Phoebe saw the end

By mgaft1 | Short Stories | 3 Oct 2019


Hello Friends,

While being in one of the Yahoo writing groups, I participated in literary contests. The group owner came up with the writing prompt (the title of the story) and all the participants wrote the story, which title was the owner's prompt.

This story is one of them. As you might guess, the suggested title was “Phoebe saw the end.” When I saw the name Phoebe, I remembered that she was one of the characters in ancient Greek mythology, but I couldn't remember exactly what were the circumstances or her role in the mythology. Having looked it up I remembered that she was the daughter of Gaea and Uranus, and she did some sort of predictions. That's how the idea of that story came about. The rest you can read below…

 

Phoebe saw the end

 

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"I'll tell you what you should do - cut his balls off!" Gaea searched the eyes of her sons for the spark of conspiratorial understanding.

They sat in the cave formed under the cliffs of the Pindus Mountains in Epirus, Greece, hidden from the eye of omnipotent Uranus.

All six of them: Oceanus, Coeus, Hyperion, Crius, Iapetus, and Cronus were huge, bulky and burly fellows and all but Coeus, were dirty and disheveled. The fire inside the cave licked the carcass of buffalo that Hyperion had stripped previously of its hide and now rotated on a primitive grill. Every now and then, one of the brothers got up, cut a huge slice of meat and sat back down enjoying the meal.

"Mother," Oceanus stroked his always-wet beard, "like everybody I hate what father did to us, but what you've suggested is impossible. It interferes with the natural order of things."

Two of his younger brothers: Hyperion and Crius, nodded their agreement with him as well.

"Natural order of things." She mocked Oceanus' intonation. "You are Gods. You should define the natural order of things."

"Mother, dearest," mischief wrinkled Coeus' face. "I'd say that the idea itself is quite fertile in a metaphysical sense of the word." He looked at his brothers expecting, at least, some appreciation for his remark. Not receiving it, he sighed and continued, in a more serious tone.

"Mother, the problem with your suggestion is not that it's barbaric, which it is. It's that it makes absolutely no sense. Yes, Uranus did throw us here in the worst pit of the Universe, yes, it is offensive, and yes, we have been force-fed this," he fastidiously pointed to the buffalo carcass, "meat of the wild animals instead of ambrosia, as Gods ought to be fed and yes it's most disconcerting.  However, what does it have to do with castrating? Do you mean to imply, that if Uranus can't appreciate his children, then we should forcefully revoke his right of having more?"

"Ouch," usually slow reacting Iaphetus placed his hand underneath his garment and touched his own testicles as if it was his own that was in danger of being removed.

Gaea circled her sons with the look of freshly squeezed venom.

"Is there at least one MAN among you, or did I invited only daughters to this meeting?" Gaea was short and fat, and among the humongous shadows, which her sons cast on the walls of the cave, her mothership, of these giants seemed doubtable.

"You all are looking at this the wrong way," up until now silent, Cronus, Gaea's youngest son, spoke up, putting down the buffalo's leg, he'd been chewing on.

"The question is not whether we should or should not do this, but whether we can do it at all. Uranus is immortal. There is no weapon that can hurt him."

"This one can," Gaea pulled a shiny rounded metal object from the folds of her garment.

"What is it?" everyone interested.

"It's a sickle."

"Let me see it!" Cronus jumped up ahead of everybody and took a hold of the agricultural tool. "Is it sharp? It doesn't look like anything. Ouch… Sharp." He pulled his finger away, sucking on the cut he had obtained on his finger and allowing the sickle to be passed around the circle.

"You don't know what you're doing, boy!" Oceanus' eyebrows moved closer together in a prefabricated condemnation. "The consequences of your crotchety behavior might have devastating effects on all of us."

"Oh yeah?" Cronus' face twitched in an angry grimace, "I've heard enough of your old fart rants. You're just scared of him that's all. Well, he might be able to have his way with you all, but I am not gonna let him push me around!"

