Endings and Beginnings
I’m okay with being alone. It’s not like I’ve ever had anybody that I could depend on. It’s not like anyone has ever needed me. I don’t need anyone else, as long as I have myself. Besides, I’ve been alone my entire life. They don’t know what it’s like. They wouldn’t know what to do if they were alone, they wouldn’t be able to survive. As for me, I haven’t had anyone since my sister disappeared. So, yeah, I guess that being alone is fine.
I was only three when it started. I was only three when my mom died. They all keep lying to me. They all say that she died giving birth to Emily. They don’t think that I was old enough to remember, but I remember everything. This creature, I don’t know what it was, some horrible beast attacked us. It was after me and my sister, but my mom stopped it. She threw herself between us and that thing to save us. That thing, whatever it was, it killed my mom, and left me and Emily alone.
That was the first weird experience in my life, the first of many to come. That one was the worst though. They only got weirder after that. Creatures so strange that I couldn’t begin to describe them coming to help me, animals talking to me, my caretakers turning into half-snake people. These were the events that made me realize that I wasn’t like everyone else. These were the things that made me realize that I wasn’t a normal human.
We were sent to an orphanage after our mom died. Some old place in the middle of New York City, I don’t remember where exactly. It was the worst place for us to spend our childhood. We were treated like trash there, like we weren’t even human. The other kids picked on us all the time, I can’t even tell you how many fights I got into there. The caretakers weren’t any better. Everything bad that happened at that place we were blamed for, most of which we had nothing to do with. It was like those people could tell that we were different, or maybe they could smell the difference.
When did it start, the weirdness I mean. It was probably when I was nine, which would’ve made Emily seven. It was on the afternoon of a sunny day. Would I say that it was an enjoyable one? Not really. Then again, none of our days spent at that place were ever enjoyable. Anyway, we were out in the yard for what they told us was recess. Emily and I were away from the others the way we usually were, sitting at one of the picnic tables on the far side of the yard.
“Hey Hirius,” one of the older boys called to me as he approached the table.
Tomas Elfnin, the worst of the worst when it came to bullies. He spared no expense. He used whatever he could to pick on us, even digging into the darkest pieces of our past whenever it benefited him. This was the person that had caused me so much grief over the years. I knew what he wanted from us, but I wasn’t going to let him bother me. Instead, I just ignored him.
“I’m talking to you,” Tomas said.
He grabbed my arm and pulled me off of the bench. I was thrown onto the ground right into a puddle of mud from the storm the night before. I stood up and tried to clean myself off, but it was no use. Tomas just laughed at me with that usual annoying laugh of his, the fat idiot. I tried to ignore him, but he just made it so difficult. Of course, the caretakers, who should have come to help me, were acting like they weren’t seeing anything.
“Why can’t you just leave us alone,” Emily said. She wasn’t much of a talker. I was the only one she ever talked to actually, so it must have caught Tomas off guard when he heard her. He turned away from me and walked over to Emily. “We’ve never done anything to you, so just leave us alone,” she told him.
“Yeah, and what are you gonna do if I don’t,” Tomas sneered, “You gonna kill me like you did your mom?”
Tears began forming on the edge of Emily’s eyes. Why did he always have to go there? Why did he always have to bring up our mom? I hated it when he did that. Not just because our mom was dead, but also because of Emily. She actually believed all of those lies about how mom died in child birth. She was actually convinced that it was her fault. I had to do something about Tomas before he went any further.
“Aww, what’s the matter,” Tomas said mockingly, “Is baby gonna cry?”
I lost control. I leapt forward and wrapped my arms around Tomas’ neck. He let out a surprised grunt. He started to struggle and tried to grab at me, but I tightened my grip on him and made sure that he wouldn’t escape. His knees started to give out and his struggling got weaker. I thought that I had him for once, but he was too strong for me. He managed to get a hold of me and I was lifted into the air and thrown back into the same mud puddle.
