Darnell approached the Table of Judgment
behind which sat the Three Kings,
Minos, Rhadamanthys and Aiakos
who were sober and somber and severe men,
famed even in life for their wisdom and equanimity. (Mostly.)
The Zeus Below had put them in charge
of weighing the souls and assigning the lots
of all those who entered his Kingdom,
and they were very diligent in executing their duties,
especially when it came to doling out punishment.
Beside them stood a Black woman
blacker than the Midnight Sun,
with hair the color of a corpse-eating
blue bottle fly, a silver sword sharp like desire
and shaped like the Moon’s crescent,
a perfectly balanced scale
made of a man’s ribcage and tendons,
a gown of fingernails,
a blindfold soaked in blood,
and at her feet lay a giant, snarling aardvark.
“Mr. Anderson, would you please seat yourself
on the Table of Judgment so that we may begin?”
Aiakos’ voice was cold, clinical
and strangely comforting to Darnell.
“Lay back, if you would.”
Darnell did as he was bid,
the table hard and chill
despite the room’s balmy temperature,
and waited for the next instruction,
but none came.
Instead the monstrous woman stepped forward,
placed an even colder hand upon his throat
to ensure he did not move,
and then sunk her sword deep into his chest.
With ferocious force she then dragged the blade down to his crotch,
easily parting muscle and bone until he was splayed open
like a half-dressed deer.
She then reached into his cavity,
pushed aside fat and organs
until she clasped his heart in her fist and drew it out.
“Please be done with that screaming, Mr. Anderson.”
The iron beneath his velvet voice made it clear
that Minos was not asking. “It will not
accomplish anything, and you are already dead,
so while this may hurt tremendously it will not kill you.”
The heart landed in the bone basket with a squelching sound
and Darnell could not help himself, and burst out laughing.
“Do you find this scenario humorous, Mr. Anderson?”
There was no amusement in Rhadamanthys’ voice.
Darnell recovered from another screaming bout,
then chuckled and said, “Yeah, a little bit.”
The woman was digging around,
blindly searching for his liver,
the seat of thumos,
so that it too could be weighed.
“I mean, I spent my whole life being judged by old White guys,
why should things be any different here?”
She found it, yanked it free,
and Darnell screamed some more.
Once he re-caught his breath, he said,
“I didn’t give a shit then,
and I’m not going to start now.”
Aiakos steepled his fingers and said, “We can be very creative.”
Darnell spat blood at him. “Do your worst, bitches.
Do you know who I am, really?
Not this ‘Mr. Anderson’ guy you keep calling me.
I got blood of the Titans in my veins,
I’m a child of Earth and motherfucking Starry Heaven.
There is no suffering alien to me,
and no joy.
I devoured them all, for I am a mailed Bakchos
of the midnight-hunting Zagreus who roars!
I have felt the thunderstrike that frees;
I have stepped from the crown and fallen into milk;
I have danced among the fire-breathing stars;
I have risen with the flowers and trees;
I have drunk the blessed wine of madness.
My name? I am Asterion, the Starry One;
and don’t you forget it.”
The Hall of Judgment
and everything in it disappeared then
and Darrell was alone
with only Dionysos in the darkness,
and his God smiled, and said,
“I was hoping you would say that.”