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By Richard Tornello © 2017
(Revised and expanded from 2 older flash stories)
The Winter Solstice was soon to be upon the world. It was graduation month at the Central Deity Training Lyceum. The ceremony would be held with all the pomp and circumstance honoring the new graduates. The Gods themselves would arrive to honor these highest achievers. The preparations were underway. Final exams were completed and graded. The senior Independent Study programs for this graduating class were being wrapped up. The top students would now be placed in semi important roles in their upward climb within the celestial bureaucracy.
Ares, The Head Master sat with his hands folded and paid slight attention to the final update report from his executive assistant and brother, Hermes. Ares, a tall gray haired and muscular individual presented an imposing figure. His face held the scars from the vicious battles he had commanded and fought in the old days against the equally ancient Celtic Pantheon, a rival group who held claim to the same throne. These scars and his evil reputation gave him an even more imposing countenance. The position as Head Master of the Lyceum was his reward for his success and valiant efforts.
Ares sat there thinking to himself, another graduating class with all the normal bland boring student speeches, yada-yada-yada. He was paying little to no attention to Hermes listing the honor graduates and their accomplishments until he heard the name Mixx. He claimed she was his worst nightmare. He sat straight up in his chair, his fists pounding on the desk, his face red with rage, hollering, “Mixx did what? When will I be rid of her?”
Mixx was her only name. She had no family that he was aware of, but she had some connections. She arrived as a youngster one mid semester, in the dead of winter, escorted by Hermes, The Messenger. That was indication enough.
Hermes had explained to Ares, “Mixx is to be treated like all the other students. This is being done as a favor. I am to see to her acclimation so as not to burden you with an out of schedule student. And, I have been assigned to take some of your daily boring administrative duties off your desk too. It’s a favor in return.”
Ares asked, “What is her full name? To whom is she related?” He wanted to know just how to treat this new arrival. Her admission forms were all but empty of that necessary data.
Hermes answered, “Its just Mixx. I don’t know any more than I’ve been told.” It was stated in a manner and tone befitting his rank. One did not question The Messenger even if you were Ares.
Ares could never figure the situation out. She was either a half-breed or Hal-Fling, as he liked to call them, a union between god or goddess and a human. But her initial introduction and insertion to the Lyceum at this time and her young age indicated something else, but what he never discovered. And, Hermes's presence meant that something was up. She was young and initially he didn’t bother worrying about it.
Mixx was smart and quick. He once yelled at her for some long forgotten reason, though her response was not lost on him when he had demanded, “Do you know what NO MEANS?”
Her instant and surprising reply was, “Why yes. Its a starting point…sir.” She said it with a coy smile or was it a smirk. He couldn’t tell. She followed up just as quickly adding, “If you accept no for an answer you deserve it.” And then she just smiled again, bowed slightly, turned, and walked away, just like that.
He, The Head Master, was at a loss for words. In the past he would have had her head right then and there.
Just her name brought a visceral gut feeling he only had in past combats. Another time he asked her when she was brought before him for some minor infraction, “Mixx why are you so obstinate?”
Staring straight back at him, she politely replied, “When I want something, and it’s important, I just hammer until whoever it might be that is the roadblock to my desires… cracks.” She had nerve and she was an A student. She drove him nuts.
He had wanted her expelled, or better yet dead, a number of times. But that opportunity just never happened, until now. And now, how fitting, in the last days just before graduation. It would be a coup de grace. He felt like his old self and satisfied.
Hermes continued as if nothing unusual had just occurred. Which for all intents, considering who it was that brought The Head Master’s reaction, was not unusual. “As I said sir, it’s all in the details of the incident report I gave you the other day. You must have missed it.” Hermes knew this update report was a formality and didn’t require any more than a nod. However they were dealing with one who was a bane in The Head Master’s existence. He added, “We might want to overlook her antics considering she will be out of your hair in a few more days.”
“Where did this occur?” demanded Ares. He was not going to let this drop. Another incident quickly came to mind. When Mixx had entered the Lyceum some years ago, she had been sitting in a corner pouting, and somewhere she didn’t belong. He ordered her to bed. He couldn’t believe what she did. The brat stood up, and held a weaponized slingshot. It was not a toy. Where she got that weapon he was never able to discover, and he tried. He clearly remembered that day when this short chubby child stood up, looked him straight in the eyes with a penetrating stare that was scary, and declared, “I have this slingshot and I’m not afraid to use it.” He confiscated it. It was deadly.
