Archive for the '“Summer Love”' Category

27
Mar
10

Summer Love Lives?

One thing I’ve regretted on this site has been my inability to finish the serial novel, Summer Love, that I was serializing here when I launched. As I’ve said before, the main problem I had was Percy Jackson. Great books. Too similar to things I had planned. The story died.

But now…

I make no promises, but I think I have a way to fix this. I’ll have to throw out some of the stuff I already have written and change all my previous plans, but this could work. I may even have a new title, finally.

I do promise this: unlike last time, I will not attempt to share this story until it is FINISHED. I’ve learned my lesson.

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30
May
09

What I’m Reading: The Lightning Thief

LightningThieftI’ve mentioned it here before but it bears repeating: I really love Greek Mythology. As you guys have already seen in detail here on the site. But a couple of months ago, one of my fellow teachers recommended this book to me, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. The premise sounded intriguing and I always like new series fiction — especially if the series in question is finished and I don’t have to worry (not to sound crass) about the author dying and never finishing. So upon my friend’s recommendation, I picked the book up and cracked it open, finishing just earlier today.

The Lightning Thief is the first volume in a five-book series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Percy is a sixth-grade student who has spent his life bouncing from one boarding school to another, none of them able to handle a genuinely good kid who nonetheless constantly seems to find himself in trouble. This year, that trouble starts getting worse — as in the “monsters and mayhem” kind of trouble instead of just flunking an English test. One of the nastiest encounters leads him to a strange summer camp full of other kids just as extraordinary as he himself is, and Percy finds the truth: the gods of Greek myth are real, are alive, and one of them is his long-lost father.

I didn’t really pay attention to this book when it was released, shelving it mentally with the dozens of Harry Potter clones that were being put on shelves at the time. Having read it, I still think I was partially correct in that assessment. Structurally, this first book is very similar to Harry Potter — Percy has two friends who accompany him, the mentor characters are suitably mysterious, and the school setting is swapped for a summer camp. However, the more I think of it, none of those elements Percy and Harry have in common were really originated by Harry anyway. There are a lot of elements that Percy has unique to himself, and that’s what makes this book easy to recommend. Riordan has a really interesting social structure in place here, with the gods capable of playing both ally and antagonist as the situation demands. He uses the classic Greek deities, monsters, and symbology to great effect here, crafting a story that is singularly exciting. Percy is quite different from Harry in personality, carrying a bit of a god’s temper in him. As for his friends — well, Annabeth does seem to have a dash of Hermione, but considering who her sire is, that’s only natural.

On a personal note, I have to admit reading this book startled me, because Riordan actually overlaps once or twice with things I have done (or was planning to do) with my own work-in-progress Summer Love, but as both stories employ Greek myths, that’s really unavoidable. My story is drastically different from Riordan‘s, as is my interpretation of the Olympians. It was a little hard, still, to divorce my own ideas from what I read here.

Once I was able to do that, though, I really did enjoy this book. It’s a very strong beginning to the series, and I intend to hunt down book two, The Sea of Monsters, ASAP.

BONUS REVIEW:

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m a member of the Amazon.com Vine Program, which gives me a chance to read and review books before they are released. I just finished a really great mystery novel by Lyndsay Faye entitled Dust and Shadow, about Sherlock Holmes and his effort to capture Jack the Ripper. If you’re interested in my review, you can read it here: Dust and Shadow review.

20
Mar
09

A little bit of everything

I’ll be heading out in a few minutes for another one of Carl’s Lenten Seafood Feasts (plus poker night), so I’ll just throw a few random tidbits at you on my way out the door.

School Stuff

I had a bit of the Awesome yesterday morning. I was standing around on duty (which basically means I’ve got to get to work a half-hour early, stand in the midst of 1,200 teenagers, and hope nobody starts a fight), when a girl I taught two years ago came up to me out of the blue and told me that my class was her favorite that year and one of the best classes she’s ever had. There’s no reason for her to tell me this — I’m not her teacher anymore and, unless I get bumped to 12th grade next year (damn unlikely) I won’t be again. Plus, she was the kind of kid who was so quiet I was never really sure if she was engaged in the class or not. And to top it off, since she was in my class two years ago, that means she was part of my first class ever, and let me tell you, nobody ever know what the hell they’re doing their first year teaching. Take all the classes you want, it won’t prepare you. You’ve just got to survive that first year and learn from it.

