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Revelations of a forgotten goddess

By Bozhan BozhkovPublished 9 months ago Updated 9 months ago 11 min read
The image was generated by AI Midjourney

I locked the front door of the office building and stepped out into the hardening mud of what looked like a street. Between the new constructions and the already densely-built, half-empty blocks, the yards of the last few remaining houses in the neighborhood were huddled like islands. Dogs could be heard barking in the distance. I looked at my phone - 20:22.. Damn! I'm probably the last one closing up again. By the time I get home it will be dawn, and naturally there will be no parking spaces left.

I looked at the phone again - yes, 20:22. There’s no mistake. Well, according to Lukyanenko, if you often notice many such numerical coincidences, you have the potential to be a magician. At least it's good that it's not 22:22, then I would be completely bewitched. I was skirting the puddles when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a movement a little way ahead of me and looked up. A girl in a thin woolen chiton dress, completely inappropriate for the cold of the season, was coming towards me. In fact, I would say that she was quite literally walking at me, making no attempt whatsoever to avoid me. I stopped, thoughts running through my head about how her bare hands weren't frozen. Then I realized that I could see her remarkably clearly, despite the relatively dim street lights. She was actually surrounded by a kind of glow that allowed me to see the details so well.

I, as you know, am a very rational person. I'm not superstitious, and I don't believe in spirits or any magical creatures. However, the Harry Dresden series had made me think that one should never trust fairies and certainly never make deals with them, and that all creatures coming from "Nevernever" were treacherous. I shook my head to rid myself of the superstitious thoughts and to come back to reality. Whatever the case, there had to be some rational explanation.

Meanwhile, the creature stopped a pace in front of me. She wasn't actually a girl. Her face looked young but also, in some way, rather ageless, if that was even possible. Silver hair fell in waves to her chest.

"Excuse me sir, could you help me?"

Usually, I would pick up the pace in response to such an address. Of course, it is possible that the person is really stuck and that two dollars would be enough for them to get home to their "distant destination", but mostly, as I know from experience, the two dollars continues to fall short of the mark, and the "stuck" individual continues to collect their dues from other merciful fools. And more often than not, behind the beggar sits a well-organized gang that shares the income from the gullible.

However, in this case I didn't have many moves to make. When there's a crowd, it's easy to pass on by, but when you're alone, it's kind of rough. I looked around. It was reassuring that there were no heads peeking around the corner or silhouettes in the shadows. But one can never be sure with shadows.

“How can I help you?” I asked, while at the same time under the influence of what I read in "Harry Dresden". I tried not to look at the creature, so as not to fall under her hypnotic influence.

“Do you not recognize me?”

I continued to look at the stranger. Her face appeared somewhat rounder now, with familiar, almost crater-like, marks upon her skin.. VERY familiar actually.

“Selena?” I asked hesitantly.

“I am also known by that name. But you used to call me by the name given to me by the Romans.” (In Bulgarian - Luna)

“So how can I help you? You're big, you're strong,” I droned on, wondering what I was getting myself into.

“I used to be. People built temples to me and brought me offerings. Now I am forgotten - doomed to disappear. Only some tribes in remote jungles not yet reached by your civilization still worship me, and some more educated people know of me. Soon I will disappear from memory. I am willing to tell you where these tribes are if you help me.”

“You know, years ago I would’ve jumped at the offer. But today the spirit of adventure has left me. It’s better for these tribes to live as they have always lived. If civilization touches them, they’ll either disappear, or they’ll become civilized, and it'll be worse for you. “

“Those tribes are marginal and will disappear anyway. They are of no interest to me. I want to be remembered by the people of civilized nations. You humans create us, then forget us, and we die.”

“Nothing wrong with that. Stars also die. Even the universe will die someday. What will be left for you mythical creatures, then? And what’s more, you’ve already lived a long time compared to a human…” I suddenly felt the searing anger that came over her. Burning to the bone. The next moment her anger turned to desperation, and I felt a frantic desire to run. Despair gave way to sadness: deep, oppressive, crushing. Fortunately, she was able to control her feelings before they could knock me down. All that remained was a desolate sense of resignation.

"So much for trying to make a deal with a mortal!"

“Mortal! I could say the same of you, madam. Aren’t you about to die from neglect?"

