New Year was the next theme - kicking off with my one, with apologies to Homer and other Greek storytellers!! (FJ)
The Janitor by Fiona-Jane Brown (c)
"Ok, ok, you lot, yes, I know you're all deities, but please, keep it orderly, the Big Man doesn't allow me to open the doors before midnight!" the Janitor orders the large crowd which has gathered. Same thing, every year, they've no patience, by Zeus I wish they would take their time! he mutters, looking at his large pocket watch and comparing it with the clock on the wall. The hands on both crept inexorably toward twelve.
The Furies were plotting, muttering, the Janitor swore he could see them pulling the wings off a dead bat. Artemis was stretching her bow back and forth. "Ere, young lady, don't you be putting arrows in that! You'll take someone's eye out!" he warned loudly.
Just then, he saw a familiar face - he had heard the drunking singing for a while now. "Oh now, Dionysus, you've started already, eh? No orgies in the queue, mind, you can do that on the other side!" he called, teasingly, the half-divine rebel-rouser grinning at him from behind a golden mask. One of the Nymphs shrieked and there was the sound of a loud slap as she walloped her groper across the face. There was silence for a bit.
Everyone could see the hands on the large clock reach the zero hour, and a chant of "six, five, four, three..." rippled through the crowd, as the Janitor fumbled for his keys. He knew what they were like. By the first strike, he had the large golden key in the lock. By the twelfth, he had his hands gripped around the door knobs. "Oi! Silence! I'm not opening up until you're all in an orderly line! It wouldn't be the first time I've been knocked down in the rush!" There was a generally shuffling and muttering as the crowd arranged themselves in a line. Satisfied, he turned the knobs and flung open the vast ebony doors. He managed to step back just in time as they all dashed forward, out into the new year, the new day, to carry on the business of the ages.
It took a full ten minutes for them all to leave. Olympus would be quiet for a bit. The Janitor sighed and closed the doors, but not before he could hear the sound of danity running feet and a feminine voice shriek, "No, please, don't close them, I must get through!"
He didn't quite recognise the girl, who wasn't quite wearing a sea-blue robe as she ran towards him. River nymphs! They're always in trouble! He thought. "You're a bit late, little lady, it's gone quarter past, I've got to close up or the Big Man will have my guts for garters!"
"Oh please, let me through, this is so embarrassing, I am Syrinx, a disciple of Artemis. She told me to be here on time, but that's just it, I've... well, I've got a problem... with a man... er a goat... oh, please, help me, he's just a pest!" she cried.
"Pan! He's a wicked boy, worse than Dionysus. Just a sex-maniac. He's after you as well, is he? Oh dear, oh dear, will he never learn?"
"Yes, he's terrible, he doesn't seem to understand my vow of chastity! He's horrible, he ... he smells, he's no better than an animal!"
"Well, he is half-goat! Oh look, on you go, if I see him, I won't breathe a word, ok? Now, on you go, catch up with your goddess, she'll be worried for you!"
"Thank you, thank you, dear friend, may Zeus bless you!" she trilled and ran through the doors.
The Janitor closed them.
Five minutes later he heard it... you couldn't really miss the coming of the chief of Gods, Zeus had a heavy footfall. The Janitor was not unduly worried, surely his boss wouldn't mind letting a latecomer through, especially when she was being pursued by that oik!
"JANUS! WHAT ARE YOU DOING INTERFERING??" Zeus bawled, even before he was within sight.
"Eh? What d'you mean, boss? I did as I always do, opened the door at midnight and let them through!" the Janitor replied.
"You let Syrinx through the doors after they should have been closed! You know the rules, Janus, those that wish to begin the new year on earth must go through the door at the stroke of twelve!"
"Aw, come on, boss, the poor kid's being pestered by Pan, he's a randy sod, won't leave her alone!"
"I'll have you know, Pan is one of my many sons, if he wants a girl, he should not be frustrated by a mere doorkeeper!"
"Ah. But you know, surely you know? And anyway, she just rushed past me, I can't do everything, I'd need two heads to watch both ways!"
Zeus suddenly smiled. "Come hither, Janus, you may have just come up with the best solution ever!" He grabbed the Janitor by the ears and pulled.
"ARGH!!!" the roar of pain and shock was heard all over Mount Olympus and down on earth...
Janus - the doorkeeper of the gods, still stands at the door of the year, having given his name to the first month, but all know him as the twin-headed janitor who can see the past and the future.