So hearing that just about made my day.

Comic Stuff

The first issues of Boom! Studios’ Incredibles and Muppet Show comics are hitting stores next week. I’m really glad they priced the comics at $2.99. Most Boom! comics are at the $3.99 price point, which is where I have drawn the line, and therefore, I don’t get any of them. With these — books I reallywant — they’ve given me a break. Expect me to review ’em both at Comixtreme.

Book Stuff

So I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman‘s Newberry Award-winning novel The Graveyard Book. As I’ve come to expect from him, it’s a wonderfully imaginative, inventive novel that has totally captured my attention in a way few other books are doing these days. Glad to know the Newberries still stand for quality.

TV Stuff

So who watched The Office last night? Holy crap, huh? Talk about an ending I didn’t see coming. I’m sure this sets up the final run of the season, but I’ve got no idea where the writers are going with this one. And speaking of writing…

Writing Stuff

Work continues on Summer Love. I managed to get over  700 words written today (which, sadly, is above average lately), and I’ve gotten over a couple of the stumbling blocks I think were slowing me down. It’ll still take me some time to finish, but getting that train moving again was the important part at this stage. Plus, the week after next is Standardized Testing Week, which requires me to read instructions for two minutes then sit down for an hour doing essentially nothing. I got a ton of writing done that week last year. In fact, that’s when I began Summer Love, so I’m hoping to get a big chunk of the conclusion done this time around. In the meantime, who read Chapter One of Lost in Silver? What’d you think of it?
11
Mar
09

Someone is reading “Summer Love!”

So yesterday, despite all expectations, I got a post here from Kathy asking where the heck the latest chapter of Summer Love is. Thank you, Kathy — I’ve got to be honest, I had half-convinced myself nobody was paying attention to it at all. I am, if nothing else, a feedback whore.

So here’s the deal: although I haven’t been posting, I have been working. Summer Love is progressing, albeit much more slowly than I thought it would when I began the project. I launched last year with a sizable buffer of new stuff, but after not getting to work as much as I expected during the summer, the buffer dwindled quickly. Since then, it’s been a constant game of catch-up. Despite that, I’ve been mostly happy with the story.

When we last left our heroes, Adam had recruited the legendary Odysseus to help him overthrow the god of the dead, which you’ve got to admit, it a lot more interesting than whatever you did last weekend. In classic three-act structure, the story is beginning Act Three. Everything that happens from here on out is part of the road to the finale. Act Three is actually probably going to be longer than Act Two (which began when Adam began his journey to Hades), and there’s going to be a lot more action in it as well.

But now I find myself struggling with a bit of a moral quandary. I’ve felt bad about the gaps in the schedule of Summer Love, but I feel worse about coming back for one or two episodes, then falling off the wagon again. I’d prefer to keep working for the next couple of months, get Act Three finished and ready to go, and then run the whole thing without interruption, a chapter a week, like I always intended. I honestly don’t know how long it’ll take to get it to that point, but I find it preferable.

But let me ask you — what would you prefer? Should I post a new chapter whenever one is finished, or would you rather I wait until everything is ready and do it without risk of a gap? The comment section is here for you, friends. I honestly want you to tell me what you want, and if it seems most people would rather get the story a piece at a time, I’ll go back to doing it that way.

And again — if you’ve got a suggestion for a better title, I’m all ears. Every time I type Summer Love, I hate it more.

09
Feb
09

Summer Love Chapter 24: You’re Never Gone

Chapter 24

You’re Never Gone

I spent the night in a sort of sleepless fugue. Something about being down here in the underworld was affecting me. I was tried, but not as tired as I should have been; hungry, but not as hungry as I should have been; thirsty, but… oh, you get the idea. Instead of getting any substantive sleep, I spent the night staring out at a veil of stars that was as artificial as the world’s best planetarium and alternately marveled at the fact that I’d just allied myself with one of the greatest warriors in history and wondered how in the hell I expected to survive any of this.