I sat up and rubbed my head. The caretakers, who had moved to help Tomas had stopped and were once again feigning ignorance. Of course they weren’t going to help now that Tomas had control of the fight. He came after me again, but I stepped away from his blind charge. His face was bright red. I don’t think that I had ever seen him so angry. Emily was in tears by this point.
My anger was flaring. I knew that there was no way that I could beat Tomas, but I couldn’t just stand by and let him get away with everything. I couldn’t stand the fact that he did whatever he wanted without fear of the consequences. He had to be punished somehow. If only I could do it, but all I could do was avoid him. I felt my face heating up as I side-stepped another one of Tomas’ blind charges. I had to do something, but what could I do. I was just a wimpy nine-year old.
That was when things got weird. I felt some kind of an energy leap out of my body and travel out into the city. I don’t’ know how to describe it other than saying that it felt as though my consciousness were somehow calling out to someone, or something.
Tomas charged at me again, but I was too slow this time. He grabbed me by the neck with both hands and started choking me. He must have been really pissed off because it felt like he was actually trying to kill me. I heard Emily crying and shouting for someone to help, but no one was paying any attention to her. She tried to jump in. She tried to stop the psycho that was strangling her older brother, but she was easily shoved out of the way.
I felt my airway constricting. It was impossible for me to breathe now. I started feeling dizzy and spots were swirling around my vision. I grabbed at Tomas’ arms and face in a vane attempt to stop him. This is it, I thought, I’m going to die like this. I hoped that the caretakers would finally see it in their hearts to help me, but they just watched. I think that I even saw one of them laughing.
My eyelids closed. My world went black. I heard Emily screaming at Tomas to stop, but he didn’t let go. I was on the ground giving my last worthless efforts to escape when it happened. I heard this tremendous roar and a bunch of kids screaming. Tomas let go of me and something stepped on top of me. The only thought in my mind was, Is that a paw?
I opened my eyes to the sight of a massive beast standing over me with one paw on my chest as if it were trying to protect me. It almost appeared to be an oversized, black dog with shaggy fur. The beast stared at Tomas who was cowering in fear at the sight of the creature. The beast growled deep in its throat and showed off its razor sharp teeth. It looked ready to kill.
The beast leapt off of me and charged at Tomas with blinding speed. The poor kid tried to run, but he wasn’t nearly as fast as the monstrous dog was. The beast pinned Tomas to the ground in an instant. It used its two massive paws to keep Tomas from moving. The boy tried to escape, but the monster was too strong for him. It barred its enormous teeth in the boy’s face. Its jaws opened up as though it were preparing to bite Tomas’ head off.
“Stop,” I yelled as I sat up.
The dog did as I said. It closed its jaws and looked directly at me. That was when I noticed that its eyes were glowing crimson red. Fear replaced my anger in an instant. The beast walked up to me. Just as I thought it was about to attack me, it sat down and wagged its massive tail back and forth like an obedient dog awaiting an order from its master.
I was shocked, so much so that I didn’t know what to do. I stared into the dogs eyes, trying to figure out what it was, or why it was there. The dog looked back at me, but I was no longer afraid of it. I could see something in it. It didn’t want to hurt me. It appeared to be innocent, like a puppy, a gigantic black puppy that tried to kill someone a minute ago, but a puppy none the less.
Before I could say anything, the beast turned around and ran across the yard. The other children screamed and scattered in various directions to avoid the dog, but it didn’t pay any attention to them. It sprinted towards the fence surrounding the yard and bounded over it. Then it disappeared into the city. I was left sitting in stunned silence. Emily was in the same state. And Tomas, well Tomas appeared to have passed out from fear, couldn’t really blame the guy.
I stood up and began to walk over to comfort Emily, but I was stopped short when one of the caretakers grabbed my arm and began pulling me towards the orphanage. She was a short, ugly little woman who could pass for being Medusa’s sister if she wanted to. Sometimes, I even imagined that I saw snakes on her head instead of hair. The other caretaker, the first one’s sister and just as ugly but taller, came over and began lecturing me.
