The Fates Get Bored
Artie was becoming impatient. The show was beginning to drag on for him, or could be his ADHD acting up. Either way, he wished the show would wrap up. He looked down again and surveyed the crowd again. He made sure to glance down every few minutes or so, just in case. Artie sighed as saw there was no change, everything was the same as it had been an hour ago. He returned his attention back to the stage where another musical number was coming on.
Francis had begun speaking with his friend Jerry. Jerry was explaining how he grew up in Chicago and moved to New York for a job, but was still homesick for his city. Francis apparently was too depressed about his high school sweetheart leaving him for a well known gangster to hear him completely. Jerry then invited him to come with him to Chicago, since he had been meaning to go back for the holidays, to get his mind off of his troubles.
"I don't know Jerry." said Frank. "What do you got there that we don't got here?"
Jerry folded his arms, "Nothing. What we got here, we got there."
"Then whats so good about it?"
Then, like the other times before, the music began to swell as the stage began to fill with dancers. Jerry began to dance and lead Francis across the stage as the background changed from New York to Chicago. As he lead him, Jerry sang another Frank Sinatra classic.
Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town.
Chicago, Chicago, I will show you around.
Bet your bottom dollar you'll lose the blues in Chicago, Chicago.
The town that Billy Sunday couldn't shut down.
On State Street, that great street, I'd just want to say -
They do things they don't do on Broadway.
They have the time, the time of their life.
I saw a man, he danced with his wife.
In Chicago, Chicago, my home town.
Artie bobbed his head along with the music. He guessed the show was close to over, provided the show would proceed like he thought it would. He assumed that Francis would fall in love with a girl he met while in Jerry's hometown and sing a version of My Kind Of Town. Then he would announce that he would return to New York to get married and thus end the show with Sinatra's most famous song, New York New York. It was a predictable ending, or so he thought.
Francis had just proposed to his love interest, Martha he remembered, was about to burst into song when a loud AROOF drowned out his words and caused him to break character.
"What the heck was - - -" Francis began to say when the source materialized on stage next to him.
It was unmistakably, to someone who knew their dog breeds, a very large black mastiff with glowing red eyes. Unlike the one that attacked Percy back a camp which was the size of a small rhino, this one was the size of a large grizzly bear. Artie knew size of grizzly bears from first hand experience, some good and some bad.
"Maldição!" he cursed as he opened his bow and took aim.
Like Chiron had taught him, he kept both eyes open as he aimed for the hellhound's left eye. He instinctively used the tip of the arrowhead to aim and raised it a hair's breath higher to compensate for the dip gravity caused when an arrow flew from the bow. He did not hold his breath, but rather waited till he exhaled before he fired.
Against all odds, someone screamed just as he released the arrow causing him to jerk in surprise. Rather than turn the hellhound into a large pile of dust, the arrow simply flew just under its chin and clipped a few hair as it buried itself in the stage floor. The hellhound looked up, saw where Artie had fired from, and growled as it tensed to pounced. It never got the chance. The second Artie drew and fired another arrow, this one exploded mid air into three small arrows, one of which landed in the hellhound's left ear. He smiled when it exploded into dust and then winced when the screaming and shouting grew louder as everyone tried to run for the nearest exit.
Artie then heard another loud AROOF like the sound of an artillery gun. He turned to the southeast corner and saw another hellhound, this one far larger than the last. He cursed and reached for another, but felt nothing except empty air. In his haste, he had forgotten the drawback to his quiver. It was true he could summon almost any kind of arrow with a near infinite number of gadgets. He could have arrows that exploded into giant nets that were capable of trapping large monsters, as well as other non lethal gadgets, all the way to arrows that stuck his targets and either pumped them full of electricity or exploded after a few seconds. He had only think what he needed and he had it, but with a major limitation. The quiver required time to cool down, as he liked to think. If he stayed with basic celestial bronze tipped arrows, he could have as many as he could fire. But if he used a trick arrow, like the ones he used on Medusa, he would have to wait before he could use another one. And the more complicated the gadget, the longer he would have to wait.
Luckily for him the second hellhound barked again and began sniffing the floor as if searching for a particular scent. He reached for an arrow again and was grateful the cool down time was over. He quickly took aim so as not to waste the opportunity from whatever had gotten the monster's attention had created and fired. No sooner than he had fired, something caught the corner of his eye.
