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Annabeth Chase and the Sea of Monsters

(2) We Hail the Taxi of Eternal Torment

I was waiting for Percy in an alley down Church Street. I pulled Percy and his friend off the sidewalk just as a fire truck screamed past, heading for Meriwether Prep.

“Where’d you find him?” I demanded, pointing at it.

“He’s my friend,” He told me.

“Is he homeless?”

“What does that have to do with anything? He can hear you, you know. Why don’t you ask him?”

I was surprised. “He can talk?”

“I talk,” It admitted. “You are pretty.”

“Ah! Gross!” I stepped away from it.

Percy examined it’s hands and then said in disbelief, “Tyson,” It had a name? “Your hands aren’t even burned.”

“Of course not,” I muttered. “I’m surprised the Laistrygonians had the guts to attack you with him around.”

It, Tyson, seemed fascinated by my blonde hair. He tried to touch it, but I smacked his hand away.

“Annabeth,” Percy said, “what are you talking about? Laistry-what?”

“Laistrygonians. The monsters in the gym. They’re a race of giant cannibals who live in the far north. Odysseus ran into them once, but I’ve never seen them as far south as New York before.”

“Laistry – I can’t even say that. What would you call them in English?”

I thought about it for a moment. “Canadians,” I decided. “Now come on, we have to get out of here.”

“The police’ll be after me.”

“That’s the least of our problems,” I said. Tyson probably wouldn’t be able to comprehend what we were talking about, and I needed to tell Percy about me dreams. “Have you been having the dreams?”

“The dreams ... about Grover?”

I felt myself pale. “Grover? No, what about Grover?” Percy told me his dream.

“Why? What were you dreaming about?”

I wondered if Percy’s dream about Grover had something to do with camp. Anxiety was eating me slowly. I was scared for Grover.

“Camp,” I said at last. “Big trouble at camp.”

“My mom was saying the same thing! But what kind of trouble?”

“I don’t know exactly. Something’s wrong. We have to get there right away. Monsters have been chasing me all the way from Virginia, trying to stop me. Have you had a lot of attacks?”

Percy shook his head. “None all year ... until today.”

“None? But how...” My eyes drifted to Tyson. “Oh.”

“What do mean, “oh”?”

Tyson raised his hand like he was still in class. “Canadians in the gym called Percy something ... Son of the Sea God?” Percy and I exchanged looks. He would find out soon enough anyway. I shrugged.

Percy hesitated before saying, “Big guy, you ever hear those old stories about the Greek gods? Like Zeus, Poseidon, Athena –”

“Yes,” Tyson said.

“Well ... those gods are still alive. They kind of follow Western Civilization around, living in the strongest countries, so like now they’re in the U.S. And sometimes they have kids with mortals. Kids called half-bloods.”

“Yes,” Tyson said, like he was still waiting for Percy to get to the point.

“Uh, well, Annabeth and I are half-bloods,” Percy said. ’We’re like ... heroes-in-training. And whenever monsters pick up our scent, they attack us. That’s what those giants were in the gym. Monsters.”

“Yes.” Percy stared at it. He didn’t seem surprised or confused by what he was telling it, which only proved my point about what it was.

“So ... you believe me?” Tyson nodded. “But you are ... Son of the Sea God?”

“Yeah,” Perct admitted. “My dad is Poseidon.”

Tyson frowned. Now he looked confused. “But then...”

A siren wailed. A police car raced past our alley.

“We don’t have time for this,” I said. “We’ll talk in the taxi.”

“A taxi all the way to camp?” Percy said. “You know how much money –”

“Trust me.” Percy hesitated. “What about Tyson?”

I imagined escorting it into Camp Half-Blood. If I was right about what it was, he wouldn’t be safe at camp. On the other hand, the cops were looking for him.

“We can’t just leave him,” Percy decided. “He’ll be in trouble, too.”

“Yeah.” I said. “We definitely need to take him. Now come on.”

Percy frowned, but he followed me down the alley. Together the three of us sneaked through the side streets of downtown while a huge column of smoke billowed up behind us from my school gymnasium.

“Here.” I stopped us on the corner of Thomas and Trimble. I fished around in my backpack.

“I hope I have one left.”

“What are you looking for?” Percy asked. All around us, sirens wailed. I figured it wouldn’t be long before more cops cruised by, looking for juvenile delinquent gym-bombers. No doubt Matt Sloan had given them a statement by now. He’d probably twisted the story around so that Tyson and Percy were the bloodthirsty cannibals.

“Found one. Thank the gods.” I pulled out a drachma, the currency of Mount Olympus. It had Zeus’s likeness stamped on one side and the Empire State Building on the other.

“Annabeth,” Percy said, “New York taxi drivers won’t take that.”

“Anakoche" I shouted in Ancient Greek. ”Harma epitribeios!"

