Again, REALLY REALLY sorry it took so long. But come on people, give me a brake, I'm seriously only eleven..... Jeeze.....Any way hope you enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! lol :) By the way thanks for reading. :)
Evil Serves Us Cheese Burgers
We were probably over a mile away from the bus by now. But I couldn’t get over it. The explosion still rang in my ears. The screeching sound of the Fury calling for her reinforcements to help in our deaths.
“ Three Kindly Ones. All three at once.” Grover bleated, obviously terrified. I didn’t blame him, I’m pretty sure we were all shaken up after what had just happened.
Come on! The farther we get, the better” I urged them. We had to get as far away as possible from that bus. But even if we ran all the way across the world we would still end up back there.
“ All our money was back there,” Percy reminded me. “ Our food and clothes. Everything.”
How could he think about possessions at this time? “ Well, maybe if you hadn’t decided to jump into the fight-” I said getting irritated now.
“ What did you want me to do? Let you get killed?”
You’re just like everyone else, Percy. I can handle myself.
“ You didn’t need to protect me, Percy. I would’ve been fine.”
“ Sliced like sandwich bread,” Grover put in stupidly. “ but fine.”
“ Shut up, Goat Boy,” I said, letting my temper go.
My sneakers kicked up mud while Grover dragged his hoofs mournfully. “ Tin cans… a perfectly good bag of tin cans…”
The rain pounded on my shoulders. My clothes felt damp and mucky. After a few minutes of sloshing around in mildew and oddly shaped trees that smelled worse than the stink bomb Connor and Travis Stoll planted in the Aphrodite cabin, I started to feel a little bad about snapping at Percy. But if you ever tell him I said that, just remember, I have the gods on my side. Well… for the most part.
I slowed down, waiting for Percy to catch up.“ Look I…” I was trying to find the right words. “ I - I appreciate your coming back for us okay? That was really brave.”
“ We’re a team right?” I smiled at the word team. It was like being with Luke and Thalia again.
We slowed down a little. “ It’s just that if you died… aside from the fact that it would really suck for you, it would mean the quest was over. This may be my only chance to see the real world.”
The storm finally stopped. The glimmer of the city disappeared behind us. The forest looked even darker now.
“ You haven’t left Camp Half- Blood since you were seven?” He asked like he still couldn’t believe it.
“ No.. only short field trips. My dad-”
“ The history professor.”
“ Yeah, It didn’t work out for me living at home. I mean, Camp Half-Blood is my home.” I was trying to get in as much as possible.
“ At camp you train and train. And that’s all cool and everything, but the real world is where the monsters are. That’s where you learn whether you’re any good or not.”
“ You’re pretty good with that knife,” He said.
“ You think so?”
“ Anybody who can piggyback-ride a Fury is okay by me.”
I smiled. It was hard to talk about my father, but with Percy, who seemed to understand, it was almost… comforting.
“ You know,” I said carefully, “ maybe I should tell you… Something funny back on the bus…”
I was interrupted by a horrible toot-toot-toot sound echoing through the forest.
“ Hey, my reed pipes still work!” Grover cried happily. “ If I could just remember a ‘find path’ song, we could get out of these woods!”
He blew out a few notes. Percy and I laughed a little when he ended up playing Hillary Duff’s “ So Yesterday”. It was nice to hear a pleasant sound after lagging around in mud. And just in case you’re wondering, I’m not talking about Grover’s reed pipes.
Eventually, Percy got into a fight with an oak tree and ended up with a knot in his head about the size of drachma.
After, helping him up and listening to a few more than PG words, I smelled something that just about made my day. The wonderful greasy, fat filled smell of fried food.
We walked as fast as we could with Percy who was still a little dazed from his battle with the tree. The area was dotted with ugly looking buildings. As we got closer, we realized it wasn’t a McDonalds of Carles JR. like we hoped. Instead, we found a it was a small shop. Percy squinted, trying to read the red cursive sign.
“ What the heck does that say?” He asked after five minutes of staring at the board.
“ I don’t know.” I said feeling kind of stupid. But whatever, so what if I can’t read English? This girl can read Ancient Greek! Can you read Ancient Greek? I didn’t think so. So take that you mortals!
Luckily, Grover could read English so he translated for us. Aunty Em’s Garden Gnome Emporium.”
The entrance of the small shop was covered with cement statues. Some were small gnomes, others were lifelike humans. Some were smiling and waving, while others were crying and pouting.
We crossed the street, Percy and I practically racing towards the smell.
“ Hey. . .” Grover said cautiously. But I ignored him. All I could think about was the greasy fast food that was close by.
