Alfie was just sitting outside the laundry shop looking at social media posts of his friends going to parties, having dates, working full-time jobs, while he just sits outside the shop in the middle of the night waiting for his laundry to finish. He wanted to wait inside the shop; however, he wanted to smoke badly because of his boredom.
“I’m such a sorry excuse of a human being,” he said staring at the sky. The stars in the night sky were outshined by the illuminating city lights. He sometimes wished he could move out of the city, away from all the terror of modernity.
He grabbed a cigarette out of his pack of Bohem and lit it up, taking a deep inhale then exhaling a big puff of smoke out of his mouth. He started to slowly get more and more frustrated the longer he waited for his laundry to finish
Alfie wasn’t a man of patience but it wasn’t obvious with his boyish looks. With his button nose, soft chin, and ruffled brown hair, most people would assume he was the typical nice guy. He looks like someone who is ordinary, then looks at his tired eyes, nobody would even remember him. He wore one of his undershirts and shorts, he had his baggy jacket wrapped around his waist.
“I look like a bum, but hopefully a good kind of bum,” he said. Judging himself and hoping that someone would take notice of his sophistication.
He looked like someone who is going nowhere and that thought is pissing him off. He wished he had a job so he can have something to keep him busy or at least would encourage him to dress to something classier, unlike the lazy bum look he has going on.
Alfie decided to look at his phone and scroll at every social media platform he has in it. “Ahhh, the post-modern solution to idleness… THE PHONE,” he said frustratingly. He looked at everything he sees in it with such disdain and disgust. He saw a news report about a corporation aggressively pursuing to obtain land rich with mining resources. Resources that can make anyone unbelievably rich. He suddenly gained a depressing feeling, he thought of the indigenous people living in those lands and will suffer because of corporate greed. “Those poor people,” Alfie said, “if only there’s someone in power with the right mind to help them.”
He read the news article to see the recent news update about it. He used to be in a state of idleness and boredom that’s frustrating him and making him restless, then while reading the news, he slowly transitioned into a state of sadness and hopelessness.
“This is depressing. What in the world have we gotten into? We used to be the smartest and strongest race in the world, determined to make everything great,” he said, “But were we ever really here to make life blossom or that’s just what we thought we were doing?” he asked himself curiously.
“What if God really sees what we have done with the place? I’m sure he is truly disappointed with his ‘greatest creation’ the human race,” he said sarcastically.
Alfie decided to close the app where he was watching the news from and opened a browser to search all the gods of every civilization in the history of the planet. He searched the Egyptian gods, Norse gods, Persian gods, Mesopotamian gods, and even the monotheist gods. But one really caught his attention were the Greek gods. He was always curious why these were the most well-known gods in modern society.
“The Gods of Olympus from the Greek mythology, known as fiction, but still a bunch of gods worshipped by pop culture,” he said sarcastically.
“I wonder what people of the ancient times think when they find out that the gods they worship are just merely characters that don’t exist,” he said. “How shocked and angry they would feel?”
The quiet calm air that breezed through the skin of Alfie turned to a gust of vengeful wind. The night sky, with only the moon to shine in its endless darkness, became covered with clouds darker than itself. The earthy scent of petrichor filled his nostrils and lightning struck the cloudy night sky like it was furious with the earth itself.
“Damn, Zeus got offended,” Alfie said.
Lightning scorned the heavens illuminating the pitch-black sky and thunder continuously roared deafening the ears of Alfie.
“What an over-zealous bitch,” he remarked mockingly.
He disregarded the rain that is to come and lit another cigarette from his pocket. He took a deep hit from his cigarette and puffed out a big cloud of smoke. He inhaled the smell of smoke then noticed his cigarette was almost put out. A droplet of rain had hit near the edge of his cigarette where it was lit. He was impressed with how close it almost killed his cigarette light.
Alfie looked at the night sky and let the drizzle drop on his face. He closed his eyes and listened to his surroundings. He heard the honking and screeching tires of the cars around him, he heard the noise of raving music from a nearby bar, and he heard the thunder in the rainy night sky roar as if it was a predator threatening a prey. The rain slowly became stronger and stronger, becoming a furious storm that haunts the sky.