What I said in the language of Olympus was, Stop, Chariot of Damnation! This wasn’t my favorite form of travel, but its the fastest.

I threw my coin into the street, but instead of clattering on the tarmac, the drachma sank right through and disappeared. For a moment, nothing happened. Then, just where the coin had fallen, the tarmac darkened. It melted into a rectangular pool about the size of a parking space – bubbling red liquid like blood. Then a car erupted from the ooze. It was a taxi, all right, but, unlike every other taxi in New York, it wasn’t yellow. It was smoky grey. I mean it looked like it was woven out of smoke, like you could walk right through it. There were words printed on the door – something like GYAR SSIRES – my dyslexia made it hard for me to decipher what it said but I knew it said Gray Sisters. The passenger window rolled down, and an old woman stuck her head out. She had a mop of grizzled hair covering her eyes, and she spoke in a weird mumbling way, like she’d just had a shot of Novocain.

“Passage? Passage?”

“Three to Camp Half-Blood,” I said. I opened the cab’s back door and waved at Percy to get in.

“Ach!” the old woman screeched. “We don’t take his kind!”

She pointed a bony finger at Tyson. I knew Percy wouldn’t agree to leave him behind.

“’Extra pay,” I promised. “Three more drachmas on arrival.”

“Done!” the woman screamed. I only hoped I had three more drachmas lying around. Reluctantly Percy got in the cab. Tyson squeezed in the middle. I crawled in last. The interior was also smoky grey, but it felt solid enough. The seat was cracked and lumpy – no different than most taxis. There was no Plexiglas screen separating us from the here were three old ladies driving. They were all crammed in the front seat, each with stringy hair covering her eyes, bony hands and a charcoal-coloured sackcloth dress. The one driving said,

“Long Island! Out-of-metro fare bonus! Ha!” She floored the accelerator, and my head slammed against the backrest. A pre-recorded voice came on over the speaker: Hi, this is Ganymede, cup-bearer to Zeus, and when I’m out buying wine for the Lord of the Skies, I always buckle up! I looked down and found a large black chain instead of a seat belt. I didn’t touch it.

The cab sped around the corner of West Broadway, and the grey lady sitting in the middle screeched, “Look out! Go left!”

“Well, if you’d give me the eye, Tempest, I could see that!” the driver complained, then swerved to avoid an oncoming delivery truck, ran over the kerb with a jaw-rattling thump, and flew into the next block.

“Wasp!” the third lady said to the driver. “Give me the girl’s coin! I want to bite it.”

“You bit it last time, Anger!” said the driver, whose name must’ve been Wasp. “It’s my turn!”

“Is not!” yelled the one called Anger.

The middle one, Tempest, screamed, “Red light!” “Brake!′ yelled Anger. Instead, Wasp floored the accelerator and rode up on the kerb, screeching around another corner, and knocking over a newspaper box. She left my stomach somewhere back on Broome Street.

“Excuse me,” Percy said. “But ... can you see?”

“No!” screamed Wasp from behind the wheel.

“No!” screamed Tempest from the middle.

“Of course!” screamed Anger by the shotgun window.

Percy looked at me. “They’re blind?”

“Not completely,” I said. “They have an eye.”

“One eye?”



“No. One eye total.”

Next to me, Tyson groaned and grabbed the seat.

“Not feeling so good.”

“Oh, man,” Percy said. “Hang in there, big guy. Anybody got a garbage bag or something?”

The three grey ladies were too busy squabbling to pay him any attention. Percy looked over at me, while I was hanging on for dear life, and gave me a why-did-you-do-this-to-me look.

“Hey,” I said, “Grey Sisters Taxi is the fastest way to camp.”

“Then why didn’t you take it from Virginia?”

“That’s outside their service area,” I said. Wasn’t that obvious? “They only serve Greater New York and surrounding communities.”

“We’ve had famous people in this cab!” Anger exclaimed. “Jason! You remember him?”

“Don’t remind me!” Wasp wailed. “And we didn’t have a cab back then, you old bat. That was three thousand years ago!”

“Give me the tooth!” Anger tried to grab at Wasp’s mouth, but Wasp swatted her hand away.

“Only if Tempest gives me the eye!”

“No!” Tempest screeched. “You had it yesterday!”

“But I’m driving, you old hag!”

“Excuses! Turn! That was your turn!”

Wasp swerved hard onto Delancey Street, squishing Percy between Tyson and the door. She punched the gas and we shot up the Williamsburg Bridge at seventy miles an hour.

The three sisters were fighting for real now, slapping each other as Anger tried to grab at Wasp’s face and Wasp tried to grab at Tempest’s. With their hair flying and their mouths open, screaming at each other, I realized that none of the sisters had any teeth except for Wasp, who had one mossy yellow incisor. Instead of eyes, they just had closed, sunken eyelids, except for Anger, who had one bloodshot green eye that stared at everything hungrily, as if it couldn’t get enough of anything it saw.

