Day of the Gods
by Andy Hollis
©1999 Andy Hollis -- all rights reserved
Author's note: this is the second part of a two part story and is not meant to stand alone. Please see Songs of Power: Songs of Change by Paul Carmichael. This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is -- ummm -- coincidental. That's it, coincidental.
A siren sang one clear note that rang like a bell across the waters as if calling the faithful to church. She sang the note again, and yet a third time then settled in the water to wait for the first response. Although she had used many names over the centuries of her life, she accepted Cassie for the moment. She wore the shape of a young girl, in her middle teens, mixed with the tail of an orca.
There, she thought, as she heard the first response come in. Soon it would be time to begin.
Around the world, on beaches and secluded coves sirens waited for the signal. Hundreds of girls, some human born and the rest born undines, waited to sing in the dawn of a new age -- the second age of the gods.
Marci O'Brien and her mentor, Sandra waited with a small group of sirens just off the Atlantic Coast of North Carolina.
"I hope we're doing the right thing," Marci said quietly. "I have a really bad feeling about this."
"Yes, but at least our families will be safe. It's time," Sandra announced as a third note sounded. Marci nodded, and all of the sirens began to chant."
Three times the chant rang out with Cassie acting as lead singer. Three times the song filled the air around the globe summoning powers that had not been seen on the Earth for a thousand years.
At the end of the third chorus, a beam of blinding golden white light split the dawn sky over Cassie's head. Another beam of light shot down from the first to touch the water. Seconds later, Cassie saw movement on the light, then spotted a small figure sliding down the beam toward her. Whoever it was crouched over as he slid down the light almost as if he was surfing, or -- riding a skate board? This didn't make any sense at all. A god riding a skate board? Where was Poseidon?
The rider skidded to a stop about ten feet over the water. He hopped off his board, and pulled off his helmet. The god looked no older than twelve, with long, coppery blonde hair. "Hey, babe. You called?" He tipped down his designer shades for a second to peer at the siren through large, sea-green eyes.
"Who are you?" Cassie demanded. "The sirens of the world summoned the old gods not some skateboard riding mall rat like you. Where is Poseidon?"
The boy shrugged. "What do I look like -- a travel agent? And you don't remember me? I'm hurt, Cassie, really hurt. I mean what's a couple thousand years between friends?"
Cassie took a long look at the boy, then sighed, "Eros?"
"The very one, my girl. Hey, after all of that I'm the only god that still has his own holy day and human worshipers by the millions. I know it's only for one day so the rest of the year I chill, you know?"
"Okay, brat, where is your family? I summoned them."
Eros gave the girl a crooked grin. "You really think so? They've been gone for a thousand years and you think they'll drop whatever it is they're doing out there and come all the way back here at your say so? Not likely. I mean, I'd love a family reunion, but it's not gonna happen."
"But you are here," Cassie said with a hint of desperation in her voice.
"But, my girl, I never left. My dear Uncle Hades is still living it up in the Underworld as always, but I don't think you will want his help, and of the others that stayed most accepted new lives as humans.
"So, you've got me now, and you won't regret it. Maybe I don't have thunderbolts like my dad or a triton like Uncle Poseidon, but I've got these killer shades and an awesome computer at home. What else do you need?"
Cassie screamed her frustration. "You, you little brat, are as infuriating as ever. What I need and what my girls spent the morning requesting was a god, a real god to take back the oceans from the humans and return them to the undines."
"Why? So you can hug some kelp? You ecology nuts are really getting out of hand, Cass. Look, I don't like all those oil spills and everything either, but what can you do? The humans have as much right to the water as you undines and at like ten million to one they probably have more say. I'd love to help out, babe, but it's not in my line after all. Uh oh, maybe it worked after all."
"What do you mean by that?"
Eros pointed to a spot a few hundred yards away. The waters began to churn and foam sprayed up as a figure rose from the sea. This one now towered over the water, a being half human and half sea serpent. He stretched his arms, yawned and spat out several gallons of sea water with a grimace.
"Mighty Poseidon, I am honored to be in your presence once more," Cassie said with a low bow.
