(1) Percy Plays Dodgeball with Cannibals
My nightmare started like this.
I was standing next to a tall pine tree, overlooking a beautiful view. But not just any view. It was a view I was extremely familiar with. It was Camp Half-Blood. My home.
The landscape was dotted with buildings, resembling ancient Greek architecture— an open-air pavilion, and amphitheater, a circular arena—except that they all looked brand new, their white marble columns sparkling in the sun.
I frowned. Something was off. Usually campers and satyrs played volleyball in the nearby sand pit. Kids were always canoeing across the small lake, or shooting targets at an archery range, or riding horses down a wooded trail, but none of that was happening.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned. A girl around my age, with unruly black, punk-style hair, dark eyeliner around her electric blue eyes, and freckles across her nose was looking at the view, not at me.
When I studied Thalia closer, I realized her skin had an undertone of green and her clothes didn’t fit her frame. Her cheeks were shrunken in and she had dark under eye circles.
Thalia finally spoke, “I’m dying, Annabeth, and so is my tree, I can’t protect camp much longer.”
“What do you mean you’re dying?”
Every camper knew the story behind her tree. Six years ago, Thalia, me and two other kids named Grover and Luke had come to Camp Half-Blood chased by an army of monsters. When we got cornered on top of this hill, Thalia, a daughter of Zeus, had made her last stand here to give us time to reach safety. As she was dying, her father Zeus took pity on her and changed her into a pine tree. Her spirit had reinforced the magic borders of the camp, protecting it from monsters. The pine had been here ever since, strong and healthy.
But now, it’s needles were yellow. A huge pile of dead ones littered the base of the tree. In the centre of the trunk, a meter from the ground, was a puncture mark the size of a bullet hole, oozing green sap.
A sliver of ice ran through my chest. Now I understood why Thalia couldn’t protect the camp. The magical borders were failing because Thalia’s tree was dying.
Her tree had been poisoned.
“You need to come back, give campers some hope that they’ll survive. Please. I’m counting on you. They won’t survive defending camp for long.”
She started to fade.
“No! Wait! Thalia I still have questions! Come back!”
I woke up in my bed, panting and sweating. This wasn’t the first time I had that dream, but Thalia never had told me to go back to camp. I looked at my watch. 6:15 am. I stumbled out of bed and towards my closet.
Ten minutes later, I was dressed with my Yankees hat and my dagger strapped to my waist and opening my bedroom door slowly.
I walked out and into the kitchen, filling my backpack up with food.
When I walked out of the kitchen, to identical little boys were waiting for me outside.
“Hi Bobby, hi Matthew.”
“Where are you going?”
I hesitated. They didn’t understand the concept of running away, and I envied them for it. They were always welcome at this house, never pushed away for what they are even though they couldn’t control it. I pushed the thought aside.
“I have to get back to camp. Remember? I stay there now.” They looked at me which confusion and I fought down my emotions.
“I love you guys.” I pulled them into a tight embrace. After a few seconds, I let go, and without turning around, I left.
Monsters attacked me everyday for six days as I traveled by foot. I had to get to camp, but on my own, I wasn’t so sure that I could do it. If camp is in trouble, maybe Percy could help me figure out whats going on.
While I walked through the woods and I couldn’t help but be reminded of when I was seven. That was my first time I ran away from home. Athena had guided me towards help. Two other demigods, Luke and Thalia.
I promise, we’ll be a family.
I kicked a stone. Promises don’t mean anything, I thought angrily. They’re made to be broken. Nothing lasts forever. I think that’s why I liked architecture so much. It would allow me to build something permanent, something that lasts forever. Something you can count on.
By the time I reached where Percy’s apartment the sun had risen. I put my Yankees cap on, which was a magic gift from my mom, and instantly vanished.
I climbed about five stories until I saw a familiar black head of hair.
Morning sunlight filtered through Percy’s bedroom window. Percy looked straight at me, and I was about to take off my hat until I heard a knock on his bedroom door – a woman called, “Percy, you’re going to be late” – and I pressed myself to the wall, next to the window. If I wanted to tell him about my dreams, I needed to get Percy alone.
While I waited for Percy to leave his room, I
about ten minutes after Percy left his room, then I opened the window and crawled inside. I walked through the door and followed the sound of voices.
Percy was hugging his mom, and he left through the front door, and I slipped out after him and followed him to school.
Percy’s first class of the day was English and I watched as his teachers sent the students into the yard to spend an hour with no adult supervision to see what would happen because they read a book called Lord of the Flies, where all these kids get marooned on an island and go psycho.
What happened was a massive wedgie contest between the seventh and eighth graders, two pebble fights and a full-tackle basketball game.
One kid lead all those activities. He wasn’t big or strong, but he acted like he was. He had eyes like a pit bull, and shaggy black hair, and he was dressed in expensive but sloppy clothes, like he wanted everybody to see how little he cared about his family’s money.
He was giving everybody wedgies until he made the mistake of trying it on Percy’s friend.
I fell off the tree branch I was sitting on. I stood up and squinted at his friend as a shiver went down my spine. No... Percy wouldn’t...
The bully snuck up behind him and tried to give him a wedgie, and Percy’s friend panicked. It swatted the bully away a little too hard. He flew five meters and got tangled in the little kids’ tyre swing.
“You freak!” The bully yelled. “Why don’t you go back to your cardboard box!”
Percy’s friend started sobbing. It sat down on the jungle gym so hard it bent the bar, and buried his head in his hands.
“Take it back, Sloan!” Percy shouted. The bully just sneered at him.
“Why do you even bother, Jackson? You might have friends if you weren’t always sticking up for that freak.”
Percy balled his fists. “He’s not a freak. He’s just...”
Percy tried to think of the right thing to say, but the bully wasn’t listening. He and his big ugly friends were too busy laughing.
