Rifle-like sounds rang as collapsing earth landed below, buildings snapped their foundations. For the watching humans, it was a horror scene: fissures in the earth racing across the plain toward Atlas’s towering peaks like some terrified burrow animal fleeing for its life. Atlas himself was only mildly concerned, for though he disapproved the draining of aquifers that caused the sinkholes, he thought it poetic justice that the humans paid for it. This type of thing was beneath him.

But then the earth gave under his foot. At his height and bulk, the opening sinkhole was no more than the jolt of a last stairstep miscalculated in the dark. Still, the drop shook a thundering landslide from his knees, and he lost his balance. The great bulk of the sky listed threateningly on his shoulders.

Tornadoes, shaken free from the swing of sky, tore like giant’s harrows across the vast irrigated plain whose rapacious thirst had taken out the debt the sinkholes now reclaimed. Atlas couldn’t speak for any sky gods across the ocean that bears his name, but weather like this was new here.

New, perhaps, but foreseeable, given the load he bore. Atlas hadn’t set down the weight of the heavens since Hercules came to this land, leaving the pillars that bear his name when he cleaved apart the continents. Atlas tried to readjust the weight across his back, but it was so much heavier since the humans had started shifting the black from below the soil and stacking it on his back. 

The motion spilled the massive load: an atmospheric river cut down the tracks of his legs, washing out the dusty topsoil that had baked in the Moroccan sun since the humans had forced Atlas’s cedar down the path of his lion to extinction. Those were bitter pills:the floods and landslides were justice for the humans. But he did regret Gaea’s grief.

When Phaeton had drawn the sun too near, scorching out the Sahara at Atlas’s other foot, Mother Earth had wept and begged Zeus to intervene. Who would she beseech now to cut the humans’ reins?

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1 month ago

Wonderful inclusion of mythology. Even readers uneducated in classic mythology will understand and appreciate the references. The descriptions of Atlas’ struggles – “Tornadoes, shaken free from the swing of sky”, “rapacious thirst”, “the debt the sinkholes had reclaimed” aid greatly in creating a mental picture.

Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
1 month ago

Anne, welcome to Voice.Club. Through strong metaphor, the gods and mythology you write a powerful account of a troubled Earth. Well done!

1 month ago

Anne i enjoyed the metaphor of natures balance being the world on Atlas’ shoulders.

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
1 month ago

I have found a twin soul, Anne! Greek myths rendered into something we can explain and understand, that’s exactly what I like!
To see such a powerful figure rendered powerless is heart breaking! But that’s what we are all doing, aren’t we?

Thompson Emate
Thompson Emate(@thompson-emate)
1 month ago

Beautiful story, Anne. Well-used metaphors. I love ancient myths. Well done. Welcome to Voice.club.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 month ago

Welcome to voice club, Anne. Your first story is great. It is a lovely Greek mythology that uses metaphor and showcases nature’s imbalance and how Earth was troubled and begged to cut the human’s reins. Well done. 

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