Alfie lets the storm pour viciously upon him as if he wanted to drown and be gone from the life he is living today and to be relieved from the life of sorrow, discontentment, and dissatisfaction. As the heavy rain pours violently upon his face, lightning continuously illuminated the sky even brighter than the city lights on the ground, and thunder kept on roaring louder and louder each time it comes. Cars stopped and the people inside are in a state of fear from the storm. They are blinded by the lightning and deafened by the sound of thunder yet Alfie sits outside of the laundromat calmly, taking in every second of the storm’s power. The people inside the shop tries to call him to get inside as the storm rages stronger but he couldn’t hear them.
He opened his eyes and noticed that the lightning seems to be trying to reach him and that the thunder is rendering him completely deaf. He tried to look at the people inside the laundromat, but his vision has become limited because of the heavy rain. He was able to see their mouths moving but he couldn’t make out what they were trying to say. He looked around and the streets have become completely deserted. Then suddenly a bolt of lightning struck on the street in front of him. It was incredibly powerful that it blasted him back to the wall of the laundromat knocking him out.
Alfie in his unconscious state of mind heard a female voice, it was soft and calm yet completely annoying to him.
“Hey, wake up. Are you dead? I can hear you snoring. Wake up!” The female voice shouted. “Wake up or I’m going to start kicking the shit out of you!”
Alfie only let out a loud groan which annoyed the female even more.
The female then started unleashing a fury of kicks towards Alfie’s unconscious body until he woke up. She kicked Alfie’s arm to his back, buttocks, shoulder, and every other part of his body until she kicked his face, which finally woke him up.
“HEY, I SAID WAKE UP!” she yelled frustratingly.
“STOP! I’M AWAKE!” Alfie yelled back. He woke up with his head boggling all over the place. He felt something climbing up his throat, a liquid-like substance which he can almost taste it at the back of his mouth. When he tried to look at his surroundings, it was as if everything around him was floating in space but moving around faster than his eyes couldn’t keep up. In a hurry, he leaned towards the front of the unknown woman and threw up vast amounts of vile, which splashed towards the bare feet of the woman.
“You asshole!” she screamed. “That’s disgusting!”
“Ughhhh… I’m sorry, I had quite a rough night,” Alfie said.
“Yeah, you’ve been lying there in front of my home since this morning,” she replied.
“Morning? What time is it?” he asked shockingly.
Alfie looked up at the sky and saw the full blast of the ray of sunburn his eyes. He immediately closed and rubbed his eyes, trying to keep it moist. He then tried to look up but this time to the woman who has been antagonizing him to wake up. Although he wished he was woken up in a more calm manner, he has never seen such a beautiful woman his entire life. She had mesmerizing fair skin, smooth brown hair, and calming sky blue-colored eyes. She had a furious expression, yet Alfie was still at awe with the beauty that stands before him.
“Stop staring like that you pervert!” she yelled as she smacks Alfie’s face.
Alfie’s face was sent spiraling down towards the ground face first. He groans in pain and mending his face that was scraped on the dirt.
“You look at me like that again, I’ll smack you once more but a hundred times harder,” the woman furiously said.
“Okay, fine. I’m just confused as to where I am. I’m just confused, that’s all,” Alfie said, “I had quite a blurry night.”
“Out night drinking, huh?” she sighed. “Men” she followed with an insulting grin.
“More like midnight swimming under the sea of an angry storm,” he said.
“Yeah, Zeus was having one of his many tantrums again,” she replied.
“You say that like he’s real or something,” he followed.
“Well, he is real you idiot,” she said insultingly.
Alfie confusingly looked at the woman and then let out a smile. That smile turned into controlled laughter until he could not control it anymore and burst out a barrage of laughs. The woman was not amused.
“And what? You’re going to say next is that we’re in Greece and Olympus is real?” he asked sarcastically.
The woman who was not enjoying what she was seeing pointed at what looked like a great city of trade by the sea and said, “That over there is the Great city of Athens, named after the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena.”
“So? That city really exists,” he remarked.
The woman then pointed at the sky and there Alfie saw three horses pulling a chariot which carried a man with a bow pulling a flaming arrow and shooting it at the sky towards the direction of the sun. The flaming arrow shone almost as bright as the sun but was still tolerable to look at.
“That is the God of the Sun, Apollo, signaling the peak of the day,” the woman said.
