The rest of the weekend passed agonizingly slow for Drake and Aislinn. Aislinn mostly stayed holed up in her room, crying and attempting to do her homework, and only came out for meals and to use the washroom. Her mother and stepfather didn’t see her until she was leaving for school Monday morning.
Drake spent most of his time out in the garage working on his car or out in the garden pulling weeds and then setting them on fire. His “mother” didn’t really approve but understood that it was helping him keep from losing it completely.
Monday morning it was still raining, and it was confusing the meteorologists – who had predicted sun all week – to no end. Aislinn had tried to calm herself down enough to at least make it stop raining, but all that did was make it rain harder. She gave it up as a bad job and stopped worrying about it. As long as she didn’t think about the weather the rain stayed at a light drizzle, almost like a fine mist.
Aislinn finished her breakfast and after putting her dishes in the sink grabbed her lunch from the fridge.
“Where’s your bag, Aislinn?” Melissa asked as she walked into the kitchen, pulling her long blonde hair back into a ponytail.
“I left it at Drakes on Saturday; he’s going to give it to me at school. I gotta get going mom, I’ll see you after school all right?” She walked around her mother and made her way to the living room. Her jacket was hanging on the rack and her shoes were sitting next to the chair.
“Okay honey. Try and have a good day, okay?” Melissa watched as Aislinn sat down and put on her shoes, tying them quickly. She hadn’t been very talkative all weekend, and while she could understand the reasons, it was still unnerving to see her normally cheerful daughter so depressed.
“I’ll try mom.” She stood up and grabbing her jacket off the rack slipped one arm through the sleeve and grabbed the door handle. “Bye, see you after you get home.” She opened the front door and left.
A red ’67 Mustang GT500 pulled up in front of Aislinn’s house just as she was closing the door behind her. Drake rolled down the window and stuck his head out, “Hey, want a lift?” She noticed that he looked just as upset as she felt, and probably looked.
“Sure, thanks.” She walked around to the passenger door; a quick look in the back told her that Drake had remembered to bring her bag. She pulled open the door and slid into the leather seat, not bothering with the seat belt. She sat back in the chair and let her head fall back against the headrest, closing her eyes.
She heard Drake shift the car into drive and pull away from the curb. They drove to King James High in silence; both lost in their own thoughts about what was going to happen at school that day, and how they were going to go about repairing their friendship with Diana.
Drake parked a block and half a block away from the school, the closest spot he could find, and got out. He walked around the front of the car then leaned against the side of the car in front of the passenger door, waiting for her to get out. It looked like she just wanted to stay in the car and not face Monday.
He opened the passenger door enough so that he could lean on it with crossed arms and look in at his distressed friend. “You staying in the car won’t make this go away, or right, Aislinn.”
She glared up at him, “I know that Drake, but…I’ve never had a fight with Diana before, not like this anyways. Not a fight that made her scream and rage at me. What are we going to do?” Tears started to gather at the corner of her grey rimmed green eyes, which were dark with sorrow. She pulled her legs up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them, and buried her face in her knees.
Drake bit at his bottom lip, upset at seeing Aislinn so depressed. “There’s not much we can do in a situation like this. We were stuck getting in trouble or hurting someone either way with this.” He ran a hand through his hair, “On one hand if we had told Diana the truth from the beginning, the other gods would have had us roasting on spits for all eternity in an eye blink, and on the other hand we have the situation we’re in now, we told Diana – in a rather unorthodox fashion – and now she hates our not so mortal guts.”
Her voice was muffled as she grumbled at him, “If you’re trying to cheer me up, it’s not working. You suck as a motivational speaker, don’t quit your day job.”
“I don’t have a day job, I’m independently wealthy, remember? And I wasn’t trying to make you feel better; I was just laying out the facts. If I wanted to make you feel better, I’d spout tripe about rainbows, puppies, world peace, and happily ever afters.”