"Hey, Uncle Po, it's great to see ya, man. What's happening?"
The god shook himself, and promptly shrank down to a more appropriate size. "By the Light my head aches after that summons. What is wrong with this water?"
"The very reason that we have summoned you, my lord Poseidon. For a thousand years the humans have ruled the land and the water and you can taste the result. Now the time has come for us to reclaim what is ours. Now is the time to change the world!" Cassie's voice rose into a shriek.
"Get a grip, girl," Eros said trying to stifle a giggle. "Whoa and hold on there. Change what world? This one? It's got a few problems I'll admit but there's no need to start changing things."
"Will you children stop bickering and let me think?" Poseidon asked in a tone of voice that made the sky rumble. "The others will be here soon. Perhaps we can decide then what is to be done."
"Uh oh," Eros said quietly. "Mom and Dad are heading home? Uh, maybe I'd better clean up the place after the last few dozen parties... Yeah, the old homestead needs a good cleaning. Later guys." The boy snapped his fingers and vanished into the light.
"How long do we have to stay out here?" Marci asked Sandra. "My folks are getting restless."
"I have no idea," Sandra answered looked up at the sky. "Do you see that?"
"Looks like a spotlight or something. Is that it? Is that all we get for calling back the gods? Sorry, no one is home on Mount Olympus?"
"Holy." Sandra opened her mouth and pointed.
Marci followed the girl's arm and screamed. High above the ocean she saw two suns, one burning in the sky as it always had and the other racing toward the water. After a moment, the second sun became a burning chariot racing across the morning sky.
"Don't tell me, let me guess. That's Apollo?"
The Chariot of the Sun dipped lower until the girls could feel the horses' hot breath warming the sea. The fire burned out, and the driver called out. "Excuse me, ladies, but could you point the way to Mount Olympus? The world seems so much larger now, I must have made a wrong turn."
Sandra gulped. "Welcome home, Lord Apollo. It's that way."
"Much obliged. Be seeing you," he said and raised the reins. "Oh, there's another of those pesky metal birds. They've been swarming around me all morning now and even my flames do not seem to scare them off. Do you know who is responsible for building them?"
"Uh, those are machines with people inside them, Lord Apollo. They must be trying to figure out who you are," Marci said. "We were expecting your return from our song, but no one else was."
"Oh, right. I will have introduce myself if they keep this up." Apollo directed his horses back into the sky away from the plane.
"Oh my God," Marci said as the Chariot left. "What a hunk he is. I think I'm in love."
Sandra laughed. "Watch it, girl. His girlfriends have a habit of turning into trees, you know. Remember Daphne?"
"Yes, but it would be worth it. Think we should go in? I don't see any sign of great changes."
With a long sigh, Sandra shook her head and said, "The gods have their own way of doing things. It's funny but I always thought meeting someone like Apollo would be, you know, different. Maybe when Zeus returns we will have some changes then."
Zeus walked through the ancient halls of Olympus once more. He paused in front of the massive throne that had been his for so many eons to remove an old candy wrapper from the seat.
"Sorry, father, there's another one I missed," Eros said with a sheepish grin.
Zeus settled himself down with a shake of his long white curls. As the other gods took their places, Zeus focused on his small son. "What happened to your wings?"
"Wings?" Eros protested. "But Dad, they are just so uncool. I mean I haven't let them show for a thousand years, and I hated having to preen them every day like I was some sort of..." The boy trailed off and let his wings appear on his shoulder blades. "Yes, father."
"That is much better. Remember all of you that we are still the rulers of this planet in spite of all the changes that the humans have made since our journey. I understand we have a lot of catching up to do, but before we begin who exactly called us back?"
Eros cleared his throat with a flutter of his wings. "That would be Cassie."
"Oh, right, you knew her as Scylla back in the good old days. She wants you to reclaim the waters for the undines and teach the humans a lesson."
"I quite agree," Poseidon said quietly. "The oceans of the world are in terrible condition from the humans' machines and trash."
"Something must be done, I agree," Zeus said and pulled on his beard. "But we are so far behind in knowledge of human development the question will be what? I doubt that a display of thunderbolts would be that effective."