She spent four week cleaning the latrines, the animal stalls and he forgot what else he punished her with. She never complained or attempted to duck out of her punishment. She was a strange being.
Those initial meetings set off years of minor and stupid confrontations made worse by memory and time.
“Sir,” Hermes coughed interrupting Ares’ thoughts, “this incident occurred on some insignificant location, or so we assumed when we sent her there,” replied Hermes. He didn’t add ‘and upon your orders’. Hermes shook his head. He took this job for two reasons. The main one was to get away from the internal palace intrigue and he wanted a break. And the second, was to keep an eye on this Mixx character that they had all been hearing about at court. It was a favor to the Deity. He became her unofficial mentor. Today, he wasn’t sure which environment was worse.
Ares broke that thought. “When? Are you sure? Jeeze, Hermes, what were her bloody instructions?” The Master went through stacks of forms, files and reports. “I can’t find them anywhere.”
“Here’s a copy,” said Hermes handing to The Head Master. He knew this would occur and had his things in order as usual.
He also knew that to imply any incompetence upon Ares would result in a total dysfunctional breakdown regarding a solution even in a private meeting such as this one. “Sir”, he said with a calming tone, as was his gift as the God’s messenger. “It was an independent study, go among the beings, and grant a wish to one of them. It was pretty simple. She had to do this solo.”
He read it. He looked up at Hermes stone faced and declared, “She certainly did. Send her here, immediately!”
Hermes bowed and said, “Yes sir.” He went to get her to usher her in. He expected this and ordered her to wait in the hallway just out of hearing. He did not give her a hint of what to expect. He was testing her. He wanted to observe how she stood up to the pressure. Of course she wasn’t where he left her. He ran down the hall only to find her daydreaming, looking out a window at the courtyard below. It was full of colorful stands and preparations being made for the graduation. “Mixx I told you to stay put.” He shook his head. “Now follow me and no questions. I don’t have time. You are on your own.”
Ares fingers were embraced in prayer as he cried to his empty office, while Hermes was getting Mixx, “Why do I have all these gray hairs they wonder? I can’t believe we let HER loose down THERE. Senior project, independent study, and where was her mentor? Oh Right, solo. What were we, what was I thinking? Sometimes, I wish I were other than here.” And just as quickly folded his hands tighter and said, “I didn’t totally mean that! But any more like her and a combat reassignment would be a welcome gift. At least I can slay the opponent. Here, the limits set upon me are outrageous. I’m the chief example. Show restraint they commanded me. I’d like to flay a few of them, starting with her for old times sake.”
A knock on the door was followed by The Masters voice, “ENTER.” She walked in.
Hermes was behind her and moved to a corner away from her line of sight. Considering it was just before graduation and it was Mixx, anything could happen.
She entered and stood at a relaxed attention directly in front of The Head Master about 10 feet away. “Sir, you wanted to see me?” asked Mixx.
She was tall and still a bit chunky or bulky from exercise. He could never be sure which since she always wore earth style loose fitting clothes. He asked her once why she didn’t wear the official school toga uniforms. He remembered she told him earth clothes gave her freedom of movement and maintained a degree of modesty when she was training in combat. He let it slide. That battle wouldn’t be worth the energy expended. He didn’t want her at him for something so minor. And besides, there was just something about her. He couldn’t put his finger on it. He sometimes thought she carried herself like a warrior. She was fearless in the way she stood up to him. She reminded him of someone he knew, a long time ago.
He didn’t look up from the report he was pretending to read. He wanted to let her sweat. He waited about five more minutes before looking up and addressing her.
She stood in front of The Head Master, wondering, what have I done this time? I stuck to the rules, for once. I’m in trouble again? I can’t win. She thought about her origins and her mom. Everyone including the head master assumed she was some god or goddesses’ bastard from a mating with a human, what they disparagingly called a Hal-Fling. She never had a family name. It was simply Mixx. She never said anything to anyone and definitely not after “The Story”, as Hermes, her mentor and tutor told her one rather drunken night years ago. As she remembered it, it went something like this:
“ Mixx, this is only for you and never ever repeat what I’m about to tell you.” He might have been drunk, but he recognized some things are never to be repeated.
“I observed that The Deity was viewing your mother from afar. He was smitten. He watched her as she grew into the woman and champion athlete he presently admired. He more than admired her; he was totally in love with this mortal. It was irrational, that he knew.
“I reminded him one day that ‘He is The Deity,’ and that he’d been through affairs, oh my, so many times before.
