The Deal is Struck

The Deal is Struck

A Chapter by Zachary Cothren
"

this is the first chapter of gambling with gods. Hope you all like it.

"

There was a knock at the door.

It was the knock of someone who was in no hurry. It was the knock of someone who hadn’t just gotten off work, and was having a generally terrible week. It wasn’t the knock of someone who had just burned himself trying to make some soothing lemon tea, and it certainly wasn’t the knock of someone who had just sat down with a book they had put off finishing for several weeks.

 

Mark put down his book and got up. The steaming tea sat in a saucer near the comfy leather chair, and was looking generally menacing with all its super-heated liquid fury. He crossed the small room noting no less than three things wrong with the space around him: a broken hinge, a loose handle, a crack in a door frame. Just a few more things he had not gotten to, he added them silently to his mental to-do list, which had grown longer and more threatening ever since he moved into this new apartment.

 

He looked out the small peephole that was set slightly too high in the door. All he could see of the small hallway beyond was the top of a head plastered with spiky white hair. Mark, not liking the idea of letting someone stand on his doorstep, opened the door to reveal a small old man. There was nothing particularly strange about him, just a short old man, except for one thing.

 

He was obnoxiously white. His hair was a bone white, his skin was the color of old paper; even his clothes had looked as if they had been covered in talcum powder. Except for his eyes, they had a dark sunken appearance, and were so far set back into his face he appeared to have to tunnels in his skull.

 

“Are ya gonna keep gawking or am I gonna be let in?” demanded the old man if a high voice. He pushed past Mark, who was to stunned to argue, and walked past into the living room. His bleach white sneakers squeaked as he walked.

 

“Um… I’m sorry, but what are you doing?” Asked Mark in a slightly defeated voice. He had never been one for conflict, and the current situation he found himself in was testing the limits of his patience. The man was indeed strange though; his clothes hadn’t had a spec on them, which was odd. The pathway to the front door always flooded when it rained, and it had been raining all day. Yet he didn’t have a mark on him, and because when presented with a impossibility the normal human reaction is to ignore it and move on; Mark promptly forgot his momentary shoe fixation.

 

“Got any coffee? You can never get anything good on Olympus, the swill Hermes always makes tastes like mud.” He had already picked up the book and was leafing through it, and Mark’s tea’s lemon was being sucked on mercilessly.

 

“No, I don’t like to bring my work home with me… What are you doing?” The man in white was already playing with the broken hinge on one of the wooden cabinets in the room.

 

“Oh, so you work in a coffee place do ya? Good, good… Taking orders all day, making complicated coffees. Means you got good short term memory, and ya probably are good with yar hands.” He had already began to tap the hinge suspiciously when Mark walked behind him, and as soon as he reached the spot behind him the old man leapt to his feet and turned around.

 

“Your probably wonderin’ why I’m here, aren’t ya?” Asked the old man in a tone of barely contained amusement. Mark was really starting to get annoyed, and wished the man would leave. He had already cost him his place in the book, and that was the last lemon in the house.

 

“Yes.” replied, but the rest of the sentence he had planned out in his head trailed off as he looked at the hinge again. It was no longer broken; all of the screws were perfect, and the metal gleamed with a defiant coppery glow. The white man had already walked into the kitchen by the time Mark was able to wretch his eyes away from them cabinet. He followed the old man, who was already opened his refrigerator and was holding a plastic container of what once was some sort of fish like substance. He opened up and sniffed it suspiciously, and reeled back at the pent of stench that had built up within the container.

 

“Looks like ya got nothin to eat, shame really. I was hungry, well I guess it’s time to tell ya why I’m here.” He fished within one of the pockets on his white coat and pulled out a small envelope. It was sealed with a daub of wax pressed into a seal that was a lightning bolt surrounded by a string of thin runes.

 

“Don’t open that jus’ yet. I’m gonna need to explain so ya don’t get a unfair advantage against the others,” he muttered as he looked back into the fridge longingly, “Thing is boy, you’ve been chosen.” At this revelation the man in white struck a quick pose in an attempt to somehow make the exchange more impressive, unfortunately it merely looked ridiculous.

 

“What?”

