Friday, November 2, 2018

NaNoWriMo 2018 Project Reveal: "Flower of the Underworld"

Hey guys! So, I'm super excited for my NaNo project this year since this is one I've wanted to do for a long time.

This year I'm going to be working on a modern day retelling of the Hades and Persephone story. I can't wait to get into this story and share it with everyone when it's finished. This is one of my favorite mythological stories ever and I have never found a good retelling of it so I decided to write my own. On top of that, it's super fun to get to play around with Greek mythology, since there are a lot of things I've always wanted to do with the characters and I hope everyone enjoys the versions of them in this story as much as I'm sure to enjoy writing them.

Check out my Pintrest board to get a little sneak peek of what this story might be like!

And here's a little teaser excerpt to kick off the month:

Flower of the Underworld

“My lord, have you signed off on the new arrivals yet?”
            I sat at my desk, eyes closed and gripping the bridge of my nose as I attempted to fight off the headache that had been looming since that morning. Even the ambrosia laced coffee hadn’t done a thing. But then, what really worked when it came to ceaseless piles of paperwork? Seriously, I was going to have to consider this a new torment to use on the souls in Tartarus.
            “My lord?”
            I looked up with a glower. “Yes, Askalaphos I heard you the first time, and no I haven’t because I have been working systematically through all the other paperwork I have to see to, and your constant nagging is not helping at all.”
            “The new arrivals are getting restless, my lord. You know how they are.”
            “They’re dead, they can wait a little longer to be sorted out properly, now please…” I glanced up at Askalaphos and he gave a somewhat exasperated look before he bowed and left my office. I took the opportunity to lean back in my chair and groan, running my hands through my hair.
            I heard a whine and looked down at my feet to see Cerberus’ three heads all looking up at me expectantly. I sighed and reached down to pat each head in turn.
            “Sorry boy, I can’t take you out for a walk yet. I’ve still got a ridiculous amount of work to do.”
            So, I didn’t totally hate being Lord of the Underworld, in fact, most of the time, I really liked it. I got to stay out of the way of the other gods and goddesses who could be real pains in the posterior, and for the most part I was just me, my various aides and Cerberus—the only faithful companion I ever needed. Apart from the visits by Hermes every once in a while, I didn’t really get any company. But I didn’t like company either, so that was all well and good for me. But the best perk of all was that I didn’t have to go to Olympus. If paperwork was unbearable, having to sit in my big brother’s throne room was pure torment. I would rather sign off on a million soul placements than have to hob-nob with Zeus any day.
            I finished most of my paperwork by mid morning—at least enough to make Askalaphos get off my back—but by then I’d had enough. There was no way I could sit at my desk another minute. I hadn’t been out for almost two weeks, and even I needed some daylight once in a while.
            I stood up from the desk and Cerberus was instantly on his feet, wagging his tail as three heads grinned and panted in anticipation.
            “Come on boy, you can go out and guard for a while.” He ran ahead of me, and I crossed the room, grabbing my helmet of invisibility on the way out and putting it on. No need to cause any problems by letting people see I was going topside for a while. And I was trying to avoid the harpies—they were always having some sort of tussle or other.
            I headed toward the River Styx where Charon was sitting on the dock, reading a new spy thriller. He glanced up as I took off my helmet, reappearing, and stood up straight and proper. His suit was always impeccable, tie straight. I always wore mine with the waistcoat rumpled, sleeves rolled up, tie loosened. Zeus said it was an offence to Armani, but it worked for me. Even Charon never said anything about it.
            “Lord Hades,” he said in his perpetually polite butler voice. “How may I serve you today?”
            “I’m thinking it’s time for another trip up top,” I told him.
            Charon inclined his head in acknowledgement and gave the smallest of smiles. “Of course, my lord. Will it be the traditional rout?”
            I smiled. “Get the Bugatti.”
            Charon smiled as wide as he ever did and gave a smart nod. “Excellent choice, my lord.”
            There was one spot I liked to go when my duties as Lord of the Dead got too stifling. As I said before, I had nothing against the Underworld, but the dark and the gloom and the wailing—complaining—spirits could get really wearing long term. So when I needed an escape, I went to one place that was the exact opposite of my realm.
            I’d actually found it quite by accident one day waiting for Zeus to show up for a meeting. Zeus was always late, not fashionably, but rudely, like I didn’t make the time he was wasting on me worth enough to bother showing up when he had been the one to call the meeting anyway. But that’s not important now. What I was saying is that while I was waiting around for my elder sibling to show up, I stumbled across this absolutely beautiful garden center. In fact, it had looked so nice that I had thought it was a public garden at first, but only after wandering around it for a few hours, did I find that it belonged to a place called “Olympus Landscaping”. It was beautiful, the gardens were always impossibly lush, and everything was put together perfectly. But then, what would I know? The only plants in the Underworld are in the Elysian Fields and that one pomegranate tree. But I had a feeling the business was run by those of a godly demeanor because no one could make plants look that good.
            Of course, there was more than one reason why I went there too. Let’s just say the plants weren’t the only things worth looking at.
            It was a matter of minutes before we got topside and Charon skillfully wove the overcharged Bugatti between the humans’ cars on the road before we reached our destination.
            “Thanks, Charon,” I told him and tossed him a gold coin as I climbed out.
            “Enjoy yourself, my lord,” Charon told me and I looked further down the street to where the landscaping center was.
