Gods, An Epidemic: Chapter 1

Eve woke up with that indecipherable feeling of being simultaneously hungry and nauseous. “I’ll never drink again.” She swore as she half-walked, half-hobbled to the bathroom. After having a most glorious bladder relieving session, she made her way to the kitchen, hunched over and slow, like a decrepit and abnormally tall turtle. Passing her passed-out friend on the living-room sofa, she made no attempt to shuffle quietly; misery doesn’t so much love company as beg for it in a rather demanding tone.

She noisily poured herself some ice water, which she drank down in one go, then talked herself out of curling up in the corner on the floor in favor of attempting to make some breakfast; in the hopes that she was more in the nourishment-lacking state of gastro-intestinal things than the puke-your-guts-up one. To which end, she turned on the stovetop burner, plunked a pan on it, wrestled with the bacon packaging before popping it in the now too-hot pan, but then realized (horror of horrors!) the coffee wasn’t brewing, so got distracted and annoyed by the unclean pot from yesterday, which she washed out and began to count the number of scoops of coffee when she realized she hadn’t put in the rest of the bacon and the ones already cooking were beginning to burn because she’d turned the burner on High, and by the time she’d dealt with the Battle of the Bacon, she’d forgotten how many scoops she’d already put in the coffee filter and had to dump it out and start over, only she missed the trash can and half of the grounds ended up on the floor at which point she turned off the stove and opted for the curling-up-in-the-corner-on-the-floor option, in the hopes that the breakfast fairy would come and save her.

Apparently the breakfast fairy was busy that day, because when she woke up with a wicked crick in her neck an hour later as her friend, looking risen from the dead, poured her own ice water and plomped down next to her on the floor, there was still no breakfast, nor the god damned fairy and she could tell that the hungry feeling was in furious combat with the nausea army, who wouldn’t budge an inch and at some point in the near future a full mutiny of her bowels would be unavoidable.

“Denny’s,” she said, and moaning, she trudged her way to the bedroom to get dressed, and realizing she still had on yesterdays clothes, brushed her teeth and called it good. The phone rang, but they were on a mission now and whatever it was, could wait. By the time Eve was locking the front door, the answering machine had picked up – and a deep, melodic voice was saying, “Hi Eve, this is Lantz. I’d like to ask a favor – I’d like to give my reading another try today if possible, only I was wondering if maybe you do house-calls, or in this case, an office-call. I look forward to hearing from you…” Eve and her friend paused and looked at each other then turned to begin their trek to breakfast but a quick look at the threateningly black-clouded sky decided the matter – today they would drive, never mind that it was only for 3 blocks. So, 7 minutes later, they had coffee-in-hand and the paid-by-the-hour-breakfast-fairies were hard at work fulfilling their wishes.

Half listening to the wait staff banter, half watching the odd mix of customers – people who never would have gathered together in the same room otherwise – they waited in silence for their salvation, in the form of sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches; which was okay, since they’d been friends long enough that silence was no longer a threat.

Two years ago Eve had been working at a bar called The Speakeasy when a new bartender had arrived, whom Eve had christened ‘Dragon Lady.’ It was a month before she’d even found out the newcomer’s real name. Two years later Eve still refuses to call her ‘Mine’ (a Japanese name meaning ‘resolute protector’), it just felt wrong, so Eve had settled on ‘Dee’ for short.

Dee had taught her how to read tarot cards. Dee had helped her through many a bad choice, mostly ones concerning the opposite sex. They’d recently made a pact: No Sex for Six Weeks. It was week two, and they’d been spending most of that time together – partly to support each other but mostly to keep an eye on the other one. Dee knew everything about Eve. All Eve knew about Dee was that she was definitely hiding a sordid past that would probably stay hidden. That was okay too. Who needs boring friends?

Naturally, when Eve’s cards started acting funny, the first and only person she thought of calling was Dee – who didn’t hesitate in coming to the rescue, bearing two (or was it three?) bottles of Merlot. Unfortunately, Dee was as dumfounded by the cards’ behavior as Eve, especially since now there was only one ‘Lovers’ card in the deck (no matter how many times they looked through it) so all they really accomplished was downing the two, possibly three, bottles of wine while coming up with increasingly implausible explanations that eventually involved aliens and tarot-card gnomes.

