I am dangerous. The gods have said so, and the small tag which hangs around my neck reads "KEEP OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN", a sort of inside joke among us immortals.

Tethered to some cyclopean rock, convicted of innumerable atrocities, I am condemned to the traditional Promethean torture--with a slight, insidious modification. That's no liver that raven is nibbling at, and what's that glint in its beady eyes?...Three days, fifteen hours, and twelve minutes. The numbers have a certain aesthetic appeal, but it's getting progressively more difficult to tune out the excruciating pain with my counting games; I need something new. Well, I always wondered what the 666th digit of pi was...

...I could stand to push the rock ever closer to the summit of this mountain, a Sisyphus or a Zeno, but to lie here, bound, writhing, and immobile, inculcates in me that very sense of futility I tried all my life to escape. My punishment is fitting; my patience wears thin. I grow skittish...and by the fifth day, I am out of numbers. Wordplay wears thin; I have mentally anagrammed "Promethean punishments" into a list of several thousand possibilities and now review that list. "Humans' hippo resentment" is not particularly memorable, but "Humans tempt inner hopes" strikes a chord deep within me...

All diversions exhausted, I am finally forced to contemplate the nature of my sin. My gift will surely sustain, nurture, and advance humankind far more effectively than any of the others' silly Saturnalia toys. After all, what good is a pair of flying boots or a flying horse or a wine jug that fills itself, when you don't have what I gave them? They're a bunch of ingrates... Day ten. I have begun to speak amicably with the raven. He doesn't yet talk back (too busy *ugh* devouring me), but we're working on it. I can't explain why, but I have named him Ralph. He hasn't asked for my name but I don't remember my name anyway. Now there is just my terrible crime, my rock, and my Ralph...

Day twelve. I can never leave this place. I have determined that the organ Ralph meticulously nibbles away every day is my spleen. I have learned to wiggle my liver in an attempt to distract Ralph, but he has not been amenable. I can never leave this place. The scorching heat makes a fine antiseptic, but if I ever descended from this craggy peak where the sun always shines, I would be consumed by a million microscopic bacteria at once; even the Titans need lymph nodes...

"All right, Ralph, you win." I speak for the first time in so many weeks. After 65, I gave up counting days and started trying to remember my name, with no success. "I'll tell you everything, Ralph. The whole story. How about it?" No reply. "You bloody arrogant bird, you think you're so much better than me? Well, you're not. You have your place and I have mine, and there's nothing either of us can do about it. The only difference between you and me is that you think you like eating spleen, and I think I dislike having my spleen eaten. Don't just sit there and chew--listen to me!" And as if to make a response to my impassioned plea, Ralph wiggles his beak a little. Thus encouraged, I start my story:

"Here's how it went. Maybe you've seen a human or two in your life. They're like us Titans, but the poor things are nearly powerless. My buddy Prometheus (you probably know him by his liver) gave them fire, and I knew I'd have a hard time one-upping that. But I did what I could. I showed them the secrets of tempering metal to forge plowshares and swords, of constructing great edifices and of grand bonfires in the wintertime. And the gods cared not. But my final gift was the greatest; with it, I made those little humans like the gods. I gave one woman a small cylinder labeled:

CAUTION: CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE. FLAMMABLE AEROSOL. KEEP OUT OF THE REACH OF CHILDREN.

And she applied it. And lo, her hair was as that of Venus and Juno, and she was happy. Still this would not have aroused haughty Juno's unrelenting hate, as it was but a temporary treatment that would wash out. But then the mortal girl asked for more and (running late for dinner) I instead taught her the secret of hair spray."

After a long silence, Ralph opens his pointy mouth. "But why? Why abandon everything for..for this?" He indicates my half-ingested spleen, which gurgles a little. I shrug with a grimace. He contemplates briefly, then remarks, "That was pretty stupid." I nod, sadly. Then he sinks his pecker into my spleen again...

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.