"Father, if you would permit me?" Eros said hovering in front of the throne. "I can certainly help you with human history for the last thousand years. I didn't tape all those shows on the History Channel for nothing. Have everyone meet me in the TV room and I'll show you."
The boy sighed and flapped his wings. "I replaced the old reflecting pool with a 72 inch big screen. Never mind, you'll see."
Marci cuddled on the sofa as close as she could get to Charlie Gordon. It didn't matter that her parents were watching the news, or that her sister was on the phone to her boy friend in the kitchen. All Marci cared about was the fact that she was now accepted by everyone including Charlie as completely female.
"We interrupt this program from a special report from ABC news. From our studio in New York is John Collins.
""Thank you and good evening, America. As most of you are aware for the last three days there have been more and more reports of rather strange and unusual occurrences around the world. Some people have claimed to have seen Apollo, the Greek Sun god riding his chariot across the sky. In fact, several planes have been melted by this phenomenon. Others have claimed to have seen Poseidon and Zeus and most of the Greek gods while reports are coming in from Egypt, Israel and India that the gods are active again in a big way."
He paused for a moment to give the camera a serious glance. "With me this evening is Dr. R. Lemuel Hall, chairman of the Physics department at Columbia University in New York. Dr. Hall? How would you explain this rash of magical events?"
"Thank you, Walter, but I wouldn't try to explain that at all. You see, you just said the 'M' word, and I, as a highly trained scientific professional would never ever say the 'M' word. Oh no, I prefer to use all those long Latin and Greek words that don't mean anything or even all the longer words that we scientific professionals make up all the time."
"I thought you would, David. And as a highly trained broadcast professional I am quite surprised that you would think of using the 'M' word yourself. In any case, however, as we scientific professionals would say, what we have going on are new examples of an, as of yet, unidentified animating force, or U. A. F. for short. Now as soon as this U. A. F. or unidentified animating force is identified I am sure we will have more scientifically sound explanations for these phenomenon."
"But you do find these events disturbing?"
"Interestingly enough, Chet, I don't. If I had seen one happen first hand perhaps I would find it very disturbing, but since I --" Dr. Hall gasped as the skin on his hands and face turned a bright shade of green. "I seem to be..." The man shriveled down to the size and shape of a small tree frog.
"Uh, yes, it would seem that someone just provided Dr. Hall with a first hand experience of his own. Now that I would have to say, as a highly trained broadcast professional was a good example of the 'M' word in action. That concludes this." Collins screamed as he watched his ears grow in the monitor. He raised his hands to his head to confirm that he now the ears of a horse. He stood up as his lower body exploded into equine shape. The new news centaur took a step on his new legs and promptly fell over.
The screen went blank for just a second. The picture returned to show a large green meadow filled with centaurs, satyrs and other creatures out of various mythologies. The camera panned around and focused on two people, Eros and Apollo.
"Hi," the boy said displaying his wings. "You may know me from St. Valentine's day. I'm Eros, god of love, and with me is the one, the only, the great god Apollo. We are now broadcasting to you on every channel, cable and satellite included to bring you this important message from Olympus. Take it, Apollo, the eyes of the world are literally on you."
"Everyone in the world is watching me?"
"Yes, at least everyone that has a TV set. We're coming in loud and clear around the world in every human language. Go ahead. Uncle Apollo? Oh, great, now is not the time to get stage fright, Appy. Say something? Well folks, it looks like its up to me to pick up the slack.
"That's right, as that dweeb of a professor was trying to tell you before we -- frogged him, was this. The gods are back and they are mad. Now I've never been one of those eco-nuts but all you greenies out there take note. Zeus and the others agree with you. Humans have damaged this old world of ours almost beyond repair so now we, the gods of Olympus have no choice but to fix it. Zeus, Osiris, Jehovah and some of those Hindu guys have been talking this over and this is the plan.
"We want the world to go back to a more simpler time so sell all your stocks and bonds now and buy plowshares or something like that and get ready for some changes. The toll-free number you see flashing across your screen is for volunteers. See, we need more centaurs and things right now. Cassie's been doing a great job recruiting mermaids but we need more. Want to be a nymph or satyr? Give a call at Zeus Central and pick your new shape.
