“Odin is on line one.”
Zeus groaned and picked up his phone.
“Zeus here... Yes…” His voice weary, unable to get much out in the pauses of the Norse god’s rant, “I’m sure she feels bad about it-… No, I haven’t heard from him. Which one is it? … Oh. I can’t say she’ll care what he has to say… No, I’m not excusing it… I’ll talk to her…”
He put the phone down, ear blistering from the fury coming from the one-eyed leader of the Norse pantheon. Third such call that week, and Odin wasn’t even the angriest. He guessed he’d have to do something about it, though he wasn’t sure why Ceres was his responsibility.
No. He knew why. He was the only one she would acknowledge since they made their agreement back when it all started. He was starting to wonder if it was worth it.
He buzzed his secretary.
“Josie, hold my calls. I need to step out for a minute.”
The God of Thunder stood up and walked to the center of his office. Wood paneling and orange plastic chairs; he hadn’t updated the look since the early-70’s. He should really get on that.
Later. For now, he needed to talk to the Goddess of Agriculture. Closing his eyes and concentrating, he was transported from his office to Ceres’ realm.
All around him was a field the color of light sienna. The ground beneath him was soft but firm enough he could keep his balance. Looking around in all directions he saw little but flatness, even with his celestially powerful sight. Off in the horizon in one direction a wide mountain curved upward, Zeus’ innate wisdom telling him what it was.
That same wisdom told him where he could find Ceres. More accurately, where he could find Ceres head. He already knew where Ceres was: she was everywhere, she was underfoot.
Ceres’ realm was, in actuality, Ceres herself.
“She’s grown,” Zeus mused as he set off to have a talk with the Goddess of Agriculture, the Goddess of Abundance. After much walking the mountain in the distance grew smaller, disappearing from view. How big must she be now, when her breasts were too large to be taken in at once, and all the fat separating her head from one breast was so vast the mountainous mammary receded below the horizon like this? Even for a god Ceres’ size was too much to take in all at once. It just added to Zeus’ uneasiness.
As he neared Ceres Zeus came upon the other inhabitants of her realm: worshippers who had won her favor and attendants crafted through Ceres’ power, tending to Ceres and her followers. It was easy to tell the two apart. For one, while the attendants looked human they lacked the little touches such as body hair, moles or pores. Their perfect skin was, like their patron, tanned a rich hue. A connection to Ceres’ rule over the fields and the people who work them under the sun each day.
The other, more significant difference was that Ceres’ faithful were much fatter than her helpers. While her helpers were full-bodied and represented Ceres’ abundance well, they were a mere 300-400 pounds, whereas her followers, indulging almost ceaselessly in Ceres’ bounty from the moment they arrived (with breaks for sex), could vary from a thousand pounds to several tons and growing. Even without the flawless skin and perfect appearance, Ceres’ followers stood out for their inhuman obesity.
Zeus covered more fat, the size of the followers growing as he came upon those who had been in Ceres’ realm longer and longer. The attendants bowed as Zeus passed, and the formerly mortal men and women ceased their eating or lovemaking in a show of respect.
In time a bump on the horizon appeared, growing higher. Quickening his pace, the God of Thunder felt his usual commanding presence and imposing carriage start to wane. It was stupid. He’s the King of the God’s, for His sake. Yet Ceres was different, and not just because she was so huge Zeus was like an insect crawling upon her.
Ceres’ head, bundled in a hill of shoulder and back and chin fat, came into view, her features taking shape as Zeus closed the distance. The concentration of attendants and worshippers grew thicker, and not just because the average worshipper now weighed 7 or 8 tons.
Ceres was drinking from a large goblet, one of her attendants leaning against the wall of fat her face protruded from, when she spotted Zeus walking up to her.
“Zeus! Hail and well-met to the King of the Greek Gods!”
Completely chipper, her voice booming with the grandeur befitting a deity. Zeus tried to muster up enthusiasm to match hers.
“Hail and well-met, Ceres. I see your corpulence has grown ever more since last I was here.” Keep her in a good mood. She loved to be complimented on her size. “I would have words with you. If it’s alright.”
“Go on. I’m listening,” she said, despite her closing her eyes and opening her mouth, a signal to the attendant to resume pouring whatever liquid the goblet held.
“I just got a call from Odin…” he started.
“He said Valhalla is breaking apart.”
“That’s not good.”
“He says it’s your fault.”
“He thinks it is, I don’t really believe this, it sounds ridiculous,” Zeus stammered, “but he thinks you’re growing so big you’re putting pressure on the other realms.”
“How does that make sense?” Ceres asked, laughing.
“It doesn’t. I totally agree.” Zeus said, trying to stay on Ceres’ good side. He took a nervous sip from a goblet he didn’t remember picking up. Food just appeared in people’s hands in Ceres’ domain.