“I didn’t do anything,” I told them.
“Don’t play dumb with us,” she said, “Poor Tomas, look at the boy. I’m surprised he isn’t dead after what you did to him.”
I was sent to my room for the night without dinner. They acted like that was a punishment; the food there was terrible anyway. Besides, Emily brought me up part of her dinner like she always did when I got into trouble.
That night, when I looked out of our window from the attic, I saw the dog from earlier staring up at me. I looked down into its crimson red eyes. Did I actually summon that thing?
That was the first of many strange happenings at the orphanage. After that, I ended up calling all manner of strange creatures to help me. Nobody believed me when I told them though. They all said that I was the one that was fighting. How could they not see them, especially the four headed snake that was half the size of the house. The only ones that seemed to believe me were the caretakers, Gretchen and Amellia. They didn’t acknowledge it, but I could see it in the way that they looked at me. They knew something that I didn’t.
Then there was the time with the snake. It wasn’t nearly as cool as the monster dog, but it was still worth noting. Anyway, the orphanage kept a pet snake in the foyer (strange place right?). I never paid much attention to it, especially since Emily hated the little guy, but there was one day that I couldn’t help but take notice of him.
“Hey you-ssssss,” a voice said to me one day while I was walking through the foyer. I stopped and looked around the room. So, what, I thought, now I’m starting to hear voices. “Over here-sssss,” the voice spoke again. I looked over at the snake in its glass aquarium unable to believe what I was thinking. Was I really thinking that a snake was talking to me?
“It-sssssss about time-ssssss,” the snake said to me.
“Rasputin,” I asked. (And yes, that is a ridiculous name for a snake, but I was not the one who named him.)
“Ye-sssss,” the snake said, “But, plea-sssssssse call me Greg, wherever tho-ssssse idiot-ssss came up with sss-uch a sss-tupid name i-ssss beyond me.”
I stood staring at Rasputin, or Greg I suppose, in stunned awe. Was this really happening? This had to be some sort of dream. I mean, how could I logically be talking to a snake? It didn’t make any sense. Then again, how could a giant serpent with four heads possibly exist? I guess I should have been a lot more open by that point.
Tomas walked into the room before I could say anything else to Greg. I didn’t need more reasons for everyone to think that I was an outcast, so I bit my tongue before I spoke to the snake again. Tomas bumped into me, clearly doing so on purpose, and then continued on his way. Greg gave Tomas an angry look (I didn’t know snakes could change their expression). Obviously, the snake liked Tomas about as much as I did.
“Ssssssss-tupid fat wa-sssssste of ssssss-pace,” Greg said. I have to admit that I had a bit of trouble containing my own laughter.
Tomas turned around and looked about the room before focusing on me. “You say something?”
I shrugged. “No,” I said, “Must have been the wind.”
Tomas stared at me for a moment. He was obviously looking for another reason to pick a fight with me. I was welcoming him to do so. After all, I did have a little serpentine friend to help me this time, not that I was sure that he would be a lot of help, but stranger things had happened. In the end, Tomas turned around and grumbled something before he left the room.
“Okay then,” I said to Greg, “So I’m not the only one that can hear you.”
“Indeed,” Greg said, “But you are the only one that can under-ssssssstand me.”
“What do you mean,” I asked.
“Patience,” Greg said, “You will under-ssssssstand in time. For now, get me out of thi-ssssss ssssss-tupid gla-ssssss box.”
I hesitated. So, yeah, Greg seemed to be on my side, and yeah, he was the first person (or animal) that had ever talked to me (without insulting me) since I had arrived at the orphanage. However, there was still something about him that made it hard for me to trust the little guy. This was the simple fact that he was A SNAKE.
“How can I trust you,” I asked, “How do I know you’re not going to bite me or worse.”