He ducked in time to see a spear land on the wall right where his head was a moment ago. He instantly looked down and saw what had thrown at him. He didn't know what she was, but he knew she was not friendly. From the waist up she looked normal, well as normal one could look like with green scaley skin and eyes like a reptile. From the waist down however, she had twin serpent trunks instead of legs. She hefted a large weighted net as she drew her arm back to throw it.
"Merda!", Artie cursed as he drew another arrow and aimed in the new monster's direction.
This time he did not have to fire as something much larger hurled towards him out of the corner of his eye. He dropped to the floor with a snarl. This was becoming ridiculous. The fates were clearly bored and when they grew bored, people and demigods tended to die after jumping through various and dangerous hoops for their amusement. He peaked his head over the banister just enough to get a view of what was chucking chairs like a bad cursed under his breath again. On the far side, hefting another chair, was cyclops. Like he had seen before this was a typical cyclops, a one-eyed giant with enough power to hurl cars, or in this case chairs that were bolted to the ground. He now saw he was joined by the hellhound who was wondering what exactly he was aiming for, possibly the interesting scent that had brought him here.
Artie briefly considered trying to fight his way out, but decided against it. He did not have to worry about the mortals since they all had fled outside while he unintentionally occupied the monster's attention. And he was sure that something was calling all the monster to this one location. If that was true, he couldn't fight them all. He had to get out of there before they all got wise and attacked him all together. He ducked back down as another chair exploded against the wall and began crawling towards the door. He figured the more intelligent monsters would guess what he had done, but once out he could stand and crawled as quickly as he could and entered the hallway. From what he could hear, people were still inside. They were of course still screaming and stampeding towards the front lobby, all while a fire alarm blared loudly.
He quickly ran down the stairs and found people pushing and shoving trying get through the front door to the rest of the city. He could just make out a couple of cars that had crashed with a couple of taxis which blocked most of the street and it being New York, a chorus of honking car horns mixed with police and fire truck sirens.
Artie winced at the noise as he tried to think of a plan. The front door isn't an option. And I'd have go through the stage, along with whatever is still there, to find a backdoor . . . Would someone please kill the fire alarm - - - That's it!
Artie quickly looked around and saw it. Someone had the same idea. At the very end of the hall opposite of him, half hidden by an elderly couple, was a fire exit. He quickly ran to it and found it had been left ajar, he guessed this was the source of the fire alarm. He walked and took two steps before he felt his foot slip on something and he fell forward.
"É claro. . . por que não?" he grumbled as he stood up and looked to see what he had slipped on.
It was green rastacap. He picked it up and brushed off some of the dirt. It felt warm in his hands, as if someone had just been wearing it. He was about to toss it away when he remembered Grover often wore one when he had to pass for human. He held it up to his nose and sniffed. It was a masked by the scent of rotting garbage which was heavy in the air, but it had the unmistakable scent of goat. He sniffed it again before he looked around the alley the door had lead him to.
Now, which way did you go?, Artie asked himself as he sniffed the air, trying to get Grover's trail.
He smiled and ran to the end of the alley. He brought the cap to his nose again before sniffing the air to his left and right. He ran to his left as fast as could without running into people. Several times he lost Grover's trail, mostly due to something covering up his scent like an open sewer or a bakery baking fresh cinnamon rolls. Had this been in the wild, he would simply follow Grover's prints or look for broken branches. Here he backtracked until he picked his scent again. His search lasted about an hour when he entered another alley. From the scent, either Grover was here or he had just missed him. He advanced forward carefully, just in case Grover was hiding under something.
He was halfway down the alley when he heard a soft clop followed by a faint woosh. Without time to turn, Artie instinctively rolled forward. As he did as heard a loud crumpled bang as something metallic stuck the dumpster on his right. Quick as he could, he turned and slashed with his claws.
His claw stopped a hairsbreadth from his attacker's face. "Grover?"
Grover dropped an old worn baseball bat. "Artie?"
"Obviamente, a sua me - - - Sorry, yeah its me."
"What are you doing here? I thought you were with Percy and Annabeth went to the Underworld. You know, taking back the bolt from Hades."
"We did, well kinda. Look I'll explain later. Apollo sent me to help you. Said Mr.D sent you south to replace a satyr, something about an argument with a crocodile."
Grover shuddered. "Blaa-ha-ha . . . I hate the Everglades. Yeah Mr.D sent to me Miami. To Nuestra Señora de Fátima. A catholic school with very famous music program. That's why we were here. It was an end of school field trip."