When the sun crept up, perhaps a bit earlier than I expected, I wasn’t surprised to find Odysseus already on his porch, sipping a goblet of something that smelled heavenly and biting into a thick, juicy pear. He smiled when he saw me. I returned the smile and hoped I wasn’t staring too longingly at the pear juice dripping down his chin.

“Adam, my lad, did you sleep well?”

“Yes, your majesty.”

He gave me a skeptical look. “Listen, son, if we’re to be comrades-in-arms, you’ll need to do away with this ‘your majesty’ foolishness.”

“Oh. Yes your… um…”

“’Captain’ will suffice.”

“Right, right, oh captain my–”

I didn’t stop babbling until he stopped laughing. Even then it took me a few seconds to realize he’d been making a joke. He just laughed – he had a way of putting you at ease immediately – and clapped me on the shoulder. “Relax, lad. Just because we’re going into peril doesn’t mean we can’t keep the edges of our mouths curled, eh?”

“Sure. My grandma always said the same thing.”

He laughed and clapped me on the shoulder. That’s what made him the legendary hero and me the obscure cartoonist – he got my joke right away. He took one last bite from his pear and tossed the core over his shoulder. It vanished into the lush grass and I had no doubt it would never be seen again. There was something particularly efficient about this place.

“Come on. We’d best begin to arm ourselves.”

He led me down to a storeroom held in place by a huge wooden bar, which he lifted away with ease. With a simple tug, he pulled the door open and I had to shield my eyes. The sunlight filtering in from behind me struck upon an enormous collection of armor, shields, swords and other weapons, all brilliantly polished. With weapons like this you wouldn’t need to out-fight your enemy, you could just blind them.

Odysseus laughed again as I covered my face. “Ay, they were never quite so brilliant in the world of the living, Adam. I suppose it’s part of the wonder of Elysium. Everything here is always pristine.”

“So I see,” I said, blinking. Odysseus picked up a piece of chest-armor and held it up to me, then put it aside. He did this a few more times before finding one he thought looked appropriate, then he put it aside and turned his attention to the swords. As he handed one to me, he frowned.

“Eh… Adam, I know you said you aren’t a warrior in your land, but you have used one of these before, haven’t you?”

“Um… Does waving a plastic lightsaber at a midnight movie count?”

“I have no idea what that means.”

“No, I’ve never used one.”

Odysseus shook his head, then lifted a different sword, this one thinner, like a foil you’d see a fencer use.

“Sorry.”

He put it down and picked up a longish dagger. I just shook my head.

“Ye gods, how do they teach you to defend yourselves in the modern world?”

“Litigation.”

He put the dagger away and picked up a spear, then handed it out to me. “You just aim the sharp part at whatever you want to make dead, all right?”

“I think I’ve got it.”

I swished the spear around in a fashion that I immediately decided was embarrassingly juvenile. Odysseus waited with the look of a parent who wasn’t upset with his child, but wasn’t going to tolerate his antics much longer. I sheepishly put the spear down. the ancient king helped me strap myself into the chestplate he’d picked out, which I didn’t argue over even though it seemed clear I wouldn’t need it.

“Looks good on you, son.”

I smiled. If there was one thing about war I did know, it was that you never let the enemy know about any sort of surprise advantage you may have. I was a pudgy dude stumbling around on legs with all the musculature of Vienna sausages. If I could somehow avoid letting them know I couldn’t be hurt, it may be the only advantage I had.

Odysseus strapped on his own armor and chose a shield to keep by his side. A sword followed, and a spear. Just when I was about to ask what else he could possibly carry, he pulled a loaded quiver from the pile, and slung it across his back. “Come now,” he said, pushing shut the door to the storeroom.

“Um… nice arrows, Odysseus, but don’t you need a bow for them to do any good?”

“My bow holds far more honored a place than this, Adam.” He turned away and started to walk and talk at the same time. He did this often, I would find. Odysseus was a man who always seemed to be in a hurry. “The bow of Odysseus is a sacred thing, Adam. It’s an enormous weapon, a tool that can only be bent by one hand: mine.”

“Sounds spiffy.”

