Atticus opened the door to his apartment, saying as he walked in, “Sarah, you home?” The sight of his suitcase packed in the hallway brought him up short.
After taking a moment to consider whether or not he should just grab the suitcase and leave, he sighed and proceeded into the living room. Upon entering the room, he immediately saw the two uniformed officers standing in the back corners, one a 5’10” white man with a shaved head, the other a 6′ black man.
The shorter man had thick muscles, making him seem shorter than he was, and he had the air of a soldier about him. Meanwhile, his partner was wiry, giving the impression of extra height, but Atticus saw the subtle swelling of a lifelong martial artist at his wrists and knuckles. The policemen both watched Atticus as he entered, not making any movements, but keeping eyes that broadcasted their experience with troublesome people directed at him.
Atticus immediately changed his movements, making sure not to seem too threatening or dangerous as he looked to Sarah, his girlfriend of five years. The 25 year old woman was sitting on the couch, watching Atticus with her blue eyes filled with a nervous light, a man Atticus didn’t know sitting beside her, holding her hand in a familiar way.
Atticus wasn’t a fool. He noticed that Sarah was acting odd two months ago when she died her dirty blonde hair platinum, as well as when she started acting more distant. He tried to get her to tell him what was wrong, but she never did, and he was forced to wait for her to bring it up. And now was the time, it seemed.
“Am I allowed to get a drink for the road? The fact that only my suitcase is packed indicates that you plan to keep everything else I bought, so I’d rather enjoy that brandy I was saving for a special occasion.” Without waiting for a response, Atticus turned to the cabinet close to the shorter officer.
Glancing at the cops as he pulled out a bottle of brandy and a glass, he raised an eyebrow, “You gentlemen care for one?” At their immediate refusal, Atticus shrugged, “As you wish. I only assumed that Sarah hadn’t offered you anything. She never did grasp that part of the old laws, offering guests food and drink.”
Glancing at Sarah and the brunette haired man on the couch, Atticus said, “You’d understand if I don’t offer to get you two anything, yes?”
At that, he leaned back against the cabinet slowly sipping the alcohol, seemingly at ease in the silence that quickly became uncomfortable for the other four people.
As the glass was finished, he looked at Sarah, “I was unable to make you happy? You don’t need to tell me how long that’s been going on,” Atticus indicated the man on the couch, “I have a fair idea of it. I just wish you had talked to me before. Although, if the reason for this is one of the ones I think it is, then I don’t think we could have changed anything other than how much longer before we broke up. I am offended though, that you called New York’s finest to make sure that I don’t do anything. Have I ever given the impression that I was that type of man? Let alone the fact that you thought two would be enough to do anything should I did decide to go that route, even if one is an ex-soldier and the other a martial artist.”
Atticus sighed, looking at the mirror on the wall across from him, examining the apparent 20 year old with olive-toned skin, black hair and black eyes. “Oh well, I guess it has nothing to do with me, anymore,” he continued, his Greek accent, which was always subtly within his voice, growing thicker. “You want everything here so much? Fine, keep it. It won’t be long before it becomes too expensive to maintain without my income,” Atticus indicated the Manhattan apartment, “I hope you find whatever it is that you’re looking for.”
Turning to the police officers, Atticus said, “Gentlemen, I’m sorry that my ex-girlfriend wasted your time with this. If it isn’t against any of your official or personal rules, please take your pick of what’s in this cabinet. I assure you, it’s all high quality, I have too many friends who are picky about the alcohol they drink to not have acquired their tastes. Good evening.”
With that, the man turned, leaving the room in silence as he made calls to remove his name from the apartment’s paperwork.
20 years later
Atticus was relaxing on his Chicago apartment balcony, watching the sunset, when he heard shattering glass and a screaming voice on the floor below. Normal people wouldn’t have heard it, but Atticus was able to hear it just fine.
Standing up, Atticus moved to see what the problem was, deciding that he wouldn’t be able to relax after his long day at work with all the noise going on downstairs.
When he arrived at the apartment in question, he realized that it was the people who had just moved in. Thinking about it, he remembered that it was some football player that just signed a contract with the Bears. A linebacker, or whatever it was called. Some Anthony Marcus and his wife and daughter.
Knocking on the door, the angry yelling continued coming from the man. Atticus guessed that he was so worked up, he didn’t even notice the knocking. Hearing a woman’s scream and a loud thud, he began considering if he should break the door down, when it suddenly opened.
The 18 year old brunette woman who opened it had heard the knocking, and ran hoping that the person on the other side would help. As she looked up at the 6′ Greek man, her voice froze in her throat. Something about him caused both terror and awe to make her heart race in a way completely unrelated to the situation in the apartment. She felt almost like the young man’s black eyes were weighing her soul and judging her sins.