“So do you do house-calls?” Dee asked, wiping the crumbs from her face.

Eve didn’t answer, just ran her finger over the rim of her coffee cup.

“I’m coming with you.”

The private elevator of The Nadir stopped at the 48th floor, out of which stepped Dee and Eve looking like silly school girls, giggling at their mocking attempts at pretension; a natural defense of the modest in the midst of luxury. The Nadir wore its luxury proudly – every innovation of modern architecture and design was to be found in this prime example of Real Estate. Half of the 19,000 square foot top floor was Aston Lantz’s private penthouse, the other half was his office; the only distinguishable difference from the outside of the two, was a small plaque on the door to the right that read:

le magicien

Dee knocked. Blood rushed to Eve’s face, making her cheeks glow a delicate shade of red. Lantz opened the door.

“Hi,” Lantz smiled his beautiful smile, “glad you could make it. Come in.”

The girls bumped shoulders in their attempt to gain entrance first.

“I’m Lantz,” he offered his hand to Dee.

“Dee,” her hand lingered in his, “I hope you don’t mind my tagging along. Eve thought she might need backup.”

“Psychic or moral?”


“Oh, you read cards too?”

“Among other things, yes. My forte is people.”

“How am I doing?”

“Jury’s out, I’ll let you know.”

“They say that a 30-second first impression is as accurate as a 30-minute interview.”

“Yet it can take a lifetime to never figure some people out.”


While the other two were posturing, Eve was checking out her surroundings. They were walking through a natural stone tiled entry, guarded by a redhead receptionist, who smiled vaguely at Eve, which led to a room of expansive proportions. A creek ran through it. There were two walking bridges across the gurgling water. It was a diabetic’s mini version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory – complete with unusual fauna sprouting up through the floors and walls; and along the east side of the vast room sprawled an evil scientists array of laboratory equipment; on the west was a towering labyrinth of massive bookshelves; spanning the two sides on the north was a forty-foot-wide, twenty-foot-tall, curved wall of windows providing a panorama of Seattle’s skyline which could be viewed comfortably from the circular couch situated on the raised platform in the middle of the room, to which Lantz had brought them.

Eve was staring at the mass of swirling dark clouds through the domed skylight high above her, when she realized someone was speaking to her…

“I’m sorry, I’m just – wow – amazing place you have here.” She took a moment to really look at him now, and noticed his skin had gone rather… huh, odd – wasn’t he olive skinned just yesterday? … slightly pale. And his eyes, now a dark hazel… weren’t they almost black? And his hair… now this she knew for certain had changed – from long and dark, to medium length and brunette. But that’s the least odd thing in the world to have change instantly, isn’t it? Only this didn’t look like he’d been to a pro at a beauty salon. This looked like Mother Nature’s handiwork – that’s what was odd about it.


“How the… I mean, did you get a haircut?”

“Mmhmm, you like?”

He grinned and ran his fingers through his hair.

“Yeah, it looks great… just, uh, so different.” She realized she was rather staring at him, so turned her attention back to the room, “So, what is it you do, for a living?”

“Purveyor of passion, mademoiselle. Je suis le magicien, at your service.” He said with a flourishing bow, then went and grabbed a nearby magazine, and after flipping through a few pages from the back, folded it open and handed it to Eve. The page was full of ads ranging from erectile dysfunction aids to metal roofing suppliers; Lantz pointed to the ad running down the side of the page, topped with a picture of him looking …exactly as he did now, brunette, lighter eyes and paler skin, odd…  scholarly, yet sexy, above the words:

“Physicist’s Formula
Enhances Sex-Appeal

Scientifically Proven Effective

Eros, God of Love, Pheromones

unscented perfume/cologne additive.”

“Uh-huh. You sell love potion?” Eve snickered. This was exactly the kind of charlatan that gave her line of work such a bad rap. Yet, was she really any less of a charlatan? They both earned their wages by providing comfort to the fearful and lonely masses. Eve glanced at Dee, who shrugged and gave her the ‘I’ve heard stranger things’ look. Sigh, prince charming turns out to be scam artist – story of my life.

