The Gods Must Be Crazy

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Prompt: Panic starts a domino effect, for good or ill.

from the novella Ap Jones, Goddess, Retired

“Are you sure this is a good idea, Zero? Zeus is the god of lightning, and Ares is no slouch with a thunderbolt. I’m just a goddess of love, and a broken one, at that.” She had to shout to be heard over the storm’s tumult, even though two walls of their shelter remained.

Zero, his jeans shredded into a girls-night-out dream, shook a reproving finger in her direction. “You won’t fail us, Approdite. Because this time, if we die, we won’t be twinned in another universe. And the false gods will keep screwing this one.”

“No pressure!” Ap ducked and whimpered as another tree flew past. “And why do you do that? You know how to pronounce Aphrodite by now!” Ap flung an accusing finger out at Zero. Zero’s eyes went wide and dazzled, as a field of sparkling light briefly filled the air between them. Drawn into it, he stumbled in her direction, falling on his knees before he reached her.

Zero shook his head, hard, then smirked up at her. He was using the smile that made her want to dunk his head in a bucket. “That’s why, Approdite. It makes you angry, and you’re beautiful when you’re angry!”

Without warning, the wind stopped. The resulting silence was deafened more than quiet—App could see waves crashing, stirred up by the God-driven storm, and water continued to gush from the gutters of the half-destroyed house where they sheltered. Ap slewed around, looking for a sign of Zeus and Ares.

At that moment, a break in the clouds showed the glory of the heavens, or, as Ap had learned, a hologrammatic environment created thousands of years before. Ares stepped down from it and landed in front of her, larger and better-looking than a normal man. Still a bit greasy, though, Ap thought critically.

“Spume of Chronos, Gaia’s whore, cuckolder of Haphaetos,” he intoned.

Zero, who was pulling himself to his feet, said, sotto voce, “He never misses insulting Hap, does he?”

Ap shook her head in agreement, while keeping her attention on Ares.

With a flick of his eyes in Zero’s direction, Ares continued, more loudly. “A goddess no longer, you are traitor to those who loved you. You planned to destroy the gods, bring me—US—down to your level, down to the mud of humanity. For this, Zeus has condemned you and given me the responsibility to carry out your sentence.” He raised an arm in the air. As he did, a massive sword the length of a pre-Great Flu car appeared in his right hand.

The sword, and the hand that wielded it, began a slow arc.

Ap leaned toward Zero. “This is when he wipes the Floridas off the map.” Her heart was beating so fast and loud, she couldn’t be sure Zero could hear her over it.

The wind began to howl, and what remained of the roof ripped away, flying up, turning as the sword completed its first circle.

The clouds blackened, twisting into a ring around a massive, hundred-mile eye—an instant X-class hurricane, the size of the Golfo de México.

Ap looked into Ares’ smile. She wanted to do more than wipe it off his face. She wanted to smear his ugly face off. Instead, she held out a gentle hand, and a clear light emanated from it. “Dearest Ares. You’re tired. Come here and sit beside me.” As she gestured, his sword quivered. The light between them shone more brightly, engulfing them in a simulacrum of the noonday sun. It glinted off Ap’s fingertips, and she could see rainbows refracting through her eyelashes. The sword’s arc hesitated, and the clouds above drooped with their freight of rain, like fat sheep before sheering.
Ares’ smile was soft, his eyes wide and glassy. Ap could see a drip of drool about to run onto his chin. He leaned toward her slightly, the sword tipping forward. He moaned plaintively. Ap thought she heard him whisper, goddess. Tears welled up in his eyes.

“Ares?” Ap said nervously, in her normal voice.

The edge of his sword fell slowly toward her as the god of war crumpled, crying a river that was caught up in a sluice as the stilled hurricane emptied a sea.

“Look out! That oversized idiot is going to slice you in half!” said Zero, lunging toward her. But in his stripped state, he wasn’t going to be able to protect her.

Ap didn’t move.

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