Seeing that Aislinn still looked like she was just going to sit in his car all day he tried a different tactic. “Look the truth of the matter is that we screwed up and now we’re paying for it. And if the Fates decide that our punishment should be losing Di as a friend, then… we’ll wait until the weekend and go and kick their collective ass and demand that they find a different punishment. But until then we’ll deal with this one and try and fix it ourselves.”
She sniffled and stared up at him for a few moments, scrubbing her eyes free of tears, before saying, “That has got to be the dumbest and, at the same time, the nicest thing you have ever said.” She reached into the back seat and grabbed her bag. “Okay let’s get this over with. I’m holding you to that Fate ass-kicking, by the way.”
“Figured,” he closed the door of the car as Aislinn stepped onto the sidewalk.
Since they were at school earlier than they usually were there weren’t many students in the halls, so they had no trouble getting to their first class. To their surprise leaning next to the door leading into Mr. Warner’s art class was James. The two Godlings looked at him trying to judge his reaction to everything after he had had a few days to think about it. He gave them a flat stare before offering them a small, hesitant grin. “If I had been in your shoes, I wouldn’t have told anyone either. It doesn’t matter who your parents are, you’re both still you.” He shrugged.
Drake and Aislinn both gave him huge appreciative grins. If James was willing to accept them, and he hadn’t known them all that long, then maybe there was hope for Diana yet.
The three friends entered their art class, Drake first followed by James and then Aislinn. Drake stopped short when he saw Diana sitting with a few of her other friends closer to the front of the room. James stepped around him and headed for their regular table.
Diana sent her two ex-friends a glare before going back to the conversation she was having with the two girls she was sitting with. Other students who noticed the glare glanced between the three teens in confusion. In the three years that they’d been at the school no one had ever seen Diana fight with her two best friends. It wasn’t odd to see Drake and Aislinn arguing about something, though even those only lasted for a few days at a time.
Aislinn and Drake moved to their seats; hurt expressions on their faces. The whispers and mutterings of their classmates followed them, and they did their best to ignore them.
One of the students that were sitting at the cluster of tables ahead of them turned in his seat, “Aw what’s wrong, are the three musketeers fighting?”
Drake tossed him a glare and flipped him off; Aislinn glared as well, “Piss off Derek. If I wanted to hear annoying buzzing, I’d stick my head in a beehive. It would also probably be less painful than listening to you.”
Next to her James and Drake snickered into their hands. James turned his into an unconvincing cough when Derek glared at him. Drake just laughed louder and Aislinn grinned maliciously.
Everyone knew that when Aislinn and Drake were angry – either at one another or someone else – they got spiteful, especially when someone they didn’t care for started to harass them. The collective student body in Mr. Warner’s art class decided that Derek was either an idiot with a death wish, or he just didn’t care.
“Don’t push your luck Carter.”
“Or what Rainer? Are you going to hit a girl?” Drake leaned back in his chair, propping his feet up on the desk. “I’d love to see that.”
James had discovered throughout his few days at King James High that Derek Rainer did not like Aislinn and Drake. According to Diana it went back to early elementary school, and Diana hadn’t known them then, so she wasn’t sure of the real reason. They usually ignored him and whomever he convinced to bug the two with him, but apparently the two friends weren’t feeling as charitable today. Diana would usually get them to stop if it looked like things were going to heat up; James just decided to sit back and watch the show.
“But Drake, then I’d have to hit him back. And I might break my hand, what with Derek’s skull being so thick and all.” She grinned at Derek sweetly which, along with Drake and James sniggers, only infuriated him more.
“You both better watch it. Or you might find yourselves having an accident after school one day.” Derek glared at the two, daring them to react to his threat. He all he wanted an excuse to hit Drake, but Diana and Aislinn always managed to get him calmed down enough that he walked away. Diana didn’t seem to be on speaking terms with them, and Aislinn – nor their new friend – seemed inclined to try and calm things down this time.
Aislinn brought a hand to her mouth in mock astonishment – it also hid her smirk – and turned to Drake, “I think he’s threatening us Drake.”