Alfie immediately stood and looked around his surroundings. He then realized that he was no longer in an urbanized modern city but on a mountain top where almost all the cities can be seen. He further looked around and saw that the cities looked like it was built in a way the ancient cities were built. He looked at the woman and just realized what she was wearing. She was not wearing any ordinary t-shirt or jeans made of denim. She was wearing a long piece of cloth long enough to cover her thighs, it looked like a sleeveless silver gown with a belt buckle on her waist, she had bracelets of silver that match her brunette hair, a garland crown on her head complementing her beautiful face, and a look so innocent despite the angry expression. Alfie then realized that something out of the ordinary is happening, that he is witnessing that should not be.
“Where or when in time am I?” he asked.
The woman looked confused. She was starting to think was talking to a mad man. But then again, the clothes he was wearing were not something of custom to her culture. She saw how the man looked at her, she saw someone who looked like he was lost—a man who should not be here in this city or time.
“You’re in the great civilization of Greece ruled by the powerful Gods of Olympus,” she answered.
Alfie expressed a look of disbelief. “What? The Gods of Olympus?” he asked himself. The woman saw his look and she knew the man did not belong here.
“That man or god who was on that flying chariot was that really Apollo? Not an airplane or an illusion, he is real?” he asked the woman.
“Yes, that was Apollo riding his chariot?” she answered firmly, “and what’s an airplane?” she followed.
Alfie saw how confident and firm the woman answered his question. He was not sure if what was happening to him was truly real, but he was sure there was something wrong. Something happened to him during the night of the storm, the night he was blasted away by lightning, Something happened to him, something that one may say magical.
“Airplanes are not something you have to be concerned about but please tell me your name?” he curiously asked.
“My name is Pandora, daughter of Hephaestus the Blacksmith God,” she answered confidently but there was a tinge of shame in the way she said it.
Alfie could not believe his eyes that he was in front of Pandora, he knew that name because it was also the name of a popular jewelry brand in his time. He looked at the accessories she was wearing, and it was fitting for the name of that brand.
“Are you really Pandora? The woman who opened the box filled with nightmares?” he asked her.
Pandora was reluctant to answer as she did not want to recall that memory anymore. It was a memory that completely turned her life into a living nightmare. “Yes, I am Pandora, and please do not mention the box ever again. The outcome of that event was not something I intended to happen,” she said.
“I was given away by that horrible monster Zeus and tricked me into opening that damn box,” she furiously said.
The look on Pandora’s face went from anger to shame. Alfie empathized with her, he did not pity her as he saw her as another victim of a cruel higher power that has no remorse for the people that they think are below them. He never understood why a woman should represent evil in Greek mythology or even in modern times. Why a sister’s care, a mother’s compassion, or a wife’s love would be ignored and women in all must represent the entirety of evil. They never chose to be the object of temptation. Men did that for them.
“I’m sorry, I mentioned that. I didn’t properly think what I was going to say,” he said.
“It’s okay, you were shocked and confused. You probably didn’t believe who I was at first,” she replied.
Pandora was right. Alfie could not believe what was happening to him, where he was, when in time he was. All he knew he was struck down by lightning and woke up on this mysterious land.
“What happened to you anyway? And you never even told me who you are,” she said.
“Oh yeah, I’m sorry. My name is Alfie and obviously, I’m not from around here,” he replied. “Last night I went out to wash my laundry. When I got to the laundry shop, I decided to go out and smoke some cigarettes while I wait. That’s when a storm broke loose. It was incredibly strong, rain poured hard, thunder roared loudly but I decided to stay out and I, somehow, enjoyed it until lightning struck down in front of me and blasted me to the walls of the shop, knocking me out cold.”
Pandora had numerous questions in her head from Alfie’s answer. What is a laundry shop? What’s smoking a cigarette? And why would you stay under a raging storm when it was clearly dangerous? However, she clearly knew something odd was happening.
“So, you are not Greek? Or somehow who’s not from here?” she asked.
“As a matter of fact, it’s more of I am not someone from this day and age,” he answered.
“When are you from?” she asked again.
“I guess, I am someone from the future,” he replied with confusion and wonder.
Pandora could not believe everything that Alfie is saying. Time travel could not be possible even with the technology the “all-powerful” gods had, Pandora thought. He thought maybe Zeus collaborated with his father, Kronos to make this possible but they hate each other too much to even mutter a single word to each other. Although, maybe Kronos had something to do with it. She had a hunch that, like her, Alfie is another victim of the cruelty of hate, conflict, and war.
