“When it finished, it would look up at me, its face and beak covered in my blood, and then fly off with a promise to return the same time the next day.”
It must be the most irritating sound in the world – the fire alarm. Every day I have to check it. 10 a.m. on the dot. Every day! The instructions say to check it once every six months, but Zeus has ordered otherwise. He says there is an increased risk of fire at the Olympus Administration, and he doesn’t want to be held liable should there be an “accident”.
Of course, there isn’t; he’s just holding me out as some sort of pyromaniac. He’ll take every opportunity he can to undermine and belittle me.
And the timing is, of course, calculated. He knows 10 a.m. was the time that damned eagle would swoop down on my rock every day. It would land a few metres away and look at me with those evil, black eyes. It was never in a rush. It knew that I couldn’t go anywhere, that no matter how hard I strained and pulled, the ropes that bound me would hold true.
Slowly it would approach me. Each time it looked at me, it was as though it was the first time it had set eyes on me. A surprising treat. Then it would walk around me, inspecting what was on offer. I would shout at it, try to scare it off; it was the only thing I could do. But it made no difference. Eventually, it would climb on top of me and sink its cold talons into my skin, kneading my muscles like it was baking bread.
I would scream out, beg it to leave me alone, but it was deaf to my pleas. When it finished playing, it would stare at me for a while, as though savouring the moment, and then it would sink its beak into my stomach, tearing away the skin until it opened me up. I was completely and utterly helpless as it tucked into its meal: my liver.
When it finished, it would look up at me, its face and beak covered in my blood, and then fly off with a promise to return the same time the next day.
Have you ever regenerated your liver? I expect not, and I can tell you, it is painful. Excruciatingly painful. It would take the rest of the day and night for my body to recover. I would have a brief reprieve from around dawn, and then the whole process would start again at 10 a.m.
Thank God for Heracles. Actually, don’t thank God – that would be thanking Zeus. Thank Alcmene, Heracles’ mother, who brought him up to be strong, kind, and brave despite his father…most of the time at least. The moment he wrestled that eagle and snapped its neck was the most satisfying moment of my life.
Zeus says 10 a.m. is the most convenient time for sounding the fire alarm, but he knows what he’s doing. He knows the significance. Knows the phantom pains I feel. Knows how my scars start itching at that time as my body prepares for the onslaught. The eagle has never left me, it still comes every day. 10 a.m., every day, and now I’m forced to mark the occasion by sounding an alarm.
Of course, that’s not my only job. I remember when I returned a few weeks ago, Zeus immediately called me to his office. “Prometheus,” he said coldly as I entered, refusing to look up from his desk. “Nice of you to join us.”
I went to take a seat, but he held his hand up. “No need. This will be quick,” he said. “I need a fire marshall for the OA and, given your…talents, I thought who better? I’ll send you a memo with what you need to do.”
“Fine,” I said and made to leave.
“Not just yet,” Zeus barked. “I have another job for you. You are aware that Demeter is the attorney for the OA?”
“Yes,” I lied. I had no idea. I hadn’t spoken to anyone since returning and, quite frankly, I didn’t care.
Zeus had looked at me then for the first time. He could tell I was lying, but he let it go. “She won’t deal with mortals, which creates an issue, because there are occasions when the need arises. I know your fondness for the humans you created, so you can handle that element.” He said it with scorn.
“Very well,” I said, not sure what to make of my new role. I hadn’t known what to expect when I returned.
“Your first job is to take care of this.” Zeus picked up a stack of papers from his desk, which had evidently been sitting there for a while; they were covered with a thick layer of dust.
“What are they?” I asked.
“How should I know?” Zeus retorted. “Mortal matters. Minor matters that are of little concern to me. Some of them are marked urgent. Some of them are ‘final reminders’ about something or other. Whatever it is, deal with it.” Zeus looked at me questioningly, “Unless you feel it is beyond you?”
“I’m sure I’ll be able to get my head around it, whatever ‘it’ is,” I said through gritted teeth.
“Good. Off you go then,” Zeus waved his hand at me dismissively, our meeting clearly over. He wasn’t interested in what I had been doing all those years. Where I had been. What I had seen. Why I had returned.
I had held my tongue. It wasn’t the time. It still isn’t time. He will know soon enough. But I will wait. I’ve waited a long time, and I can wait a little longer. I’ll play along. Be a “yes” man like all the other Gods here. But I’ll never forget what he put me through. Since my return, the other Gods look at me like a traitor. They daren’t speak to me – they know Zeus will find out. But have they also not suffered by his hand?
The papers Zeus passed me relate to the OA. It seems he’s been a little lax in following the mortal’s legal requirements. They are threatening action over his failure to obtain planning permission for digging down into the Underworld, amongst various other things. Quite amusing really. I’ll look forward to telling him in due course, but now something far more important has landed. It’s a message from my father, Iapetus. He’s been locked in Tartarus since the Battle of the Titans. A battle I was involved in. A battle in which I turned my back on my family and joined Zeus. The message reads: “You will soon pay for your betrayal.”
It seems like my father has unfinished business with me.