Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Free Featured Fiction: "Twilight of the Gods, Chapter 5" by D.J. Gelner

Still looking for more folks who want to have their short story featured (or novella serialized) on Free Featured Fiction. No worries; I can keep going all year. Eventually the stories might be more of the "flash fiction" variety, but no matter--they'll be stories, damn it!

This week, Twilight of the Gods continues. What happened to Apollo? And what does clever Artemis have up her sleeve next? Enjoy!


Previous Entries:
Chapters 1 & 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Twilight of the Gods
Chapter 5



“No…no…blazes of Hades NO!” Zeus thundered. From high atop Olympus, dark thoughts gave way to gloomier skies as he watched the mortals below use Apollo’s elixir to cure the plague he had wrought.

“Oh boy,” Poseidon nodded in agreement even as his shoulders slumped, the usually hot-headed sea god still weary from his long, mayhem-filled jaunt around the world with his brother.

“Artemis!” Zeus’s voice cracked the sky with a rumble of thunder.

Seconds later, his daughter appeared in front of him.

“Yes, father?”

“Pray tell, what is your twin brother DOING?!?

His shouts reverberated across the mountaintops, stirring thousands of birds to take off in great flocks.

If the theatrics inspired any fear in Artemis, she did well to hide it; her eyes remained even and calm, even as her father reddened.

“Why, father, this is all according to plan.”

“ACCORDING TO—?” Zeus reached back for a thunderbolt but was stopped, as Artemis quickly drew and readied her bow and arrow.

“According to plan?” Poseidon sighed, a proxy for his brother.

“While your brother traipses around Rome,” he spat the city’s name, “scavenging for paper like a fool, we sit up here, famished by hunger, overcome by thirst, crippled by doubt.”

Artemis unleashed a thin smile at the final word, “So you admit that dear Apollo was swayed by that awful money the mortals use?”

She looked skyward before focusing on her elders for confirmation.

Poseidon nodded, “Indeed, a powerful force, this money. Not quite like coinage in the olden days, but similar enough.”

Artemis shook her head, “Except it has not value! It has not anything underlying it! No gold, no silver, nothing but a mere promise of value. A shadow of trade! Noble Hermes would—”

She inhaled sharply as her eyes widened; it was the sure sound of a plan hatching in the goddess’s mind.

“I will assemble the Pantheon,” Artemis said.

I will assemble the Pantheon!” Zeus stormed past his daughter.

“So I am to take it that father no longer wishes to enlist me as temporary ruler of the gods?”

Zeus stopped in his tracks and pivoted on his heels. He marched over to Artemis and put a firm hand on her shoulder as an affected smile graced his lips.

“Dear Artemis, you did a fine job in your time as head of Olympus,” Zeus said, as if commending a schoolchild on her penmanship, “but now my strength and virility return once more, ready to crush enough mortals’ spines once and for all so that they will have no choice but to bow to my—our will. I hope you do understand, do you not?”

Artemis affixed a phony smile of her own, “Of course, dear father! I yield to your mighty power and fair judgment.”

“Excellent!” Zeus finally beamed for a moment before he exited. As Poseidon filed past, he narrowed his eyes at Artemis and shook his head.

The Pantheon assembled once more, as wretched as ever. This time, though, it was Zeus’s own wife, Hera, who spoke up first.

Mighty husband, this is quite the feast the mortals have arranged for us in honor of the plague we bestowed upon them!” She sarcastically waved at the empty center of the room.

“I have something that you may snack on,” Zeus reached back for his thunderbolt.

“Anything that mortal women haven’t ‘snacked on’ before?” Hera retorted.

Zeus’s face contorted before it settled into a saccharine smile, “Never mind, fairest wife, my dear Artemis has another plan percolating on the tip of her silvery tongue.”

Artemis made a face at her step-mother as she approached the center of the room, “Noble gods and goddesses, we have these mortals right where we want them!”

“Stuffing Apollo’s face while we sit up here, stomachs twisted in knots from hunger?” Aphrodite batted her eyelashes.

Artemis scowled at the beautiful, if disheveled, goddess, “Dear brother has perhaps lost his way among the mortals. But can you blame him? We have been searching for their false gods in all the wrong places. Where we once thought they resided in temples and churches, we now know they reside in lending houses and banks!”

A murmur rippled through the assembled masses.

“Money—that is the false idol that we should seek to destroy.”

“Destroy money?” Hermes asked.

Artemis took several large, yet dainty, steps toward the god, “Yes, swift half-brother, a thousand times yes! ’Tis not the precious metals of yore, but rather something the mortals have made up to amuse themselves, to have something with which they may be rewarded for their labors. Money is where they get food, money is where they get shelter, money is how they are clothed and how they survive.

“Should we kick—” she swung a quick leg out under teetering Dionysus, sending the poor dry-drunkard reeling to the ground, “—that crutch out from beneath them, they will have no choice but to seek us out for these necessities, and they will, once more, be at our whim.”

Zeus stroked his straggly beard, all divine eyes upon him for guidance.

“Yes…yes…money. It has already corrupted strong-willed Apollo—that is it! Artemis, I do believe you’ve done it again!”

The goddess nearly stuck her tongue out at Hera before she caught herself.

“But how?” Hermes asked.

“My dear Hermes, I thought you’d never ask. You are the god of commerce, are you not?”

“Verily, yes. But the commerce to which I am accustomed is ferrying jars of wine and the like across the Mediterranean in exchange for coinage. I often conspired with uncle should a merchant not make proper sacrifice before setting off to voyage.”

He stuck a thumb out at Poseidon, who nodded proudly.

“Why my sharp half-brother, you’re still the cleverest among us are you not?”

Hermes nodded, unfazed.

Artemis bit her tongue at the implied slight before she continued, “You know far more about business enterprises and the like than the rest of us, and though your physical form may not be as…” she paused as she winced at the paunchy little god, “…striking…as it used to be, I imagine you can still infiltrate this world and bring it to its knees.”

Hermes raised a hand to his ear, “Fair Artemis, I do believe there’s an echo atop this mountain—for a second, I thought you said ‘infiltrate.’”

“That is exactly what I said, half-brother."


What does Artemis have cooked up now? Will Hermes go along with her new plan? Find out in next week's installment of Twilight of the Gods!

Also, if interested, you can see all of D.J.'s listings on Hunt to Read here. Happy Hunting!
D.J. Gelner is the Co-Founder and CEO of Hunt to Read. Contact him directly at djgelner@hunttoread.com.

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