Thursday, 26 May 2011


Rumblings of thunder tumble from the clouds like grumbles of doom as the doors of Heaven creak open. A crescendo of rain splatters the flags and ricochets in coronets of water. Wands of lightning scream like missiles, zinging across the carbon sky.

In the centre of a drunken town a young man raves to a gathering crowd: ‘And I, the mighty Heracles, I feel the Hydra’s poison seeping like acid into my veins. How piteous my plight! My skin corrodes; flesh melts and sinew dissolves. See the cream of my bones poking through the gore.’

Electric domes spin silently, strobing cobalt blue on rubber-stretched faces. The looming officers are dressed for war and have back-up: a tinny voice and an alien language spat through the nostrils of an automaton woman: ’Negative Yankee Bravo 3. No record of anyone matching that description. Suggest you action Section 136 and take him to nearest designated place of safety.’

‘Leave me you creatures, return to your mountain,’ the wailing man begs, dropping hard on his knees in splashes of gutter puddles. ‘Send me Poeas to torch my pyre that I might fling my dying body in the flames.’

‘What is your name?’ the chief centaur demands, his thick arms inked with ancient symbols.

‘My name?’ the man mocks, leaping to his feet. ‘My name is Heracles!’ he screams into the centaur’s face, his words flung fearlessly in gobs of spittle.

The officer’s face contorts with anger and disgust. He and his comrades grab the man’s arms and wheel him round, crashing him face first onto the pavement with a sickening thud. Wrists lashed tight, they drag him to their chariot and bundle him inside.

The throng of people begin to disperse. Some are laughing and shaking their heads, some are singing and making lewd comments. Others drift away, unconcerned. One person, a woman, weeps softly as she holds the man’s tattered jacket to her breast.

‘Yankee Bravo 3, disturbance reported on the Mount Oeta estate, please detour and attend.’

‘Roger Charlie Echo 7. On our way.’

Sirens howl down waterlogged streets, spraying eerie shifts of Doppler in their wake. Revs of adrenalin, tyre-screech turns in a macho blaze of thrust.

‘Charlie Echo 7, arrived at the Mount Oeta estate, vehicle alight behind disused garages but no sign of suspects or any other emergency vehicles. Will take a closer look, over.’

A quantum crackle of energy jumps the gap as two realities bump edges. Storms break again and the driving rains of Philoctetes’ tears skid in angled slides down the window of the centaurs’ chariot: a thousand teardrops, each holding precious the sodium glow that soars many light years to the world of the man’s ancestors who have abandoned him now.

Hissing gases, mauve-blue-green. Ash clouds, licks of palsied flame, yellow twists of yang. Splats of falling water fizzing on hot iron. Up in the realms of midnight, a judder, a monumental bang as the firmament is exposed in a blinding flash of glory. Steam. The reek and choke of miasma: burning flesh fusing with hot metal.

‘Yankee Bravo 3, requesting an update from the town centre disturbance. Are you still en route to place of safety?’

‘Negative, Charlie Echo 7. Young man clearly thought-disordered and hallucinating. Aborted section 136, chose parallel section of immolation. It’s what he would have wanted. We have served Zeus.’


  1. Wow! seriously cool! love the ancient mythology interweaved & characterisation, fast forwarded to a futuristic, perhaps alien world..especially love your poetic prose, too many examples to quote! as it wraps around the more stripped down dialogue, great style contrast..what a terrific imagination! bring on the dragons!!

  2. Wow, beautiful piece of writing! 'two realities bump edges' 'yellow twists of yang' ~ just lovely. And Heracles? ~ the paragon of masculinity, the son of Zeus, ruler of air & sky ~ 'a woman, weeps softly as she holds the man’s tattered jacket to her breast.' Hm! Loved it Peter.. :)

  3. Thank you so much for your lovely comments Kerryann. I enjoyed weaving the different realities together. As for the dragons, they are well on their way ... skimming our rooftops & roaring with excitement each time @marousia & I write another chapter ;)

  4. Hi Louise ~ sincere thanks for your lovely comments. I do love Greek mythology & Heracles is one of my favourite characters. Sometimes I imagine the 'reality' of the myths & desperately want them to be true. There is, of course, a darker side to my piece that addresses the stigma attached to people who are seen as different owing to their emotional & spiritual experiences. Sadly, such people - although not overtly sacrificed - are often pushed to the edges of society as though they do not exist.

