During a Dance

An Urban Fantasy Short Story by Larry H

During a Dance

by Larry H

 

“Oh, you gotta check out Aphrodite over there!”

Thor waved his goblet toward the golden-haired goddess in a flowing white gown. Odin took a long, appreciative look, then shook his head.

“Naw, she’s hot all right, but she’s a bitch once she gets you alone. Now Freya. There’s a lady who knows what she wants, and how to get it. I’ll take her home every chance I get.” He drained the mead from his cup, then threw the empty silver chalice hard at Bacchus. It clanged against the back of his head and bounced into Zeus’ face. Bacchus yelped and whirled, looking for his assailant, but Zeus was already several steps into a deadly charge toward Odin, his red and white toga flowing behind like a battle flag.

Thor stepped between them and his father, then noticed Ares joining with Zeus, who was now beginning to throw off sparks while Bacchus trailed behind. “Terrific. Good one, dad!” he said.

Odin tried to fade back into the crowd, but stealth and speed simply don’t go together, especially for someone wearing bulky furs and leggings. He bumped into several gods and goddesses, giving quick apologies as he passed. Thor caught Odin by his heavy bearskin cloak, and shoved him out of harm’s way.

“Why did you tick those two off, anyway?” Thor asked.

“I did nothing! Bacchus is supposed to be catering the drinks. My cup ran out of mead. Besides, they’re _Greeks_, for Asgard’s sake! I didn’t expect to catch Zeus like that, but with this eye patch, well, sometimes you just get lucky.” Odin chuckled at the thought.

“I think Bacchus knows about your drink now, but it looks like Zeus isn’t in much of a mood for talk.” Thor said. “Hang tight. I have an idea. ‘Hey, Loki, ol’ buddy!'”

Loki, who was slow-dancing with Diana at the time, looked up just as Zeus caught Odin by the throat. He grinned and whispered to his dance partner, “Sorry, this’ll just be a moment.” Then he called out to the room, “This might be fun. I was getting bored, anyway.”

Diana stepped back in surprise, and shook her head.

“Okay, you boys go ahead and play. I’ll be at the buffet table. Have fun!” Her laughter tinkled like a wind chime as she waved goodbye.

“Stop it now, Zeus.” Lightning crackled from behind Thor’s eyes. “This is Vishnu’s party, and if I have to be good here, so do you. You know what those three are like. Remember when Shiva caught Loki raiding Brahma’s fridge?” Loki cringed at that memory.

“Chill, Thor. Odin just needs a quick lesson in etiquette. I’ll only be a minute.” Zeus released his grip, and lightning jumped between his fingers, with arcs flying between his palms every few moments.

Thor looked from Zeus to Odin, then to Bacchus uncertain as to how far this game was going to go. Ares leaned close and said, “Hey, Thor. Let’s we take this outside now. That way, Vishnu doesn’t need to know about any of it.”

“What doesn’t Vishnu need to know about?” Brahma asked as he approached from behind Bacchus. Odin began mumbling under his breath, “I don’t believe this…”

“Come on, Zeus, are we gonna do this or not?” Ares said, “Maybe I’ll just throw down now.”

Hera, who had been standing nearby when the combatants converged, stepped forward. “Rather than breaking up the party early, why not settle this on the dance floor?” There was a general murmur of agreement in the room.

“Apollo! We need a nice rousing tune for this one. Whaddaya got?”

Apollo looked to his band. Pan, Artemis, and Mercury looked at each other, then, nodding agreement, began. Pan struck a single, pure note on his pipe, and Artemis began pounding out a complex rhythm on her drums. Mercury pulled a bass riff and Apollo set his bow to take the lead. As the intro built up to its crescendo, Apollo shouted out, “RAGNA-ROCK!”

The dance floor cleared quickly, leaving an open circle for Odin and Zeus to dance in.

“RAGNA-ROCK! THE FINAL FINISH! LET’S GO SMASHING, SMASHING, SMASHING!”

Odin dropped down in a splits maneuver, then whirled around into a ‘coffee grinder’. Zeus replied with a cartwheel and an aerial spin, slamming feet first into a column and jumping away with a crackling vertical spin.

“THIS IS THE NIGHT FOR THE REALLY BIG FIGHT! THIS IS THE TEST, THE TEST OF MIGHT! RAGNA-ROCK! — INTO THE NIGHT!!”

Odin jumped back, doing a series of flips, then stopped in mid-lunge, his hand extended to Frigg. Delighted at the invitation, Frigg took his hand and joined the game. The couple danced and whirled in unison as Zeus watched, dismayed for only a moment, before cartwheeling across to Hera, to whom he extended his hand.

“THE HUMANS HAVE FORGOTTEN, AND WE ARE NOW VERBOTEN, THE TIMES THEY HAVE BEEN CHANGIN’ AND IT’S NOT – OUR – FAULT!”

Within moments, the couples were battling to outdo each other in a rousing game of tit-for-tat. Each time a couple took the lead, the crowd cheered just that much more wildly. Zeus pulled Hera close for a whirling finale, pulling ever more complex moves until Odin and Frigg managed to block their progress with an aerial tumble.

“THE STORIES ARE NOT TOLD NOW, AND WE CANNOT BE BOLD NOW, OUR MEMORIES ARE COLD NOW, HEY

WHAT’S UP– WITH– THAT? WHAT’S UP– WITH– THAT? ”

The two sides danced in a frenzy, barely more than a colorful blur of movement spinning, spinning across the floor. Thunderbolts began crashing from the stage and from the ceiling, the noise and smoke growing thicker by the moment until the crowd could barely see the contestants.

“THE NORTHERN LANDS FORSAKE US, THE EASTERN ONES REMAKE US, THE SOUTHERN ONES DON’T CARE ABOUT US – LETS GO HOME! LETS GO HOME! LETS GO HOME! LETS GO HOOOOOME!!!!”

Zeus and Odin separated from their partners and dove into the final clash, cartwheeling and leaping furiously to the time of the final shattering notes of the song. Their collision heralded the final cataclysmic moments of a forgetful world as protons and neutrons collided within the heart of multiple nuclear weapons. Blossoms of fire were followed by thunder and searing heat as pressure waves roiled across the planet’s surface. Ragna Rock was followed by silence. The final gift of the old gods was peace at last.

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