Flash Fiction by Emily Deibler
When they went past the palace portcullis, like Orpheus, Persephone looked back.
"Somehow, I don't think a pomegranate tart will appease a giant, three-headed dog," she said, one hand clutching a basket handle, the other smoothed over her burgeoning belly.
Hecate gave an easy shrug. "A dog is a dog, no matter how many heads he has. He'll like it."
"Hm. I suppose you'd know more about that than me." The witch-goddess kept several phantom dogs that haunted the Earth at night with their tremulous howls. "But none of your dogs are several feet high with three heads."
"Have you seen all my dogs?"
"I've seen the ones you've shown me."
"Who do you think gave Hades Cerberus?"
Persephone shook her head. She supposes she didn't think about who gave her husband his canine companion. When she walked among the dead, among the foggy rivers and sharp crags, it felt as if this was how the Underworld had always been before her arrival. (Her kidnapping.) It was a lie. The land was always moving and undulating, the Asphodel Fields expanding to accommodate all the new dead. Her people. And the dogs, the ones who died and Hecate claimed. The old, the sick, the drowned. Where did Cerberus come from?
It was a long walk to where Cerberus watched over the entrance to the Underworld. Hades gave the "mutt" his begrudging affection, and Hecate insisted a gentler, more constant hand would appease the guardian of the Underworld. Persephone wasn't as certain.
She took Hecate's hand, which was cool to the touch. "What if this doesn't work?"
The witch-goddess looked straight ahead into the fog. Asphodels blandly pocketed the ground, their scents just as muted. "It will. He hasn't eaten you before, has he?"
Reassurance was never Hecate's forte. When Persephone broke their contact and lifted the cloth to look at the tarts, the red glittered like eyes. I am the daughter of Demeter. The granddaughter of Cronos and Rhea. I won't be afraid.
A native of North Georgia, Emily Deibler is a published poet and author. Her short story “Deer in December” was published in TL;DR Press’ Halloween 2018 Horror collection, NOPE. She has also published her poems “Turkey Hunting,” “Patty,” “Samantha,” and “Daughters of the Sun.” Her debut novel, Dove Keeper, came out in October 2018. She can be found on Twitter at @emilydeibler. She is a regular contributor to Marías at Sampaguitas.