Family Feud: The Beginning Of The End Of The Earth

Ava Griffin is a demigod. Basically, she is half-human,and half-greek god. She is a permanent camper at Camp Half Blood, a camp where all demigods train for the hard-and normally short-life of a demigod. When Connor Alati arrives, Ava befriends him. Connor quickly learns that Ava has many layers, some that even the campers are afraid of. When Connor recieves a prophecy that has been forbidden for years, Ava and Connor are set off on a quest to save the world. And they are not guaranteed survival. With the ghastly past, horrifying present, and impossible future, Ava and Connor discover that the world is falling apart, and the gods are to blame.

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13. Does This Turtle Shell Make Me Look Fat?

     I looked at my mom with fury. "What do you want, Athena?"

     Athena stared at me for a moment. Her piercing grey eyes were unlike any color iris I had ever seen. They were an even shade of solid silver, deep and polished like satin. Her eyes were startling; they had no variation of color, as if they were pools of melted down silver surrounding her pupils. I cringed away from her unwavering gaze.

     "Show some respect for your mother, Ava."

     I crossed my arms and frowned. "Why should I? It's not like you've actually acted like my mother. Where were you all those times when I needed you?" I felt my throat grow tighter. "When I prayed for your deliverance? When I needed-"

     "Silence Ava!" I stopped speaking immediately. Athena sighed. "Listen, I cannot interfere with your slumber for much longer..."

     I gave her a confused look. "My slumber? You mean I'm sleeping?"

     Athena nodded, shaking her blonde hair. "Yes. Now listen. What you will face in the mansion, it will drive all logic away. I fear you cannot avoid it. But you must heed wisdom. The voices, they'll tell you things-"

     "Whoa whoa whoa," I held my hands up to interrupt. "What are you talking about? What mansion? What voices?"

     Athena looked away briefly. She seemed distraught; as if she were trying to piece together a puzzle that was extremely difficult. She looked back up. "I cannot tell you. The Fates, they have become less lenient on the revealing of information. It's as if they wish for you to fail..."

     I felt as if I had been punched in the gut. "Mom, if The Fates determine our failure, there is no hope-"

     "Don't assume what I said is the truth! It was only conjecture, nothing more." Athena's gaze wavered. "What was I talking about?''

     I frowned at my mom. "The voices-"

     "Yes! Don't listen to them Ava. You will want to. And so will Connor. But you can't-" Athena stopped midsentence. "I have to go. Take care of each other, Ava. Connor, he has character. And he watches you intently." Athena smirked. "And you watch him."

     I blinked. "Mom, you're being ridiculous-"

     "I'm sorry, Ava. No time." She leaned in to hug me. It felt cold and unfamiliar even in the dream. "Goodbye, darling." And with that, Athena disappeared into a flock of owls, and I awoke with a start.

 

 

     "Ava, wake up!" I awoke to strong arms shaking me. Sunlight peeked through gaps in the trailer, slightly illuminating Connor's frantic face. "We have to get outta here!"

     I groaned, "What?'', while I rubbed my eyes. They were swollen and stiff from all the crying I had done yesterday. I sat up slowly, trying to gather my bearings. I swiveled my head around, noticing the nondescript boxes and crates that lay around us. I looked back at Connor. He looked like his underwear was extremely tight. "What's the problem?"

     "Do you feel that?"

     "What? You shaking the crap outta me?"

     "No! Nothing! Absolutely nothing! We're not moving anymore."

     With a shock, I realized he was right. It was completely silent except for our breathing. No highway, no cars, not even the truck was idling. "Do you think he just stopped for food or something?"

     Connor's expression grew more anxious. "That's what I thought, but he's been gone for at least an hour."

     An uneasy feeling settled into my stomach. I looked at my watch, which read 11:03 am. Three more days, I thought desperately. Three more days to find Artemis in Brazil, then find her precious bow. The symbol of her deity. All to stop the sky from devouring the entire planet. How could we do this in three days?

     "There's another thing." Connor said.

     I groaned. "What else could there be?"

     Connor gave me an awkward look. Like he was sorry he had to make matters worse. "Well, I don't think you'll like this very much but..." He inhaled sharply. "But we're locked in."

     My heart thumped painfully. "What?"  I choked out. "You're kidding, right?"

