Cars whizzed by. They didn’t even slow down to read the sign. They knew what cardboard and ragged clothes meant.
“If only this rabble knew what I was capable of,” he muttered. “They would cower at my feet.”
He sat at the corner of a gas station, trying to make eye contact with every driver that wouldn’t want to acknowledge him. People were so selfish. They only lived for themselves. If only he had the power.
Out of the corner of his eye he spotted a limousine pull up to refuel. Limousines were dangerous. They never handed out money and things ended badly if you even asked. The beggar kept his head down as its passenger stepped out and stretched, suit obviously tailored just for him. Just in case, the beggar pointed the sign in that direction. Easily legible, but not demanding. That was safest.
A clatter of change spilled out from behind him, and he turned to see that his cat had once again knocked over the travel mug where he kept his money. “Mau! No!” he scolded, shooing it away when it tried to sniff the spoils of its victory.
Putting the change back into the thermos, he scanned around, checking to see if anyone was paying attention. Nobody was.
Except the limousine passenger. Was he coming this way?
Hurriedly, he straightened his clothes, for what it was worth. There was a difference between desperate and pathetic.
“Is that your cat?” the man asked as he approached. He nodded to the cat that perched on a nearby wall. The villain that only made his life harder.
“Uh… yeah,” he replied.
“You named it Mau?” the man wasn’t looking at him or the sign. He was just staring at the cat.
The beggar clenched his fists. “It’s a sentimental name. You got a problem with that?”
“No, no. It’s just that I saw a very similar cat with the same name in Italy. Maybe, three hundred years ago.”
The beggar snapped up to look at him, to inspect his face. “You with the CIA or some other intelligence agency?”
“Come now, do you really think cats are useful for information? Besides, photographs are newer technology, no organization could keep track of that.”
The beggar scratched his beard, suspicious.
“Tell me, where is Isis?”
“I don’t know who that is.”
“My sister’s name is Aset. I don’t talk to her anymore.”
“Because she has power you no longer have? You know part of the reason nobody worships you anymore is because you do not accept change, Osiris.”
“My name is not Osiris! The Greeks butchered my name. It’s like pronouncing chair ‘ka-ha-ray’ to make it sound fancy.”
“Either way, your memory and identity is attached to that name. People can’t worship a name they have never heard, even if it’s the name of a dead god they are familiar with.”
“Dead god,” he replied. “How ironically appropriate.”
The man sighed. “You may think that the ancient religions are dying, but it is only because you and your kin are giving up.”
The beggar glanced up. “Who are you?”
The man glanced around them to make sure nobody was watching. Then, he tucked a hand inside of his suit and pulled out a hammer. It hummed quietly as the runes inscribed on it glowed. It pulsed with electricity, tendrils of lightning curling around it.
“Thor!” the beggar whispered, glancing up at the man. “You… you have power!”
He tucked the hammer back into the suit. “Yes. I’ve discovered a way to reclaim our old abilities. One far easier to accomplish than convincing these mortals to revere and sacrifice to us. And I’ve come with an offer.”
The beggar had vague memories of a life where he held the power over life and death itself. It was so long ago. He would do anything to obtain that once more. “What must I do?”
“Our power comes purely from the reverence of the public. Our strength and that of other gods doesn’t have to be exclusive between each other as we once believed. I reclaimed my power from the cinema.”
“My likeness is portrayed in movies. Stories that play themselves that mortals clamber over each other to witness. They love me, and even if they do not believe it is a true story, I gain power.”
“So I must perform in these stories?”
“No, no. They will have somebody pretend to be you. It is easier for everyone this way. My goal is to reunite every god with the power they once held, and with that strength comes infinite possibilities. But I cannot do it alone. Will you join me?”
The beggar looked at the sign he had left at his feet. Unemployed. Any offering is appreciated. “Let us conquer the world once more.”
Writing Prompt: Among the homeless live forgotten gods and ancient heroes of legend, unable to cope with society. Tell their stories.