For Atticus, after the initial rush of information he usually received upon looking at mortals, he was surprised by the natural beauty of the girl in front of him. It was such that any kind of makeup or the like would have lessened her appearance. For some reason, though, he felt that something about her was familiar.
After a moment, Atticus spoke, “Miss Marcus? Is there a problem?”
“Please, you have to help! My dad’s going crazy!” Melissa quickly replied.
Atticus didn’t say anything, merely walked through the door and down the hall. As he reached the main room, he found Anthony Marcus standing over a woman who was picking herself up off the floor. As she raised her head, her blonde hair shifted, and her face, covered in cuts and bruises, was visible to Atticus.
“Sarah?” The fact that he was seeing her again after two decades surprised Atticus, almost as much as it surprised Sarah.
“Who the fuck are you, and what are you doing in my home?” Marcus asked, interrupting Sarah.
As Atticus looked at Marcus, his face became increasingly grim. “I am Atticus Tisiphone, Mr. Marcus, and I live right above this apartment. I heard the noise down here, and came to investigate. Unfortunately for you, sir, you are on my list.”
Hearing Atticus’ words, Sarah’s face noticibly paled, “NO! Tony, run now! Please!”
“The hell are you talking about? I’m not going to run from this pansy little shit. Even his name is a joke!” The 250 lb, 6’5″ football player looked down on the leaner man, thinking he wouldn’t be much of a threat.
Hearing this, Atticus could only sigh. “There was a time when my house name would strike terror into the hearts of even the most ferocious warriors. You mortals should really try and keep track of names and the power that they indicate.”
Then, with a swipe of his hand, a black space appeared at his side. He began rifling through it, pulling out normal manilla folders that could be found in any office worker’s filing cabinet. This naturally caused all three mortals to stare at him.
“Ah, here we are,” he said as he found what he was looking for and opened the file. “Anthony Robert Marcus, of Silver Creek, Florida. You have quite the resume, you know. At the age of 16, you raped your school’s head cheerleader, using the pictures you took of her smoking marijuana and your newly elected father’s position as county sheriff to keep her quiet.”
Flipping over the page, he continued. “At 18, you, as the school football team’s center, and your quarterback friend raped and murdered the head cheerleader of your rival school due to the fact that they beat you at the homecoming game. You also murdered the rival team’s mascot when he walked in on you. You then had your team’s mascot framed for the whole thing, ruining his life. I believe that he’s still in prison on death row.
“The last twenty years have had you use Rohypnol and various other drugs personally to rape no less than a dozen women, and assist in the rapes of more. And we can’t forget that 10 years ago, you killed the man who assisted you in the murders, because he was going to confess to everything. Or the lives of the reporters you’ve ruined due to them investigating you.” Atticus closed the folder, and placed it back into the black space. “It is policy to offer one last chance. Turn yourself in for your crimes, serve penitence for the rest of your days, and if you truly repent, you may get special consideration from the Lords of the Dead when you finally do stand judgment.”
As Atticus finished, he looked to Marcus to find the man pointing a nine millimeter pistol at him. The mortal’s face was filled with fear at the fact that someone knew his crimes, and he didn’t hesitate to shoot four times, causing the women to scream.
Instead of reacting to the gun, Atticus just let the bullets pass through him. Watching this, Marcus could only scream out, “What the fuck are you?!”
With an expression akin to a high born noble looking at something filthy, Atticus replied, “You know, just once, I’d like to see one of you at least consider our offer of mercy. Although, I suppose that if you were so inclined, you wouldn’t be on our list. As for what I am, I would think that my name would answer that. House Tisiphone, of the Furies? The Gods of Vengeance that hunt down and punish unrepentant murderers that are escaping justice?” As he said this, wings with pitch black feathers emerged from his back. “I can assure you, Mr. Marcus, I do not envy you. The Lords of Death who decide placement and punishment of the dead are quite imaginative, and one such as you is usually given something quite unpleasant.”
At that, Sarah threw herself at Atticus, screaming out, “No! Atticus Tisiphone, if you ever loved me, please, spare him!”
Atticus just stared at the shameless woman sobbing against his chest. “You do remember that you’re the one who left me, yes? This is my job, Sarah. He refuses to repent, and so has sealed his fate. You used to understand this.”
Marcus had regained his wits by now, and had redirected his gun at Atticus. But before he could pull the trigger, Atticus had looked at him, his eyes glowing with power. Marcus’ left shoulder suddenly exploded with pain, causing him to drop the pistol. He then fell to his knees with a yell. The heart attack Atticus had caused leaving him dead before the rest of his body hit the floor.
