Thursday, June 29, 2017

Man Plans, Daphne Waits.

The Colossus, all one hundred feet of iron, bronze, and stone, on its fifty-foot white marble pedestal, glared at the horizon. It was both a welcome and a warning to any coming ships. Daphne, tucked under its loincloth like a testicular tumor, was face down, suspended from the harness her brother had installed last week.
She was bored. This was the worst part of her job. She couldn't sing. She had no one to talk to. She resisted the urge to sway her hips and rock the harness like a hammock, imagining herself vomiting and giving away the game as the great statue dripped out what would look like a relatively small squeak of the “Spartan slipperies.” She stared at the ocean from the grand, afternoon-sun-baked bronze crotch until her vision blipped purple and she realized she'd have to close her eyes to let them readjust. To keep from falling asleep she went over the plan again.
At some point between the mealtime reign of Aktas and the darkening of Dysis, her target Megalesus would sail into the harbor with his easy to spot blue sails. At that point, she'd nock an arrow. When midship passed into her view, she'd draw and loose, leading Megalus’s sun-pinked bald head by the space of two of her fingers. As fast as she could, she’d then yank the leather thong dangling next to her head, dropping the ampules of sulfur and Stygian water, hopefully poisoning any gods that he may have struck a bargain with.
Daphne hoped he had a god on board. She'd never killed an Olympian. She didn't really know what sort of contacts Megalesus would have. She didn't think it'd be one of the Three Brothers, but a girl could hope. Maybe she'd watch Poseidon's great god-beard turn green and strangle him like angry kelp. She didn't know how the Stygian-sulphur mix actually worked, just that her grandmother told her its innovation was what made Zeus give their home to the Hellens. That'd been a long time ago, though. Nobody really talked about it anymore. As far as she knew, except for Damonax the hermit, there weren't even any others like them, the Telchines, the first people to come to Rhodes, around anymore. Well, except for her family and Megalesus, and her family had changed their name a long time ago.
Through the sweat, she still felt a blanch of fear. What if Apollo was with Megalesus? That'd be the worst. Apollo was her favorite, and not just because of her name, no matter what the boys said when she went to town, chasing her with waggling sheep guts strapped to their crotches screaming, "Get her before she can bark shut the joy cave, boys!" Or, that's what they used to say until she slowed down enough to let Mykonos, the tall boy that didn't waggle with nearly as much intensity, catch her. She said he could kiss her, but he froze like a startled goat. She cracked his cheekbone with a right cross that her brother claimed was so loud he heard it in the fields. The oracles declared her protected by Artemis, which is totally dumb because she didn't want to run from boys her whole life. Sometimes she wanted to chase them. That's why Apollo was her favorite. That's why she liked the Colossus so much.
He was like her, like her family. Everyone said the massive harbor statue was Helios, the Titan. Grandmother said they used to make weapons for the Titans, they were the best in the young world at it. They never made anything for Helios, but she still liked the Titans. People tried to tell her that Apollo took his job, but grandmother said that Helios was just adaptable and hid as an Olympian; that Helios just became Apollo. He was the only god she'd talk to. This brought Daphne back to her original concern, that Apollo might be on the ship with Megalesus (still no sign of his stupid boat), and she realized that the sun would still be up, there was no way he'd be on that boat. He had to ride the chariot home. And if that weren't enough, she was nestled beneath the greatest monument to the god-but-not-really-secretly-a-titan-and-totally-her-favorite. Even more than that, she was basically playing the part of his prick at the moment, with an actual bow to actually shoot at an enemy and bring retribution to something or other.
Daphne admitted that she mostly paid attention to the planning phases and less attention to the reasons behind the contract her father had taken. But still! She was toxic doom as the living manifestation of Apollo's great solar cock. Her vengeful solar god-crush would not be on the boat, and her arrow would not miss and she was totally definitely going to watch Poseidon get strangled by his green beard when she dropped the god poison.
By the looks of the sun, that entire chaotic thought-stampede had eaten up about half of Aktas's horai. She suppressed a melodramatic groan. Teenager or not, she still took pride in her work. She was one hungry hired killer, though. She should have packed lamb, at least some bread. She'd decided not to, figuring if she had to relieve herself, it wouldn't be an option (see Spartan slipperies) but she was regretting it now. She needed strength.
Nothing was available. All she had to snack on was a little thing her uncle had called “mental discipline.” She'd be in the zone, good to go. The stories would be impressive. All day, no food, just listening to waves break against the bronze echoed screams of her own unrelenting boredom. She waited. She struck. And Poseidon was totally killed too. They say Apollo himself rode in at dark on an indigo bull and took her to a place known only as 'The Acropolis of hot makeouts.'

