Hercules left the chiropractor’s office without looking back. Compared to the people he saw walking about, Hercules knew that he was still a big and muscular individual. But even for a guy who had wrestled the three-headed guardian dog of the Underworld, this brave new world seemed inexorably foreign. Everything was unfamiliar. It was a land of unimaginable machinery and buildings like mountains of rock. The moving machines captured his attention first. They rolled down the smooth and hardened streets like a four-wheeled chariot, the horse somehow buried in the shaped metal.
His first impulse was to attack the metal chariots, corral them into a fenced-in valley until he could figure out what to do with them. But there were two problems with that plan. The first was that there were too many of them. More than he could count. Second, he was now 100% human. He did not have a god’s strength to accomplish the feat.
So he just wandered and stared, stared and wandered. Bewitched. He found a magic card in his pocket that he realized could feed him and grant the necessities of life. But what were the necessities of life? He had no purpose.
As he wandered, he stumbled upon a fateful event. There had been an accident, and a man had become trapped beneath one of the metal chariots. Hercules flew into action. With resolve and great strength, he lifted the front end of the vehicle into the air. The previously impotent crowd rescued the injured man. Hercules then collapsed to the pavement in pain from the ruptured disks in his back. Having a mortal’s back is not what it’s cracked up to be, thought Hercules. He lay on the pavement, stunned, and instinctively reached up to caress the blood-red metal hovering above him.
“You are one hunk of a man,” said the car. “What is your name?” Given his previous history interacting with mythic beings, speaking with this metal beast did not seem in the least bit unusual to Hercules – especially given that he was out of his mind with pain and on the verge of passing out.
“My name is Hercules, son of Zeus, once removed.”
“I’m Saturn Sky.” The car blushed an even deeper tone of red. “Anyone who can lift me off my wheels like that deserves unconditional access.” Was she propositioning him? What symbolic mythos had he slipped into now?
“Seriously,” Saturn Sky continued. “You have the hands for it. You can keep my undercarriage greased, my fluids flowing naturally, and my engine purring.” Saturn Sky paused. “There’s just one problem. You have my consent. I think you’ll have the consent of mechanical creatures generally. But you have to learn, how can I say this delicately? You have to learn the basic mechanics before we can enter into a mutual artistic embrace.”
What nonsense, thought Hercules. Then he had the intuition that cars had become sexual projections in this brave new world: the allure of Aphrodite, an aphrodisiac with horsepower. Hercules concluded that the metal chariot was a modern incarnation of Eros. At least, Eros was in there somewhere, which explained the sexual overtones. A female version of Pan on wheels, thought Hercules as he continued to caress the smooth metal. What nonsense, thought Hercules as he jerked his hand away. He then proceeded to pass out.
When Hercules returned to consciousness, he found himself on the side of a cliff. A large naked man was chained to the rock face. An eagle was pulling out bits of flesh from his abdomen. “Are you sure that’s how you want to feed your pet eagle?” asked Hercules.
“It wasn’t my idea,” moaned Prometheus.
“I can help you, but animal rights activists will be angry with me.”
“And I was the one who gave them animals in the first place,” responded Prometheus. “Doesn’t that strike you as ironic?”
“Good point,” said Hercules as he crept up to the eagle, grabbed it by the ankles, and broke its neck. Turning his back on Prometheus, Hercules began to slowly walk away. “Well, got to be going. It’s possible I have been propositioned by an automotive product.”
“Can’t you free me first?” asked Prometheus.
“At the expense of my injured back?” Hercules said as he felt what seemed to be a perfectly healthy body.
“I’m sure we can manage together.” And they did. Prometheus stood up.
“For a Titan, you are not that tall.” Hercules still had to look up, as Prometheus was about a foot taller than Hercules.
“Second generation Titan,” explained Prometheus. “If I walked the earth of your brave new world, everyone would be asking me if I played basketball. I could call myself Wilt Prometheus. Do you think the women would find me attractive?”
“You won’t get any dates with your liver hanging out,” Hercules said as he took another peak. You just don’t see that every day, he thought.
“It will heal overnight.”
Hercules looked away from the exposed liver. “If you’d given them warp drive, or time travel, I could understand the punishment. But fire?”
“As thanks for deliverance, I give you the gift of complete mechanical comprehension.” Hercules nodded appreciation, then paused – feeling just a little troubled by the proposition. Prometheus understood. “It’s like the gift of fire. You will have the insight and ability, but you don’t have to embrace it physically.” This, Hercules understood.
“I suppose I should head back to the Old World of Olympus. Do you think it will be safe for me there?” continued Prometheus.
“Zeus and Jupiter need a third for poker. Tell them Hercules sent you.”
When Hercules woke, the surgical operations on his back were completed (and paid for with another magic card). The shortness of his convalescence astonished his doctors, but not his doctor’s machinery.