The Three Roads (A Short Story)

rise-1789903_640.jpg

Now he knows he’s lost. Why does it bother him? Isn’t this what he wanted? To be lost to them, forever?

He scoffs and leans on a tree, one of the hundreds that surround him. The forest is deep wherever he looks. The only thing he can do now is keep walking ahead. Try not to return.

He’s tired and hungry, so he decides to rest. He has a piece of bread with him, the only food he managed to take. He should’ve planned this better. He might find some fruit in the forest, but what if he picks something poisonous? Maybe he could hunt, but he doesn’t really know how. He has a small knife, nothing more. He bites the stale bread and sighs. Everything is better than staying there, isn’t it? Somehow he’s not that certain anymore.

Then he hears something. He hopes it’s just a rabbit, but he still draws his knife. He listens. The leaves crack. It must be something bigger than a rabbit. His eyes widen as he looks around. It’s coming closer, but he’s not sure from which direction. Then he hears a sweet laughter. A woman. But where?

“Don’t worry, I won’t harm you,” a soft voice says.

Suddenly, he sees her. A beautiful young woman, dressed in brown leather, bow and arrows hanging over her shoulder.

“Who are you?” he manages to ask, half conscious and still afraid.

“Just call me Artemis,” she shrugs.

“Artemis? Like the Greek Goddess?” he smiles. He feels more confident now.

“I look like her, don’t I?” she smiles. He nods. She really is a strange looking woman.

“What are you doing here?” he asks.

“I just live here,” she shrugs.

“Oh…” A forest woman. Strange.

“And what are you doing here?” she asks.

“I’m just… Running away I guess.” Her smile is nice, but there’s something strange about it, almost dangerous. Her eyes seem wild. Maybe it’s all in his head.

“I can help you escape,” she says. “There’s a lot of forest to go through. You might need help.”

He looked down, at his piece of stale bread, lying on the ground.

“Well, I guess I do need help.”

“Follow me, then. Are you hungry?”

She bites at the meat, but he doesn’t feel hungry anymore. He remembers the eyes of the poor animal, the panic, the pain, the blood. So much blood.

“Is something wrong?” she asks.

Her voice is sweet, her face kind, despite her piercing eyes. Her beautiful brown hair falls over her shoulders. It almost makes him forget what she did. Still, he doesn’t touch the meat. You don’t really think about it when it served on the plate. You don’t think about the murder, the living creature before it became food.

The moon is already up when they reach a river. He drinks the cold water, his thirst finally satisfied. She’s sitting on the river bank, her feet in the water. She looks at the moon and seems peaceful. There is something different about her. She looks the same, but the expression of her face is changed. There’s no wilderness in her eyes. He sits next to her, and he feels peaceful, too. She looks at him, and she almost seems sad.

“Do you really live here?” he asks.

“For centuries,” she says.

He touches the fingers of her small hand. She draws them away.

“I just… Thank you,” he says.

“Why are you here?” she asks him.

“I just ran away. My life… I felt like I was losing control over it. I just felt like… Running. Starting fresh. I don’t want to spend my entire life in that small, boring village.”

“You seem to be on a crossroads,” she sighs. “So, that’s why we’ve met…”

She is sad. Why? The night suddenly grows darker. He looks at the sky and he doesn’t see the moon anymore. Dark clouds appeared over it.

“I hope it won’t rain,” he says and turns to her. He finds her changed again.

She stands up, her eyes wilder than ever. No, not wild. Dark. Powerful.

“What are you running away from?” her voice is different, too. It’s unnaturally clear, but not loud. He tries to get up but fails. “Are you running from responsibility? From others? From yourself?”

He wants to ask her what’s going on, but he cannot find his voice. It’s not her anymore. This is a different person. She looks almost more beautiful than before, but much more dangerous. He hears crows screeching, and he is certain he didn’t hear them before. On one side, the water rises. Little drops floating in air. On the other, leaves fly up, and form around her like dark aura.

“Who are you?” he manages to cry out.