“Essence of Eros.”

“Business is good, huh?”

“Booming. But people will give anything for what I sell. Even, or perhaps especially, when they can’t even pay the rent.”

“What is it exactly?” She’d bet anything it was some run-of-the-mill flower essence in a fancy bottle whose label cost more than the contents.

“Ahhh, ancient Chinese secret.”

Of course. “Love potion number nine?”

“No number, this is the original.”

“Alrighty-then. Shall we get on with the reading?”

“You are skeptical, I understand. Nothing is more difficult for a rational being to grasp than the reality of something that is truly too good to be true, but is anyway.”

She didn’t respond, who is this guy? Or more to the point, who does he think he is?

“Come, I will show you.”

He led them over to the east end of the massive room, wherein loomed the jungle maze of glass and rubber tubing that twisted in and around and over one other like vines, to the side of which was a large atrium occupied by ten, or so, guinea pigs. One of the furry creatures was sitting off by itself on the wall closest to the human observers; the rest were huddled around a strikingly beautiful piggy of white, black and rust fur.


Lantz grabbed a vial from a small refrigerator, went into the atrium, took the dropper from the vial and squeezed one drop of the liquid onto the loner piggy. Lantz retreated. Eve watched the the pig with what she hoped looked like interest, when it dawned on her that he was really the most beautiful guinea pig she’d ever seen in her life. Why didn’t she notice before? His soft fur and sparkling eyes… she wasn’t the only one to notice him either. In less than two minutes, half of the crowd had migrated to the loner piggy’s side of the atrium – coming up and rubbing themselves most lasciviously on him from all sides.

“That’s obscene.”

“But proof positive, no?”

“I’ll take two bottles.” Dee interjected.

“Right! I think I was having fleeting dreams of being small and furry. I assume it works on humans too.”

“Would I be this disgustingly rich if it didn’t?”

“Self-deprecating arrogance, interesting combination.”

He smiled, but his eyes betrayed the sting.

“Sorry, I mean that in the nicest possible way.” Eve tried to retrench, but she was always saying stupid shit like that – chronic foot-in-mouth-ititus.

“Don’t be, he had it coming,” a voice came from behind them. Eve turned to see the source, a twenty-something man whose physical stature belied his much larger presence. He was probably about five foot ten inches tall, but to those around he felt twice that height.

Lantz visibly perked up, “Everybody, meet my better half, my brother - Adam.”

“Eve.” She extended a hand, half holding her breath against the joke that was sure to follow.

He grasped firmly, but said nothing. She exhaled. Nice hands, strong, wide – a farmer’s hands, earthly and grounded – hands that could pull you back from the brink of looming death, dangling over a chasm.

“Dee.” They shook. “Well, this has been a hell of lot of fun.” Eve looked desperately at Dee, don’t leave me! “Lantz, a real pleasure meeting you.” She took Eve aside, “You’ll be fine, honey, really—give me a call later, I’ve got to pick up Eddie.” Oh yeah, her son … Eve was always forgetting she has a son… they hugged, and Dee left after getting her two bottles of potion from Lantz.

Eve watched as her ‘resolute protector’ exited the room. She turned back to the guys, feeling like a mouse in an aviary. squeak.

“Have you told her yet?”

“Told me what?”

“No, we were just getting to it.”

“Cool, then I’m just in time. I love this part, didn’t want to miss it.”

“This part? Miss what? Tell me what?”

Adam smiled, he was enjoying this – his eyes didn’t so much twinkle, as heartily guffaw at the folly of man; they sought out moments in which to make trouble, the eyes of the penultimate trickster – not malicious, but not gentle either – there was love, but no sympathy – acceptance without empathy – joy without preciousness.

“Oh go on then, stop being such a tease.” Lantz implored.

“You’re no fun,” replied Adam.

“Could somebody please let me in on the joke?”

“You’re right, it is a joke. A good one. The best. Tell me, Eve, do you believe in the afterlife?”