“He responded stating that ‘in all eternity I never ever felt like this’. He fretted and paced. He didn’t want to drink. He wanted to drink. It was the same for eating and as for sleeping, which was useless. He was beside himself and confused by these feelings. This was not like him. What was it about your mother that made him insanely sick with love? This Debra Nua was just a human female, a smart one, a skilled one, a cute one, but human, right? This is what he said to me.”
“‘Hermes, what is my problem?’ He asked me. ‘You’ve always helped me out before. This is totally new. I can’t get her out of my head.’ Then he almost begged, pleading for advice, ‘You must help me.’”
“I gave it some thought. In actuality I had been thinking about the Deity’s love breakdown for some time. I was well aware all was not right with the world. He and I both knew that something must be done to correct it, sooner rather than later. I had even considered going to the Deity’s wife Hera as a last resort.”
Mixx remembered that as soon as he said that he took another drink and looked about the room and said, “I thought maybe someone else was in your room. I wanted to make sure.”
Hermes continued, “I came to one conclusion; love brings even the great to their knees. A plan came to me based upon one ancient incident. I knew it would be a difficult sell. I laid it out before him. ‘I have an idea,’ I told him. ‘It will be rather different than anything we’ve done before,’ I said. And whispering in his ear, the walls do have ears; I gave The Deity my suggestion.
“‘That’s outrageous,’ The Deity thundered.
“I stepped back and said, ‘It’s just an idea. You are the final arbiter of everything. You decide. Think about it, consider all I said.’ I took off and hid just in case. I am so dead I thought. But as you can see, I’m still here. What do you think of that my dear Mixx?”
Mixx recalled looking at Hermes and wondering what was all this and why now?
Not waiting for an answer, Hermes continued, “But the more The Deity thought about it the more he liked it. A smile grew across his face as he proclaimed to no one and everyone ‘Yes, let Us do that.’ The Deity bellowed, ‘Hermes where are you? There is no need to hide.’ Laughing at my fear, and the thrill of the quest he said, ‘A lot of good hiding will do you. Come out and Let US Begin.’”
Hermes laughed ever so slightly, “US? Imagine what could and possibly would happen to US, and me in particular, if Hera ever found out? I kept my mouth shut on that one.”
Hermes took another swallow of his wine
“Did you ever hear the expression ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’? It is absolutely true. The earth and the universe are but a hologram of The One. In this case they reflected his disturbed unbalanced countenance with nasty weather, climate alterations, earthquakes, and dormant volcanoes suddenly coming alive. It was also shown in all manners of really weird animal behaviors, like whales beaching themselves, birds falling out of the sky, and humans getting along. One could add a laundry list of truly unexplainable things.
“The Deity had yet to physically approach the object of his insane, blinding desire and announce his intentions. However, before he could accomplish his goal, he had one other very big issue to attend to, his wife, Hera the Queen Goddess.
“Hera would claim to her Graces, ‘I am the Jealous Queen-goddess. I have a right to that title. I have never been pleased about his many peccadilloes.’ That’s what she called them. ‘I can accept his human affairs, but I’m not happy about it. Ladies, she said, ‘Human life spans are not eternal, and he is not in love with another goddess, this time. There will be no attempt to usurp my rightful place. I will put up with it.’ As she stroked her pet peacock she stated, ‘a bother yes, of any consequence, no …and he’ll be out of my hair for a while.’
Hermes said, “That was a quote I heard that from one of the Graces.”
He continued, “On the other hand, she too noticed the changes and was quite annoyed. “She told me one day, ‘The universe is not right. He should just go down and get this affair started, over, and done with. All this fuss and bother about some little human girl, what’s her name? Oh who cares? At this pace, by the time he gets moving, she’ll be an old hag and we’ll all have to go through this again without a respite. Does anyone know of this girl?’
“She asked the Grace I mentioned. We both knew better than to say anything when Hera was annoyed, and most especially when it concerned Him.
“The palace gossip machine had it that the Deity’s new love was of Celtic heritage. That was the one family group Hera could not abide. Celtics were of ancient family lines both sharing a claimed right to the eternal throne. They had been a threat to Hera’s family, though a minor one since most had been killed in epic battles over the millennia. No one ever mentioned Celtic to Hera. She would have flown into a rage. Human or non-human, in that case it didn’t matter. And if both of the gods were at each other’s throats, none could foretell the outcome. It was better to let that fact remain under the sheets and let life proceed in a “normal” fashion.
