The Second Coming of Olympus

Zeus walked carefully across the charred wasteland, both awed and repulsed by the world he once knew. The soles of his feet burned from contact with the scorched earth and he stepped over hundreds of blackened corpses as he made his way towards the ocean. A breath of wind which was far too warm brought the putrid scents of decay and harsh chemicals to his nostrils, making him grimace. The planet he loved had until now teemed with life and its population had grown impossibly high. It had seemed as if there were more humans on earth than there were leaves in the trees at one point, but now there were none.

Zeus had been amazed at the progress of humanity; amazed, and fiercely proud. Long gone were the days when the King of the Olympians had felt anger towards them for turning their back on the gods. Unruly children rebelled as they grew, and Zeus knew this fact all too well. In fact, abandonment had given him the opportunity for self-reflection and consideration, and he now clearly saw where the Olympians had gone wrong. If they had spent less time enjoying the fruits of the earth and basking in their own glory they may have retained the respect of their creation. Only Hades had remained occupied over the millennia, and even he had become overwhelmed…

But oh, how far they had come! Discoveries had been made that were beyond the comprehension of the gods themselves! For what paltry gifts could the Olympians offer mankind in the wake of such treasures of science and technology? No, they had realised early on that they must become obsolete. The world had become bigger than Greece and stretched further in the minds of men than Persia and Egypt. Men were hungry for discovery and adventure, and quickly threw off the shackles of Mount Olympus.

But who could have predicted this? Zeus stood silently among the rubble and ash which had once been Athens and gazed out towards the ocean. There were no sounds anymore, save for the sighing of the waves. The Aegean Sea had swollen beyond all proportion until it now lapped against the foot of Lykavittos Hill. Zeus waded out into the warm, stinking water and moved past the ruined shells of houses and restaurants. The waves were black with soot and detritus bobbed sadly in them; Zeus noted the wings of aeroplanes, missile casings and shredded tyres. Floating among them were the irradiated corpses of millions of sea creatures, rotting in the blistering heat of the nuclear fallout. Zeus shook his head, running a hand through his long, matted beard. His brother, Poseidon, had been the most deeply affected by the carnage, so much so that he had not uttered a word for centuries. Zeus feared he may never speak again.

So, the hubris of mankind had proven to be its downfall and the long-forgotten gods were the last beings standing. Should that be considered a victory? Zeus could see nothing victorious about the circumstances. The planet was broken, of that there was no doubt. But could it be fixed? Zeus had spoken to his brethren and they were in agreement; they would come out of their long, long dormancy and reclaim dominion over the world. They would have a Second Coming, so to speak, and in doing so would create life on earth again. This time, however, they would learn from their mistakes; there would be no more toying with their favourites, no more jealousy and no more intrigue and betrayal between them. They would secure that cursed Box and Hephaestus would bind it in the strongest chains he could forge. They would also take steps to ensure that Prometheus would never again be left alone with fire…

Zeus was confident about his plan. The Olympians would flex their dulled muscles and be almighty once again! They would create a new world in which they and other lifeforms could prosper forevermore, and this time it would be completely untainted by the fury of mankind. Zeus took a last, lingering look at the engorged Aegean before striding back towards Mount Olympus. There was a great deal of work to be done.

A – Z Challenge Day 24

The final day of this April’s Challenge is here, and I’ve got some catching up to do! Unfortunately, I have stumbled at the last hurdle this week and I will need to post three stories in order to complete the Challenge properly. But fear not, for I intend to pick myself up and sprint to make the finish!

I’m starting by uploading Thursday’s story, which was prompted by one of my email followers. The lovely Viki Allerston suggested “X” for “XENOPHOBIA”, and I think it’s a great word in such a restricted letter group! Unfortunately, this word is very relevant to the world today and so I wanted to treat with a degree of care. I have plans to explore this subject another day with a less restrictive word count, but I have come up with a short story which addresses it in the meantime. Thanks for the prompt, Viki!

Here’s what I was able to come up with. I hope you enjoy it.


By Adam Dixon

The good-natured chatter within the tavern hushed as the dark-skinned man wearing a turban walked in. He stopped as dozens of pairs of eyes turned towards him, most with open hostility. He gulped, took a deep breath and strode up towards the tavern keeper. The man ordered a drink in his rough accent and the other patrons reluctantly turned back to their own, grumbling to their companions about the “damn foreigners”. Two men seated close to the door glanced at one another and shook their heads.

