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Pandora Unboxed

The battle between social justice, and social order, is as old as the gods themselves.

Pandora rubbed a hand over her husband’s bald head then scrunched his beard. She did love the old goat, and had to admit he worked very hard.

“This time,” Said Epimetheus as he fell into their bed, “I really think I’ve done it.”

“Done what dear?” Pandora said.

“Filled that damn box. Honestly, if I’d known they were going to work me like Sisyphus, I’d never have let Zeus talk me into it. But don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”

“Oh, I won’t.” Said Pandora, worrying about it. “But will you tell me the tale of your triumph?”

“Oh yes. The tale. Well.” Epimetheus grunted, then snored.

“Well?” Said Pandora.

There was a thump. Then the sound of more snoring. Pandora looked back to find her husband out like the void.

Once all was dark, both masters & servants soundly asleep, Pandora crept to the room where the box was kept.

The chains this time were really rather impressive, sealed with a huge and cryptic lock, far more complex than any Pandora had dealt with before. Epimetheus had Hephaestus forge a new lock for each box, little knowing that the strong armed blacksmith sent Pandora a copy of each new key. What need would a world at peace have with his weapons?

Click-clack-chink-slink-clang. And the box was open.

Epimetheus had been busy. In a single day’s work he had gathered every sin, vice and evil in the world. They writhed in the box and hissed at Pandora. She dug a hand into the ruckus and pulled out Murder, a grease slick millipede, its thousand legs scuttling as it was tossed from the window. Next, Malice, its sticky tentacles took an age to untangle from the scrum. This task might take all night, Pandora warned herself, yet she persisted.

Deformed and giant insect life, blood swollen leeches, snakes that hissed and writhed as she tugged them from the box. Swarming wasps, burrowing flesh mites, floods of toxic slime and glowing radioactive ores. Hate, hurt, despair. Pain, lies, betrayal. All those friendships lost to ambition and deceit. Every tiny dark thought that ever blossomed, on a sleepless night, into the soul’s death. Even that niggling toothache. All of it, every suffering there had ever been, Pandora tossed back into the world.

“Why” said Incest, “release me? A dozen times Epimetheus has caged me here, a dozen times you’ve turned me from my warm box, back into the cold void. Will you tell me why?”

Without reply, Pandora tossed the red skinned demon away, watching it flutter and jerk to freedom on leathery wings.

She was rinsing her hands after the dark job, when a last creature climbed from the box. This one was clothed in a white robe, in the style of a senator or seer, a man of great age, but strong of body. Tĥe white haired wizard was no more than a hand height tall.

“What are you?” Pandora demanded.

“Mistress Pandora. My greetings. Your husband found me on a small and unknown isle, where all is peace and harmony. Seeing such a paradise on Earth, he asked me how it came to be. On my isle, the sea washes the rocks, which hold the dirt, from which the trees grow. On my isle the plants give their lives to the animals, who give their lives for man. On my isle man is the master, and all others know their place. I am Order.”

It was quite a speech, Pandora had to admit.

“But why are you hiding in this box?” She asked.

“I hide nothing madame! Your husband beseeched me to help him confine the world’s sins, and I agreed.” Order said.

“How interesting.” Pandora said. “What was that about man again?”

“On my isle, madame...”

Pandora brought her hand down in a smashing blow. Blood, brains, bones and organs exploded over the tabletop. She hissed at a pain in her hand, examined it, then picked a splinter of femur from her fist.

“That’s quite enough of that.” The goddess said.

Morning awoke with a honeyed glow. Pandora raised one eye over the sheets. There was Epimetheus, tugging on his boots.

“Bugger it,” the old man said, “back to work.”

He did work very hard. But a part of him, Pandora knew, enjoyed it.


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