 

“You’ve been chosen boy, for the contest, for the trail of ages, to save the girl, defeat the dragon, and save the day!” Mark had finally decided that the man was insane, and had written off from his consideration. He now just wanted to get the man out of his house and out of his life, so that he could resume that book.

 

“Nice, thank you for choosing me. I’m honored, I’ll be sure to read this letter soon.” He said in a mock excitement as he tried to push the man out of his kitchen. The man brushed away Mark’s arm with a surprising strength and turned to Mark, his eyes suddenly serious looking from their sunken holes.

 

“I don’t think you fully grasp this situation Mark. I have chosen you as my champion,” Mark’s face continued to be a blank mask of enthusiasm,” Mark, I’m Zeus.”

 

“Yes, yes mister Zeus. How are you brothers doing? Hades and Poseidon was it?” Asked Mark, barely containing a giggle.

 

“The grubby b******s are already a step ahead of me, that’s how they’re doing. Probably already go their champions ready,” then he looked up into Mark’s face and saw he didn’t believe him. “You don’t believe me do ya? Well why should ya, a old man burstin' in demanding heated beverages and doing odd jobs around the… house.” He began to roll up his sleeves and then held one arm outstretched, palm up.

 

A pinpoint of light appeared a few inches above his palm, and then it grew. Small sparks of electricity arcs out from the main ball and curled in on each other as it continued to rise. It ended as an approximately soft ball sized ball of ball lightning above the old man’s hand. Then he abruptly closed his hand and the ball sputtered out as quickly as it had grown.

 

“Ok you have my attention.” Said Mark in a dull voice. He was still in shock from the recent improbability, and because this one was a little too insane for him to ignore he simply stared in a dumb stupor.

 

“Now that I got your attention will you show me to your sitting room so I can explain?” Mark led him dumbly into the room, and even let him sit in his special leather chair. Mark sat on the small footrest, the only other furniture in the room that could be sat on; he didn’t have many friends.

 

“Ok, so the deal is that you have been chosen to be the champion of Zeus in a little bet I have with the other gods. Me and my brothers and Oden and his sons and even Freya have joined up for this one!” His eyes contained a strange mildly manic excitement,” The thing is normally it’s only two or three gods; this time it’s seven, which is a big deal up in Olympus. So many gods means the stakes must be raised, so this round is going to be far more interesting.”

 

“What do you mean? What have they joined, and what have I been chosen as the champion for?” And as his brain overloaded from the sheer weirdness is latched onto a much more simple question, probably something he could deal with in his current state. “And how did you now my name?”

 

“Aren’t you full of questions. To tell ya the truth, the life of a god is borin’. We throw a couple of thunderbolts, sacrifice a few virgins, stop a few apocalypses, and then what? You don’t hear ‘bout people worshipping Zeus any more. Every time I work up the enthusiasm to toss a couple lightning bolts you lot chalk it up to freak weather patterns and pressure differentials. Pah!” He looked at Mark as if trying to goad some sympathy out of him. When he saw none he continued.

 

“Well, without people worshipping us we don’t have much to do. So every so often we make a bet that our mortal can beat the others. So we reveal ourselves to some person out there, and tell them about the contest. They become our champion and attempt to complete the preset goal. This time, I’ve chosen you.”

 

“What do you mean? Why me? Why not some soldier or explorer or at least someone who hasn’t lived in the same town all their life!”

 

“Well, I’ve done the whole hero thing. I never really liked it. Heroes die in heroic last stands and fight while their friends get away, and you’re no use to me dead. I need someone who will run away to fight another day! I need someone who doesn’t have a inferiority complex the size of Mount Olympus and some notion that they got to show everyone exactly where their made of… sometimes literally. I chose you because you’re normal.” He finished as if it would somehow be impressive, frankly it wasn’t, and Mark made that apparent in his stare.

 

“Ok, I get why, but why me? I mean specifically?”

 

“Well the thing is that I was kinda pressed for time,” he said sheepishly, slightly embarrassed,” I got me a globe and spun it ‘round, and threw a dart. Then I went to the nearest town, here. I got me a phone book and let it flop open, closed my eyes and planted my finger onto a name, and low and behold it was you.” Mark’s brain stopped its frantic movement for a second long enough to absorb this fact, and it didn’t like it.