"So, call now -- 1-877-CHANGES. Operators are standing by to take your requests and if you don't call to volunteer now we will make the choice for you. Centaur or frog, dog or cat, or even bird or bat. It's up to you. You have three days to make that call and after that, well don't complain to me if you don't like being a slug in someone's garden. Got it? I hope so.
"Back to you, John or Chet or David or whoever you are. Got those legs working yet?"
The newstaur appeared on the screen for a second before Mr. O'Brien switched off the set. "No little creep with wings is going to turn me into an animal."
"You don't have to worry about it, Dad. I've already got you guys covered. But you, she said twirling Charlie's hair, "would make a great merman."
"Me?" Charlie protested. "I don't want to be a fish."
"Not a fish, silly, a merman. You know, like half dolphin and half boy?"
"What do you mean that you have us covered?" Nancy said from the kitchen doorway.
"It was part of the deal I made with the sirens when we called back the old gods in the first place. Our families are immune from all those changes," Marci said with a loud sigh at the old news.
"Then how come I have to be a fish?" Charlie insisted.
"You don't have to be a fish, but since I'm a mermaid I thought you would make a cute merman."
"This doesn't make sense," Nancy continued. "You mean you called back the gods and they turned you into a mermaid? You aren't one now."
"I got better," Marci said but the joke failed. "See I met this girl named Sandra and she made me a mermaid and then there were like thousands of us that called back the gods, not just me. But for helping out."
"We are protected from what that kid said. I see, but how could you do something like that?"
"It wasn't an easy decision," Marci said looking at the closed faces of her family. "This was going to happen with me or without me, you know, and if I had refused to help you guys would be in the same mess that everyone else is."
"She's right and you know it," Nancy said. "If she had refused you both would be yelling at her because she could have saved you and she didn't do it for some sort of principle."
Mrs. O'Brien nodded. "I just don't like the thought of what this is going to do to the world. All this about gods and magic."
"Ooops," Marci said quickly. "You just said the 'M' word."
Mr. O'Brien said nothing as he turned the TV back on. A newsman, fully human, was in the middle of a sentence. " I repeat, this just in from the White House. The President is urging everyone not to panic. Reports are coming in from around the country of people changing into all sorts of outlandish shapes including dinosaurs.
"This has to stop now. The President has requested that everyone must stop calling the number shown by those so called gods. The Federal Government needs time to study this Unknown Animating Force before approving it for general use."
"This just in. The President will be holding a press conference this afternoon with the nation's top scientific and military leaders."
"This is great," Charlie commented. "It's right out of 'War of the Worlds' and 'Godzilla'."
Marci laughed at the thought. "I can just see the U. S. Army invading Mount Olympus -- as a peace keeping effort only."
"That's not funny," Mr. O'Brien commented.
"Oh, lighten up, Dad," Nancy said. "Since the gods don't control the oil supply they're safe from us." She exchanged a high five with her sister.
The President walked into the conference room with a nod to the assorted men and women gathered around the table. He glanced at the TV cameras already rolling as he took his place at the head of the table. So close to the end of his term and something like this happens. Once again he would face the country, with a tarnished reputation, but at least his heart was in the right place. The country had forgiven him his indiscretions even if his wife had not, but it wasn't as if he were the first President to fool around in the White House, or the last.
But the last thing he wanted would be to go down in history as the President who led his country against Greek gods.
The President stared into the camera ignoring the bustle of activity around the table. "Good afternoon. I've called this meeting to address the issue of these mass transformations that are happening all over the world. There is no need to panic and believe that these people really are the Greek gods from the myths, in fact with me today are some of our best military and scientific leaders who can address the problem more fully. May I --"
Golden light filled the room as a tall, young woman appeared a few paces away from the President. Instantly the secret service men raised their weapons, but the girl only shook her head and waved a short wand.
"You men are so childish with your toys and playing soldier," she said as the six secret service men shrank down to become two year old toddlers with water pistols. Camera men and technicians around the room also began shrinking to an odd assortment of pixies and nymphs.