With a scream, Sarah fell to the floor beside the newly made corpse, sobbing and and yelling at Atticus, “You killed him! You monster!”
“The only monster here is the corpse that you’re crying over. I can’t believe you would shed tears for a being like this. I know 20 years is a lot of time, but you used to be so different.”
With this, Atticus turned and left, passing Lacy Marcus as she stared at her father’s body. She had a genius IQ, but even she was having trouble processing what had happened. A god came and said that her father was a murderer? Lacy knew her father was a bad man, nothing like the man in the news, but a murderer? This was too much.
She also recognized the signs of a heart attack. But for a 38 year old man to have one now, especially when a god, angel, or whatever wanted him dead, it was too much of a coincidence; and that was assuming that Lacy believed in coincidences, something that she most definitely did not believe in.
As the ambulance her mother called arrived, Lacy was left with her entire world turned upside down, and the thought that remained in her head the most was whether or not that man would be in the apartment above hers the next day.
Atticus settled back into his chair on his patio with his drink as soon as he returned home. It had been three days since he had claimed Anthony Marcus. The man had been sentenced and punished already, and Atticus just finished up the paperwork for it that day.
A knocking at his door caught his attention. Sighing, he stood and answered it, not surprised to find Lacy Marcus on the other side. “I knew you’d come. Enter. Would you like a drink? I have coffee, tea, two types of soda, or water if you’d prefer.”
“Coffee, thanks.” Lacy looked around at the high classed apartment as Atticus led her to the large balcony.
As she took a seat at the table, Atticus said, “You won’t find anything out here. I keep my weapon collection back at my family estate in Hades, and my arcane tomes and artifacts are all locked in a plexiglass bookcase in my study. I’m more than old enough to ensure actual proof of my true nature isn’t found.” He finished with a wry smile as he fixed her cup of coffee. “Sugar or cream?”
Placing the mug in front of her, Atticus said, “Drink, and know that no harm shall come of you so long as you are a guest of my home.”
Taking a sip, Lacy said, “Thank you. This is good.”
“A Brazilian bean that I receive from an old lover. By receiving them unground, I can grind them to the texture that I like. I was never able to enjoy the prepackaged coffee grounds. I’ve found that even poor quality beans can be made excellent if they’re ground in just the right way,” Atticus replied, sitting across from her at the round table. “What can I do for you, Ms. Marcus?”
After another sip, Lacy pulled a gun out of the waistband of her jeans. Seeing Atticus show no reaction to the gun being pointed at the grey t-shirt he was wearing, she asked, “If I was to try and kill you, what would happen?”
“Besides renouncing your rights and protection as my guest? Well, what would you do if a small, harmless dog started barking at you?” Atticus’ expression shifted slightly, just enough to show his amusement. “You’d ruin a good shirt, put some holes in my walls, but other than that, it wouldn’t amount to much. If you kept at it, you’d likely become annoying, and I’d likely humor you until that point, but it would just be me ignoring you.”
“So that’s it? That’s how dangerous a mortal is to you?”
“No offense, but someone who didn’t even know of the existence of magic one week ago, can’t even hope to be seen as a threat to any kind of immortal.”
Lacy placed the gun down on the table. “Did you know that it wasn’t loaded?”
“Not one bit.”
Continuing to drink her coffee, Lacy said, “My mother’s insisting to the police that you murdered him.”
That caused Atticus to chuckle, “I know. The police had already been here.”
“I figured that if you had anything to worry about, you wouldn’t have done it in front of us.”
“You know the greatest thing about this modern era? Even if a dozen people were to witness a dragon, or a basilisk, nobody would believe them. You mortals are all so consumed by the need to deny magic, that you write it all off as delusions of the mind. Anyone who says otherwise receives ‘help’ in the form of antipsychotic medicines. That’s not to say that the majority of them aren’t clinically insane, but a fair percentage are in their right minds. The fear of being locked in a psychiatric hospital is even enough to keep the influential ones from saying anything.” Atticus explained with a laugh.
“So my mother is going to be institutionalized?”
Shrugging, Atticus said, “If she doesn’t let it go, possibly.”
“What if I recorded everything you just said?”
“You certainly could, but nobody would actually believe it. People nowadays need to see magic in person to understand that what they’re seeing isn’t some clever sleight of hand, and even then, they tend to gloss over and rationalize everything.”
“Hmm.” Finishing her cup, Lacy accepted the refill offered to her. “What will likely happen to him?”