“That was a close one, Rek” the first man said, stroking his waxed moustache. “It’s a good thing he isn’t armed or one of those fools at the back might’ve jumped him!”

“He is armed, Jarol,” the second man replied, gesturing towards the stranger with his mug of ale. He was taller than his friend, with a shiny bald head and a bushy beard. “He has a dagger hidden in one of his boots and another one up his sleeve. These are dangerous times, my friend.”

“By the Gods! I know I’ve been away for a while, but things are worse here than I could have imagined!” Jarol exclaimed. “It’s a sorry state of affairs when a man must come secretly armed in order to have a drink! And all because he is from the Eastern realms!”

“It is,” Rek agreed, patting the scabbard of his short-sword. “But there’s more to it than simple dislike. The Easterners have been causing tensions in these parts for decades but the High Lords won’t acknowledge it. The Northmen don’t appreciate the way that Easterners have been muscling in on trade and housing since they settled, but the Easterners do nothing to aid their cause. They strut around villages in large gangs, intimidating all but the bravest or the most foolish of the natives. It’s rather unusual to see an Eastern man come into a tavern alone, actually. Naturally, many Northmen have become embittered and are crying out to ‘reclaim their land’ from these ‘invaders’.”

Reclaim?” Jarol grimaced in disgust. “Invaders? What do these Northmen think their ancestors were doing in the Eastern realms a century ago, taking in the scenery? That is ridiculous!”

“It is, but keep your voice lowered, my friend,” Rek said quietly, turning to glare at the men in the tavern who had begun to pay attention to them. The men lowered their heads before his stony gaze. “These Northmen are fiercely proud, and arrogant. Do not make the mistake of questioning their ire in public.”

“You’re right, I’m sorry,” Jarol said, nervously glancing around the room. The other men had returned to their conversations, but they seemed to be keeping their ears open.

“It’s happening in my homeland, too,” he said, looking at his ale sadly. “The Southern Province used to be so accepting, so united once the Divide broke down. Alas, twenty years later and the liberators have become our new jailors! My own family had its farmland seized by the new lords and we were all but forced to move north. We don’t have as many issues here, but we are still seen as second-class citizens, even if it’s done politely.”

“It’s such a tragedy that your land couldn’t remain united, it was such a wonderful time to be alive when the Divide ended.” Rek’s mood was sombre.

“It truly was, wasn’t it?” Jarol smiled and his eyes clouded as he became lost in his memories. “We were all cheering, Southerners of all colours and creeds clasping hands and dancing together, sharing music and food. Brothers and sisters at long last! But now…the Divide is back, simply in disguise, coaxed back by ancient prejudice and grudges.” He sighed dejectedly and took a long swallow from his mug. His friend simply nodded, frowning.

“The trouble is,” Rek began, gesturing around the tavern. “Ordinary folk don’t understand what’s happening to their lands, but they are always eager to pin the blame on somebody else. Here, it is the Easterners, and in the Southern Province it’s your kind. We seem to have lost the ability to live amongst each other peacefully.” He stopped as some of the men began loudly talking about the turbaned stranger in aggressive voices. The man sat at the bar, keeping his head low and trying to ignore their comments. The big man stood up.

“Come on, friend,” he said. “Let’s go and sit with that fellow and give him some company. Perhaps he’ll appreciate another drink and a way to shut those braggarts up.” The Jarol nodded, also rising.

“Yes, that’s a fine idea,” he responded with a smile. “The world may have forgotten how to be friendly, but you and I certainly haven’t! Let’s help the poor fellow out.” So the two men strode over to the frightened Eastern man and made his acquaintance. The man was initially suspicious and then greatly relieved at their presence, gesturing happily at the stools next to him. The men sat, and the other patrons looked on in dumb silence.

Where Were You?

Today’s post is something of a milestone. It marks the 20th short story to be uploaded on to my blog! Well, technically it is the 16th, but due to a bit of a cock-up by yours truly it ended up being sent to the lovely Esther Newton and was first published on her blog on 29th January 2016. I had marked it for use in a flash fiction competition, but I was happy for Esther to use it and my mistake did make me laugh! But anyway, I’ve recently remembered that I didn’t post it on here so tonight I am doing just that. I hope you enjoy it if you haven’t read it already!

Also, please check out Esther’s blog!


Where Were You?

By Adam Dixon


“Hush, my darling,” Sylvia crooned, stroking his thick, curled hair as he sobbed into her chest. She and her fiancé had just finished making love, their bodies bathed in sweat and their mutual ecstasy fading. Seconds after its conclusion, Dion had gazed at Sylvia, his shining brown eyes filling with tears. She held him close, her heart aching at his sadness.