"I am Lady Circe, and yes I am the same goddess that pig of a poet wrote about in the old days. I never truly enjoyed turning men to swine," she said with a flash of a smile, "although on occasion." The dignitaries around the conference table changed to so many pigs. "Now, as you were saying?"
The President gulped. "Who are you really?"
"What would you like to be when you grow up, little boy? President? Perhaps next time the people who put you in power will be more discriminating in their tastes." With that, the President also began to shrink but into a young satyr.
He leered at the nymphs and stared down at his new equipment. Somewhere, deep in the satyr's mind a politician screamed that he shouldn't play with himself on national television, but the new kid had no use for thoughts like that anymore. He started chasing the new girls.
Circe glanced into the camera. "Having trouble making up your minds about what you would like to be? Just call me at 1-877-CHANGES and I will make the selection for you. Have you been bad and need to be punished? Call me now."
High over the Balkans, a squadron of US and NATO fighter jets received new orders and turned south toward a famous mountain in Greece.
Although the orders were for reconnaissance only, as soon as the planes crossed into Greek airspace the bombers turned into a flock of pigeons.
Orders were then issued by the Pentagon for all battleships in the Mediterranean to ready cruise missiles but the orders were ignored by sailors too busy turning into dolphins to pay attention. Around the globe soldiers and sailors vanished as nuclear submarines turned into pregnant whales while foot soldiers turned into so many flocks of sheep and cattle.
"Someone has to be in charge, somewhere," the general demanded into the phone.
"We're sorry, Gen. Toliver, but the Vice-President just turned into a tree."
"How can you tell?"
"He finally loosened up a bit, sir, but most of the Federal Government is gone. The entire Senate turned into horses, while the House has been favoring chickens and turkeys. A group of anthropomorphic animals led by an otter have invaded the White House and renamed it Metamor Keep. Is there anything else I can help you with sir?"
Gen. Toliver glanced up at the tall man wearing a spiked helmet with an antique breastplate. He sighed, "Lord Ares, I presume."
"Very good, general. You did ask for someone in charge. So, this is the war room. Very impressive for human design, I must say. Who are you fighting these days?"
"We aren't fighting anyone. For once the world is at peace with only a few police actions here and there."
"Not while I am in charge. I feel like having a really good war. Are the Huns still around?"
For a second the general smiled, "No sir, but the Russians and the Chinese are certainly available."
"This is crazy," Marci said for the sixth time. Her sister, Sandy and Charlie just shook their heads. "I'm sure Cassie didn't mean for this to happen when she called on the gods."
"Who knows what Cassie wanted," Sandy said with a shrug. "It's a little late to complain now, isn't it?"
Marci shook her head. "We called the gods back from where ever they were. Can't we just un-call them now? Maybe we call sing them back to where they came from?"
"It's an interesting thought," Nancy commented, "but wouldn't they just come right back? How much control over these gods would Cassie have?"
Charlie kicked at the sand for a moment as he looked out over the waves. "It's only been one day since that kid with the wings gave out the number and he gave us three days to call. What more can happen?"
"Everyone could turn into animals," Marci said, "with no one to take care of them."
"But would that be so bad?" Sandy added. "Cassie was right about the humans really messing up this planet."
"But don't the gods need people to worship them?" Nancy asked.
"Yes, they do," Sandy said.
"Give the lady a fish," Eros said from behind the group. He hovered a few inches off the sand.
"Awesome wings, man," Charlie said.
"Would you like a set? It can be arranged before you trade in your legs for a tail."
"What are you doing here?" Sandy asked.
"Cassie sent me. There are thousands of new mer-chicks out there and mer-boys too, and they need help. You too, Charlie, although you would look great in wings."
"He's mine, so don't get ideas," Marci said.
"And not a single thank you do I get? What about you, babe? Yeah, you, the smart one. I could use a pretty assistant like you."
Nancy blushed and shook her had. "I..."
Several explosions lit the sky from horizon to horizon. Eros looked up. "Holy Hell, Uncle Ares is playing with those damned nukes of yours. I'd better tell Dad before it gets serious." The god vanished.
