A sigh of contentment flew out of Sarah's brittle, withered lips. The time for her to descend into the Underworld had come at last. Her only regret was that her son, Thomas, would mourn the loss of her life. Nevertheless, as she slipped from consciousness for the final time, her expression remained peaceful. The sound of Thom's near-silent sobbing was distant and rapidly fading. The scratchy straw bed her body lay on gradually disappeared, until she felt as if she was floating in the dark void of the present.
Suddenly, her eyes flew open and she found herself in a cavernous, underground hallway, stalactites protruding in odd formations from the inky darkness above, some reaching out to join hands with the equally grotesque stalagmites on the clammy floor. Despite the appearance of stone beneath her feet, it didn't feel quite solid somehow; it was more like a shifting, uncertain mass of material. Hesitantly advancing, Sarah reached the entrance to a looming, monochromatically grey stronghold. Shivering, she entered and joined a procession of ghosts heading towards an entrance marked "newlydeads." Someone had taken a "newlyweds" sign from the surface and defaced it for the purposes of the Underworld. It seemed Hades had an ironic sense of humor.
After an eternity, Sarah reached the front of the line, where a skeleton soldier waved her on into yet another line, this one marked "Elysium." Sarah started in amazement. Elysium was the dwelling place of the blessed after death. If an inhabitant of the Elysian Fields so desired, they would be granted a second life, but without memory of their former existences.
At the thought of this, Sarah felt a tremor of indecision course through her. If she chose to be reincarnated, she could be reunited with her dear Thom. Sarah arrived at Elysium, and requested a private audience with Hades.
Meanwhile, Hades was in a terrible rage. He had just caught Persephone with a mortal man named Adonis. Persephone now cowered on the onyx stairs in front of him.
"You will regret this, Persephone! I will have my revenge; I swear it on the river Styx!" Hades roared. Just as he was about to unleash his fury, a skeleton warrior-servant timidly tapped Hades on his shoulder.
"WHAT!" the god of the Underworld bellowed.
"M-my lord, an Elysian ghost has requested an audience with you!" it managed to squeak.
"Send her in, then!" Hades barked impatiently. A few moments later, Sarah entered his receiving room, her waist-length auburn hair glinting like molten gold in the glow of Hades' eternally raging fire. Against such a background, he cut an even more imposing figure than usual.
"Persephone, you may go to your chambers. I will discuss the…conflict at hand later." Hades commanded. Persephone's chin lifted defiantly, but she complied and exited, although once out of sight she halted and cautiously pressed her ear to the frigid onyx wall and transformed her dress into one covered with black flowers.
"Speak, then! What is your reason for interrupting me?" Hades' muffled voice resonated.
"My Lord Hades, I have come to request a reincarnation. But I have a special favor to ask of you! I wish to retain my memory—please, I beg of you, grant me this one small desire!" Sarah implored, unwittingly using her feminism to full advantage. Hades was moved by the passion in her voice, and furthermore, her brilliant hair had caught his attention.
"The only way for your soul to inhabit another form and preserve your memory is if you become an animal. No human mind and body can sustain such an anomaly. So, pray tell, what would you have your vessel be?" Hades queried.
Sarah gazed around the room. Within the flickering tongues of flame, she seemed to perceive bursts of frenzied flapping. A bird came to mind.
"I would ask to be a bird, sire."
"Very well, but in order for me to grant you this I must receive payment. I swore to get revenge for Persephone's infidelity; I simply did not realize the opportunity would present itself so soon. This bird shall have a razor-sharp beak for stabbing; multi-hued breast and back to conceal your presence in every environment; and able yet lightweight wings to fly you to Adonis, whereupon you shall beat him to death. " Hades lips twisted into a malicious grin. "I shall kill two birds with one stone—if you'll pardon the pun. Now fly and do my bidding! So be it!" With a flick of his bony, ringed fingers, Sarah was transformed into a large, iridescent bird.
Persephone and Sarah gasped in unison—Persephone because she feared the loss of her lover and Sarah because her heart was pure and she had no desire to harm an innocent man. The bird flapped reluctantly out of the chamber, ready to fly into the upper world when a pair of slender, pale hands darted out and grasped it around the body. Hastily muttering a spell, Persephone shrank the Sarah-bird into the size of her hand, and bestowed upon her an urge to pollenate the bell flowers of the earth, as well as an extremely fast metabolism. This way, Sarah would be sufficiently delayed in her attack on Adonis so that he could escape to safety.
"I'm sorry," she whispered and released Sarah with a powerful thrust of her hands. Once in the crisp, cool air of Greece again, Sarah fought desperately against the murderous compulsion ordering her to fly south to her prey and fluttered to Thom's residence. Thom glanced up at the flicker of movement and to his delight, he saw a tiny, radiant bird with a breast the color of his late mother's hair. He could sense the essence of her being in the bird, whose wings were beating so frantically they produced a delicate humming sound. For the first time since his mother's death a week ago, Thom felt an immense burden lift off his chest. The miniscule hummingbird seemed to exude independence, resiliency, and a lightness of being that seeped into Thom.
In the next second, Sarah could no longer resist the tug in her core, and she was whisked towards Adonis, but she knew then that Thom would be alright. Now came the time to worry about her own wellbeing. Adonis was now in her line of sight and as drifted ever closer, she could see he was completely unguarded. Squeezing her beady hummingbird eyes shut, she surrendered to the unwelcome force within her and hurtled towards the base of Adonis' skull. Thud! Her beak made contact and with a cry of shock and fear mingled with pain, Adonis pitched forward. As Sarah freed herself, the gruesome pool of blood around Adonis' head deepened, and Sarah drowned. Hades' oath of vengeance had been fulfilled and both Sarah and Adonis were no more. Persephone's wail of anguish could be heard for miles around. She had no need to change her garb of black roses, only her mind. Persephone never took another lover.