Finally Anger, who had the advantage of sight, managed to yank the tooth out of her sister Wasp’s mouth. This made Wasp so mad she swerved towards the edge of the Williamsburg Bridge, yelling, “’Ivit back! ’Ivit back!” Tyson groaned and clutched his stomach.

“Uh, if anybody’s interested,” Percy said, “we’re going to die!”

“Don’t worry,” I told Percy, though my voice sounded pretty worried. “The Grey Sisters know what they’re doing. They’re really very wise.”

We were skimming along the edge of a bridge forty metres above the East River.

“Yes, wise!” Anger grinned in the rear-view mirror, showing off her newly acquired tooth. “We know things!”

“Every street in Manhattan!” Wasp bragged, still hitting her sister. “The capital of Nepal!”

“The location you seek!′ Tempest added.

Immediately her sisters pummelled her from either side, screaming, “Be quiet! Be quiet! He didn’t even ask yet!”

“What?” Percy said. “What location? I’m not seeking any –”

“Nothing!” Tempest said. “You’re right, boy. It’s nothing!”

“Tell me.”

“No” they all screamed.

“The last time we told, it was horrible!” Tempest said.

“Eye tossed in a lake!” Anger agreed.

“Years to find it again!” Wasp moaned. “And speaking of that – give it back!”

“No!” yelled Anger.

“Eye!” Wasp yelled. “Gimme!”

She whacked her sister Anger on the back. There was a sickening pop and something flew out of Anger’s face. Anger fumbled for it, trying to catch it, but she only managed to bat it with the back of her hand. The slimy green orb sailed over her shoulder, into the back seat, and straight into Percy’s lap. He jumped so hard, his head hit the ceiling and the eyeball rolled away. I would’ve laughed under different circumstances.

“I can’t see!” all three sisters yelled.

“Give me the eye!” Wasp wailed. “Give her the eye!” I screamed.

“I don’t have it!” Percy said.

“There, by your foot,” I said. “Don’t step on it! Get it!”

“I’m not picking that up!” So he can stand up to Hades lord of the underworld and can’t pick up an eye, good to know.

The taxi slammed against the guardrail and skidded along with a horrible grinding noise. The whole car shuddered, billowing grey smoke as if it were about to dissolve from the strain.

“Going to be sick!” Tyson warned.

“Annabeth,” Percy yelled, “let Tyson use your backpack!”

“Are you crazy?” I yelled back. We were almost there. “Get the eye!”

Wasp yanked the wheel, and the taxi swerved away from the rail. We hurtled down the bridge towards Brooklyn, going faster than any human taxi. The Grey Sisters screeched and pummelled each other and cried out for their eye.

At last Percy ripped off a chunk of his tie-dyed T-shirt, which was already falling apart from all the burn marks, and used it to pick the eyeball off the floor.

“Nice boy!” Anger cried, as if she somehow knew he had her missing peeper. “Give it back!”

“Not until you explain,” Percy told her and I groaned. “What were you talking about, the location I seek?”

“No time!” Tempest cried. “Accelerating!” I looked out the window. Sure enough, trees and cars and whole neighbourhoods were now zipping by in a grey blur. We were already out of Brooklyn, heading through the middle of Long Island.

“Percy,” I warned, “they can’t find our destination without the eye. We’ll just keep accelerating until we break into a million pieces.”

“First they have to tell me,” Percy said. “Or I’ll open the window and throw the eye into oncoming traffic.”

“No!” the Grey Sisters wailed. “Too dangerous!”

“I’m rolling down the window.”

“Wait!” the Grey Sisters screamed. “Thirty, thirty-one, seventy-five, twelve!”

They belted it out like a quarterback calling a play.

“What do you mean?” Percy said. “That makes no sense!”

“Thirty, thirty-one, seventy-five, twelve!” Anger wailed. “That’s all we can tell you. Now give us the eye! Almost to camp!”

We were off the highway now, zipping through the countryside of northern Long Island. I could see Half-Blood Hill ahead of us, with its giant pine tree at the crest – Thalia’s tree, which contained the life force of a fallen hero.

“Percy!” I said more urgently. “Give them the eye now!”

He decided not to argue and threw the eye into Wasp’s lap. The old lady snatched it up, pushed it into her eye socket like somebody putting in a contact lens, and blinked. “Whoa!”

She slammed on the brakes. The taxi spun four or five times in a cloud of smoke and squealed to a halt in the middle of the farm road at the base of Half-Blood Hill.

Tyson let loose a huge belch. “Better now.”

“All right,” Percy told the Grey Sisters. “Now tell me what those numbers mean.”

“No time!” I opened my door. “We have to get out now.”

I started running to Half-Blood Hill. At the crest of the hill was a group of campers. And they were under attack.

A/N: wow i already forgot to post this im such an amazing author. thats so weird referring to myself as an author because it doesn’t feel like i am one.

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