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The Cult of Bacchantes

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After the twelve Olympians had banished the Titans and rid the world of chaotic monsters, and after they had created man to instill their worship on this earth, the many men and women came and followed them. Of these followers, were those of the wine god, Dionysus. His most famous devotees were the Bacchanals. The Bacchanals were wild, savage women. They would run through the forests and the wilderness, dressed in robes made of animal skin. Theirs was a strange life, for indeed they were mad. They would sing:

Oh sweet upon the mountain
The dancing and singing
The maddening rushing flight
Oh sweet to sink to earth outworn
When the wild goat has been hunted and caught
Oh, the joy of the blood and the raw red flesh*

Before tearing helpless animals to pieces and devouring the raw meat. These mad women also had a reputation for being cannibals. It was they who attacked the musician Orpheus. They tore him to pieces and flung his head into the river. In Thebes, they killed King Pentheus, the brother of Dionysus, ripping him limb from limb and feasting on his flesh.

Phaedra was one of those Bacchanals. She was a fair maiden who made the eyes of many turn. Like all Bacchanals, she was wild and feral. She indulged in the murder of Pentheus from the very start. It all appealed to her. Her fingers wormed their way through his entrails. Her nails tore the skin from his throat. Her teeth gouged holes in his face. And, lo, out poured the red river of blood, which she and her sisters lapped up gleefully.

Over time, all the Bacchanals died or left. But not Phaedra. She remained devoted to Dionysus, indulging in her cannibalistic orgies.

There was another reason, too. Unlike her sisters, Phaedra was immortal. Her mother was Nemesis, goddess of revenge and although her father was a mortal man, she was a demigod, able to live until she was killed. So, for a few thousand years she wandered around indulging her pleasures, but soon it seemed that the Bacchanal within her had disappeared.

Yes, indeed! She had seemingly given up her cannibalism. The times had changed and beckoned her to come join with them, to have her adapt as the eras passed.

Eventually, she settled down on a small island just south of Patmos in the Aegean Sea which borders Greece. The convenience of this allowed her to be close to her home. The island had a well developed economy from fishing, and the olive trees provided good forestry. A nice town had developed. Phaedra didn't have a job. She was living off retirement money.

Although she tried to be friendly with the people of the town, they did not repay her. Every day, bratty, worthless children would come and throw eggs at her house, and graffiti her walls, and smash the flowers in the garden. She tried to contain herself. She tried to.

But one day she snapped, and she screamed out loud in front of the whole village, "May Dionysus, lord of wine and free spirit strike me dead if I do not rage! By his name, I curse you! I curse you!"

Although they were startled, they regained their composure and simply laughed at her. Months passed but these months were not normal. No one saw Phaedra's likeness for a while. And then the children of the village started to disappear. It went on like this till they were all gone. So it was no surprise the townspeople turned their blame upon the strange, old lady. It wasn't fair.

But Phaedra tried to be nice. She invited all the townspeople to a banquet at her house to show her hospitality. Recently she had felt something stirring up within her. It was an old feeling, one that she relished. The people accepted her invitation. They all had the plan of searching her house to find these lost children. These were arrogant people; people who would instantly invade an elderly woman's privacy.

One of these was Helena Natchios. Her daughter Elektra had gone missing. Helena was a snobby, rich scumbag. Materialism was her religion. In her life she had had three husbands and divorced two (she cheated on both). Her current husband Alexo was the father of Elektra. Elektra herself was a spoiled brat and one of Phaedra's main persecutors. Helena was so arrogant and harsh that she had a policeman put on standby, just in case something at the banquet went wrong.

The officer's name was Miklos. Miklos wasn't a bad person. All his life he had tried to do the right thing. He didn't want to be out, involved in torment against a poor old lady, but he knew someone like Helena could ruin his life. He had even tried to stop Elektra from egging Phaedra's house, but to no avail; Helena would always show up and threaten him. So officer Miklos was stuck doing a job that he despised.

