Chapter one ~ escape
So of course, it started as a terrible day that kept getting worse, because it was report card day. As soon as Mrs. Jones hands me an envelope that says 'Tyler Oakenfold - Term Report', I cringe. Usually I just stuff it in my backpack and then hope it takes forever to get home. I walked on the bus and sat by myself as usual, staring out the window as the trees and cars whizzed by. I didn't really have any friends. I talked to people, but never really hung out with anybody. I didn't do great in school, considering I have ADHD and dyslexia. My dad had left me when I was just born, and always dreamed of what it would be like to have him around. I didn't even have a picture of him. I got off the bus as it lurched to a stop. I walked down the sidewalk while other kids ran by me, excited for the weekend to begin. I looked over at the river and through the trees. I felt like I was being watched, and glanced around. I didn't see anybody, but I walked a little faster. I saw my house about a block away. It was plain beige on the outside and not much different inside, either. I walked up the driveway and up the two steps and stuck my key into the lock.
I pushed the door open, "Mom," I called, "I'm home." There was no answer. I walked into the kitchen, and there was a note taped on the cupboard beside my picture. My short blond hair was somewhat neat, and I stood beside my mom, almost the same height as her. I was pretty tall for my age. The note read:
A business meeting has come up, and I'll be out of town for the weekend. There are leftovers in the fridge, don't burn the house down.
I sighed, but at least my mom wouldn't see my report card for a little longer. I threw my bag on the floor and went up to my room. It was a beautiful spring day outside, with the leaves on the trees rustling silently and the river still. It looked almost like a photograph. I opened the window and rolled up the sleeves of my shirt to cool off, and a piece of paper flew into my room. It was old looking, rolled up and had a string tied around it. I picked it up off the floor and pulled the string, then unrolled the paper. It was written in letters that weren't English, but they started to move on the page into words that I could read. I pinched myself to make sure that I wasn't crazy, but the words stayed the same. I glanced out the window to see if someone threw the paper into my room, but no one was there. I glanced out farther and towards the distant trees, but there was still no one. It was unusually quiet. I began to read the paper. It was a letter:
You don't know me, but I am here to help you. Your life is about to be put into grave danger. You have no idea what you will be put up against. Take the midnight bus south-west for two hours exactly, and get off at the hills.
This was starting to really freak me out. I threw the paper into the recycling bin and fell down on my bed. I stared at the blank ceiling, drowning in boredom as the wind blew gently through the open window. My room was a soft green, with posters of sea life and ocean currents tacked onto every inch of wall. My desk was white with a chair that looked like the seat of a boat and a marine encyclopedia with page markers sticking out of the top of about one hundred pages. The ocean is calming to me. Actually, water in general is calming to me. I always do my best thinking around water, and I spent most of my time alone at the bank of the river, drawing pictures of the fish or tracing and labeling the species out of my encyclopedia. Water is a part of my life.
Suddenly, the wind started to pick up. I shifted over and slid the window closed, but it blew back open. This time I locked it, but that was a mistake. The wind blew straight through the window and the glass shattered everywhere. I lunged out of the way as the wind blew straight into my room, picking up papers and posters that fell into my face. I swatted them out of my way and leaned out the broken window. A freak storm was pounding down from the sky. Lightning cracked and thunder roared so loud, I almost had to cover my ears. The waves from the usually calm river were growing larger and larger as they pounded onto the shore. I watched in fear as the waves reached higher and flooded farther up the bank and eventually onto the streets. It looked like the waves were going to crash straight into my house. I closed my eyes and begged for mercy to no one in particular as the biggest wave was about to flood directly into my window. I held my breath… but nothing happened. I opened one eye to see the wave just in front of my window. It was still flowing, but it didn't move into my house. Then it recoiled back to the shore and the storm clouds lifted from the sky. I gasped, mostly because I thought I was going to die. But I wondered also why the water froze right in front of me. I pulled the letter out of the recycling bin and studied it once more. Then I noticed something. In the bottom left corner, there was a little symbol. It was a trident stamped in black ink. I read it over and over, knowing that it would be the same each time that I read it. I tossed it into the air, hoping to catch it as it swiveled down, but missed as the paper landed with its backside facing up. There was a message on the back:
P.S. Trust her, she knows you better than you do.
I shook my head, Trust who? I thought. I put the paper down on my desk and thought about myself. Of course I knew who I was. The only thing I don't know is my father. Mom wouldn't talk about him, even when I asked. She only told me that he had to leave when I was little. My mind was flying as thoughts passed through, then were shoved away by another. I stared at the broken window, then at the papers everywhere, then at the letter at my desk. Everything started with that letter.