 

“That’s how you chose me? That’s how you chose me! What if I refuse?” Mark said, his voice approaching a shout, because like all people who were way out their league he had resorted to rhetorical questions and a loud voice.

 

“For what reason would you do that?” asked Zeus, as if he generally did not understand the concept,” Do you really want to be making coffee all your life? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for adventure. You are one out of only seven people in a generation who is going to go on a quest like this. If you really want I can force you to forget this and move onto someone else, but why would I do that. You seem like a sharp lad. Like ya said before you’ve lived in the same town all yer life. That won’t be true any more, you’re gonna be one of the few people in this day and age who is gonna get to see the multi-verse.”

 

Mark considered this for a long moment. It was true; an opportunity like this was once in a lifetime, probably several life times. He would be stupid to refuse. His life wasn’t the greatest of things, and he didn’t have any friends. Just this crappy apartment and his crappy job. Now it was time to have a crappy adventure.

 

“Ok, what do I have to do?”

 

“Oh, for me to tell you that this is going to have to be a lot more dramatic, and a lot more private,” he extended his arms and held his hands aloft between them “Go ahead and grab my hands, oh and close yer eyes, the last mortal who saw the world beyond… well lets just say we needed a scrapper.” Mark reluctantly grasped Zeus’s hands and shut his eyes tightly. For a moment nothing seemed to happen, he just sat there shivering in the cool breeze… cool breeze. He ran the thought over again a few times in his mind before he opened his eyes.

 

A sea of clouds extended out from his vision, every few miles or so a small island of barren rock stuck out white ocean. The sun was just barely over the horizon at the edge of the cloudbank. It cast fingers of orange color over the clouds. A crisp breeze blew over Mark and swept his dark hair from his eyes.

 

“Beautiful ain’t it.” Said a deep rumbling voice from beside Mark. He turned to see  what he could only describe as a giant. He was probably about seven and a half feet tall, with a long white beard that stopped about a foot above his waste. His long white hair flowed down his back over a quiver that was slung over his shoulders. Instead of normal arrows each and every arrowhead was shaped as a thunderbolt. The bow for said arrows was laid across his lap; it looked to be made out of pure gold, with complicated runes etched all along it’s stock. The string was the thinnest of golden thread and didn’t look strong enough to support an arrow, but Mark had a sneaking suspicious that it could just fine. The entire effect was completed by the long white toga that he was wearing.

 

“Sorry, I couldn’t come to you in my normal form before Mark. Been there done that. Had some guy start trying to exorcise me, calling me the devil ‘er somethin’.” He stood up and took one of the arrows from quiver, and strung it. He aimed down from the mountaintop they were standing on and let the arrow go. It arced slowly and then turned into a bolt of incandescent electricity. It shot down through the clouds turning them into a twisting maelstrom. They folded in on themselves and finally formed into that looked like a hand, holding a torch.

 

“That is your goal. The torch of Prometheus, the first human hero.” When he was met with a confused stare he continued. “Prometheus? Thief of the gods? Bringer of fire? None of this ringing a bell? By Me, what do they teach kids in school these days.” He waved his hand towards the clouds and they began to shift into a scene of huts cast in darkness.

 

“Before there was human civilization there was the gods. Of course there were humans, but there were nothing more than glorified animals. Then one day one of ya decided to get smart.Don't know how don't know why, but one of you got the idea lodged in your head that you could challenge the gods. All that hype that he was the sun of titans was is complete wash he made up to get supporters. He climbed mount Olympus with his human rebellion and stole fire from us, and carried it back down to Earth using that torch, but he took a lot more than just fire. He brought ideas, he chased back the darkness and ushered in human civilization. I guess that was the point where we started to lose control of Earth; y’all became to smart started to question who we were and what we meant.” The clouds moved and shifted to keep up with his story showing the climbing Prometheus and him returning to the humans triumphant.

 

“You came up with that horrid Geometry thing, I hate Geometry,” he said the word with far more disgust that Mark thought it was possible to fit into four syllables,“ Who the hell wants to know how to make a circle when some thing that’s close enough will do just fine. Anyway I’m getting off subject. The thing is, is that is what you are searching for.”

 

“How, how am I supposed to find it?” Asked Mark who was finally coming to terms with what he was going. He was actually starting to get excited as some strange manic notion gripped him. He was going to leave this town, hopefully for good.