“ The lights are on inside,” I said. “ Maybe it’s open.”
“ Snack bar,” Percy said dreamily.
“ Snack bar.” I repeated getting worked up now. I could almost taste the sweet milk shake and fries. Sweet, salty fries.
“ Are you two crazy?” Grover exclaimed. “ This place is weird.”
We ignored him.
We past more statues, they were waving but not smiling. It was almost like they were saying “ Hi there! Welcome to your doom!” But even that wouldn’t stop the hypnotic smell of the food from reaching my nose.
Finally, we saw a statue that almost looked like Grover.
“ Bla-ha-ha!” He bleated. “ Looks like my Uncle Ferinand!” After that, he started sniffing the air like he was having a spaz attack.
Finally we reached the door. Percy and I were about to knock on the door when Grover pulled our arms away.
“ Don’t knock,” he pleaded looking around frantically. “ I smell monsters.”
“ Your nose is clogged up with the Furies,” I told him. “ All I smell is burgers. Aren’t you hungry?”
“ Meat!” he said scornfully. “ I’m a vegetarian.”
“ You eat cheese enchiladas and aluminum cans,” Percy reminded him with a sarcastic look.
“ Those are vegetables! Come on. Let’s leave. These statues are… looking at me.”
Just then, we heard the door creak open. Grover looked like he was about ready to jump out of his fake feet.
Standing at the door was a tall woman who wore a long elegant black gown, it covered everything every thing except her charcoal colored hands, her entire head was veiled.
She spoke in an accent that I identified as Middle Eastern. “ Children, it is too late to be out all alone. Where are your parents?”
Augh! How could I have not thought of this? Of course mortal adults would be wondering about three children… erm…. Two children and one goat-man walking around.
“ They’re…. um…” I said trying to come up with something, until Percy jumped in.
“ We’re orphans,” He said in a voice so convincing, I almost believed him myself.
“ Orphans?” the woman said with sympathy. “ But, my dears! Surely not!”
“ We got separated from our caravan,” He continued. “ Our circus caravan. The ringmaster told us to meet him at the gas station if we got lost, but he may have forgotten, or maybe he meant a different gas station. Anyway, we’re lost. If that food I smell?”
I raised an eyebrow at him. I mean, props on the acting and everything, but circus caravan, seriously?
“ Oh, my dears,” The woman said putting her hands over her veiled face. “ You must come in, poor children. I am Aunty Em. Go straight through to the back of the warehouse, please. There is a dining area.”
Now, under normal circumstances, I would have objected on going into a strange lady’s shop for burgers. But my stomach was growling so loud, I was afraid Percy and Grover could hear it.
So, we thanked her and went inside.
Once we were out of hearing distance, I muttered to Percy,” Circus caravan?”
“ Always have a strategy, right?”
“ Your head is full of kelp.”
Her ware house had more statues than outside. Everyone of them was different in every way. But most of them had terrified looks on their faces, which I found kind of creepy.
As we got closer to the back the aroma of the food got stronger, but so did Grover’s terrified whimpers. I was so hungry, I didn’t even care when would out of the corner of my eye I saw Aunty Em lock the door behind us. All I cared about was getting to the dinning area. When we finally reached it, I saw there was a giant soda fountain, a pretzel heater, nacho cheese dispenser, and of course a grill. It was like a fast food utopia!
“ Please, sit down,” Aunty Em said.
“ Awesome.” Percy said.
“ Um,” Grover said reluctantly. “ we don’t have any money, ma’am.”
Percy looked like he was going to jab Grover in the ribs, and I’ll admit I was thinking of doing the same thing to, until Aunty Em said, “ No, no, children. No money. This is a special case, yes? It is my treat, for such nice orphans.”
“ Thank you, ma’am.” I said giving her my best, good-girl grin.
Aunty Em suddenly stiffened like I had just threw down her most prized possession. But then she relaxed so I figured it was my imagination.
“ Quite alright, Annabeth,” she said. “ You have such beautiful gray eyes, child.” I looked at her a little suspiciously. A little voice in the back of my head was arguing with me. Annabeth, how does she know your name? You never told her! Something weird is going on…..
No, Annabeth! You and I are both hungry, nothings wrong she’s just a sweet old lady. Argued my stomach.
Shut up. I told them both. I’ll admit after that I kept my guard on a little, but that didn’t stop me from digging into the double cheeseburgers, vanilla shakes, and the wonderful XXL servings of French Fries Aunty Em served us on plastic trays.