Soon enough, the sun was starting to sink below the horizon. I pulled on my pajamas and picked up the sheet on my bed. I shook the glass off it from the window and threw it in the garbage, then replaced the sheet and crawled into bed. I turned for about thirty minutes, thinking about the crazy things that had happened all in one day, shivering as the cool wind came through my broken window. Eventually I drifted to sleep.
"Tyler," the voice said. "Tyler!" it persisted. "WAKE UP!" it screamed. I jolted upright, panting and I shrieked. There was a girl in my room sitting on the foot of my bed.
I stared at her, "Who the heck are you?" I cried. I was so scared, but she was entirely calm.
"I will tell you later," she said, but I really wanted to know now. "Get dressed and get moving, you have fifteen minutes." I glanced at the alarm clock. It was eleven forty-five. The girl was about to climb out the window when she stopped and said, "Oh, I almost forgot," she turned and dug inside her pocket, and pulled out a notebook. She tossed it to me and I caught it in flailing arms. "In case you want to record some of your journey." Then she hopped out the window and waited on my front lawn. I looked at the letter again. Was this the girl I was supposed to trust? What did she know that I didn't? And what journey? I changed into a pair of jeans and buttoned on a shirt, then stuffed the notebook into my pocket.
I yanked on some runners and grabbed my cell phone. Then I slid carefully out the window and onto the ledge, and carefully down to the ground. The girl turned and gestured for me to follow. She walked briskly down the sidewalk and stopped at the bus stop. I couldn't see her properly in the dark. "Any second now," she mumbled to herself, and a bus screeched to a halt in front of us. The driver opened the door, and I shrieked again. He looked kind and friendly, but he had one giant eye in the middle of his forehead. The girl rolled her eyes, "Come on," she said, and I stepped onto the bus.
I sat down across from the girl, "Could you explain to me what's going on?" I asked, starting to regret leaving home.
She just looked at me, "I think there's someone else that would rather do that for you." She replied, and she gazed forwards out of the windshield of the bus and into the night.
I could see her better in the light on the bus. She had strawberry blond hair that fell in her face, and she had to brush it away often. Her eyes were green with a hint of blue in them, and she was wearing a yellow hoodie with a light grey shirt peeking out from the bottom of it and dark jeans. She had a small brown bag with fringes hanging off the bottom across her torso. She looked like an average kid, but something inside me was telling me that she was far beyond average. She turned back to me, "Do you know what day it is?" she asked. I looked at her; did she think I was stupid or something?
"It's May nineteenth," I told her shrugging, "Why?" she just nodded, and continued staring ahead of her. I took my cellphone out of my pocket and sent a text to my mom, telling her that I may not pick up the phone at home if she calls. Then I stared out the window like I usually did on the school bus every day.
The ride was rough, and the bus jumped up and down as we travelled on a rocky dirt road. The dust kicked up behind the wheels as we speed ahead. Then the bus flew upwards. I put a hand on my seat, trying not to fall off and my phone smacked the ground. I bent down to pick it up, but the girl beat me to it.
"Hey!" I exclaimed, "What's the big idea?" She yanked the window open and threw my phone into the dark. I gaped at her, "What the heck did you do that for?" I gasped. "My mom is going to kill me!" She looked at me gravely, and there seemed to be a light in her eyes.
"Trust me." She said, and I knew that I really had no choice. I slouched down in my seat; because there was no way that I could have another cellphone after that incident. I took the notebook out of my pocket and flipped the pages. I was going to doodle a fish or something in it, but I didn't have a pen. I searched around me and under the seats, when the freaky driver turned his head over his shoulder.
"Need something?" He asked kindly. I couldn't do anything but stare at the huge brown eye in the middle of his forehead, so I just shook my head. He smiled and continued driving. The girl looked tired but was still alert, and was keeping an eye out the windows. We had been driving for about an hour by now, and I was sleepy. I rested my eyes closed, and fell asleep without noticing.
I was swimming at a beach, looking up from under the surface. The sky was blue and clear, and the beach was empty. I heard a scream coming from the surface, and I jumped out of the water and ran down the street. The door to an abandoned house was open and someone was screaming from somewhere inside. I bursted in, "Who's there?" I called, searching frantically. "Hello?" Then there was darkness.
The girl shook my arm a little, "Tyler, it's okay." She whispered. "Time to wake up." I jerked up, and she had to jump back so I wouldn't hit her.
