Crisis on Delphi

Submitted into Contest #152 in response to: Set your story in an oracle or a fortune teller’s parlor.... view prompt

2 comments

Fantasy Urban Fantasy

Chloe almost runs into the large corridor, her heels echo on the marble floor.

“This is madness” she mumbles as she keeps forward until she reaches the end of it.

There are open spaces on both sides of the corridor, and she can hear upset voices coming from every direction. This is a nightmare.

She opens the dark wooden door and enters the reception. It’s a total mess.

People are running in every direction. Some are holding piles of papers that can barely see in front of them as they run. Others are talking on their phones barking orders to the other end of the line. This is the worst-case scenario and happens on her shift.

“The boss will be furious” she whispers under her breath.

Zenon, the head of the call centre runs hurriedly to Chloe. “Absolute chaos!” he screams from afar.

Chloe shakes her head sideways, like all this is a bad dream and shaking her head will shove this away. But no matter how she desperately wants this to end soon, it doesn't help at all.

“The network is down.” Alexander barks from the other side of the room as he approaches. “AskPythia.com is down. Something happened with the algorithm, and everything started to malfunction. Oracles are given randomly without taking into account the information people insert. This results in –”

“People getting the wrong oracles?” Zenon cuts him off. “Yes, we noticed. The call centre is overloaded with hundreds of calls of people calling to complain.

Chloe takes a glance at the entrance of the call centre, on the right side of the reception. About more than a hundred operators standing up and talking through their headsets. Some are putting the call on hold and desperately looking for a manager to solve the requests of the callers. Others are speaking sternly, annoyed by the conversation and some others are trying to put a polite end to the call.

“Did you try manual override?” Chloe turns to Zenon.

“Yes, but without any luck.” Zenon shoulders fall in defeat.

Soon, the loud voices from the call centre are blocking everything else.

“Does anyone know who will win the cup final tonight?” a tall girl in a baby pink dress asks, holding her headset away from her. “I have one on the line that doesn’t hang up unless he knows the exact score.”

“What do you want? Smell my fingertips?” a boy from the other end of the room screams. “I have a very persistent one. It’s the fifth time he calls and demands to speak to a manager.”

“Zenon, inform all staff that whoever calls from this point onwards tell them that there is a technical problem, and we are currently addressing it. We’ll be back as soon as possible and thank them for their patience.” Chloe instructs struggling to maintain her composure.

Zenon nods and turns back to the call centre. Shortly after his voice boomed and all the voices were silent at once.

“Alexander try again to gain manual control. It is extremely important to have it running even like this.” Chloe speaks, the stress hardly covered in her voice.

“Where are you going?” Alexander shouts as Chloe turns and walks back to the dark wooden door.

“I’m going to wake up the boss.” She answers closing the door behind her.

She moves through the maze of corridors spreading before her. The halls are dark and gloomy with candles giving a dim light every few metres as she progresses through. It feels like a totally different part compared to what happens on the other side of ‘Pythia’s oracles’.

Two guards stand in front of a huge metal door, their spears crossed in front of it. The candlelight falls on their faces making them look like two statues wrapped in flesh. Chloe wished she never had to meet them because this would mean that something would have gone terribly wrong, like in this case.

“Halt!” One of them shouts, his voice resonates in the empty hall. “State name, title and purpose of visit.”

“Chloe, managing director.” She announces with a deadpan expression and a tone stating authority. “I’m here to wake up the boss and her priestesses.”

The guards stand still as her presence didn’t tell them a thing. Then suddenly, they draw the spears back permitting her to enter. Chloe marches to the door, take a deep breath and turns the handle.

The luxury of the room appearing in front of her is nothing compared to anything she had seen. The walls are covered with large paintings reaching all the size of the wall, depicting scenes from feasts and glorious battles. Ten king-size beds, spreading equally on each side, covered with fabrics only the gods could have. In the centre, a massive four-poster bed covered with dark red sheets and Pythia’s tall frame between them.

Chloe spots a small table next to her. A flute is placed on it. This must be the way to wake them up. There’s also a piece of parchment under it, a few notes written on it. Chloe was never good with music but what other choice does she have?

She picked up the flute and placed her fingers covering random holes in it. She took a deep breath and blows the air through the flute with force. False notes fill the room as Chloe keeps blowing air through it and moving her fingers closing different holes on the flute each time.

In a blink of an eye all the priestesses together with Pythia jolt out of bed, their heads snap at me. Chloe takes a step back as anger mirrors in their eyes.

“I thought this day would never come,” Pythia says with a drowsy voice. “What’s the matter?”

***

The ground shakes as heavy steps approach the reception. Everyone stops what they’re doing and turns slowly towards the door.  The seconds pass in slow motion as the steps are getting closer. Some are hiding slightly behind their desks unprepared for what’s coming.

The door bursts open and Pythia marches in with her priestesses in tow. A girl yelps upon seeing them and somewhere the sound of shattering glass echoes.

Chloe takes a look at them. Even in their nightgowns, these women emanate authority.

“Let’s get this fixed.” Pythia claps her hands and everyone unfreezes.

July 01, 2022 21:00

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2 comments

Katy B
18:33 Jul 02, 2022

The premise for the story is great - I love the idea of oracles getting mixed up! You should try including more of the mixed up oracles, plus expanding the story to show how Pythia ends up fixing the problem. Thank you for sharing!

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E. Roux
06:08 Jul 03, 2022

Thank you very much for the feedback!! I'm glad you like it!

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