“Do you know what it's like to be someone, to be respected and in the next moment discarded!”

Then I remembered him. We were traveling by car from the festival in Kavarna, and in Tarnovo, we saw him crossing the road in front of us. An old man, still in good shape, in a stained and tattered suit that had once been presentable, was pulling a box of waste paper and stopping by the garbage cans to pick up the paper and cardboard that was lying around. He used to be somebody. He had appeared in that suit at important meetings. He may have managed people. Now he collected waste paper to feed himself. He didn't beg or plead. He was trying to make it on his own. I imagined how, in his house, the library was full of books, but he didn’t want to recycle them for money, preferring to collect waste instead. Or maybe he was already homeless, and his suit was the only memory of those days when he was somebody. I also remembered many other cases of people left on the street, having lost their jobs, their homes, their families.

"I've seen the dispossessed. I haven't experienced it myself, but I know that no one is immune.”

Selena’s eyes pleaded with me. “Then you could help me; at least a few people would remember me. You wrote once that we were friends, that's why I turned to you.”

‘Oops - I have a reader! And what a reader!’ I thought to myself.

“If you’ve read my work, then you know my attitude towards all kinds of deities and the like…”

“Do not be so arrogant! I am not your reader. I only learned about you because you summoned me through your writing.”

Summoned? Ah yes – Luna. The Romans, indeed.

“Well, you don't have a problem. If with every mention of your name you’re summoned, then…”

“You do not understand! The mere mention of the celestial body, of Luna, of the moon, brings me nothing. But in your writing you told a story, and it was that story that summoned me and brought me to life. I embody her living spirit! Do you not understand!”

Aha, the "old lady" had started to get irate, and this was no reason to be happy, because I quickly remembered her anger from a previous occasion. I didn't want to experience it again, but I did want to annoy her.

“My, apparently I don’t catch on quickly.”

“You do not what?”

“Oh, I don't understand. Explain in more detail why I should even be fazed.”

“Be what?”

“Ooooh, be interested in your problem! In my opinion, humanity is better off without gods.”

“You really do not understand!”

That’s why I’m waiting for an explanation. I'm willing to accept it if it's reasonable.”

“I do not want those times to return and for people to honor me again. For many years I wanted and hoped for that. But that time has passed. I came to terms with it a long time ago. I just want to be remembered, so I do not disappear forever.”

“How can I tell you, this problem is far away from me. I don't have many years left. Many people I love and appreciate also have short lives. Some have already passed away. You remember a lot more years. And if you disappear, what will change so much?”

“If I disappear, the Moon will be just a rock orbiting more than 300,000 kilometers from here. All the romance, the sighs of lovers, the songs and poems about the lunar path, and all the paintings and photographs will lose their charm and become meaningless. You people create us and then you are unable to do without us.”

“Possibly. But wait, we’ve seen nothing but problems from the gods we’ve created.”

“I am not JUST talking about the gods,” she nearly screamed. I was scared lest we attract the attention of the people on the neighboring blocks, but no one reacted. “All the magical creatures you create, we exist without you - we live through your thoughts and memories, but you cannot be humans without us! Without us you will be as dogs! For them, a stone serves as something to piss on. For you, it can serve as something out of which to sculpt beauty, poetry, aspiration, and hope! If we disappear, the stone will become just a stone. And furthermore, the already sculpted statues will become mere stones that some weirdo has given strange shape to, senselessly wasting countless hours of his life!”

I looked at her again. The glow was gone. In front of me stood a very old woman, despite the lack of wrinkles on her face and bare arms. Her white dress, chiton or whatever it was, was worn, with many patches. An old, desperate, resigned woman trying to keep what remained of her pride and dignity.

“Good. I'll try to help. But there isn’t much I can do. I have few readers. I don't publish in major publications, only on my site…”

“I am even happy with crumbs now,” she sighed and scattered like stardust. I don't know if I imagined it or if I actually heard the words "thank you" as she disappeared.

“It can happen to all of us, to be happy with crumbs,” I said to the place where she had been standing. “That’s why I’ll try to help you.”