“Aye. Now the bow has a place of honor in my bedchamber. I did not bring this bow on my last great journey. I shall not neglect it again. And here, Adam, is where you wait.” He’d brought me back to the door on his porch, where I’d first met him. “I have accepted you as a companion, but no one enters this chamber save myself and my queen.”

“You’re into privacy. That’s cool.”

He stepped into the room and closed the door behind him. I waited quietly, patiently, for a long damn time. Finally, I looked straight at the door and said, “How long does it take to get a bow?”

“When the relationship between the weapon and the wielder is that of my husband, a good time.”

“Queen Penelope! I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.” She was sitting on the porch, looking out across the sea of grass. And she was smiling at me, a simple gesture that somehow seemed to mean everything in any world.

“It’s all right, Adam. Odysseus has not fired that bow in thousands of years. The last time he did was after an absence of twenty. Now, as then, he has to commune with it. He has to feel it… flex the wood, pluck the string… be certain that it will have all the strength and vitality he will need to carry it into battle.”

“Will it?”

“Of course it will.” She looked away from me and back out onto the veldt. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

“Lovely,” I said honestly.

“Adam… I meant what I said to him. You’re a good soul with a just cause, and I believe that joining you in your quest is the right thing for him to do.”

“Back home I would say I sense a ‘but’ coming.”

She smiled again, and although it was no less sincere, this time there was something empty in her eyes. “Your words are strange, but your meaning – if I ken it – is correct. I have more to say. Your cause is just, Adam…” she sighed, and it seemed her entire body deflated slowly. “But this place will not be paradise without him.”

I knelt by her. “If it’s in my power, I swear, I’ll see to it he comes home to you. I’ll give my own life first.”

“And you mean that, and that’s why I know joining you was the right thing. But you don’t know my husband as I do, Adam. Every soldier he lost in Troy, every sailor he lost on the journey home… he felt each death as if it was his own. And he’s had a very long time to regret each and every one of those deaths. If the choice comes down between you and he, just as you will try to save your king, so shall he try to save you.”

“Well then we’ll be fine, then. He’s Odysseus. He always succeeds. As for me, I’ve never lost a wingman yet.”

“Again with the strange words.” She put her hand on mine. “But the true heart.”

“We’ll keep each other safe, your highness.”

The door to the chamber opened and Odysseus stepped out carrying the biggest, heaviest-looking longbow I’d ever seen. There was no string in it, but a leather strap lashed it to his back beside the quiver. I had no doubt that, should he need his weapon, it would be off its strap and strung into a deadly force before I could even blink.

“Are we all ready then, Adam?”

“Yes, sir.”

He stepped to his queen and kissed her. “Sooner home this time. I swear it.”

They held each other tightly and silently professed their love. It was the most honest thing I’d ever seen in my life, and it was the memory of that image that gave me the strength to do what I did when we saw Penelope next. Odysseus loaded his weapons, me carrying his spear along with my own, and we began the march out of paradise to begin our quest through Hell.

 Next: Chapter 25

 

Creative Commons License
Summer Love by Blake M. Petit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.evertimerealms.com.

02
Feb
09

Summer Love Chapter 23: With a Little Help From My Friends

Chapter 23

With a Little Help From My Friends

 

The guard was different from the Telos. He didn’t have the overbearing aura of destruction around him, for one thing. He was a massive creature, with arms like steel and a chest wide enough that the metal plate he wore looked like it was actually stretching. He had a long shock of blonde hair, and his eyes burned with a coldness altogether different from the Telos I’d encountered before. He had a sword at his side and a shield at the other, but the surprise on his face as I approached seemed to indicate he wasn’t used to needing either. He looked into me, and I felt my nerves rippling up my spine.

“You do not belong here, mortal,” the guard’s voice boomed. It felt like thunder, a tremor that reverberated throughout my body. Somehow, this figure was more frightening than anything else I’d run across in the bowels of Hell.

“Hey, um… you. Look, I need to get in there.”

The guard took a step towards me, shifting the sword from his side to his hand. “Proceed, mortal man, and I will cast you out into the clutches of the Telos.”

“Little bald guys with big, ugly swords? I think I’ll pass.”

