I returned to the lake where I had crash-landed from the constellation in outer space that bears my name.

Plummeting millions of miles through clouds and ice. Fighting for air. Trillions of particles penetrated my flesh, like stings from the scorpion I fled from centuries ago. Falling… falling through space. Four hundred and fifty light years. In seconds. Falling to… Planet Earth… where I was born…

The atmosphere burned my skin. I screamed. I plunged down. The blue-green-brown paradise I was expelled from hurtled towards me. Impact. I hit water. A gigantic fountain erupted skyward as I plunged deep, deep. Drowning. Fighting. I surged to the surface with superhuman strength. I heaved into my vast, frozen lungs the wondrous warm air of Earth.

Hauling my weapons, I walked on the water. Well, waded through it, more like. Another supernatural ability gifted to me. In the dead of night, I hauled my beloved club, shield, sword and dagger and found a place in the surrounding forest to sleep.

I looked up at the star-studded sky and saw myself: most peculiar, I can tell you. A giant man etched in the heavens who has captivated stargazers and astronomers through the generations since the time I lived, loved, and hunted in Ancient Greece. Orion the Hunter. Recognised by every civilisation by the three perfectly aligned stars on my warrior’s belt.

I had made sure that I left my stellar imprint intact, so as not to get the world’s space and intelligence agencies all worked up about missing star systems. I’m not just a stupid big hunter. I have acquired skills other than hunting. I absorbed a barrage of TV signals belching out from your – my – planet. Don’t ask me how. Up there, where the Goddess of the Hunt consigned me to eternal purgatory, I learned what’s been going down these several centuries. Suspended in the cosmos for all time. Immortality? Don’t make me laugh! I suffered a timeless stasis, floating in a tortuous limbo, like in some endless waking dream.

I drank the lake water, then I swam in it. It refreshed my big, aching body. I realised from my inner compass that I had landed somewhere in the western desert states of the New World. I had to find somewhere to stay, to hunt, to live, to love. A lone wanderer now, as before. I needed money for my grand plan. Not the first minted gold coins of old Chios, but U.S. dollars – the world’s currency.

Chios: ah, I remember. The island I rid of wild beasts, hundreds of years before Christ, in my heyday as the greatest hunter ever seen. The king had promised me the hand of his beautiful, raven-haired daughter Merope, in return for my services. He reneged on the deal, and plied me with wine from his own vineyard. I longed to make love to his little buxom daughter. I wanted to woo her, to court her, to marry her. I longed to crush her with my savage kiss, to excite her curvaceous body with my rough tongue.

I staggered through the king’s palace in search of her, and found her asleep in her bedchamber. She was splayed on her back, her night robe partially undone to reveal the top of her breasts, which rose and fell like small volcanoes about to erupt as she breathed heavily in slumber. I saw her ripe nipples through the robe, pointing upward. Her thick dark hair was spread over the pillow like a sea of waves. Her mouth was slightly open, her lips full and beckoning. The bed covering was strewn to reveal her robe drawn up around her thighs. I was harder than I could remember.

The moment I reached out to hold her and kiss her, the king and his gang of Satyrs burst in and wrestled me to the ground, then gouged my eyes out with my own dagger. Then they kicked me out. I was blind drunk, then just blind. Agony, it was. I screamed until my vocal cords snapped.

Got my sight back with the help of the disabled god of fire, Hephaestus. He took pity on me and despatched his little assistant, the young lad Cedalion, perched atop my big shoulders to catch the first light of the Eastern dawn. There my sight was restored. A miracle: and what many down the ages believe was a lucky break for me, an undeserved redemption – after I had forced myself on the king’s daughter.

But I did not force myself on the king’s daughter, despite all the stories. They are what you call, in your century, fake news.

I strode into a desert village. One street, a general store, a church, and what looked like a shop selling antiques and artefacts. I walked in, weapons clanking. I wore my ancient Greek warrior’s chiton, my studded belt and sandals, and little else. The sun was blinding; baking hot. I gloried in its heat and brilliance.

“How can I help, sir?” asked the wizened little man behind the counter. “You been to a fancy-dress party?”

I removed a precious bronze amulet from my muscled arm. A gift from Eos, the beautiful, insatiable Goddess of the Dawn, who kept me as a sex slave in her palace. Rode me to a pulp for months on end. Chained me to her gold-encrusted bed while she slaked her lust on my whipped, scratched, bitten, bruised, heaving body. In her thrall, I discovered the supreme ecstasy of being devoured, dominated, and held captive by a beautiful woman with superhuman strength even greater than mine. Then she kicked me out, as I could never sate her, and she found another. I adored her.

I set the amulet on the counter, towering over the shop owner. Broke my heart to part with it.

“How much for this?” I asked.

“Good Lord, this is a fine piece, sir.” The shop owner turned over and fingered the priceless artefact from the glory days of my beautiful homeland.

“It looks… very old. And very valuable. It should be in the British Museum.” He stopped short of telling me that I should be as well, along with the Elgin Marbles.

He took the piece to the back to examine it. He knew it was worth a fortune, and I knew he would short-change me. He handed over a sizeable wad of thousand-dollar bills – enough for me to stay somewhere luxurious for the foreseeable future.

First, I had to buy modern clothing. I found a store selling what you call army surplus. And as I had landed in America, a land of giants – I could find gear in my size: I am, as I was, very tall and built like a brick shithouse. I bought tactical pants, hunting vest, black T shirts, desert boots, shades for my sensitive eyes, and a backpack for my weapons. I kept on my beloved studded belt. The clothes felt odd and hot to wear after being semi-naked for millennia.

I found a hotel at the end of the street. Out of the desert heat the air was freezing. I walked up to a man behind a desk.

“ID, sir? You here for the hunting weekend?”

Something told me to reach into my vest pocket and bring out a little book. A passport. “Yes, sir. I am… a citizen of the European Union. I want your best room, please.”

He glanced at the picture of my face on the page. Classic Greek-god features: olive skin, golden brown hair swept back in curls cascading onto my long, thick neck; glaring dark green eyes; cheekbones and jawline you could cut a beast’s throat on; straight nose; perfectly shaped lips – a mouth for kissing and sucking. The handsomest man ever born. Or so they said. He handed me a room card. “Top floor, penthouse suite. Enjoy your stay, sir.”

I turned to look for a staircase. “Elevator just behind you, sir.” Some sort of vehicle that would transport me up. Not back to the stars, hopefully.

I stepped inside it. It zoomed to the top floor. The door opened. I collapsed into the corridor. The elevator pressure had reopened the scar on my head, wrought by Artemis’s lethal arrow aeons ago. Seems like only yesterday. Shot through the head, as I swam frantically out to sea, escaping the gigantic scorpion she called down to sting me to death. When I said I would hunt down all the animals on Earth.

As I passed out, the memory returned. Of Artemis, raising her deadly bow when her twin brother, the sun god Apollo, told her I had raped her handmaiden, Opis. I did not rape the nymph: she took me by the hand, kissed me ravenously, and invited me to make glorious, furious love to her in the forest. Which I did. She was a virgin. Told me afterwards she wanted me to be her first. And that Apollo had told her to seduce me. To trap me into a scene he would view from above in his sky chariot, confirming me as a dire threat to his sister’s chastity.

I fell for it – being the horny hunter I was. Am. I never threatened his sister. Well, I kissed her, and we fell asleep in each other’s arms. End of.

End of me.

OK, so I longed to make love to Artemis. I was besotted with her. The first time I saw her she stood majestically atop a mountain, about to shoot her arrow. Her tunic was short, showing muscled thighs. As she fired, her tunic top lowered for a second to show a firm, ample, shuddering breast. She was oblivious to its wondrous nakedness. I was aroused the moment I saw her, even as she raised her bow to shoot me for ogling her in the forest. Took a lot to still my ardour, even with her arrow pointed at my heart. The heart she stole; the heart she broke.