“I’m just lying here in my own realm. I don’t intrude on anyone else’s.” The attendant began feeding doughnuts to her goddess.
“I know. But he thinks that as you get bigger and you expand your own realm, you’re squeezing out the other pantheons.”
“Oh, is that what this is about? He’s just angry my followers outnumber his.”
“He’s not the only one,” Zeus half-mumbled, his hopes he could keep the conversation short and be on his way dashed.
“What’s that?” Ceres swallowed an entire doughnut whole, a feat of impossible gluttony she didn’t do often, but this conversation had already taken up too much of her eating time.
“There’s been talk… more talk that you’re violating the pact. That you’re expanding your influence directly.”
She waited to be fed a couple more doughnuts before saying anything else. Zeus could only stand there, patient and a little intimidated, as her attendant cleaned the platter and stepped aside to allow two others carrying a roast pig to approach.
“How am I doing that?” She asked. “I don’t think I need to explain that I spend all my time here, in my realm, with my chosen.”
“Yeah, that… Sounds like you.” Zeus was eager to end the meeting and get back to his own realm. Oh well, other gods and goddesses, I tried to talk to Ceres but she wouldn’t listen.
“But there are cases,” he continue, “where mortals are able to pierce the veil. They get visions.”
“Yes, yes,” she said, and if her arms were visible she would wave a hand in a bored manner to punctuate her tone, “Visions given by mind-expanding substances are nothing new. Are you saying the mortals have never had visions of other deities?” She tore a hunk of pork with her teeth, chewing greedily.
“No… But are you sure you haven’t manipulated any of them? Made yourself appear before them?”
“Zeus, I am a very large being.” She sounded like she was trying to explain something to a child. “Am I not?”
“Oh, absolutely. The largest.”
“Can you imagine how difficult it must be for a human to see me, to try to comprehend my glorious vastness?”
“It must be a challenge,” Zeus said.
“More than a challenge! It’s impossible. To one unaccustomed to my size, to see any part of me and to realize this is all one being would be so astounding their mind would break. So, to prevent this, I alter their perception a bit. I help them take in all of me and come to grips with what they are seeing in a way that doesn’t destroy their fragile minds.”
“That is certainly benevolent of you. But is it true you’ve actually communicated with them?”
“A comforting word or two. It would be rude, would it not, to not introduce myself.”
“Yes, I suppose I can see that,” Zeus conceded. “But you’re not giving them orders or anything, right?”
“Orders?” Ceres chuckled, “Like what?”
“I don’t know,” Zeus looked down and kicked a foot listlessly. “Brahma is convinced you’ve been giving the mortals commands. Telling them to eat and get fatter.”
“Ha! As if humans needed to be told to eat.”
“Yeah… And you’re not telling them to breed more?”
“Zeus,” her tone now chiding, “If I don’t need to tell the humans to stuff their face, do you really think I’d need to tell them to make love?”
“No. I guess not.”
“Besides, fertility isn’t my domain anymore. I ceded it to Ostara decades ago. Remember the baby boom? That was her celebrating. Why don’t you ask her if she’s telling the humans to have more babies?”
“She’s on my left shoulder - or what counts for my shoulder. Spends almost all her time here since we made our agreement. She’s really grown on me, no pun intended.” Ceres began cleaning a series of skewers of grilled meats and vegetables.
Zeus looked to his right, trying to pick the Germanic goddess out of all the corpulent bodies. Then he saw her. About a mile away, the Goddess of Fertility stood out if no reason besides her child-birthing hips. While her upper body was comparable to the largest of Ceres’ worshippers, her lower half was about three times as large. Her torso was marooned in a small lake of flesh that were her legs and hips and butt.
“I guess I’ll talk to her later,” he decided. “So you’re not trying to create a new religion?”
“What?” Ceres chortled, “Is that what you came here to ask me?”
“There seem to be some groups popping up, with you as their patron,” Zeus said meekly.
“So? When all the pantheons agreed to withdraw our presence from Earth we couldn’t wipe our existence from human knowledge. We knew we would endure as myths and legends.” She finished the pork and a new attendant brought a large bowl of mashed potatoes drowning in gravy, melted butter and sour cream. Zeus’ stomach growled as he smelled the literally heavenly concoction.
“And we knew there was always a possibility that people some people would keep the faith. A group of pagans here, some college students rebelling against their parents there. Or that, at the very least, our place in their culture would never entirely vanish. The humans took my name for their breakfast food, and thus people still remember me. Is that any different from how my fellow Roman gods lent their names to the planets?”
“Are you going to ask Jupiter if he’s trying to create a new religion, just because the humans keep his name in their languages?”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“Well, your popularity seems to be growing more and more.”
