Mystery Fantasy Fiction

The Daily Oracle:

Zeus Trial Up in Air.

Both sides declare a mistrial: Faceless Judge disagrees.

The charges were brought by ‘Natural Law’ essentially a physical constitutional entity with some apparent clout.

He was about to open the paper to page two when he heard a feminine voice.

“Excuse me, Gorton Manchester?”

Gorton smiled and got to his feet. He was lanky. She was all smiles. She hugged him, briefly. “How are ya?” she added.

“Not bad.”

“I’m Emily Kordite and I’m here to take your deposition. Please, sit back down, I see they brought you some coffee. To tell you the truth, we make better coffee than the coffee shop. But that’s not saying much.” She sat down, opened her briefcase and extracted a small recording device.

“Emily Kordite. Nice. That’s a, that’s a volatile name.”

“Is it? I wouldn’t know. I just made it up one day, and decided to stick with it.”


“Crazy, huh? Did you watch the trial opening yesterday?” She said as she waited for her coffee.

“Are you kidding? I was there, just outside the courtroom when Zeus pulled that stunt.”

“And yet, you’re laughing about it.”

“Was I?”

The bailiff had ordered Zeus to ‘rise’ to hear the charges against him. So Zeus rose, to a height of 365 feet, technically he grew, taking the entire courtroom with him. Holding the building and all its occupants aloft while he was still inside the courtroom. A physical impossibility. And yet, that’s what gods can do. If allowed to.

“So, for the record…” She adjusted the recorder, played it back, was satisfied and resumed. “What is your name and what do you do?”

“My name is Gorton Manchester the Twelfth, and I’m a Professor of Modern History.”

“And do you teach?”

“I do.”

“Where is that?”

“I teach at St. Leo’s University.”

“That’s a small college in...”

“It’s a tiny, tiny little college in the panhandle.”

“And you’ll be testifying against the defendant, Zeus.”

“I will.”

“And you swear that everything you say is true.”

“I do.”

He was now in the courtroom, the gallery was packed with irritable, uncouth gods and goddesses. The public was not invited. The judge had been forced to call for order several times, and was threatening to clear the courtroom after one more outburst.

The prosecutor continued his examination. “So let’s begin where we left off, Mr. Manchester. You said that an accurate, more detailed version of Nostradamus’ quatrains…” There was a spate of hissing from the gallery. To which the prosecutor gamely responded, “No one likes quatrains, but we don’t boo about it.” This only earned him more hisses.

A few more cracks from the judge’s gavel restored order and the testimony continued. “So this newer version of this writer’s work, predicted the return of the gods.”

“That’s right.”

The prosecutor smiled broadly, and patiently. “Could you elaborate, Mr. Manchester?”

“Sure, he predicted when they would come back, how they would come back, and why they would come back.”

“And why did they come back, Mr. Manchester?”

“They heard that we were doing well.”

“So they came, excuse me, they were coming to celebrate our success?”

“No. They intended to crash the party.”

 “And did they, as you say, crash the party?”

“They tried.”

The gallery erupted into chaos again, but there were no storms, no lightening bolts, as in times past. It was surprisingly quiet from the defense table.

When the noise died down, the prosecutor asked the witness who or how humanity was spared from their limitless power?

“Well, it’s a pretty simple formula, kind of the E=mc2 of life. Since they’re partly mythological, and can cast spells and charms, they are themselves subject to spells and charms. The knowledge is arcane but not unknown. It leveled the playing field. It even tipped the balance of power our way.”

“How is that?”

“There are many more of us than there are of them.”

“Could you tell the court who you’re referring to when you say ‘us’.

The room was so silent, you could hear a pin drop – a half a mile away.

Zeus’s defense team bellowed. “Your honor the witness must answer the question. Exactly, how could people we’ve never heard of, prosecute the gods?”

The question was so ironic, I don’t believe the defense team realized it.

The judge slammed his gavel down, “This court is in recess for two hours. Counsel, wait for me in my Chambers.”

(Writers! So funny. They think they can just call a recess until they come up with a better ending.)

It certainly didn’t end there for Gorton, he was ushered into an anteroom and plied with coffee, candy, pizza and pie, to which he mostly refused, and spent his time idly doing a crossword puzzle in French, a language he was unfamiliar with.

There was a light rap on the door before it opened and who should appear but Ms. Kordite. “Emily Kordite,” he said aloud, as he got to his feet.

