Content Warning: References and themes of sexual assault and rape.
‘Zeus, the god of the skies and the king of Olympus himself, is facing dozens of sexual offence accusations. From lower class women on Earth to the goddesses of the heavens, women are calling him out and sparking public outrage. Gods, monsters, demigods, and people alike are coming together, seeking justice for the hundreds of thousands of years of his crimes against humanity. We’ve known of Zeus’ sexual exploits for a long time, but now we are finally saying: it’s not okay. I’m Jessica Smith, coming to you live from—’.
A lightning strike blinds the camera, leaving nothing but a singed skeleton in the seat where Jessica Smith once sat.
‘What in the Hades?’ Zeus boomed. The television remote was crushed in his hand, sparks cracking between the loose wires.
‘Father! You can’t just go smiting people anymore,’ Athena said.
‘My dearest Athena, what’s a god’s job, if not to smite?’ He twirled his thunderbolt in his hand.
Athena shook her head.
‘How long has this little movement been happening?’ Zeus’ voice was still loud, like an old man who refuses to get a hearing aid.
Ares chimed in. ‘Ugh, you’ve got to keep up, Father. The news on TV is not how people get information anymore; it’s been trending on Twitter for a few days.’
‘You mean that idiotic phone application that Hermes created?’
‘I can’t help that it’s how he gets his messages around these days. Check out #ZeusIsOverParty.’
‘The people of Earth are throwing parties celebrating my demise?’ Zeus made a mental note to visit these “parties”. It would surely be a wonder to join them, only to destroy them and their little celebrations. He hadn’t disguised himself as an earthly being for a while and humans were overdue for a little punishment. After all, with the slow downfall of religion, it was time to remind people that god is not the self, but god is the god.
While Zeus lost himself in his ecstasy of a daydream, Athena and Ares bickered over the implications of the Twitter outrage.
‘Oh, what’s all the fuss?’ Aphrodite bounced her way in.
Zeus threw his arms up in the air. ‘Why is everyone in here?’ He conveniently forgot that he was the one that brought a TV into the Hall of the Gods and replaced the marble thrones with cushioned armchairs.
‘Hello Aphrodite,’ Athena grinded her teeth. ‘The father of the gods is getting cancelled.’
‘Oh, that stuff to do with all his lovers? Love is love. Just leave it be.’ She swayed and winked at Ares, her half-brother, who smirked over his phone.
Athena sunk her face into her hands, her sigh seeming to evaporate her. ‘That is not how that works,’ her voice was muffled as she spoke into her hands. She looked up at Aphrodite with squinted eyes. ‘I don’t think you get it.’
‘No, I don’t think you get it.’
‘And neither does my mother,’ Ares said. ‘Father, she’s just tweeted about it. She said that—’.
‘ZEUS!’ Hera struck down the door, crashing onto the marble floor.
Zeus rose from his cushioned throne. ‘ALL OF YOU DISPERSE!’
Gods and goddesses began to scatter, making whooshes and clatters as they left. Athena hid in the next room, already planning to fix the door to save further wrath.
Ares merely stood there with a smug smile on his face.
Zeus stood, tense, clutching his thunderbolt in one hand and the crushed TV remote in the other. Hera perched with her hands by her side. She held herself with her chest puffed and shoulders broadened. Her long hair barely shifted as she turned her neck like an owl. ‘Ares. Test me.’ Her height seemed to grow even taller as she looked down on him. ‘Just like your father.’
Ares dashed off as quickly as Achilles.
‘Who are all these women? I thought you told me about everyone. You’re my husband.’
‘They were all so long ago.’
‘How do I know that you don’t have any recent adventures?’
‘So what if there are a few? It doesn’t matter anyway, the gods have barely dallied since the arrival of modern time.’
‘You know I’ll find them, just like I have before. All this time has allowed me to find new ways to punish those who have seduced you.’
‘Go ahead and punish whoever you like. You also know I won’t care.’
‘I will,’ Hera said as she began to turn around.
‘That is if you don’t want to get “cancelled” yourself.’
‘Need I remind you, that without you, the goddess of motherhood and fertility, many of the gods or people would not exist without you.’
Hera replied with silence.
‘I know you’re such an important symbol to the humans. What is it they call you… a feminist icon? So, go ahead, dear wife, wreak your havoc.’
Hera’s shoulders shook as she turned her hands into fists. ‘You will make this up to me. Go fix it.’
‘Someone, get me Athena,’ Zeus’ voice echoed down the halls of Mount Olympus.
‘Father.’ Athena was already in the room. ‘I’m here, I was just waiting.’
‘Little spy,’ Hera spat.
‘Be blessed that you’re my favourite,’ Zeus said. ‘Where’s that bumbling idiot, Ares?’
‘He is the least of your troubles right now,’ Athena said. ‘Look, you cannot handle things like you used to.’ She turned. ‘I think even you know that Hera. You can have power over the people, but it does not mean respect.’
‘Then what do you propose?’ Zeus asked.
‘An apology video.’
‘What in the world that Atlas holds on his shoulders is that?’
Athena tried not to roll her eyes at the archaic being. ‘I think you know, it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s how anyone of status makes reparations for their past mistakes… it also means that you cannot do this stuff again.’
‘You all seem to forget that without my affairs I wouldn’t have so many children that rule over various systems of the world. I will admit that these gods and goddesses have much power and many talents—they came from me after all. My children should be thankful for their lives.’
‘It does not change what you did. The people will still see you as a rapist.”
Almost as if to overcorrect his cranky demeanour of an old man, he crossed his arms like a child and turned his head away. ‘I was in love with all those women.’
‘Pardon me?’ Hera said.
