Underworld Mythology | River of Charon | The Ferryman Tale

Underworld mythology of the Greeks has always fascinated me. Their stories have been beautifully imagined particularly the dark bits of the Ferryman Charon, and written with a peaceful pensive verve by the greats. The Greek Underworld mythology enthuses me beyond limit. It is one of the best written accounts of fanciful creations that are as fun as reading dark comics. No matter how many collaborations on Underworld Mythology are there, none would ever suffice. So vast it is and so profound too.

The real beauty of Greek Underworld Mythology lies in its vivid imagination, when you try to visualize it with your own visions of fancy. That’s when the stories of underworld mythology find a new perspective.

I have tried to reimagine one of those gory ferryman stories that lets you delve into the world of the Underworld mythology all over again. It is an entirely different take. Let me know if you like it or not, by mentioning it in the comments.

Here goes the fictional demonic story the Underworld Mythology River of Charon that talks of that rare grim unworldly feel. Events of this tale have been written to reflect a place, somewhere contiguous to the land of Hades. Read on:

Water and Land

Through cheerful echoes in the unknown corridors of my mind, I felt gradually materializing my way back into reality. I could sense a bazillion thoughts fleeting away as I tried to open my eyes.

animation of flickering eyes opening

It was more of a slow flicker that disclosed all of a sudden. But then it felt like it didn’t open at all. For outside, it was dark too. Pitch-dark, in fact, darker than my dream.

“Are my eyes even open?”

I must have thought.

Adjusting myself to the color of the night around, I sat up straight. I tried really hard to see what was around me. What had me.

Fumbling in the Dark

There were rocks everywhere; dull odour of a damp earth tried to make its way into my nose. I was resigning the very idea of me surrounded by water, but then suddenly it was there. That occasional silent noise of ripples hitting pebbles ashore that confirmed I was near some water body.

“But why is it so dark here? Where am I?”

I felt some stones in my hands sitting, so I picked them up, and threw it in front of me to check. A tiny blast of water rose for a split second and disappeared. I threw one to my right. The same familiar fountain rose up and vanished. Then I threw one to my left. It hit something solid.

“More rocks here!”

I stood up and groped like a blind man with dilated pupils towards what was supposed to be my left. My legs might have hit the gravel as I walked on making a crushing noise.

“What is this place? How did I end up here?”

I must have walked just four to five steps when my hand hit something solid. I moved both my hands around it to confirm a wall of rocks that touched my palms back. There was nowhere to go. It was a dead end.

Death of Hope

Feeling that despair of sweat running down my neck, I shouted at the top of my voice:

“Hello! Hello! Is anybody here? Help!”

I listened to my own voice echo three to four times, as if there were many troubled souls asking for help. I felt a rare blend of anguish and disquiet that made me move around restlessly for a minute till my legs found the cold tingling touch of water. Confirmed it was hopeless, I traced back my steps to the place I had gotten up from.

I sat there in that pitch-black devouring dark in my own island of thoughts, waiting. Time seemed to have stopped for me. I couldn’t remember where I had been. I couldn’t even remember getting there. What was the last morsel of idea that I had before waking up? I couldn’t remember that either.

“Wait! Is this a dream?”

I pinched myself.

“Ouch!”

That hurt like hell.

The Incoming Stranger

I was busy cursing myself for nipping myself so hard, when in the remotest corner of my eye something caught my attention. There was a glint of light coming from a far-off land. In its vague reflection, I saw the shape of an oar rise up and fall. It pushed back the river as it carved a whitish reflection on my eyes.

“Somebody was coming. But who?”

Frantic I stood up at once, and started waving my arms.

“Hello! Hello! Help! I am here!”

But I could sense no change in the rhythm of that oar. It rose and fell once again. The water at the end of the oar created ripples that silently seeped its way towards me in a timeline of eternity. Whoever he was seemed unfazed by the quiver in my voice. It appeared as if my voice wasn’t even making it to him.

The good news however was, the boat was coming towards me.

“Yes! Yes! Please! Thank you so much!”

I was beginning to feel relaxed.

“Finally I will be able to get the hell out of here.”

Underworld Mythology Character: Ferryman Charon

As the boat neared, I was taken aback by what I saw. A gigantic contour of a heavy built stout man was oaring his way towards me. He was wearing a hood so his face wasn’t visible. I could make out his robes in the dark, a less darker shade of the place I was in. There was a strange tranquil stillness in that composed comportment of his, as if his body could only speak of death if it ever tried. I sensed no sudden movement in him, just that rhythmic rise and fall of the oar that moved his hands, and that was it.

“What? Who is that?”