“The Deity was unaware of his wife’s understanding of his habits and would have been quite surprised. I never told him. He felt he had to uncover a secret way he could be with this earthly ‘goddess’, in a manner fitting her environment, and in a manner that she would find acceptable. He was also cognizant that he need not bring the wrath of heaven down upon his latest love. It was not as if this human, who ever she happened to be this time, could fight back as an equal.
“Not only did The Deity not realize that Hera knew, he never realized that Hera didn’t really care a whit about his human lovers. She just wanted her universe to work well, her palace to be maintained in the manner to which she desired, and her life to be pleasant as due her. And when He was not there, it usually was rather pleasant. ‘Please, don’t embarrass me,’ is all she requested of him.
“He thought she meant show up sober at royal functions where he was to officiate.
“Now on to your mother,” said Hermes. “Little did we know at the time other than your mother Debra Nua was a top seeded road-racer. To us, she was just a human. Here’s the whole story as I remember it.”
“The pits were full. Trucks and tents of all colors and banners were spread out everywhere. I swear it looked like an ancient tournament, or the preparation for a battle.
I emerged from the back of a black and gold swan emblazoned Kenworth tractor-trailer parked down pit row. You could tell I was the head mechanic because that’s what the patch stated on my shirt along with my name, Hermes. It was embroidered in gold thread. I thought it appeared rather nice.”
Mixx remembered Hermes pointing to a spot on his tunic where the patch should have been had he been wearing it. He was so drunk. She politely kept her mouth shut and nodding, let him continue.
“I pushed a bike over to Debra’s pit area. I wore gloves of fine cotton so as not to scratch the paint or mar the finish. I was dressed in black, and like the rig I drove, and the bike I pushed, I was spotless, and very out of place. But then again, I am who I am. Dust did not settle on me, or the bike.
“The motor and frame were black. The other metals on the bike were polished to radiate their natural colors. Very little nickel chrome was used except where needed. Elsewhere, coatings were applied sparingly. There was no manufacturer’s name, just a small golden swan insignia, on either side of the fuel tank and the crankcase of the motor. I thought that was rather smart. It was safety-wired throughout.
Mixx thought back to how her mom would fire it up and take it out for a long ride every now and then. The very foundations of the compound they lived in would tremble. She would come back days later in a mood she could never describe.
Hermes continued “I spoke to no one. I smiled as I stopped in front of her pit crew and her motor home. One of the crew looked at me, rather disdainfully I might add, and then at the bike and said, ‘She doesn’t ride twins.’
“Another crewman knocked on her door and said, ‘Debra, I think you had better come out.’
“A grin broke out on my face when Debra Nua finally came out of her motor home. I pushed the bike toward her.
“Your mother was a marketers dream. She was a petite red head and as cute as could be in her racing leathers. She was smart as well as articulate. She could talk to anyone, and best of all, she was a winner.
“Your mother stopped to take a closer look at the bike. ‘That your trailer?’ she asked me pointing to our spotless vehicle. Her helmet was in her hand; her gauntlets were lying on the tank of her race bike. She picked them up and was about to simply ask me to please leave and take the bike too. She had a race to prepare for.
“She looked at it again. ‘It does look interesting’ she said. ‘Another time, maybe, after qualifications.’”
I said, “This is a gift from one of your admiring fans if you would do HIM the honor.” I pointed to the bike and then to our black and gold truck.
“Him? Him who?” she demanded to know. “And why should I care about this black V-twin?” Then, after a brief pause said, “It is unique… I’ll admit that.”
“I smiled at her admission and thought beachhead secured, but only said, “I cannot answer either of your two questions at this point. My name is Hermes and I am just the messenger and head mechanic. But if you have any qualms about this, the transaction, it is 100% legal. Here are the papers. Look them over. And please, before you make your decision, take it for a test ride.” I actually begged. I handed her an envelope with her name embossed on it. The lettering was done in pure gold. You should have seen the look on your mother’s face. She knew gold when she saw it.
“She opened the envelope and reviewed the documentation. It was in order as far as she could tell. The signature of the seller was only a gold swan stamp. She looked at me and asked, ‘Okay, what’s the game? And what is your name, if you would at least tell me that?’
“No game. He wants you to have it. He’s watched you come up through the years. Look him over.” Giggling Hermes said, “I slipped on that one. “Ride it. You can have it if you like it.” I waited a while as she began to really look at the bike. I had an eternity.
“And my name is Hermes,” I reiterated as he pointed to my nametag and title Head Mechanic.
“Your mom saw right through me.”
“You’re as much a mechanic as I am a brain surgeon.” She said as she started her walk-around. “Him? Who is this Him?” she asked me again. She was getting lost in the engineering of this machine and wouldn’t have heard the answer if there was one. There wasn’t.
