Status: complete

All the Madness in the World

Into Dust

"When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche


Thundering in my chest like an incessant drum, my heart worked overtime to keep my body from shutting down. It was such a disarming feeling—fear. It got the best of you in so many ways, in the ways you needed to be normal most at a time of need. I should have been calm, collected, objective, prepared; but instead I was panicking, taking shallow breaths and trying desperately to overcome the tremors shaking the standard issue firearm in my hand.

He was a few steps away. Somewhere in this abandoned house that he’d no doubt fashioned into his altar, his lair, his place of worship. It didn’t feel real, not in the slightest. What seemed more likely was that I was just dreaming all of this; it was just some deplorable attempt on my conscious’ part trying to cope with everything that was happening in the waking world. The sun wasn’t this hot. My finger wasn’t almost pushing the trigger. My phone wasn’t really ringing.

My phone.

Tearing myself from the sorry state I was in, I dropped my gun-wielding hand to my side and checked the caller ID—it was Spencer. Irritation rose into me as I flipped it open, bringing the phone to my ear and not waiting to chew him out.

“Spencer what the hell? I called you like forty times, we’ve got him. We’re at 294 Hulley street, get here as fast as you can.”

“Tasha I—I can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t? Spence—”

“He said to look in the window. I-I’m sorry.”

I was confused for a moment, preparing to ask who on earth ‘he’ was, but I made the connection soon enough. My head snapped in the direction of the front window, the phone lowering away from my ear as I saw what was intended. The curtain parted a fraction and I saw the unmistakably lanky sliver of Spencer.

“We’ve got movement!”

“No!” I cried, moving to the edge of the police car marking our boundaries. An arm held me back as the line went dead. The front door opened as I screamed for them not to shoot. Spencer walked out slowly, hands held up in innocence, and right behind him was my nightmare with a knife against Spencer’s throat. The person haunting that dark and buried chapter of my life. I griped the hood of the car as my hands shook. He looked at me, and only me.

“You have one chance and one chance only, Athena, to save the mortal. When this door closes you have forty-five seconds to surrender. If you bring another, the mortal dies. If you do not obey, the mortal dies. If any of your servants attempt to rescue you, they will know the…explosive power…of a true god. Leave your shield and spear behind. This is your end.”

“Tasha don’t—”

Miller slammed Spencer’s head against the doorway, but before anyone could get a good shot they were both gone and the door slammed shut.

Forty-four seconds.

Without hesitation I moved forward, pulling off my shield-like bullet proof vest, but Morgan and Hotchner formed a blockade in front of me. They held up their hands, as if I was the one who was dangerous. As if I was the one holding an innocent kid stuck in an adult’s body hostage. As if I was the one about to take everything from them.

“Whoa, whoa, Natasha you can’t go in there.” My eyes were glued on the door and my breathing began to elevate.

“I won’t let him die.”

“We won’t let that happen but he will kill you if you go in there. We need to think about this.”

Thirty seconds.

“Spencer is all I have.” I couldn’t control the shakiness in my voice. “I’m not taking any chances.”

With a running start I pushed past them both, taking frantic steps closer to the gate. Twenty-three seconds. I stumbled as Hotch stopped in front of me, catching me completely off guard. I began to panic, looking from him to the door and back again.

“Listen to me. If we just—”

“Get out of the way!” I screamed, moving towards him.

“If you go in there you forfeit your job, agent.”

Fifteen seconds.

I froze at the words, searching his face and finding a frightening amount of sincerity. How he could not understand, how he could care so little for one of his own was beyond me. I had one choice left if I wanted to make it on time to my own deathbed. Wiping my face of all emotion, I aimed my gun in between his eyes, cocking it and placing my finger on the trigger. Despite my best efforts tears still wiggled their way out of my eyes, crashing onto the broken cement below as I forced out one word.


He tried again to bargain with me, but before he could get more than a few words out I aimed off to the side and fired before returning the gun to its target. Begrudgingly, he took a step to the left and cleared my way. Without hesitation, and ten seconds on the clock, I ran the last few steps and flung open the door. There was some part of me, deep down, that wished there had been more time, perhaps for a more dignified walk. A few more seconds of life. More meaningful last words—a more meaningful last conversation with him. But Spencer’s whimpering from the next room pulled me from my selfishness.


“Right on time.”