“I do believe you’re right Nike. And if I were a lesser man, I might actually be worried. But since this Derek, and since I’m not a lesser man, I’m not worried. So go ahead Rainer,” he let his feet drop from the desk and leaned forward towards Derek. “Do. Your. Worst.” James and Aislinn both laughed at Drake’s play on words.
By this time they had most of the class’s attention. They could see Derek seething, trying to control his temper, glaring at the two teens that were the source of his ire. Across from him were Aislinn, James, and Drake all grinning unrepentantly; by Drake and Aislinn’s body language it looked like they were getting ready for a physical confrontation.
The tension in the room was so thick you could cut it with a knife, and just when it looked like things were about to get out of hand the bell rang and Mr. Warner walked in, completely oblivious to the tension in his classroom.
“All right class, take your seats. Pull out some paper, today we’re going to be learning about Surrealism,” he didn’t even pause to wait to see if the students complied with his requests.
With one last glare in their direction – to which Drake and Aislinn just grinned – Derek took his seat and started taking notes. The three smiled at each other as they got out their own books.
“Surrealists paintings were generally based on dreams. Their paintings were filled with familiar objects, which were painted to look strange or mysterious. They hoped their odd paintings would make people look at things in a different way and change the way they felt about things. They thought that their paintings might stir up feelings in the back of people’s minds…”
They took notes for most of the class and as an assignment were told to keep a dream journal for a week, and from that pick one dream and turn it into a Surreal Painting. “This will be a month long project, and will be worth 15% of your final grade.” He ignored the quiet “boo” that came from Drake.
Mr. Warner was about to add more but the bell rang and students made a rush for the door before he can add anything else. “If you have questions either come and ask them at the end of the day or save them for tomorrow,” he called after his fleeing students.
Diana was out the door before either Drake or Aislinn could get to her, though neither of them knew what they would have said had they caught her. James handed them their bags as they walked back to their desk. As he was walking by Derek’s and his friends’ desk, Derek stuck his foot out and tripped Drake. He couldn’t catch himself in time and ended up hitting his head on the corner of the desk, before cracking it painfully against the floor.
Aislinn moved between the two boys quickly her back to Derek, whose foot she purposefully tread on, forcing him back a step. Drake came to his feet a string of ancient Greek curses tumbling out faster than Aislinn could keep up with. Aislinn pushed on Drake’s shoulders to keep him back and James grabbed his right arm with both hands, Drake’s left hand was holding the bleeding wound on his forehead.
“Is there a problem back there, Ms. Carter?”
“No Mr. Warner, just a misunderstanding there’s no problem.” She tossed the teacher an innocent smile before turning back to Drake and hissing at him, “Let it go, Drake. He’s not worth it.” She made sure that Derek heard that part.
“Fine,” Drake growled and giving Derek one last glare he turned and grabbed his bag, and without a backward glance left the classroom.
“What’s wrong Carter,” Derek hissed in Aislinn’s ear, she still had her back to him. “Scared I might hurt your boyfriend?”
She sent James a jaded look, “Why does everyone think Drake and I are dating?”
“Ask me another time, I’ll have a list of reasons why.”
“Great.” She muttered sarcastically. She swung her bag up onto her shoulder and turned to face Derek, hitting him with her bag as she did so, causing him to stumble into his desk. Her normally bright grey rimmed, green eyes darkened as she glared at her classmate. “And no Rainer, I’m not worried about you hurting Drake. I’m more worried about having to help him hide your body after he gets through with you.” With that said she and James made their way out of the room, leaving behind a confused and slightly frightened Derek Rainer.
The four didn’t have any of the same classes until their third period Science class. When James, Drake, and Aislinn walked in they noticed that Diana was sitting closer to the front of the class, again with a group of her other friends. Drake and Aislinn sighed then followed James to their regular seats at the back of the class.
Apparently the Science and Art departments were in cahoots that day, because like Art class all they did was take notes. Lots of notes.
It was toward the middle of the class that Diana raised her hand. “Did you have as question, Ms. Williams?”
