Monday, September 9, 2013

Sisyphus' Revenge: The Struggle is the Blessing

"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart."

*After revealing the whereabouts of one of Zeus's concubines to the river god Asopus, Sisyphus was condemned to death. Hades arrives at Sisyphus' door to chain him and escort him to the underworld.*

*knock knock*

Who's there?


Hades who?

Hades, Hades.

Hades Hades who?

Open the door! Hades, god of the underworld, commands you.

*The door opens to reveal a middle aged, well-built man. His eyes and facial expressions give the impression of a mischievous mind.*

Hi Hades, my good god. How goes it in the pits of hell these days?

Fine, just fine, you conniving son of a bitch.

And what can I do for you on this lovely afternoon?

You can come outside and put these chains on, that's what.

Now why would I do that, my dear god? My limbs are marvelously free of restraint. I rather enjoy it.

Yeah, well Zeus ordered me to take you to Hades.

Take me to Hades? Why, you're right here. Job well done!

No, I meant take you down to Hades, the underworld.

Now, why is it that you and the eternal resting place of the damned have the same name? That must have been hard for you as a child. Kids can be so cruel.

My name is synonymous with death you fool. It's an honor.

Ahh, yes. Death. Well, that is a pretty accurate description of your breath, too, I must say.

Enough. Come outside and put on these chains.

But you still have not told me why. I am perfectly healthy, and rather fond of living, I must say.

Zeus ordered it. Thats all you need to know...but if you insist...He's pissed that you told Asopus where Aegina was. That was his bottom concubine.

Yes, but it was also Asopus' daughter.

No matter. Zeus commands it.

You lesser gods really just let Zeus boss you around like that, no questions asked? Why even bother calling yourselves gods? The way I see it, there's really only one all powerful god.

What? Don't be ridiculous. One god? Idiot. Put these gods-damned chains on.

*Sisyphus walks outside and takes the large metal chains in his hands. They extend to about 6 feet long, with two locking devices.*

All right, now how do these things work?

I'm sure you've been chained before. Now put them on and stop delaying.

Delaying? Why would I delay a trip to Hades, the forsaken-est of gods-forsaken destinations? You think I enjoy living? With all the delicious foods, delicious women, awe-inspiring music, breath-taking scenes of nature, brilliant art, and beauty everywhere you look? No, my good god, I can't wait to die. I'm merely asking for your assistance, as I respect and admire your wisdom and fortitude.

You can stop that right now. I'm not like the other gods. Flattery gets you nowhere with me.

No, no. You're too smart for that.

I'm glad you can see that. So many don't.

That must be difficult for you.

It is! You humans don't understand the burden of being a god. And the other gods have no idea what it takes to rule the entire underworld. There's a lot of stress that comes with the job.

And you handle it superbly, I must say.

Thank you! See that? How hard is a compliment? Gods forbid Zeus ever complimented me on the job I'm doing. Did you know that every single soul goes to the underworld at some point? I have all the newcomers to deal with on a daily basis, plus all the old spirits still hanging around, some since literally the beginning of time. It never ends!

It's an under-appreciated job.

Yes! Soooo underappreciated. Man, I really had you pegged wrong. You know, I hate to do this, but I gotta take you down there.

No, no, it's ok. I understand. You have a job to do.

Right. It's nothing personal.

Understood. No worries, my good god. Just show me, please, how to put these cumbersome chains on. They're so heavy and complex.

Oh, of course. Look, just stick out your arms like this...

*Hades sticks his hands straight out. Sisyphus follows, with a look of confusion on his face.*

I'm really much better at learning how to do something when I see it done first. Maybe if you put them on, you can show me the most efficient way of doing it so I can stop wasting your time.

Good idea. Now watch closely.

*Hades slowly and meticulously wraps the chains around his body, making sure every limb is tied down. After a few minutes of awkwardly contorting his body, he connects the two locking mechanisms with the one hand still sticking out of the chains.*



And there you have it. Simple!

It is indeed! I must say, you make it look so easy.

Oh, thank you. Years of practice make it easy, really.

I'd imagine. Here, hop on inside my home and we'll get you out of those things.

*Hades hops inside the house. Sisyphus, still outside, closes the door and locks it from the outside with the only key to the house.*

Ok, my good god. Have a wonderful day!

What? Wait! No! You son of a...

*By the time Hades' insults and threats reside, Sisyphus is on his third lager at the local pub.*


So friggin Hades comes to my door like, "Hey, you, put on these chains and come with me." And I'm all like, "Oh please mighty god, show me how. I am just an ignorant human who can handle no chore without the gods' amazing guidance."

*fart noise*


*The white haired bartender smashes a bottle against the bar.*

Stop this! I will have no more mockery of the gods in this place of business! I will not be another innocent bystander struck down by some gods' horrific act of rage.

Oh stop being such a wuss. There's nothing they can do.

No you idiot, thats the whole thing! They can do anything they want to us, and they do! All the time!

Ahh whatever, old man.

*The broken bottle flies across the room. Sisyphus narrowly dodges the jagged glass, but a man standing behind him is not so lucky. The bottle lodges into his throat. Bright red blood sprays out from the wound.*

Ohh my god! My throat! My thrrrrrggghghhh!

