I participated in a writing contest a few years ago and this was one of the stories I submitted. The rules for the contest are:
- You have to create short stories no longer than 1,000 words based on genre, location, and object in 48 hours.
- Stories must be original and not previously published.
- A story summary should be included, but does not count as part of the 1,000 word count.
My genre, location, and object are listed in the title of this post. I had fun writing this one and hope you enjoy it. Critiques are welcome. (Note: this version has been edited, so word count may be above or below 1,000)
The Peril of Persephone
Summary: Our hero, Alexander the Great, must use all his powers and the grace of the Gods to save Persephone from certain doom. Will he defeat his enemies and rescue Persephone, or will he be overcome by his own pride and leave her in peril?
As Orion fades in the sky before the rising of the sun, a clarion tone wakens me to another day guarding the safety of this fair city’s citizens. While many still slumber I, Alexander the Great, remain vigilant against the evils of this treacherous world. Blessed by the Gods with gifts of strength, endurance, and a keen sense of danger, I and others like me, await the next catastrophe, ever hopeful, ever prepared.
Now to the storerooms to retrieve the mighty weapons given by the Gods. The cloak of Hephaestus to guard me, the boots of Hermes to carry me, and the sword of Peleus to defeat all enemies. With these divine implements, no danger is too great, no challenge unconquerable, for Alexander the Great. Oh Gods, how good are these honored objects of power in the care and use of your servant.
Hark! Wicked deeds are afoot! A commotion in the stables of my great chariot, another gift from Hephaestus. With incredible speed, I descend the stairs to be greeted by chaos. A pack of hell hounds have broken into the stables, bringing mayhem on their heels. With abilities unknown to other men, I call forth a rush of water from my chariot, blasting the hounds with its purity and power. Their complaining barks amuse me as I drive them from the stables into the courtyard, doused and defeated.
Yet another sound, faint and fretful, descends from above. Sweet Persephone, mistress of this fortress, frightened by the hell hounds has escaped to the roof, only to be harassed by winged demons. Will these trials never cease? Calling on all that is left of my strength, I run to the cursed stairs and begin the climb.
Woe to me and sweet Persephone! Those devilish dogs have wreaked havoc throughout the fortress, releasing other fowl creatures to torment me. Serpents flash their fangs and spin their coils to ensnare me, but swift are my feet and quick are my wits. The sword of Peleus sings with each swing and fatal cut. The blood of the serpents flows freely, transforming the stairs into waterfalls of horror. Yet, Alexander shall press on!
Arms burning with pain, legs pounding with every step, I approach the gateway to salvation for brave Persephone, her cries still calling me to her aid. The door is immovable! What powers of Hades have been called forth against the cause of goodness this day! Once more I raise the sword of Peleus. The clash of that heavenly blade against the cold, unrelenting door rings through the air. Clang! Clang! Clang! The door buckles and crashes shattered by the will of Alexander and the aid of the Gods!
Through the door and into the fray once again. The winged beasts now face Alexander the Great! Grasping one of the slain serpents by the door, I summon the water once more and cleanse the skies of their wretchedness. The water subsides and I rush to Persephone’s side.
Distraught and disheveled, she cowers until I speak her name.
“Persephone. You’re safe now.”
She raises her head and looks at me with hopeful eyes. I reach out and slowly pick her up, cradling her in my arms like a child. Safe. She is safe. Once more, the vigilance of the brave has overcome the machinations of evil. Thus are the deeds of Alexander the Great on this day.
The fire chief stops reading, setting the paper on his desk, looking with curiosity at the young man sitting across from him. He runs a hand through is gray hair, a heavy sigh somehow saying that he has been here before escapes loudly into the room.
“Well, Alex, I guess you know how I feel about this shift report.”
The young man nods, embarrassment clear on his face. A face that could be on a Greek hero.
“Look, I know you miss teaching your Greek literature classes at the community college when summer hits, but you’ve got to stop this. Your uniform and equipment are not granted to you by the gods, they are property of the good people of Palo Cedro, California, Volunteer Fire Station 32. The fire engine is not your chariot, and it is not to be used to spray water at your coworkers, who, by the way, are not hell hounds.” The chief gave Alex a stern look.
“Yes sir.” Alex replied, unable to meet the chief’s gaze.
“Also, you are going to clean up all the mess you made with the hoses and the axe, rewrite this report, and find out how much you’re going to pay to replace any broken equipment.” Alex began to object, but the chief held up his hand. “I’ll wait for you to explain all that in the REAL report. Understood?”
Alex slouched in his chair, defeated. “Yes sir.”
“By the way, how is Persephone doing?” The chief said with concern.
Alex brightened up immediately. “She’s doing great! My daughter loves having a kitten, but my wife is still not sure I should’ve brought her home. Still don’t know how that little cat got on the roof.”
“Good. Good. At least you didn’t take home a hell hound or a winged demon, right?” The chief smiled, but Alex just shook his head and cringed.
“By the way, I am going to keep this report for my personal file. I like your style, son, but let’s save it for the classroom, shall we?” Alex nodded again, but with a smile this time.
“You’d better get started with the clean-up. Dismissed.” The chief motioned Alex to leave.
“Yes sir.” Alex stood and walked out the door into the hallway. Under his breath he said, “Once again, the king had foiled the plans of Alexander the Great, but nothing stops a hero from greatness.”
Without hesitation, “I heard that,” came echoing down the hall from the chief’s office. “Just be sure that report isn’t turned in by Alexander the Late. Ha! That’s a good one!”