Harvi’s mood was upbeat. The next task was to fetch a doggie from Hades. Doggie had a weird name though, Cerberus or something like that. Why such a complicated name for a mere dog! Why not something simple like Jimmy, Tiger or Julie, he wondered. Eros apparently did not share the same excitement about the visit to Hades.
“Hades is not exactly a holiday location. It is the land of the dead. And I am not sure if a fierce guard dog with three heads is exactly your idea of a poodle. “
Harvi’s face turned pale. Every time there had to be some fine print. Why couldn’t he have got at least one easy quest for a change. Even MBA had some easy courses. But he had no options. He resigned himself to his fate as he headed towards Hades.
He checked out on the internet and found to his surprise that Hades had its own dedicated portal with all information. There was a ferry service on which advanced bookings could be made online. One could also book accommodation and meals online. However Eros warned against availing of this option as people who availed of this never returned back to the world of the living.
They reached the pickup point. Harvi was very impressed with the professionalism of the boatman Charon. Apparently in the earlier days, he used to charge a gold coin for the trip. But he was willing to accept payment from Harvi through his mobile wallet. There were no bookings for return journeys. But Charon told them that that was a complimentary service for whoever managed to return.
They were soon in front of the dog at the entrance. It did look pretty scary. And its bark was so ferocious that even if its bark were worse than its bite, the bite would not be something Harvi wanted to risk. And Eros had informed him that he would have to get permission from the lord of the underworld to borrow his dog. For that they had to get past the dog and enter Hades. They would be grabbing the dog only on the way back.
Once again, one of his mobile phones was to play the savior. He downloaded an application called 'Tom Cat', activated it and threw the mobile phone some distance from the dog. Every time Cerberus barked, Tom Cat barked back louder and in a funny mocking manner. This made Cerberus mad and he barked even louder. Tom Cat responded in kind. Soon Cerberus was fully engaged in a barking match with Tom Cat. They quickly used the opportunity to sneak in before the charge on the cell phone ran out.
Even the fact that Hades had a website and he could book a passage online had not prepared Harvi for the level of modernization he would find here. Eros was even more amazed. Hades had changed completely from the time he had been here last. Everyone carried sleek mobile phones and were constantly glancing into them or keying something. Entire Hades was Wi-Fi enabled. All the records of the people entering the world were completely digitalized. A software with a complex optimization algorithm decided on assignment of the new entrants to one of the three regions: Plains of Asphodel, Elysian Fields or the Pit of Tartarus.
They spoke to one of the customer service representatives and were told that all these changes had happened in the last few months ever since a person called Steve Jobs had entered this world. He had completely changed the face of the underworld with his constant innovation. He was now the prime minister and IT adviser of the Lord of the underworld. They asked her about meeting the Lord of the underworld. She quickly keyed into her tablet to check up and fixed an appointment for the next morning. Meantime she offered to arrange a tour of the underworld for them to pass time.
Elysian Fields was like a holiday resort with beaches, massage parlors, high end restaurants, sporting complexes, virtual reality cinema theaters and all kind of fun things you could dream of. This place was for all the heroes. After these quests Harvi hoped he would count as a hero. This was just the kind of place he had always dreamed of.
Plains of Asphodel were for most ordinary folks who just got on with their life and did nothing of significance in their life time. It had huge glass building running to many floors. The place was full of cubicles. Hordes of people were sitting with their noses down their systems tapping away to glory. Most of the people here had forgotten their past and mechanically carried out their tasks. Apparently the entire underworld IT infrastructure was maintained here.
Tartarus was the place reserved for the worst sinners of the likes of Osama, Saddam and Gaddafi. Various kinds of punishment had been devised for the different sinners. There was a king Sisyphus who was supposed to write a blog post using his QWERTY keyboard phone confessing all his sins to seek redemption. Every time he completed it, the operating system would crash and he had to start all over again. Then there was this fellow called Tantalus who was waiting for mail. Every minute the new mail icon would pop up. When he checked it eagerly, it would turn out to be a spam mail from a dating website or a selling Viagra. He had been waiting since eternity for the mail that never came. Then there were the sisters Danaids who were to read blog posts and post comments on 1000 blogs to be redeemed of their sins. But after they wrote their comment, an almost impossible to decipher word verification (captcha) would come up and their comment would be rejected. Then they would go on to read another blog and this would again be repeated.
As Eros had warned him against eating anything, Harvi had to go to bed hungry. Again he had to refuse refreshments during the audience with the Lord of the Underworld. The Lord turned out to be very amiable. They could have Cerberus for a few days as long as they did not use any force on him or hurt him in any manner. In return he needed a favor. His marriage was experiencing a seven millennium itch and he wanted Eros to help out in reviving the romance in his marriage. Eros was only too glad to oblige.
There still remained the final hurdle of convincing Cerberus himself to come along. They both leaving the place without being ripped apart by Cerberus , itself was going to be a challenge. By now the Tom Cat mobile would have run out of charge. But Harvi had a plan. From a distance he showed Cerberus a few Vodafone commercials and then made him an offer he could not refuse. If he came with them, Harvi could get the pug fired and have Cerberus in its place. The moment the advertising deal was mentioned, Cerberus lost all his ferocity and came running over to them fawning like a common cur.
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First Part of the Story : The Singer on the Roof
Picture credit : Cerberus Picture