Artie cocked his head. "We?"
Grover nodded. "I am a protector, remember? I was supposed to escort Apollonia to camp. I figured we would have an easy time once we got to New York, of course with my luck . . ."
Artie cocked his head at the name. "Apollonia? That name . . ."
Grover bleated again as he remembered, "Di immortales !, I almost forgot about her."
"No big deal" Artie assured. "She's hiding somewhere here right?"
Grover pointed behind a pile of crates next to the newly dented dumpster. "I think she's over there. I knew something was following us, but I didn't know it was you so I told her to hide. How did you find us anyway?"
Artie handed him the rastacap. "How does that commercial go? Follow your nose wherever it goes?"
Grover fit the cap on his head. "Thanks. Now we should get out here."
Artie nodded. "Sure. Get her out here."
Grover walked behind the crates and found nothing. "She not here!" Grover began searching in panic. "Apollonia! its safe . . . Apollonia! where are you?"
Artie rolled his eyes and began looking around the missing demigod. "We don't have time for this."
"I know, I know." said Grover.
Artie went behind the the crates and sniffed the air around them. He could smell the faintest trace of perfume mixed with rotting wood and fruit. He doubted he could find her the way he found Grover. The perfume wouldn't help, it was just to faint and it would be lost the second something stronger came into the air. He grumbled to himself and straightened. As he did, he heard the sound of someone picking up the bat Grover dropped. He ignored it, no doubt Grover thought he'd better arm himself. Then he felt a presence behind him quickly followed by woosh.
Like before, he rolled forward and in the blink of an eye, he reached behind him and grabbed his attacker then pushed her against the wall with a snarl. The bat clattered to the ground as he saw it was the girl that was sitting next to Grover during the musical. She was clearly scared from the look on her face, fighting tears and begging in rapid Spanish.
"Oh dios!" She yelped. "Por favor no me hagas daño. . . Pensé que estabas con ellos . . . por favor."
Artie sighed as she continued begging. "No voy a hacerte daño" he said in perfect spainsh. "Soy un aliado"
She instantly calmed down and looked at him with pleading eyes. "Hablas español?"
He let her go and stepped back. "Grover! I think I found her."
He watched her dust off her uniform and watch him cautiously when Grover ran up to them, "Apollonia it's you!"
"Grover!" she exclaimed and hugged him tightly.
"You found her." said Grover.
"She found me." Artie corrected. "Nearly took my head off with that bat of yours."
She let go of Grover and stood slightly behind him. "Quién es el?"
"Um . . . uh . . . I don't" Grover stammered. Clearly he did not speak Spanish.
Artie rolled his eyes impatiently. "Como le he dicho que soy un amigo."
Grover looked at him. "You speak Spanish?" Artie nodded. "Since when?"
"Grover." he sighed, eager to be off. "In case you never thought about it before, Brazil is the only country that speaks Portuguese in South America. The rest speak Spanish along with the rest of central america. I spent most of my time speaking spainsh when I was running around."
"He's right." said Apollonia.
"You speak English." noticed Artie.
She nodded uneasy, "Sorry about that. I . . . uh . . . "
"Revert to your first language when you're upset or freak out." Artie finished for her. "I do the same thing, don't worry about it."
She nodded." Yeah, that."
Artie looked at Grover, "So any plans to get out of here?"
"Not sure." he admitted. "Give me a minute to figure something out."
Artie rolled his eyes again, Alright but take all day. I don't know what called all those monster. But If I could find you, then its only a matter of ti Arraaaggghhh!"
It was as if a line of fire erupted across his back, from just below to his left shoulder blade to his right hip. He was vaguely aware of the sound of his blood splashing across the wall and floor. The pain obliterated all thought as it forced him to his knees and then to the floor. All he was aware of was the agony as blood ran down the small of his back. Despite the hot weather, his blood felt warm against his skin.
Though his heart pounded loudly in his head he heard Apollonia scream, thought it sounded far away. He struggled to move, but he managed to look up and see Grover begin to play on his reed pipes in front a very large hellhound. The hellhound hesitated for a second before shaking his head. Grovered continued to play franticly, his fingers blured over notes as he and Apollina stepped back until they were against the wall. The hellhound snapped his jaws at Grover and managed to crush his reed pipes with his powerful jaws and teeth. Grover managed a yelp before it swiped it's massive paw, sending him flying into a dumpter. It was not enough to knock him unconscious, but it was enoguh to stun him severely. Then the hellhound began to advance slowly towards Apollina who held out the bat in her trembling hands.
