All Falling Down
There were places in Thena’s head where she preferred not to look. She had lived a long time; like all immortals, she had accumulated baggage that was best left undisturbed. Of late it had been so routinely rummaged that it wouldn’t fit back into her darkest corners. This had put her in the kind of mood that is toxic for a five mile radius.
In fact, no one was alive for a five mile radius. This was not entirely coincidental.
She sat in the ruins of what must have once been a very nice house, the only one in this street to still possess a functioning washing machine, and used the brief respite to scrub dried blood from the blade of her sabre. Ashes stained her hands black to the elbow, and underneath the grime an ugly pattern of venom burns were still healing. It had been a long day. She was looking forward to a bath, if the taps were working.
It was strange. The world might end tomorrow, and she was worried about the plumbing. Humanity did that to you.
She had warned the others, for all the good that had done. Now she had no choice but to fight alongside them. Where else was there to go? The mountain had fallen and Hades had closed his gates, unable to cope with the numbers being sent downriver. The rejected dead walked in burning streets while the sky tore itself apart overhead. Thena didn’t remember it being like this last time.
They had won last time. They had had millennia to forget how they had done it.
A bird fell in front of her: a sparrow, caught in mid-flight, wings forever frozen in stone on the downward stroke. It had not yet hit the ground when Thena spun, the sabre’s hilt clasped between her hands, slashing out instinctively. Serpents were pouring through the gaping ceiling. Behind the curtain of writhing green, a bloody mouth grinned.
Thena beheaded five snakes at the first blow. More venom splattered onto her wrists and forearms, scalding red weals across the scarred skin. The Gorgon shrieked with pain; Thena backed against the wall to avoid the united strike of its remaining snakes. Before she could do any more than brace herself, sabre raised, a volley of gunshots exploded into the air and the Gorgon slid through the broken roof, landing face-down in a bloody sprawl of misshapen limbs. A pair of slim denim-clad legs followed through the gap, and then a boy landed in a crouch beside the Gorgon’s body. He looked to be about sixteen or seventeen years old with an angelic face framed by windswept blonde hair. A machine gun was cradled in his arms. He looked up with a devilish grin.
“This is fun,” he said.
No wonder his mother had always insisted on arrows only. If the world survived the Titans, how was it going to handle Cupid with a machine gun?
Deep breaths, Thena reminded herself. Take the world one apocalypse at a time.
The taps were working.
© Faith Mudge 2013