“Come on kid,” the snake said, “You really think that I would go through thi-sssss much trouble ju-sssst to bite you, be-sssside-ssss, I wouldn’t be able to get out of thi-sssss cage if I did anything to hurt you. What, you think I like it in here? Now come on, help me out. I won’t hurt you, I promi-ssssssse.”
I eyed Greg cautiously. He sounded sincere, but snakes were always the great deceivers in all of the old tales. They would always lie and trick others into doing things for their own benefit. There was a reason that people didn’t like them and it was more than just the fact that most people found them creepy. Then again, it was true that he didn’t have any reason to deceive me, and he did seem to be speaking honestly.
“Alright,” I said. I reached into the cage. I hesitated a couple of times, drawing my hand back in an attempt to avoid a non-existent lunge from Greg.
“Come on,” Greg said.
“Well, excuse me,” I said, “I’m sorry, but I’ve never actually picked up a snake before.”
I closed my eyes and reached into the cage. It wasn’t the best idea since I was now imagining even worse things than just a snake biting me. Somehow, I managed to get a grip on Greg the snake and lift him out of the cage. I held him for a minute and looked at him. He was a dark brown rattle snake (again, this place was weird) with black spots on his back. He had a light brown underbelly and black, beady eyes. When I picked him up, he went into a rage and his tail started making a rattling noise that the whole house was probably hearing.
“Put me down,” Greg said, “I hate height-ssssss.”
“Sorry,” I said. I set Greg down and watched him slither around the entire room multiple times. I think it was the first time I had ever seen him move.
“Freedom,” Greg screamed, “FREEDOM!” He slithered around some more before stopping and looking up at me. “Thank-sssss kid,” he hissed, “Now, let me do sssssss-omething for you-sssss.”
I stood and watched as Greg slithered out of the room. Everything was silent for a bit before I heard a terrible scream coming from the other room. Before I could react, Tomas came running into the room screaming and crying like a baby. He ran straight past me calling for the two caretakers. It wasn’t long before they were at his side, comforting the ‘poor little dear’.
“What happened,” Gretchen asked.
“Are you okay,” Amellia asked. It was strange, but the two of them almost sounded like Greg.
“The s-s-s-s-snake,” Tomas said between his sobbing, “It, it escaped and it b-b-bit me.”
“What,” Gretchen said, “How did it escape?”
Tomas pointed at me. “Him,” he said, “Hirius must have let it out. He was the only one in the room.”
I could already see where this was going. I turned to run out of the room hoping that they had yet to notice me, but Amellia was already there to stop me. I tried to fight her grip, but she was strong for a woman as skinny as she was. She dragged me by my arm towards my room, lecturing me the whole way about how I’m in big trouble now and about how Tomas could die from the snake’s venom (He didn’t if you actually care). Before she pulled me out of the room, I saw Greg sitting in the entryway to the foyer. He winked at me before I lost sight of him. I’m not sure if I was glad he bit Tomas or not, but I was sure of the fact that it was pretty funny.
I tried talking to other animals after that, but it never seemed to work. I was able to talk to a few snakes that I ran into, but none of them were nearly as interesting as Greg was, they usually just talked about how good mice were. Of course, nobody believed me when I told them that Greg asked me to release him. Actually, most of them didn’t even know that I was talking about the snake.
Shortly after the Greg incident, I started to confine myself to my room. The way that I was treated, and by relation the way that Emily was treated, only got worse after Greg. The other kids started saying that I was some kind of freak, that I was insane, and that I should be locked up in an asylum. There was no reason for me to be around them anymore, so what was the point of even leaving my room.
It was nice while I was confined to my room. Emily was always up there to keep me company. It wasn’t like she wanted to be around anyone else while I wasn’t there. No one bothered us while we were there, the only time they did was when it was time for a meal. It was just Emily and me at that point. All we had was each other. Who am I kidding? The only one we ever had was each other.
