Nash walked out of the forest alongside Officer Crupky. In the wide grassy lot behind the hotel, a number of tables were being set up. Gene was huffing and puffing as she moved chairs and tables into place, struggling with stubborn joints and levers. It was afternoon, now, and there was a warmth in the air as she worked. She wore a pair of denim overalls, and a tight white cotton shirt, simple clothes that seemed quite comfortable in the warm summer air.
“Why do you dislike me, Cassandra?” Nash asked, as he drove. Cassandra sighed.
Morning came, and with it a slew of anxieties. Nash sat up slowly, prepared for his bones to scream at him, protesting at the treatment from the night before. But he felt good. A bowl of the fish stew sat on the bedside table, with plastic wrap over it. He was so hungry that he ate it cold, gobbling down bite after bite, almost choking on a tiny bone. The stew had thickened as it cooled, and he luxuriated in the taste of saffron and meat. When he finished, he set the bowl aside, and walked to the shower.
Silas Nash walked up the path with the hero and the monster. His throat still hurt. Quite a lot of him hurt, but the big man’s grip had been an entirely new kind of pain. Watching that fist prepare to come down on his tender skull had been more frightening than fighting Talos. Now, Harry had his lion skin around his wife’s shoulders, showing a galling lack of embarrassment about his own nudity. The three of them walked to the front door, with Harry making soft clicking noises of disapproval at the broken bay window, and the shattered floor. “I hope it’s not going to rain anymore tonight.” He gave his wife a questioning look. She flushed, quite to Nash’s surprise.
Harry Constantinou was born in a slum, in one of the worse parts of Athens. It was never quite clear how the Sarin wound up in the apartment complex’s basement. With such a short shelf life, someone had to have kept it there. They might have been a lethally careless chemist. Perhaps a home grown terrorist with more knowledge than sense. The government officially blamed it on the actions of a group of mercenaries who had been planning an attack on government buildings. By the time the hazmat teams managed to sweep the building, a hundred and twenty three people were dead, and Harry Constantinou was getting hungry, crying in his crib for his mother. People called it a miracle, celebrating the child’s survival. They were right about that much, at least.
Rainwater splashed down between Nash’s bare toes. The sandals, comfortable though they were, had not been designed for this kind of situation. They were meant for light sunshine and sand, not torrential rainfall. His feet were frigid. His colorful shirt plastered to his chest. Wind gusted in huge, ferocious bursts across the bare hilltop. Each time the lightning crackled between the clouds, every hair on his body stood on end, reacting to the intense static charges warring through the sky. Another bolt of lightning flickered down, and struck the barrier in two places. The color of the dome stood out as a bright blue for a few seconds, before drifting down through the rainbow. Green, yellow, settling on a dull red, and then flickering out. The sun had set. The only light came from the flashes of lightning across the tortured sky. It was perfect weather for confronting an enraged goddess trying to avenge the death of her stepson.
“Nash? Nash!” Someone was shaking him. Nash opened his eyes slowly. A broad red stripe, dried and flaking, was painted across the pillow. He reached his hand up to his forehead. The bandage had soaked through. Heather turned him over onto his back, a furious expression on her face. She wore a tight-fitting black sweater that emphasized certain parts of her body in a way he couldn’t quite ignore in his current brain-scrambled state. She was wearing a tight pair of canvas shorts, and her hands were on his shoulders. “What did I tell you to do?”