Every year on September the 9th the god of excess and righteous partying, Dionysus rose from the dead and threw a swinging bash, held on the peak of Mount Olympus; all of the the gods were invited, from the biggies like Aegis-bearing Zeus, down to the lower level monster gods, like Phorcys, all except for one: Eris, called Strife, goddess of Chaos, Confusion, Comedy and doo-wop tunes.
Dionysus, already completely smashed, climbed onto a tabletop and attempted to quiet the rowdy, drunken, and stoned gods so that he could welcome them all, for the twenty-third time. “My brothers and sisters,” he called out. “Fathers and mothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, lovers and fighters, listen to me for just a fucking second before you go back to your pipes and beer-bongs . . .”
“C’mmn shit on m’face ya big hunka fssszzl mfffllllllllllssssssss-” Pallas Athene said, standing suddenly, and then melting back onto the bench she had been sitting on. The gods and goddesses erupted in boisterous laughter.
“Did she ask me to shit on her face?” Dionysus asked. “It doesn’t matter, I would have, anyway, by the end of the night . . . my glorious friends, I am so happy to be with you all again, and see all of your beautiful faces . . . and beautiful asses, and, and- well, anyway, I want to thank every god and goddess for showing up tonight-“
A bold female voice sounded suddenly throughout the room. NOT EVERY GODDESS WAS INVITED, BUT ALL ARE PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR . . . NOW.
All the heads swung around, some more slowly than others, and wearily looked at the stunningly tall and beautiful goddess standing in the doorway, wrapped in golden robes. “Eh . . . Eh . . . Eh . . .” Dionysus stammered.
ERIS, the goddess of Chaos finished. Dionysus moved down from the table top, and approached the goddess. “I meant to invite you, Eris, you know we’re tight, you and me . . . it’s just that the others . . . they, uh, they get worried about the trouble you cause.”
PAY IT NO MIND, DIONYSUS, I HOLD NO MALICE FOR YOU, OR FOR ANY OF YOU . . . IT IS TO BE EXPECTED. BUT, I BRING YOU A GIFT, AS A TOKEN OF GOODWILL.
Eris held out a long plant with a stem which had five sides, surrounded by five green sepals, and bell shaped flowers hung from it. THIS IS BELLADONNA, ALSO KNOWN AS THE LOVE APPLE . . . ADD SOME OF THIS TO YOUR WINE FOR A REAL KICK, TEQUILA HAS NOTHING ON THIS.
Dionysus took the belladonna from her, looked down at it, and said “Thank you, Eris, that’s very big of you. Would you care to stay?”
NO, I MUST BE GOING . . . CAPTAIN BEEFHEART IS SUPPOSED TO BE PLAYING AT THE MONTEREY POP FESTIVAL, I HAVE TO GO SLIP HIM SOME ACID TO FUCK IT UP . . . IF HE PLAYS THERE HE’LL BECOME HUGE AND LOSE ALL HIS CULT CRED. TA TA . . .
And, with that she was gone. Dionysus turned and looked at the all the faces around him, quadrupled visually by the chemicals flowing through his white god blood. “Should we?” he asked.
Aegis-bearing Zeus stood, wobbly, and said: “Gimme that fucking plant with all speed . . . no mere flower frightens the king of all gods, no matter what the effect.” Then snatched the belladonna from Dionysus’ grip, crushed them up barehanded, and sprinkled the remains into a large decanter of wine. The wine was passed around, and all of the gods took a goblet full, even Pallas Athene, who was looking a rather unattractive shade of chartreuse.
After a few minutes Apollo said, “Oohh, I’m FeeLinG iT . . .” and began to run his fingers through his gossamer hair. White-armed Hera sat forward and said “I dOn’T FeeL AnytHiNG!” while twisting her lip around between her fingers. Aegis-bearing Zeus stood, and placed his fingers to his temples. “Do yOu FeEL thAt?” he asked the assembled gods and goddesses. “Do yOu See ThAT? dO You hEAr tHat?”
All the divine beings quieted down, and listened, and looked, and felt . . . and just as Hera repeated “I DOn’T FeEL ANyThiNG!” all of them began to share a single hallucination. In the hallucination they saw the world, and the world was perfectly quiet . . . the view zoomed in closer and they could see Athens and Sparta, the buildings, the trees, the animals . . . but it was all so quiet. “WhERe iS eveRYoNe?” Aphrodite asked. “WHy Is iT sO QuiET?” asked Hephaestus. “I dOn’T FeeL ANYTHiNG!” cried Hera.
Then, they did see people, walking glumly here and there, chatting mundanely about the weather, which was always good. They saw more and more people, until the humans were walking shoulder to shoulder, all with blank expressionless eyes. They saw children picking up toys of horses, and then tossing them over cliffs into the sea, watching them as they washed away. They saw people who simply stared at a single spot for hours and hours until falling asleep.
“WHat IS tHiS?” cried Demeter. “IT’s aWFul!”
Pallas Athene called out then, and sounded much more like her usual self: “DoN’t ANy oF YOu sEE? aRE yoU aLL so BliND? IT is A vISion oF a WoRLd WIthouT StrIFE. THe poPUlaTionS aRE grOWinG ToO LArge aNd pEOPle Are BecOMinG jaDeD . . .”
“ArE tHEre nO PoeTS, oR musICIans?” asked Apollo. Athena turned to him, saying, “WHat woULd thEY teLL ABout? WHat woULd thEY sInG ABout? HoW PInk tHIs fLowEr iS cOMparEd to THat? iT is A woRLD oF TEDiuM . . . LiFE haS no MeanINg fOr tHEm . . . THeY haVE no LowS tO coMParE to tHe hIGhs . . . iT IS maDNess”
Dionysus looked at Athena, and then at Zeus. “WE weRe foolS.” he said, simply, and quietly. “WE trEAted OUr siSTEr Eris LiKE an OUtCast . . . liKe heR CONtributIONs WErE WorTHlEss . . . WHen REallY . . .”
” . . . THey MEan EVeryTHinG.” Athena finished. “MOraLiTy, HAppINess, BEAutY, ArT . . . All aRe basEd oN STrife.”
White-armed Hera looked at all of the other gods and goddesses while they pondered this, and after a pause said: “I dOn’T FeeL ANYTHiNG.”
High above the temple of Dionysus, Eris chuckled to herself, and floated up high high high into the sky.