I stepped back from the guard, teetering on the slender stone bridge. After my unexpected Styx-bath, I didn’t know if he could actually hurt me, but there was still enough of the cartoonist left in me that I wasn’t going to press my luck.

“So how does somebody get into Elysium?” I asked.

“Only those escorted by Zeus may enter the divine realm.”

“Faboo. How am I supposed to get a god’s escort?” I’d encountered a lot of gods over the last year, but Big Daddy Z wasn’t one of them. But his kids… I had palled around with a lot of his kids. And one of them promised me a favor.

The moment I thought of it, there was a warmth on my forehead, a tingling sensation, and what looked like a spotlight shone out onto the stone in front of me. In the circle, a shape began to appear – tall, shapely, beautiful. And frankly, she looked royally pissed off at me. She didn’t waste more than a few moments glaring at me before turning to the guard. “Artus, isn’t it?” she said.

The guard fell to his knees at the sight of her. “Mistress Athena! I never thought…”

“Yes, I know. Artus, you’ve been a faithful servant of my father for a long time now – millennia. And in that time, have you ever faltered in your duty?”

“Never!”

“And have you always done exactly what was asked of you?”

“Of course, Lady.”

“And did my father ever mention me?”

“Yes, Mistress. He said of all the misbegotten refuse he’s spawned over the millennia, he regretted you the least of all.”

Athena glanced over her shoulder at me. “Father went through something of a depressed period after the mortals began forgetting about us. He was never the sort to keep his pain internalized. Artus, did he mention my domain?”

“Warcraft and wisdom, my lady.”

“That’s correct. I am the mistress of Warcraft and Wisdom. And thus, when I tell you something, you know the truth behind it, correct?”

“Yes.”

She leaned in very close to him, reaching a finger beneath his chin and lifting it up so they could meet eye-to-eye. “Then believe me when I say that if you don’t let this man pass into the fields of Elysium, all my father’s dominion may fall.”

The guard’s mouth dropped, and he looked over at me. “Him, Mistress?”

“Him.”

The guard, Artus, pushed himself to his feet, then stepped aside. He reached towards the small, humble sun that burned next to him and placed a hand on its surface. The outline of the door shimmered, then darkened. Instead of looking at the surface of a star, I was looking up at a beautiful gate made of gold. As I watched, the gate rolled open.

“Thank you, Artus. When my father is himself once more, he will reward you for your service.”

Athena waved at me and I stepped through the gate. She stepped in after me, and the gate closed behind me. I found myself in a tunnel, a long pathway lit by torches several yards apart. She nudged me, and I continued walking.

“This is foolish, Adam. This is far worse than foolish. This is highly likely to end in your death, and if I didn’t think that would be insignificant to our potential success, I would send you back to Earth now.”

“Thanks, Theenie, I love you too.”

“I’m serious. It’s a miracle you haven’t died already.”

“I think I’m okay. I took an accidental dip in the Styx.”

“Did you now? Well, that will protect you from most harm. But do pay attention to history, Adam. Achilles though he was safe as well, and his hubris brought his death.”

“Thanks for the heads-up.”

“One last thing, boy.” She stopped then, and I took my cue from her. “There is a chance – a small chance, but a chance – that you may yet alter the outcome of this affair. If you’re smart. If you don’t do anything foolish.”

“Everything I’ve done since this whole thing started has been foolish…”

“Yes, I know. But you are not a fool. Adam… I am skeptical, but you wouldn’t be the first mortal I’ve seen change the course of history. I’m not giving you another boon. This was your only one. But I will give you advice. When the time comes, use your strengths. Allow your friends to use theirs. And accept what is beyond your power to change.”

She took another step down the tunnel and, when I followed her, I found myself on a cliffside. It was beautiful – the sky was the most amazing, indescribable shade of blue. The grass under my feet was emerald and flowing in a soft breeze. There were trees, and a brook of pure, clean water. And in the distance were houses – far enough apart from one another that nobody would be bothered by their neighbors, but close enough that people could come together when need be.”

“Is this it? Are we in Elysium?”

“Yes, Adam. Welcome to paradise.”