“Just wait till PE, Jackson,” he called. “You are so dead.”
When the first period ended, Percy’s English teacher came outside to inspect the carnage. He pronounced that they understood Lord of the Flies perfectly. They all passed his course, and they should never, never grow up to be violent people.
The bully nodded earnestly, then gave Percy a chiptoothed grin. Percy had to promise to buy his friend an extra peanut butter sandwich at lunch to get him to stop sobbing.
“I ... I am a freak?” It asked Percy.
“No,” he promised, gritting hid teeth. “Matt Sloan is the freak.”
His friend sniffled. “You are a good friend. Miss you next year if ... if I can’t...” His voice trembled.
“Don’t worry, big guy,” Percy managed. “Everything’s going to be fine.”
His friend gave Percy a grateful look.
Percy’s next exam was science. His teacher told them that they had to mix chemicals until they succeeded in making something explode. Percy’s friend was his lab partner. His hands were way too big for the tiny vials they were supposed to use. It accidentally knocked a tray of chemicals off the counter and made an orange mushroom cloud in the trashcan.
After the teacher evacuated the lab and called the hazardous waste removal squad, she praised Percy and his friend for being natural chemists. They were the first ones who’d ever aced her exam in under thirty seconds. I shook my head at her arrogance.
In social studies, while everyone were drawing latitude/longitude maps, Percy opened his notebook and stared at the photo inside. My eyes grew wide. It was a picture of me, standing by the Lincoln Memorial when I was on vacation in Washington, DC. I had e-mailed Percy that picture after spring break. I didn’t know he had printed it out.
Seeing how I want to be an architect when I grow up, I’m always visiting famous monuments.
Percy was about to close his notebook when the bullly, Matt Sloan, reached over and ripped the photo out of the rings.
“Hey!” Percy protested.
Sloan checked out the picture and his eyes got wide. “No way, Jackson. Who is that? She is not your –”
“Give it back!”
My ears felt hot and they couldn’t even see me. Sloan handed the photo to his ugly buddies, who snickered and started it up to make spit wads. They were new kids who must’ve been visiting, because they were all wearing those stupid HI! MY NAME IS: tags from the admissions office. They must’ve had a weird sense of humor, too, because they’d all filled in strange names like: MARROW SUCKER, SKULL EATER and JOE BOB. No human beings had names like that.
“These guys are moving here next year,” Sloan bragged, like that was supposed to scare Percy. “I bet they can pay the tuition, too, unlike your retard friend.”
“He’s not retarded.” Why was Percy defending it so much?
“You’re such a loser, Jackson. Good thing I’m gonna put you out of your misery next period.”
His huge buddies chewed up my face. I wanted to pulverize them, but I was under strict orders from Chiron never to take my anger out on regular mortals, no matter how obnoxious they were. I had to save my fighting for monsters. Still, part of me thought, if Sloan only knew I was right here... The bell rang.
I decided to try my luck and I whispered, “Percy!”
He looked around the locker area, shook his head and let the crowd of kids carry him away. I was being pushed around so much I had to take off my invisibility cap so nobody would be confused as to why they were running into air.
The hallways cleared and I was standing by myself next to a bathroom. I sighed, and started wandering the school, looking for the gyms.
I was contemplating going into a classroom and asking for directions when I heard a deep voice yell, “I hope so, Perseus Jackson! I hope so!”
The way he said Percy’s name sent a chill down my back. Nobody called him Perseus except those who knew his true identity. Friends ... and enemies.
I started to run.
I found a pair of double doors
The wall right next to me blew apart. Locker doors, socks, athletic supports and other various nasty personal belongings rained all over the gym, which happened to be right there.
I ran inside and slowly crept behind the monster until I had a very pretty view of its backside, and I was about to charge when someone yelled, “Stop! It’s me you want!”
“You wish to die first, young hero?”
The deep voice from before said.
And I watched as Percy charged at the Laistrygonian. Its not the first time he’s done something this stupid.
It laughed. “My lunch approaches.”
He raised his arm to throw and I charged, sinking my blade into his lower back. The ball dropped out of his hand. The monster stared down at the knife that had just run him through from behind. He muttered, “Ow,” and burst into a cloud of green flame.
Standing in the smoke was Percy, staring at me. His face was grimy and scratched. His tie-dye shirt was smoking and was dotted with holes.
Matt Sloan, who’d been standing there dumbfounded, finally came to his senses. He blinked at me, as if he dimly recognized me from Percy’s notebook picture.
“That’s the girl ... That’s the girl –”
I punched him in the nose and knocked him flat.
“And you,” I told him, “lay off my friend.”
The gym was in flames. Kids were running around screaming. I heard sirens wailing and a garbled voice over the intercom. Through the glass windows of the exit doors, I could see a crowd of teachers piling up at the door, frantically trying to open it.
“Annabeth...” Percy stammered. “How did you ... how long have you...”
“Pretty much all morning.” I sheathed my bronze knife. “I’ve been trying to find a good time to talk to you, but you were never alone.”
“The shadow I saw this morning – that was –” Percy’s face went red. “Oh my gods, you were looking in my bedroom window?”
“There’s no time to explain!” I snapped, though I felt the heat rising to my cheeks. “I just didn’t want to –”
“There!” a woman screamed. The doors burst open and the adults came pouring in. “Meet me outside,” I told Percy. “And him.” I pointed to his friend, who was still sitting dazed against the wall. I wrinkled my nose. “You’d better bring him.”
“No time!” I said. “Hurry!” I put on my Yankees baseball cap and disappeared. I ran towards the exit.
A/N: welcome back everyone! I’m so happy to announce that Annabeth Chase and the Sea of Monsters is officially underway!! How’s everyones day so far? Mines great😁