The screen focused on a mid-sized sedan pulling up to a curb. Mercury narrated, “They’ve just pulled into the departure area. The elderly couple in the front seat is Jane’s parents. Our travelers earned fifty points for getting a free ride. For such an auspicious start, I arranged for their first flight to go without a hitch.”
On the screen behind the co-anchors, Bill and the driver scrambled to get the luggage to the curbside check-in, as Jane hugged her mother farewell. “No points here,” Mercury announced, “They’ve brought three huge suitcases and an enormous hanging bag. Both contestants have carry-ons to boot. They’ll never be able to keep up with it all. That’s five points down.” The scrying bowl showed the couple gathering up their carry-on items and heading towards an elevator. Mercury added, “Uh oh, major foul! Bill didn’t tip the skycap. That will cost them five hundred points.”
Behind Isis, Jane leaned over to peck Bill’s cheek as they rode up the elevator. Ignoring the affection gesture, Zeus rubbed his hands together with glee. “That’s a tough break so early in the game.”
“The score is just over six hundred,” Mercury reported, “a mighty low number for the beginning of the game. They don’t even qualify for help.” Demeter noted that his lean runner’s body wasn’t quite as lean as it used to be. The lack of worshippers was taking its toll on all of them. Someday they might cease to exist.
“Oh look!” Isis called, “They went through security without a hitch. That puts them at seven-o-five.”
Zeus said, “Yes it does, but they’re going to need all the points they can get to make it through my storm.”
Delighted with the new contestants, Demeter continued watching until they boarded their plane. Then she turned over to DNN, the Deity News Network, since it was time for Celebrity, the gossip magazine. She wondered if they’d have anything to say about a burgeoning romance between Isis and Zeus, but there was nothing new.
Munching grapes, Demeter flipped through the channels, browsing what was available. She returned to Jagged Journeys, just as Zeus asked Mercury, “Why are you in Chicago? I thought our contestants were headed to New York.”
“Well, Zeus, they’re not exactly flying direct. The bride-to-be is a flight attendant and she used her miles for their tickets, routing everyone through a series of connecting flights.”
Isis protested, “But Mercury, you arranged for their first flight to go smoothly. Has something gone awry?”
“Oh, the first flight was fine,” Mercury assured her, “Our contestants deplaned and are looking at the departure board, but watch Jane’s face. She’ll soon realize their next flight was cancelled.”
“How did that happen?” Isis wanted to know. “They’ve been model travelers since the skycap incident! And their points are climbing!”
Zeus said, “Isis, you’re forgetting one of the most exciting things about Jagged Journeys. We may have to wait for the points get below five hundred to cause trouble, but the airlines are free agents. They decided to cancel the flight to New York without our influence.”
“That’s right, Zeus,” Mercury said.
“Look at that, Jane’s complaints devoured one hundred points, but Bill gave such an encouraging reply he won the points right back,” Isis said.
Demeter decided to keep watching while she ironed a few togas. The task was so arduous that she’d only finished the first one when she heard Mercury say, “Classic airline frustration, Zeus and Isis! Manipulating statistics for advertising advantage. This airline loves to brag about ‘on time flights,’ but everyone knows they tweak the numbers.”
A glance inside the plane showed some passengers standing in the aisles chatting, while others fidgeted in their seats. “I don’t see this often. They’ve been stuck out there so long the pilot gave them permission to move about the cabin.” Suddenly, Mercury’s voice changed, “Okay, the story is developing as we speak. The pilot revved the engines and told the passengers to sit down. Even now the plane is beginning to taxi. Zeus, how’s that storm in New York?”
Demeter read a love of mischief in Zeus’s eyes, “I’ve planned some breaks in the storm, but only brief ones. It’ll be dusk before the storm finally moves west. Let’s leave our passengers in the air at nine hundred and one points, but stay tuned, because we’ll be back.”