*The other patrons stand around in shock. The man falls to the floor and continues to yell as blood spurts out. And spurts out. And spurts out. Until it comes to a gentle dribble down his neck and chest. His screaming stops. He slowly sits up as the other patrons remain in silent shock.*

Wha-what is going on? I should...I should be dead. I should be dead! What's happening!

*Sisyphus steps forward and leans in.*

Funny story...

*It is well past sundown. The pub has become completely packed. At the bar, surrounded by dozens of people, stands Sisyphus and an extremely pale man with a glass shard sticking out of his neck and blood trickling down the front of his shirt. Everybody is in very merry spirits, very merry spirits indeed.*

Ohh tis the life for me/a drink or two or three
Sober we'll never be/ohh tis the life for me!

*The man with the glass shard in his throat joins in.*

Ohhhhh eeeeeee iiiiiiii eeee/ uuuggghhhhhh garrggggghhh
Ssssssuuuuuuu suuuuuuughhhh/ uhhhhh*

*Glasses extend high in the air and clink together, splashing most of the contents onto the floor. More joyful shouting and singing. Upon closer inspection, every patron in the pub has various amounts of blood covering their clothes, or in some cases, actively gushing from normally fatal wounds.*

Down with death!

*Sisyphus smashes a bottle against a man's head.*

And down with eternal damnation!

*He jabs a glass shard into another man's eye. Laughter and cheers echo throughout the room.*

I can't remember the last time I had this much fun!

*A loud boom shakes the room, followed by a deep voice.*


*There is a collection of confused looks throughout the pub.*



What'd he say? Zeez? What does that mean?


Oh. Cease.

Oh, that makes sense.



*Long, awkward silence. Finally, a white haired, bearded old man walks to the center of the pub.*

Hey, it's the bartender! How'd you do that with your voice? And when did you grow a beard?

*The bearded man pointed his ragged finger directly at Sisyphus.*

You! This is your doing. You have caused chaos throughout my entire kingdom!

Kingdom? You mean the pub?

FOOL! I am not the bartender! The entire world is my kingdom!

Oh, Zeus! Why didn't you say so?

I don't have to.

See that? The ego on this guy. This is what I was telling Hades.

SILENCE! I have had enough out of you. Do not invoke my brother's name while you imprison him!

Whoa, whoa, imprison? I'm letting him stay in my house as a guest!

You put your guests in chains? 

Well, sometimes, if they ask...

You will return now and release him.

But couldn't you just do it, since you're all-power...


All right, all right. What's the big deal anyway?

You have ruined the very balance of existence. With no death, there is no true life.

We all seem to be doing just fine.

You don't understand. You don't have the wisdom of a god.

Well, one god I know locked himself in chains, so I'm sort of glad I don't have that wisdom.

Yeah, he was always the dimwit of the family. No matter! You will release him and follow him to the underworld.

Really? Can't we work something out?

YOU COST ME MY BOTTOM CONCUBINE! Now she's back with her loser husband! He has my Aegina!

*The patrons of the pub chuckle under their breath."

What? What's funny?

Nothing, nothing. The guy took your Aegina, there's nothing funny about that.

*Several giggles throughout the pub. Sisyphus clears his throat."

You're Zeus, though. Couldn't you just take her?

You don't understand. If I force her, I'm no better than a rapist.

Well, from what I've heard, you've had no problems with that in the past.

Silence! And stop changing the subject! You will not talk your way out of this.

*Zeus grabs him by the collar and drags him out of the pub towards his house, where Hades (the god, not the place) waits.*

You know, there are fates worse than death.

I doubt it, Zeus.

You doubt me? You know nothing about existence.

I know that I like living.

Death is a release from the pain and suffering of this life.

Easy for you to say, you're immortal. And honestly, I haven't suffered much lately, besides this conversation of course.

You have a real attitude problem, you know that?

I've been told.

*Zeus drags Sisyphus all the way home, where he releases Hades. Hades, in a very bad mood, drags the man with him towards the underworld.*

*In Hades. The place, not the god.*

So, this is the underworld.

Glorious, isn't it?

To be honest...

*Hades glares at Sisyphus.*

Well, you asked.

Let's try not talking for a bit.

Whatever you say, lesser god.

Ok, you know what? Call me that one more time.

What? Lesser god? It's not an insult, it's just the truth. You even admitted to being one earlier.

What? I never said...

Yeah you did. When you were telling me about how Zeus "commanded" you to do this, and "commanded" you to do that. Sounds to me like he's the boss, and the rest of you gods are below him. You know, lesser.

*Hades' eyes narrow, brow furrows, and face reddens.*


Of course you are, pal. I'm just saying, Zeus is the ruler of everything. Including the underworld. And you.

*A lightning bolt tears through the dark grey sky, reflecting off the river Styx. A loud thunderclap echoes all around.*

Whoa, did you see that? Zeus must be upset.


Really? The lightning and everything? I thought that was Zeus's thing.

I am a God. I have the power to do anything I want.

