Okay I’ve always wanted to write a story with Hades and Persephone, and this story just kind of demanded to be shared! It certainly isn’t as dark as some of my other flash fiction pieces I’ve written this month, but it does have some creepy moments at times.
This is part of the 31 Days of Art Challenge [#31DaysOfArt2020]. Go check out the tag on Instagram to see all the amazing art being made!
For today I wrote a flash piece titled The Gift of Life. Check it out below!
She shouldn’t have agreed to this. She should have known she wouldn’t be able to deal with all this, despite how much she loved him. It was too much.
“Is something wrong?”
She turned and gave Hades a smile she hoped would ease his worries, but it only made him more concerned.
“The room isn’t to your liking.”
“It’s not that, it’s just…” She turned back to the slabs of stone that looked like a mausoleum rather than a bedroom. The bed was decent enough, but the only light came from the fireplace. She couldn’t even look out over the River of Styx if she felt cramped. Already she felt like the room was too small for the both of them.
“I just thought you needed your own place, a bit of privacy. I know you’ll be staying with me for quite some time, but I didn’t want you to feel unwelcome.”
Persephone swept toward him, her bare feet padding across the cold stone floor. Normally flowers would spring up from her passing, but not down here. Life slept down here, and even though she worried about what would happen to her plants up above, she was determined to give this a shot.
She wrapped her arms around him, feeling his thin frame and angular shoulders. She put a hand behind his neck, urging him to lean down so she could kiss him. His lips felt warm against hers. He pulled back, more relaxed.
“So you don’t like it?”
“I hate it,” she admitted with a laugh. He laughed too. She loved seeing the sparkle in his eyes. She loved coaxing out his mirth and cheerfulness. He was so handsome when he smiled.
She gestured to the room, “Maybe a window would help? I would love to get to grow something.”
Hades gave a knowing smile. “I think I may have just the thing.” He put out his arm and Persephone took it, leaning against him. Hades was her pillar in this place, at least until she felt more at home.
He escorted her through his halls, past the dock where the departed souls arrived and through the chamber for games where several groups of spirits were enjoying games of dice. They moved farther and farther away from his halls until Persephone worried.
“Where are we going, love?”
“You wish to grow things, but we have no sunlight or even moonlight here. However, I thought you might enjoy having a more unique project.”
He led her to a pile of corpses. They weren’t human remains, but animal ones, mostly birds of varying breeds, but also a few pigs.
Persephone put a hand to her lips, “Who did this?”
Hades sighed and crossed his arms. “The humans. Many fear the wrath of the dead so they try to appease them with blood sacrifices.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, “The dead have no strength down here, as you know, so I usually ask Charon to help if he’s not too busy ferrying, or I pull Cerberus away for a minute or two to help me burn them.”
She tugged on his elbow, turning his scowl into a smirk. “Do you think I don’t see through your lies? Charon is always busy, day and night. He’s going to need a bigger ferry soon enough. Thank goodness he doesn’t need to sleep or eat. And Cerberus is always busy keeping anyone from entering.
He studiously avoided her gaze.
“You clean this mess up yourself normally, don’t you?”
He sighed and dragged a hand through his black hair. “I can’t lie to you, can I?”
“No, you can’t.”
She let go of him and squatted down to examine the remains. They were fresh. Any sacrifices appeared precisely at the doorstep intended these days. But time didn’t work the same down here. Bacteria didn’t grow, not without help. However, it was the only organic matter she had come across in the Underworld.
“You’re plotting something.”
She gave him a wicked smile, “Always, my dear. That’s why you love me.”
He laughed at that. She got to her feet.
“I’ve worked with dead trees before, growing life out of them. I don’t suppose dead animals would be any different.”
“If your powers work down here. They may not.”
She arched an eyebrow at him. “Take your criticism elsewhere, love. Let a goddess concentrate.”
He went quiet, but she could tell he was still behind her. His curiosity always got the better of him. There was a reason he had brought her out here. He wanted to see what she could do without the sunlight to rely upon. Well, she had no intention of disappointing her love.
She concentrated on a chicken, on the leg splayed out at its side. She thought about tiny spores living within like young stars ready to burst forth. Only nothing happened. She gave a humph and put her hands on her hips.
“Maybe you need to—”
“Shh!” She put a hand out behind her and Hades went silent as the tomb. She loved him to death, but he really needed to learn when to keep his mouth closed.
She squatted down and used two hands this time, focusing on the chicken’s bloody torso. The cut there was like a wound on a felled tree. It was a weakness and an opportunity.
A small, white mushroom curled up out of the gash. Hades gasped behind her, but this time he kept his tongue. Smart man. The white mushroom unfurled itself up, growing a great white cap that spread out like a wide hat. More white mushrooms sprung up too, followed by some orange, brown, and even a few purple ones. She took a step back and wiped her forehead.
“There! What do you think?”
Hades approached beside her. “They’re beautiful! It’s amazing to see life spring up out of the dead like that. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.”
She was preparing a wisecrack remark, but saw he had tears in his eyes. “Hey now, it’s okay!” She wrapped her arms around him and he shook his head.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to get upset.”
She hugged him and pushed his hair out of his face. “Hey, look at me.”
He looked down at her, tears streaking down his pale cheeks.
“Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
He pursed his lips, and she waited until he had collected himself enough to speak. “I am the lord of the dead. I run a complete management of souls and provide a place for them to retire.” He stared down at his hands. “I have power and respect, but I can’t create life like you can. All I see are the runoff remains from the beauty of life. There is no beauty in death.”
“Sure there is! I’m looking at him.”
He gave a small smile. Good, he wasn’t too down into a spiral, not yet anyway.
“You manage all those dead people down there. That’s hardly a minor feat. Charon works for you because he believes in the work you do. The other gods gifted you Cerberus because they knew this was a monumental task.”
“Yes, you’re right, I suppose.” He sighed and wiped at his cheeks.
“I know I am! You are the hardest worker of all the gods and they take for granted the work you do.” She glanced over to the mushrooms, bobbing side to side over the corpses of the sacrificed animals.
“My love, if you enjoy seeing living things down here, then I will grow forests of them for you.”
His eyes went wide. “But that is too much! I couldn’t ask for that.”
“After the thaw, I’ll leave and I won’t return for months. You need something here to remember me by.”
She stroked his cheek, and he pulled her hand to his lips and kissed it.
“I will cherish your creations when you leave.”
She grinned. “You ought to cherish them now. It’s going to take me a while to get better at them.”
Hades laughed. For the time they were together and happy.
As the world above grew cold and plants died away, Persephone filled all the Underworld with her colorful fungi, reveling in the joy it gave her love. Beauty could come from death, it reminded him. But Persephone’s gift of life always brought tears to his eyes.
I hope you enjoyed The Gift of Life!
I’ve also got a YA Horror novel coming out at the end of this month called The Seeking that’s been called “a dystopian science fiction masterpiece”. I also have a pre-order giveaway going along with it!