“No, Ms. Aven, I was just wondering if I could be excused to go to the nurse, I’m starting to get a migraine, and I don’t have any Advil or anything in my bag.”
“Of course, go ahead.” Mrs. Aven had been teaching Diana science since the ninth grade, and knew that the girl got frequent migraines, but if she took some pain medication before the migraine got to bad then it would go away.
Diana gathered up her bag, in case the headache didn’t go away before class ended, which she doubted it would, and made her way to the door. Just as she reached the end of the row she had been sitting in, her hand went to her forehead and everything started to spin. She didn’t hear the voice of the student she had stopped next to ask if she as all right, all she saw were the images she had been seeing in her dreams for the past month, but it was clearer now.
There were seven people, she still couldn’t make out their features but she could tell what they were each doing. Six looked like there were fighting, and the seventh figure seemed to be lying unconscious, or dead, off to the side. It was storming out, and one of the figures seemed to be throwing lighting, and there were irregular flashes of light, as more lightning danced through the clouded sky. She watched as two of the figures fought viciously then one of the two went down. Just as the one left standing was about to bring his weapon down on the fallen figure the vision – or dream – ended and Diana collapsed to the floor.
Before she had even really started to fall Drake and Aislinn were out of their seats and moving to her side. Drake slid and caught her head before it hit the dark green linoleum floor.
“Diana! Are you okay?” Aislinn dropped to her knees next to her two friends, worry etched on her face.
Ms. Aven walked over and knelt next to them. “Is she all right? Did she hit her head?”
Drake shook his head in the negative; “No I caught her before that. It just looks like her migraine was worse than she thought it was. Aislinn and I will take her to the Nurses office.”
“Yes of course. You are all excused for the rest of class.”
Aislinn and Drake nodded. Aislinn stood up to go and get the door, and just as Drake was starting to stand up to carry Diana to the nurse, the fainted girl started to come too.
“Ugh, what’s going on? What happened, why am I on the floor?”
“Ms. Williams, you fainted. I was just about to have Mr. Jordan and Ms. Carter take you to the nurse’s office.”
It was then that Diana noticed that Drake was holding her up and Aislinn was standing by the door, both looked frightened and worried.
She shook her head and glared at the two coldly, “No it’s okay. I don’t need any help.” Turning to look at their teacher she said, “I just didn’t get a lot of sleep over the weekend, that’s all. I think I might just go lie down in the nurse’s office over lunch, if that’s okay?”
“Of course, are you sure you don’t want one of your friends to go with you?” She looked between the three teens, perplexed at the animosity between them
“No. I don’t need their help.” She sent them another look. Aislinn let the door fall closed and headed back to her seat, here eyes nearly black with anger and sadness, Drake nodded at her and as soon as he was sure she wouldn’t fall over he got up and headed back to his seat, not bothering to look back.
If Diana wanted to be cruel, fine, three could play that game.
Drake sat back down and instead of looking back at Diana as she stood up he went straight back to copying notes, Aislinn was already doing the same. So they didn’t notice when Diana looked in their direction. James did, because like the rest of the class he was still watching her. He looked at her then at the two teens on his right, and shook his head. He looked at Diana once more before going back to copying notes as well.
Diana spent the rest of the school day lying down in the nurse’s office; her headache didn’t dissipate until 2:30 in the afternoon, so she decided to just spend the rest of the day in the library studying.
She saw Drake and Aislinn walking to Drake’s car as she left the school and cut down an alley to avoid them. She spent most of the walk home thinking about how she had treated them all day, and about the odd look James had sent her during Science class. It had seemed disappointed in her somehow. ’What right does he have to be disappointed in me? He barely knows me, he barely knows them!’ She shook her head furiously. Not understanding James reasoning at all, and still too furious to think the matter through logically, like she usually would have been doing.
She stopped at the corner where she crossed the street before the block her house was on, and while looking both ways something caught her attention, an orange flash of something at the corner of her eye. She turned to get a better look. It was a man in a bright orange jumpsuit, not unlike the ones prison inmates wear. The man was bald and Diana could see that he had tattoos, lots of them, all over his exposed neck and arms.
