That weekend found Aislinn sitting out on the deck in her backyard when her cell rang, the ringtone made of a snippet of heavy metal song pouring out of its tiny speaker. She flipped it open, “Hey Drake.”
“Hey Nike, what’s up?”
“Not much, just chilling out back avoiding homework.”
“Wanna come help me avoid mine? Besides I got a few things I want to ask you anyway, that are probably better discussed in person.”
“I take it this is something I don’t want my stepfather hearing.”
“Most definitely not,”
“Sure. I’ll be there in ten.”
“Sweet, see you then.”
“Bye.” She hung up the phone and hauled herself out of the deck chair she had been lounging in and headed inside.
“Yes Aislinn?” Her stepfather was spread out on the living room couch, still fighting off the flu he had come down with on Thursday.
“I’m heading over to Drake’s to study, I should be back by dinner, but if not I’ll call and let you know all right?”
“Sure thing kiddo. Hey Raptors are playing the Bulls tomorrow night, want to watch?” he had a grin on his face, knowing the answer to the question already.
“Duh, I’ll be there, unless something epic happens like the world ending or something.” She tossed the ill man a grin before walking off to her room to grab her bag. Had to at least make it look like she was going to go and study. Drake mentioning that he had something serious to discuss, though, had brought back to mind what she had seen the other day. So if it had anything to do with that, then she was pretty sure studying was going to be the last thing she had to worry about.
A few minutes later she was back in the front room tying her black runners. She’d changed from the shorts and t-shirt she’d been wearing into a pair of sturdier pants, a pair of black jeans and a purple and black long sleeved shirt. She grabbed a light wind jacket from the closet and stuffed it into her bag.
“See you Mark; tell mom I’ll see her later.”
“Will do, Have fun kid.”
She arrived at Drakes about five minutes later. He only lived the next block over so it wasn’t that far to walk. She usually took the long way around just because she liked to walk. Today though she decided it would be better to get there as fast as possible, so she cut through a few yards.
She arrived at the houses back fence and tried the gate. It was stuck. 'It looks like they still haven’t fixed the bloody thing. Oh well I guess it’s up and over.’ Aislinn thought to herself as she tossed her backpack over the fence then climbed in after it.
Drake’s house was two stories high, done in brick along the bottom two feet of the house, and white stucco everywhere else. The back of the house had two large windows on the first floor, one looking in on the dining room, and the other looking in on the kitchen. Further down from those was a smaller window that belonged to one of the 4 bedrooms that were in the house. On the second level were three windows; two looking in on bedrooms, and the third was fogged glass so it belonged to the bathroom.
The back door was just a plain brown door behind a metal screen door too keep out the bugs if the inner door was open.
She knocked on the back door then swung it open, not even bothering to wait for an invitation to enter. “Hey Drake, where are you?”
“I’m in the kitchen. That was fast Nike.”
“Well you sounded all cryptic on the phone, so I thought it might actually be serious.” Aislinn kicked off her shoes and dropped her bag by the back door, closing it behind her before she made her way into the kitchen.
Drake’s kitchen was done in a Mediterranean style using shades of red, orange and yellow. “Yeah about that,” he looked up from his exploration of the stainless steel fridge, glancing over at his friend from behind the door. “You see anything weird lately.”
“Define weird. My definition of weird is vastly different from the average persons.”
“Think Sixth Sense weird.”
“Oh, then yes. Weird would absolutely describe what I saw the other day.” She nodded as she opened a cupboard and pulled out a glass handing it to Drake, who filled it up with some of the fruit punch that was in the fridge.
“Oh what did you see? Bet I can trump it.” He held his hand out for a glass of his own, so Aislinn handed him a glass before telling him what she had seen on Thursday.
“Doubt it.” Drake waved a hand at her to explain, “Well I was just finishing up my paper route on Thursday morning and was just about to cross the street to get back home. So I look both ways to make sure I won’t be turned into road pizza, when I see these three Samurai down the way on Horseback, all decked out in armour. At first I just thought I’d stayed up too late the other night watching the Samurai, but when I look again they’re still there, and now they’re charging right at me!” She had put down her glass after she had started telling her tale, her hands were moving around to emphasize her narration. “And just as I’m sure they’re going to run me over they turn the corner and vanish. Poof. Gone!” She picked up her glass and took another sip, waving her hand at Drake. “Okay, so what do you have that beats that?”
He closed the refrigerator door and leaned against it, glass of fruit punch in hand. “Well to start off, on Monday on the way back to school from the mall, remember that corvette that drove by?” Aislinn just shook her head, not as into cars as Drake was.