‘You swallowed my mother,’ Athena deadpanned.
He looked out the corner of his eye. ‘Fine, tell me how to make this apology video.’
After Athena spent way too much time explaining the things Zeus needed to address, Zeus sat down to film himself. Athena stood behind the camera in what was possibly the saddest managerial position to be in.
Zeus let out a dramatic sigh before beginning. ‘I would like to apologise to all the people I have hurt. I have made a lot of bad decisions and what I have done is unforgiveable.’ He barely made eye contact with the camera, looking mostly at his knees. He rambled on for a couple of minutes, reciting parts of his script. ‘I know that I am a powerful being, and I used my position for wrong. I acknowledge that now. I am sorry.’ Zeus’ gaze flicked up to his daughter, his golden eyes peeking under their hoods. ‘Is that what you want? Good enough?’
‘I feel like you could say a little more.’
‘What is it that people say? Keep it short and sweet? We’re here for a good time not a long time?’
Athena stretched her lips thin in what was supposed to be a smile. ‘I’m sure it’ll do, Father.’ She clicked around on the Olympian computer. ‘Okay, it’s uploaded. It’s on Twitter and YouTube.’
Several minutes later, the computer suddenly started bursting with notification pings. ‘What’s going on?’ Zeus said.
Athena looked through the trending page of Twitter. She kept her mouth shut as her eyes rolled through the posts.
‘What are they saying?’ Zeus demanded.
‘Read them for yourself.’
Ares ran into the Hall of the Gods while waving his phone over his head. ‘Father! Father! You’re trending even more than—’
With a shout that would shatter human ear drums, lightning shot out of Zeus’ hand towards Ares. Ares’ shield appeared just as swiftly, blocking the strike. Ares took a breath and stayed hidden under his shield. This time, his words came slower as he searched for them. ‘Father, with all due respect, as the god of war, I know that the humans are really looking for another Cosmic War. They’re trying to get some of the gods to side with them.’
‘Do they not know who I am? The destroyer of the Titans?’
Ares began to shout. ‘You don’t get it. It’s just that this cancel culture shi—’
‘How dare they say such things.’ The thunderbolt in Zeus’ hands grew longer. Lightning crackled up his arms and his eyes lit with heavenly fire.
‘Father?’ Athena’s voice actually quivered. Ares held his sword tight, holding in his own temper.
‘I tried it their way.’
‘A god should never do things the way that a human would.’
Zeus growled as light crackled under his skin. His eyes glowed as storms rumbled around Mount Olympus. A ring of clouds grew around the buildings and static electricity sizzled within them.
A few months had passed, and the gods of Olympus gathered for a meeting. Chaos simmered as they stood in front of their chairs, pointing fingers. Their voices attempted to shoot over the sounds of the storms that continued to plague.
‘Brother, this has to stop now. Many of the monsters and water nymphs are retreating to the sea floor. I’m barely able to keep harmony in the oceans with the storms raging at the surfaces,’ Poseidon said.
‘Father, education of the people is suffering. Schools are closing and online connections are unstable and inconsistent with the storms,’ Athena said.
Hermes sat back in his chair with his arms crossed. ‘I mean Hades has never been better. The Underworld is brimming with souls.’
‘I propose a war!’ Ares taunted, face full of glee, with weapons in both hands, raised above his head.
‘ENOUGH,’ Zeus bellowed. Lighting began to swarm within the Hall of the Gods of Mount Olympus itself. ‘Have the people of the Earth learned their lesson?’
‘What lesson?’ A few asked.
‘That they can’t touch me.’
And the storms continued to tremble the Earth.
Suddenly, dozens of notification pings startled the room. ‘Oh, what is it this time?’ Zeus said. ‘I’m going to have to ban phones during Olympian meetings.’
Screen lights shone on the divine faces of the gods. ‘Oop, Poseidon is getting cancelled for all his sexual assaults too,’ Ares said flicking his finger with the click of his tongue towards Poseidon.
On the other end, Poseidon stood frozen. ‘What?’ managed to escape from between his teeth.
Groans of the gods flooded the room. ‘Anything about me?’ Zeus asked.
‘Not really. They seem to have moved on.’
‘Oh.’ The storms surrounding Olympus suddenly exhaled, dissipating into a pitiful sprinkling. Awkward silence rained into the room. ‘Well, I think that concludes the matter. Meeting adjourned,’ Zeus said. He clapped as he finished speaking, unintentionally setting off a lightning strike, startling himself.
Chattering scattered amongst the gods as they filed out of the room. ‘Well, uh, that’s too bad, sorry uncle,’ Ares patted Poseidon’s shoulder as he passed the statue that became of the god. The gods muttered obligated condolences to the newest feature of the social blacklist.
After they all left, Poseidon slumped into his chair.
Zeus crossed his arms, ‘Well, what are you going to do?’
‘Not sure. Could always send a second great flood.’
‘I like the way you think, brother.’
Author: Ricky is a copywriter by day and creative writer by night. Discovering her passion for writing while she was a law student, she switched to a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and is now in her third year. While she likes to dabble in everything, she finds herself writing about the complex, shocking and straight-up wild events and relationships in her life. You can find her work in Issue 16 of QUT Glass. Follow her on Instagram @rickyjadee.
Artist: Lilian Martin is a writer, poet, and now artist based in Meanjin/Brisbane, who wants to publish their own zines one day! They used to be keen on the art thing in high-school and have slowly been trying to ignite their visual spark once again. They have begun incorporating visual elements into their writing career by designing magazines, doing illustrations, and making graphics for the QUT Literary Salon. You can find both their writing and visual work at https://linktr.ee/lilianjmartin.
Editors: Euri Glenn and Brock Scholte