It was my twelfth birthday when the incident that ended our somewhat tolerable childhood happened. We were in the attic celebrating what little we had to celebrate, which was mostly the fact that we were still together. The attic was dark. I mean, it was always dark up there, but it seemed darker that night. I didn’t mind it. I preferred the darkness over the light. The shadows helped me clear my mind and think straight.
We were just starting to have a good time when a knock came at our door. We weren’t sure who would come to bother us at this time, but we pretended not to notice, it wasn’t like we cared much who it was, or what they had to say to us. A few hours passed and whoever was outside of our door was still there. It didn’t seem like they were going to leave anytime soon, so I got up and let them in. I was surprised that Tomas would come to bother us even on a day like this.
“Hirius,” he said.
“What do you want,” I asked.
“Relax,” he said, “I just want to talk.”
I eyed him suspiciously. “Emily,” I said, “Could you leave us alone for a bit.”
Emily stood up and left the room, after a bit of an argument. She never liked leaving me alone. She says that all the weird stuff happens whenever she wasn’t there. I just told her that she was just being silly.
“So,” I said after Emily left, “Talk.” I could already feel anger consuming me.
Tomas walked over to the window and stared out at the city. You couldn’t see much from that window, but it was just high enough to give a pretty good view. For a long time, Tomas stood in silence and stared out of the window. I didn’t’ know what he was thinking, or why he was there, and I didn’t much care, all I knew was that I wanted him to leave as soon as possible.
“You know,” Tomas said, “We’ve been here for a long time, and we’ve seen a lot of weird stuff happen over the years. And, well, I’ve given you and your sister a hard time the whole while, and I just, could you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was this supposed to be an apology? Was this how people were supposed to ask for forgiveness? He wasn’t even looking at me. He wasn’t really apologizing. He just came up and asked me if I would forgive him. And how could I do that? After everything that he did, he didn’t deserve my forgiveness. My anger started boiling and blood rushed into my face.
That was when things got weird. That was when things usually got weird, when I got angry. The shadows, they started…moving. The darkness surrounding us was beginning to react to my anger, and I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t stop it; all I wanted to do was shove that fat idiot out of that window. The shadows converged around me, surrounding me in a bubble of pitch black, and yet, I could still see perfectly.
I tried to make sense of what was happening, but all I could think about was how angry I was at Tomas. Then it happened. The shadows moved away from me and shot towards Tomas. I thought that I was imagining it all, but I learned not to think of anything as being my imagination anymore. The shadows slammed into Tomas and he shot forward as though the darkness had somehow gained a solid form.
Tomas let out a scream and flew out of the window. Anger was replaced by shock. I ran to the window and watched helplessly as Tomas plummeted from the top floor of the orphanage and slammed into the ground below. There was no way that he could have survived that fall.
Before long, the caretakers and the other children, including Emily, appeared in the yard below and surrounded the lifeless body. I tried to hide myself, but they saw me. It wasn’t long before I was being pulled out of my room by Gretchen, who was screaming at me the whole time. I tried to explain, but I didn’t know how I could possibly explain what happened. I risked looking back as I was being pulled away. The darkness, it was…….it was following me.
I was locked in my room for weeks after that. Gretchen and Amellia reported everything to the police, but they didn’t know how to handle me. Nobody knew what to do with a minor who had committed homicide. Besides, it was hard for them to prove that I had actually killed him. There was no real evidence to prove that I had intended to kill Tomas. I knew that they would prove me guilty eventually. I didn’t have much of a defense anyway. They tried to separate me from my sister during that time. I only got to see her once. It was the last time that we would meet in that room.
“Hirius,” Emily said when she came into the room.
I was glad to see her. It was the first time we had been together in weeks. She ran up and through her arms around me. I felt her tears rolling down the back of my neck. I waited for her to pull away, but she never did. She buried her head in my chest and I held her. We stayed like that for a long time. The only sound in the room was the sound of Emily’s sobs.
“Brother,” she said, “You didn’t, I mean, you didn’t actually kill Tomas, did you?”
“No,” I said, “I told you what happened. Don’t you believe me?”