Turning a corner, I froze. Miller was holding a fistful of Spencer’s hair ; Spencer, kneeling on the ground holding a hand against the bloodied and bleeding spot on his head as Miller held a gun to him. There was a gentle drip drip as the crimson droplets landed on the poorly maintained wooden floorboards. He looked up at me with a terrified expression, a pleading expression. I knew better than to think he was begging me to save him; no, he wanted the opposite. He expected me to walk out and save myself, leaving him here to die.

“I’m here now, let him go.”

“Shh, shh, shh, not just yet. He must bear witness.”

“You said if I surrendered he would leave.”

“First, dear Athena, if you would be so kind as to dispose of your spear and shield as I asked so we may speak freely.”

I had completely forgotten about the firearm in my possession, the entirety of my attention having been thrown into searching Spencer for any other signs of harm. Hesitating, I eventually threw down the gun and kicked it away, sighing in relief as he let go of Spencer. He kept the gun pointed at him until I worked at the straps of the only thing separating my fragile human body from the torture he had planned. Hotch’s orders to keep the vest on under any circumstance echoed in my head as the vest slumped to the ground and Ares lowered the gun.

“Son of Adam, are you a deaf man?”


“Are you a blind man?”

“Let him go!”

“Silence, you harpie!” Miller hissed, causing Spencer to jump. Miller turned his attention back to the trembling boy, pushing the gun against his skull. “Answer me, mortal!”

“No! I’m not blind!”

“Then you shall hence forth bear witness. Athena, do you admit defeat and surrender your throne as goddess of War and Battle?”


“Now was that so difficult? Boy, you will spread this new truth to all ears which listen. And take care not to slander, for I shall sit in the golden thrones among Zeus, and I see and hear all. Go.”

Spencer scrambled to his feet, not waiting for permission to start mumbling demands that I go with him or leave him there. I offered a weak smile, standing my ground as he begged me, each time with renewed desperation. The tears were flowing as I laid my hand on his cheek. A bullet flew by his head and smashed into a lamp as Miller screamed for him to get out.

“I p-promise I’ll come back.” He said shaking as Miller came up and pushed him out of the door, barely avoiding the shots that came at him in his few moments of vulnerability. When the door slammed shut for the final time, enclosing us in an abysmal silence, he wasted no time in beginning the process. I tried to will my body to move, to fight, but the fear kept me rooted to the ground. I said a silent prayer that got lost as something heavy collided with the back of my head. Falling forward onto my hands and knees, he grabbed hold of me and began to drag me over to an open doorway, all of my thrashing useless.

There were endless stairs descending from the threshold. Even if it was lit I knew it wasn’t the kind of place I wanted to die, not in some dark cellar at the hands of the one I’d escaped before. He pulled me to my feet, forcing me to stumble down the stairs as he closed about 9 deadbolts behind him.

A light came on and illuminated something dreadfully familiar: the slab. The all-too predictable recycled gurney that he insisted on using as a base for his rituals. It stood in the middle of a huge unfinished basement. The room, running the length and width of the house, had no separating walls and the sole swinging bulb feebly attempting to shed light into the dark corners. It was cold, frightfully cold, and it smelled damp. In the nearest corner stood a lumpy bundle of tape and wires and brick-like bags of some unknown substance.

The explosive wrath of Ares in the form of 20 homemade bombs.

“If you would be so kind.” He said gently from behind me. I had half the mind to defy him, to turn right now and attack and hit and kick him, but to what end? I had no weapon, there were none in sight, he had a gun and likely a knife; even if I somehow managed to get the advantage for a few moments, there was a flight of stairs and a set of unfamiliar locks that also held me hostage.

I wasn’t aware of how badly I was shaking until I tried to get onto the gurney. The wheels slid back and forth as my weight shifted on it, and I wept as I lay on my back. Miller leaned over me, strapping me down onto the cold metal surface and pinning my arms to my sides. For about a minute after that he disappeared from my line of sight, the only evidence of his existence the rustling noises he was making off in the shadows.

Without warning a bright light engulfed the far corner. It took me a moment to realize it wasn’t light but fire, and he was standing over it with something. As I sobbed uncontrollably, he growled for me to be quiet before returning. I had no idea if the team was making a plan, but I didn’t want to die. Not here, not now, not when I’d left so much unsaid. But there were no footsteps upstairs, there was no sound of Morgan kicking the door down or officers saying they’d cleared the rooms or anyone calling my name.