I tried to shove a whole burger in my mouth, but it didn’t work out so well so I slurped my shake.
Percy chomped down his burger ravenously.
Grover was picking at the fries while eyeing the wax paper like he might go for that instead. Although he still had that nervous look on his face.
“ What’s that hissing noise?” he asked suddenly.
Percy and I , both with mouths full, listened. We looked at each other and shook our heads.
“ Hissing?” Aunty Em asked. “ Perhaps you hear the deep- fryer oil. You have keen ears, Grover.”
“ I take vitamins. For my ears.”
“ That’s admirable,” she said skeptically. “ But please relax.”
I barely looked up from my burger after that. After I had gulped down the last of my shake, I realized Aunty Em hadn’t eaten a thing. She had been watching us eat interlacing her fingers. It made me feel uncomfortable, now that I wasn’t ravenously hungry my senses had come back.
“ So, you sell gnomes,” said Percy, who seemed to be feeling the awkwardness.
“ Oh, yes,” She responded. “ And animals. And people. Anything for the garden. Custom orders. Statuary is very popular, you know.”
“ A lot of business on this road?”
“ Not so much, no. Since the highway was built… most cars, they do not go this way now. I must cherish every customer I get.”
Suddenly, Percy turned around. I followed his gaze to a statue of a little girl. It had amazing detail. But it was her face that kind of set me off. She looked like she had just been struck with a knife- startled and terrified.
The same voice in the back of my head nagged at me. Statues and terrified people. Come on, Annabeth who does that remind you of?
I figured it was nothing and returned to my burger.
“ Ah. You notice some of my creations do not turn out well. They are marred. They do not sell. The face is the hardest to get right. Always the face.”
“ You make these statues yourself?” Percy asked.
“ Oh, yes. Once upon a time, I had two sisters to help me in the business, but they have passed on, and Aunty Em is alone. I have only my statues. This is why I make them, you see. They are my company.”
That’s when it hit me. I put my food down and sat up. “ Two sisters?”
“ It’s a terrible story,” She continued. “ Not one for children, really. You see, Annabeth, a bad woman was jealous of me, long ago, when I was young. I had a. . . a boyfriend, you know, and this bad woman was determined to break us apart. She caused a terrible accident. My sisters stayed by me. They shared my bad fortune as long as they could, but eventually they passed on. They faded away. I alone have survived, but at a price. Such price.”
How could I have been so naive? How could I have taken caution to the covered hair and face? Come on, Annabeth you’re better then that!
“ Percy?” I whispered hoarsely as I shook his arm. “ Maybe we should go. I mean, the ringmaster will be waiting.”
I searched the room tensely trying to find a way to get out of this place. Percy didn’t seem to notice how much trouble we were in and Grover seemed to be relaxed by now because he was eating the wax paper to his hearts content.
“ Such beautiful gray eyes,” ‘Aunty Em’ said. “ My, yes, it has been a long time since I’ve seen gray eyes like those.”
She reached he hand out like she was going to stroke my cheek, my heart beat wildly. That’s it. We were getting out of here now. There was no way I was going to let this monster touch me.
“ We really should go.” I said shooting up from my seat.
“ Yes!” Grover agreed swallowing up the last bits of wax paper. “ The ringmaster is waiting! Right!”
I waited for Percy to get up so we could get out of this dungeon, but that idiot just sat there looking like he was about ready to take a nap.
“ Please, dears.” the ‘woman’ begged. “I so rarely get to be with children. Before you go, won’t you at least sit for a pose.”
“ A pose?” I said weakly.
“ A photograph. I will use it to model a new statue set. Children are so popular, you see. Everyone loves children.”
Yeah, everybody loves children. I said inside my head. Except you. You horrible monster.
I tried to stay calm, but I kept fidgeting as I said,” I don’t think we can ma’am. Come on, Percy-”
“ Sure we can,” Percy cut in. “ It’s just a photo, Annabeth. What’s the harm?”
He seriously didn’t know the half of it.
“ Yes, Annabeth,” ‘Aunty Em’ insisted. “ No harm.”
My heart was beating like a drum, and my breathing harsh. I shut my eyes and gave a small nod.
I allowed myself to be lead to the front door, cautiously looking around.
Suddenly, I heard a voice next to me that made me want to jump out of my skin.
It was Grover.
“ Annabeth, I don’t like this.” he whispered.
“ Well, duh! Don’t you know who this ‘woman‘ is?”
He nodded gravely. Now before I tell you Grover’s answer, I’m going to give you a chance to guess what horrible, beastly, creature we were confronting. Ready?