The front door swung open and slammed hard into the wall leaving behind a small roundish hole where the doorknob struck. Jared hobbled into the living room, heavy laden with bags, stumbled to the couch, and flopped down. That was the worst trip he had ever taken. He untangled himself from the bags and tossed them onto the floor at his feet.
“Some vacation,” he muttered. Looking around his tiny apartment, he grimaced at the bills piled on the coffee table, more on the floor near the door, no doubt, the phone ringing off the hook, and an upcoming eviction.
“I spend all my money on the ultimate vacation to Cancun and an engagement ring,” Jared said, laughing in disdain. “And what do I get for it? Rejection, a sunburn, and a handful of seashells! Pathetic.” He tossed the seashells to the chipped and stained floor, which the landlord still had not repaired — not that it mattered much now, considering he had no money left for rent. Jared pulled the engagement ring from his pocket and tossed it aside without even looking at it.
He sat there on the couch thinking about how pathetic his life was until he fell asleep. Jared was soon awakened by a sharp, burning pain in his chest. He began to cough and slumped to the floor as the burning got worse. He thought he would throw up. He coughed again and water began gushing from his mouth. With each cough more water came up, forming a puddle around him as he struggled to breathe. His lungs burned as they filled with… salt water? He was drowning. More and more water poured from his mouth as he choked, His body convulsed as the last bit of water came up leaving him heaving and gasping for air.
The puddle Jared had coughed up began to shift, bubble, and stretch, blobs of water formed and floated up into the air. The water left behind slowly morphed into a man. A man that stood at least seven feet tall, with blue skin, almost as blue as the ocean, and hair white as seafoam. “I am Varuna. God of the sea, sky, and rain.”
“What? Why are you here?”
“I am here to collect on our contract.”
“What contract? I would never sign a contract with a God.”
“Those contracts,” Varuna said pointing at the seashells on the floor.
“Those are just seashells, souvenirs.”
“Yes. This is the contract that you accepted.”
“No, it’s a souvenir,” Jared insisted.
“But you did take it? Yes?”
“Yes. But as a souvenir, not a contract,” Jared said, throwing himself back onto the couch. “Besides I’m not the first person who has taken a seashell home.”
“But you are the first mortal to accept a contract from the sea.” Varuna said, there was almost an amused tone in his voice. As if any of this were funny.
“Just for arguments sake, what is this contract for?”
“It’s quite simple. You just need to decide the fate of humanity.”
“What?” Jared’s ears were still ringing from the pressure of the water that had built up in his lungs. “That’s not simple at all.” Jared was dumbfounded
“It is,” Varuna said calmly. “You just need to make a decision.”
“No. Why should I?” Jared shouted.
“Because, if you don’t it is certain death for everyone and if you do there is a chance for survival. Do you not care about your people?”
“Alright.” A wide smile spread across Varuna’s face. “How about I make you immortal instead. Since you do not care about death.”
“What? Why, would you do that?”
“Because it seems to me your life is far more miserable, and death would be a release for you.” A sound like rushing waves echoed through the apartment as Varuna laughed.
“Fine. What do I have to do?” Jared said, frantically scooping up the seashells.
“Among the seashells in your possession, one of them can save humanity. You must choose the correct one.”
“But there are five seashells,” Jared said.
“So!” Jared desperately swung his hands about, the pitch of his voice rising an octave higher than normal. “I only have a one in five chance. How is that fair?”
Varuna glowered at Jared “Whether it is or it isn’t,” he said. “You brought back five, so you must choose from the five. Would you rather I raise it seven maybe ten?”
“No! I don’t want to choose at all.”
“You humans are never satisfied. Now. Choose.”
Jared looked at the five shells in his hand, one was a bright pink with wavy stripes all over it, the second was a simple clam shell, that couldn’t be the right one, could it? Shells three and four were both green, one was a darker green with seaweed clinging to it and the other was a much lighter green that shifted in the light. The fifth was the strangest, it was as dark as the night sky and glittered as if it were covered in stars.
“What is your decision?” Varuna stood examining his scepter, waiting for Jared’s answer. He didn’t seem to care either way.
“I choose this one.” Jared presented him with the clam shell.
“Why did you choose this one?” Varuna said, taking the shell from his hand.
“Because the other two seemed too obvious.”
“Was I right?”
“Well done,” Varuna said. The orbs that had been floating around Jared’s apartment dropped from the air and Varuna melted into the rain and was gone. “Looks like we won’t be dying today.” Jared sat back down on his couch and sighed. “How disappointing. Maybe I should have just refused to choose. Humanity sucks anyway.” He gazed at the remaining seashells in his hand and thought about if he really meant that or not. If he were being honesty; Jared would
Susie Brown is a 35-year-old artist and writer. She is a painter, a poet, a crafter, and a lover of music. On any day of the week, you can find her in her garden, with her nose buried in a book, or learning a new craft like crocheting and knitting. Susie loves mythology and writing fiction stories featuring deities from mythology around the world.