“I shan’t be gone for long, my love,” she whispered. “In fact, you will barely notice my absence. Doctor Jonas has assured me that I will return within hours of my departure.”

“But what if you don’t?” Dion’s head came up, and he fixed Sylvia with an imploring stare. “There are no guarantees with time travel, and you know it. Christ, Sylvie, you might not even make it back!”

“We both knew the risks when I accepted the mission, Dion,” Sylvia replied, her voice still gentle but with a stern edge. “We knew what could happen when the time came, and we were both prepared for it. Or at least, I thought we both were.” She gave him a reproachful look and cocked her head to one side. Long red hair spilled across her left shoulder and covered one of her breasts. Dion’s eyes followed her hair, and he reached out to tangle his fingers in it as he cupped her cheek.

“I know, I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s just that now it’s finally here…I don’t know…I can’t bear the thought of never seeing you again.”

“But you will, Dion,” Sylvia said earnestly, running her hand across his dark forearm. “A few hours we will be apart; a few days at most. We’ve endured longer periods than that!”

“True,” Dion smiled weakly, brushing the tears from his eyes. “I’m just worried about you, I suppose. I’m sure you’re right.”

“I am,” Sylvia said, winking at him. “Doctor Jonas has calculated every possible outcome to a minute detail. He is certain that I will return to this very house, and in this very room! Now, hush.” She pulled him close to her and they lay down on the double bed, drawing warmth from each other’s bodies. Dion nuzzled her neck as he got comfortable, and closed his eyes with a sigh. Sylvia gently played with his short, wiry hair, recognising that he would soon be asleep. Before he slipped off, he mumbled something.

“What was that, my love?” Sylvia turned her head to hear him.

“I’ll wait for you…” he said, almost asleep. “I love you, Sylvie.”

“I love you too,” Slyvia whispered, a lump in her throat. She lay in the darkness with Dion’s arms around her, listening to his breathing as the tears rolled down her cheeks.


Sylvia stepped out of the time capsule, the air crackling with the surge of quantum energy. The floorboards vibrated beneath her feet from the burst of power. She glanced around her and smiled. The doctor had been correct; she was in her old bedroom! It was night-time, so perhaps just a few hours on from her departure if her luck was in. A snort of surprise nearby caused her to turn around. She saw an elderly black man sitting in a chair across the dark room, his eyes agape.

“Oh, I do apologise!” Slyvia rushed over to the man, resting a hand on his shoulder. “It is rather startling, isn’t it? I was warned that there may be a temporal shift upon my return! I do hope it didn’t shock you too much! Are you alright, sir?” The man stared at Sylvia, his eyes wide with astonishment. Sylvia began to feel uncomfortable.

“Yes, erm,” she said, unsure what to say. “I wonder, who are you, sir? You see, I was expecting to surprise someone else entirely tonight!” She smiled at the old man, hoping he would say something. He did, and it chilled her to the bone.

“You’re back…” he rasped. “I waited…so long.” Tears filled his rheumy, brown eyes and recognition hit Sylvia like a slap in the face.

“Dion!?” She cried in disbelief. “Dion, is that you? It can’t be!”

“I waited for you…Sylvie,” Dion stroked her hand with his wrinkled fingers and wept. Sylvia stood dumbstruck, the horror of the situation creeping into her like a virus.

“Dion…” she stammered. “I…but how long…how?”

“Where were you?” Dion repeated between sobs. “It’s been forty years! Where were you?!”

The white-haired old man wailed into the night, and Sylvia’s heart broke at the sound of it.


A Selfish Thing to Do

A Selfish Thing to Do

By Adam Dixon


  I peered through my binoculars at the house on the hill. It was a simple detached house with large front windows through which I could see the old woman. She was as I remembered her from the previous week: white haired, bespectacled and bent almost double from arthritis. She was wearing a similar dated floral dress with a grey cardigan over it. I watched her impassively for a few minutes, observing her movements around the house. She got out of her straight-backed leather chair and tottered off into the kitchen to make a cup of tea; I could almost hear the creaking of her joints as she did so. She then resumed her place on her chair, and once I was satisfied that she would remain there I put my binoculars down and picked up my rifle.