At that moment I heard the dogs barking again. I realized that there had been no barking or other noises during the meeting. Apparently, we were cut off from the world. That was a good thing, because no bystanders had heard me talking to myself – I was sure I was the only one who saw the… um… thing I was talking to. "Whew, I wasted a lot of time - it must be 22:22 now, I thought." They would be waiting for me at home, and explaining that I was late because I had been chatting with an ancient, stuck-up goddess would only make matters worse. I looked at the phone: 20:22. Not even a minute had passed! I looked again just as the last number became 23, but after the first 2 there was still a big fat zero. I breathed a sigh of relief and headed for the car.

At home, I reflected again on the incident and the perhaps hasty promise I had made. Gods, when they dwell quietly in the memories and history of mankind, are safe. But whenever a god shakes off the mothballs, there is a danger that it will start a life of its own and get out of control. And nasty creatures very easily occupy people's minds. A recent (geologically speaking) example is how, a little less than 2,000 years ago, the king of the then ruling empire decided to retire his many gods who had become free with their manners and frivolous with one another, and replace them with a cruel and jealous god who would hold his subject nations united, meek and obedient.

For this he chose a marginal god of a desert tribe. He marched him out of the desert sands and raised him up as the supreme god of all subject nations. However, the god quickly got out of control and now, when only memories, documents and artifacts remain of this great empire, he continues to rule the thoughts and actions of the majority of the earth's population. He has possessed the minds of humans to varying degrees, from the occasional lighting of candles and making of devotions, to the point where some stock up on dynamite and blow up innocent people whose only transgression is that they believe in the same god but in a 'different way' and learn their faith from another book.

Or the Irish version, practiced until recently, where you don't go crazy with the infidels, but secretly plant a bomb somewhere, where people are having fun; people who believe in the same god, almost in the same way as you, learn faith from the same book as you, but the minute differences of faith justify their murder, as well as the blackening of their relatives, who take later take revenge. But in fact, even a god is not necessary to rule large masses of people. Recent history has shown it with communism, which, disguised as an ideology, is in practice a full-blooded religion, with a pseudo scientific chimera as its patron instead of a god.

Well, dealing with the gods is dangerous. On the other hand, they are a product of human thought, of the creative spirit of people, and many beautiful and interesting legends are connected with them, along with a lot of history. To destroy a god for good is like destroying a monument. The monument may also serve for worship and unhealthy rituals, but destroying it is like removing a piece of history. Good or bad, the story is what it is.

And our Selena is probably not one of the bad gods. In fact, she was once tricked into loving Endymion, who was put to sleep for all eternity by Zeus for sleeping with Hera. Out of anger, Hera put horns on Zeus while he was busy flirting with various nymphs.

Because Zeus and Hera had cheated on one another with such abandon, the supreme post was in danger of being lost for trifles. And in order to let off steam, they took their jealousy out on innocent victims…

Okay, Selena. I will keep my promise. All I can do is post this story. I don't have many readers. But the Net is wide, and there are many users, some of whom may even remember you.

Let's see briefly who it is about:

Name - Selena, Mena, Roman variant - Luna.

Occupation - Goddess of the Moon, retired. By compatibility, the same position was held in part of ancient history by Artemis and Hecate as well.

A known myth, perhaps only this one, about Endymion has remained, the others have sunk into oblivion.

Mentioned in a few lines in "Ancient Greek Legends and Myths" by Nicholas A. Kuhn, and in a few lines in "From the Earth to the Moon" by Jules Verne. If anyone can think of other myths related to the same mythological figure, I'd be happy to share them. That's all from me for now.

The story was first published on Bulgarian language in my personal blog.

Author’s Note:

I apologize if anyone felt offended by this story. Its purpose is not to insult anyone's beliefs. The discussions within it solely address different forms of fanaticism, not religions.

Short StoryFantasy

About the Creator

Bozhan Bozhkov

Hi, dear readers. I'm Bulgarian. I used to be a physicist, that's my education, but now I work as a network administrator. For many years, I have been writing a blog, and have also written several fairy tales and short stories, and a novel.

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Comments (3)

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  • Novel Allen3 months ago

    Gods are such fickle beings, that all seem to have the same problems as us mortals. Woe unto us.

  • Novel Allen7 months ago

    Very interesting, I am not familiar with some of the works quoted but at least now I can have a search and find.

  • Ahna Lewis9 months ago

    Nice work, Bozhan!

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