“My god, this is a beautiful piece of workmanship,” she said in true awe. She was kneeling, looking at the fine detail work, her face pressed up close to the motor plumbing. I could see her breath on the exhaust pipes. Not a cap screw or bolt was bunged up she declared.
“I nodded smiling, and then said, ‘Use 105 to120 octane fuels only. You can mix some nitro for an added push. It likes alcohol. The tank is full. Please, get on, see how it fits.’”
“Debra thought for a second or two. ‘Why the hell not’ she said and then straddled the bike. I noticed her tush slipped right into the seat pocket. She told me it seemed to envelop her.”
Mixx had interrupted Hermes at that point in his story again. “Do I need to know that? Yuck.”
Hermes ignored her, snorted a laugh, had another drink and continued. “Your mom smiled and giggled just a bit while she flat footed the asphalt. She leaned forward, her arms extended, her chest just touching the tank. The clip-ons were at the exact length for her cute petite body. It was a perfect fit.
Mixx stopped him. “I’m going to put my earplugs in if you continue with details I do not need to hear, Yuck, yuck, yuck.”
“Speaking of ear plugs, when your mom put her earplugs in, I knew we had won.
“I handed her the key. The key had the swan design like the gold lettered certificate and insignia on the truck. I bowed and made a motion, clearly stating without additional words, please go ahead, pointing to the track.
“Her crew just watched not saying a word.”
Hermes stopped here and looked at Mixx. He said, “This part of the story is from your mother's words as only she could describe it:
“I pushed the bike a little, just to make sure it was in neutral, and then hit the starter. The bike fired up. The lights came on. The gauges came alive and were all clear and readable even in the bright sun light. It was like nothing I ever heard or felt. Something filled my being, was it adrenalin? I tucked my hair up into my helmet and pulled it on while slipping the visor down. I pulled my gauntlets and with one booted foot on the ground the other on the right peg and brake peddle, pulled the clutch lever. Butter, I said smiling. The bike throbbed as if in response. I switched feet, clicked it up into gear and slowly let the clutch out.”
Hermes added slightly slurring his words reiterating, “This again, this is her story as only she could tell it.”
“After two laps I felt comfortable enough to begin my race routine. I pushed my pelvis as deeply as I could into the seat back, wrapped my legs around the frame while pressing my torso down onto the tank. My arms relaxed so as not to transmit possible head shake to the frame; my fingers twisted the throttle and griped it a bit tighter as I opened it up. The bike responded instantly pushing me harder into the seat back with unexpected power.
“Oh my god,” I screamed. Turn one was coming up faster than I had ever taken it. What was really weird was in my head I heard a voice. It said, “just ride Debra Nua, just ride.” A slight touch of the clutch lever, a blip of the throttle, the shifter smoothly clicked down from 6, to 5, to 4, and finally into 3rd gear as the engine and transmission meshed perfectly. A light two fingered pull of the front brake, and the bike took the turn as if it read my mind. I swear it saw and felt the track through the suspension as I did. I laid across the tank, my head tucked down behind the steering head, with my left thigh grabbing the tank/frame, my right leg spread out open and wide, and hung-off.
Around the turn I arched wide, and with a throttle twisted keeping RPM’s up in the power band, the bike straightened up and front wheel came off ground a bit as it leapt forward to and through turns two and three to the top of the hill and down at turn four. The downhill at four was one of the fastest parts of the track to the slowest; turn number five, a dogleg left. I leaned over, sliders scraping the apex and not even a slip. The tires were glued to the asphalt. I made that hard left then a quick right to turn six. The machine just went around the turn as if it were on rails. Turns six through turn eight to the uphill nine were no different. Turn nine was a fast downward incline to turn ten and on to the back straight. Turn ten was approaching at lightning speed. Something again spoke to me. The voice said, “Go with it. It will be just fine. Trust me.” I did and I laid it over, my right knee and elbow sliders kissing the asphalt almost brushing the dragon teeth, momentum carrying me to the far outside edge of the track, then up, straight, front wheel off the ground, and moving faster than I had ever driven before in my entire life. I was one with the machine. I screamed with delight.
The front wheel lifted and the bike carried me down the straight, coming down and loading the suspension at the precise moment for turn one. The bike felt and moved like a hand made and fitted set of racing leathers. It was as if it had been built exclusively for me.