The legend unfolded in her head, she figured Athenians would pick it up and soon everyone would be singing it. Nobody would care about the other Daphne that Apollo used to want. There was a new kid in town. Maybe she'd be an Argonaut. She'd sail, she'd get the next golden fleece.
Unfortunately, it took a picosecond for Daphne to connect golden fleece with gilded lamb shanks. She snapped out of her not-very-disciplined daydream and checked the sun's shadow again. Another half an hour. It was probably the horai of Dysis. The blue sails should be here any minute. She decided to fix her eyes on their likely point of arrival in her field of view and count silently.
The quiet lasted an unprofessional but admittedly understandable thirty seconds before she shouted: "Zeus's crackling butthole! I’m so bored!"
She'd had enough of waiting. She said a brief prayer to Apollo ("Dear divine sun, I will let you shine wherever you want if this fat bald asshole just sails his gross belly into my field of view and lets me shoot him through the skull so I can go home before dinner's cold and crawling with parasites.")
She about screamed again heard sailors shouting. With hands like a sparrowhawk, she unfastened her short bow and nocked an arrow. A ship's prow nosed through the outside perimeter of the Colossus's skirts. She splayed both her legs and braced herself against iron spars with her sandaled feet, bending the cork and leather with her toes and grasping the corners. She stabilized. Her heart started to beat faster but was willfully slowed with three steady, long breaths. Midship edged into her view and she twisted her head laterally, left then right, the joints in her spine cracking. She drew back on the bow, listening to the satisfying rasp of the gut string stretching against her effort. The timing was perfect. Megalesus was standing slightly to the left of center straddling two crates and laughing, apparently doing an impression of the Colossus. She flicked her eyes the span of two fingers ahead of him and loosed, then quickly yanking the cord on the Stygian bottles dangling on her left. The arrow's whistled passage was silenced by wind and distance almost instantly.

Megalesus, pointing upwards, making the same joke every jackass sailor makes about the giant Helios's missing manhood, was staring right at her when Daphne's arrow drove through his left eye socket. The arrowhead drove to just out the back of his skull, like a tack's point through a shoe. The sulfur jars landed between two sailors and predictably shattered and splattered.  Nobody clutched their throats and died, presumably because there were no gods on board or, as her brother would later explain, grandma was a total shit talker and she probably could have skipped the Olympian insurance.
Megalesus's last thought, "These guys work for me, but they really think I'm funny" would go undisputed, letting him die the way he lived, with undeserved self-confidence.  Nikostratos, his financier's assistant, was crestfallen. He'd wanted to tell Megalesus his jokes were terrible and now he'd have to wait until he died to do it. Nikostratos looked up at Helios, the crotch already behind them, and shook his fist.

Daphne, on the other hand, had already climbed out of her harness and worked her way into the great statue. At around what would be his prostate, instead of taking a left and shimmying down the path in the rockfill, she climbed up the interior to the top and squeezed out a seam behind the great bronze ear. She dropped down to a shoulder and looked away from the harbor. The ocean, slashed red by the setting sun, read to her as Apollo's favor. She put her fingers to her lips and blew a kiss to the vanishing wheel of her god, her titan's chariot, and blushed her goodbyes to the day.