"That's it," Sandy said. "We're finding Cassie and doing something about this now."
"But everything is going according to plan," Cassie insisted. "The gods are changing the world and for the better. So what if a few human countries are destroyed along the way. They are of no concern to us."
"All life should be of concern to us," Sandy said quietly.
"And when that nuclear fall out spreads over the sea?" Marci asked.
"Lord Poseidon will take care of us and the waters of this world."
"Lord Ares is in the process of blowing up mainland China because some general said they were available for war. Suppose all those nuclear blasts trigger some sort of nuclear winter that even the gods cannot control. I think we have reason to worry," Marci said barely hiding the anger in her voice. "Changing the world is one thing, Cassie. Blowing it into little bits is another."
All the girls shuddered as they felt another blast rip through the world.
"Perhaps you have a point. Let us consult Lord Poseidon about this."
"But father," Eros said fluttering behind Zeus as the god walked down the corridors of Olympus to the throne room. "I really like this world and I've grown quite fond of it while you were away. Do we have to destroy it?"
"There are other worlds, son."
"Yes, but now that Uncle Ares knows how to split the atom how long will they last?"
"You have a point, of course." Zeus settled into his throne. He used the remote to switch on the big screen. "There has been no serious damage done to the world since Apollo stopped the nuclear blasts, but this all-out war between the remaining humans is not acceptable. Ares?"
From the rubble that had once been Beijing, the god of war looked up at the sound of his brother's voice. "What is it now?"
"This needless warfare of yours stops now."
"But I'm not finished yet. I've almost won."
Zeus sighed at the tone in his brother's voice. "Put everything back the way you found it and come home at once."
"Do I have to? Okay, but this was a great little war."
"There," Zeus said to his son. "Is that better? Now, how is your part going in all of this?"
Eros cleared his throat. "Better than I expected. Our volunteer rate for change has reached over one hundred percent. Lady Circe is still taking requests, and at this rate there will be no need to cause a worldwide change."
Zeus shook his head. "No, that must still be done to convince the remaining humans of their place in the new world, but you have done well. Thank you."
"In that case, when the changes come I have one favor to ask."
As the third day dawned over Mt. Olympus, Zeus signaled the other gods. The combined power of all the gods spread over the world as a golden blanket of light that for a moment, blocked out the sun in one half of the planet but turned night into a golden day in the other.
When the golden haze cleared, the world had changed. The god's power repaired all the holes in the ozone layer, scrubbed the air and the water clean around the globe, and cleaned the world's cities of centuries of grime and crud. Millions of vagrants, gang members and petty thieves turned into so many cats and dogs to take care of the population of vermin. Others swelled the numbers of crows and vultures to finish off the carrion left by the new dogs and cats.
Of those that remained human none were left unchanged. People found themselves sporting muzzles or pointed ears, or even feathers according to their deepest wants. Others grew tails. Everywhere people made adjustments to the changes they found in themselves and the world, then promptly went back to work and carried on with their lives. Governments reopened, and the global economy did not collapse.
"It could have been worse," Marci said flexing her tail.
"I don't see how," Nancy commented doing the same. "I never wanted to be a mermaid, but look at me now."
"Or me," Charlie added. "I know you're my girl friend, and everything, but I really wanted the wings instead of this tail. You said we would be protected."
"Yes, I did, and in a way you were because you're not just a couple of fish like so many others. I didn't expect this either, but we don't have a choice. Once Mom and Dad get over the shock we had better go. We have a lot of swimming to do."
"Okay," Charlie said with a sigh. "I'll get my folks."
"Are you ready?" Sandra asked as she joined the group.
"Almost," Marci said. "Charlie went to bring his parents along. Looks like the winds of change really did blow and everyone got caught in the blast. Let's just hope we don't flub this second chance."
Sandy laughed. "I hope so too, because I'd hate to think what we would have to sing up the next time to put things straight." With that she led the undines out into deeper water.
About the Author
Andy Hollis has been writing fantasy and transformation stories since grade school. He is married, forty something and working on several novels as well as short stories. He is into Russian Music, English Literature and is learning the balalaika.
If you liked this story, check out Andy's other stories in the Index.