“Alfie, I have a bad feeling that something bad is about to happen to you,” she said worriedly. “Father time has something planned for you and the Father of Gods will not want you anywhere near Olympus or Greece at all.”
Alfie started to feel an incredible amount of uneasiness in his entire body. His body started to feel heavy, the hair on his arms started to tingle, his hands started to feel cold, and he knew that what Pandora was saying could be true. He realized that when he was under the raging storm, thunder roared loudly as if a great fight was going on and while the rain poured strong on him, he felt as if time slowed down as if he was drowning. He told this to Pandora, and she agreed that it could be possible. As they further conversed with how and why this happened, the sky began to become dark and thunder roared loudly. Alfie and Pandora knew that there was only one possible explanation for the sudden change of weather. They took a step back closer to each other and held each other to protect one another from the possible impending danger that is about to come. Thunder once again roared loudly and lightning struck in front of them, and this time someone came out of that lightning. The man was incredibly tall around seven feet, he had long white hair and a scruffy beard. He was buff and fair-skinned, and his eyes were colored white and blue like there was lightning running through it. He started to talk and his voice was so powerful that it frightened the two.
“You don’t belong here,” he said while pointing his finger at Alfie.
Alfie was frightened of the man pointing at him, but he knew the person in front of him was no man, Alfie knew that the person in front of him was the God of Thunder, Zeus. He was once again in a state of disbelief, he has only read of stories of Zeus in books or his phone or heard them from others, yet here he was standing in front of the great and powerful Father of All the Gods.
“Zeus,” he whispered.
“You are a man out of time, a product of Kronos’s plot to overthrow me,” Zeus said.
Alfie and Pandora looked at each other because they knew the outcome of this meeting would not be favorable to them. Alfie tried to carefully articulate the next words he will say to God in front of him for he knew could lose his life with just one wrong word.
“I can’t be a part of your father’s plot. I didn’t even know his intentions and plans,” he said nervously.
“Yet, you are proof that his plan is working. If anybody finds out about this, my position as the king of this realm will be in jeopardy,” Zeus answered.
Zeus began to clench his fists and electricity began to flow around it as if he was preparing to strike down the two puny beings in front of him. Alfie noticed this and he knew at that moment that no words can save him and Pandora from Zeus’s merciless wrath. He never did see Zeus as an empathetic and just ruler, he knew that Zeus only sees human beings as subjects of his land that he can toy around with. Zeus’s lust for the flesh of women, his bloodlust for the destruction of his enemies, or even his unfair treatment to his fellow gods—he never truly cared for human beings. Alfie knew that Zeus created the evils of his realm for his own satisfaction.
“Please do not kill us!” Pandora yelled, “We don’t know anything about what is happening!”
“That is for the better and it is best that no one will ever know,” Zeus replied as he summons lightning in his hands and strikes towards Alfie and Pandora. They were able to dodge the strike, however, it split them apart. Alfie was still down on the ground recovering, while Pandora was able to immediately get back up on her feet. Zeus prepares another lightning strike, this time focusing on the direction of Alfie. Pandora knew this was her chance to escape as she knew she had nothing to do with what was happening. She thought to herself that she does not want to become a victim once again by the selfishness and cruelty of the gods and of men. Although, as she looks at him, she cannot help but see herself in him. She knew that he was also a victim of war by the merciless beings who think they do good for all of mankind.
Zeus raises his hand holding a big bolt of lightning setting his eyes on Alfie. Then as he throws the lightning bolt, Pandora ran and jumped to grab Alfie out of the way. They were both on the ground and looked at each other, there was no need for words to be said. Alfie was grateful Pandora saved his life and she knew this by his looks. Pandora grabbed Alfie and they both ran to her home. Inside, she frantically looked for her chest.
“Pandora, what do we do?” he asked Pandora, “Zeus is going to tear this place apart with only a few strikes of lightning!”
Pandora did not pay much attention to Alfie’s worry. She was looking for her chest and when she found it, she opened it and looked for something with haste. “There you are!” Pandora yelled. She pulled out two gold coins and gave one to Alfie.
“What do you want us to do with this?” he asked.
“Just trust me,” she answered to Alfie, “This will take us away from here.” They each held the golden coins in one hand and then held each other with the other.
