The smell of smoke lingered in the air. “Hey, it’s puff, puff, pass…not puff, puff, puff, puff, dude.” Rick held out his hand for the blunt. Terry glared at him, but handed it over.
Rick inhaled and let the smoke fill him with warmth as he and Terry walked down a cold, dark back-road. He exhaled, watching the cloud expelled writhe and wreathe around Terry’s head, making him look like he walked in a fog. Flattened fields, stripped from harvesting, stretched to infinity around them. Hardly anyone ever came out this way, but if they did, the boys would see the headlights long before any car reached them.
Rick handed the roach back to Terry. “You ready for the test tomorrow?”
“Got my gallon of water all rea- Oh, you mean algebra?” Terry blew a raspberry. “Eh, I don’t care.”
Rick’s eyes widened, his lips flapping open and closed like a fish flopping in the grass. “Is…is there a…piss test tomorrow?” he asked, voice cracking.
“Yup.” Terry took a long drag on the remaining nub. “You didn’t know?”
“Dude! I’ll get kicked off the team!”
The moon broke through the clouds, bright and full, to illuminate the area. They stood in the middle of a crossroads. Terry grinned, a wicked gleam in his eye. “Well, if you’re so worried about it, why don’t we make a deal?”
“What? You gonna piss for me? No, thanks. That’ll probably send me to juvie.”
Terry waved away Rick’s objection. “No, dick. I mean like they do on Supernatural. We’re at a crossroads.”
Rick’s face twisted in confusion, but before he could do or say anything, Terry shouted, “Hey! Whoever’s listening, my buddy wants to make a deal!”
Rick grabbed Terry by the shoulder. “Will you shut up!” he hissed.
“Awwww, is poor widdle Wicky scared a demon-wemon will come take him away?”
The light around the two brightened into a flash before Rick could cock his arm back to punch. They shielded their eyes against the overwhelming luminescence. Animal sounds assailed their ears during their enforced blindness. A dog growled on their right, while a hissing sound came from the left. Behind them, a horse whinnied and neighed.
The glow faded and they peeked over their arms. A dark-haired woman clad in only a black skirt stood in front of them, partially hiding two blondes behind her. “I am Hecate, and I have heard your call.”
Rick’s mouth dropped open, and Terry’s lips slid into a leer.
Hecate arched an eyebrow at the unexpected reaction. “What are you two starin- Oh, for love of Olympus!” She twisted her hand in a gesture neither boy could describe, and a tunic appeared over her bare chest. “Teenagers, bad as Hercules” she muttered.
She tried to reassert control over the situation. “As I said, I am Hecate, and I heard…blah, blah, blah. Listen, do something for me and I’ll grant you your fondest desire.”
Terry opened his mouth and she glared at him. “That doesn’t involve you ogling my breasts, or anything else.”
Terry frowned, but Rick found the courage to speak first. “What would we have to do?”
Hecate’s arm flowed out in a graceful gesture and an image of a young girl in a white tunic with flowers in her hair appeared in mid-air. “You will travel to Hades, past Cerebrus, across the river Styx, and rescue Persephone from the clutches of that foul realm’s ruler, fulfilling the promise I made Demeter to help retrieve her daughter.”
Terry held up his hands. “Whoa! That sounds like a lot of work, especially to get some broad’s chubby little brat back. I’m out. Plenty of big girls at school that wouldn’t mind a piece of the Terrible Terr-ster.” He flexed his biceps and brought them up to his lips to kiss them.
Hecate rolled her eyes. “I’m sure the ladies are falling all over themselves for you.” She turned her gaze to Rick. “And you? Do you have the stalwart heart to stand with the likes of Achilles, Hercules, Jason, and Orpheus?”
Rick glanced at Terry. “You know what? I think I’ll just fake having the flu for a few days.”
The boys turned and ran across the fields, avoiding Hecate’s familiars. She watched their rapidly retreating backs. “No wonder the rest of the gods gave up on humanity.”
Word Count: 723
Speakeasy #136. This week’s prompt, to be used as the first line is: The smell of smoke lingered in the air. The picture prompt to be referenced in some way is: The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy by William Blake.
- your post must be dated November 17, 2013, or later
- submissions must be 750 words or fewer
- submissions must be fiction or poetry
- your piece must include the following sentence as your FIRST line: “The smell of smoke lingered in the air.”
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- J. Milburn