Guessing that it was probably a Shade Diana squashed down her nerves as much as she could and hurried across the street, assuming it would disappear on its own. A she reached the opposite side, her curiosity got the best of her and she glanced back over her shoulder once more. What she saw made her blood run cold and her stomach drop to her feet, as fear raced up her spine. There, standing where she had been only moments before, was the Shade. She could now make out lifeless black eyes in a sunken and sallow face, and veins standing out in too pale skin.
She whirled around, intent in getting home as fast as possible without actually running home in a panic. She didn’t want her mother worrying more than she already was. She stopped in front of her neighbours’ house and once again looked to see if the nightmarish figure was still standing on the street corner.
She didn’t quite manage to stop the scream of terror as she saw that not only was the Shade still there, but it was a lot closer than she would have thought possible. It stood at the edge of her neighbours’ yard, not four meters from her. She reached down and grabbed a chunk of rock from the garden at her feet and threw it at the Shade as hard as she could. “Leave me alone!”
Instead of passing right through it, it hit the Shades shoulder, and bounced off.
Diana stared for a full five seconds before her fight or flight response kicked in. She screamed, threw her bag onto her lawn and then started running, continuing on up her street in the direction of Aislinn’s house.
When she turned the corner onto Aislinn’s street she could see the auburn haired teen mowing her lawn. She put on a final burst of speed and yelled as loud as she could, “Aislinn!”
Aislinn looked up sharply and saw Diana running towards her at full tilt, a frightened look on her face. She turned off the mower and walked to the edge of her lawn.
“Diana? What’s the matter?” She caught her friend as she collapsed onto the grass.
Diana attempted to explain to her friend what was wrong, but she was too out of breath so instead pointed behind her. Aislinn looked up and saw the Shade making its way towards them, a little faster than she would have believed a Shade that hadn’t been a warrior in life could move.
“It can’t hurt you Diana; it’s only an imprint of the Shade.”
“NO! I thought it would disappear too, so I threw a rock at it. The rock bounced off! It’s solid!”
She watched as Aislinn’s eyes widened in astonishment, green eyes paling in fear. She pulled Diana to her feet and dragged her to the front door. She quickly opened the door and the two teens fell inside. Aislinn regained her feet first and slammed the door shut and locked it.
“What’s that gonna do? It’s a ghost-type-thing...I doubt doors mean anything to it!”
“I’m the daughter of a god, it can’t enter my house unless I grant it entrance, and there is now way in Hades I’m gonna do that.”
“Well what are you going to do then?”
“I don’t know!” She sounded more than a little panicked, which didn’t make Diana feel any better. “We need to call Drake, or find a way to contact Uncle Hades. I’m the daughter of a sky god dammit. I don’t deal with the dead. HERMES!”
In reaction to her panic laced summons Hermes appeared within seconds, stumbling out of the Door he had created. “What? What’s wrong?” He spun around on the spot he had appeared in, looking for whatever had caused his sister's panic.
She walked over and grabbed the back of Hermes shirt, dragging him over to the nearest window. “Still think we’re crazy, brother?” She pulled the curtains aside roughly and pointed at the Shade that was trying its hardest to get through the door. There seemed to be about five inches of air between the Shade’s hands and the door.
He stared at the scene for a few seconds before saying, “Not any more.”
“Good, then get it off my front lawn and back to the Underworld. What the hell is it doing topside anyway?”
“Fine I’ll get rid of it. As for why big, bad, and ugly is in the Upper Realm, I have no idea. Like I told Drake, if you want to know what’s going on, take your problem to Hades. It’s his job to keep them in the Underworld, not mine.” He unlocked the door and let it swing inwards. As he stepped onto the stairs the Shade was pushed backward away from the house. It landed on its back, ten feet away. Hermes calmly walked up to the fallen Shade and grabbed the front of its orange jumpsuit, displaying a strength that didn’t match his slight frame. He waved a hand and a Door opened up behind him. Diana couldn’t see where it led to, but she thought she saw skeletal looking trees and gray dirt or rock.