Despite how much people hated her, Phaedra's house was brilliant. It was made of marble and held up by Corinthian pillars trimmed with gold. The inside, the guests found, was no less beautiful. It was true luxury. The dwelling was complete with ornate rugs and other lavish decorations. Hardware like the washing machine and microwave were all of the newest technology. In a way, it was almost its own miniature palace.

Helena broke the awed silence by demanding, "Where are our children?" in a rude voice.

Phaedra answered, "My dear child you are being very rude to talk that way, when I have just invited you to my house. However, since I am generous and honest, I shall allow you to search my house. But hear this: with the exception of us six, you will find no other living soul in my house."

And so they ransacked her house while she wept. But they did not find any children. Helena then decided to leave, not caring one bit for the generous banquet.

"I'm leaving this hag-hole. What was the point of us coming here?" she asked.

For a moment there was a bit of hatred on Phaedra's face, but it passed just as quickly. It was not Phaedra who spoke next but another desperate parent, Nicolo.

"For God's sake, Helena! Show some goddamn manners! We can search for our children later! This kind lady has welcomed us! Maybe she can help us find our children," he said.

Helena answered, "Alright then, but if I don't find my Elektra, there'll be problems!"

"You care more for the state of your house and car, than for that brat," Nicolo murmured.

"What did you say?" hissed Helena.

"Nothing," said Nicolo, "Let's just go eat."

It was obvious that Phaedra had put lots of time into planning this banquet. From the goblets fit for kings, to the intricate gold bowls full of hot, steaming stew, even Helena was taken aback. They sat down to eat. Alexo looked at his stew and began to feast, but his wife stopped him.

"I won't eat any of this till that hag has shown us that this food and wine are not poisoned," she snarled.

Nicolo glared at her, but Helena kept at it. Phaedra looked hurt, but she did as Helena asked. When Helena was absolutely sure that there was nothing in the food or drink, everyone feasted. Alexo had never tasted anything more delicious than the stew. When he asked Phaedra what she put in it, she simply winked and said she would tell him soon. Eventually they were all full and got up to leave. Nicolo asked her if she at least had any idea where the children had gone off to.

She shocked them all by saying she knew exactly where they were. They all turned their heads, as many had before to the sight of her, but for a different reason. She had a playful look on her face. It was turning into a grin of sadism.

"I know where your children went. We just stuffed our bellies with them!" she squealed, gleefully.

Alexo and Nicolo looked at each other shocked. The meat in the stew! How? Helena screamed.

Outside, Mikos was dozing off. He snapped out of it when the shriek penetrated his dreams. He jumped and ran as fast as he could to the house, and when he got there, slammed down the front door.

He was greeted by a grisly sight. Blood and guts and bits of organ matter were everywhere. They were sprayed and strewn on the walls, the floor, even some on the ceiling. The five guests were lying on the floor their bodies ripped open, flesh and intestines strewn everywhere. Helena was the only one he didn't really feel pity for, but he still had to contain his vomit at the sight of her. Her eyes were gouged out, and her broken rib cage was sticking out of her side. Then he realized something. Here were the fives bodies, but where was the host?

Then he saw her, her skin painted red with the blood of her victims. Phaedra bit off Alexo's ear, chewing on the cartilage and skin. She tore of his finger with her teeth, and the crunching of bone and the squishing of flesh was heard. She looked around the room and her gaze settled on Miklos. She swallowed the half chewed finger and leapt at him. Miklos was paralyzed with fear, beads of sweat at the tips of his hairs and pores. His legs failed him; he couldn't even bring himself to draw his gun. Just as Phaedra opened her jaws to eat him, she stopped.

A choking sound escaped from her lips. Miklos stared eyes wide. Phaedra's hands flew to her throat. She let out a strangled scream, then fell over and closed her eyes. The finger bone, thought Miklos, she forgot to chew and choked on it.

Then he ran not only for his life, but for his sanity. He didn't even bother to report to the police station, he just packed his bags and and took a ferry to the island of Patmos. From there he caught a flight to Athens, but in his haste he did not pay attention to the strange attendants, nor bother to look at the airline's name: Dionysus.


  • Note: The poem at the top is not my original work but a passage from the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. Here is the link where is have cited/referenced the work in order to use it in my own story- link

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