Anger swelled within Artie. He did not travel all the way to Underworld, fighting and nearly killed by monsters and gods alike, and back to die on the floor of an alley. If he had anything to do with it, he would die after killing the monster that ruined his life. He would not be denied, especially by some overgrown spoiled alpha male wanna be puppy.
Not today . . . not here, he thought to himself as he pushed himself to his feet.
He reached for an arrow, ignoring his back silently screaming in protest, and opened his bow. Like the countless times at camp, He raised the bow above his head as he nocked the arrow. He took a deep breath as brought down the bow while pulling back the string. Once the string was pulled back all the way, the shaft of the arrow between his nose and upper lip , he held it.
"Hey!" he shouted hoarsely. "
The hellhound turned to see he was still alive. It growled as it turned to face him. Artie saw it tense a half second before it pounced. He waited until it was on less then five feet away before he loosed the arrow straight into its mouth. The hellhound burst into gold dust mid air and was quickly swept away by a light breeze. Artie dropped to his knees as Apollonia and Grover ran to him.
Grover bent down and caught him before he fell to the floor, "Oh my gods Artie. You're hurt."
Artie chuckled despite the pain, "Dr. Obvious will see you now."
"We have to get you to a hospital." cried Apollonia as she took out a pink cellphone from a pocket. "I'll call 911"
Artie's eyes widened and he snatched the phone from her hands. "Não faça isso!" he croaked before crushing the phone.
Before she could protest, Grover brought up Artie and supported him on his shoulder. "Uhg, Forget about the phone. We need to get out of here, we're not safe here."
Artie pointed to the end of the alley, opposite where he had entered. Grover followed his finger and saw it. It was an old looking motorcycle with a sidecar. As his vision began to blur around the edges and he began to gre cold, Artie was reminded of several old black and white movies he owned. From those movies he had learned there was a reason sidecars were rare. It was because Without a brake on the sidecar's wheels, the sidecar would pull towards the bike while braking, and towards the sidecar during acceleration. This meant that If the sidecar and bike were not coordinated properly, the machine would be unstable, especially at high speeds. Still it was thier only option, short of stealing a full size car which would be problematic with all the police and ambulances causing tons of traffic congestion. The bike would at least be able to weave in and out between cars, thus allowing them to keep moving and not risk being ambushed by more monsters.
Grover helping Artie into the sidecar when Apollonia asked. "Do you know how to drive one of these?"
Grover nodded uneasily, "I think so."
"It's not like we have a choice." Grover motioned Artie who was struggling to stay awake. "We need to leave now before he loses too much blood."
She checked Artie's back. "He's lost alot already. How far do we need to go?"
"That's too far." she said. "He won't make it. Unless . . ."
She quickly and gently slipped Artie's blood dyed shirt off so he was bare chested. She then bent over him and fumbled with the buckle of his belt, her fingers slick with his blood. Once unbuckled, she pulled his belt off making sure not to move him too much.
"I don't know . . . kind of guy you think . . . I am," Artie said with a faint smile, delirious from blood loss. "But you should . . . at least buy me . . . dinner."
She smiled at his joke, but didn't answer. She tore his shirt in two and then laid the pieces over one another before folding them into large rectangle. She laid the rectangle over the wound and pressed it into the wound, ignoring Artie's groans, before she wrapped the belt over it and tightened as hard as she could without restricting Artie's breathing. She fit the only helmet over Artie's head. In the likely event he passed out and leaned against the front of the sidecar, he would not bang it whenever they went over potholes and bumps. She stepped back and admired her handiwork for a second.
Apollonia wiped the sweat from her forehead, "That should stop the bleeding, for a little while at least. Wherever we're going, we need to get there fast."
Grover nodded as he kick started the bike. The motor roared to life and Apollonia climbed into the seat behind Grover, wrapping both arms around his waist tightly. Grover revved the engine twice to get the motor going, before he released the brake and kickstand.
As they sped down towards the street and headed for the Williamsburg bridge in the distance. It was only once they were halfway across the bridge did Artie finally lost the battle to stay awake, his last thought echoing in his head.
Not today . . . not here . . . Not while IT'S out there . . .