Hermes said, “The pits were silent except for the growl and the roar of this beast. No other bikes were on the track. People were at the rails waiting for her next pass. Timing machines were turned on. It was ungodly how fast she was traveling. And the exhaust pitch was music. I just stood there, observing. It was beautiful. I wondered how He felt.”
“Debra said that she felt that the machine was alive. It had to be another living being beneath her. A question ran through her mind and she asked me later was she driving the bike or was the bike riding her. I never answered that either.”
Mixx gave him a nasty look but said nothing. It was a good story and one she never heard. Things were beginning to make sense.
But back to your mom’s story, said Hermes.
She said, “I squeezed the bike with both my legs and thighs, and pushed as tightly against every part of it as I could, tucking in tighter behind the front faring. My fingers gripped the right clip-on and opened it up again. The bike responded by going even faster. It knew what I wanted. You know, I never feared for my life I wanted to be in the machine.”
Mixx wrinkled her nose at all this personal detail.
Hermes said, “That’s all she related to me. You should have been there. Your mother came into the pits sweating and exhausted. Her leathers were drenched. She slammed to a stop in front of me. The front wheel was just inches from my boots. I did not move. She shut the motor off. The carbon fiber brakes were red hot. The metal began to tick as it cooled and the fans came on. Her crew just watched. Taking her helmet off, red hair falling, she demanded, “Okay Hermes, if that’s your real name. This is no normal machine is it? What’s the story?”
“I smiled and said, ‘Look closely. The answers are all there.’ I turned and walked away without saying another word. As I was walking to the rig, I thought to myself, another little affair, the life of these mortal creatures is but an eye blink. Why all this fuss? Look at her. Then I turned and really looked at her. I realized something both The Deity and I had missed. Debrauna, it was in front of us all the time. I had to smile. This is a two way street. This affair will be interesting.
“I climbed up and got into the pilot’s seat of His rig, fired up the sweetest, mellowest sounding Kenworth anyone on that planet ever heard, gave a hit on the tuned horns, put it in gear, and slowly motored out of the track and disappeared.
“As I drove off he remembered what I suggested to Him. “You’ll be not of a living thing. Your wife will never think to look there. And the object of your love will love you for you as you are. What can be truer?” I shook my head and smiled. I said to myself, “Yes, this one will be interesting and not like the rest.
“And then I considered the implications thinking, and Heaven to pay.”
Hermes seemed to sober up as he stated, “Mixx as you know, your mother was unbeatable and became known, and is the ‘goddess of speed’. The Black Bike is always with her. The Black Bike was created ex nihilo for Debra Nua. She rides it now as you know, loving it with her whole being and will for all eternity. Engraved into the polished valve covers are the words:
Deus ex Machina,
For My Goddess of Speed.
That was the story Hermes told her when she was in her early teens. He was drunk and she was slightly buzzed from the mead. She remembered when Hermes said, “Mixx, you need to know your whole history. You are somewhat special and there are political things that could benefit and harm you at the same time. You need to keep this in mind when here at the Lyceum. You can’t let petty things get to you any more.” He added quickly “And, for the rest of your existence. You can call on me.”
Reality returned when she heard The Head Master holler, “Where did Hermes disappear to now? Oh never mind.”
He turned back to her and purred, “Mixx, please, I’m very interested in your senior project. It seems you completed it with results that are amazing, and, disturbing. Your mentor and others were surprised. You have outdone anything we could have imagined in any eternity.” He said shaking his head from side to side and smiling at the same time.
Mixx wasn’t at all sure if it was sarcasm, or? All she said was, “Oh yes Sir, that. I thought.” She stopped mid sentence and assumed the best.
Ares replied attempting to keep his composure. For the first time dealing with this Hal-Fling he thought that maybe she wasn’t up to her usual tricks that made him rage against the tide of reality. “Well, yes and no. Just tell me the story as you have it. I’m quite interested in this, Common Cause, as you titled it.” He kept his hands folded on the desktop in a tight grip.
He decided she really was a Hal-Fling. Her presence was just some gift from some minor god to some mortal for treasons that had nothing to do with him. She never played all the magic tricks or called on her family to save her that the other students would usually do when they were in trouble.
But what about Hermes, that never added up? Hermes became indispensable. He was prompt, articulate, thorough, and precise and could be trusted. That question remained lodged in his mind but Hermes never gave him reason to pursue that line of inquiry.
Hal-Fling, he smiled at the assumption. Maybe there was a way out of this with her. He knew he would have to have all his evidence in order. If she was a Hal-Fling, there shouldn’t be much if any political fallout. No one came to her aid when she switched places with a cat during an incantation class. He had to laugh when he remembered she was almost stuck in that cat’s body while the cat rampaged through the laboratory with her clothes on. If only, he wished. He had made her clean up the lab by herself and no one came to help her except to give her a lab coat to cover herself when she reappeared. What a mess.