     Connor gave me an awkward smile. "I wish. Look," Connor stood up, meandering his way over to the trailer door. He moved his hand over the bottom of the door, where there should have been a latch. There wasn't.

     I groaned. "What the Hermes are we going to do now?"

     All of a sudden the trailer door flew up, blinding us both with white sun and enveloping us in a shroud of dry heat. I shielded my eyes, squinting at the new scene before me. I saw a cactus breaking the seemingly endless stretch of sandy desert, which in reality was only due to the mirages that hindered my sight. A tumbleweed blew across the ground. To the left rose a plateau of red and brown rock. To the right, waited a city that sparkled like an oasis. And right in front of us, stood the oddest thing yet.

     "Be careful what you ask for, daughter of Athena." A mischievous smile appeared on his face. "You may not like what the Hermes is going to do now."

 

     The god Hermes was a stringy man with a mop of brown hair and droopy brown eyes. He was wearing a black polo with purple stripes down the sides with a FedEx logo on his chest, black jean shorts, (which, despite his chicken legs, were disgustingly tight), and Airwalk converse with small white wings protruding from his heels. Not kidding. In his hand he held a long white staff where two twin green snakes wrapped around it and each other. The snakes were conjoined at the tail. They looked at us and hissed, then looked up at Hermes and hissed again. It was almost like they were talking to him. Hermes nodded and grinned.

     Hermes was the messenger of the gods, the god of thievery, tricks, and just being a downright pain in my varéli. His kids at Camp Half-Blood were always pulling pranks and booby-trapping things. They were normally the leaders in publicly humiliating me. A good prank is a good prank, but you learn to lose appreciation for them when they're all directed towards you.

     "So, I heard from a little snake that you two are saving the world," Hermes smirked at me. "Hello, Ava." He smiled at me like we were old pals. ''I overheard you're argument with Hestia a few weeks back. My, you have the temper. You really should control that." My face grew hot. Hermes turned to Connor. "And you're Poseidon's newest boy, eh?" Connor nodded, looking slightly perplexed. "He tells me you hate him. Said you just insisted upon bringing up old news, buried people-"

     "Shut. Up." I looked at Connor in shock. His whole composure was rigid. His lips were set in a thin line, his fists were clenched, and he looked like his was going to kick Hermes where it counts. "If you know what's good for you, shut up."

     Hermes looked astounded. His winged shoes fluttered. "Connor, that's no way to talk to a god! I'm here to help!"

     I looked at Hermes with a dumbfounded expression. "You're going to help us, Hermes?"

     "But of course! You act like its a miracle for a god to help a lowly mortal!" Connor and I shared a look. "Now, you didn't hear this from me," Hermes put one hand against the side of his mouth, looked side to side, and leaned in closer to us to whisper, "but most of the gods don't believe you stand a chance."

     "Big surprise." I murmured, rolling my eyes. "Why don't you tell us something that's actually helpful?"

     The snakes hissed again. Hermes began whispering to himself. No, to them. Suddenly, Hermes waved his hands over the two snakes.

     "...be worthy of your guidance." One of the snakes spoke defiantly. It twitched its head in our direction. "They understand."

     "Well of course they understand!" Hermes explained. "Messages can't be communicated if you can't understand one another! Why do you think I know over 7,000 languages?" Hermes sighed indignantly and gestured to his staff. "The mortals stole this symbol as the picture of medicine, but nothing is as good as the original." Hermes gave a mischievous smile. He held his staff high in the sky. "Behold, demigods! I give you George and Martha! Loyal subjects and advisors of yours truly, Hermes the Magnificent!"

     I blinked. With all that arm raising, Hermes' shorts got even shorter. My gut twisted. "Yeah Hermes? Umm, you're  just Hermes."

     Connor's eye twitched. "You have talking snakes. Named George. And Martha."

     "Got a problem with that kid?" One snake hissed at Connor. I assumed this one was George; it had a gruff voice and seemed manly. Well, as manly as a snake can get.

     "Um, no?" Connor looked at me with a wild expression. I could only muster a shrug.

     "Good," the other one, Martha, replied. "As Hermes' most dedicated advisors, it would be unwise to create tension between us. Especially since we will be determining your test."

     I looked at Hermes. "Our test?"