"Right son, right! Now I hear the words of a man." The fire in her eyes tapped the wicked dance of revenge.

Oceanus got up with the craving to kick Cronus' butt. Cronus in turn also jumped up and assumed a fighting position.

"Hey, both of you, sit down!" Gaea screamed with such force that the echo reverberated long after the last sound escaped her mouth.

Coeus also got up, came between his brothers and put his hand on his mother's shoulder.  Oceanus reluctantly came back to his sit, mumbling something about disrespect.

"I see what you're thinking, brother," he addressed Cronus. "You want to be the one to run the Universe, to propagate yourself to glory and let your seeds dominate the new life. But think about it, what can you offer to the Universe as a ruler? You don't have a program or plan, or actually any idea of what you are going to do once you seize the power. And so, skipping the excessive expounding, if by now, with all the mighty powers you've been granted as God, you don't have even that much, what could be expected of you in the future? IT's will be the turn back to chaos…"

Cronus listened and bit his nails, looking at his feet.  Stubborn bullish expression freeze-dried on his face. Not waiting until Coeus would finish he screamed:

"I don't know! I don't know and maybe I shouldn't. Who cares what I would do once I'm there? What does it matter? And you… How is it despite all your fancy talk, you are still here? Well, I am not a talker, I am a doer!"

"What an idiot!" Coeus gave this epithet Cronus, appealing to Oceanus and raising his eyes.

"Iapetus! Where's Iapetus?" Gaea affectedly exclaimed trying to relieve the situation. "Crius, didn't he sat right next to you?"

 "He stepped outside on a real need, you know." Crius tightened himself until his face became red illustrating the nature of Iapetus' need.

"Oh, poor boy, he always had weak sphincters," Coeus commented.

"Huh?" One could physically sense the efforts, with which Hyperion searched his memory for the meaning of this word.

"He always needs to take a crap when he's nervous." Crius clarified and Hyperion started laughing loudly.

"Hey you two, stop that!" Gaea yelled at them. "If you're too stupid to contribute to the conversation, then, at least, shut up!" Their laughs quieted down to a chuckle.

"That's my boy!" Gaea approached and attempted to kiss Cronus on the cheek, but despite him sitting down, she could reach only to his shoulder.

"Oh, stop it, mother," irritation made an unexpected, high pitch tone in Cronus' usually low voice. A sour expression flooded across his face momentarily.

Tearing the sickle from the hands of Hyperion "Give me that!" he exited the cave.

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"I am so worried for him," Cronus' wife, Rhea, told her sister Phoebe. "He is so young and inexperienced. I don't think he has really considered what he is about to do and what the consequences might be." She shook her head worriedly staring at the ground.

"Did you try to talk him out of it?" Phoebe asked as she chopped the meat on the wooden block, preparing the evening meal.

"Of course, but you know your brother. He is as stubborn as a donkey."

"It's not that I mind talking to him… It's just… I am sure, Coeus has pointed out all the reasons Cronus shouldn't go through with this. If he couldn't convince him, then I am sure…" Phoebe pondered, as she finished cutting the roots, threw them in the kettle and blew the hair off her forehead, "he is not going to listen to me."

"Phoebe," Rhea leaned in close to her, took Phoebe's head in her hands and looked straight into her eyes. "Please. I don't want you to talk to him. I want… I want to know what will happen. …To Cronus, to Uranus, to all of us, if he goes through with this. You're the only one, who can interpret the signs."

Phoebe whipped her hands of her apron, sat down on the rock and for several moments kept silence. She didn't like doing it, because usually, it made her sick.

"I am afraid." She closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. "What if my foreseeing the future, would change the reality right now and in some strange, unpredictable way, would affect the future in a bad way."

"Normally I'd be afraid too," Rhea pressed her hands close to her chest. "But how do you know that your foretelling of the future hasn't been a planned part of this reality? More importantly, right now I am more scared of not knowing the future than to know it, however terrible it might be. Maybe, just maybe, then I would be able to stop him."