 

‘Oh, I can’t tell ya any specifics. That’d be against the rules. The envelope’s got everythin’ I can tell ya. Read it when ya get back. I gotta go to tell the other gods that I’ve chosen a champion and to confirm that I’m participating this year.” Mark looked down at the envelope he was still holding and blinked, confused. He looked up to ask Zeus another question, but it had been so sudden he hadn’t noticed. Mark was sitting in his own living room again, the small lamp behind the now empty leather chair. He was slightly disappointed at the leaving of the Omnipotent being, but he couldn’t change it now. He scraped at the wax seal with his thumb until it broke, and unfurled the small white parchment inside.

 

Congratulations, [insert name here] you have been chosen by [inset appropriate deity here] to participate in the tournament of ages. For this particular tournament you shall be hunting the artifact known as [inset appropriate item here]. The contest is set to begin on [Insert date and time here]

 

At [inset date and time here] you are to meet at your closet dimensional waypoint, the location of which you should be informed of by [inset appropriate deity here]. This will be the first step on your journey into the multi verse. There are rules to this contest, and there are as follows:

 

  1. You are not allowed to be directly responsible for another contestant’s death, responsibility will be confirmed by a panel of impartial judges.
  1. You are not allowed to take any help from [inset appropriate deity here] that directly helps you towards your goal.
  1. Once you have crossed into the multi-verse you are considered a citizen of said multi-verse and must adhere to the laws of the current plain of existence you are in to the best of your abilities.

 

Thank you for your participation, and Good Luck.

 

At the bottom of the page in long slanted handwriting another shorter message had been scrawled in jet-black ink. It read: Starts tomorrow morning, 788 Darrow Street, the ugly little pub. (don’t tell Mr. Grennich I said it was ugly he would have my hide even if I am a god). Mark read and reread the message several times until he had thoroughly absorbed the information. He eventually got up and walked into his small bedroom, where he put on his sleepwear and went to bed. It was only later that night when he could not sleep that it struck him; he had never drunk his tea.



© 2010 Zachary Cothren


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Author's Note

Zachary Cothren
I wrote this all today so please ignore spelling mistakes if there are any.

My Review

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Featured Review

******************************************************************** Brilliant Opening *******************
9th para 2nd line...

[probably are good with **yar** hands] slang interpretation...
~probably are good with --y'ar-- hands. If I'm reading tis correctly, or. your?

Would work yet slow down the read in immediate recognition, never good for pace. Editor's would let my interpretation stand, send yours a marking and post yours, if you were adamant and an accepted published talent. If your a new writer, it might make the difference in accepting or rejecting your manuscript,
if too many of these expressions are dominant. If is in the representation of a pertinent character. It is passed by: as creative license...
A small thing, and a pointer. Ok...

*****************************************************************************************************************

I read quite a lot and I already know, that this is an excellent writ. If you are already as advanced as this reads at 16, polish your best piece and look to get published. I seen the length an brevity of 'Two Halves'. You have a gift Zach, that many writers. Would die to possess. Take a selected portion of say two chapters of that book and contact a list of Agents. Make sure they understand your age. As this will run to publishing and you will get the recognition...
that your talent deserve!

This the highest honoring I have posted here so far as: Romon in Review... for you to understand. The sooner you begin this trail, the faster the reading world. Will be blessed by your words, and perception. Your descriptive strengths are amazing, young Champion. As a Martial Artist In Kikoshingki Korean Karate...

********************************************************************** I Salute your Ability**************
Romon in Review 05/27/10. 11:50pm
Quesnel BC CANADA Heart & Soul Peace... Be the Champion you Are, my Brother.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I love it! The writing has a great pace, with some fun and joke thrown in for entertainment. The whole thing gives the knowledge of what the character is thinking and doing in a easy to understand fashion. I also expecially liked it when Zeus said -- "By Me" --, good job with the details. Had a good hook throughout, and managed to pull off being chosen as a champion with a believable character. Overall, great writing and can't wait to read the rest!

Posted 9 Years Ago


You got my attention, hope to read more.

Posted 9 Years Ago


omg, you're a man after my own heart. Greek AND Norse gods, I almost started drooling. You have to keep writing this one, because I'll be shure to read it.

