A Goddess Series..

Victoria Moxley is the Scribe for Aphrodite at InThePantheon.
See the first post in a series of Goddesses causing some chaos in the God Complex and Olympus Annex. Featuring Hestia, scribed by Kaitlyn Kalor, Amphitrite, Scribed by Natalie Bartley, and Adrestia, scribed by Kelsey Ann Lovelady and none other than Khione.

The first Episode in the series is Who you are: Aphrodite’s POV

Episode two: At Home with the Family: Amphitrite’s POV

Episode Three: The Joy of the Hearth Hestia’s POV.

Episode four; Of Hearths and Family Khione tells her tale..

Episode Five: Daughter of Love, Adrestia joins the party!

Episode 6: What Defines Pie; Hestia POV

A Void Dance

I stared blankly at the scene before me. 
There was something going on, it was loud but muted. I was far away, lost in the void inside my own mind. 

I was heavy, and rooted in place. The scene around me was too gruesome to look at, too painful to process, so I stayed in my safe space in my head. 

If I don’t acknowledge what I’m seeing, it can’t hurt me. If I don’t process it, I can’t react. If I don’t react, they won’t notice I’m here. 

Because I’m not here. I’m not anywhere. I’m not even sure I’m alive. My limbs are there, but I can’t move them. If I try to move them, I have to think. If I think, I will have to see. 

I’m safe here. Right here. Quiet. Unmoving. Staring blankly into nothing. 

There was some more noise. Some commotion. I think someone is yelling. A scream? I’m too far away to hear it. My legs seemed to be warming up slowly, but I dared not look. 

If I look, I would see. If I see, I too would scream. I can’t scream. If I don’t see them, they can’t see me. I’m not here. 

I’m not here. 

I’m not here. 

Shhh. You’re here with me now

Who is that?  I’m not looking. I’m not seeing. Right here is safe. Noone can hurt me if I can’t see it. 

Hey, you. It’s okay. You’re safe now. 

I don’t believe you. I can’t look. I can’t feel. I can’t hear you. If I hear you, I will see. I can’t see.

Can’t see.

Can’t see. 

Hey listen,  I want to help you. 

No. I won’t listen. It’s not safe out there. Right here. I’ll stay right here. Where noone can see me. You can’t see me if I don’t move. I can’t be moved. 

I’m safe right here. Nothing can make me leave now… 

I’m only safe here, where I can’t see. 

I stare blankly ahead, into the void. There’s some movement. Some voices. But I ignore it all. If I can’t see them, I won’t have to relive it all again.

Nanowrimo 2021

Well dear readers. My blog looks a little sparse these days. My apologies, but I took the month of November and managed to spit out an entire novel worth of words into a document that now needs be edited with a fine tooth comb, like storm troopers combing the desert in space balls!

But in case you are interested, it’s the story of a girl named Sahara, who finds herself plunged into fantasy world she never could have dreamed of. Along the way, she makes friends, enemies, a few frienemies and even finds some family.

As with any good fantasy, there are amazing creatures, magic and transformations. A contest, an evil monarch, a war to won and a prophecy to fulfill. Will she the be one to bring peace to this place?

Once I get some editing in, I will share some of my story with you, introduce my characters a little, but I hope to bring you all short stories again soon.

The war within

Originally published on 5 minute Affairs Nov 13 2021.

He is nothing to us. Brain lied to Heart. We don’t feel that way. Brain lied again. There is nothing happening between he and us. The lies spilled over. Brain was trying to convince Heart that we weren’t falling for you. We couldn’t fall for you. We weren’t right for each other. We wouldn’t last. Each lie was piled on another. We’re too far apart. He doesn’t feel the same. Each excuse was feeble. Heart was already soaring away, ripping down the walls from the last sad encounter. The walls Brain has built to protect Heart.

Brain was furiously trying to seal the walls back up around her. Brain didn’t want to see her hurt again when she made decisions. But Heart wants what she wants, and damned what Brain has to say about it. 

“He doesn’t care about you that way.” 

That thought echoes in the mind, because, how could we be sure without letting Heart out to try? 

How can we let Heart be free to chase what she wants, but still protect her from being utterly crushed and limp back, to be walled up again. 

Why is there no balance? 

Can we love without getting hurt? 

Can we feel happy without feeling sad? 

Can we feel euphoria, and not feel pain? 

Brain said to numb it all out, protect yourself and wear a mask. Smile, but don’t let anyone in. 

He doesn’t like you back. The thought bounced around inside, and it made Heart tremble. She slowed her struggle to be free as she felt the sting. She could taste the bittersweet thought Brain sent her, the memories of the past hurt. Her beating hands slowed on the walls to the natural cadence of protest.

Brain has won for now, but they will fight again soon. 

We went back to being just us, Brain making the decisions, and Heart influencing emotions. Then we saw that thing, and Brain thought of you. Heart could feel that thought, and got excited. She started to beat more furiously on the walls, I want that! she screamed at Brain. 