“Yes,” she said, “I just wanted to hear you say it again.” She was silent for a minute. “They want me to say awful things about you.”
“I didn’t,” she said, “And I won’t. I won’t let them lie about you.”
“Thank you,” I said.
We were silent again. Emily had stopped crying. There was no way that we could stay there. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I was blamed for Tomas’ death. They would try and get Emily in trouble too; even if she did agree to whatever they were telling her to do. We had to escape from that place. The shadows in the attic were converging around us, cradling us, like they were trying to take us away from that place.
“Emily,” I said, “We have to run away.” She didn’t say anything, but I went on. “We can’t stay here, they’ll find a way to prove it was us, we have to leave.”
“But,” Emily said “Where will we go?”
“It doesn’t matter,” I told her, “We can go anywhere we want as long as we’re together.”
“You really think we could?”
Emily stared at me in silence for a long time. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking, but I hoped that she would agree with me. I didn’t know where we would go if we escaped, but it didn’t matter where we were. We could be living on the street for all I cared. Anywhere was better than living in this place for a moment longer, even if we had to live in a hole in the ground.
“Okay,” Emily said, “But how are we going to escape?”
“Just leave that to me.”
I hoped that this would work the way that I thought it would. I held Emily close and started walking towards the door. I watched as the shadows around us moved along with us. So far, everything was going as I thought it would. Now I only had to hope that I would be able to control this power.
We left the room behind and walked through the orphanage. The familiar hallways passed by slowly as we went through each floor. We passed some of the other children, but none of them noticed us. This was working the way that I thought. We were completely invisible.
We reached the foyer. The door was on the other side of the room. All we had to do was reach that door without being noticed. We walked through the room, speeding up as we got closer. That was it, we were free. There was nothing that could get in our way now. We were only inches from reaching the door when Gretchen appeared in front of us. We stopped cold in our tracks. Emily nearly yelped, but I covered her mouth before she did.
Gretchen looked directly at us. She couldn’t see us; there was no way she could, what made her different from everyone else. She leaned in close and we were forced to back up so that she wouldn’t bump into us. Now I was sure that she couldn’t see us, but she could definitely tell that something was wrong. Something about the way that she was staring in our direction gave it away. Was she sniffing the air in front of us?
We were dead. She knew that we were there, she had to. I was prepared to run when Gretchen gave me a half-smile. Then she walked past us and left the room. I stood still, holding my breath as though that would hide me. After I was sure that Gretchen was gone, I grabbed Emily and ran out of the door.
It was nighttime out when we ran away and the moon was dim. It was good, that would make it easier to remain invisible. I guessed that, as long as we didn’t step under any street lights, I would be able to keep us hidden. I still wasn’t sure what these powers were all about, but if I could use them to our advantage then I would. We ran for a long time. I wanted to make sure we got as far away from that place as humanly possible.
“Hirius,” Emily said.
I stopped. I never even considered Emily. She wasn’t nearly as fast as I was and I hadn’t even realized that I had lost my grip on her and that she was starting to fall behind. She caught up with me and nearly fell over from the strain of it.
“Sorry,” I said.
“We can stop running,” Emily said as she began breathing heavily, “I think we’re far enough away.”
Emily grabbed my hand and held it tightly. I smiled and we started walking away. Before we got far, I started to get a bad feeling. It was weird. I felt like something was off. Somehow, I knew that we were in danger. I couldn’t describe how I knew it, but something was telling me that I had to get out of the way. I pulled Emily aside and we both fell to the ground. An arrow flew through the air and soared directly over us.
I stood up and looked behind us, the direction that the arrow was fired from. I was surprised to see Gretchen standing there, but there was something different about her. Her skin looked like it had turned to scales, her eyes had turned to two thin slits like a reptile’s, her hair had been replaced by snakes, and her legs were replaced by a serpent’s tail. She was holding an ancient looking bow that was aimed right at us. Amellia stood behind her sister having all the same changes as her.