Zeus rapidly strikes Pandora’s home with multiple lightning bolts until it collapsed to dust. He approached the ruins of what used to be an innocent woman’s home and saw only the rubble of stones. He looked for the bodies of the two but it was nowhere to be found. Zeus went into a fit of rage that it engulfed the sky with a thunderstorm, the strongest the great civilization of Greece has ever seen. He screamed furiously out of frustration and thunder loudly roared along with him. The sky went completely dark and the only light that illuminated it was lightning. The rain started to pour heavily as if it wanted to drown the entire world. The Greeks that filled the streets of the cities immediately went home to take shelter from the rage of Zeus. Worshippers of the Gods immediately went to temples with sacrifice and prayed for their lives to be spared. Merchants and Navy soldiers on ships prayed to Poseidon to guide them and help them fight the cruel unforgiving waves of the sea. Zeus screamed on the top of his lungs and raised both of his hands towards the sky and slammed them both to the ground. Then a bolt of lightning so big and powerful, so bright and deafening, struck down from the sky and crashed at what was already a ruined home of Pandora. As the lightning crashed, Zeus disappeared along with the raging thunderstorm, however, the damage to the cities and ships of Greece was already done and countless lives have already been taken.
Alfie and Pandora walked side by side inside what seemed to be the halls of a palace, however, the palace was not shining with bright colors that would bring joy or amazement to a person. The palace had a dark aura to it. The walls, columns, tiles were dark-colored and had Hellenic marble designs to it. It looked like a castle that came out of a Dracula story. From the distance, one can hear screams of eternal suffering and women weeping in agony, while there was a mix of the joyous laughter of children and celebrations of men cheering as they came from a victorious battle. Alfie looked at Pandora with a frightened expression, he thought what was Pandora thinking to bring them to a place like that. After a while, he finally asked Pandora where they were.
“We are in the Underworld,” she said.
Alfie felt terror ran through his veins and thought Pandora was crazy for bringing them to the Underworld. His mind went through so many images of suffering, punishment, and demise. He was brought to what the Christians would call“Hell.”
“Why would you bring us here? This place is no better than Earth or Olympus or wherever Zeus is!” Alfie exclaimed.
“It’s okay. This is the only place in the entire world that Zeus would never go to. This is Hades’ realm and he wouldn’t allow anyone, even the Gods, to disturb it,” Pandora replied.
For Alfie, it was okay to dwell in the realm of Ancient Greece or Olympus, but he has only heard of few stories about Hades. He knew the “love” story of Hades and his wife Persephone and the tragedy of Orpheus, but other than those he had only read about Hades as a character from the sidelines. He had no knowledge of what he was about to face but as he walked down the halls of the daunting castle, he only had faith. Faith in a woman he had only met hours ago, faith in a woman who was used as a symbol of evil and temptation by the same gods that created her and are now punishing her.
They finally reach the end of the hall and reach an enormous door. It opened by itself and inside they see a gigantic throne like it was designed for a menacing demon king. They approach the throne and wonder where everyone was. They only hear the noise of the wandering souls in the realm. They look up the throne room and see an opening where the sky can be seen. It was a dark night sky and there were wisps wandering around like lost souls in search of a purpose. Suddenly, a swarm of bird-like creatures approached the wisps and circled around it until Alfie and Pandora can no longer see the wisps. The swarm then scattered from the sky and the wisps were gone. They both wonder what had happened, did the swarm consume the wisps? Or was that part of the wisps eternal torture?
As they both look at where the wisps once were, they felt a presence behind them. It was something big and frightening, and it sent shivers down their spines. They knew it was something not to be meddled with. They both looked at each other with expressions of fear marked on their faces. Their heartbeats ran fast. Only moments ago they had their lives almost taken away from them and now they were going to face another God who may or may not take their lives as well. They both looked behind them at the same time and saw an enormous figure. It was a man with an armor, black as coal but it shone like a diamond covering his entire body. He wore a helm with huge horns attached to it. They can see through the gaps of the helm that there was no face to be seen, instead, they saw hellfire that looks like it can burn someone to death with a single touch. The man walked slowly towards them and as he gets nearer, the throne room suddenly starts to light up. The unlit torches on the columns and walls of the room sparked the fire. Alfie and Pandora stepped back once again out of fear. It was only earlier they were confronted by Zeus who wanted to end their lives, now they face an enormous figure more terrifying than anyone they have ever seen.
“STOP,” Alfie yelled, “We only come here in search of sanctuary!”