I marked the old woman through the telescopic sight and adjusted the elevation knobs accordingly. She was just over two hundred yards away, and there was only a slight breeze ruffling my hair as I lay there and took aim. Conditions were almost perfect. I waited whilst the woman drank her tea; there was no reason to rush. Once she had placed her cup on her table I squeezed the trigger. The muffled rifle coughed and the bullet punched through the glazed windows effortlessly. The old woman jerked back in her chair, green upholstery turning crimson in an instant. Her head fell forwards onto her chest, almost as if she had fallen asleep. Satisfied, I stood up and began disassembling my rifle. My final target was dead.

I returned to the Institution later that afternoon. I relinquished my equipment to the reception staff and strode calmly through the corridors. After a few minutes walking I reached the door to the holding cell. It was reinforced and painted an emotionless white, just like the walls surrounding me. After punching in the security code I let myself in. The original target was slumped over at a table, flanked by two guards dressed in black suits. I nodded to them briefly, and without a word they exited the room. After a few moments of complete silence, the man raised his head to look at me. He was a short man in his forties, with a bulbous nose and a receding hairline. His face was haggard and there was torment in his eyes. That was good.

“They’re all dead.” I said, answering his unvoiced question. The man whimpered and squeezed his eyes shut, covering his face with his hands. Wretched sobs began to wrack his body as he sat there, and I simply watched him with disinterest.

“Why?” He managed to croak, his hands still shielding his eyes.

“You know very well why,” I said, slightly irritated by the question. “They had to die because you made a scene in that café last week and drew attention to yourself and me. If you had simply stood up and co-operated, this business could have been handled with the desired tact and discretion. You know how the Institution operates; we couldn’t risk any of those civilians recognising us at a later date.” I paused for a moment, letting my words sink in.

“I’m sure you will agree,” I continued. “That it was a selfish thing to do on your part. Their blood is on your hands.”

“Fuck you!” The man slammed his fists onto the table, glaring at me through tear-filled eyes. “I didn’t kill them! That was you, you cold-hearted murderer! There were children in that cafe!”

“Yes, four of them,” I replied matter-of-factly. “There were also three pensioners present, as well as the families of said children. A total of eleven civilians as collateral damage due to your outburst.”

“What was I supposed to do, just leave with you and let you kill me?!” The man spluttered, waving his arms about. I sighed at the moronic question.

“Yes, Mr. Clarke, that is precisely what you were supposed to do. However, because you decided to create a spectacle out of it, those unfortunate witnesses had to be silenced, and at great inconvenience to myself, I might add.” I allowed myself a token smile. “However, eleven targets within a week is something of a record in the Institution, I believe. Perhaps I should be grateful for the challenge.”

The man stared at me, incomprehension slapped across his red, snot-covered face.

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Ginger Nuts and Carrot Tops

Ginger Nuts and Carrot Tops

By Adam Dixon

“Do you know much about the world before they took over?” Mandy asked, taking a long drag on her cigarette. Her colleague, Jack, leaned casually against the back door of the hair salon, staring at the brick wall of the alley in front of him.

“Not really, darling,” he replied, his voice musical and feminine. He inhaled vapour from his e-cig, the base of it lighting up in a flash of pink. “That’s why I’m curious about it. You lived through the change, though, didn’t you?” He cocked his head inquisitively as he asked, his silver earrings dancing merrily at the movement. Standing there in his stylish faded-blue jeans and trendy white shirt, Jack was in stark contrast to the plump older lady next to him dressed in a simple, muted dress and sensible shoes.  He was the very picture of youth and optimism to Mandy, and she felt a longing for her simpler past. She nodded, absent-mindedly smoothing her fringe. Her hair, like Jack’s, was dyed bright orange.

Mandy and Jack both worked in the salon, and their main task each day was to treat customers’ hair with dye. Orange dye, exclusively; there were traces of the dye in their fingers from continual use of the stuff. That was the way of the world now, for during the 2020’s, ginger-haired people had unexpectedly, inexorably and irrevocably taken over the world. It was now 2053, and barely anyone could remember exactly how it had happened, but somehow it had. One of the first obligatory decrees that had been passed by the new world leaders had been that who had not been born with ginger hair must dye theirs bright orange. Initially, it had been a way of gaining a measure of revenge against decades of international ginger-jokes and ridiculing. It had since become part of the everyday structure of society once the initial grumbling and protestations had died down, and so bright orange hair could be seen from London to Beijing and everywhere in between.