“Oh don’t get up. So you remember me?”

“Of course, it was just a few days ago.”

“Yeah, well, you’re famous and I’m just an insignificant law clerk. I was just passing by and heard that you were in here…”

“I’m surely not famous. Come in Emily, come in. Can you stay?”

“I don’t see why not.” She said.

They talked about the weather, her parents, his dog, both of their mothers. At some point, while they were eating buttered popcorn, she said, “I don’t get it. What’s the missing puzzle piece? Who actually controls the gods?”

“We do. People.”

She said, “Look, I’m just a shlepp from the third floor filling in for some woman who never gets sick. What people? I didn’t even know there were gods, or that they were real or had left or returned. All of this is entirely new to me. I’m not sure I even believe it. But who in the world is looking out for the rest of us?”

“Doesn’t really matter does it? What matters most is that they’re alien creatures, and once you lure a god into a glass container, they can’t get out. Not even another god can release them, and if the container breaks before they’re released?” He drew his finger across his throat. “They die just like us mortals.”

“So how do you lure a god into a bottle?” She said.

“Well, it takes a little practice, a little conjuring, and a lot of help.”


“You know all of those rotary clubs, moose lodges and fellowship clubs? The Elks? The Eagles, the Hells Angels and the Ectomorphs?”


“That’s us. Oh, and that’s not for public disclosure, you understand. The rest of it is known by many, but let’s keep that last little bit about ‘us’ just between you and me.”

“Oh god, are you kidding? I will tell no one of this conversation, ever.”

Just before the trial resumed, Zeus threw in the towel, unwashed, figuratively, and said he was done with humanity forever, then threw himself on the mercy of the court. He was still stuck in the bottle. The other gods were furious, but frightened. God is a word that frightens people, bottle is a word that frightens gods. That’s the lesson here.

Some days later, attending a top-secret meeting with his handler at the Dairy Queen. (Oh yeah, they’re everywhere.) Gorton was informed that the ploy had worked. The ‘Kordite’ woman was a spy, a plant, a mole. After meeting with him she made her way to the nearest balcony, turned into a crow and flew straight to the enemies den with the false information. “You did a good job, Gorton. We’ll be working in relative freedom for quite some time to come. I’ll pay for the ice cream this time. Next time it’s on you.”

May 25, 2024 01:58

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Hazel Ide
05:35 Jun 05, 2024

Ok I think I figured out why it was hard to finish chapter 5, but its not because it wasn’t good (it’s great) it’s because: wait, how did we end up here!? (Writers! So funny. They think they can just call a recess until they come up with a better ending.) This line made me feel like I was in a Mel Brooks movie (I know, I’ve accused you of Douglas Adams in the past. What can I say, I’m mercurial). Anyway I really enjoyed this but feel like it’s a stand alone. Looking forward to more…


Ken Cartisano
15:32 Jun 05, 2024

Hazel, I hardly know you, but you show yourself to be a dear and dedicated colleague. You're funny too, and I suppose I should agree, 'mercurial.' I always agree with people's self-descriptions until I look up a word. But it sounds like it must mean 'hot' and 'fast'. So I'll accept that, until I learn otherwise. No clues from your profile pic, apparently, you have a tendency to moon people too! (But seriously,) I appreciate your diligence in trying to get to the bottom of where this story failed or veered off it's flight path. I was decide...


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Paul Simpkin
08:00 May 31, 2024

Imaginative response to a difficult prompt.


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Darvico Ulmeli
08:46 May 29, 2024

What happened to the Norman and Cage? I lost them somehow after Chapter 4. Nice work.


Ken Cartisano
14:32 May 29, 2024

Good question Darvico, It illuminates a very weak transition point in the previous story. A clear weakness in my composition. In chapter 4 the narrator decides he'll let the final chapter be written by the descendants of Norman and Cage, Gorton Manchester and Emily Kordite. It's a little jog in the previous story that probably left most people clueless. Thank you very much for taking the time to read it. And pointing out that weakness.


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Mary Bendickson
18:53 May 26, 2024

Oh,you academic types and other ectomorphs. You took these prompts and were content with writing only one! Oh,no, you have to master them all. So I'll comment on this one and ditto the others. Good job writing well.


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Jim LaFleur
11:42 May 25, 2024

The idea of gods being subject to human spells and charms is a fascinating concept that adds depth to the story. Your writing is concise and well-crafted, making for a very enjoyable read! 👏


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