I was alone down here.

“Oh, dear Athena. Not Zeus’ favourite anymore, are you?”

He turned my head to the right, pushing away my hair and tracing the scar left by him ages ago. By the time I realized what he was holding it was too late—not that there was anything I could do anyways. Metal was pressed over the scar, numbing at first, but the pain of the heat soon burned through the shock and I let out a scream. It was so loud, there was so much pain, for a moment I’d believed there was some other girl yelling; but there was no audience, no innocent bystanders, just this ancient demon and his final victim. I tried to move my neck but he held me in place, pushing harder and laughing, inhaling the scent of burning skin with wild hunger.

Finally letting up, I whimpered into the mercilessly cold metal surface, wanting to reach up and touch my neck but wholly restrained from the action. He came around to my other side, grabbing my face and forcing me to look at him. With sadistic pleasure he bathed in my pain, harvesting a tear from my cheek and licking it from his finger. The cattle brander dropped to the ground with a loud clang as the fire crackled on. He lowered his face close to mine and pulled my eyelids open when I refused to look at him.

“Your time has ended. I’ve learned your tricks with your magic blood, but your vessel cannot sustain you if it is broken. The way to Olympus is sealed. Die, now, my dearest Athena. And know it was at the hands of Ares that your power was conquered. Die.”

Raising his hand high above me, the blade in his hand glimmered in the light. It was beautiful, in a way. Like a last flicker of sunlight in which to bask; the memories of countless summer days and their nights rolling back to me, taking me out on the receding tide to a place where I could find some foreign comfort. The room began to melt away and I thought of familiar faces. Happier days. Simpler times.

With one simple action, though, it crumbled away; the sandcastle I retreated into being demolished by the furious incoming tide. And again, and again, and again. I lost track of how many times he stabbed me, it was such a vicious form of the gesture; each blow he would twist the knife around inside me and then pull out, as if doing anything less than scrambling my innards was unacceptable. My head fell to the side, eyes rolling to the ground as I drifted from my body, pushed to the breaking point, completely disconnected from the frenzy my vocal chords were in, screaming, screaming, screaming.

So much pain. It shot through me, blazing along my nerves like a forest fire. A bear trap in my organs. Pepper spray in my blood. I tried to fathom how anyone could feel such a magnitude for so long, and although I prayed for help and called out the names of my would-be saviours, they were nowhere to be found. They had 9 deadbolts and a bomb threat to worry about. But Spencer was safe. My Spencer, the only family I had left. The sound of Ares’ laughter was drowned out by one thing or another—either my screaming, the ringing in my ears, or the reality of my senses slipping away from me.

Some part of me—that grew with each weak heart beat—began to wonder if maybe all of this was real. Maybe Miller was the alter ego, and Ares the true personality. Whether or not Athena was real and in me was irrelevant: Ares had the strength and luck and persistence of a God. He even looked the part. His perfectly constructed plan, executed flawlessly and leaving me a mangled bloody dying mess. How else could have done all of this for so long? How else could he harbour such obtuse hatred for girls he’d never known? Ares, God of war; rising to the throne once more. Athena will fall when the sun is most high; she will not return to her home in the sky. I will not return to my home in the sky. I will never have the chance to say goodbye. Athena is over, it is time now to die.

I prayed for Death.

And then, his face. This face that haunted my days and nights and the spaces in between. The demon hiding behind the walls and beneath my skin. This human mind fractured by the world it was raised in, beaten and bruised until up was down. The God? The supernatural being? The man. The masterpiece. The Winner. The Olympian. A smile was still upon his face, in his own little world where in was out. He was looking right at me, but not really looking; a small hole between those dead eyes and a steady stream of blood coming from it.

There was fire, now, fire everywhere inching closer and closer to the two of us. Five of us? It forced sweat onto my brow and smoke into my lungs as I struggled to take choppy breaths. A warm something was pooling around my hands, a sticky liquid that I smeared between my shaking fingers. And then, salvation. The heavy restraints were gone and I felt coldness. I was flying or sinking or dying some more, but one way or another it was ending. I was ending, melting into this cool wisp of some kind of nothingness. A pleasant surprise, a kind reunion, a dear old friend, a brand new face.

In all his glory: Death.
♠ ♠ ♠
Finally, the big chapter!
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