Well, almost anything. I can think of at least one thing you couldn't do.

*Sisyphus sticks out his hands and jingles the chains.*

THAT...That's different. I wasn't expecting...

No, it's cool. I get it. Sometimes you just need a little help from the big guy.

*Another lightning bolt, this time extraordinarily close to where the god and spirit are standing. Sisyphus is briefly aware of a blunt force to the back of his head before unconsciousness sweeps over him.*

*Yes, spirits can lose consciousness, too.*

Lesser god. Can a lesser god literally make it rain?

*Hades drags the limp spirit-body of Sisyphus to the bottom of a large hill. A loud thunderclap booms overhead. A steady rain descends solely upon the body of Sisyphus, and he slowly regains consciousness.*

What the hell, Hades? What did you do that forrrgarrgleblahh!

*The rain intensifies.*

OK! I get it!

*The rain subsides.*

All right, all right! You are very powerful. I am very impressed.

Thought so.

So now that I'm here, what do I do?

I'm glad you asked. Most people just spend the rest of eternity walking aimlessly, their souls tormented with the decisions they made throughout their lives.

Sounds fun.

But I have something else planned for you.

*Hades points to a large boulder, almost as tall as Sisyphus.*

You'll be pushing that...

*He then points to the top of the mountain.*

...up there. Forever.

*Hades lets out a deep, guttural laugh. It continues for entirely too long.*

Oh, man. I'm sorry but I outdid myself on this one.

Don't you have to check with Zeus or something first?

Fool! This is my domain! I do what I want here, and you do as I say!

Yeah, but this seems a bit...pointless.

Does it? Really? That's so sad to hear. Idiot! Do you think you have a say in the matter? This is death. There is no choice in death. 

So I have to push this boulder up a hill. And then what?


What happens when I get to the top?

*Another guttural, uncomfortably long laugh.*

You'll see. Oh, you'll see.

*Sisyphus turns and runs away from the hill, toward the river. As he approaches he realizes the water is boiling. He runs along the bank of the river until a lightning bolt strikes mere inches in front of him. He is thrown onto his back.*

*Hades stands over him, looking down into his weary eyes as he mutters repeatedly.*

I want to live. I want to live.

You have no choice in death.

*Years pass. Ages. There is no time in the underworld. Hades returns to the hill where he left Sisyphus to the redundant, pointless task of pushing a boulder up a hill.*

Sisyphus! How goes eternity?

It was going a lot better before you got here.

I see you're still trying to get the boulder to the top of the hill?

Funny. Real funny.

I thought you would be finished by now.

*A girlish giggle escapes from the mouth of the personification of Death.*

I must admit, Hades. You got me.

Of course I did! I am a god! And you are a mere mortal! And what happens to you after you shed your mortal coil is up to me, and me alone. You dared question my authority and now you suffer!

Yeah, I know. You showed me. Well done.

Thank you. everything all right?

Yeah, why do you ask?

Well, it's just... I don't know. I thought you'd be, you know, suffering a little bit more.

What? No, no I'm suffering plenty, I swear. This? This sucks. Seriously.

Ok. All right, I just wanted to make sure. This is still one of my best ideas, you know.

Definitely. Very cruel and unusual. Something to be proud of.

Thank you! When I told Zeus he barley even acknowledged the genius of it. I mean...

Hey, Hades? I really have to get back to work...

Oh, ok. Yeah, of course, the boulder. Crazy idea right? Makes you really regret going against the gods?

Actually, I'm proud of myself for never giving up fighting for life. And even though I have to push this boulder up this hill for eternity, I accept my fate. We all have our own destiny, and this is mine.

What's that?

You didn't hear anything I just said?

I'm a god. I never listen.

Clearly. Anyways, I said that I'm full of regret.

Yes! I knew it. Never go against the gods. And never, ever try to escape death. I knew this would...




Right! Sorry. I'll let you get back to it.

*Sisyphus lowers his shoulder to the boulder and starts uphill. His pace is slow but consistent. As he approaches the top, a slight smile crosses his face. Hades, who has taken the shape of a bird of prey to more easily watch Sisyphus struggle, circles the hill. When he sees the smile creeping onto the man's face, the birdly representation of Death lets out a pierce shriek.*


*Sisyphus does not look up, but his smile broadens. He finally reaches the top. The boulder rests momentarily at the precipice.  The death-bird lets out a satisfied squawk, knowing what will happen next.*


*Sisyphus looks up at the sky, staring intently at the bird. The boulder teeters slightly, then starts its descent back down the hill.*

*A series of excited squawks.*

Squawk! Squawk!

*Sisyphus leers at the god of prey, lifts both hands in the air, and extends his middle fingers.*


*Sisyphus runs down the hill at full speed. As the ground levels off,  he stops the stone's motion. Sisyphus looks up momentarily at the sky, then puts his shoulder against the boulder and begins his ascent back to the top of the mountain.*


"Searching, for everything already there. For every thought already known. For everything that ever was, is, and will be. Struggling. Oh how we struggle. And the more we avoid it, the greater the struggle becomes, until we realize...the struggle is the blessing."

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.

No comments: