A short story about one man trying to save the world with the help of the gods.

Darkness had covered the earth, leaving the world shrouded in eternal night. The sun which had once shone so brightly disappeared. It had just vanished, randomly, in the middle of a hot, sunny day. Two weeks had passed since then and the planet had slowly started to freeze, it’d only held on this long because of the pollution and greenhouse gasses holding in some of the heat. The people’s solution to the cold was to burn everything they could, it gave them warmth and light, but they knew this could only be for the short term.

 

While the others were busy burning things, one man had set off on a trip to Greece, seeking a secret cave on Mount Olympus that few knew existed, but he had heard was the home of the old gods. To cut a long and uneventful story short, he had found it.

Awestruck by the beauty of the place, the man stood, paralysed in admiration of what the gods had created for themselves, the grandness and splendour of the place was truly mind-blowing to behold.

“Welcome to The Retirement Home For Forgotten Deities, how may I help you?” came a chirpy, yet somehow unenthusiastic voice from somewhere to the man’s left.

The shock of hearing the unexpected voice made the man jump. As he turned and realised who had spoken, he said “H-hi. My name is Harry. There’s a bit of a problem with the world and… um… sorry… um, my mother told me Zeus was… or, um is my father.”

She didn’t laugh, she didn’t make fun, she didn’t seem the slightest bit surprised at what the man had said. The woman just picked up her phone, dialled a number and said “Zeus, another demi-god is here to see you. This must be the third one this month. In future you could at least tell me when you’re expecting visitors.” She then turned back to Harry. “Go further in, he said he’d be happy to see you.”

Harry made his way further down the passage in the cave until a deep, booming voice greeted him in a proud shout. “Ah, Harry, my dear boy. I’m so glad you’ve finally come to see your old dad.”

Harry’s eyes widened as he froze again, this time paralysed by the shock of meeting an actual god, and what’s more it was his father. Zeus strode over and gave the man a hearty smack on the back, nearly knocking him over.

“D-dad, you’re you… you’re real… you’re Zeus.” Harry spluttered, trying to recover from the shock of disbelief before fainting on the spot, only to be caught by Zeus.

 

When he awoke, Harry found himself sitting in a comfortable chair. He was sat opposite a pale, smiling figure accompanied by an almost pitch-black, miserable looking one.

“He’s awake.” Stated the dark one in a tone that displayed his indifference in the matter.

Zeus appeared, materialising out of the air in a bolt of lightning. He pulled up a chair beside the other two and asked “Would you like a jelly pot? Or maybe some fruit? Whatever can I do for you, my boy?” He offered the foodstuff to his friends then offered “These are my friends, Day and Night, they’re the oldest ones here so do please show them adequate respect.”

Harry wasted no time. “The earth is in trouble. The sun has vanished and we’re all going to die. Then he realised something. “Day and Night weren’t Greek gods. What’re they doing here?”

“It’s a retirement home for all gods, not just Greek ones. They were here long before the rest of us. There’s others too, Roman, Norse, Egyptian and all sorts of lesser-known ones.” Zeus said cheerfully. Then he shouted “Thor, Helios. Find all the gods with any involvement in the sun or sky and tell them to gather round.”

 

Hundreds of different deities had formed a crowd that surrounded Harry. They were deep into a discussion.

“Helios, you’re a sun god. Don’t you keep track of where it is?” Zeus asked. “What about you Day? Can’t you do anything?”

“Us! What about you or Thor? You two have more control over the sky than any of the rest of us. You still get to go out throwing thunder and lightning when you feel like it.” Barked Helios.

Day giggled in a way that softened the tension in the room. “What about the new guy?”

“Eh, what was that? You’ll have to speak up.”

“Has anyone seen my glasses?”

“New guy?” It was hard to tell which of the gathered deities these callouts had come from.

Another one replied “You know, the Christian god. They’re starting to forget him, but doesn’t he control everything now?”

“Well done, that man!” howled Zeus, sensing a solution coming. “Where is he?”