“It feels like years since I’ve been outside.”

“You’re not – not the way you mean the term. We’re still in the underworld, but this place is a sort of… pocket world, all its own. Nothing you see here is real in the sense you would imagine, but it’s real enough for the warriors who have earned an eternity of rest.”

She looked at me again, scowling. “They’ve earned their rest, Adam. You’re here to ask one of my favored champions to sacrifice that rest. More than anyone in all of Elysium, that man has deserves his peace.”

“I know,” I said, not bothering to ask how she knew who I was there to find. “But I need him. And you said it yourself – if this doesn’t work… well, I doubt there’ll be a nice place even in the brightest part of paradise if Hades gets his way.”

She didn’t say a word, and it was in that uncharacteristic silence that I knew I was right. She pointed down a road.

“My last gift to you, Adam. The man you seek can be found that way, perhaps three miles as you would recon distance. Walk, and you’ll find the person you see.”

I nodded. “Thank you, Athena.”

“Good luck, Adam.”

She vanished, and that warm tingling that had buzzed in my forehead since she offered her boon was gone. I felt totally alone again. I just hoped it wouldn’t be a permanent condition. I turned in the direction she’d indicated, and began to walk.

The grass was green. That’s what stuck out at me, just how green it was. And not a simple dusty, well-manicured lawn sort of green, but a brilliant verdant that was so mesmerizing I was almost afraid to set foot upon it. I knew it wasn’t quite real – it was manufactured, just as the sky above wasn’t really blue… hell, wasn’t really a sky… but it too was a dazzling color that made me feel so humbled, so out-of-place, that I was almost ashamed of even being there.

He was sitting outside, the man I came to find, not on a throne or a pedestal but on a simple wooden chair, and although the home behind him was impressive, it didn’t look as regal as one might expect. It was stone, at least three stories tall, and the door the man sat near was set into the wall of a room that bulged from the side of the home, as though it were built around something. As I approached he took my measure, looking me up and down, and it was then more than any other time that I feared he would refuse to help me. Nobody looking at my pudgy frame and slight limp would think of me as a warrior, and they would be right.

He looked up at me, and he smiled. “Welcome, my friend,” he said.

*   *   *

My companion took another sip of his wine and I licked my lips. They were dry. Parched. I was growing increasingly aware that I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since Hermes picked me up back at home, but I knew that eating in the Underworld trapped you there forever. It was torture, but I refrained.

“Your story moves me, Adam,” he said, placing his goblet on the table. “And I understand what you have come here to ask, but I’m afraid I can’t give it to you.”

“Please, sir, you’re the only one who can.”

“My lady Athena told you that my rest is earned. She was not speaking figuratively.”

From the doorway, the wife appeared again. She was truly beautiful, on par with Athena herself, and had a smile that made me feel calm and welcome. “Has your friend finished his story?”

“Yes, love, and an epic tale it was. But he must be leaving us soon.”

She looked up into the sky. I’d been talking for hours, and it was starting to grow dark. She leaned over and placed a kiss on his lips. “Say your good-nights then, my love, and join me within.” She smiled at me again, and walked back inside.

“Gotta admit,” I said, “I’d find it hard to turn down an invitation like that either.”

He looked at me. “Athena was right. My rest has been earned, Adam, but not by me.”

“What do you mean?”

“You have been absent from your love – how long now? Days? She spent twenty years waiting for me. Ten while I was at war, another ten while I ran Poseidon’s damnable obstacle course across the seas. I wanted nothing more than to come home to her, but her faith… her refusal to believe I was dead, her planning and wisdom in the face of men who were ready to fight to steal my kingdom… she has earned this rest far more than I have.”

“I know sir, but that’s why I need you.”

I took a knee in front of him. “I know your stories, Lord Odysseus. Even know, you are remembered as one of the wisest, bravest warriors who ever lived. But there are a lot of great warriors here. You spent two decades trying to return to her. You twice turned down immortality and life with a goddess to be with the woman you loved.” I shook my head. “I’m not looking for immortality. I’m not even looking to be with her. She’s a goddess, I’m a man. I don’t know if that’s possible. But I know I can’t just let her spend forever trapped in his clutches.”