“I’m the Goddess of Abundance. People are eating more and getting fatter. And that reflects on me. It’s no different than how the use of electricity has heightened your own power. Have you looked in the mirror? If I’m not mistaken you’ve grown a couple feet.”
“Well, yes,” Zeus said, quite proud.
“So no, people aren’t worshipping me.” The potatoes finished, Ceres accepted a triple-layer cake.
“Some are.” Zeus said, so quiet it was almost a squeak.
“How’s that? Some more pagans setting up their little covens in their living rooms?”
“It’s more than that. Yahweh called me to complain again.”
“Which one?” Ceres asked, completely disinterested about whatever the God of Abraham had to talk about.
“The Old Testament one.”
“That pygmy!?” Ceres laughed, so deep and so hard all the flesh around her face began to shake. “Let me guess, he also complained that I’m taking followers away from him.”
“That is the long and the short of it,” Zeus answered, “And he has a case. Kind of.”
“Kind of?” Ceres cocked an eyebrow.
“There’s a church in Texas that used to be his, but now they’re apparently following you.”
“I never told them to.”
“I’m sure you didn’t, but I don’t think Yahweh sees it that way.”
“If he wants to blame someone, he can blame himself. No one wants to follow a god of wrath and hellfire and judgment. He screwed himself over. Not to mention he’s so selfish. ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’ If he wants to raise a stink about losing followers, who cares? He’s got no allies. Maybe if he’d been more of a team player, been the god of something specific. He’s from the Middle East, right? Why couldn’t he be the God of Oil? Think how powerful he’d be today.”
“But about his church…”
“It’s my church now,” Ceres said bluntly. “Isn’t that what you said? Where is it again? Texas?”
“Yes. Somewhere there.”
Ceres turned her attention down to the mortal realm, pretending to seek what she already knew existed.
“Oh, I see. That’s one of those, what do they call them, megachurches, right? Wow. Lots of people. And look, they’re building a statue of me. Can’t remember if I was ever that thin.”
“I agree that Yahweh dug his own hole,” Zeus said, eager to direct Ceres’ disdain toward someone else, “But some of the others have been wondering if you could… you know… maybe stop eating so much.”
The look that Ceres gave Zeus was so withering the God of Thunder felt like he had shrunk a couple feet. All the sounds of chewing and chatting and sex around them went silent as the air became still and heavy.
“It’s just that the others - not me, but guys like Odin - think that your size is influencing the mortals, and that maybe if you stopped growing so fast the mortals wouldn’t be drawn to being fat.”
Ceres said nothing, simply looking at Zeus and letting him stammer on into incoherence. She didn’t even take any food, which made the Greek deity even more nervous.
Finally she spoke, her voice steady but her tone as authoritative as could be.
“Zeus. I’m glad to know you don’t share in this absurd notion that my enormity is influencing the mortals. I grow from their worship, even their unintended worship. That is how it works. Explain that to Odin, Yahweh, and any other god or goddess who doesn’t have the nerve to confront me directly.”
“But what if they don’t listen to me?” And Zeus didn’t even sound like a god now, he sounded like a child afraid to jump into the pool while their father stood in the water with his hands held out.
“You are the most powerful god of the Greek pantheon. You’re a king among beings that shape the universe. Are you telling me a few simpering whiners are too much for you to handle?”
“Take pride in your power! Don’t let the others push you around.”
“OK.” Becoming more confident now, standing at his full height.
“Now go out there and kick some ass, and don’t interrupt my meal unless it’s about something important.”
“Yes, ma’am.” And with that Zeus blinked out of sight, back to his domain.
“He certainly is a gullible one, isn’t he, Your Corpulence?” One of her attendants, pouring a bowl of tomato bisque into her mouth. Ceres drained the entire bowl in one gulp before answering.
“Zeus is the epitome of the old gods. Supreme power, yet so narcissistic it’s child’s play to manipulate them. But he’s a useful fool. With him running interference I haven’t had to deal with any of the other gods or goddesses as I have consolidated my power. Plus, if he hadn’t been convinced to sacrifice Ares so we could all but end war on the mortal plain I never would have grown this vast. Humans couldn’t stop and grow fat as long as they were fighting one another.
“Still, I can’t let the others start getting too big for their britches. Odin wants to get on my case? I guess I’ll turn my attention to Norway now. Make myself known to a few people there, get a couple temples built to me in his own backyard. He’s already so beneath me he can’t stop me, but I want to see him squirm for daring to challenge me. Watch his followers leave him, watch his power wither.
“In the meantime.” Ceres gestured with a hand hidden by uncountable tons of fat, and the sky above her opened up, raining chocolate sauce upon her and her followers. As one, her attendants and worshippers fell into an orgy of sex and food, writhing on top of each other and licking the syrup off the bodies of one another.
It’s a good start, Ceres thought, looking ahead to her number of followers growing, her power growing, and best of all her size growing.