“Stheno,” Amellia said, “You missed.”
“Well it’s been a while Euryale,” Gretchen said.
“We spent all this time hiding in this worthless place,” Amellia said, “A worthwhile demigod finally appears and you miss him. We are not letting this one escape.”
I didn’t know what they were talking about (A demi-what?), but I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me up. While the sisters were distracted, I grabbed Emily and we ran through the night. I wasn’t sure how the two could see us, but it didn’t matter. I had to get us away from them.
“Stheno,” I heard Amellia yell, “They’re getting away!”
We ran through the streets of New York, the lights shining down on us now that we were actually in the city. I had thought that the lights would hinder my ability to hide us, but I didn’t have anymore trouble than I did when I was in the shadows. I guessed that as long as there was darkness nearby then I would able to control it. The streets of New York twisted and turned at every point. The winding roads would make it easier to get away from those two psychos. We turned down an alley. It was a dead end, but it was a good place to hide.
That was what I thought anyway. Before long, the two sisters appeared at the entry to the alley. Emily backed to the wall at the end and pinned herself against it. I stepped forward. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew that I had to protect Emily. The sisters glared at me.
“You see,” Amellia said, “I told you they went this way.”
“How do you know,” Gretchen said, “We can’t even see them.”
“So what, we can still smell them.”
“Gretchen, Amellia,” I said. I saw the shadows move away from me. I wasn’t sure how I did it, but I wanted those two to see me now.
“There he is,” Amellia said, “I told you.”
“Indeed, but I do wish he would stop calling us by those ridiculous names,” Gretchen looked at me, “Now dear, would you please call us by our real names, I’m Stheno and this is my sister, Euryale.”
My face started heating up. “I’ll call you Tweedledee and Tweedledum if I want to,” I said, “Just leave us alone.”
“Now we can’t just do that,” Stheno said, “We need to kill you after all.”
“Yes,” Euryale said, “Demigod’s as powerful as you two, we’ll become legends.”
“A demigod,” Stheno said, “You know a….”
“No time for that,” Euryale said, “He dies now.”
Euryale charged at me. I didn’t know what to do. How was I supposed to stop a snake woman when I couldn’t even stop a fat idiot? I dodged past Eurayale, but ended up in Stheno’s line of sight. An arrow flew at me that I managed to avoid somehow. Euryale was on top of me before I could move again and I was pinned up against a wall before I could react.
“Caught you,” Euryale said, “You aren’t going anywhere.”
“Euryale,” Stheno said, “Let me kill him.”
“No, I’ll take this one,” she said, “You take care of the little brat.”
I struggled against Euryale’s grip, but I didn’t stand a chance. How could it end like this? I heard Emily scream. I tried to see what was going on, but Euryale kept me from doing so. I swung my fists at the snake woman and tried to kick her as well, but she kept me at a distance. She just laughed as I struggled against her.
I started to get angry. I was so helpless. I couldn’t even protect myself let alone my sister. I felt tears forming in my eyes. I tried to scream, I tried to call for help, but I couldn’t find my voice. All I could do was sit there and die. Euryale rubbed her claws across my face. I couldn’t feel anything now but pure hatred.
It was over; there was no way that I could escape. I watched as Euryale drew her arm back as she prepared to impale me with the claws of her free hand. Just then, the darkness around us began to converge on me. Euryale thrust her hand forward, but it hit an invisible wall of shadows and the woman let out a yelp.
“What,” Euryale yelled.
I was beyond angry by this point. I wanted that woman to disappear from existence. I wanted to watch her die. I wanted her to pay for everything that she had done to me and my sister. The shadows surrounded me and moved to my will. The shade shot forward and slammed into Euryale. Another shade reached over and smashed into Stheno as well. The two snake women screamed in agony. When the darkness dispersed, nothing was left of the women but two piles of dust.
I was sitting on the ground now. Emily crawled over to me and buried her head in my chest. She looked over at the two piles of dust in front of us. She must have been thinking the same thing that I was. Were they really dead?