Ares thought about it for a second while looking at her and wondered, just how did she get out of the cat’s body? I never discovered that either. All he said this time was, “Please Mixx,” and emphasized, “don’t spare the details. Your project had an interesting result.” “Please, all the details if you would,” he added egging her on.
Mixx smiled. Well this was different she thought. She was really happy. I’m not being accused of any infraction. She answered, “Gladly. I went down to the place I was assigned, small planet, borderline in technology, but myth wise, kinda slow. I guess that’s why we keep it as a training ground?” She looked toward The Master for affirmation.
“Yes, yes, go on.” He nodded and made a waving motion his hands, and said again in a saccharine sweet tone, “Please. Yes, yes, go on.”
She continued, excited and believed she took the right action. “Well I found one monk and I took over his body, as per regulations.” Yet in the back of her mind something was telling her to be careful. Since when did he ever like her?
“Where did you place his atman?” The master’s eyes squinted and his jaw tightened. Please tell me you cashiered him he begged to himself. If she did that, then all my problems would be solved, he thought. I could legitimately throw her out and demand her termination. Oh please say you did he begged to himself.
Mixx continued, “It was wintry cold so I just suspended it, I put it on ice so to speak,” she added quickly. “I do know how to do that. He’s okay, I checked on him before I left. He was a little confused but fine. I made sure. I left him in a monastery with a good meal and a jug of wine.”
“I then assumed his form as proposed. Then I spent time listening to the inner workings of many of the beings. But almost ALL their thoughts revolved around, toys, sex, money, and power. They all wished for one or all of it. By the way Head Master, his body was out of shape and rather stinky.”
“Sex, money and power, all of them?” he acted rather surprised, though he wasn’t. He thought to himself, she is young, ah, so naïve. Who knows maybe there is hope here? Reality hit him quickly. What’s wrong with me? Is she playing me? He looked at her closely.
“Please go on,” he said.
Mixx answered, “Well, not all of them, most though, and monks were just as bad. There is something about a human life span that must make them crazy from what I can judge. I was about to give up, and ask to rewrite my thesis. When walking around a corner I saw one mortal being sitting in a café reading a magazine. It wasn’t a sex magazine - that much I knew. But his mind was foggy. I couldn’t get into it. However, out of his mouth came my inspiration. So I didn’t bother attempting to overcome the block. I had my inspiration.”
“And that was?” asked Ares. He wondered how a human had the power to block someone of her skill. That was odd though not unheard of. He was troubled by her comments about humans too. He let it pass. He wanted her out.
Mixx smiled when she said, “He banged the magazine and said, ‘Why don’t people just have common sense?’ ”
“What a thought! What a wish! So I granted it, Common Sense, for every one! You should have seen the looks on all the people. Most stopped in their tracks, as if they ran into a wall. Some started crying; others started laughing. But there was calmness after a bit.”
Ares, incredulous, couldn’t hold it in any longer and shouted, “You Idiot, you total fool,” he screamed. “Can’t you see what you did?”
Ares continued shouting, “No! I…I mean we are out of business there because of you…you whatever you are. Now no one there, on that little rock is going to put up with the controls I have instituted. We spent millennia cultivating their fears and superstitions. In one wish granting session, you wiped it out. Would you believe that crap that we’ve been propagating? You have no common sense.”
And not waiting for an answer, The Head Master said every word separately and loudly; his face was red with rage,
“No!” Mixx was stunned. “What are you talking about? WE’RE cultivating fears and superstition? No one mentioned that to me.” She retorted, “Now maybe they can come up to a new level of belief, something that matches reality?”
“Those monkeys,” The Head Master spoke somewhat softer while at the same time attempting to gather some measure of control of his emotions and voice. He realized losing control at this stage of his career was a bit embarrassing, especially in front of this piece of nothing. He reiterated “Those monkeys? Not likely. They’ll twist anything. We added that to their brain patterns when we made them.”
“So you’re saying my granting a Winter Solstice Wish for planetary common sense on this one little rock in space affected the celestial world order?”
Ares growled, “In a word, yes. I have no idea what the Big One’s will do.” An idea came to him. It was brilliant. “But you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to pass you and get you out of here to be someone else’s problem. Some other poor soul will deal with you. You will never amount to anything what-so-ever. I will see to that.”