Drake rolled his eyes but continued, “Anyway watched that pull into the parking lot and standing behind it on the other side of the drive was, my hand to Zeus, Achilles,”
“Wait a second, as in the Greek Hero Achilles. That Achilles?” She hopped up to sit on the counter top, leaning back against the cupboards.
“Yes that Achilles. When I looked back though he was gone, so I just thought I just might have been homesick or something so I shrugged it off. But then on Wednesday I saw something else.”
“Nah didn’t know this guy from Adam. Some guy in a light blue 80’s era suit. Had a bullet hole in his chest and a huge bloodstain down his front. When I asked if he needed help he turned and just like your Samurai, disappeared into thin air. I kept an eye out on the news for anything that might sound like the dead guy, but there wasn’t anything, and there was nothing in the paper the next morning either.”
“I still say my three Samurai beat your dead Greek hero and anonymous dead guy.”
Drake and Aislinn jumped, surprised, and turned to see James and Diana standing at the front entrance to the kitchen, confusion etched on their faces. They hadn’t heard Diana knock, and like Aislinn she didn’t wait for an answer, just let herself and James in. They had walked in on the tail end of a very odd conversation.
“Umm…” Aislinn turned to Drake hoping he’d come up with a way to explain their odd conversation. He looked just as lost as she did, having forgotten that he had called to ask the two of them, if they had wanted to come over to work on the science paper that Ms. Aven had assigned them on Friday.
They had the same thought running through both of their minds though, ’Oh shit.’
James dropped his bag next to the table; he’d used the same excuse Aislinn had to get out of going fishing with his dad. He pulled out a chair and sat on it backwards, stretching his long legs out in front of him. “I thought I was just imagining the dead horseman I saw this morning, unless we all drank the same water or ate the same onion rings, or something.”
Drake recovered from his doomed hunt for a good lie and turned to James, “What do you mean?”
“After I finished mowing the lawn this morning, I was just lounging around afterwards, taking a break before putting the lawn mower away, when all of a sudden there was this Native American Warrior on his horse just standing in front of me. I was going to get a closer look to see if it was real, I thought that maybe it was a stunt for a movie or something, when they took off and vanished just as quickly as they had showed up.” He shook his head, “I thought I might just have been dehydrated, but when I walked back outside after getting some water, I swear I heard war cries and horses.”
They contemplated this silently for a few moments until Diana’s uncomfortable shuffling brought their attention to her. “Diana what’s up? You see spooky ghosts too?” Drake asked, slightly confused. As far as he – or Aislinn – knew she wasn’t a demi-god, or Godling, or anything like that. They didn’t get the familiar tingling sensation when in the presence of one. The only thing that he could think of was that maybe she was a descendant of an Oracle, or of Apollo, the God of Prophesy.
“Um, yeah, on Tuesday, when I was working in the greenhouse... I was talking to this elderly gentleman about two of my paintings I have hanging up in there. We talked for little bit about art and different artists. When he left, as soon as he reached the door, he disappeared. I asked my mom if she had seen him leave and said that I hadn’t been talking to anybody. It was the creepiest thing I’d ever experienced.” Uncomfortable with telling what she believed to just be her imagination, she didn’t tell her friends about the strange dreams she had been having. She already thought she was going crazy; she didn’t need her friends thinking it too.
Drake contemplated all that he had been told in the last fifteen minutes, still leaning against the refrigerator door. After a minute or so he straightened up and downing the last of his drink said, “Okay something is definitely not right here, though I have no idea what.” He turned to look at Aislinn, “I think we may have to call in some help.”
“You’re telling me, I’m out of my depth here, this is your department, not mine.”
In the heat of the moment with trying to figure out what was going on and why it was happening, Drake and Aislinn forgot that James and Diana didn’t know that they weren’t technically human.
“Call your brother would you? He might know, or at least have an idea as to what the hell is going on.” Aislinn nodded and headed outside, taking what remained of her glass of juice with her. She highly doubted that Drakes “parents” would be thrilled to have her carving up their floor.
“Wait, brother? Aislinn’s an only child. You know that Drake.” Diana said as she followed Aislinn and Drake out of the house, James hopped up from his chair and quickly followed suit.
“Well I’m my mother’s only child; to my dad I’m just one of many.” Aislinn called up from the grassy backyard, she’d found a strip of unused dirt and was drawing something in it with a finger.
“How many exactly?” James asked hopping up onto the deck rail.
“Um, would you believe me if I said I wasn’t entirely sure?” They watched as the picture Aislinn was drawing in the dirt began to take shape.