“Call up Drake and tell him that you need to talk to his Father. Pronto.
“Will do, and Hermes, thanks.”
“No problem. What are big brothers for?” He grinned and waggled his fingers at the two girls and then, without any effort at all, tossed the Shade through the Door and followed in after it. The Door swirled closed behind him with a soft popping sound.
Aislinn turned around and walked back into the house, not bothering to close the door, in search of her cell phone. Diana followed behind her, a little unsure of herself.
After helping Aislinn wordlessly search for her phone for ten minutes, she finally spoke up. “Aislinn?”
“Hmm?” Aislinn was digging in the couch cushions for her missing phone; so far she’d found 3 dollars in change – which she pocketed – a button, the missing remote control, and her cat, Monster, but no phone.
“I-I want to apologize for what happened on Saturday, and for the way I treated you and Drake today. I should have listened more when you tried to explain yourself. It’s just, I was just so hurt and confused and I didn’t want to listen. That wasn’t fair or right and –” she didn’t get to finish her apology as Aislinn had pulled her into a tight hug.
“It’s okay Di, I forgive you. Drake might be a little harder to win over, but he’ll forgive you by the end of the day.” She pulled back and smiled at her shorter friend. “I don’t blame you for the way you reacted. Yes I was hurt, but I don’t blame you. I probably would have reacted the same way.”
“Still, I’m sorry.”
“Forgiven. Hey do you see the house phone anywhere?”
“Yes…why?” She picked up a cordless hand held off a small table that was between the couch and the wall.
“Sweet! Call me so I can find my phone, then we can call Drake.”
“Why don’t we just use my phone?”
“Special cell phone. Our phones don’t really “exist” on any earth network, they work through rainbow messages. Hermes and Iris got together a few years back and came up with it. I’d explain more but…it’s kind of complicated and I don’t really understand it all that much either. But the house phone is rigged so that Mark and Mom can get a hold of me.”
“Okay, don’t hurt yourself trying to think, I’ll call your phone.” She chuckled at the offended look Aislinn sent her from over the back of the couch. A few seconds later a small sound could be heard and Aislinn ran to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. Sitting next to the milk was her dark blue cell phone with a lightning bolt sticker on the back. “Yes!” She pulled it out and let the door swing shut, and quickly dialled Drake’s number.
Diana was mumbling to herself, “I always wondered why, whenever I tried to call yours or Drake’s cells, I always got a busy signal or the “the costumer you are trying to reach does not exist” message.”
He answered on the second ring. “Aislinn?”
“Hey Drake, look we need to go and see your dad, ASAP.”
“I know, I was just going to call you.”
“Wait, what? Why were you going to call me?”
“James was chased here by a hell-hound.”
“Serious? Okay something is seriously wrong down under.”
“What was your first clue? Why were you going to call me?”
“Diana was chased here by a solid Shade.”
“Is she okay?”
“A little shaken but yeah, otherwise she’s fine. She also says to tell you that she’s sorry for her overreaction on Saturday and she’ll do your homework for a month if you forgive her.”
“I did not say that, you liar!”
“Drake says he forgives you and thanks you for your month of homework services.”
“I am not doing your homework for you Drake Jordan so you can forget it!” She sounded stern but she was grinning, glad she had her two best friends back. Their friendship was a little shaky but it was on the mend and that was all that mattered.
“Okay so we’ll meet you at your place in ten minutes.”
“Okay, see you then. Later.”
“See you.” Aislinn flipped the phone shut and slid it into one of the side pockets on her pants.
“So, he forgives me?”
“Yes he forgives you. Was there ever any doubt?”
“I just need to grab something from my room, we’ll head over to Drake’s, and then it’s off to the Underworld!”
“Great…wait. What do you mean ‘off to the Underworld’? We’re going to the Underworld? Isn’t that a bad idea? Aislinn are you laughing? Why are you laughing?”