He swore “Hera, my mother, be my witness.”
Mixx replied emphatically sticking to the main point of his tirade. “Regarding what the Big Ones as you put them, will do? Not much as I understand. This is a lock. All independent study projects are kept as learning tutorials for follow-on adepts.”
She had never ever asked for help. She had always worked her problems out on her own. She knew she needed protection and needed it quickly. The Head Master had great power. And she, she had nothing.
“It was common sense to keeping them in the circles they were going. Now, there is no telling what they will do, or become,” opined the Master.
Ares was going to the top as soon as she left the room, screw passing her and all that. He wanted her done. He had a history. He had sacrificed. She would be sent down or turned into a tree or who knows what. He didn’t care. He wanted her gone and to pay for upsetting his little otherworldly domain. “I wish I had some damning information on her,” he mumbled not so quietly to himself.
“Better I would hope.” Mixx replied smiling weakly. She heard him. She knew now that this was his attempt to get rid of her and she knew that was a strong possibility.
Ares said, “Let me explain just a bit before you go. Then you might understand a bit better before you’re cashiered. The answer is No, not better. They are a source of energy for us. I…I mean, we, get a lot of power from them. We derive energy from their prayers and gifts. And now you’ve basically ended it with the wish of common sense.”
“Others planets have mythology….” Where was he going with this?
The Master interrupted adding, “The other planets and systems we control, they don’t kill for it like those monkeys do. We use this specific planet for games and amusement as well as power.”
Mixx stood up, and with strength that came from somewhere deep inside stated firmly, “I believe I did the correct action. And sir, you are sadly mistaken and mislead.”
Ares stood up and shouted, “Your time is finished. I will be in touch with,” he was about to mention Hera but stopped for a second and then added, “I am waiting on the decision to reverse your wish from the higher ups. And along with that, your banishment to that planet you so stupidly corrected. I will leave it up to you to live out your own life and this mess on your own, without celestial powers. If I get my wish, you are so dead.” And added with a sneer, “Hal-Fling.”
“Sir, no disrespect, I believe you can’t see the benefits.” She ignored the insult.
“Benefits? Where? We will have to make a new world, and possibly destroy this one.”
“Sir, why, since when?” She was totally unaware of any of this.
“I do it all the time.” He said with finality in his voice adding, “IF WE believe that one group or even one being becomes a threat to our existence, I terminate their life forces and reapply those forces elsewhere.”
Mixx rose to her full height. She was as tall as he was. She stood her ground and stated, “I granted a common sense wish. And now you and our people are threatened? Something is wrong here.”
The Head Master, who knew he had this in hand, his mind composed, serenely stated, “I would have granted common “base” intelligence. Nothing fancy, simple living, no great works, no high-end science, nothing other than COMMON, Base, Simple, and not as you did, you fool. You were never supposed to go that far in your assignment. But I must thank you. Be gone Hal-Fling.” He turned his back to her. It was done.
“What am I doing…? HERE? What’s happening?”
The powers, many voices, voices male and female spoke as one:
“We granted you, OUR winter solstice gift- wish that we grant to one of our own. You wished for a change, it’s yours… as you would have.”
“Not this… I was thinking… retirement and…” Ceres begged.
“Oh, but you are retired. You will not be harmed. You will be safe and cared for. Once again, you have gone too far and with malice and forethought, attempted to hurt Mixx. Like you, she one of our own. You can pick any monastery, ashram, temple, or a cave of your choice on that planet. We’re sorry it had to come to this.”
“Your adept did a good job. We were waiting for one of your students to show creativity, initiative, and spirit. We let your escapades go on because of who you are. But you have gone too far. As we said, Mixx is one of us. Her bloodlines go back to the beginnings. She will soon learn that. We never told her or anyone.”
There was slight mumbling in the background and a “Hera, what do mean she knows? Who told …” was heard. “She never let on.”
After a few minutes of unintelligible mumbling where the name Hermes was heard more than a few times, the collective voices continued, “No matter, Mixx is your replacement and Hermes will be her mentor until she can handle this place on her own. But she is ready for her next step.”
“Good luck. Have a wonderful and long existence.”
Mixx turned toward a familiar growl. It wasn’t Hermes, though he did grouse a bit. It was the sound of the bike in the distance growing louder by the second.
No motorcycles were destroyed writing this story.
micheledutcher - As a female who has just gone through a summer of old males screaming in my face when I KNEW I was correct academically - and could prove it - this story is spiritually soothing. Thanks for the uplift. Michele Dutcher
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