We lived in that alley after that. Neither of us knew where to go, so we just started sleeping there. It wasn’t that bad really. We got by on our own. We had to beg on the streets to pay for food. Sometimes we had to steal to get by, but we made do. We didn’t care anyway. It didn’t matter how we lived as long as we were together.
It almost felt like a dream. I soon forgot about the whole thing with the snake women, I pretty much just assumed that it was a bad nightmare. I didn’t think that anything could go wrong. No, Emily and I could live like this forever. We would never abandon each other. At least, that was what I thought, until she disappeared.
I woke up early that morning. Usually, I would have found Emily sleeping soundly next to me on that old mattress that we had found. She wasn’t there this time. Something wasn’t right; I could feel it right away. There was no reason for Emily to be gone; she never woke up before me anyway.
I didn’t know what to do. So, I just sat there. She couldn’t have gone far. She must have gone out to do something. So, I waited for her. She had to come back soon. She didn’t have anywhere else to go after all.
She never came back. I sat there for days. I didn’t eat, I didn’t drink. I just sat there waiting for her. She had to come back, she just had to. No matter how many times I tried to hold onto that thought, I knew that it wasn’t true. I had pretty much given up. There was no point in trying if my sister was gone. I had no reason to go on. I was alone now. I didn’t have anybody else. It was time for me to just give up.
And then I met her.
“Hello,” a girl’s voice called to me. It had already been three days since Emily had disappeared. I hadn’t moved an inch since then.
I didn’t look at the girl. I could tell that it wasn’t Emily just by the sound of her voice. It was probably just some girl who had wondered back there on accident. She walked into the alley and sat down next to me. What the heck was she doing? Why not just leave me there? There wasn’t much point in trying to help me. Why couldn’t she just let me die.
I looked up at her as she sat down next to me. She had short, spiky black hair. She was wearing a leather jacket that had studs sewn into it and she wore a pair of tattered black jeans that looked old enough to be something that I would wear.
“So,” she said to me, “You live back here?”
I didn’t answer her.
“Are you alone?”
I stayed silent. I didn’t want to answer her, but there was something about her. I felt like I needed to talk to her. I shook my head. “My sister lives here too.”
The girl smiled at me. “That’s a little better,” she said, “Where is your sister?”
I shook my head again. “I don’t know,” I said, “She’s just gone.”
“Then why are you still here,” the girl asked.
I looked at her with a bit of surprise. What did she mean, ‘why am I still here’? There was no point in going anywhere. There was no point in trying anymore. It wasn’t like I could get help from anyone. It wasn’t like I could go anywhere for shelter. I couldn’t do anything. All I could do was lay down and die. There was nothing else for me in this world.
“You should go look for her,” the girl said, “What’s the point in sitting here. She’s your family. You can’t just leave her out there. She could be in trouble; she might need your hep. If you sit here doing nothing then you’re only hurting her…and yourself.”
What was that supposed to mean? Was she blaming me for all of this? How was it my fault? I wasn’t the one who ran away. I wasn’t the one who left my family. I wasn’t the one who was out in the world while their brother was sitting alone waiting for them. I wasn’t the one who could be in trouble.
What if she was? What if she needed my help? What if she was lost? What if this really was my fault? Emily could be out there dying and I was just sitting there feeling sorry for myself. I couldn’t do that. I had to go out to find her. I had to be there to protect her no matter what.
The girl looked off in the distance and then stood up. “I have to go,” she said, “My friends are waiting for me. You should think about looking for your sister though.”
The girl began to walk away. “Hey,” I said, “What’s your name?”
She didn’t turn to look at me, but she did stop. “Thalia Grace,” she said before she left.
Thalia Grace. Well, now I knew who to thank when I finally found Emily. I sat and watched Thalia leave the alley. I stood up and walked out after her. I had to find Emily. I had to search everywhere. I would search the whole country if I had to. I would do whatever it took to find her.