lash against his face for a moment. He could hear the brotherly taunts of the West wind and he closed the window to block him out. He pulled the dejected curtain closed and resumed his pacing without the company of his brandy.

He had walked a thin line last night. Their meetings usually dissolved into petty nitpickings and things had gotten too close to the quick for him.

“But really, I would think you would be the most concerned out of all of us here.” Kalliope was not one to let things go easily and she had resumed her pretentious tone.

Sentimentality is wasted on the cynics.

“Right. Suddenly because I’m one of the few ones with a brain here to realize the consequences of this, I’m the poster child for saving humanity and Erato and the rest of us? Please.”

“Oh come now Boreas. We all know your—loyalties—are a bit complex when it comes to the mortals. And it’s not like you were a stranger to our missing charge.” She eyed him coolly. She had laid her snare. “Then again, temptation is a demon we all face.”

“Oh come off it already. So I assuaged a few aching marriage pains here and there! Why that makes me in charge of her when she goes missing is beyond me. It was sex. It’s what she does.” He took a ragged breath. “And what my “loyalties” have to do with anything I don’t know. I’ll tell you one thing though, when it comes to finding our precious Erato, my loyalties are going to be a lot more helpful than your pathetic attempts at seceding. You can’t break what’s bound. Not even you, my dear, sweet Muse.” Boreas clenched his fists on the table.

The fall from grace had been a short one for him. His marriage was inescapable and boring and she was pure light and energy. Naturally he had chosen opportunity over morals. He had never listened before and life was better when you had no compass directing your steps in all the wrong directions.

“You aren’t exactly a stranger to betrayal though, are you? No. You talk about loyalties as if you knew what they were. Perhaps our silent Apollo could offer something more.”

It was his turn to throw salt. The tightrope was strung. Icy blue eyes stared into eyes just as blue and just as cold.

“You may not want to continue, Boreas.” Apollo’s voice came as cooled steel from the forge.

“Ah. So you do speak after all, our great bringer of Justice.” Boreas sneered. He had little concern for boundaries when he wasn’t angry. Let them try his patience now.

“Perhaps we could all learn something from studying your past then, Boreas. That would be a justice in its own right, now wouldn’t it. Why don’t you enlighten us with a few learned lessons?”

Boreas blanched but only for a fraction of a second. Kalliope saw it though and he knew it. That brought the color rushing back to his sallow cheeks.

“You have no proof of anything and you know it. Let it be.”

“Then I suggest you leave my integrity in tact for tonight.”

The fact that they both did not turn into piles of ash right there at the table had surprised more than just Boreas but at this point, it didn’t really seem to matter. He scrubbed his hands through his hair.

The pig was eight hours late and there was no sign of him showing any time soon.

He should go out for more brandy.

1 comment:

Steve Malley said...

Posting a first draft like that- you're much braver than I. Good stuff, though!