A wayfarer waited at the docks for Death. No escape from her reality, she was a smuggler of the worst sort to be found on the brimstone highways.
Just in front of her stood Mene, resplendent in mustache – a thirty decade indulgence – and black eyeliner. Sinful and kind, he only promised no deceit for those who asked to touch him, fascinated with the willowy strands of gold threaded above the black hair that delicately framed his face and feathered down strong shoulders. With angular features and an overbite, he was not conventionally handsome. Yet even on such tumultuous shores, he captivated the travelers come to meet loved ones, making them forget temporarily whom they sought to drag to hell or lead to heaven. Easy come, easy go, he blew in with the wind and out just as fast, perplexing and titillating, an instant best friend, killer queen, and naughty nanny of purgatory. No matter the destination, he enticed all and refused few the sweetness of his voice and the temptation in the kink of his smile.
Today was different, however. On the shores of the Styx in a feathered white robe and black spandex jumpsuit, every ounce the impish pagan god, Mene’s mercurial nature was subdued.
If the wayfarer hadn’t known better she almost would have sworn he was…worried. She smirked and stepped up into his peripheral vision. “Lost your BFF, have you?”
Mene glanced in her direction. Hate dropped into his eyes and his entertaining smile dimmed. He nodded at someone addressing him, then asked flatly, “How long has he been gone?”
“I stopped keeping tabs on him twenty years ago.”
“Still quite the little cunt, aren’t you? Who are you waiting on, then? Gandhi?”
“I was just leaving, love,” she said sweetly, then punched him square in the jaw. “Goodbye.”
Mene, unsurprised, rubbed his jaw and followed her with his eyes. If she was up to something her eyes would be darting around, paranoid. Then just when she couldn’t stand it anymore, she’d turn and cast a look-
He snarled. Of course, she was up to something. It’s not possible to play princess in Hell and keep clean hands. He shot through the crowd like thunderbolts and lightening. They spun away frightened.
“Calla Lilly, what have you done?” Mene grabbed her arm.
“Magnifico,” she spat and knocked him back, “Fine, he’s the poor one, the one most unfortunate, right? Spare him from this monstrosity of fate! Spare him! You think you’re the only one who wants to break free?”
“I asked for it. You were banned from it. He never so much feigned interest in it, and you bloody well know it!”
“You foul, loathsome spineless creature, at least I made the choice! I stood amongst gods and devils and demanded –“
“-your brother live and lie for you to get out of Hell, and now you’re the taint of the underworld, somewhere between an arse and a right, sopping cunt. You don’t get to pat yourself on the back for any fucking thing.” He stumbled forward as the ground shifted. Sweat spilled over his forehead. “Whatever you have pulled now, stop it or I will hang your soul in Tartarus myself.”
“Ah, but brother, the show must go on. The terror of knowing what this hell is, watching your sister screaming ‘let me out’, and turning away from it all like a blind man, you think that makes you noble? It only makes you blind to what was already in front of you. If you won’t help me, I’ll make big noise playing bloody and dirty on my own.”
“D’you mind telling me what the bloody hell gives you the right to demand anything? Do you know how many thousands of souls are waiting to come here from the last hour alone?”
“I did what I had to do, and I’m not going to apologize for that to anybody, not to him or to-” Her eyes widened briefly and she stopped talking.
Mene noticed and pounced, “Her, who? Kismet?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I don’t think I asked your preference regarding participation in this discussion. What did you do to Kismet?”
“One dream, one soul, one prize, one goal, one golden glance, one fucking chance and I took it. That was the deal, her into hell for the highest bidder and I’d be free.” She stuck out her chin.
“Bloody hell. Cali, you told someone who’s known only the monotony of death to give up the one child he had to the eternity of its shores. What man, no, what father would want that for his daughter?”
She scoffed, “He’s no man.”
Mene slapped her brutally across the face, “You, he was with you. And because he refused and gave her a life on earth, you did this? You had your daughter murdered to smuggle into hell and expected to get her past her father, the fucking ferryman, all because you’re miffed you can’t go on an outing?“
A swell of voices interrupted them.
Mene turned. The river ballooned, sucking up people and building to a head.
Above the mountain of the doomed hovered a sphere. Those not caught by its gravity scrambled away and watched it engorge in horror. The souls writhing beneath it were stripped from their bodies, trailing to the sphere in a wisp, their forms left burned into clay effigies.
When the last soul was left, the sphere quivered. The mountain rumbled. Survivors on the shores fell back further. Then the last soul let go. The mountain imploded and an atomic boom billowed across the river.
Bodies layered atop each other in a hollowed out canyon of the dead, hands reaching out, covering up and pushing away from loved ones, their disfigured faces bearing the terror of the moment forever.
“His wrath,” Mene pointed to the dead monument, “but not your funeral. No, you’ll bleed and scream and crawl…forever.”