“Isn’t that the Medical Symbol? Like the thing you see on Ambulances and stuff?” Diana looked on in confusion, wanting to get a closer look, but instead, stayed up on the deck with Drake and James. Her friends were scaring her more than just a little.
“Well,” Drake began, “The Caduceus was a symbol for the Greek god Hermes, who isn’t even a god of medicine to begin with. That’s Asclepius, Apollo’s son. It’s a common misconception.”
“That doesn’t answer why Aislinn is scribbling it in your garden?”
“Because we’re calling Hermes, so we can ask him some questions about the dead people that are floating around town.” Drake answered simply.
Diana looked at him incredulously, “You’re not telling me you two actually believe in that stuff, are you? I mean they’re all just myths and old stories.”
Drake gave Diana a stern – and she thought hurt – look. “Look Diana, believe what you want, but the truth of the matter is that the God most people worship is just all the Greek gods lumped together. Back in the day they didn’t want the hassle of worshiping more that one deity so they combined them all into one “God”. This really pissed off Aphrodite by the way.” He paused in thought for a few seconds, “Artemis wasn’t particularly happy either…actually come to think of it none of the goddesses were overjoyed by the idea, from what I understand. But they were technically still being worshipped so they didn’t really do anything about it…anyway what I’m getting at is even if God and the Greek gods did exist together, I know we’d get an answer from the Greek Pantheon so we’re calling them.”
Diana looked more confused and hurt than ever. She was trying to wrap her mind around what Drake had just told her; being a devout catholic, this went against everything that she believed and had been taught. She was so wrapped up in her internal conflict that she almost missed James’ question.
“So what, are you Zeus’ kid or something?”
“Who me? No, I’m Hades boy; Aislinn is Uncle Zeus’ kid.”
While James and Diana stared at him like he had grown another head, down in the garden Aislinn had finished her drawing and was pouring what was left of her juice onto it. “I, Aislinn, Daughter of Zeus, call my brother Hermes, God of Thieves and Travelers, son of Zeus and Maia…ah screw it. Hermes! Get your winged sandal wearing ass down here before I electrocute you!”
A few minutes of silence in which Aislinn stood out in the garden, foot tapping against the ground, the sound of wings could finally be heard. Suddenly a man, who looked to be about 24, 25 years old, appeared in front of Aislinn. He had shoulder length brown hair that he kept pulled back loosely, leaving an open face set with green eyes, free of hair. He wore a pair of black knee length shorts and a bright yellow short sleeved t-shirt. On his feet were winged sandals and on his head was a baseball cap that also had wings on either side, near his temples.
He looked annoyed at having been called so rudely, but he greeted Aislinn with a smile nonetheless. “Nicole, how’s my favourite baby sister?”
Her eyes narrowed at the use of her middle name, “What took you so long? Getting slow in your old age, brother?”
“Hey watch it, or I might just leave. You were rather rude in your summons just now, you know. Why did you call me anyways?” He shifted his weight to one foot and crossed his arms over his chest.
Aislinn rolled her eyes and crossed her own arms. “We have a slight problem,”
“Oh what’s that?”
“We’ve been seeing Shades up here on earth.”
“That’s normal. I’m a busy god. I can’t always pick up a spirit after it leaves its body, so they’ll wander until I can come and get them.”
“No. Not new spirits, Hermes, really old ones, Spirits that haven’t been on earth in centuries. I saw Warring State Period Samurai, Drake saw Achilles and some dead guy from the 80’s, James saw a Native Warrior decked out for battle, and Diana saw an elderly man in her and her mothers greenhouse…okay he may have been newly dead but the others most definitely were not.”
Hermes looked over to where the other three teens were still gathered on the deck. Drake grinned and waved, and James and Diana looked confused and afraid, not used to seeing people appear from the sky from practically nowhere. Not to mention the wings on his hat and sandals kept fluttering every now and then.
“Wait…Are you telling me that you two summoned me in front of mortals!? Are you both insane?”
Aislinn and Drake looked over at James and Diana, finally realizing what they had done. James looked like he’d stick around for an explanation; Diana…Diana was already running back inside the house to grab her bag.
Aislinn shook herself and made a dash for the house, “Diana! Diana, wait!”
“No! I don’t want to hear it!” Was all that could be heard from Diana as she ran through the house and grabbed her backpack from next to the kitchen table where she’d dropped it, making for the front door.
Aislinn disappeared into the house after her friend leaving Drake alone to explain their stupidity to Hermes who – like Aislinn before him – was tapping his foot as he waited for an explanation. “This had better be good, youngling.”