“The bloody hair dye was the biggest change, obviously,” Mandy said, tucking a loose strand behind her ear. “Caused quite a bit of trouble once people realised that it was a serious demand. That’s why they had to get the Nuts involved.” Jack nodded, he knew that much. The Ginger Nuts, or just “Nuts”, were enforcers of the societal rules, essentially a secondary police force walking the streets. Many believe that the job title was again a means to subvert the previous stigmas towards red-haired people. It certainly appeared to have worked, as the Nuts were regarded with a grudging respect by the people of the world and were generally obeyed without question.

“Ginger Nuts…” Mandy continued, chuckling softly. “Why, I remember a time when that term was used to take the mickey out of the poor ginger lads and lasses! That and Carrot Top, but now they’re both respected titles! Unbelievable… Anyway, the dye created the new class system as well, labelling everyone ‘Pures’ or ‘Dyers’, as you know.”

“I read that Danny Dyer’s career took a bit of a nosedive thanks to those terms.” Jack said thoughtfully. Mandy threw her head back and cackled loudly.

“Yeah, and that was a good thing for us all!” She exclaimed with good humour. “One of the benefits we could all agree on!” She chuckled for a few moments, with Jack smiling and shaking his head.

“But, yeah, it all changed quickly,” Mandy said, becoming serious again. “Overnight, really, or at least it did to my mind. Quite a lot changed, but not all of it was noticed at first.”

“One of the major changes was the reshuffling of the monarchy, right?” Jack asked.

“Yeah, that was a bit of a to-do!” Mandy took another contemplative drag on her cigarette. “Prince Harry being declared the next in line to the throne ahead of William and his children. That caused quite a stir, make no mistake! Nearly caused some kind of civil war once Charles died! But it all settled down eventually and King Henry the Ninth was crowned without too much hassle. Not quite sure how they pulled that one, either, but they did.”

“Shocking,” Jack shook his head in disbelief. “It’s amazing how much stock people put in the royal family these days.”

“Well, you just watch this space, my lad.” Mandy said gravely. “Supreme Carrot Top Bollins has never been one for royals, even before all that power went to his head. He’ll likely abolish the monarchy in the UK if he has his way. He’d at least like to pretend to be a republican, I’ve heard. A republican emperor, imagine that!”

“We’ll see.” Jack appeared troubled. He shivered as a cold wind blew down the alley, brushing an unruly lock of hair across his high forehead.

“Why have you never asked me about this before, Jack?” Mandy asked, twirling her disappearing cigarette between her fingers. “We’ve worked together nearly two years now, you and I, and you’ve not asked anything about it all. So, why now?”

“I dunno, darling,” Jack shrugged, and gave Mandy an apologetic smile. “I suppose it’s just been on my mind recently. It all seems so ordinary to me, but at the same time it seems so silly, it’s hard to explain. Maybe my generation is brainwashed against that sort of thing, or maybe it’s just the job getting to me. It’s not exactly stimulating work, is it?” Mandy shook her head.

“You’ve got that right, love,” she sighed. “You’re a clever lad, and this ain’t exactly rocket science. But, it’s an important one in the grand scheme of things. Keeps people from getting arrested, which is fine by me even if it is a bit on the silly side. Don’t let anyone else hear you talking like that, though. It’s alright with me, cos I’ll never breathe a word, but others might take simple questions as rebellion and turn you in to the Nuts.”

“Don’t worry, darling,” Jack winked at her cheekily. “I know better than that. At least I can have a chat with a wise old mare like you if I’m feeling curious. That’ll do me just fine!”

“Old mare!” Mandy cried in mock outrage, swatting at Jack’s arm. “You little scamp! I’m not too old to give you a clip ‘round the earhole, sonny Jim!” Jack laughed and held up his hands in surrender.

“I know, I know! Sorry, darling, couldn’t help myself.” He smiled at her and slipped his e-cig back into his pocket. “We’d best get back to it, though. Don’t want Dave to think we’re skiving.” Now it was Mandy’s turn to grin.

“Oh no, we don’t want that,” she said sweetly as she nonchalantly ground her cigarette butt under her shoe. “He’ll have you over his knee in a heartbeat!” Jack grimaced as he opened the door for her.

“Oh, don’t!” He pleaded. “He would as well! Have you seen the way he looks at me? Dirty old perv!” Mandy cackled as she stepped back into the salon, her mirth filling the alley for a few brief moments. Beyond that, the world moved on in much the same way as it always had. People hurried to and fro along the street, each one about their own business, as usual. People lived, loved and laughed under the same sun, and very little was new…except that that same sun was now peering down on a sea of uniformly bright, orange hair.