After her trip to the Underworld, Sally Wilkerson has a hard time convincing her friend of her experience until an opportunity presents itself to her as Hades and Persephone invite her to game night.
Best to read #TwinCities as this story picks up after its events.
Sally gazed at her unlit, fictional consultations on her black bedroom ceiling. She built the night sky herself using a combination of LED fairy lights and glow-in-the-dark plastic star stickers, while her walls consisted of trees and lakes of the Michigan landscape painted by her father. Her dad couldn’t stand plain white walls (with exceptions for inside cabinets and closets). Still, he respectfully left Sally’s bedroom white until her seventh birthday, when she was allowed to pick the design. Initially, the landscape was during the day, but when Sally turned 13, she wanted to make her night sky, so her father revamped his artwork to match.
Sally’s eyes drifted from the lion to the woman holding scales before she decided to roll to her side, facing her glossy black nightstand. “Why doesn’t he believe me?”
When Sally returned from her visit to the Underworld yesterday, Mark had already closed up the ice cream shop. So she rushed home and told her parents about her experience. They believed her before showing them the selfie with Hades. However, when she saw Mark at work today, he thought she was pranking him. She spent the first few hours of her shift trying to convince him to no avail. Then he spent the last few hours teasing her.
“How did your tea party with the Tooth Fairy go?” Mark had mocked. “Did you ask Santa if you made the nice list?”
Sally forced herself to sit up on her bed. She tapped on her phone, waking up the device to reveal the time was only 7:40 pm. She looked over her collection of a dozen board and card games scattered about on her bookshelf. The unincorporated town of Hell didn’t offer much for teens to do, so her typical Friday night involved getting together with friends to play games. However, after her spat with Mark, not even her competitive nature was in the mood. With her spirits low, she decided to seek her mother’s counsel.
“Mom should be done for the day,” she said as she stood up.
Sally went downstairs to the tarot room. They lived in the upper half of the house while her parents’ business, Charon’s Landing, took the bottom. She received an invite before Sally could peek inside to see if her mom was with a customer. “Come in, honey.”
Sally viewed her mom’s tarot reading room as the coziest room she’d ever visited. There was no square inch of a hard wall to see as fabrics shaped the room into a hexagon. Chill, LoFi beats placed those who entered at ease. If only I were allowed to take naps here, Sally thought. Though, she would curl up on the couch in the room if she had painful cramps or wasn’t feeling well. She took a seat on the plush purple pillow on the floor.
Sally’s mother, Diana, was still in her purple work robe as she shuffled her deck of tarot cards. “What’s on your mind?”
Despite her mother always being able to sense when something was off with her daughter, Diana’s comforting tone still caught her off guard. She decided to ask. “Mom, you believe me about meeting Hades, right?”
Diana pushed aside her long, curly red hair behind. “Of course, honey. I’ve always taught you there was more to this world than what we see.”
“But Mark doesn’t.” Sally slumped her shoulders, slouching more into the floor cushion. “He thinks I faked that photo with Hades.”
Diana started placing cards on the oak table. “Well, your father was quite inspired by it and has been painting up a storm. He even sold one of his paintings of Hades.”
“Yeah, he told me when I got home.”
With the cards laid out, Diana set the deck aside. “Perhaps the cards will offer some advice.”
In the Great Library of the Underworld, Hades pursued the alphabetically-organized card and board games collection. As his finger touched a game, he envisioned what group that game would be ideal for in tonight’s game night session. He had fashioned himself in his purple suit with red pinstripes for the evening.
“Mictlantecuhtli, Hel, and Osiris declined,” Persephone said as she wrapped her arms around her husband’s waist and rested her head on his shoulders.
Hades brought up her hand to his lips and kissed them. “Thank you for checking. Is anyone able to join us?”
Persephone collapsed deeper into her hug and sighed. “No one can play with us tonight.”
Hades stopped browsing the games. “Perhaps we should expand our horizons.”
Persephone released her hold, spinning around in her green dress. “Oh! Oh! How about that mortal girl from the other day? Sally Wilkerson! She seemed delightful.”
“I don’t know…A mortal?”
“You know that painting of you that I brought you today.”
“What about it?”
“I got that from the girl’s father.”
Hades raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
“Yes,” Persephone said with a big grin. “Plus, you know the dogs did like her.”
Hades flicked his wrist. “Very well.”
Persephone burst into a happy squeal and teleported away in a tornado of flowers. Their three-headed dog, Cerberus, walked up to Hades and nuzzled his head against him. The dog had taken the appearance of a black, 12-foot tall three-headed Scottish Terrier.
Hades playfully pushed his face away from the dog’s fur. “When was the last time I had someone give you a bath?”