Posted 9 Years Ago


I like it! Don't forget about it :-)

Posted 9 Years Ago


I definitely like the concept. Pretty original. Its a pretty good start to what seems like an interesting story.

There are some mistakes, words missing/words that don't quite sound right, but it really shows promise!

Posted 9 Years Ago


This is pretty good but needs some polishing, you certainly write beyond your years. The only parts I would question is the strange accent the god has, in my head it sounds like he comes from some obscure town in the deep South rather than Olympus, plus there seems to be a few Norse gods mixed in with the Olympus theme (Odin and his wife Freya) which might need some explaining if that's what you actually intend (i.e. a place where all of the gods come together regardless of their lineage). This is quite a promising piece of work so check for inconsistencies, give it a polish and see where it goes from there.

Posted 9 Years Ago


This is not a bad start. A few errors, but Domenic has those pretty much squared away. It's like I said with your other book, don't rush to edit. You have for that when the story is complete. Keep up the good work.

Posted 9 Years Ago


******************************************************************** Brilliant Opening *******************
9th para 2nd line...

[probably are good with **yar** hands] slang interpretation...
~probably are good with --y'ar-- hands. If I'm reading tis correctly, or. your?

Would work yet slow down the read in immediate recognition, never good for pace. Editor's would let my interpretation stand, send yours a marking and post yours, if you were adamant and an accepted published talent. If your a new writer, it might make the difference in accepting or rejecting your manuscript,
if too many of these expressions are dominant. If is in the representation of a pertinent character. It is passed by: as creative license...
A small thing, and a pointer. Ok...

*****************************************************************************************************************

I read quite a lot and I already know, that this is an excellent writ. If you are already as advanced as this reads at 16, polish your best piece and look to get published. I seen the length an brevity of 'Two Halves'. You have a gift Zach, that many writers. Would die to possess. Take a selected portion of say two chapters of that book and contact a list of Agents. Make sure they understand your age. As this will run to publishing and you will get the recognition...
that your talent deserve!

This the highest honoring I have posted here so far as: Romon in Review... for you to understand. The sooner you begin this trail, the faster the reading world. Will be blessed by your words, and perception. Your descriptive strengths are amazing, young Champion. As a Martial Artist In Kikoshingki Korean Karate...

********************************************************************** I Salute your Ability**************
Romon in Review 05/27/10. 11:50pm
Quesnel BC CANADA Heart & Soul Peace... Be the Champion you Are, my Brother.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow.I would love if this was real.I mean.i support God but I love reading Greek Mythology.This seems awesome.I will defintley read more as soon as u post it!!

Posted 9 Years Ago


(super-heated)
(three things wrong with the space around him(: or ;) a broken hinge,)
These aren't really spelling mistakes (though those were noted) but should get checked out.
I liked the description about the old man.
There's a few repeated words and such that a quick skim would cure.
(He had already (lost) him his place in the book, and that was the last lemon in the house.) I would change "lost" to "cost". just a suggestion.
(burstin in) ifd you cut off a word, it would have an ' after it, so it would be burstin'. sometimes you did it, but others you didn't, so you might want to watch out for that.
I'm a little iffy about the conjoining of Greek and Norse mythology..
a few logic leaps.. Zeus said he picked the guy because he wanted someone who would run away, then next he tells the guy it was a completely random choice.
A few more logic leaps with the prometheus explanation (if one normal guy could climb mt. olympus and steal fire, why did nobody else think to do it?)
one of the rules should be you can't tell anybody, and I agree with the sentiment about geometry.. damn it to hell.
Good ending.

The main problem I had with this was realism, (even if does concern greek gods). I feel a really powerful story coming on, but the setup just isn't right. I will be reading (and keeping an eye out for those greek mythology references lol).

Posted 9 Years Ago



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Added on May 26, 2010
Last Updated on June 12, 2010
Tags: Dark, Gay, Hate, LGBT, Life, Sad, adventure, death, epression, fantasy, fiction, heart, horror, lost, love, pain, poem, poetry, romance, teen, two, halves, science


Author

Zachary Cothren
Zachary Cothren

Tracy, CA



About
'Hey, I am a student who, in the past, really enjoyed thinking of stories, but that was all. For a long time I only thought of them - none made the arduous journey from my brain onto paper. I am final.. more..

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