     "Ah, yes, your test." Hermes sighed. "Let's start from the beginning, shall we?" Connor and I nodded. "Well I mentioned that the gods have no faith in you. Well, except for Tyche. She likes to bet on things she knows she'll lose. Just the other day, I heard her making a bet of 3,000,000 drachmas with Aphrodite on who was prettier. Can you believe it? She bet the goddess of beauty on her beauty! Ha!"

     "Did Tyche win?" Connor asked. I slapped my forehead.

     "Did Tyche win?!" Hermes looked baffled. "Of course not! There was an all out cat fight! Aphrodite started throwing hair dryers, Tyche was throwing poker chips, Hephaestus TV live-streamed the whole thing on The Real World: Olympus, Zeus even had to step in, throw a couple lightning bolts-"

     "Hermes!" I breathed heavily. "Hermes, please, we have a very small window to get to Brazil, and we're only..." I paused. "Where are we?"

     "The other day Athena tweeted that she had the smartest children. As if," Hermes rolled his eyes. I felt my hands clench into fists. "Ava Griffin, Connor Alati, welcome to Mexico City."

 

     For the second time since first getting out of the semi, I took in my surroundings. How could I have not thought of that already? Everything seemed to identify with my knowledge of Mexico; desert, cacti, plateaus, more desert. But a thought arose in my mind.

     "We're in the middle of nowhere."

     "Very intuitive of you, daughter of Athena." George hissed sarcastically. "What are you gonna say next? 'Oh look, that snake is talking.' "

     "George," Martha chided. "Don't be so rude. These kids are holding the fate of the world in their hands."

     "Which makes this whole thing even more desperate."

     "You know, if you had one positive bone in your body..."

     George blinked lazily. "I'm a snake, Martha. I only have so many bones."

     "You're missing the point!" Martha shrieked.

     "All you do is nag me!"

     "I nag you?"

     "Enough!" Hermes shouted, silencing the bickering snakes. Connor and I stood there with our mouths agape, looking for all the world like two teenagers goggling at a TV. "Can't you two make me look good for one second?!" Hermes sighed again. "I could use all 160 characters on Twitter to rant about how wonderful you two are and yet you embarrass me! I apologize, demigods. That city to your right is Mexico City. You were fortunate to come across one of my, ah, subjects on his monthly route to Mexico." I gave Connor a look. "I did speed up his journey a tad, though. No need to say thank you!" Hermes smiled at us like he was expecting just that. "Anyways, we are out here because, well, that brings us back to your test."

     I raised an eyebrow. "Why are we being tested? And for what?"

     "If you're worthy of his guidance." Martha hissed.

     Hermes smiled. "Yes. Interfering in a quest is tricky business, especially since I already slightly have, so I have to make sure you two are gonna be worth the trouble. It would be an awful shame if the world were to implode. I mean, how in the Gaia am I going to take selfies in total darkness? I didn't think so." Hermes paused for a second to take out a Smartphone from his shorts. He looked at it for a few seconds before holding it to his face and smiling with his hand in a peace sign. He showed us his selfie. "And look at how cute my selfies are!"

     I coughed. "Yeah, right, of course Hermes."

     "So adorable." Connor added.

     "I know, I know." Hermes smiled to himself, then seemed to remember his point. "So, children, if you two pass my test, I'll FedEx you on over to São Paulo. Same day service!"

     Connor and I shared a look of pure relief. "Great!" Connor cheered. "So, what's this test?"

     I wished Connor had never asked that.

     "As you two must know I'm the god of communication, mail, shipping, the like. And a person with such immense responsibilities has to have great speed. You know, to get the thousands of jobs done each day." Hermes sighed. "If only there were more hours in the day. Artemis and I seem to share this opinion apparently. You know, just the other day I was Skypeing this one nereid that I go way back with and she was talking about how nice it would be to have more daylight for showing foolish men her pretty hair when it glinted in the sunlight-"

     Connor cleared his throat. "Ah, yeah, Hermes, we get it. I mean no disrespect, but uh, could you get to the point?"

     "Why don't you just turn them, and then tell them," Martha hissed menacingly. "Then they can't interrupt your intelligent speech."

     "I agree with the lady on this one boss," George added. "These brats are killin' your mojo."

     I raised my hands in defense, trying to ignore my curiosity with the whole nereid being able to use Skype underwater thing.  "No no no, Hermes, you're mojo is just fine, right?"

