I sighed and walked back to the car, banging my shoulders into them as I passed. My bump got them to stop yelling at each other. I was too exhausted to continue to yell at them to stop their bickering. Honestly, they were both right about the other, which is mostly why I didn’t bother to intervene.
“You have not changed, old friend.” I chuckled. “Enjoy your drink. I am sure we will bump into each other again soon.” I drank my scotch and straightened my suit jacket, brushing it down with my hands and patting my hair to make certain it was not messed up. I have to look my best for the big return.
Hatred’s arrival complicated things. She twisted Jealousy up into fits, but she made me feel alive. Parents never say they play favorites, but I knew that to be a lie. I’d seen the favoritism play out within my own family, and I feared that resulted in the favor I showed Hatred.
“I’m glad you asked me that question. I’m going to answer it with a question of my own. How much hate could a god or goddess summon if they channeled their entire existence into that one feeling? I don’t know how or why, but the anger and hate burned hotter and brighter than I ever felt from you.”
The person turns around, a wide grin spreading across a face identical to my own. “Well, well, well. Fancy meeting you here. I think it’s about time for you and me to have a little chat,” my dark alter drawls, causing my heart to drop into my stomach.
As her power grew, I felt stronger and Jealousy felt weaker. His coughs changed to gasps for air, suffocating under the weight of the power shift. Even though my strength powered up like a charged battery, I felt immense pain. It was as if she were ripping me apart from the inside, taking her fierce anger out on me for leaving her behind. Hatred wailed in my mind, thunderous like a thousand soldiers screaming their war cries on a battlefield.
I smiled in admiration. There was a strength to Melpomene. Something different from the last time I had spoken to her. Her innocence seemed to have slipped from her heart and allowed her darkness to take over.
I moved away from my minion and closed in on my target. Every movement I made was in unison with the crowd of people dancing on the hardwood floor. The clicks of the heels and clapping of their hands masked my presence, helping me glide toward Melpomene.
I didn’t know why she’d chosen to play games with me. She knew I could feel her presence. So why did she hide? Why did she lurk in the shadows, watching from a close distance? I was not looking forward to the moment she popped out from the darkness, revealing her intense emotions.
The gun fired. I felt the bullet pierce my torso, followed by the burning sensation mortals often describe. It didn’t hurt, but I could feel it rattling around inside of me. I clutched the wound, falling to my back with my eyes open.
“Unfortunately, the sight of him covered in the lion’s skin scared everyone and the stories of his heroics grew even grander, which caused him to get a bigger head and become more insufferable. And of course, every time Alcaeus did something amazing, Zeus wouldn’t shut his big mouth about it for years!”
The feeling of jealousy was overwhelming, and hate would soon follow. I didn’t want to intervene in mortal life, but this squabble I had inserted myself into assured me I could no longer act as a spectator.
Jealousy chuckled, shaking his head at the weak mortal. He didn’t have to tell me he was disgusted with the man. I could feel it as if I generated the emotion on my own. His truth was my truth, and there was so much more to being his ruler. He was an extension of me and one who saw everything from a different perspective.
“It was around this time that Zeus and I started going through a particularly good period. I don’t know if he was distracting me on purpose, but I wasn’t paying much attention to the mortal world. Not long after the snake incident, Alcaeus’s mother set him in the woods, apparently hoping to avoid my wrath. Had I known about it, I would have taken his life and been done with him.”
“My entire existence has been to rule over you and Hatred,” I explained. “It’s been my only identity. Where has that gotten me? I’m invisible to my own family. I’m unable to succeed in their eyes, no matter what I do. So, I thought it best to come up here and travel the land as one of them. I’m hoping during my time up here I receive some kind of sign showing me an alternate path.”