“Like heaven/hell, all that?” Eve asked. Adam nodded. She crossed her arms, “I like to keep an open mind.”

Adam began to smile, “Reincarnation?”

“Sure, it’s possible. Anything’s possible.”

“Glad you think so, because our dear Lantz believes that gods are trapped here on earth, are very real and have been reincarnating over and over again for the last two thousand years.”

“Gods huh?” she smiled and shook her head, thinking I don’t know what kind of scam they’re trying to rope me into, but I’m not feeling the Fool today, not today, “Uh, which ones? Greek? Roman? Pagan?”

“All of the above, and more, yes.”

“Right. I think I’ll be going now.”

“You’re one too,” chimed in Lantz, “and so is Adam, though he doesn’t believe me… yet.”

“Excuse me?”

“A god incarnate. I’m pretty sure I know which goddess you are too.”

“Oh, this is rich. Do tell.”

“Astræa, daughter of Themis - Goddess of Divine Law, Counselor to Zeus, Oracle at Delphi and Summoner of the Gods – you share your mothers qualities.”

“You’ve had visions all your life, right? Inexplicable, because they happen in places you’ve never seen before?”

The vision, on the mountain… the ground was filled with puffy white clouds, a voice on her right was as deep as thunder “Call them hither.”…

“Overactive imagination. Which is all gods ever were anyway – figments of early man’s imagination in their attempt to explain the world around them.”

“You don’t really believe that.”

“I don’t? Well tell me this, then – if gods are here on earth, and let’s leave me out of this for the moment, then why do things like the Holocaust happen? The Inquisition? Slave labor? Terrorists? Why can life be utter Hell and full of terror and pain and destruction, if the gods are here?”

“They forgot who and what they are, just like you did.” Lantz’s eyes were really twinkling now, a veritable cosmic shower of sparkly light shot from his pupils.

Her breathing was erratic, her pulse all over the place, eyes wide as she looked from Lantz to Adam and back again… they weren’t kidding. And somehow it sounds true, but No! this was ridiculous. She couldn’t get her mind on track, couldn’t focus, her brain felt like an omelet soufflé. Breathe. The proverbial light came on over her head, “Summoner of the gods?”

Adam smiled and nodded, glancing at Lantz, “She’s quick.”

“I summoned you, the other day, with the horn… you’re…”

“Gods too. Yes.” Replied Lantz. Adam just sort of scowled a bit.

“Huh.” Eve wrinkled her brow and rubbed her right temple.

“I’m Eros. Adam here is Ouranos.”

At that moment, if any person (or small furry creature) had perchanced to look above them through the skylight, they would have undoubtedly noticed the moon; which had miraculously managed a brief appearance through the stormy sky, and they may have even remarked how eerily red it looked, blood red in fact.

Eve had been unconsciously backing towards the front door, she turned to make a bee-line for it but instead walked right into Lantz who had somehow anticipated her unconscious attempt at an escape and had moved to pre-empt it. She looked up into his eyes, and things started to make sense…

Of course! Eros, God of Love – that’s why she got hornier than a celibate rhinoceros in heat every time she was near him!

“Sorry, subtlety was never Adam’s strong suit,” said Lantz “Now is not the time for subtlety though, is it? We need to act. We need you, Eve. The Apocalypse has begun and we’re out of time. You’re the only one who can call us all together, and only then do we have a chance of stopping her.”

“Who?” Eve managed to say, albeit in a very small and breathless voice.


“Right. God is a Her?” they both nodded in response, “Uh-huh. So I call all the gods together and we’re supposed to… what? Just head up to heaven and have it out with God by the bike racks after school?” she attempted to laugh as she unconciously backed away from Lantz’s magnetic field.

“I would put it in slightly more epically divine terms, but basically, yes.”

“And I suppose you’ve already booked us a couple first class tickets on a train to Heaven? Are you mad? Even if there was a Heaven, the only way I’ve ever heard of getting there is via death. I don’t know about you, but I’m rather attached to this earthly existence, thank you very much.”

“Though my sanity is often, and widely, questioned - nevertheless I do happen to know how to get us there – and death is not a prerequisite. In fact, we’ll be stopping in Eden first.”

