The muses run Cloud 9, the divine repository of inspirations, under the benevolent dictatorship of Hermes – messenger of the gods. The Olympians, devoted nepotists, almost exclusively hire their many and varied family members. The divine and semi-divine collaborate, stock, check-out, and deliver the inspirations of Cloud 9 to the world.
“What could go wrong?” Helena gasped. She grasped the comforting mahogany of her desk to steady herself. “What could he be thinking?”
“I think he simply wants out of the job,” said the Minotaur, snorting. He gazed upon his daughter’s furry features with affection. “This’ll do it.”
“I’ll say,” said Helena. He pulled a fresh fountain pen from one of the strategically placed buns on the back of her head and began scribbling. ‘Dear Hermes…’ she wrote, her pen flashing across the parchment faster than human eyes could follow. Fortunately, her father wasn’t human.
“I wouldn’t write THAT to him, dear,” snuffled the Minotaur, nudging the smoking pen from her hand with surprising gentleness. “He may be a god, but he’s also your direct supervisor.”
“Well, what am I supposed to say?” said Helena, brown eyes flashing. “Great idea there, Hermes! I had no idea how efficiently you could destroy life as we know it? I mean, we ARE talking about brain manipulation!”
“And don’t forget your sibling, dear,” growled the Minotaur. “He may be half alien, but you are related-”
“-on mother’s side, obviously,” said Helena. “And we’re only half-siblings. Even so, I’d think he’d have enough sense to file this properly.” She sniffed, inhaling the strong floral scent of the dried blossoms scattered throughout the office. “Especially after I talked to him about that whole bacteria apocalypse misfiling…”
“That’s just it, sweetums,” said the Minotaur, patting his daughter on the back. “He did file it correctly.”
“Then why would Hermes…,” Helena began, then shut her mouth. “Oh, ye gods. He wants to start over.”
“Hmmm?” asked her father, fingering the candy squares she kept in a depression glass jar on her desk.
“Yes, yes, go ahead,” she said, huffing to herself. “But why?”
“Because they’re yummy,” said her father, through a mouth full of dark chocolaty goodness.
“No, I meant, why does-”
“-he want to start over? I know what you meant.” Her father swallowed and swiped his face with one hoof. “Maybe he thinks he can do better this time around?”
“Well, being a messenger can get old after awhile,” conceded Helena. She sniffed the pink glass jar, then dumped a handful of squares into her own leathery palm. “But… no, it just doesn’t seem his style. He’s not that ambitious or conniving. Still, he’s not dumb.”
“Maybmmm effma brankkk?” mouthed her father. His nose was stuck inside the container, and his daughter dutifully yanked until he was freed. “Maybe it’s a prank?” he repeated, wiping moist crumbs from his person. The crumbs clung to his snout and tickled his nose hairs. “I understand he’s quite the practical joker.” He inhaled deeply, eyes closed. A sigh escaped his lips.
“Still, it’s a pretty dangerous joke,” mused Helena. She popped the remaining squares like an addict.
“Is there any other kind for a god?” The Minotaur started pulling books from shelves, looking behind miniatures of the gods.
Her father continued his search, swiping the top of a filing cabinet with one cloven hoof. He licked the dust, then shot Helena a withering look before heading for the door. “Maybe you should ask someone else what to do?” called her father.
“You’re pretty nonchalant… considering it’s possibly the apocalypse,” said Helena.
“You get used to it when you work around gods,” noted her father. “Trust me, sweetums. When you’ve lived as long as I have, you’ll realize the truth. They’re all crazy.” He exited her office.
Above the door, the familiar lettering of Cloud 9′s disclaimer read: Cloud 9 is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate on the basis of race, species, or gender.
Helena mused. If Hermes was going to mess with the status quo, then maybe there was something she could do about it. She’d worked in this office for centuries, and she held more than a few tricks up her pink, ruffled sleeves.
Smiling, she pulled her emergency candy stash from beneath her desk drawer and munched a few more squares.
I hope you enjoyed my Friday Flash. This is part 3 of my ‘Cloud 9′ series. My intent is for each installment to stand on its own, yet fit into the larger whole. To this end, I added a short introduction (that will appear before each installment). Does the story stand on its own? Do the characters, setting, and plot work? Feedback is both welcomed and appreciated.