Helena pulled another pencil from her brunette bun, biting the barrel as she concentrated on the text in front of her. Pulling the shaggy fur behind her head had been such a great idea – access to great inspirations was just one of the job perks she enjoyed while working at Cloud 9. Not every immortal was lucky enough to have access to the inspirations kept on file there. The divine repository was managed by the muses, who sent inspirations to the mortals below – delivered by themselves or (more often than not) by one of their junior employees. Materials were even occasionally checked out by other gods.
The monstrous figure chewed on her pencil as she read the latest inspiration. It worried her, and soon the wooden instrument was good for nothing but toothpicks. Frustrated, she reached into the bun, strategically positioned at the back of her head, for another pencil. Unlike the idea she now read, the bun had been a great inspiration – so much so that she’d refused to limit herself to just one. She stored her Ticonderoga blacks (her favorite pencils) in the central bun; the one on her left held fountain pens,; the one on her right, colored pencils.
What was AL thinking? Helena used her expertise once more to follow the idea to its natural conclusion. Too many times a misfiled inspiration had come back to bite her. The last thing she needed was her ass chewed by one of the Fates for screwing up their plans. Of course, if she did screw things up, it would mean exactly jack because the Fates would have MEANT for that to happen. But that was no excuse for a poor work ethic.
Hey, AL! Get over here; will you? Her thoughts magically transmitted themselves as text on Alien Lovechild’s smartphone, and he teleported before her. “Do you have to do that EVERY time?” she asked aloud, moving aside pink taffeta to scratch the fur beneath her armpit. “It’s a bit disconcerting.” Helena glared at him, but he didn’t budge.
Why do you insist on speech? Telepathy is much more efficient, thought AL.
Why do YOU insist on texting? thought Helena. She resisted the urge to add an unpleasant nickname to AL’s already unfortunate appearance. The guy had enough complexes.
Alien Love Child adjusted his uniform and thought nothing.
“Fine, fine,” said Helena, adjusting one of her bows. “You could just beam outside my office though and walk in, but…” She trailed off.
AL stood before her, his Intergalactic Union uniform glowed slightly from Olympian radiation, and he had a fleck of something indecipherable stuck in one of his tentacles. He waited.
Helena sighed. She looked at the sign above her office door. ‘Cloud 9 is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate on the basis of race, species, or gender.’ Though they clearly have nothing against nepotism, she thought. The muses hired a notorious amount of family members.
Helena gazed at her half brother with an odd mixture of affection, irritation, and a sense of wonder that they actually shared the same parent. Their mother, Erato – the muse of love poetry, had hired them both, despite their obvious differences. However, while Alien Love Child clearly favored his father, Professor X, Helena favored her own father. The Minotaur might not have the same knack for science as the good Professor, but he did have a knack for foresight and was one hell of a looker. Helena thanked the gods every day for her genetic heritage.
“Anyhoo… I’ve just been going over this idea of yours for creating synthetic bacteria for cleaning purposes. This… this IS yours; right?”
AL straightened slightly to indicate the affirmative.
“You realize this would cause Armageddon; right? Maybe even wipe out the gods?”
AL’s iridescent skin blanched, then colored again. He thought, That’s not possible! The bacteria would be programmed to eradicate all harmful materials and die off after 24 hours.
“Yes, I get that,” said Helena. She scratched again. She really needed a flea bath, but first things first. “I get what you INTENDED this inspiration to be. But how will harmful be defined? Humans have been very harmful. So have the gods.”
AL’s eyes widened; his head tilted to the side. For all the world, he looked like a confused puppy – one hell of a bizarre, lost, squidified puppy. She just wanted to eat him up.
“But that’s not the point. We have specific procedures for filing dangerous ideas,” she said. “You clearly misfiled this inspiration.”
You aren’t going to destroy it?
Helena fell back into her chair as though she’d been slapped. “Destroy an idea? Are you insane?”
AL did the head tilt thing again.
The monstrous form in pink leaned forward across the mahogany desk and massaged her temple with one leathery hand. “Listen, Squiddy,” said Helena, then instantly regretted it. “No,” she said, “this needs to be filed under Tragedies/Potential, cross referenced with Science and Armageddon.”
AL’s head drooped, heavy with shame, and he thought, You SHOULD destroy it.
“Listen, AL,” said Helena, her voice low and soft, “Dangerous ideas can change the world in wonderful ways too. We just need to be aware of the risks.” She smiled, a row of jagged ivory that would send the bravest of human warriors running off a cliff, but Alien Love Child merely lifted his head.
“You can’t destroy ideas,” she said. “They have a life of their own.”
*I hope you enjoyed this. I’m considering making this a short series, but I’d really like any feedback you might offer. I’m technically posting this on Saturday (because it’s after Midnight), but it’s still Friday somewhere in the world; right? Anyway, everyone knows it’s not REALLY Saturday until after you wake up.