“Oh goody, and where might that be?”

Lantz strolled to a nearby table upon which sat a beautiful globe, the sort you’d see in a museum. He gave it a short spin, pointed his finger down somewhere in the Middle East and said, “In Israel, of course.”

“Fascinating. Well this has been really fun guys, and enlightening, but I’ve got to get going now. Catch you later.” She said as she turned to the door.

“Wait,” said Ouranos. Only ‘said’ doesn’t really begin to describe the scope of what he’d done; this was the voice of A God, it surpassed emphatic-ness.

Eve stopped. Lantz reached out and gently held her hand. With his touch, the knowledge of The Nature of the Universe and All Things Besides flowed into her. She knew now, who and more importantly what she was; then he let go. She didn’t want him to ever let go. Sublime knowledge, it was hers for mere seconds and already it was fading from memory – she couldn’t contain it, keep it, it was slipping away.

Luckily Lantz caught her before she hit the floor, he knew she was fainting by the rapid change in her skin color – pale was fine, but translucent white? That’s just not normal.

It was a dusty, hot day; hell, every day here was dusty and hot. But it wasn’t every day that a buxom matronly redhead woman came riding through this small village in southern Israel on a magnificent pale stallion.

Jada sat under an olive tree, sipping her steaming hot coffee from a small glass and watched the horsewoman with a tranquility and thoughtfulness that only comes with living on Earth for one hundred and eleven years consecutively. Jada knew everyone in her village, and everyone for miles around knew Jada. She was the one you came to when all else had failed. She knew things, and could fix things. She was what you might call a wise-woman, and many people did. And she knew that this horsewoman riding towards her, was not of this Earth. Nothing remarkable in and of itself, for this village, she knew, was home to not one, but two portals to the other sides. She had seen quite a few not-of-this-earth beings pass through the northern white gate, a few even settled down here and stayed. She’d only ever heard stories of anyone coming through the black southern gate—it saw almost no traffic at all. Yet there was something different about this otherworld horsewoman. She was somehow bigger, more ancient and had a big fat chip on her shoulder.

As the horsewoman approached, she called out to Jada, “You seem old and wise, can you tell me where is the horn-blower?”

“Old? Ha. You are older than these hills, yet look younger and more beautiful than I ever was myself. Wise? I’ve forgotten more than I know, but can tell that you have the wisdom of the ages. Come and have a drink, and tell me about this musician that you seek.”

Flattery will get you everywhere with gods, it’s like giving candy to a child, sun to a sunflower, small fluffy critters to big fat cobras; one must be careful, their bite is deadly. Horsewoman dismounted and sat next to Jada, who had already filled another small glass with the thick dark liquid from the small pot resting on the dying embers of the fire next to her, and handed it to her guest.

“They call me Jada,” said the old woman.

“Call me…” uh…can hardly say ‘God’ can I… “Gaia.”

God, in the case of Gaia, isn’t actually all-knowing, that’s just some useful propaganda akin to the Santa Clause song that scares little children into behaving well by saying “… he sees you when you’re sleeping, and knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good…” and she wasn’t sure where to begin looking for the horn-blower, but she figured if she hung around long enough that they’d do it again and she’d find them and make sure it never happened again. So in the meantime, she might as well see what this odd little dusty woman could tell her. Besides, it’s been ages since she’d interacted with any humans, and she suspected that some things had changed a bit.

{to be continued...}

by, tracy yarkoni odell

{warning:  contains strong language and adult themes,

if you're not an adult or don't have one's permission, go read somewhere else}

Action — Consciousness — Concentration — Personal power

Practicality — Energy — Creativity — Movement

Precision — Conviction — Manipulation — Self confidence

Being objective — Focusing — Determination — Initiative

“A youthful figure in the robe of a magician has the face of the divine Apollo, the sun god, with a confident smile and shining eyes ... This iconographic gesture has multiple meanings, but is endemic to the Mysteries, symbolizing divine immanence, the ability of the magician to bridge the gap between heaven and earth.” {wikipedia}

Chapter 1