“Three roads,” she says. “One goes back to where you started. You ask for forgiveness, and become what you were. No risk, nothing changes. The second road leads to failure. The third leads to everything you’ve wanted.”

He tries to stay calm. To think.

“How do I know which is which?”

“You’ll have to guess it.”

In that moment he wanted to go back. Forget this strange, terrifying day, be who he was before. But he’s not that man anymore. He’s made his choice, and making a choice always means change. A change within. The old is dead, and the new is born.

“Then I’ll guess,” he says. One foot after the other, he went ahead, wherever it may lead.


“In the later poets, Artemis is identified with Hecate. She is ‘the goddess with three forms,’ Selene in the sky, Artemis on earth, Hecate in the lower world and in the world above when it is wrapped in darkness.”

–  Edith Hamilton, Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes

Currently Reading: Bright Air Black by Davin Vann

currently reading posts

Recently, I talked about Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, the retelling of The Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective. The book I’m currently reading is also a retelling of a Greek myth, and this time it is the myth of the Argonauts, Jason and Medea. Mostly about Medea, though, since it focuses on her point of view.

Untitled

Medea is without words, without thought. She has unstrung the world, pulled some vital thread and unraveled all. Nothing to do now but hold her breath and find out whether a new world re-forms.

Bright Air Black by David Vann is bloody and brutal, as mythology often is. Medea is a sorceress, and this book shows her in all her power and ruthlessness.

She would rather be this. She would bring all together, in balance and quiet. Rule without sound, without rough movement. All held and cought and perfect. But she knows she is meant to destroy, and she knows that she is not done.

Medea is also in search of herself and her place in the world, and she is scared of failure. Despite the horrible things she does, it’s impossible not to sympathise with her, especially when some things she says sound very true.

Kings always blind. Her father not considering his daughters, believing a threat only in a son. Daughters to him no more than a tool to bind other peoples through marriage. Unwilling emissaries, their will never considered. (…) Outcast. This is what she had chosen, and it would have been chosen for her anyway. Her father an enemy later if not now, marriage not powerful enough to prevent war.

There are similarities between Bright Air Black and The Penelopiad, but so far I like this book better. I just love how Medea’s desire to rule, and be powerful and independent is weaved through every paragraph. The writing style is wonderful and poetic. It really made me want to freshen up my knowledge of Greek myths and tales, so besides Bright Air Black I’m also reading Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. Bright Air Black even inspired me to write some short stories (the one I posted recently is one of them), and I don’t think there’s a better recommendation for a book than that. So, I leave you with another quote and I hope this post will make you want to read the book.

 Why the constant desire to kill and dominate? Even in herself, relentless, a need to conquer. She would make all cower on the ground before her, every man in every land.

Infinite Loop (A Short Story from the Underword)

adventure-1850636_640

I died.

It just happened. And in such a stupid way. If I weren’t dead, I’d be angry with myself. To fall off a cliff… Who does that?

On the positive side, once you’re dead nothing matters anymore. Some feelings are left, some memories from the past, some emotions that were strong while you were alive. I’m a spirit now, a shadow of myself, but I am still me. It’s hard to explain it to the living, so I’ll leave it at that.

It all happened just like they said it would. I appeared next to a wide river, a river so long I could not see its end. I was greeted by a boatman. Well, actually, he just gave me a small nod. He didn’t welcome me or call out my name. I realized I had a golden coin in my hand, and I handed it to him. He then helped me climb into the boat.

“It’s strange,” I said.

“What’s strange?” I was surprised that the boatman actually replied.

“It’s all happening just the way I though it would.”

“Well, I don’t see why it’s strange then.”

“I didn’t expect it to happen the way I expected it to happen,” I tried to explain. I guess I’m quite bad at explaining things.

The boatman said nothing. He must’ve thought I was a complete fool. Before I had the time to feel embarrassed, the ride was over. It was impossible we’d already reached the other side, but this was the Underworld. You can expect everything. I had passed to the other side, and I wasn’t bothered by such questions anymore. My only desire was to be given a place to live, my own little piece of eternity.

