Kronos Got Drunk – Part Five
The old man slammed the door closed.
“Classic dad,” said Prometheus. He winked at me and knocked on the door a second time.
“Go away,” came the voice through the door.
“You know I won’t!” said Prometheus. He winked at me again.
After a very long pause the door creaked open an inch. An ancient eyeball glared at us through the crack.
“May we come in, please?” asked Prometheus.
“Not in an eternity,” said the man behind the door.
“I’ll tell Zeus where you are…” Prometheus’ tone was playful with a hint of scorn.
Another pause, and the door opened wide. The old man glared at Prometheus.
“Billy, meet Iapetus: God of mortality and my father. Dad, meet Billy.”
Prometheus shoved his way inside and I extended a hand.
“You probably don’t want to do that,” said Prometheus over his shoulder.
Iapetus glared in agreement.
“What do you want?” asked the old god. He had taken to glaring at me instead of Prometheus.
“I’m looking for your brother,” said Prometheus. He approached a table littered with half-burnt candles and parchment paper.
“I have lots of brothers,” Iapetus said through gritted teeth.
Prometheus picked up one of the pieces of paper and studied the scribblings it was covered with.
“Working on a new mortality rate, I see,” he said casually. Iapetus continued to glare at me and said nothing.
I felt extremely awkward.
I have had the silent treatment several times. Once from the closest thing I ever had to a girlfriend, and on a few other occasions from my siblings. To this day, I think it to be one of the most effective methods of communicating anger. There is something to be said for the raw power of indignation that emanates from a person when they deliberately refuse conversation.
The gods were no different.
This was slightly disappointing to me. Naturally, I expected the worst punishment of man to be multiplied when executed by the gods. It wasn’t. It was the same incredibly uncomfortable, terribly deafening but madly irritating, silence.
Prometheus perused through parchment scribblings. Iapetus stared through my soul.
“Kronos,” I said, letting out a mass of air. “We’re looking for Kronos.”
Prometheus picked up a burning candle and another piece of parchment. Iapetus’ eyebrows raised slightly, but he said nothing. Prometheus touched the flame to the paper.
Iapetus moved quickly for such a small old man.
“Prague!” Shouted the god of mortality, ripping the parchment out of Prometheus’ hand. “He’s gone to Prague!”
The God of forethought held his hands wide in the way that I now was getting far too accustomed.
“Was that so hard?” he asked, beaming. He turned to leave. As he did so, he swept an arm across the table, knocking a host of candles down to spill wax and flame across the scattered notes. Iapetus slung a flurry of curses at his son as he fought frantically to save his work.
Prometheus beckoned me to follow.
“Was that last bit really necessary?” I asked as we began our descent of the clock tower. Prometheus had resumed his no-nonsense behavior.
“He’s supposed to be spending an eternity imprisoned in Tartarus. A few years lost on his work is a small price to pay for freedom.”
“Regardless, is that any way to treat a defenseless old man, let alone your father?” I asked in a much angrier tone than intended.
“Firstly, Iapetus is a god. He may appear however he chooses. He is not old and defenseless. He is ancient and powerful. I repeat: He is a god. Secondly, he is my father by what you would call blood — nothing else.”
I laughed aloud.
“So the god of mortality chooses to appear as a frail old man and the God of forethought as a businessman in a bright red suit?”
I’m not exactly sure what happened next. Very gradually the tower walls began swaying. Not in a typical, solid-structure-on-a-windy-day sort of way; the actual brick and steel wafted around like smoke. I quickly lost my balance, but instead of falling, I floated on air. I noticed without panic that the tower walls were not only swaying; they were drifting. Bit by bit they lazily disappeared until there was nothing left except a calm darkness.
Then, suddenly, horrifyingly — terrifyingly suddenly — the blackness was filled with the painfully bright presence of a magnificent beast. It wore the body of a lion, wings of an eagle, and the head of a man. My eyes widened.
“A sphinx,” I whispered.
It must have stood three stories tall. I had to crane my neck in attempt to see its face. Its countenance bore all the features of the Greek statues one sees in museums. Its blazing eyes were fixed solely on me.
“Is this how you prefer to see me, Mr. Commonly?” The lips of the sphinx did not move, but the sound of its booming voice came from all directions. Try as I might, I could not force a single one of my muscles to respond.
At a point which is not definitive in my memory, Prometheus was a businessman in a bright red suit again, and I was following him down the 334 steps of The Elizabeth Tower.
For the first time since our meeting, real, terrible, poignant feelings of fear for the God of forethought began to seep into my mind.
previous: Kronos Got Drunk – Part Four
more by ISAAC GOLLE
photograph by Joao Silas