  5. Peter, the writing in this is just beautiful. So many incredible images. You have such a unique style. There is truly no one who writes like you do. You use language in such a powerful and vivid way. I don't quite know what's going on in this piece, if I'm witnessing the descent of a madman, or if I'm really watching two worlds collide. I believe that's your intention though. I think there are many layers being expressed here, and that made it particularly effective and intriguing. Would love to know more about what you were exploring.

  6. Thanks Heidi ~ I really appreciate your lovely, positive comments. The driving force behind this piece is my concern for people whose life experiences are devalued & often negated by dint of their psychiatric labels & diagnoses. Their realities are belittled & labelled as delusions/hallucinations, which renders their experiences as meaning-less. So, I wanted to fight back on their behalf & 'allow' the man in my story to have his reality, to be Heracles. Unfortunately, There is also a sinister presence within our society that seeks to disempower & control anyone who is regarded as 'different'. And, though the man/Heracles did find his way back to his own mythological reality, the oligarchical collective (from the parallel universe ... or was it?) ~ tragically ~ had the final say.

  7. Using myth to explore those issues is just a brilliant idea. It lends itself to such profound and indeed tragic symbolism. I just marvel at the way your mind works my friend. Really, it's a wonder you have any room left in there to recall how to make a cup of tea. ;) Thanks so much for elaborating on your intentions. I suppose it's a bit like asking an artist what their painting "means" but I was curious to know nevertheless.

  8. Move over Edith Hamilton. Enter Peter Wilkins. Your use of mythology juxtaposed with modern society to illustrate your point is a brilliant coup,Peter. And your marginalization of ppl. who are different and labeled so, poignantly incredible, powerful language. I particularly reacted to the woman holding the article of Hercales' clothing to her breast. What a wonderful imagination and use of the English language. I am awed! The imagry will remain with me for a long time. Thank you!

  9. Hello Madame P ~ I never have a problem elaborating if someone asks. I'm really grateful that you've returned (albeit beneath the cloak of the mysterious & enchanting Madame P) & taken such an interest, Heidi. And thanks again for all your lovely comments. Yes, myth can be such a powerful medium when it's used to highlight the tragedies & injustice within the interworld of psychiatry.

  10. Hi Jacquie ~ thank you for your fantastic comments & for introducing me to Edith Hamilton. I confess I had to google her *shame* but wow! She certainly is an expert on 'The Greek Way' & an incredible author to boot. I thought the death of Heracles would juxtapose (lovely word) well with the plight of my tormented man. I wanted the image of the woman cradling his jacket to represent several things: there is almost always a mother/family involved in such situations who suffers just as much in a different way. They, too, are often ostracised & not provided with the help that they deserve. And I had a vision of Heracles' grieving wife, Deianira, holding his tunic after he had died. She, allegedly, committed suicide &, as Heracles' tunic was still full of the Hydra's poison, clutching it to her breast would have constituted her own self-sacrifice. So fascinating, isn't it, how we can tie Greek mythology into 21st century tales to dramatize & provide additional undercurrents?

  11. Peter, an additional comment I forgot to say. I appreciated a lightness of touch in this piece. Your handling of deeper meanings, was beautifully weaved through the narrative top notes of this story. The societal perspective on an individual 'errant' psyche, evidently informed the whole work, but this was executed with style, and not allowed to overwhelm the fictional integrity of the writing or the enjoyment of a 'story'.

  12. Hi again Kerryann ~ thanks for coming back & sharing more of your thoughts. I think you've highlighted an excellent point: first & foremost this is a piece of fiction &, whilst it does address some pretty crucial issues, I felt it was important that the story rules throughout. I have highlighted some pretty contentious issues but focusing on them further would have turned this short story into a political campaign & that's not what I wanted to do. So, your additional comments are extremely welcome & reassuring. Thank you sincerely.

  13. Thought I'd better come back after your comment that I didn't seem to understand the concept of people being marginalised & 'sidelined' because they are mentally/spiritually misunderstood. I guess if I didn't get it then I do now ~ so thank you for that. Live long and prosper...