Persephone Chapter 6: Home Base Ben Lacy Copyright © 2009 Ben Lacy All rights reserved

The Abduction of Perserpine, Francois Boucher, 1769

Recap: The Olympian Underworld has fallen to the forces of the Norse Goddess Hel. Persephone has successfully escaped to the modern world. Her new worshipper, the ghost girl Dina, is now driving them and Zagreus, Persephone’s son, to a town where they can hide. ************* “I’m hungry,” Zagreus cries. He’d been sitting in the back seat quietly, staring out at the many strange sites we passed as Dina drove us onto progressively more crowded and larger roads. We’ve now pulled onto a multi-lane road, full of vehicles. Many, like the truck passing us, are much larger. At the speeds we’re traveling, a collision would hurt even Zagreus and I. “You know, I’m sort of hungry too,” Dina turns to me, removing her eyes and one hand from the wheel. I shudder and gesture toward the road. Dina rolls her eyes at me but immediately puts her hand back on the wheel. “As long as you’re maintaining a solid form, you’ll require at least some food.” I reach into my shirt and pull out an apple. “Here,” I hand it to Zagreus, “eat this for now.” “We’re in the mortal world, I want something other then fruit,” he pushes the apple back at me. “Zagreus, first, you can’t call it the mortal world. We are,” I look up, we’ve left the more mountainous area, and some very large, tall building are coming into view on the horizon. Closer by, very large, squat building, are on both sides of the highway, each surrounded by parked automobiles. “Dina, where are we anyway? This city looks huge.” “This, this is Greenville. It’s a decent size place, but this is nothing compared to Atlanta, just a couple of hours further south. They’ve got a nice park downtown. I always liked it there. Wow,” she takes the apple from me, “that’s the prettiest apple I’ve ever seen. Did you just magic it up?”

“Of course not. I can summon forth any plant life I wish. This apple came from a tree somewhere or this side of the great ocean. Now, do they have inns or, the word comes to me, restaurants? “ “Yeah, but we’ll need money. Do you have any?” I reach deeper into my shirt. The unlimited riches of the underworld are cut off from me, but I still have resources. I pull out a handful of gold Roman coins from the time of Tiberius, the newest coins I have. “Will these do?” Dina’s eyes once again leave the road and we start to drift toward one of the painted lines. “Holy crap. Is that real gold. They must be worth a fortune.” I point; she sighs and resumes her focus on the automobile. “They’re worth a lot, but it’s not cash money. We just can’t walk in and use it. We’d have to find a gold dealer, or a pawnshop … or maybe even a fence, everybody’ll ask where we got ‘em.” Drawing attention would be bad. I reach back into my shirt and pull out a small piece of leather. “When I turned those men into rabbits, I decided to keep some of their things.” I unfold it and start to look through it when I notice Dina gesticulating while still trying to keep both hands on the wheel. “This?” I ask, pulling out some brightly colored green paper. Reading other languages isn’t as easy as speaking them, but after staring at the paper for a moment, the meaning becomes clear. “Two twenty dollar papers … I mean bills, and four one dollar bills.” “More then enough for McD’s,” Dina declares, suddenly pulling into a ramp off of the road we’re on. Within minutes, we’re sitting in one of the smaller roadside buildings, a brightly lit, colorful restaurant, with small paper wrapped foods in front of us. I unwrap one and warily take a bite of the … hamburger. Dina is looking at me expectantly. “Well, what d’ya think?” she asks. “Hmm, it’s not Mount Olympus or even the tables of King Midas.” The meat is rather bland and there’s something artificial in the mix. “Still, it’s a lot better then most of what I’ve seen in human inns.” I remember the last time I was in such a place, not long after Rome was

founded. I shudder slightly, this place at the least clean and the food was prepared with incredible speed. “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten,” Zagreus declares, digging through a small paper box and munching a fried potato stick covered in tomato paste. He’s even happier when he finds a small automobile in the box. “Hmm,” Dina says. She’s looking through the wallet of one of her killers. For a moment I think she’s going to be upset again but instead she has a calculating look. “This creep’s name was Tracy Freemont.” “Does that name mean anything to you?” I ask. “No, but it’s a name that either a man or a woman could use. It’s not going to be enough that you look human. You’re going to have to have identification as well.” She hands me a small card. I look at it. It has a small picture of the man I turned into a rabbit along with some other information. “You want me to take this name and identity?” Dina nods, “You’ll need ID and probably a social security number. He’s got both here. If we could find someone to modify the driver’s license with your picture, it’d be perfect.” I stare at the card for a moment. It’s of the same material that’s used all over this restaurant, including the chair I’m sitting on. The word comes to me, plastic. “What is this plastic made of?” “Uhm, I don’t know. Oil I think.” “So it was once alive? I thought so. I might be able to affect it.” I stare hard at the picture. Some of the dyes are inorganic and my ability to shape them is much more limited. Slowly, a likeness of me forms in place of the man’s. Dina, watching over my shoulder says, “Not bad, these photos aren’t supposed to be that good anyway. Now, change that “M” to an “F”. Great, now you’re Tracy Freemont, or Trace for short. You’ll need to answer to that when anyone says it.” She turns to Zagreus. “We’ll need to do something about his name too. Nobody’s called Zagreus these days.”

“What’s wrong with my name?” Zagreus demands loudly enough to turn heads at the adjacent table. I don’t have to see Dina’s alarmed look to know to quickly shush him. “Nothing honey, but we’re pretending to be human and you have to have a human name.” “Ok, I want to be Achilles?” “Uh, how about Zach?” Dina offers. “It’s close enough that it should be easy to remember.” “Zak, Zak, Zak.” Zagreus says several times, enjoying the way the name rolls off his tongue. “Well then, we’re settled,” I say. “Let’s continue our journey.” A half hour later we’re standing over a large, gently swaying metal and mortar suspension bridge overlooking a small but lovely waterfall. There’s a fairly large green space going some distance both in front and behind us. “See, I told you it was nice,” Dina says. “Yes, it’s quite fine,” I eye the very large towers just off to the side. “Still, I wish there was more of it and less city.” “Oh, well, we could go to Simpsonville or Fountain Inn, both are quite a bit smaller.” “No, no, this is nice. We’re better off in a more crowded area, the Covenant will impede any who come after us.” “What’s this Covenant you keep talking about?” “It’s the agreement between all the Houses of the Gods to stay out of each others affairs and the affairs of man. Any who come here will be very limited in the powers they can use without violating that agreement and facing severe … penalties.” “Oh, ok. Well, unless we’re going to sleep in the car, we need to find a place to stay.”

I look at a grove of trees past a small amphitheater. I could easily make us a fine shelter there and shield us from the eyes of mortals. Unfortunately, the magic would be easily noticed by Hel’s minions. I’m about to suggest looking for an inn, but then I hear a dog howling off in the distance, nearer to the downtown. More noises follow. A large number of animals are crying in despair and pain. “Dina, take up Zach and follow me about a 100 paces back.” She grabs Zach but comes right up behind me as I start heading across the bridge and up the tree lined lane that marks the downtown shops. “What’s happening?” “I don’t know, but there shouldn’t be so many animals in distress in the middle of a city. Now, get back and if there’s any trouble, you take Zach in the car and drive as far from here as you can. I left a number of gold pieces in the small compartment upfront.” She does as I say and I quickly start running toward the barking. I wonder if I’m being foolish. What I didn’t tell Dina before was that while the Covenant prevents my enemies from using their full powers, it also prevents me from using mine.

Next time: Norse Mythologies two most fearsome monsters start the hunt for Persephone in Chapter 7: Wolf and Snake.

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