            Olympus Landscaping was a huge, multi-million dollar business that did jobs all over the country, especially for celebrities and the Hollywood types. And who wouldn’t want their yards done up in such a fantastic way? I might consider it myself if I lived in a clime that could support grass and green things. There were several branches of it open across the country, but this was the one I liked best…for various reasons.
            I strolled straight out to the garden, hands in my pockets, enjoying the afternoon sun while I could. I did get tired of the sun easily, but when you hadn’t seen it for weeks on end, even I could be really appreciative of stuff like that.
            The garden was so lush and green. Trees gave shade, and flowers spilled out onto the sidewalks in perfectly constructed disarray. The garden culminated into a small courtyard, which was my favorite part, because it had a pond in the middle with a bunch of happy goldfish. I imagined having one of these in the Underworld but figured they would be happier in the sun.
            I sat down on the bench near the pond with a contented sigh, and simply closed my eyes and turned my face up toward the sun. Of course, my whole pale body could use some sunlight, but it would look a little strange coming back to the Underworld with a tan. And it wasn’t like I had time to go to the beach either.
            I was just enjoying soaking up the sun when I heard a voice.
            “Oh, hello. I haven’t seen you around for a while.”
            My eyes flew open and saw the girl standing in front of me. She had honey blond hair and green eyes, and a pleasant smile that told of good nature but also seemed to hold a good sense of humor. She was dressed in a light sundress with green leggings and short fashionable boots with the tops turned down to show her chunky knitted socks. She was also holding a pot of bright pink flowers, completing the breath of fresh air she always was.
            Yeah, so I did say that I had other reasons for coming here than to just enjoy the fishpond.
            I smiled back a bit awkwardly. I know I only ever came just to sit in the garden and never bought anything, but the girl never seemed to mind and she was the only employee I had ever seen. I began to realize I probably looked a little out of place there with my unkempt charcoal grey suit, minus the jacket and my red shirt rolled up to the elbows, but I didn’t really care either.
            “Yeah, I’ve been busy,” I told her. I was not the best conversationalist. One of the main reasons I stayed as far away from Olympus as possible. The good thing about the dead was that they didn’t much care for conversation anyway, and the other denizens of the Underworld weren’t much better. “But the garden here is a nice place to sit and just relax for a while.”
            She put the pot she was carrying down on the edge of the pond. “I like to think it is. Have you ever thought about starting a garden at home? It provides a nice place to relax, and gardening is a good form of stress relief.”
            “Hm,” I replied regrettably. “Don’t know how well that would work out.”
            “Well,” she said and looked me up and down. “I’m going to take a guess at office job?”
            I raised an eyebrow but nodded in confirmation. “How about a plant for your desk?” she asked. “It really does make a room brighter.”
            I smiled but shook my head. “I’d like to, but I really don’t live in a good climate for plants in general.”
            “Where are you from?” she asked.
            “Er…down south.”
            “Florida?” She asked knowingly.
            I shrugged, considering. “Close enough.”
            “In that case,” she said, beckoning me forward toward the garden center portion of Olympus Landscaping. “I think I might have the perfect plant for you.”
            Curious, I followed her inside, again marveling at how beautiful everything looked. There were no half-dead hardware store plants here. They were all as fresh as they could be.
            She went over to a shelf and plucked a tiny pot from it, and handed it to me. “I would say start with an air plant. It’s almost impossible to kill, and they do well in practically any environment.”
            I took the tiny pot and stared down at the little green plant, which kind of looked like grass, but had a sort of velvety feel to it.
            “Thank you,” I told the girl, smiling at her. “I think I will like to keep this on my desk.”
            “He should be a good first plant for you,” she told me. “His name is George.”
            I cocked an eyebrow. “George? Do you name all your plants?”
            “Of course.” She smiled, and I honestly couldn’t tell whether she was teasing or not.
            “Okay then,” I nodded, thoughtfully looking down at my new green friend. “And how much do I owe you for George?”
            “Oh, he’s a gift,” she insisted and stopped me before I could protest. “Just take good care of him.”
            “Well, I shall certainly endeavor to do so,” I promised. “By the way, I never caught your name.”
            “Oh, it’s Persephone,” the girl said with a smile. “What about you?”
            I hesitated. I never went by my actual name when I was among mortals. It kinda got a bad rap. “Oh, well, you can just call me H,” I told her.
            “H,” she said, seeming to consider it as her eyes narrowed. “So, you’re a man of mystery; I suppose I can deal with that.”
            The sparkle in her green eyes made me unable to keep from smiling and Persephone smiled back. “Well, I’m glad to hear that,” I told her. “But I’m afraid I have to go for now. I will take care of George, and, thank you for him, by the way.”
            “You’re welcome,” she replied. “I hope to see you again soon.”
            “Me too,” I replied and with a great reluctance left the landscaping center and headed back toward the spot Charon had parked the Bugatti. I didn’t want to go back to the Underworld but business was business, and I couldn’t very well just slack off because I wanted to sit in a garden and talk to a pretty girl.
            Persephone. I felt a warmth inside at the thought of knowing her name.
            And now I even had something to remember her by. George.
            Charon was ready for me as soon as he saw me coming. I saw him glance with some interest at the tiny pot with George in it as I got into the car, but he didn’t make any mention of it either.
            Not that I would have cared. I had an air plant named George from a pretty girl. That was the best thing that had happened to me for a long time.
            Unfortunately, so few good things tend to last, as I was about to find out very soon.