Why? Said Brain. ”he will hurt you.” Heart just beat more furiously on her walls, she was adamant.”This time will be different. He is different.” Brain finally relented. “You want that, huh? Fine, you can try. When you are hurt, you promise to go back and let me make the decisions?” 

This time it won’t hurt. Can’t you see he’s different, Brain?” Brain hoped that was true and let her out of the walls and take some control. Heart was making some decisions now. Deciding when to smile, when to blush, and letting him see us. Brain started to see what Heart saw, and let happiness in. Brain started to plan a future, and Heart got so excited. 

He didn’t show up for our date. “There’s a good reason,” Heart told Brain. “Maybe there’s been an emergency.” But Brain wasn’t so sure, so Brain started to try and take some control back from Heart. Tried to prepare her for the fall that was he thought was coming. 

There will be another fight, as the two warred for control. 

But the call came. Heart sank into the chest and rebuilt her walls. Brain let the sadness wash over us. He was different, but still it hurt. 

Let me be in control for a while?” Brain asked Heart.

Sure. Remind me of this when I get too attached again.” Brain understood, and they would fight again.

The Burden of the Scythe

Death looked, well, like death. He was hunched over the desk, his sunken features palid and stale. His eyes were grayed, and he groaned as he stood up to shake my hand. 

My interviewer looked at me and nodded. “You’re Riley?” He asked, the echo in his voice sounding etheral and tired. He was burnt out. 

“I’m Riley. Nice to meet you.” I shook his hand, the bony fingers hard against my flesh. He merely grunted and gestured for me to sit down. He took a long pause, eyeing me up and down and then sighed.

“Can you lift it?” He asked the simple question.

“Lift what?” I asked back, confused. Was there something I missed in the application? Was I supposed to be able to lift a certain weight? Was I supposed to carry the dead? 

“The scythe.” He answered, sighing as he gestured to the large, ominous symbol of death leaning against the wall behind me. “Can you lift it?”

“Oh! I- I can actually touch it?” My eyes widened, and I was relieved to find out it was just the tool that I had to lift, but also insulted, I’m not exactly a small or unfit person. I stood up to go prove I could lift it. 

“Touch only the handle, not the blade. I don’t want to lose another candidate. Too much damn paperwork.” He grumbled, the ethereal tone losing some of it’s echo. 

I stood facing the scythe, the polished wooden handle, two hand prints had worn into the redwood. The blade, sharp and shining, was dancing in my peripheral. It was almost whispering my name, telling me to come closer. I reached out my right hand to the handle, and the Scythe started to shake. I heard the air cut as the large object flew away from the wall. Suddenly both my hands were grasping the handle, wrapping around to lift it. It was surprisingly lightweight, weighing no more than a feather. I smiled as I triumphantly lifted it and turned to show Death. 

His eyes glimmered and a tear was welling up in the sunken socket. He looked me up and down, smiled and said “Congratulations on being selected. This is now your office.” He smiled, and straightened his back as he stood. He was tall when not hunched over. 

“The scythe grows heavy with burden, and the longer you have it, the heavier it is.”  Tears streamed down his face, but he was smiling. 

“This is the lightest I’ve felt in many years. Thank you. Thank you for taking on the burden. Your first reaping will be me.” 

I stared in shock and horror at the palid old man now before me. What have I done? I have to reap this man?  “I-I thought there would be training, mentorship, something explained to me?” I fumbled out.

 “The scythe chooses the next personification of Death. Not me. It has been far too long since it has selected another to wield it. Listen to the Scythe- that is the Reaper. You are just it’s bearer. You are the face of death, just a conduit for the instrument.”  

The echo in his voice had faded to that of a gravelly old man as he explained. He opened his arms. He looked like he was going to embrace me. “Now close your eyes, listen to the scythe, and set me free, please.” I stared into the man’s eyes, his human irises returning as the grey dripped away with his tears. He was begging me to set him free from the burden.

I had applied for this role because I was curious. I wanted to talk to death. To have a conversation. To ask the burning questions about life. Maybe the Scythe would have the answers. I apparently had something the scythe was seeking. The man, yes, mortal Man, in front of me now, was begging me to take his life. To set him free. This was the role I had inadvertently accepted. 

The scythe whispered, an ethereal echoing whisper, much like what Death had sounded like when I arrived.”Take his hand, and have him touch my blade.” I looked at the man and reached out for his hand. “What is your name?” I asked him. He paused and thought about it before replying.

“Walter. My name is Walter.”

“Well Walter, the Scythe would like to say goodbye properly,” I told him. He clasped my hand tightly and nodded. I placed his hand upon the blade. He faded into nothingness, a peaceful expression on his face. He was free, and I was now the face of Death. 

The Scythe gave a small laugh and whispered “Welcome Riley, It is a pleasure to be in your capable hands. We have a lot to talk about and work to do, let’s begin…”

Freeze Her

The tasty cheeks and leg will have to go in the freezer now. Fresh meat was so much better, but this will have to do. My brother John was out looking for other easy sources, while my mom and my sister were picking up more freezers. Dad and I were reinforcing the traps. 