The man then stopped just a few feet in front of them and then raised both of his hands. The man took off his helmet and the two mortals in front of him were shocked. Alfie thought he would be seeing a man whose face was completely deformed or a horrifying monstrosity of a demon, however, he saw a clean-cut man with fair skin and looked like a young man just about the same age as him. The man spoke and Alfie and Pandora became calm immediately to his tranquil voice.
“Who are you? The both of you are not souls and you do not belong here,” the man said pointing to Alfie. “You, on the other hand, I know you… Pandora.”
Pandora was not surprised of course everyone in all realms knew who she was, but with this man in front of her, she did not feel shame nor fear nor disdain. She did not feel any judgment from this man but acceptance.
“We are only trying to escape the wrath of Zeus. We have become a part of a great conflict that we have no knowledge of and now we are paying the price for something that we have nothing to do with,” Pandora explained.
“Zeus,” the man whispered in disappointment to himself, “What are you and father fighting about this time.”
Alfie sparked a look of curiosity. He carefully interpreted the words muttered out by the man. “You said father?” he asked.
The man looked at the two and expressed a look of pity and sympathy. He also understood that they have no idea who he is and then felt disappointed because he realized how the world has been put into a spiral of chaos. “Yes, I said father for Zeus is my brother,” he said.
Alfie and Pandora were shocked upon hearing that the man’s brother was Zeus, which can only explain one fact: the man in front of them was no man at all.
“Wait, you are Hades? You are the God of the Dead and Ruler of the Underworld?” Alfie asked with a shocked expression.
“Yes, I am Hades,” the god replied.
Alfie was in total disbelief. He wondered how Hades can look so young and fair, and not have a demonic or monster-like look. He could not believe that the God of the Underworld does not look like he belongs in the Underworld at all. Hades saw his disbelief and released a grin preventing himself from laughing.
“I know I look more like a spoiled prince rather than a demon king. I would take that as a compliment,” Hades said in flattery.
“You’re supposed to be the oldest of your siblings, but you look young beyond your age,” Alfie said.
Hades finally let go of his contained laughter and immediately tried to calm down. He knew no one understands why and for the sake of the confused mortals in front of him he explained.
“I chose this image for three reasons: one, I don’t like to be seen as a monster, I am a god, not a beast. Second, it’s for my wife, Persephone, she is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen before and I love her eternally, she deserves the best I can be for her and yes, I would count in the looks. Third, I am the Ruler of the Underworld, I punish the evil men that walked the earth but I also care for the good and innocent souls that are sent here. Thus, I want to give an image of care to the good and damnation to the evil, that’s why I have this armor,” Hades explained.
Alfie was amazed by the god that stood in front of him. He felt that there was a chance for him to finally escape and travel back to his time. He had a bigger chance to reason with Hades as compared to Zeus.
“You are a just ruler, Hades, you think not just of yourself but also the people around you and the subjects you rule,” Alfie said.
“I am and yes, I do think of the beings I rule. But please, next time do not call the souls here in the Underworld my ‘subjects.’ Good or bad, all these souls were still victims of the cruelty of life above,” Hades replied.
“So, a just and compassionate ruler, you’re already an incredibly better god than your brothers,” Alfie answered back, “I wonder why Greeks don’t talk about you more like that kind of ruler rather than the ‘Dark’ Ruler of the Underworld.”
“How can they talk about me when my brothers and the other gods share that domain? I have no reason to come to that realm when the only place I rule is here,” he said.
Alfie soon realized that Pandora may have been tricked to open the box full of nightmares that scorn humanity, but what if humanity was already doomed from the start? What if Hades became the ruler of Olympus and not Zeus? How different would the world be if that happened? He saw that the one just and compassionate god out of the three was sent down to the Underworld to rule over the dead instead of becoming the ruler of the living when maybe he could have done something to make the lives of men better.
“Well, all compliments being said, and introductions were done, I would like to ask for your help,” Alfie requested.
“You don’t have to ask, because I cannot help you,” Hades replied.
Alfie was disheartened but he understood why. He realized Hades is a just ruler, but he also needed to be strict in order for the souls to not be able to leave the Underworld. He had Cerberus guard the gates, Charon as a guide for the souls crossing the river Styx, and many other minor gods to guard different sectors of the Underworld.
“Well, we are not technically souls, Hades. We were not killed by Zeus, we were only able to escape his wrath,” Alfie argued.
