Another camera-free attempt at the WordPress Photo Challenge…
She knew he was coming.
Cassandra could see the future. Apollo had given her this gift because of her beauty, then cursed her so that no-one would believe her, which is why she is now the patron saint of weather forecasters. He cursed her because she refused to become his consort, and in fairness she should have seen that coming, not because she was now a prophet, but because pissing off a Greek God rarely ends well.
The curse was not all bad, though. She lived well, making a steady income from betting on outsiders in chariot races, because the bookies laughed at her bets.
Now Zeus was coming to visit her. She knew it.
She knew it because he had sent a message yesterday asking if he could come to see her today.
She watched from her tent as a swan approached across the lake, because Zeus liked to make an entrance. She watched as he stopped to eat bread thrown by little kids from the lakeside, then watched as he fled from an armada of angry ducks who regarded this daily bread as their entitlement. He emerged from the water, shook himself off, and walked into her tent.
He sat down. A small feather drifted off his head and onto the ground. They both pretended not to notice it.
“I believe that you can see the future,” said Zeus.
“Really?” said Cassandra. “No one else does.”
“Well, I do,” said Zeus. “I heard you a few days ago saying in the taverna that the following day would be warm and sunny, and it was.”
Cassandra frowned. “Greece has 300 hundred days of sunshine a year,” she pointed out. “It wasn’t exactly rocket science.”
“It’s on its way,” said Cassandra. “Though admittedly not for a while yet.”
“You also predicted the fall of Troy,” he said.
Cassandra said nothing. Sometimes her visions were a bit obscure. She had foreseen and told everyone about a big horse with men in its belly, so all the Trojan soldiers had left the town hunting fearfully for a giant man-eating horse. The feeling that she had thus caused rather than predicted the fall of Troy nagged at her. Still, now was not the time to say that.
“What can I do for you?” she asked.
“Can you not foresee what I’m going to ask?” said Zeus.
“Don’t start that crap,” snapped Cassandra. “Er, oh Great One,” she finished, suddenly remembering who she was talking to.
Zeus smiled. “I’m sorry, that was mean,” he said. “I’m here because of the future of Greece. Everywhere I look I see us Gods getting lazy, squabbling with each other, and getting off with every human woman on the planet. I’m afraid that we’re heading towards doom. What lies ahead for us, and for Greece?”
Cassandra concentrated. Usually when she had to look far into the future she just foresaw Old Moore’s Alamanac and then read what he had to say, but she reckoned that for Zeus she should make a special effort, so she stared deep, deep into the very soul of her country. She turned pale.
She saw the Acropolis in ruins, the Gods banished to exile on Mount Olympus, the country fall under the control of humans. She saw the end of the Greek Empire, the end of the white sheet as standard clothing, and its brief re-emergence under, or rather around, Demis Roussos. She foresaw the collapse of its economy, its shocking record in the Eurovision Song Contest, and the term “it’s all Greek to me” being used to describe gobbledegook.
She foresaw people eating feta cheese, essentially something made from goats’ pee, and drinking ouzo, a drink that tasted like goats’ pee mixed with paraffin (she briefly had to stop and foresee paraffin before she could foresee that).
She foresaw the invasion of Greece by a vast army called the Tourists, over-running the country and forcing it to serve chips and to get Sky Sports in its tavernas.
She looked up into the expectant face of Zeus, and chickened out.
“Er, Grecian urns will be very popular,” she said.
He look a bit disappointed. “Anything else?” he said.
“Yes,” she said. “Tell Achilles to buy some shoes.”