It is 1317 BCE.
Hades and Iasion stroll through the Underworld. Hades is munching on a pomegranate. It’s his favorite fruit.
“I have had command of this place for some years now,” says Hades, “and still it does not satisfy.”
“It’s all the suffering,” Iasion says. “I recommend a simple palliative: replace it all with sex.”
Hades raises an eyebrow.
Iasion snags an hors d’oeuvre from a passing waiter of the damned. It’s a cracker with a bit of smelly cheese. He bites into it. “Tastes like dust,” he says.
“It should taste like orgasms,” Iasion says.
Hades stops walking. He chews for a moment. He swallows, uncomfortably. He signals the waiter. The waiter approaches. Hades carefully puts the remainder of his pomegranate on the plate.
Iasion looks a little nervous. “Or like grain. Grain’s okay. Grain’s the sex of the earth. Its crunchy goodness is like nature’s fertility!”
Hades looks at Iasion with a half-frown. Then he shrugs. He starts walking again.
“It’s the same,” Hades says. “Dust, sex, even chocolate. That’s the point.”
“Give me some chocolate,” Iasion says boldly. “And some sex. And some dust. I will test your theory!”
Hades’ walk is somber.
“I’m not flirting with you,” Iasion clarifies.
“Good,” says Hades.
“It’s not that you’re not hot, or anything. It’s just that I don’t think about you that way. And I mostly like girls.”
“It’s true,” Hades says, firmly, “that everything tastes like dust. And that all the colors are gray. And that everywhere there is suffering. But I do not wish to become Hades the King of Sex.”
“It’s a good title,” Iasion says. “Sex and death? You’d be the most popular god ever. They’d be so busy pouring libations to you that people’d hardly have any time to drink.”
“I want there to be hope.”
Hades looks around. “This is the land of what’s left. It’s the land of sorrow. It’s the land of nothing.”
“In that respect,” says Iaision, “you’ve done really well. I mean, look! Walls! Waiters! Residents! Look yonder: Ephialtes and Otus suffer in chains. There! In the Elysian fields, the maid Ananke portions out destinies to the blest. Compared to Zeus’ world, perhaps, this is no paradise; but for a world of nothing and grown of nothing, it is masterful in its decor. The air is full of music, though it does not satisfy—”
“‘Muzak,’ I call it,” says Hades.
“—and the sweet if sterile scent of empty air!”
“I wish there to be hope.”
Their footsteps echo for a while in the empty halls.
“Death is grim, my lord.” Iasion looks apologetic. “It’s because of the endings.”
“This is my plan,” Hades says. He looks at Iasion. “I will travel up to Earth in my chariot. There, I will seize Persephone.”
“Persephone?” Iasion asks. He looks uncomfortable.
“Does that bother you?”
Iasion hedges. “I heard she’s going to blow up one day, boom, just like a volcano.”
Hades runs his finger along the top of a picture frame. The picture shows a gray square. Its frame is clean. There is no dust.
“I will interrupt her destiny,” says Hades. “I will seize her and carry her down into the Underworld. She will make death, not life, into a mystery.”
“What if she turns me into a mint?” Iasion frets.
“Make ready my chariot,” says Hades.
The rest of the story is well-known. Hades finds Persephone in the field. He seizes her. He carries her off. It is 1317 BCE, so this is pretty typical as weddings go.
“Who are you?” Persephone asks, after a few minutes on the road.
She thinks about this. He’s Zeus’ brother, and pretty important, but on the other hand, he lives in the Underworld.
“I don’t want to live without sunlight,” Persephone points out.
“None save Zeus may choose the circumstances of their lives.”
“That’s true,” Persephone admits. She bites her lip. She’s not even one tenth as strong as Hades, so her options are limited to marriage and destroying the world. “I guess.”
Right now, with shock setting in and the chariot bouncing along the road, Persephone is having a hard time even figuring out how upset she is.
Hades’ chariot charges towards the spring of the nymph Cyane.
Suddenly, in Persephone’s heart, there is a bit of hope.
Like a waterfall without a cliff, the naiad Cyane rises. She has not one hundredth of Hades’ strength, but still she rises.
She spreads her arms to bar Hades’ way.
“No!” Cyane says. It is a demand.
Persephone’s gratitude is as deep as the world, and she realizes in that moment that she is very upset with things indeed.
Hades’ voice is certain. It is unyielding. It is the wind from the mountains and the cruelty of the sea.
“It is necessary,” says Hades, “that there be hope.”
“No!” repeats Cyane. This time she is chiding him.
“So I have taken hope,” says Hades.
“Go no further!” Cyane says, and suddenly her voice is cracked and angry and full of fear and sorrow. “This maiden must be asked, not taken.”
Persephone takes strength from it.
“If I do not like you,” Persephone tells Hades, in a soft dark lucid voice, “I will unmake you, your world, and everything you have.”
Hades smites the spring. The world cracks open. Cyane falls back. The chariot gallops down into the Underworld and they are gone.
“Oh,” says Cyane. “Oh. Persephone.”
She is crying now.
Her tears are tears of futility, for she does not understand what good it is that she has done.