“Still, it would be an injustice if I let the both of you leave this place or even help you go back,” Hades remained firm to his ideals.
“What if one of us stays here?” Pandora immediately asked, “What if one of us stays here to help you, while the other leaves this place?”
Alfie was shocked at Pandora’s response. He didn’t know how to react to her suggestion, he was completely speechless. He began to have a dilemma. Should he stop her or let the deal happen? He looked at Hades and knew it was a deal he was willing to make for it was a fair one. Pandora looked at Alfie, it was a look of trust, but also a look of pleading. She was pleading to let it happen.
“Please I don’t want to live amongst the earth anymore, only cruelty and judgment. I pity myself, up there I suffer but here maybe I can do something good,” she begged Alfie.
Alfie looked her nodded in agreement with her. He wanted Pandora to have a better life.
Hades, who is witnessing the exchange between the two intervened, “I will take the deal. Pandora will stay and help me, I always had plans for the poor souls in the Asphodel Meadows. Your compassion might help them move to something better.”
“As for you Alfie, you are obviously a man lost in time judging by your awful clothing,” Hades said. Alfie felt judged but he grinned with a smile, he was only wearing leftover clothes, because he had to wash his laundry.
“I can bring you to Kronos and demand that he brings you back to your time through whatever he did to bring you here,” Hades continued.
Alfie was afraid to face Kronos, but he knew it was the only way to find out what had truly happened and finally bring him back home. “Okay,” he said and nodding in agreement.
All three of them left the castle with Hades leading the way and Alfie and Pandora walking side by side. Alfie looked at Pandora and he saw her make a small grin, a little smile at one side of her lips. He knew that she was relieved that she would never have to come back to her miserable life and can finally start a new one. Just thinking about that made Alfie happy for her.
They were led to a ferry and on that ferry stood another enormous deity. This time the deity was what they think they would always see in the Underworld. The deity was Charon, his entire body was completely filthy, almost like he was rotting, while his eyes looked like it was burning from hellfire. Charon looked at Hades, “Where to, master?” he said. “Bring us to Tartarus,” Hades replied.
The ferry journeyed to Tartarus, Hades was looking ahead watching his peaceful realm, while the two mortals stayed next to each other during the entire journey watching the river flow below them. The flowing river looked like any ordinary river except it was color violet and it shined, illuminating the darkness around it. They looked closely and saw souls trying to hang on as strong as they could to not be washed away by the river’s current. They took pity on the souls and wondered what could they have done to receive this form of eternal punishment.
“Is nothing made out of souls here?” Alfie said sarcastically. As he saw that souls are everywhere in the realm.
Pandora called the attention of Alfie and pointed at a steep hill. On that hill they saw a man pushing a boulder to the top, as the man approaches the top, his foot slipped, and the boulder came rolling back down to the ground. The man screamed with frustration. Alfie pitied the man because he knew who he was.
“Poor ole Sisyphus. You did this to yourself,” Alfie said.
The ferry stopped and at one side, they saw a massive gate heavily guarded by centaurs, harpies, and other creatures. Hades was the first one to jump off the ferry and signaled Alfie and Pandora to follow. The two mortals looked at Charon and he said, “Welcome to the Gates of Tartarus.”
The two then jumped off the ferry and ran to Hades and made sure they are near him, at all times. As they walked nearer to the gate, Alfie looked carefully at the creatures surrounding them. They all looked like they want to kill him and Pandora and feed on their rotting bodies. He held Pandora tightly with his hands ensuring that she will not be dragged away by any of the beasts. They stopped in front of the gates where massive drawings of symbols and battles of the titans and the gods can be seen. Tartarus is the darkest pit of the Underworld and the prison of all the defeated titans. Hades commanded the guards to open the gate, and slowly it opened. In the distance inside the gate, Alfie saw a being so enormous that it looked like it could be the size of a continent.
“A titan,” he whispered to himself.
Thunder suddenly began to roar in the sky and lightning illuminated it. Everyone looked up for they knew it can only mean one thing. Lightning struck at the gate in front of them blasting Alfie and Pandora away from it. Then, Zeus descended from the sky, and lightning coursed through his entire body. Winds whirled with rage everywhere. Zeus was furious with his brother for helping Alfie.
“What kind of treachery is this, Hades?” Zeus demanded from Hades.