“Dad’s not with us right now.” Said a short, bearded man who wore a heavenly white robe. “His personality split again. He’s probably somewhere over Asia or the Middle East. I took over his Christian stuff. How can I help?”

“Oh, wow. You’re Jesus.” Harry exclaimed, excitement driving his voice to a high-pitched tone. He was so amazed at who was showing up in the retirement home that he felt the need to remark “You’re not old or forgotten.”

“No, I’m just visiting dad.” Jesus said calmly, a natural aura of peace radiated from him.

In a soft, mellow voice Zeus told the Christian leader “The sun is gone.”

To which Jesus replied “Oh, I can’t do nature. Dad just created everything; you guys make sure it works. Who’s the current sun god? I’ll go talk to him.”

The gods looked around at one another, hoping one of the others had the answer they lacked. All they got was shrugging and confused grumbles. Finally, Night offered “What about the fat guy in the red suit? He became a sun god after the Roman era ended, isn’t that right Sol?”

Footsteps and crying noises could be heard from the back of the crowd as the former sun god fled back to his room, struck with shame and embarrassment.

“I thought he quit.” Helios grunted in disgust.

“No, no. I’m sure he just moved on. Poor guy went mad. Didn’t want to lose his power so he started giving presents to kids.” Night said sadly. “We all lose it eventually but I’m pretty sure he’s still got the sun job.”

“I’ll go see Santa then.” Jesus announced. “Does anyone know where he lives?”

Silence came over the old gods while they sank into a state of deep thought.

 

An hour of silent thinking later and it turned out that they couldn’t think at all.

Jesus decided it was down to him to make a decision. “I’ll try Lapland, then the North Pole. I’ll even try somewhere that should be sunny like the Bahamas.”

“Hang on a minute.” Helios interrupted, a grim look on his face. “I remember when I became the sun god. I was told that if I died without transferring my power to a successor then it would be lost for good. Santa has had the mantle for much longer than he should. He took on other things to stay relevant. I can’t help but think the worst has happened.

“I see.” Muttered Jesus weakly, the light of hope faded from his eyes.

It took Harry a few minutes for this to sink in. Then, in a great outburst that made even the mightiest of the gathered gods recoil, he shouted “There’s no more sun power! No more sun! Santa’s dead!”


Submitted: August 30, 2021

© Copyright 2023 Lucas Barstow. All rights reserved.

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Comments

DiyaSL

Wow, what a great story Lucas. How did you get such ideas about god? That's great. I felt like I was watching a movie.
I was a little confused in the start. You told about a woman, who talked with Harry. I wish you could have described about her a little. I mean, is that a goddess? a keeper? or someone else would be more clear and feel real.

The dialogue was well written. It flows well. But in the end, I think you could have continued a little. Like what will happen in the future, and about the Zeus's and other gods' decisions or whatever it is. I think you know what I'm talking. Maybe you might wanted to make it short coz it's a short story.
*I was just suggesting. That's not a criticism.* Hope you'll understand.

Overall, this is a wonderful story. I enjoyed a lot. I read it till the end without stopping. That's a great ability of your writing.
I wish you the best of luck for the contest Lucas =D

Tue, August 31st, 2021 11:10am

Author
Reply

The woman near the start was a receptionist/admin type person. She was there to greet visitors. I didn’t go further into who she was because she was fairly irrelevant to the plot.
Thanks for the compliment about the flow of my writing. You are correct that I was keeping it a little short and that I could have added more but I tried to set out what happens next in the first paragraph, the world would freeze and everything would die. I may lengthen it at some point with Harry and Jesus visiting modern gods but I’ll keep this for now.
I’m glad you’re trying to be critical of my work, that’s the only way I can improve, so thanks, don’t ever feel bad about suggestions. I am glad you found it so readable and wonderful is lovely of you to say. Good luck yourself.

