idol season ten | week eleven | 1115 words
The Blue Hour
Poseidon blamed the Romans.
Renaming someone without his permission—a god, no less—showed a distinct lack of respect. It had all been downhill from there.
Once, Poseidon had ruled the seas, in all their blue vastness and glory. Now, those days were but a memory. As the Greek Empire had diminished, so had Poseidon's influence. The Romans had honored him for a while, but were changeable by nature and in time had absorbed still other gods in place of the old.
Poseidon and his fellow gods had been appalled and their wrath mighty, but both it and they had been largely ignored.
Decades of scarce sacrifices and libations had gone by, and then centuries. Without the adoration and offerings of worshippers, Poseidon had finally been forced to make harsh changes that, frankly, were beneath his dignity.
Most significantly, he had been obliged to seek employment.
First, he offered rides in his sea chariot, but customers found it alarming and complained that it was "unnatural." The hippocampi that pulled the chariot found the customers ill-mannered and inconsiderate, and became disinclined to give Poseidon the time of day. That had been centuries ago. He had not seen them since.
Poseidon sold pearls at the market until he had sufficient funds to purchase a sailing vessel. He had never needed such a thing before, and was surprised to discover that while he could control the sea itself, he was unable to make the ship do his bidding and had to resort to manipulating it via forces enacted by the ocean.
Customers were disturbed by the experience, and word spread until even tourists soon refused to ride the "haunted" vessel. Poseidon resorted to moving farther along the coast and hiring a crew to "run" the ship. In time, he prospered and was passably content. But his nature was impatient, and such complacency could not last forever.
After many journeys, vast quantities of wine, and midnight visits to secluded beaches for fatted-calf flambé, Poseidon began to seriously wonder what he was doing. All of the charade and subterfuge he put on for the privilege of receiving a few gold coins… it was ridiculous. Damn those humans and their small minds and their lack of appreciation!
One particularly bad night, after too many cups of wine that had yet to slake the thirst for ambrosia, Poseidon went into a rage. He stood on the deck of his wooden behemoth and called the sea down upon it. Waves raged across and beneath it, heaving it toward the horizon and scouring its decks free of the wealthy passengers who so traveled from one land to the next based on nothing more than careless whim. Caught up in rejoicing the splintering of the hull, Poseidon scarcely noticed his crew being swept overboard. He plunged into the depths, laughing whirlwinds up from the waters to destroy what remained of his ship.
He spent weeks under the sea, perhaps longer, thinking about what he had done. He regretted killing his crew, for many of them had been decent men. Still, he could not help but gloat over the passengers, all cut from the same cloth as decades—centuries—of the type of humans that really boiled his beard. Good riddance!
Were his consort, Amphitrite, still with him, she might have said that he was sulking. After going for a ride with Apollo in his sun chariot more than a millennium ago, Amphitrite had left Poseidon and the sea far behind. Apollo was a rock star now, with hit records, world tours, and his own jet. Poseidon wasn't sure how Apollo had adapted to his change in status so easily, but then, Apollo had always had the looks. And the charm. And the talent.
Come to think of it, Apollo really boiled Poseidon's beard, too.
The ocean was less welcoming than it once had been. After the humans began to forget Poseidon, the creatures of the ocean changed as well. Their own mythologies disappeared over time, until they became no more than dumb beasts of the deep. If Poseidon beckoned them now, those that came had no inkling of who he was, or that they had even heard him.
After a lengthy period at the bottom of the sea, Poseidon began to long once more for meat and wine—despite what the latter had cost him. He rose up out of the ocean and set about starting over.
He had been living on his ship before he sank it, so all his belongings were now lost apart from his trident, which he could summon at will. He tried selling pearls in the market as before, but the process had grown more complicated and the offered payment had lessened. He drank most of the money away in taverns while he pondered what choices might still remain.
He had enjoyed working on the ship, he decided—it was the passengers he had hated. And he'd learned the craft of sailing during the many, many decades of watching his crews. That seemed to be the best opportunity.
Poseidon applied for work on a fishing vessel, laboring under an ancient captain who reminded him of a walrus he'd known long ago. Poseidon learned the routines of bringing the daily haul ashore and then selling the wares at the market. With the aid of money earned from selling sunken treasure, he was able to buy a fishing boat and go into business on his own.
It was a small operation, with no offices or even a crew. At this point, that suited him just fine. He went out to sea each morning, and found a quiet spot where he coaxed fish and crabs into his nets (which he might have felt guilty about, had they remembered him, but since they didn't he freely indulged his urge to punish them).
He returned to shore and sold his catch, then spent the rest of the day as he pleased. Sometimes he went into a tavern and didn't leave until he was thrown out at closing. Once in a while, he might journey to the deep to revisit his lost palaces, or sneak off to some distant area to burn a delicious goat. Old habits died hard.
But often, he went back out to sea again, sailing the waves for the joy of it. For those few hours, he was king of the ocean again, master of the beautiful blue domain surrounding him. The sun glinted off the water and porpoises leaped alongside his boat.
On the best days, if he looked very, very carefully, he might catch a glimpse of the hippocampi that had once pulled his chariot all those years ago.
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