“Not treachery, brother, but fixing what you and our father have done,” Hades firmly replied.
“Hand me the two mortals to me, and I shall leave your realm without destroying it.”
Hades stood in between Zeus and the two mortals and firmly held his ground preparing for a fight. “Your senseless rage and conflict need to stop. Leave the two alone and let this be over,” Hades said.
“It will only be over once everyone who is standing against my reign is dead, and if you are a part of it, I will leave you to rot with the titans in Tartarus,” Zeus replied in anger.
“Alfie, Pandora run to Tartarus and talk to Kronos. I will stay here and fend off Zeus,” Hades said to the two mortals.
The two nodded and immediately ran to the gates. Zeus and Hades clashed creating an incredible phenomenon that shook the Underworld. Dead trees began to fall, the rivers crashed in different directions, souls started to circle the battle. All the creatures helped Hades battle Zeus and defend their home. The battle was massive and incredible. Zeus was outnumbered, but his wrath was greater than his enemies. Hades’ advantage of having the fight in the Underworld was gone, he crashed to the ground and struggled to stand up again.
Zeus saw Alfie and Pandora running towards Tartarus and summoned lightning from the sky to crash in front of them -splitting them apart and knocking them to the ground. Zeus started to approach Alfie, forming a lightning bolt in his hands and preparing to kill him. “You little pest. I will make sure you’re pulverized to dust,” He furiously said.
Pandora saw Zeus raising his hands ready to strike down Alfie. She looked around searching for something she can use to save him. She found a spear held by a dead centaur. She immediately ran and grabbed the spear. She aimed carefully but with haste and threw as strong as she could to Zeus. She hit Zeus just by the shoulder and he groaned in pain. Zeus looked at her and gave a menacing smile.
“Looks like you volunteered yourself to die first,” he said with a grin, “But I’ll make it worse for you, I’ll force your father to recreate you and do everything I want with you.”
Zeus then approached Pandora, preparing to kill her first instead. Alfie saw this as an opportunity to finally escape Zeus and run to Tartarus and get to Kronos. However, as he looked beyond the Pits of Tartarus, he saw a figure of a titan with red glowing eyes and a long white beard. “Father Time,” he muttered.
As Alfie was about to run to the gate, he paused and looked at Pandora. A dilemma crossed his mind arguing with himself internally. Was he willing to risk his only way home for this woman? Was Zeus worth facing to save her life? Finally, he put aside these stupid questions and started to run towards Pandora instead and save her. He ran as fast as he can, reaching his arm towards her to catch her. However, as he ran time began to slow down, the roar of thunder deafened his ears, and his sights started to blur. He ran as fast as he can before Zeus can land his strike on Pandora. Zeus then threw the lightning bolt towards her and an incredible flash of light blinded Alfie’s sight.
When Alfie can see again, he saw the doors of the laundry shop in front of him and he crashed into it face first. “Watch where you’re going, idiot,” the clerk said.
Alfie groaned in pain and massaged his face. He realized that he was back at the laundromat, back to his time. However, he didn’t feel a sense of relief rather a sense of worry and urgency. He ran towards the shop clerk and asked what time it is and what happened. The clerk said it is a quarter to midnight and his laundry is ready to leave. He also said Alfie was muttering different words and names he could not understand and that he also started to move around like a crazy person.
Alfie was confused by everything the clerk said. He then asked what happened after the storm. “Well, you idiot decided to stay outside under the freaking storm until you were almost struck with lightning. When you were blasted away by it, you got up, went inside lied down there on the bench, and took a nap until, as I said earlier, moved around like a crazy person,” the clerk explained.
Alfie could not believe it. He did not want to believe that everything that he had experienced was just a dream. He knew it was real. He decided to go outside the shop again. This time the storm was gone, and the sky was clear, however, there was something unusual in the night sky. The stars shined incredibly bright, even brighter than the city lights that once outshined it. All Alfie could think about was Pandora and wishing she was safe and happy. He imagined her roaming the Asphodel Meadows and the Elysian Fields, tendering and caring for the souls that wander there, where she would be happy to live her new life. He put his hands inside the pockets of his jacket reaching for his pack of cigarettes in it, however when he reached, he did not feel a box but something circular in shape. He took it out and found a gold coin. It was the very same gold coin he got from Pandora to get to the Underworld.
Alfie looked deeply at the gold coin and knew Pandora was alright and he smiled.