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A Phoenix in Hell by Sabrina Rosen
Once again Pur was thrown back. He didn’t understand how canine teeth could mark a nonexistent body. But every time they had, and every time it hurt. It didn’t matter which head had grabbed him, the crunch and thump were always the same. At least he healed.
He heard the ferryman’s voice from the bank of the river. “Give it up bird brain! There’s no point in fighting the inevitable.”
Pur heard the pad of canine feet, and smelled dog breath. One of Cerberus’ heads nudged him. Pur made a small squawking protest and struggled to get his claws under him. Once upright, he snapped his beak in the direction of the nudge. It was bravado, and the dog knew it. But it was all he had.
Pur had been trying to return to the upper world for what seemed like forever. Time was strange beyond the gates of Hades, but he supposed that the dead should not care. They had nowhere to be, and nothing to do but tend the lady’s stone flowers. And once inside the gates, there was no leaving. But Pur was not human. It was a Phoenix’s existence to die and be reborn, never entering the underworld.
A net suddenly engulfed him. He struggled, but to no avail. It pulled tight and he was lifted, dangling in front of the Lord of the Underworld himself. Hades smiled. It was not a nice smile.
“You’re making a nuisance of yourself.” Hades said. “Since you aren’t interested in being a good boy, I’ve made other arrangements for your living quarters.” Hades tossed the net over his shoulder and strode through the vast cavern that lay beyond the gate to his domain.
“Why are you doing this?” asked Pur.
“You insult my wife and you have to ask why?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Persephone,” and then he had to stop talking because Hades was shaking the net bag hard.
“You will call her Lady!” The god roared.
“Lady Persphone,” gasped the Phoenix.
“I’m her husband, bird. Defending her honor is my job.” Hades rumbled. “And I heard you say “˜what kind of dumbass eats pomegranates in Hell.'”
Pur was quiet. He had in fact said those words. But he hadn’t thought Hades was close enough to hear. That’s what you got for underestimating gods. And Persephone had laughed and insulted Pur back.
Pur spoke softly, trying to be reasonable. “Perseph…” Hades shook the bag again and Pur quickly restated. “Lady Persephone and I are old friends. I’ve known her since she was a child. We insult each other …” That sounded weak even to him. Hades was walking down corridors now, with ghostly torches along the walls. There was no real fire down here. These resembled fire, but they were white, and while they flickered like real fire, they never went out.
Hades jerked open a door and dumped him on the floor, still in the bag. Pur heard the latch click. Hades looked through the peek hole. “Learn some manners bird!” His footsteps receded. Pur wished Persephone – and he refused to think of someone he had known for hundreds of years as “˜lady,’ especially when he had watched her picking her nose – were here. She had no reason to think that he could be trapped. It had never happened before. Who knew Hades would be such a prig?
Pur extracted himself from the bag and sat on it. It made a barrier between him and the cold grate on the floor. Why was there a grate in the floor? With no warning, the white flames from the torches shot through, engulfing him. For a brief moment, he thought he might ignite and escape, but no. The flames were cold. Freezing. When they stopped, he lay unmoving until he warmed enough to move again. Just about the time he felt semi normal, the flames shot up again. Ok, so it was going be torture. By the fifth round, Pur realized he wasn’t going to survive this mentally. He paced the cell. Beating his wings, he tried to get away from the white fire by clinging to the bars in the door peephole. He flew up to the ceiling and tried to dig his shiny, metal claws into the stone of the roof. But the flames just shot up higher, and the walls moved, and closed in so that he could barely spread his wings. He crouched on the grate. The bag was still there and with the room smaller, the flames were somewhat blocked.
The holes in the grate were not very large. Pur pulled out one feather from his abdomen, and dropped it on floor. It was large enough to cover one of the holes. He started pulling out more feathers. It hurt. Stuffing them into the bag , there was soon a featherbed between his body and the flames. The next round was bearable. Cold yes, but the flames were no longer touching him. He waited. When he heard clomping footsteps, Pur got ready.
Hades ripped open the door. Pur bolted out the door and up the hallway sprinting like a half-plucked chicken trying to avoid the pot. Flying was no longer an option with all the pulled feathers, but at least he had no tail to grab with Hades so close behind. Dodging through doorways he headed for Persephone’s garden. He missed his footing and skidded past the entrance, feeling a hand brush his side as he veered. Digging into a floor mosaic, he pivoted and slipped between Hades legs. Running through the rows of flowers, he sought a particular variety.
There! The translucent flint formed roses with knife sharp petals. He leapt striking at the flowers with his feet. Sparks flew.
“So long jerkface!” Pur crowed and burst into flame freeing body and soul from hell.
This story was written by Sabrina Rosen for the quarterly blog hop. Find Sabrina at – https://www.facebook.com/Sabrina-Rosen-Fantasy-Fiction-Writer-113377380341431/
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