I talked to myself.

“Is that the….”

I could barely even complete myself. It was the Ferryman. The same old wretched Ferryman Charon, I had read so much about in the tales of Greek Underworld mythology.

“How badly did I read him that he has transpired?”

The Epiphany

Then suddenly the silence of the dark grew up on me. I became glummer as I added up two and two together. I fathomed where I was. The slap of the cold heartless Styx on my legs reassured the dead in me.

“This could only mean….I guess I am dead then.”

Shattered from within, tears rolled from my eyes. I fell on my knees. It was hard to believe the truth I had shared with myself. A life unlived made a vague attempt of beckoning me from the elusive back of my head.

“There was so much to do! So many things to try. There were so many things to finish!”

Regret began piling up on my mind as that formidable ferry made its way toward my land. Its wooden bottom squashed the pile of stones as the Ferryman stopped oaring. With teary eyes I made a vain attempt to catch his face. But it wasn’t there. Nothing but darkness stared back at me from his hood. He stood there waiting as I tried to pick myself up.

Wiping my tears off boldly, I managed:

“Let’s go!”

And climbed his boat.

The Sojourn

Without wasting any more time, the rowing continued once again, and we were out there on the river. I was crying profusely now, sniveling with every thought that came haunting me of my loved ones.

animation of an oar rowing underworld mythology

“Didn’t even get to say them Goodbye! I couldn’t even tell them how much I loved them. Oh! How much I miss them now!”

Clasping my head with both hands I wept like a madman. It wasn’t long after that, I felt the rowing stop. I figured we might have reached the destination, and that I was supposed to alight. As I was about to get off, I felt the nudge of oar on my back.

The Death Toll

I turned around to see the Ferryman’s one hand raised towards me, as if imploring me to give him something. Suddenly it struck me,

“Ah! The toll! He wants a coin, of course.”

So I started searching my pockets. In the first run, I didn’t find anything. As I felt an empty feel, I began scouring for the money more carefully. As I checked on painstakingly, suddenly in the back of my head, I was becoming aware of that same old sinking feeling you get, when you don’t get what you seek.

There was nothing there. I scavenged properly yet again, but there was nothing there.

“This is so important! How come I don’t even have a dime on me?”

The dark figurine stared at me with his hand still out in the open as if waiting to capture hopes. Scared as hell, I managed a meek reply.

“I don’t have anything to give to you.”

With that, his huge hand went down. There was a moment of silence. I couldn’t figure out what was going on in his head, primarily because I couldn’t see one.

“Can I still go?”

But there was no reply. He stood there motionless. Then there was a sudden scuffle in the waters of Styx. Something was in the river that had stayed quiet until now.

Monsters of Styx

I felt a bubbling noise come from behind me, then it came from my left. Soon it was all around me, as if the silhouette’s serenity had called upon demons from the netherworld. All those ghastly Greek stories of Underworld Mythology came haunting me all at once.

In a window of opportunity I had made out some land towards my right. Probably the place where I was supposed to head. So I dashed for it, before things exacerbated further.

As I was about to jump, I felt the mighty oar of Charon pull me instead. It went so far as to drop me into the chilly water of Styx. As I fell into the water I felt a dozen hands on me. In a matter of seconds, I felt gnawing teeth on my skin.

I shouted at the top of my lungs.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

The pain was excruciating. I could make out monsters tearing my skin away. The feeling of flesh being taken from my body; I had never experienced being eaten alive before.

Fighting Back

Whether it were my reflexes or survival instinct that came into play, I punched each one of those pouncing predators and pushed them away with whatever strength I had left in my body. Then I turned around to swim back to the place where I had started from in the first place, away from the ferry.

As I splashed my way into the numbing water, I felt myself getting closer towards the land. It wasn’t that far away, I could tell. The noise of chattering teeth behind me was growing heavy. They would occasionally touch my feet. But I was nimble enough to escape. I didn’t know if I could make it back. But I kept going.

Suddenly I felt ground against my leg, and I scampered my way towards the place I had originally started from. In those hurried steps I had trudged upon many stones, and had actually felt some of them getting pulverized underneath my feet. I went on my all fours in an attempt to get away from the water as fast as I could.

Land of the Dead

In a shimmer of light that came once from a world far behind, I saw for the first time, what I had mistaken for stones, weren’t actually stones.

They were bones. I had woken up in a pile of bones!

I freaked out, stood up and ran in order to stop trampling on them. Suddenly my head found the wall, and I fell right there. I could feel blood trickling down my face, as my eyes began to close.

As I slept there motionless, I felt for the first time, darkness around me get darker.

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