The South is a lonely place

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The South is a lonely place, but two brothers still struggle to claim it as their own. In this flash fiction piece, the Greek mythos of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades has been relocated to the southern region of the United States of America and repurposed into a short story.

Submitted: April 23, 2017

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Submitted: April 23, 2017

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The South is a lonely place. Heat fills the air like molasses in a pool and bugs heavy with sickness drone through the muck in droves by the thousands. Church bells sing their haunting tunes while drums the size of lakes beat dimly under the hum of ancient hymns. Blood watered the earth for centuries and feeds the roots there still - some call it a lawless place, but none can call it godless.

 

Death and Hell rule the South. Signs larger than the face of a house boast about the hellfire awaiting all sinners; church doors yawn and draw prayers like honey draws flies; around every corner is a beast waiting to swallow you whole and deliver you to the hellfire you were promised while cruising down the interstate. Death and Hell rule the South, and his name is Hades.

 

Florida has always been separate from the South. Some say Florida is so deeply southern that it transcends cardinal direction; others say the North spoiled the South with its mass migrations to the swamp and sand. More still say Florida simply is, and trying to peg it to a name is like trying to pave a road through the Everglades - pointless and inevitably doomed. They say the same things about the white birds swarming down to flee the snows; on that everyone can agree.

 

The sea rules Florida. Every year storms as wide as the west sweep over the land and uproot generations of roots; waves of salt and decay crash against stone and seep into the rivers; reptiles too large for their skin slither through muddy water with limbs hanging from their bloodied maws. The sea rules Florida, and his name is Poseidon.

 

Poseidon holds Florida in an iron grip, but his brother’s fingers have slipped through the cracks over the years. Kudzu vines smother the oak trees twisted with age and fire claws at fields burned yellow by the unforgiving sun. A drought has come. Crops begin to wither, cows drop and sizzle in the heat; more sinners seek the preacher’s healing words. Hades descends in brittle birds of snow melting in the sudden onslaught - in bitter winds spreading diseased wildfires - in parched skin chipping away to reveal muscles made of moss. In his fury, Poseidon strikes back indiscriminately, whipping at his own borders with raining glass and wind sharper than the Trident itself.

 

The sky grows black and heavy as the summer sludges along, and the storm fills the air with the howling of a million souls. It’s the most terrible storm seen in nearly a century, shrouding Florida and even some of the south in its electrified grasp - the bolts were stolen, and Zeus comes down on the battling brothers with a fury unleashed in lightning and statewide power outages. Now they defend themselves against a man scorned by the greed of his kin, and millions suffer.

 

There’s a saying in the South: Death comes for all in the end. The casualties grow and so do his armies, legions of the dead rising as disease and decay. Zeus and Poseidon combined can’t withstand the exponential increase in Hades’s firepower and eventually buckle under the pressure; Zeus surrenders first, retreating to his home in the skies ready to wash his hands of the matter. Poseidon is more stubborn and sends another storm - this one near twice the size as the first, but with considerably less strength behind it. The floods displace hundreds and kill thousands.

 

Death comes for us all in the end. Poseidon falls back into the waves, depleted, and Hades settles his throne in the heart of the deepest, darkest swamps in Florida. Preachers bow lower when they kneel, sinners wail louder when they cry their repentance, and the creatures that lurk leave their mouths open to let their meals walk in. Hellfire seeps from beneath the sandy soil to scorch already barren plains; a billboard is just barely visible behind every wall of red and orange flames. Florida has always been separate from the South, but they say no earthly force brings people together like Death.


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