     Hermes frowned. "My mojo is feeling a little disturbed now that you mention it...George, you're right!" Panic rose in my throat. Hermes turned his eyes to Connor. "Connor, you wanted me to get to the point, eh?" Connor nodded feebly. "Well, I'll give you a point!"

     With a tremendous wave of his staff, Hermes swung his arm, creating a whooshing sound and a flash of light. I saw nothing but white. Connor yelled. I dared not move, save for the covering of my eyes. When the light faded, I looked all around, trying to clear the black spots from my vision. I looked next to me, where Connor was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, I felt a prick in my left leg. I jumped back and looked down. What I saw was...well...

     I saw a chicken.

     Connor stood next to me, pecking and bobbing his neck. Like a chicken. Because he was a chicken.

     "I think his beak has a very nice point, don't you think Ava?" Hermes announced with glee. George and Martha were tangled with laughter, sounding like a broken pipe with all their stupid hissing.

     "You...you turned Connor into a chicken. A chicken."

     Hermes nodded happily. "That I did."

     Cluck.

     I lost it.

     "WHY WOULD YOU TURN CONNOR INTO A CHICKEN?! WHAT IN THE GOD'S NAMES WERE YOU THINKING HERMES?!"

     Hermes took a full three paces backwards. "Ava, my dear demigod." He smiled weakly. "This is all part of my test!" I shook with anger. "Just, just tell me what you know about me."

      I looked at him with seething rage. I could feel my eyes start to warm, and resisted the urge to set them ablaze. "Tell you what I know about you?! Let's see...You are the god of thievery, your children are pranksters and jerks. You are the god of running away. The messenger god. The god of the caduceus, aka your pole with your stupid serpents. Sacred animals are the chicken and the..." Oh.

     "Oh."

     "Oh, indeed." Hermes nodded with satisfaction. "You are exceptionally perceptive, daughter of Athena." Hermes smiled and continued. "As the god of speed, racing is a hobby of mine. And you two are in a bit of a rush, yes?" I nodded carefully, knowing with increasing dread where this was headed. "Well, what better way to see if you two are worthy of my assistance than to have you two race?!"

     My entire life I contemplate whether this next sentence was a waste of my breath or not.

     "Just turn me into a turtle Hermes."

     Hermes smiled like a lion who had caught a gazelle in its claws. "As you wish, daughter of Athena."

     I screamed as I fell on my hands and knees. I felt a twist in my gut, then pulling, then pushing. I felt my limbs shrink; they distorted and morphed in painful, inhuman ways. I felt my nails grow instantaneously, felt my head shrink, felt my mouth stretch and harden to form a rough beak. My teeth turned into softer, rounder bones that hardly felt like teeth. The worst part was my back. My skin melted away, leaving my bones open to the dry desert heat. Suddenly, a substance began forming, fusing together with my spine like a glue. It hardened into a round, rough shell with scutes arranged in a brown and green pattern of shapes. For a moment the fire in me was gone. I guess it didn't know how to operate in turtle mode.

     I finally opened my eyes. The spectrum of color in which I saw the world was extremely vivid and tinted with red. My eyes lined up directly with Connor's beak, which loomed over me precariously with curiosity. I prayed to every god but Hermes that Connor had the good sense to not poke my eyes out. Chicken Connor clucked nervously, bobbing his head back and forth and hopping on his newly acquired claws. I wondered if he thought like a chicken now, because he was freaking out. So much so that with all his fussing he managed to push a handful of his feathers in my mouth. I spit them out with a dry, rough tongue.

     I, on the other, hand, was very mellow for having just been turned into a reptile. I snapped my jaws together curiously, walked around lazily, I blinked a few times. All in all, I was pretty much ready to take a nap.

     Above me, George and Martha hissed uncontrollably with laughter. I couldn't look high enough to see them, but I imagined they were twisted with amusement.

     Hermes chuckled briefly. I heard snapshots, like a camera going off. "Oh these are so going on Instagram. You guys are the cutest sacred animals I've ever seen! Your parents will be proud! Hashtag, sacred pets are the bomb!"

     I tried to reply, but I think it's for the best that the only thing that came out was a soft CROAK.

     "Now! On to the race!" With another wave of his staff, