The Seven Against Thebes


This is an adaptation of an idea which I had for a film. As I had no idea of how to construct film scripts at the time, I eventually decided to write it up as a novella.

The novel is set in what appears to be in a post-apocalyptic world, people living in great arcologies as the world outside is harsh and inimical to life.

The novel is basically a retelling of the Ancient Greek legend of the Seven against Thebes, but transposed to a futuristic setting. The characters are the same as in that tale.

Perhaps one day I will actually get around to writing this up as a film script.

Extract from The Seven Against Thebes

The garden looked beautiful. Her father had become a wonderful gardener, in his old age, despite his blindness. All that he had to do was to touch a plant to know what it was. He was good with plants. It was people who he had problems with.

Antigone was the only person who Oedipus would let see him these days. He had cut himself off from the rest of humanity, happier to walk among plants than among the world of men. Plants did not betray you, or ask of you that which you could not give. They only required earth to be bedded in, water to drink, and sunlight.

It had been months since she had last visited him, and he looked worse than ever. She wished that he would let a healer see him. But he always refused. She suspected that he wanted to die, that he enjoyed being ill; that it somehow helped him assuage the guilt of what he had done. But death would change nothing; what had been done could not be undone.

Father.” One word; an introduction to let him know that she was standing next to his chair. She suspected that he had heard her approach, but had chosen to ignore her. There was nothing wrong with his ears: it was only his eyes that didn’t see. But his mind saw. She knew that he was a prophet, that he could see the strands of fate within his mind. But he felt that his powers were a curse. He rarely spoke of what he dreamt, fearful that he might bring about new horrors in this world.

Antigone.” he replied. “My favourite daughter.”

Your only daughter.” she said. “How are your plants?”

They thrive.” he said. The way that he said it, made it seem almost like an insult. It suggested that he would really have bee a lot happier had they all died. Then he would have had one more thing to mourn.

Good. I’m glad to see that they are doing well.” Antigone said. She stood beside him, glancing down on his old body, twisted in the chair in which he sat. His hands still had dirt on them, from the flower bed no doubt.

Let me clean your hands.” Antigone said. “I can go and fetch a damp cloth.”

Leave them.” he said. “They will only get dirty again.”

As you wish.” Antigone said. She stared down at the flowers. They were pretty little things.

You did not come here to discuss horticulture.” Oedipus said.

No.” Antigone said. “I didn’t. It’s about my brothers.”

What about them?” Oedipus asked. “They are not here, are they? I thought that it was only you who had come to see this old man.”

No, they’re not here, though I wish they were.” Antigone said. “Father, do you think it wise, what you did, telling them to rule in succession? You know what they’re like.”

What is done is done!” Oedipus almost shouted, raising his voice as much as he dared. “I will look into the future no more. Only sorrow lies there. Foresight is a curse. And I am too old to rule anymore by myself. Let them rule as they will. The die is cast.”

It will not last.” Antigone said.

Nothing ever does.” Oedipus said. He sighed, and looked away from the present; but not into the future. His future had run short, the last grains of sand trickling from the hourglass. But the glass that had been the past was almost full. He wished that he could turn it over, and live out his past again, but get it right the next time. Except that you never can.

Leave me.” Oedipus said. “What happens in Thebes is not my concern.”


Leave me.” he repeated. “I would be alone.”

Antigone left. There was no point speaking to her father when he was in this sort of mood. She did not realise that she would never see him again. His time was done, the strands that bound his fate being snipped by the three sisters.

He wanted to be alone to die. He did not want his daughter there, or his sons there, when he passed from one world to the next.

Once he was sure that his daughter had left, he relaxed. He could no longer feel his feet, but he was quite happy about that. They had really been giving him gyp, what with the rheumatism and the arthritis. He breathed one breath, and then one more, and then yet one more, and he was done, he breathed no more.

Antigone was by then some distance away from the micro-arcology of Oedipus. She had left behind its plexiglass dome, that protected the garden of her father, his precious flowers and other plants. Her bio-suit protected her from the most debilitating effects of walking through the Wasteland between the Arcologies, but, when a sandstorm got up – as it had done now – it was still almost impossible to see where she was going. She had to rely glancing at the built in compass in her opti-filter to make sure that she was going in the right direction.

Antigone marched on, the wind whipping around her body, the sand trying to shred the plastic bio-suit that protected her. Her destination: the Arcology of Thebes.

The Seven Against Thebes is available as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle store.


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