Where nightmares come from

The nightmares came slowly, subtly. Working their way through the mist of his sleep, the dreams came. They came and they would not stop.

They got so bad that he resisted sleep. After two or three days in the ring of resistance with a punch of coffee, a jab of no-doze, he found himself on the ropes. Then he was down and asleep, and the nightmares were back. He asked several of his friends to keep him awake. They tried their best, slapping him awake, even used him as a punching bag from time to time. This worked for about a week. Then he fell flat on his face. He was down and out.

The day he fell asleep at the wheel of his BMW, he crashed into a tree. His car was totaled, and he went into in a coma.

That’s when the gods really got active. Hephaestus forged more nightmares, hammering them into hard, steel swords.

Several days later Hermes came to the Swordmaker’s furnace. “I’m here for the swords,” he said to the Swordmaker.

Hephaestus took each of the ten swords, admired his work, then passed them on to the Messenger. Hermes turned and jumped. His winged boots lifted him into the air and to the River Styx, that dark, dank cesspool which flows out of the Underworld. Chiron was there to meet him with his ferry.

The Boatman drove his barge uphill toward the Halls of Olympus. The river slowly cleared of its puss and soon they were at the foot of the home of the gods.

Hermes flipped a coin to Chiron. Otherwise he could not get off the barge. Even gods have to pay the piper. He arrived at the Halls of Olympus and Hera stepped from behind a curtain.

“Are these them?” she asked, realizing that they were.

“Good,” she said, lifting the swords into her arms.

She took them and made the ten thousand miles to the Dream Room with three steps. As she did, she thought, “This will teach that son of a bitch not to choose me.”

The nightmare-laden man lay in his coma while the swords dropped one by one into his subconscious. They came fast and furious. One after another, they came.

His body jerked, then shook.

“Call the doctor, stat,” the nurse called out from his room. She grabbed the paddles from the defibrillator and placed them on his chest, trying to jumpstart his heart. A doctor in his green scrubs rushed into the room. He did a quick take of the situation, then stopped the nurse. He realized that the man’s body was dead.

He turned the cleaning-up over to the nurse and walked out of the hospital room and into the waiting room.

“I’m afraid Paris is dead, Miss Troy,” he said to the tall, blue-eyed blonde Amazon before him.

Zeus’ Dilemma

Last Wednesday Zeus decided to come down from his mountain. Olympus had gotten boring lately what with this god and that one trying to out party each other. He wanted to take a looksee around the earth. It had been a bit of days since his last walk around. On top of that, he and Hera had a fight and he just had to get out of the house.

He stepped down onto the earth. The grass was wet and green. It had been awhile since his toesies felt grass. Not since Agamemnon and his bunch whomped up on them Trojans. That’s what Priam and his gang got for putting Poseidon on the pedestal over him. After all, he was the Big Guy. He had the thunderbolts.

It was nice to know that Demeter was doing her job now that Persephone was home for a visit. He took in a long breath of the spring air. Then it hit him. The carbon monoxide. He coughed several times, then cleared his throat.

“Geez, what’s that,” he said to no one in particular. The air was worse than breathing in that stuff he’d breathed when he went down to visit Hades once upon a time.

Poseidon stepped out of the ocean. “Well, it’s about time you came out of your ivory tower and noticed the crap we’re putting up with down here.”

“What is that smell?” Zeus wanted to know.

“It’s those darn chariots the humans have come up with.”

Zeus turned to his brother. “What happened to your nice green color? Man, you look awful.”

Posey was streaked with yellows and blues and purples and all sorts of colors. And they didn’t look pretty. He could have been an abstract painting if he hadn’t been such a mess.

“Junk,” Posey said, displeasure in his voice. “I’d say our brother, Hades, has been up to no good. But even he can’t make a mess like we’ve got down here these days. You seriously have to do something about this place. Remember the lovely wine Bacchus used to make. It’s turned to grape juice these days.”

“Yeah, that Prometheus sure did a number on us,” Demeter said behind Zeus. “He gave the humans fire. What’d they do? They took it and ran with it and now we’ve got a mess.”

“The waters, my kingdom,” Posey protested, “is filled with crap. The fish can’t get a break. The dolphins and the whales constantly protest. I tell them to get in touch with you and give you the old what-for. But you’re never there. What’s with you anyway?”

Zeus had a one-word answer, “Hera.”

“Oh, come now,” Demi said. “Don’t blame on her.”

“I’m telling you,” Zeus said. “After that Hercules, there was no settling her down.”

“Well,” Posey said, “he was your kid.”

“It took me a millennium to get her to let me out of my room. It’s only been recently that she let me out of the house.”

“So,” Demi said, “you just thought you could let things go down here.”

Zeus nodded. “Kinda.”

Then Demi hit him with the news. “You do know what that Thor’s been up to?”

“What?” Zeus said, worried-like.

“He’s been making appearances all over the place. Comic books. Movies. He’s even doing commercials.”

“I knew it,” Zeus said. “I knew it. When Athena suggested we let that Odin go off and have his own kingdom, it was a bad idea. But everybody said she was smarter than the average goddess.”

“Now, now, Dad,” Athena joined the group. “I thought it would be a good idea. It gets cold up there in the north. Nobody wanted to go up there and take care of the Ice Kingdoms. When Odin volunteered, we all agreed. It was for the best. And I wasn’t the one who suggested Thor get his own hammer. You-know-who did that.”

“Hephaestus,” Demi said.

“Hephaestus,” Athena said.

“Hephaestus,” Posey joined the chorus.

Then Athena reminded Zeus, “It wasn’t me who came up with the idea of sending Hephy to the basement where he could play with all his toys.”

“We had to do something,” Zeus said. “It’s all that Aphrodite and her nighty business. She wanted to run out and play with Ares. Little did I know that he was as adept at playing kissy face as he was at war.”

“Apollo didn’t tell you either,” Athena laughed. “Just like him. What good is that gift for prophecy he has if he can’t help his colleagues out.”

Suddenly Apollo appeared. His face filled the sky with sunlight. “Somebody mention my name?”

“Why didn’t you let us know?” Athena asked. “Hephy gave Thor that hammer and now he’s become more popular than the Khardasians? You should have told us.”

Apollo smirked. “What, and spoil all the fun?”

It was then that Ares, the god of war, put in an appearance. He had one heck of a frustrated look on his face. “She’s got a headache. It’s the seventh one this week.”

“Who?” Zeus wanted to know.

“Aphrodite, of course,” Ares let the crowd know.

“Well, that’s what you get for messing around,” Zeus said.

“I was just taking after you, Dad.”

That night Zeus walked into the throne room on Mount Olympus. Hera was waiting. When she saw the look on the Big Guy’s face, she gave him one of her extra-special hugs. They always cheered him up. But not this time.

Zeus plopped his big bottom down on the throne. “It’s all turned out badly.”

“What?” Hera said.

“Everything.”

“Well, that’s what happens when you have kids. You can put everything into raising them and they still turn out the way they’re going to turn out.”

Then Zeus had a brilliant idea. “I’ll turn everything back over to Pater.”

At that, Rhea, his mother, appeared. “Oh no, you’re not. Cronus isn’t having anything to do with the mess you’ve created. We’ve been on a nice long retirement and we’re not bailing you out. And you’re not turning things over to Odin. One Ice Age was enough.”

Hera said, “I know what will help. I’ll give you one of those extra-special massages you love.”

Zeus looked up at his wife. He had a pathetic look on his face. “Not tonight. I have a headache.”