He stood up then, and took my hand. “Adam, you are braver than you give yourself credit for, and not least for daring to contradict me. But my travels are over.”

“No, they aren’t.”

His wife stood in the doorway again, draped in a sheet. She smiled at him. “Somehow, love, I knew you weren’t finished yet.”

“Penelope, please, this doesn’t concern you.”

“You’re refusing to help this man because you want to remain with me. Of course it does.” She walked over, kissed him. “I love you for it, you know. But Odysseus, you heard his story.”

“And you as well?”

She smiled. “You knew I was listening.”

“I know you.”

“It’s not just about him, although that would be enough if it were. Odysseus, all of creation is at stake.”

“We’re safe here. This is a land of warriors. We can stand against any invader!”

“You can stand against the gods themselves? If Hades decides to conquer all creation, not even Elysium will be safe.” She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him close. “Go with him. Help him. You fought for years to come home to me. Fight now to keep me safe.”

“I swore to never leave you again.”

“Three thousand years ago. We can stand a bit of a break. I love you, my Lord Odysseus.”

He smiled. “You’ve always been the wise one Penny.”

He looked back at me. “Very well then, Adam Solomon. Tonight, you stay here as my guest. Tonight, I lie with my wife once more. And tomorrow, you and I shall begin our planning to save the world.

Next: Chapter 24-You’re Never Gone

 

Creative Commons License
Summer Love by Blake M. Petit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.evertimerealms.com.

26
Jan
09

Summer Love Chapter 22: Hungry Heart

Chapter 22

Hungry Heart

Nobody expects to get a lightning bolt hurled into their chest, not even if they’re facing off against the ancient Greek god that was responsible for forging the things. But even so, the fact that Hephaestus threw the bolt into me wasn’t nearly as surprising as the fact that, somehow, it didn’t kill me. In fact, it didn’t even hurt. But it took me off guard enough for me to fall backwards. Nothing was damaged in the attack – not my heart, not my lungs, not my insurance rates – but as the electricity splashed off my chest, scattering like water sprayed against a brick wall, it forced me backwards. I was lifted right off my feet and tumbled off the edge of Hephaestus’s floating island. I plunged through the night, tumbling backwards and spinning out of control through the ink-black sky. The whole way down, I screamed. It may not have been a particularly manly thing to do, but I found it to be a logical course of action, and I’m comfortable with my decision.

I spun backwards as I fell, pitching my way past the floating islands of Hades’ underworld, and never getting more than a glimpse of any of them. There was the odd burst of flame, frequent screaming, and every so often, an enormous thing lurching through the darkness that may have been a tentacle, or a tail, or a long neck for something gargantuan and most likely unpleasant. Like everything in Hades’ realm, my fall felt like it took a very long time. I got completely disoriented and, soon, I couldn’t even tell in which direction I was plummeting. My spinning became more rapid as well, and I felt like a twirling baton when I collided, full-force, with the surface of another island.

I pulled myself up to my knees, but almost immediately fell back down, dizzy from the pinwheel fall. As the underworld continued to spin around me, I grabbed onto the ground and took deep breaths, eyes shut, trying to reorient myself. After long moments of breathing and dry heaving, I started to notice things again. For example, I noticed the ground I was clinging to in the hope that it wouldn’t hurl me back out into the void wasn’t bare dirt or rock like the other islands I had visited. I was, in fact, clinging to grass – long, soft grass with a sweet smell to it that seemed to be helping calm my churning stomach. There was a sound too, a stomping sound nearby that came right up close to me, then stopped. After a few more breaths of the grass, I opened my eyes and looked in the direction of the sound.

“Holy cow,” I moaned.

The cow in question was a huge, beefy animal, with a pure white coat and big, baleful eyes that looked at me while it quietly gnawed its cud. Once it had its chance to examine me, it turned its attention away and took another hearty mouthful of the grass. I pushed myself up and cautiously returned to my feet. Looking around, I saw on this island a vast field of grass, with a few other cows roaming and chewing, and a few more drinking what looked like pure spring water from a creek dribbling through the center of the island. There was a sun, too – a yellow-white globe in the air above us, giving the island heat and light, and making it feel alive while everything around us was dead. While most of the other islands I’d encountered had been horrible, nasty places, by comparison this island was a vacation paradise.

