Welcome to the first installment of a new humor feature for The JediCole Universe. I often tell people that I "dabble" in writing. While more often than not any given writing project becomes part of a vast collection of incomplete manuscripts and voluminous notes and drawings, a few find their way to completion. One of my favorite types of writing is a kind of stream-of-consciousness writing in a humorous vein. To showcase some of my work of this variety I have created The Apocrypha as it seems an appropriate title for this work.
What follows is a piece I wrote back in 2000 for my self-published mini comic Genre. The anthology comic featured comic stories and art by myself and various friends and included this story in the the book as kind of palette cleanser between the various illustrated features. It is time it enjoyed a much larger audience than it did as a comic that almost no one has ever seen. Perhaps in the future I will reproduce some of the comic stories from Genre on this site.
The original concept came from a conversation about some aspects of classical Greek mythology and the role of Heracles (or Hercules if you prefer the Roman) in a great many of the sagas. Naturally I had to take things in a skewed direction that led to me committing it all to paper a few days later. While much of the story is based on my own foreknowledge of the myths, I did not research specifics so if there are any folklore and mythology scholars who happen upon this missive I apologize in advance.
Please feel free to post your thoughts on this story and look for more humorous tales in the near future.
Cause and Effect in Hades
A Memo From Hell
TO: MASTER HADES
FROM: ARCHELLERON, WARDEN OF TARTARUS
SUBJECT: HERACLES' MOST RECENT "VISIT"
As you are no doubt aware, your nephew has again graced your realm with his dubious presence. I really must formally protest this latest intrusion. You have to speak to your brother, Lord Zeus about his son's behavior and unscheduled visits. With this in mind a full report follows of Heracles' exploits during his time in the underworld and the aftermath thereof.
Heracles arrived in Hades in the late afternoon through one of the too numerous subterranean tunnels (an issue I have addressed in the past and will not dwell on at this time). As is so often the case when the living arrive at the River Styx, Heracles needed only pay Charon the requisite fee and he was across with full access to the various realms, most specifically the one in my care. Granted, I do not hold Charon personally responsible. He is a most efficient boatman, but ultimately little more than a vending machine. Place the proper fee in his hand and your passage is booked. Lacking a brain (which undoubtedly rotted out Milena ago), our good ferryman lacks the cognitive ability to discern the living from the dead.
Once on the opposite shore, the living are generally devoured in short order by your loyal guard dog Cerberus. However, upon catching wind of Heracles' scent, he promptly tucked his tail between his legs and beat a path to the lower caves! It appears that Cerebus' recent abduction from the shores of the Styx to the court of King Eurystheus had a far greater impact on the animal than anyone had imagined. This of course left Heracles with an unopposed path to the realm of Tartarus.
What followed was perhaps the most dreadful crime yet perpetrated on Hades by this dreadful demigod. Losing no time, he proceeded directly to the cliff face upon which Prometheus was justly imprisoned. Breaking the criminal free of his bonds and escorting him promptly out of Tartarus and Hades as well.
This particular infraction has no doubt reached you attentions, hence the lack of detail in this portion of my narrative. What stands at issue now is the effect that Prometheus' absence has had on Tartarus. The great eagle charged these many years with the daily task of devouring Prometheus' liver arrived to find the staple of his diet conspicuously absent. Not content to skip a meal, the tenacious bird of prey began to search for a suitable substitute. Accustomed to encumbered individuals, the enormous eagle soon found Sisyphus, at the time midway through his daily task of uphill boulder rolling. Harassed by the hungry bird snapping rapaciously at his back, the hapless Sisyphus lost control of his monolithic burden. What followed was a horror unparalleled in all of Hades.
The boulder, now no longer directed, rolled perilously down the hillside at great velocity, crushing to pulp both Sisyphus and our highly trained, liver-pecking eagle. However, the losses were not limited to the infamous hillside. Unhindered, the giant stone continued to roll across the plains of Tartarus until it came to rest in a nearby pond. Unfortunately, the pond in question was the receding pond devised to torture Tantalus. The result was that the retracting fruit tree nearby was splintered, the waters of the receding pond were irreparably displaced, and Tantalus, of course, was subsequently flattened.
In the aftermath of this transgression, my staff and I have devised a pair of suggestions that should be implemented at your earliest convenience. First, I request the employment of a giant or Cyclops to screen new arrivals to Hades before they board Charon's ferry. This would allow a dual line of defense against the encroachment of the living. Secondly, in order to salvage some good from this tragedy, I request that the next prime criminal remanded to my care be condemned to clean up the dreadful mess on the hills and plains of Tartarus, only to have the entire event replayed the following morning, requiring his janitorial services anew.
As you know, we in Tartarus take great pride in the torments we prescribe. The loss of not one but three inmates in the course of an hour has taken a devastating toll on morale. I believe that the implementation of these suggestions will have a most positive effect. I thank you for your attentions to the details of this recent tragedy.