Sally was back in her bedroom, working on her own card game at her desk, when Persephone erupted into the room with a shower of flowers. Sally watched in awe as the bewitching redheaded Goddess of the Underworld emerged from flowers that faded away, leaving no trace.
“Hi, Sally!” Persephone greeted with an enthusiastic wave. “I’m Persephone. Hades and I would like to invite you to our game night session.”
Sally bolted up from her computer chair. “Heck, yeah!”
Persephone held out her hand for Sally to take. Sally shoved her game in her pink cropped hoodie before taking the goddess’ hand.
Persephone returned to the Underworld with Sally in a similar flowery teleportation style and proclaimed, “She said ‘Heck, yeah!’”
Sally took a moment to take in the green gothic architect of the Great Library. The room was similar to the one on her previous visit, but when she spotted Cerberus, she lost interest in the library.
“That must be Cerberus,” Sally said, jaw-dropping. “Does he like to be petted?”
“He loves the petting,” Persephone answered, gently pushing Sally toward the three-headed dog.
Sally rushed over and began scratching the dog under his center chin. Cerberus let his tail wag and tongue roll out. “So, Mr. Hades. Persephone said you need an extra player for game night. What do you have in mind?”
Hades pulled out a seat from the stone table. Sally gave Cerberus one last pet and took the chair. From inside his pinstripe suit, Hades spread out a set of cards in a fan pattern on the table.
“How about you pick out a game at random?” Hades suggested.
Sally looked over the cards and then at the expansive collection of games on the shelves. “You know, I have a game I’m working on myself. I’d be happy to teach you, and you can give me feedback.”
“A new game!” Persephone exclaimed. “Yes!”
Hades chuckled and snapped his fingers, making his cards disappear in a puff of flames. “How do we play?”
Sally pulled out a stack of index cards from her hoodie’s pocket. “The game is called The Inventors Inventions or Invention Heist. I’m still workshopping the name. Anyway, one person plays as the inventor, hiding these cards around a room while the other players, the thieves, wait outside. The thieves have 60 seconds to find as many cards or inventions as possible before time runs out. The inventor acts as the home base, and the thieves must be touching the inventor before time runs out, or they lose all of the cards they’re holding from that round. Some inventions do special attacks, like freeze a player for 10 seconds, but using them degrades the value. You play for three rounds, and the person who has gathered the most valuable inventions wins. That’s it.”
“Sounds fun!” Persephone said. “I want to be the first inventor.”
Sally handed her the deck. “Then Hades and I will be thieves.”
Persephone skimmed through the deck. “Sally, do you mind if I add a bit of upgrade to these cards?”
“Be my guest.”
Persephone shuffled the deck. As the cards shuffled, the homemade, handwritten cards transformed into a professionally crafted deck. “Done! Now, I will hide them.”
Persephone snapped her fingers, ensnaring Hades and Sally together in a dome of green vines.
“So, Sally. How about we make this interesting?” Hades asked with a smirk.
Sally crossed her arms. “What do you have in mind?”
“If I win,” Hades lowered himself to stare directly at Sally, “you have to…give Cerberus a bath.”
“Okay,” Sally said with a sly smile, “and if I win, you have to reveal yourself to my friend, Mark.”
“Do I get to scare him?”
Hades offered his hand. “Then it’s a deal.”
Sally stopped herself just before shaking his hand. “Wait. How do I know you won’t cheat?”
Hades scoffed. “I find winning fair and square to be more rewarding. Plus, we have anti-cheat systems in place for when we play with other deities.”
Sally gave Hades a firm handshake. “You got yourself a deal.”
The vines withered away. Persephone sat on a red throne chair with a golden border in the center of a different room in the library filled with statues, paintings, and other works of art.
“And go!” Persephone shouted.
Hades and Sally bolted in opposite directions in search of the cards.
Sally arrived to work for her Saturday evening shift, dressed in her witch costume. The store was empty, except for Mark, who was cleaning the glass windows of the ice cream from fingerprints.
“Hey, we missed you yesterday for game night,” Mark said. “Were you busy playing games with Hades instead?”
“As a matter of fact, yes, I was,” Sally said, putting her hands on her waist. “I even invited him here for ice cream.”
Mark laughed, but then the lights went out, and a swirl of flames burst from the ground, filling the ice cream shop with a black mist as Hades morphed his body to fill the entire space before shrinking to a regular 6-foot size. As Hades shrunk, Cerberus emerged as a three-foot-tall dog with three heads from the smoke.
“Hello, Mark,” Hades greeted. “I would like to get three cones with your vanilla ice cream for my dog here.”
As I was putting together the new Serials section, I remembered there was a storyline gap between the two stories with Sally Wilkerson. This story fills that gap between #TwinCities and Dog-Sitting Cerberus. Although, after finishing this story and going over the dog-sitting, there could be another chapter or two.
Hope you enjoy this Sally Wilkerson adventure!