“Am I here, Bossy?” I asked the cow. “Did I really make it to Elysium?”

From the thick grass, a sad laugh simmered. A man sat up, terribly old. His hair and beard were wild and unkempt, and there was a hunger in his eyes his body seemed to reflect. I’ve never seen anyone so horribly gaunt before. His jaundiced skin looked like someone had stretched a hairy, yellow balloon over a skeleton. “Elysium?” he said. “Maybe for the cattle, but not for me.”

“Who are you?”

“My name was Eurylochus. Welcome to my hell.”

“I’ve seen worse,” I said.

“You haven’t started for three thousand years. There’s not a morsel of food on this entire damnable island.”

“What about the cows? Why don’t you butcher one of them?”

“That’s how I got here in the first place. I was on a ship that was running out of provisions, and a storm trapped us on an island. We were dying of hunger, and the island was rich with cattle. But the captain told us to leave the cows alone. They were the personal cattle of Helios, the Sun-God, he could sees all.” He laughed weakly. “He sees all.”

“What happened?” I asked, although I suspected I already knew.

“We waited. We waited until the Captain left us and slaughtered the cows. It was my plan. I told the men it was better to die by the wrath of the gods than die of hunger.” He laughed again, and this time it was a pathetic sound. “I still say our death was better. I just never stopped to think about what happened after death.”

“Geez, can these guys hold a grudge or what?”

“So now, I find myself here… surrounded by the very cows we slaughtered, unable to eat a thing.”

I wished I had some food to give the poor guy, even a tin of Altoids or something. But I suspected that, even if I did, I wouldn’t be any more successful at sating his hunger than I was at quenching Tantalus’s thirst.

“That was quite a fall you took,” he said. “I’ve never seen anyone plummet like that without a mark.”

“I don’t quite understand it either,” I admitted. “And I sure don’t know why that lightning bolt just splashed off me. I’ve felt worse shocks plugging in a toaster.”

“Immune to lightning? You’ve been given some elixir? Some potion from the gods?”

“The last liquid I even touched was when I took an impromptu swim in the river on the way here.”

Eurylochus looked startled. “The river? You mean the Styx?”

“I don’t mean the 80s band.”

“That explains everything. When a person bathes in the waters of the Styx, he becomes impervious to harm! Haven’t you ever heard of Achilles?”

“The heel guy?”

“It’s what made him such a fearsome warrior. You’ve been given quite a gift.”

“The only gift I want is Stephanie back.”

“The love of a woman drives you? You sound like the captain.”

“I need to get to Elysium. I need to find help.”

Eurylochus sighed at the mention of paradise. “I was almost in Elysium. I had almost earned my reward. If not for the wrath of Helios…”

“Do you know how to get there?”

He looked at me like I’d grown an extra head. “Are you serious?”

“Of course I am.”

He turned at looked at the small sun orbiting the island. I had to squint to see it, but from up close I could tell there was a stone bridge extending from the lip of Eurylochus’s island, reaching up into the heart of the sun.

That’s Elysium?”

“It used to be bigger.”

“So I’m told.” I started walking in the direction of the bridge.

“Where are you going?”

“Across.”

“You can’t! Not without the escort of Zeus!”

“I don’t have a choice. Thanks for all the info, Eurylochus.”

As I got closer to the sun, I noticed that the light wasn’t actually getting any brighter. In fact, the closer I got, the less difficult it was to see the burning globe. It’s not that the sun was dimming, it just wasn’t blinding me like suns usually tend to do. By the time I got to the stone bridge, it almost completely filled my head-on field of vision, but it was still no task to view it at all. Halfway across the bridge, an outline appeared against the curve of the sun. It looked like a sort of box. Another 20 yards down the bridge, the outline sharpened into the shape of a door. I got closer still, and I saw someone standing outside the door, holding a staff, waiting for me.

Next: Chapter 23-With a Little Help From My Friends

 

Creative Commons License
Summer Love by Blake M. Petit is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.evertimerealms.com.




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