I rubbed my head, "Sorry," I apologized, "Where are we?" I asked. The bus had stopped and the hills outside the window seemed to go on forever. The stars shone faintly in the sky, but the moon was bright as it hung above.
She stood and picked up a bow and a quiver of arrows that was beside her on the seat. The girl stepped off the bus, "Thanks for the ride." The driver nodded, and she gestured for me to follow her, "We don't have a lot of time," she exclaimed, and I jumped off the bus after her. Then the driver closed the door and drove off into the night. I have to admit, I was a little bit happy to be away from that guy, but he seemed nice enough, whatever he was. I looked around. We were practically in the middle of nowhere, and only the dim moonlight made enough light to only see ahead of you a little ways.
I turned to the girl, "Um, what exactly was that driver?" I asked. She started walking up the hill in front of us, and I followed after her. She didn't seem to like talking much, or maybe she was just shy.
Then she spoke, "A Cyclops. Bless his heart," she sighed, "He's had a little bit of rotten luck in the past years of his life." I nodded all though I didn't fully understand. Cyclops' were ancient Greek creatures, there's no way one could be in modern time. We reached the top of the hill, and looked down into a valley. There was a huge lake, like the one that I went to in the summer with my mom. The trees swayed slowly in the gentle breeze. The girl nodded towards the lake, "We're almost there," she said, and we made our way back down. Some owls hooted quietly somewhere, but I couldn't see them. There wasn't a path, and the tall stalks of grass came up to my waist. The girl let her hand graze the stalks as she walked down the hill. When we reached the bottom, the shore was rocky and she picked up a stone. She flicked her wrist and the rock skipped over the water. A blue light shone from somewhere in the middle of the lake. She smiled, "Okay," she said, "Swim towards where you saw that light. I'll see you when you're done."
I frowned slightly, "You're not coming?" I asked.
She shook her head, "This one is your battle, Tiger."
I kicked off my shoes and socks and laid them on the rocks. I was about to take off my shirt when she added, "Don't worry about getting wet, you'll soon know why." I was still confused through it all, but I began to wade out in the water. When I was waist deep, I plunged under the surface and looked around. Everything was crystal clear, and I began to move towards where the light had been. I saw more light farther ahead and swam towards it.
Then I realized that I had been underwater for two minutes and started freaking out, I was going to kill myself! But then I realized that I could breathe just fine. Another thing to add to my list of things that happened for no reason at all, but I continued swimming. I dove deeper and what seemed to be a castle came into view. It had towers and a courtyard, with fish of all colours swimming in every direction. I came up to the front of it, and a man swam up to me… well, kind of. It was a merman, with an upper torso of a muscular young looking guy and a tail made of golden scales. He smiled at me. He was holding a huge trident, made of grey stone and taller than I was. He looked down at me, "Tyler," he grinned, "it has been such a long time." I was puzzled, looking up at the handsome man.
"Um, have we met?" I asked him, looking around to find a television host to jump out and tell me that I had been pranked.
But he nodded, then sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "Please follow me inside," he said, and we swam into the castle. He led me into an open gallery with a huge mosaic of a bright orange seahorse on the floor. He sat in a throne, "Dauphin!" he called into the hallways. A dolphin swam beside him, "Please bring this young man a chair or something," he requested.
The dolphin nodded, "Yes," it spoke, "Of course." I gaped as it bolted back into the castle and two mermaids came in with a chair. They set it down behind me and I sat down.
"Dolphins can talk?" I asked the man, and he chuckled. He leaned forward so I didn't have to crane my neck as much to see his head. He was super tall.
"Tyler, there is a lot to explain to you," he started. "Do you know the name of the god of the sea from ancient Greek?"
I nodded, "Yeah," I shrugged, "Poseidon."
He nodded, "My dear boy, sometimes the gods would come down from Olympus-or up from the underworld- and fall in love with mortals." I stared at him like he was crazy. The gods were dead, weren't they? Did they ever even exist? "They would have children, and the children are called demi-gods. They have special abilities that they can't describe." He pointed to the surface of the water far above us, "That girl you just met is a demi-god." I gasped and gaped at him some more. I know that it's impolite to stare, but honestly, if you were hearing this you'd be staring, too.
"So, if the gods really existed so long ago, and if they were immortal," I blabbered, trying to fit all this together, "Are they still alive today?"
He nodded, "And so are the creatures and monsters of ancient times." Then he rose from his seat and came closer to me, "Tyler, what is your deepest desire? What you've always wanted to know?"
Tyler thought, then said quietly, "I want to know my father."
He nodded, "Tyler, you are a demi-god, too."