"Ok... I'll do that."

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Phoebe stood on her knees at the edge of the large circular cavity indented in the floor of the cave, filled with a greenish turbid and oily liquid. In her hands, she held a rugged-looking stone plate covered with chopped roots, leaves and flowers. Slowly and distinctly she spoke:

"Oh Holy Spirit, come.

Allow me to collect

Grasses of health,
Flowers of love,
Roots of knowledge.
The sky is my father.
Earth is my mother.
Moon is my destiny."

As she finished, she threw the contents of the plate in the pool. The liquid began to seethe.

"The matters of the past,
Dissolve.
The matters of the present,
Calm down.
The matters of the future,
Open up."

As Phoebe spoke, the liquid stopped seething and start turning counterclockwise, faster and faster, until its particles separated into the dark green that attached to the walls of the pool, while light and clear ones formed in its center.

In the middle of the clearing, Phoebe started seeing visions. With great difficulty, she was able to distinguish individual events. They flickered together, interfering and blocking each other like an individual fish interposing in a pool.

Phoebe felt nauseated and had to collect all her will to achieve a trance-like concentration, allowing her to make some sense of this crazy kaleidoscope.

The vision cleared and Phoebe watched as images flashed before her eyes: Cronus approaching their father, while he lay sleeping, a stream of blood, pouring from a wound in Uranus' pelvis. As she watched, drops of the blood fell to the Earth and huge monsters then emerged from it.

Phoebe felt hot. The sticky sweat oozed through her pores, but she kept on, pushing herself harder and harder.

The images continued: Cronus ceasing the heavenly throne, then his gloomy erratic reign, visions of him, swallowing his newborn babies, her poor sister, Rhea, desperately pleading and weeping...

Then she saw a new, young and powerful God, escaping the destiny of the others. Shrewdly, he extracted his siblings from Cronus' belly and with their help, dethroned his torturous father. A horrible war broke out, between this new heavenly ruler and her own siblings, the Titans, Images of bright flashes of lightning and the Earth shaking under the feet of the Titans.

Phoebe felt herself losing consciousness. This was as far as she could see. Collecting all her remaining strength, she made herself fall backward. The water stopped turning. The liquid took on its usual turbid, oily appearance.

 

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When Rhea and Coeus found her, Phoebe was very weak and shivered with a cold sweat. Coeus carried her to the place in a cave covered with leaves and Rhea wiped the sweat from her body, then covered her with a warm bear fur. She slept.

When she opened her eyes, she was met with Rhea's impatient, worried gaze.

"It's a bad sister." Her blue lips made a striking contrast with her skin now pale with the tint of yellow. "If he goes through with this, his end will be horrible, just like Uranus'."

"Why, Phoebe, what would happen?"

"He would be dethroned?"

"By whom?"

"By his own child… Hurry… Stop him!" Having said that, Phoebe fell unconscious again.

Rhea ran to her own cave as fast as she could.  She entered the cave breathing heavy and sweating.  Her wide hips, so useful in childbearing, weren't much help in running.

"Cronus, Cronus, my love."

"What is it, woman?" Cronus responded. His face was a mask of gloomy decisiveness.

"Cronus, darling. Please, please, don't do it, I beg you. Phoebe saw the end. It's not good."

"What!" Cronus yelped. "What do you know, woman? Phoebe is a gossiper. Not her witchcraft and not anything anyone says or does, is going to stop me now.  Each of you wished, but none's got the guts do what I am about to do."  The last phrase Cronus almost hissed.

"Please, my love, don't do it!" Rhea screamed and fell to Cronus' feet and encircled them, bemoaning.

With one powerful movement, Cronus shook her off. "Let go, you stupid cow!"

He stepped out of the cave and into the night. The metal object shone in his hand, reflecting the silver light of the moon.

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mgaft1
mgaft1

How do you know that you know what are you doing? By not doing what you don't know how to do. )


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