“Oh, not again!” the boatman suddenly gave a loud sigh. In that moment, he almost looked like your average mortal.

I looked ahead and saw a young woman approaching the river bank.

“I will come for you, my love!” she shouted into the void.

“I know, my love!” even I, being dead and all, was surprised to hear a voice respond to her from the mist.

“Stupid young people,” the boatman grumbled.

“What is going on?” I asked.

“These two stupid lovebirds are really making a mess here. I don’t know why the Mistress allows it. I think she finds it funny. Well, it stopped being funny after the first forty-two times!” he screamed into the mist.

“What are they doing?” I wanted to know.

“Well, he promised her that, if she died before him, he would go to the Underworld and beg the Master and the Mistress to let her live. He would take her place. And she promised she would do the same. Stupid young people. They swore an oath to each other. They never realized it lead to an infinite loop.”

“Infinite loop?”

“You aren’t too bright yourself, are you? Well, he was the first to die. Killed in a war. And she did what she’d promised. She pleaded the gods to let him live and take her instead. They had better things to do than deal with their nonsense, so they accepted. They cared only for the number of souls, not who those souls belonged to. But, you see, now she was dead, and he was alive. So, to honour his oath, he had to come back and take her place. And then he was dead and she came here again… You understand?”

“That’s quite stupid,” I had to admit.

“Well, at least we see each other in passing,” the girl hissed at me and took her place in the boat.

The boatman shrugged in resignation and went to do his job.

I felt like laughing, but I didn’t. Everything was paler now, even my amusement. Still, I knew, I would like my new home.


A silly story. Hope you like it anyway. XD

Currently Reading: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

currently reading posts

I said in one of my previous posts that I wanted to talk more about my current reads. So, I decided to start writing short posts such as this one in which I’m going to tell you a little bit about the book I’m reading, share some of my thoughts on it, and maybe share an interesting quote. Hope you’ll like them!

The book I’m currently reading is The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. It’s a well-known book, I think, so most of you probably know what it’s about.

DSC03919 (3)

In this novella (I’d say it’s a novella since it’s only 198 pages long), Atwood allows Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, to tell her own story. Penelope talks about the events from The Illiad and The Oddysey from her own point of view. She shares her thoughts and feelings in a manner which seems very sincere. This Penelope is not just a loyal wife who waits her her husband – she actually hates that this is how she is remembered. The prose is raw, clever, and ruthless.

The very first paragraph really caught my attention, and I think it really shows what this book is about. So, I’ll leave you with this paragraph, and hopefully it will make you want to read the book. 🙂

Now that I’m dead I know everything. This is what I wished would happen, but like so many of my wishes it failed to come true. I know only a few factoids that I didn’t know before. Death is much too high a price to pay for the satisfaction of curiosity, needless to say.

The Final Test

She expected a sphinx, prepared herself for a riddle that only the wisest can solve. She thought she might end up in a labyrinth, and have to fight the Minotaur. She looked around carefully, fearing the petrifying gaze of Medusa. She was taught to be brave, strong, and confident, but now she was confused.

Maybe she read too many stories.

All she knew was that she was about to face her ultimate test. And by ultimate, they certainly didn’t mean expected. Nothing that can be found in stories. No Pegasus to ride.

She had been put to sleep. That’s how the test always starts, and the only thing about it that was known to all the students. Once they opened their eyes, their challenge would look back at them. Everything was supposed to become clear then. But she woke up in a forest, alone. The grass was cold and wet from the dew. Lying on it was not pleasant, but it was real and comforting. She got up, making sure she wasn’t missing anything. No, nothing was looking back at her.

She had spent ten years in the Mansion, preparing herself for her future role. Not once in those ten years did she set foot outside. The forest smelled of rain, dirt, and was filled with the soft murmur of leaves. She breathed it all in. No human voices, no shouting, no screams. Was this how freedom feels like?

She knew now what the test was. She was all alone in the outside world. Her training will never be finished. Every day would be a new test. Now all she had to do was survive.