“What the hell do you people want? How dare you disturb me?” thundered Hades. “I’m in a bad mood today, so whatever you’re about to say, make it quick.”
“O mighty Hades, King of the Underworld,” began Jeannine –
“Save it. I’m not in the mood for fulsome obsequiousness,” ordered Hades. “Just tell me what you want so I can laugh in your faces for having the audacity to ask me.”
“Well,” said Jeannine, “Our friend John was killed in a battle, and we were wondering if you could give him his life back. It’d really mean a lot to us. To me, anyway.”
“No,” replied Hades. “I’m in too bad a mood to grant that kind of request.”
“Why are you in such a bad mood?” asked Jeannine. “That seems to be the only thing anyone here can talk about.”
“I’m in a bad mood because my old secretary quit, I had to find a new one, and I hate him. Saul!”
Into the room bounced a happy-looking boy who looked to be around 16 years of age. Jeannine wondered why he had died so young, then realized that he was probably murdered, because the urge to kill him had already struck her.
“Hi!” said Saul cheerfully.
“He’s the worst assistant I’ve ever had,” lamented Hades. “My old one, Death, was much better. Saul can’t even obey the simplest instructions!”
“Then why’d you hire him?” asked Jeannine.
“I wish I knew,” answered the god. “Anyway, Saul! Get out of here. I am bored with you.”
“Yes ma’am! I mean, I mean, yes sir!” said Saul, tripping over his own feet as he kowtowed out of the room.
Jeannine had already begun to formulate a plan, Charon’s advice beginning to make sense. Hades hated Saul, and because of that, he was in a bad mood, which made him reluctant to help them. So…
“If you bring John back to life,” said Jeannine, “we could take Saul off your hands! We already have a new assistant lined up too: Mischa Petrovitch. He used to work for the Secretary of Evil.”
“Josiah Malum? Wow, his assistant would be nice to have. I’ll bet he’s really evil, isn’t he? Sadistic, cruel…isn’t he?”
“That’s great! All right, I’ll give your friend his life back. Where is he?” asked Hades.
“He’s right outside this room,” answered Jeannine.
“Excellent. Saul! Come back in and bring that body,” commanded Hades. “And don’t screw it up!”
“Right! Anything you sir, say. I mean, say, sir. I mean…no, that was right. Was it? Oh no!”
Saul stumbled into the room, dragging John’s body behind him with great effort. After several awkward minutes, he managed to carry the body to within a reasonable distance of Hades’ throne. He stood there until Hades pointed sternly at the door, through which Saul nervously scurried.
Hades looked down at John and snapped his fingers. John sat up instantly, gasping for air – alive. He looked around, wondering why he was now alive, and then saw Hades. Having minored in Greek mythology, he immediately recognized the god for who he was.
“Hades?” he asked. “Am I in the Underworld? Did you bring me back to life? Who brought me here? Why am I asking questions; I’m the smartest man in the world.”
“John! You’re alive!” cried Jeannine, rushing forward to hug him.
“I should’ve known,” chuckled John, shaking his head. “I suppose I owe you some thanks, Jeannine. Without you, I’d still be dead.”
“Hi John! Sleep well?” asked Bill. “That was a really long nap! The last time I slept that long, my mom came into my room and started poking me with a mop, and then I woke up and she made me mop the floor because the mop was already there.”
“Shut up, Bill. And who’s that?” asked John, pointing at Saul, who was sneakily peeking in through the open door.
“That’s Saul,” answered Jeannine, “Hades’ new assistant. He’s an idiot. We’re taking him with us and leaving Mischa with Hades.”
“Mischa’s here too?”
“Yes, he was following us, probably on Josiah’s orders,” answered Jeannine. “We left him back at the River Styx. That’s where you’ll find him, Hades.”
Hades nodded, then said, “Before you all leave, how about helping yourselves to a few…pomegranate seeds?”
“But I can’t spell pomegranate!” protested Bill.
Everyone burst into laughter, and they departed.
“I really can’t.”