She invited me to hunt with her, so long as I kept my distance. On pain of death. As she was – is – the Virgin Goddess. She had killed hunters before who ventured near her, or who saw her bathe naked. In the most gruesome ways possible. I adored her. I still adore her. She took my soul. Then she took my life. But that’s all centuries ago. Who cares? Well, quite a few who believed the most prevalent version of my legend. That I forced myself on Artemis. Or tried to. Other versions tell of her loving me, and that we had a romance. I am the Schrödinger’s Cat of Greek mythology: multiple states, multiple stories. Dead on Earth, immortal in the stars.

I felt someone dragging me along the corridor carpet, then taking the room card from my big hand. A door opened and a woman heaved my six-foot-six form up onto the bed. I opened my eyes, blood streaming down my face. She removed my backpack and dropped it to the floor.

“Please wake up, sir! We need to get you to the hospital!”

I looked up at her. A fulsome woman. My blood had spilled onto her short skirt. Somehow, she had dragged me into my room. I read the namecard on the dress which barely covered her copious bosom: Dawn, Hotel Manager. Was I dreaming? Was I back on the island of Chios, being carried off again by Eos, Goddess of the Dawn? No, this was for real. Centuries on. And bleeding from my death wound onto a beautiful woman called Dawn. In a hotel in the New World.

I sat up. She went into the bathroom to fetch a soaked paper towel and gently wiped my head. Her touch was wondrous; the first from a woman in a very long time. I tried to still my erection.

“Thank you, kind Lady. I’m… OK. It’s just an old war wound.”

“When did you check in?”

I crashed to Earth only yesterday…

“Just now. Thank you for rescuing me.”

“What’s your name?”

“Ori-… Er, Hunter.”

“Well, Mr Hunter, that’s a real cool name for our special weekend we’re putting on, out in the wild! You gonna be fit for that? Well, I guess so – you are a veteran after all. You’re fit all right,” she said, looking me up and down.

“You are too,” I gave her my dazzling smile. I assumed ‘fit’ just meant physically fit – ready for action, not ready for sex. Which I always was. Am.

“I mean, you must be fit to have dragged me in here. That took some strength. I’m a big man.” I liked my women strong, powerful. Mortal or immortal. That’s what did for me way back then: a strong, powerful, fearsome goddess. Artemis. I staunched a tear on being revisited by yet another unwanted memory of her.

“I work out every day. I’ve lifted heavier than you. How long are you staying?” she asked. She finished mopping up my wound. The scar on my head closed.

“I’m just passing through,” I answered.

I beheld Dawn’s beauty. She had soft, wavy brown hair to her shoulders. She was tall, with a captivating, heart-shaped face, big blue eyes, full lips, and a broad, lusty smile. Her blouse was partly unzipped to show inviting cleavage. Just in case you didn’t know, I wasn’t just the greatest hunter in Ancient Greece; I was the horniest. Back in the day I used to bed dozens of women after I brought back my hunting spoils. I was a notoriously prolific lover. I fathered fifty sons and two daughters. Now, I was aching to lie with a woman. This woman.

“I’ll leave you to rest,” she said. “I’ll check in on you later.” She sashayed out of my grand room, looking back at me, her hips swinging, leaving me hard as all hell.

I beheld the television embedded in the wall. There were no switches on it, only a small black stick, which I guessed was a trigger to operate it. I watched news on the planet I was banished from, now in real time – not after a delay of many years. War raged in what was now called the Middle East. I saw on a map that my homeland had shrunk. Just part of a big Union of Europe. Then the American news, and my blood leapt in my veins. Not from my condition of amorous ardor. The man on the screen was talking about animals on the loose in the desert states.

“We’ve been hearing reports from farms and residents about these strange wild animals. What can you tell us?”

A farmer appeared on the screen. “They critters are somethin’ else, sir. They done mauled and killed several dozen head of my cattle, in one night. Found them eviscerated. Saw somethin’ run off. Like nothin’ you ever saw, sir. Like some bull, or a boar, but bigger than a goddam pick-up truck.”

More farmers complained about multiple attacks by the strange, huge creatures on their cattle, sheep, and horses. The reporter said, “The usual rumor mill is going full blast about alien mutilations. But a leading scientist has another theory: that the sustained nuclear tests in these areas decades ago have produced dangerous mutations in some of our larger animals.”