Tue, August 31st, 2021 5:32am

G.P.Sharp

Okay, this really made my night. When I read your story's short summary at the start, I thought this story was going in a completely different direction with a much different tone, but I am pleasantly surprised to be wrong. The humor and dialogue in this story was splendid to me (especially since I love comedies with gods in modern settings) and your quick pacing from the apocalypse intro straight to the retirement home gave the story a very good flow.
And Santa being the reason the sun doesn't come up? Amazing. I'm not sure if you've ever read any of the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchet (I just started reading some of them recently) but your concept heavily reminds me of one of his books, the Hogfather (while I have not read it yet, I have watched the movie adaptation, and it was all about that world's version of Santa being connected to the sun and how him dying could stop "the sun from coming up").
It's difficult for me to find criticism for this piece, particularly because it hits a lot of my favorite writing styles and my sense of humor, and while I could criticize Harry's low amount of characterization, I actually believe how little we know about him both adds to the absurdity of meeting with the retired gods, and plays into the fun character troupe of "just some guy" being thrust into insane circumstances (even if he is a son of Zeus).
However, if I had to find one thing lacking in this story, it was a satisfying ending. I don't necessarily mean a happy one or one that resolves the central issue of the sun disappearing, but I feel just one more paragraph or two could really tie up the story nicely. Whether it be a sort of epilogue of Harry slowly dying in a freezing world, or the gods offering Harry a place among them as his breakdown descends into a slump of defeat and depression, or just anything that feels a bit more climatic. While I understand that part of the fun and intrigue of this story is how much it defies expectations and turns the "hero's journey" on its head, the current ending feels a bit premature (similar to my own entry to this contest, that I had to cut short). Even just a short outro, similar to how you began the story, of a couple lines I think could do wonders.
I apologize if that opinion is unhelpful, but again, thank you for this story and it was a very fun read for me.

Wed, September 1st, 2021 3:22am

Author
Reply

The start of your comment is very complimentary so thank you. Pratchett is possibly my favourite author and I love the Discworlds, no doubt it has sometimes influenced my ideas and writing.
I did have a bit of trouble writing the ending, not wanting to repeat myself too much with the end of the world stuff, I wanted it to be a bit open ended to let the reader form their own ideas, but if my readers think it’s needed then I could look at a revised version in future.
Don’t apologise for suggestions or criticism, it’s helpful to have that feedback. I’m happy to see people are enjoying it in a more general sense.

Tue, August 31st, 2021 9:37pm

Greythereadaholic

This wasn't at all what I expected, and it was hilarious. I love the idea of all the gods going to a retirement home once people stop believing in them and having the classic hero journeying to find them. My only critique would be that it's a bit dialogue heavy, and it makes the story feel kind of flat. Although all the dialogue balances the large cast of characters well, so considering there's a word limit, it was smart to focus on dialogue. The story made me laugh a lot, so great job.

Good luck in the contest!

Wed, September 8th, 2021 1:23am

Author
Reply

Thanks, I was trying to be clever with the retirement home and I hoped people would see the humour in it.
The dialogue heavy nature is good for the characters but as much as that was my intention, I’m just more comfortable with a speech style of writing.
Good luck yourself!

Tue, September 7th, 2021 8:37pm

Archia

This is not the story that I expected it to be. It was interesting to see the different exchanges, and I liked the idea of a brave heroic long-lost son of Zeus trying to save the world.
I would have really liked to see more of the god's characteristic's come through. There were a lot of gods mentioned and it was a little hard to follow along with all the different characters as most of them were just listed by a name. Also, and this is just entirely personal preference, but I was hoping you'd bring the Egyptian God Ra into it because he is responsible for bringing the sun up each morning.
Anyway, very interesting story. It had a nice idea and plot to it and it was fun to read.

Wed, September 15th, 2021 10:41am

Author
Reply

Thanks for the feedback. I’m aware that some of the gods weren’t well defined but with a word limit I had to resort to name dropping rather than fleshed out characters. As for Ra, I’m aware of him but I watched Yu-Gi-Oh a lot when I was younger and Ra is connected to the villain in that so the negative image sort of stuck with me and didn’t fit into my slightly silly story. I am happy that the concept didn’t fall flat and maybe I’ll do a revised version in future.

Fri, September 17th, 2021 11:23pm

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