The Lonely Gods

Matthew Donnellon

Photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash

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He looked out over the cliff from their mountain home at the edge of existence.

He had looked many times before.

And each time he didn’t see what he was looking for.

His ancient eyes snaked their way among the trees in the forest and the waves in the ocean.

He could see every living thing if he looked hard enough and yet his vision failed him.

“Anything?” she asked.

“I think my eyes are too old.”

“Nothing again?”

“No.”

They retreated to the small mountain dwelling they’d called home for the last thousand years.

The mountain wasn’t on any map and it did not show up on modern satellites. It was cloaked in an ancient magic from before time began.

No mortal could find it.

Couldn’t even see the mountain really.

It just looked like mist to them and should they walk into it they’d wonder around before losing interest and returning home.

Every once and a while, planes had to be diverted, but it was a simple thing to them.

He would simply reach out with his thoughts and the pilot would change his course. Or she would conjure a storm that would make the bravest pilot change his route.

And so they lived undisturbed.

And the isolation was getting to them.

They ate a simple dinner in the little cabin.

“I think my eyes are failing,” he said.

“That’s impossible.”

“It has to be. They all can’t be gone.”

“When was the last time you saw a sign?”

“A century maybe more.”

“They could be well hidden. The world is different now.”

“They’ve never been able to hide before.”

“Well you are getting old,” she said smiling.

“We’re the same age,” the ancient being said.

“That’s what makes it so funny.”

“I think I…we have to do something.”

“What do you want to do?”

“I want to look for them.”

“What? We haven’t left here in a thousand years.”

“I know. I need to return. I need to see the world not from this lookout. I have walk on dirt again and feel the rain on my skin. It’s been too long.”

“When do we leave?”

“Morning.”

And so at dawn they ventured down from the mountain for the first time in over a millenium.

They journeyed all over.

They canoed mighty rivers. They swam the oceans. They spent time in the snow at the north pole and yet they remained alone.

“This…this cannot be,” he said.

“We’ll find them.”

“We can’t be the only gods left.”

“We will find them.”

The walked into the depths of great forest. They saw animals and heard the birds sing.

But they did not find what they sought.

“When was the last time you saw her?”

“Tara? She was retreating deeper into the wilderness to get away from loggers.”

“We should have helped her.”

“We took an oath. We can no longer interfere. They wanted it that way.”

“Perhaps they were wrong.”

“Maybe so. But to dishonor their wishes would have been worse.”

“I’m not sure they would agree right now if they really are gone.”

“Fair enough.”

They walked among people in cities that some of their kind took shelter among humans.

It was fruitless. It felt strange to be walking among creatures that couldn’t even conceive how old they were.

Couldn’t even conceive what they were really.

Sure the ancient ones knew of them, before they retreated to the mountain.

They went by many names, Zeus and Hera, Jupiter and Juno. Recently they’d been combined to a single entity, much to her dismay.

“I’m not sure why you get all the credit now,” she would say.

“Well now, I shoulder all the blame as well.”

They searched and searched.

And searched.

They laid down in the meadow under the cover of stars and bright full moon.

The moon was no longer a friend, no longer alive, just a rock floating in space.

They held each other and made love in the moonlight.

They roamed from place to place.

It was hard to stay silent. They heard people spouting all kinds of things. They saw people suing they name to commit horrors.

Twice he went to put an end to them but she stayed his hand. She reminded him of their oath.

“But what if the other gods are really gone? It’s their fault. These creatures are doing their best to destroy the world we gave them. I mean to flood them all again.”

“It’s not everyone dear. And we agreed to let them make their mistakes. The more we interfere the worse it gets.”

He huffed, “I suppose you’re right.”

“Besides,” she said as dog sniffed her hand, “we’d wash away little guys like this.” She petted the dog’s head.

He reached down and scratched the dogs ears and it brought a smile to his face.

“Look at me little one,” he said his voice was calm but still sounded like thunder.

“Are you alone?”

The dog didn’t answer but he felt its pain and wanting.

“Go,” he said, “by my words you will never be hungry or lonely again.” And the dog ran off where the first man who saw him took him home to his family. They would spoil him rotten and he’d live a happy life.

When he stood up, she was looking at him.

“What? I didn’t agree to staying out of dogs’ lives.” And they started their journey home still walking among people.

She wondered what all these people would think if they knew how close to destruction they were and the only thing that stopped it was a stray puppy.

They walked back up the mountain.

He returned to the cliff peering out again hoping he’d see something different.

And nothing changed.

They were still alone.

“Dear?” he heard her call.

“What is it?”

“Come here.”

“What?’

She placed his hand on her stomach and after he felt it he smiled. A smile common among people but rare among gods.

He smiled knowing that they weren’t the last of their kind.

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI
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