The report finished with a police chief asking for more witness reports and an appeal for calm and – my heart almost jumped out of my broad chest – a request for help.

A knock came at the door. I opened it, to find Dawn carrying a bottle containing a honey-colored drink, and a tray of food. Some kind of crushed meat inside lumps of bread, and what looked like very small cooked legs of another animal. Chicken.

She smiled widely, her head cocked, the bottle raised. Her hair was brushed and soft round her face. She was wearing the dress without her uniform jacket, unzipped even further. The light from the window flitted across her exposed neck. I saw her erect nipples swelling inside her dress. I became consumed with lustful longing to suck her. Her sweet fragrance was intoxicating.

“How are you doing, Mr Hunter? You’re looking much better. May I join you?”

I saw the gentle sway of her breasts inside her dress as she set the food tray down on the table in my spacious lounge area. I longed to unleash them, to gently fondle them, to let my hunter’s tongue and lascivious mouth dance through the canyon of her cleavage and her glorious dark aureoles. She opened the bottle and poured the golden liquid into small, squat glasses. It smelt strong. Whiskey. I had only drunk wine back in my time: oceans of it. This was far stronger. Pungent.

She chatted about the hunting weekend, which guns I could hire, or if I preferred a crossbow, which I did – how long she had worked here, and so on. I listened avidly, eating voraciously and gulping down the whiskey. Along with unadulterated desire, lingering at the back of my mind was the news report I had just heard.

I enjoyed my first night in luxurious comfort on Earth, pleasantly drunk in the arms of a luscious, amorous woman. It wasn’t long before we were locked together on my king-size hotel bed, her full lips devouring my mouth. She pulled off my shirt, biting into my chest, and unzipped my pants, grasping my helplessly hard manhood. I gently unzipped her dress. She wore nothing underneath, like the filmy robe that barely covered my beloved Goddess of the Dawn. I caressed and gently kissed her breasts. I moved down and she sat astride my face. I tasted and tantalised her love valley, making her tremble and gush into my mouth, shrieking for joy. All I ever wanted to do was give women joy in my arms. She pushed me down on the bed. I lay back. She rode me until we soared to our zenith.

“Do you make love to all your guests?” I said, sprawled out, her arm encircling my neck.

“No, sir!” she jumped up. “Only you. Minute I saw you, I said, Jeez, is this big guy hot. Once I got you cleaned up.”

I watched her get dressed. My arousal returned. She looked over at me. “And you’re the first man I’ve met who can keep up with me!” She zipped off her dress and we resumed where we left off, only this time she pulled me down onto her, into her – her breasts gyrating while I thrust hard and deep inside her cavern of love. We fell asleep wrapped in each other’s arms.

As dawn broke, she got up. “I guess I won’t see you again,” she said.

“I have business to attend to,” I said. “I may be staying for some time.” I was falling in love. Again.

“It gets mighty dull round here,” she said.

“I would love to see you again. I am most happy and honored to pleasure you, my Lady.”

“You talk kinda funny!” she said. “Like, oldfashioned. Like a medieval English knight or somethin’. Where are you from?”

“Orginally, Greece,” I replied. I left out the Ancient bit.

“A Greek god!” She broke into her big lusty smile and laughed heartily. “Well you’re certainly built like one, honey.”

“Not a god,” I said. “Just a mere mortal.” Consigned to immortality in the stars, and now fallen back to Earth – and mortal once again…

After she left, I picked up the amazing instrument the army clothing store had sold me. A mobile telephone. I had scribbled down the number to call the Police Department about the killing and mutilation of livestock, and sightings of the strange marauding beasts.

“Is it about the animal raids? Who shall I say is calling, sir?”

“My name is Hunter,” I replied. “Yes, about the animal raids. I most certainly can help you.”

In another room, Dawn also picked up a mobile phone and made a call on a secure line to the agency she worked for.

“It’s done,” she said. “Plan A accomplished.”

Unbeknownst to me, Dawn had inserted a miniature tracking device into the back of my neck as I climaxed inside her on my hotel bed.

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