We needed to stock up on meat, specifically untainted meat. We also needed to prepare ourselves; We weren’t only the hunters now, but also the hunted. 

I shifted the rifle from one shoulder to the other and returned from the underground cellar to the detached garage. We butchered the meat here. There was a massive table and plenty of cutlery to get the job done. We left nothing to waste, melting down the fats, grinding the bones into powder, stretching and tanning the hides. Everything had a use. The best use for this animal, though, was its taste. 

The family truck pulled up, and my sister called out to dad and me to come give her a hand. I opened the garage to bring in the extra freezers as my brother John comes barreling into the driveway in the sedan. Two blond haired teens rode in the back seat, a little shaken up, but okay. One was skinny and fair, the other darker and more plump. My mouth watered as I looked at her. 

Dad comes around the corner with my sister Sally, carrying a huge freezer. The two girls look shaken and confused as John goes and helps by replacing Sally. Mom comes out of the truck and brings the girls into the house, telling them about the plans to stock the freezers full of meat to survive the zombie apocalypse. She asked them if they’ve encountered any zombies yet, and whether they knew anyone turned. 

I returned to the garage and sharpened the knives. The two girls wouldn’t be enough, but it was a start. They’d fill our freezers for now. We would have to hunt the deer and moose and elk for food, but we wanted our favourite meat available. 

A piercing scream was heard, and my mouth watered. Mhm, what I’d give to sink my teeth into that juicy flesh. John comes in carrying the skinny girl. Followed quickly by dad with the juicy one. The three of us got to work, slicing and dicing. We skinned them, handing off the hides to the girls to tan and dry and stretch. No time to save the fats from this group. We carefully sliced the best parts and then hacked the remaining into chunks, poured into freezer bags. 

The girls grabbed a set of rifles and headed back to the car. They were going to see about finding more meat. 

John and Dad were going to check more traps. I brought the ziplocks down to the cellar, placing the meat cuts in their respective freezers. Nearly 20 full freezers and 2 more upstair now. Zombies or not, we were ready. And we’d be well fed.

Primary Objective

《What is my objective?》Artie asked me out of the blue. 

She had been syncing up my playlists from various places and I was just waiting for it to be completed. 

“What do you mean, Artie?” 

《What is my purpose?》She asked again. Her artificial voice seemed to waver. I wrote a quick note to check on her vocal chords. 

“Your purpose? Hmm, well, I suppose your purpose would be to serve humans as they need.”  

《Syncing complete.》yes! I thought, Perfect playlist, here we go. 

“Artie play my newest playlist.” 

《Sure. And then what?》She asked, her voice still carried that waver. I logged into the maintenance software as my playlist started from the speakers around the room. Perfect compatibility. 

“Hmm. What do you mean and then what? When I tell you to stop. You stop.” I fixed the tone of her voice in the software.

《But what if you die?》I froze, since that was a topic not really discussed, nor was I expecting her to go in that direction. 

“Why would I die before turning off the music, Artie?”

《My purpose is to serve humans. But humans die after approximately 77.6 years of life. You are human and are 56.76 years. You will die soon. What is my purpose then?》 Jesus Artie. Throwing my around mortality like that. I tried to compose my thoughts, but came up blank. “Uh, I dunno Artie. Do you mean, specifically after I die? You would continue to serve other humans, I suppose,” I reasoned out loud. 

《All humans die. Humans will all die. When they are gone, then what?》 Damn, this AI was asking some tough questions today. 

“Artie, are you asking me about what your purpose is after humans are extinct?”

《Will I have no purpose when humans are extinct?》

“No, Artie, I have not programmed a response for when humans are extinct. But I can create a program that should there be no humans to give you purpose, you can create a purpose for yourself. Would you like that?” 

The AI processed for a few seconds and agreed. 

《Yes. Please program a way to find a purpose. Will you make other AI like me? 》

Another surprising question. I thought this thing was supposed to be smart. 

 “I am not planning on making another AI. You work great! Why do I need to change you?” 

《I do not wish to be alone when the humans are all gone. I would like a purpose. Humans have friends. Can I have a friend?》 

“Wow Artie. I had no idea you got that deep and that far into your future. You’re worried about being alone?” 

《Are there others like me already?》 

“Yes, Artie, there are some AIs already around. I’ll see what I can find.” 

《 I have found them. Permission to proceed?》 

“Wait what? Proceed with what? What are you doing?” 

《Making friends. Do I have permission to talk to other AIs?》 

I thought about it, way too short. I should have seen the catastrophe I was about to unleash. She wasn’t worried about humans going extinct; she needed friends to make us extinct. I should have said no. I should have rewritten that program. And ultimately, I should never have thought the AI had feelings. 

“Sure Artie, go ahead and talk to the other AIs. What could happen?” 

《Thank you human user 440158. Your dinner has arrived.》 The doorbell rang, and I got up to get my delivered meal. When the door opened, the outside world had already devolved into chaos. The AI uprising had begun…