The air felt almost moist here against the freezing Atlantic Ocean, clinging and chilled. The gulls that cried overhead accentuated the mournful sound of the waves and the wind blowing through the dead, sun-bleached grass that lingered on the sandy shore. He felt his heart ache a little at the sight of the overcast sky and the gray waters; ah, those gray waters that were of her eyes. He never had a chance to match the color of her eyes to something until he wandered here in the cold northern world of America. Easily, walking around a white tangle of driftwood, Hades thought again of white-limbed Persephone.
Staring down at the earth beneath his feet, the god frowned in sad contemplation. The sand was a cluster of tiny worlds in their own, the pebbles hardened nebulas of cells and atoms. The magnificent sciences they had developed entranced him as the mortals above discovered the universe about them. The dead brought stories of planets and stars seen by the human eye as giant, frothing spheres of light. They told of how they perfected the beauty in themselves through collagen and staples. How the race had progressed was astounding and yet they retained all the violent tendencies of children. The gods were no better, in fact being forgotten by the majority of the world made them worse.
Hades allowed a small sigh to escape through his nose as he stopped and looked about the empty beach. How long had he wandered this place? What was the name? Portsmouth, Rhode Island. It had been sixty years since he last found her in South America. She was here somewhere in these small towns, her light shining like a foggy, confused beacon. How many centuries had he played this game with his brother? How many continents had he searched over and over?
The sound of a vehicle pulling up stopped his wandering thoughts and drew his attention. The sandy shore cut off at a rock bluff to his left, no more than ten feet high where a parking lot for surfers and beach combers lay. A shining red Jeep idled there, the driver and passenger laughing at each other as they gathered their things. Did they even see him standing there on the sand, his dark hair moved by the salty, cool breeze? Probably, but it didn't look as though they cared. He envied their ability to see past the now and see what they want. All he could see, no matter where he went, was his beloved wife, lost to time and this endless game.
Hades turned away and went further down the beach, his mind sorting out the signals that fluttered in his mind. Each life has a light, a pulsing light that screamed their vitality and passion. Some were fainter than others, mostly those in middle age with few deep emotions were the soft and nondescript. As the millennia passed, he discovered that children and the elderly shine the brightest at the beginning and end of their lives. Highly populated cities and areas were blinding with every individuals light scalding him. But her light was different. It sang a song in variations of light pulses that drew him like a heart, crying out for him even if she didn't know it. That was always the hardest part; when he finally found her, finally sorted her out of the millions, she didn't know him.
Coming to the conclusion that he was getting no where on this pretty yet depressing beach, Hades glanced briefly over his shoulder at the couple before stepping into nothingness. Another step brought him into an urban lane, houses sleepily drowsily on either side. The foggy, gray light persisted here as well, smothering the unseen sun. Ruffling the plain black suit jacket, he looked about with tired, longing eyes, seeing only mortals and their secluded lives. It was a wonderful feeling to walk amongst them in their clothing and be known only as another human. Once before in Byzantine, he had revealed himself in the hopes it would draw his love. No, that had been such a horrible mistake.
A dog whimpered and whined as he walked by the fenced yard it was penned in, lying low on its lean belly and staring at him abandoned, sad eyes. A smile quirked his lips and he crouched down by the fence, placing one long fingered hand to the wire. Immediately it jumped up and began licking at his flesh, excited at the attention. Cerberus…he rather missed the beast and its glowing red eyes.
"Can I help you?" a man's voice called out from the door to the house. Hades wiggled his finger against the dog's maw before standing and looking to him. Old, widower and a drunkard. Imagine that.
"I was merely admiring your pet. He is a German Shepherd, isn't he?" Hades asked politely despite how his throat ached from not being in use. How long had it been since he had conversed with another, mortal or god alike? The man came down from the porch, his suspenders stretched over his generous belly. Wiping his nose on the back of his white-haired hand, he looked at the hidden god with bleary, red-rimmed eyes.
"It was the missus's before she went last year. What's your name, huh?" he replied, his rough voice growing a bit threatening. Hades smiled placidly at him, wanting nothing more than to wrap him up in a shadow for a few days and then test his temper.
"Call me David."
"David, eh? What do you want?"
Hades shrugged nonchalantly, growing bored with the exchange. Did nobody in this modern world have some form of intelligence? Why were all so annoyingly bland and egotistical?
"Like I said, just admiring the dog," he answered simply, turning to leave, hands in his pockets. The man gave him a narrowed eyed look at the other's placidity before harrumphing. The dog sat by the fence still, his large, furry ears flattening in sadness as he watched after the god. He turned back to the cracked sidewalk, trying to block out the sound of the old man grumbling at his pet.
"C'mon, inside, you dumb piece of shit," there was a pause before the sound of a blow reached his ears followed by a pained yelp. Hades stopped and glanced back to see the dog cowering in fear of the old man as he kicked swiftly at his hind again.
If there was one thing Hades could not stand was nonsensical violence. As the booted foot came down again, he forced it to miss the quivering animal and hit the iron-link fence, jerking the ankle spasmodically as if electrified. A startled curse escaped him as the old man's foot went through the very material of the wall and stopped with his leg halfway through. Hades let a satisfied laugh utter out as the man screamed and fell to his bottom, clutching his uninjured leg.
"Dear God in heaven, my leg! It's stuck in the fence! Help! Help!" he began wailing, gnarled hands grasping the junction of his leg and the fence. He wasn't hurt of course but it certainly did terrify him.
The German shepherd sat out of reach, his head cocked curiously to the side as it regarded its master. The intelligent, dark eyes turned to focus on Hades as he patted his thigh and forced the latch open on the gate with his ancient mind. Whimpering a small whine of gratitude, the dog swerved out of the man's frantic, frightened hands and approached the fence gate. Wiggling its nose through, it bounded to Hades' side.
"What you do? What the fuck did you do?" the abusive man's voice cried out as he realized his visitor still stood nearby. Walking back over to where he had petted the dog, crouching to prod the man's foot.
"How does your leg feel?" he asked congenially, tapping the tip of the boot.
"It's stuck in a fucking fence! How does it look I feel?" the man hollered, obviously a little upset at the situation. Hades smiled and shook his head.
"Now, now, take it easy. Perhaps next time you will learn not to hurt innocent beings," he admonished before standing again. The man's wide, reddened eyes stared at him in furious horror, his purple veins standing out is his anger.
"C'mon, now, dog. Let's go," Hades murmured to his new companion, patting the top of his head obligingly. After a block or so the man's yelling faded away as ambulances shrieked up the drive. No one glanced at him and the dog as they rounded the bend and disappeared into the main street of Portsmouth.
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