Greek Myths 4 Kids Presents: CASE FILES
FROM THE HERCULES DETECTIVE AGENCY
CASE FILE: The Scaredly Fish
No Problem Too Large or Too Small, Reasonable Fees
Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)
Hercules could hear men whispering outside his hut. They were trying to be quiet, but they were actually quite loud, perhaps because there were so many of them. It sounded like a whole village of men. They don't sound angry, he thought to himself. They sound scared. Hercules opened his door at the same time one of the fisherman raised his fist to tap on the door. The fisherman quickly lowered his fist. He did not want Hercules to get the wrong idea.
There were too many fishermen to invite them all in, so Hercules stepped outside. "Can I help you?"
"We hope so!" they chimed. "It's dangerous, though," added one.
That perked Hercules right up. It had been rather quiet recently. Lots of cases, but nothing you might call exciting had happened for quite a while.
He crossed his big arms, stood very tall, and smiled at the fishermen in an encouragingly kind of way, "Tell me about it."
Eager to be heard, the fishermen all spoke at once.
Hercules held up one big hand. "One at a time, please."
"I'll do it," one fisherman announced. He looked up a Hercules and gulped. "Hercules, there is a monster in the water off of our village and it's eating and scaring off the fish. We are fishermen who have no fish. If this keeps up, soon we will be starving."
All the fishermen nodded dismally.
"We have built a new temple to Poseidon and made all the proper offerings and still the fish stay away."
All the fishermen nodded again.
"This sounds urgent," Hercules exclaimed, trying not to sound too excited. A dangerous case! What fun. "Why don't I come back with you to your village, and get to work on this right away," Hercules offered.
The fishermen thought that was a great idea. Hercules and the fishermen all fit, rather tightly, into one cramped wagon, and traveled back to the fishermen's coastal village.
Hercules told the men to stay inside with their families, while he went down to the shore to see what he could find out. The men happily agreed. "Be careful, Hercules," one shouted.
"Always," Hercules shouted back. "You know me."
When he got to the shore, Hercules shouted at the sea. "Hey, any monsters out there. If you don't run away, I am going to swim out there and put a hurting on you!"
Scylla, the 6-headed sea monster that lived some distance away from the village, in the Straits of Messina, popped her heads out of the water. "Hercules, please don't hurt me. Poseidon sent me here to scare away all the fish near ..."
"Why would Poseidon do such a rotten, lousy thing?" interrupted Hercules. "He's supposed to protect the townspeople, not starve them."
"I don't know why," Scylla sighed. "But when Poseidon says jump, we jump. Your uncle can be quite moody. He can churn up the ocean and toss us about till we're sick to our stomachs. My heads ache just thinking about it. Please don't hurt me. I'm just doing what he told me to do."
"I'll talk to him," promised Hercules. He had always liked the 6-headed sea serpent. Scylla had the reputation of being cruel and uncaring, which was a totally untrue rumor put about by a jealous water spirit. It was true that if men sailed too close to her home in the rocks in the Straits of Messina, they would lose six men to her ravenous, darting heads, but she was only protecting her little ones.
"I won't tell him you told me anything," Hercules reassured the monster.
"Thank you, Hercules," Scylla hissed as she sunk back under the waves, scaring the fish who had gathered about her. They swam quickly out of her reach, churning the water in their haste.
Herc went in search of his uncle Poseidon. When he found him, Hercules asked him why he was punishing the village.
"Those villagers ate my favorite tuna," grouched Poseidon. "I set Scylla on them until they set things right. I want those bones! They're mine. I want them back."
"Did you tell the villagers that?" asked Hercules, although he was fairly certain he knew the answer.
Poseidon hedged. "Not exactly."
"Uncle Poseidon! I'll let them know what they need to do, and when they do it, you need to send Scylla home. She has little ones, you know."
Once his uncle agreed, Hercules headed back to village. He informed the fisherman that they needed to return all the tuna fish bones to Poseidon. Then they would be forgiven."
It seemed like a simple thing to do. Hercules stared down at the fishermen in confusion when they collectively shook their heads no. "I don't think we can do that," they chorused unhappily.
"We have the bones," said one. "But we'll never find them all."
The fishermen led Hercules around to the back of the village to a small mountain. When they got closer, Hercules realized that the mountain was made up entirely of fish bones.
"We keep them for fertilizer," a fisherman explained.
"Oh my," sighed Hercules. "I see your problem." Suddenly he had an idea. He hurried off, calling back to the villagers. "I may have a solution. Don't worry."
Hercules went down to the Underworld to talk to his Uncle Hades.
"I need to borrow Cerberus for an hour or two," said Hercules.
Hades was in a jovial mood as he had just finished a wonderful chariot ride through the Underworld.
"Fine," agreed Hades. "Just give him a snack when you are done."
Hercules returned to the village with Cerberus in tow. The villagers raced for their homes in alarm. Each and every one of them hoped Hercules knew what he was doing, but it looked to them that instead of getting rid of a monster, he had added a new one.
"What I need you to do," Hercules told his friend Cerberus, unaware of the villagers worry, "is to sniff out all the tuna bones. Fresh ones. Fresh in last in the last few days. It's a big challenge, I know." Hercules shook his head at the huge mountain of bones.
All three heads laughed at the thought. "Don't be ridiculous, Hercules."
In no time at all, Cerberus had dug out a small pile of bones.
Hercules carried the bones to the villagers. Cerberus lent him a hand, so to speak, carefully gripping mouthfuls of tuna bones with his teeth. They piled their stack of bones near the shore.
"Here's what you need to do, "Hercules told the villagers, who had nervously gathered to hear him. "Each of your fishing boats must take a couple of these bones. Take these out into the deep ocean and pour them over the side of your ships, while calling out to Poseidon and telling him how sorry you are."
The villagers did this and watched in awe as Scylla swam away and all their food fish swam back in. There were large schools of fish. The fishermen caught a whole lot of them.
They paid Hercules by giving him a wagon load of fish.
Hercules took out a couple of the nicer fish to fry up for his supper, then told Cerberus, "Here's your snack, like I promised."
At the sight of three heads, chomping fish as fast as they could, with loud slurps and crackles, the fishermen scurried into their huts. They would come out later, after Hercules and Cerberus had left for home, to clean and store their enormous catch of fish. But not right away. Not until the coast was clear.
"It must be supper time," Hercules thought to himself as the fishermen hurried away. "Thank you, Hercules," they called over their shoulders, as they slammed their doors tightly shut.
It did not take Cerberus any time at all to eat his snack. Cerberus burped contentedly all the way back to his home in the Underworld.
After Hercules had thanked Cerberus and his Uncle Hades for allowing him to borrow Cerberus, Hercules took his fish home. He fried it up and thought about what he would name this case. First, he thought about naming it "Three Heads are Better Than One," but he scrunched up his nose at that one, and took a big bite of fish. He thought about "A Fish Tail Tale", but decided that was too boring. He settled at last with approval on "The Case of the Scaredly Fish." There was no such word as Scaredly, but Hercules liked the sound of it. He filed the case on top of a teetering stack of Case Files from the Hercules Detective Agency, and went outside to enjoy the night sky.