Not needing an explanation of who she was asking about, Atticus said, “He has already been judged and sentenced.” At the girl’s raised eyebrows, he said, “We’re much faster than your court system. We already knew every crime, and had no need for evidence as we could view his memories and confirm his guilt. The Lords Osiris, Hades, and Satan were his judges. Due to the nature of his crimes, Lady Nemesis and Lord Asmodeus decided his punishment. He’s to spend the rest of eternity in the Fields of Punishment, being raped by very unpleasant things.”
“You know this off the top of your head?”
“I find pleasure watching the ones I consign to damnation receive their punishment. I realize that it’s very sadistic, but it is what it is. It helps reaffirm that they’re getting what they deserve. Any job, no matter how enjoyable can wear on one’s mind eventually.”
“Is that why you didn’t just kill him, and went through that thing with the file?”
“Yes. I enjoy watching them try to escape, or kill me. We do offer a chance at repentance, that wasn’t a lie, but I’ve been doing this for centuries, and not one has actually accepted that deal. So, I watch their final struggles. It’s the little things like that that keep me from growing bored with this job.”
“Are you evil?” Lacy asked that question as if the answer didn’t really matter to her.
“By modern human standards? Yes. Every god is. We can feel empathy for mortals, but we don’t have any problem killing any number of you. Being the ones in charge of your souls, how you spend time between your reincarnations, and your punishments gives us a perspective that you don’t have. Of course, we don’t go out of our way to make your lives miserable. We’re much too busy managing the world to ‘test’ mortals, or ‘put you through trials’, or whatever other bullshit you mortals decide to blame on us. While we do cause earthquakes and the like, that’s always to maintain the balance and stability of the world, not to punish people. We don’t punish an entire city for the sins of a few. That’s what the afterlife’s for. Most mortal woes come from each other, not us.”
“What about the Bible?”
That question caused Atticus to snort. “A collection of fables and stories to control and influence civilization, made by charismatic mortals. I assure you, religion is very rarely influenced by the divine. Especially the religion centered around the Torah, Bible, and Quran. Jehovah and his kin hasn’t been able to look anyone in the eyes for centuries because of the mortals acting in their names. The amount of souls damned due to events like the Crusades, the Inquisitions, and the witch hunts is incalculable, not to mention the current false jihad those foolish extremists are performing. Every religion has its darkness, but examples of those have been more or less lost to time, so you wouldn’t recognize them. It’s better to presume that religious dogma, if it was ever influenced by a god, has been twisted and become unrecognizable due to what you mortals call the Dark Ages. We agree more with most religions’ actions in the present day than even 100 years ago, mostly because they’re moving away from conversion by force.”
After that, silence fell. Lacy considered what the man in front of her had said. She knew why he would say so much. Even if he didn’t explain it earlier, she had already assumed that nobody would ever believe her. She didn’t have anymore questions about the divine in general, so she moved to questions about Atticus.
“You’re what? The son of the Fury Tisiphone?” She finally asked.
“Grandson, actually. But yes, the three houses of the Furies are named after the three original Furies, the daughters of Ouranos.” Atticus admitted.
Nodding, Lacy moved on. “You and my mother? You used to date?”
Sighing, Atticus said, “Yes, we dated for five years. She broke up with me 20 years ago.”
“Why did she break up with you?”
“Sometimes, mortals and immortals date one another, obviously. Most of those relationships end because the mortal can’t easily deal with the fact that their partner won’t age while they do. That’s what happened then.”
“You must not have loved her very much, couldn’t you have made her immortal? Or was that another tale?”
Shaking his head, Atticus said, “We can’t just make someone immortal. They need to do it under their own strength. Your mother was a strong woman, but she wasn’t able to do it.”
“I see. What does someone need to try?” Lacy asked, a sharp glint entering her hazel eyes.
Atticus blinked, suddenly realizing why exactly the 18 year old woman came to speak with him. Smirking, he asked, “Aren’t you young to be fearing death?”
Meeting his gaze, Lacy said, “I don’t care about death. I’m already certain that trying to become immortal will be more dangerous than anything. I don’t even care if I can do it or not. I now know magic exists, and there’s more to the world than anything I could’ve imagined before. I want to see as much as possible. And the first step to that is immortality.”
“I see. Your mother was unable to even use magic. If you can’t do that, then there’s nothing you can do. Do you understand?”
“Will I need to become a witch or something?”
“If that’s the kind of magic suitable for you.”
“Done. I’ll do what’s needed, and if I can’t, then I’ll just have to make do. And I’m not going to be your lover or anything. I’m completely lesbian.” As Lacy finished, she stuck her hand out, to seal their deal.
Atticus laughed as he took her hand. “I know that. If you do manage to become immortal, you’ll likely change that outlook. Trust me, you become curious eventually. Anyways, I’ll assist you as I’m able. I look forward to how far you can go, Lacy Marcus.”