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Olivia had spent many days wandering amongst rows of headstones in Cornelian Bay Cemetery, and beyond until the path ended at the River Derwent. Her mother had warned her of the river, once known as the River Styx, but Olivia figured mum had been put off more by thoughts of grave robbers, men with evil appetites and explicit intentions. God knows awful things have been known to happen, even in and around such a sacred place.
Little did her mother know, Olivia had nothing to fear. She had Aides to protect her. He was the hottest guy she’d ever seen, big and powerful and cunning. That he wanted her gave her no small amount of satisfaction.
That wretched girl at school, the perfect blonde with big boobs, had always made fun of her- said no guy would ever want her. Chloe and Olivia used to be best friends, until both of them caught crushes on Noah. Olivia had always given way to Chloe’s whims, but she’d harboured feelings for Noah long before her friend had even noticed him. In the end, naturally, Chloe got what she wanted. She always did. Olivia was devastated to lose not only the first boy she’d ever cared for, but her best friend as well. Chloe, on the other hand, simply turned hard and mean, taking every opportunity over the years to remind Olivia that she was inferior.
Not to Aides, though. He’d spent lavishly of his time on her, generously of his compliments, and lovingly of his affection. Every day after her schooling had been completed, Olivia ran through the cemetery to meet Aides at the River Derwent.
There she found him again today, standing at the river’s edge. She told him what her mother had said, and, to her delight, he told her a story of the River Styx, and the Goddess within.
Long ago, before the magic of the world was nothing but myth, a war arose between the Gods and the Titans. The Goddess Styx sided with Zeus, and, after the war, was given an honourable position within the world of man, one that would ensure reverence of her for all of time. The river that separated the land of the living from the land of the dead was named after her, and there she would reside. Zeus charged her with a responsibility fitting a goddess of such noble and loyal character as she.
“To this day,” Aides said, “any oath sworn upon the River Styx shall be a pact with a God, and irrevocable.” At this last, he took up her hands in his own and pressed a warm kiss full on her lips, their first. He drew back and gazed deeply into Olivia’s eyes. “Promise me you’ll be mine forever.”
And by the River Styx, she did. Before she could form another thought, Aides faced the river and spoke words Olivia could not translate.
The water lapping at the shore churned, cresting tips frothing, and a thick swath of wispy, dark smoke burst forth, rushing into Olivia.
Aides loosened his grip on the girl as she collapsed into a heap at his feet. Her body twitched and jerked at intervals as remnants of smoke settled into place. Olivia’s body faintly glowed from within, with a light like that of the sun.
When the smoky haze settled into place and the heavenly glow subsided, the girl opened her eyes and stood. A wicked smile curved Olivia’s lips, and her voice came a note higher than before. “Hades, my friend, you are a sight! By the Gods, that form is fine.” She looked down at herself, ran her hands over the smooth form of a girl just becoming a woman. “And this one, dear Hades, shall do quite well for me.”
“That she will. I have delivered a vessel unto you, as agreed.” He waited patiently, knowing Styx held her word of honour in highest regard and would fulfill her end of the bargain.
“The River Derwent is yours, Hades, to do with as you will.”
With the passing of guardianship of the River Styx, Hades had gained more power over the world of life – and indeed that of death as well – than he’d ever been intended to have.
As for her part, Styx was once again free. Though she knew the consequences of her actions could be dire, she cared little. If they’d wanted her to remain the protector of the realm between the living and the dead, they should not have changed the name of her river.

I’ve had the idea for this story for a little while now, and I even wrote a couple of lines for #FP (@Friday Phrases on Twitter).
I came across a new Flash Fiction Forum at Joshua Bertetta’s (@JBertetta) blog, The Story of the Four. Today’s prompt was to take a mythological creature and place them in our present day world. It seemed fitting that I should write the story of the pact between Hades and Styx – which my muse assures me is entirely fictional – today.

0 Comments for "By the River Styx"

  • jbertetta

    This is great Jessica…When I was in grad school, I had to pick a mythological figure and interview him/her. I chose the River Styx. Really fun assignment. As for my flash fiction. you are the first to have responded, so unless I get a few more responses before tomorrow night, I might just send out another call/announcement and keep that first call upon for another week before putting out my post regarding the submissions as described. That being said, I will (already have) reblogged your great story, and will be sending out links via my other social networks.

    Reply
    • Jess West

      Thanks!

      Really?! Wow, what are the odds? I fudged the “facts” a bit to suit the story, but I tried to stay relatively close to what little I’ve learned about Styx. I love mythology.

      Reply
  • jbertetta

    Reblogged this on The Story of the Four and commented:
    Jessica West’s response to my first call for flash fiction

    Reply
  • Woelf Dietrich

    Ooh, I love this. A nice little tale with dire, world-changing consequences.

    Reply
    • Jess West

      Thanks! This one’s been circling my brain for a little while now. 🙂

      Reply
  • Amira K.

    Fantastic! Beautiful short, Jess.

    Reply
  • jbertetta

    Jessica, Wanted to let you know that I will be sending out my “newsletter” in response ot the first weekend of my forum tomorrow. Was hoping it would be today, but first day back at school for me and my kids, football practice, etc…Very long day. I will get going on it tomorrow (and be extending the first prompt to next Sunday as you were the only one to submit). I figured it would be slow going at first…Hope all is well. I just joined tumblr and saw you have a blog there too. My computer is a little funky right now, but as soon as it is fixed, I’ll look you up there.

    Reply
    • Jess West

      Cool deal. Whenever you’re ready, it’ll be here. 🙂

      Reply
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