By Lisa McCourt Hollar
Mammoth waves crashed against jagged rock, water surging into the mouth of the cave before receding one more into the tempestuous sea. Poseidon watched from a distance as his niece, Artemis, entered the grotto, a large, golden buck over her shoulders. The sacrifice was meant for his son and he felt a surge of gratitude that she still deigned to come down from Olympus. Since their fall from grace, Zeus and most of the Olympian gods chose to distance themselves from those who had once worshiped them, hiding like cowards among the clouds.
Artemis stopped just inside the jagged entrance, dropping her kill onto the damp earth, her slender legs nearly buckling as she surveyed the scene in front of her. Bones littered the floor, some in piles, all in a varying state of decay. Unmistakable teeth marks adorned the ivory colored castoffs. Some still had flesh and gore attached, bloody and frayed from having been partially ripped from the bone. Artemis sighed, her auburn hair swaying as she shook her head. “It has been a while since my last visit,” she mused.
Turning, she stared into Poseidon’s eyes, then turned her gaze to the wreckage on the craggy beach. She cursed herself for staying away so long. She glanced back at her uncle who shrugged his massive shoulders. She could almost hear his thoughts, ‘What do you expect me to do; he is my son.” Then he disappeared, sinking into the ocean’s depths.
Artemis flung the buck over her shoulders once more and stepped further into the fissure. Bones crunched beneath her feet with every step. The walls, stained with blood, along with the putrid stench, told the story of what had happened.
Artemis dipped her head, bending slightly as she entered another cavern. The stench was overwhelming. “Whoa!” Artemis yelled as a bone came flying towards her, barely missing her head before landing in the growing pile directly behind her. “Polyphemus, will you watch where you toss your leftovers!”
“Sorry cousin, but you know I can’t exactly see.” Polyphemus’s raspy voice held a trace of laughter, a sign that he was in a good mood. Artemis winced as he picked up a woman who had been cowering in the corner. She had hoped to escape his attention, but the Cyclops, blind since losing his eye to Odysseus, had a keen sense of hearing and her muffled whimpers screamed loudly in his ears. At his touch she began to shriek, begging Artemus to help her. Artemis looked the other way as Polyphemus silenced her pleas by biting off her head.
“Polyphemus, that is so gross!”
Polyphemus chuckled, turning the woman upside down and sucking her spinal cord out of the gaping hole that had been her neck. “Delicious,” he said, slurping blood and intestines through his teeth.
“Please help us!” Another woman screamed, a crying baby cradled in her arms. A man stood in front of her, a futile attempt at protection. Other survivors of the wreckage joined in, adding their pleas to the melee.
“They are funny,” Polyphemus said as he broke the man in half, splattering blood as he did so.
“I guess they should have sought better shelter.” Artemis thought.
“Please, at least save my baby!”
“Now you pray to me?” Artemis scoffed. “Now that you have nowhere else to turn you expect me to hear you? You abandoned us and my cousin does need to eat. Why should I help you now?”
The frightened woman dodged the Cyclops as his meaty hands reached for her.
“You can run, but you can’t hide!” Polyphemus chuckled, enjoying this game. The woman slipped on the blood drenched floor, sliding past the giant and crashing into Artemis, who barely managed to stay on her feet.
“Please take her!” The mother cried as Polyphemus grabbed her from the ground, lifting her to his lips. Just before the baby was beyond her reach, Artemis snatched her from the woman’s arms, who smiled gratefully before being swallowed whole.
copyright © 2011 Lisa McCourt Hollar. All rights reserved.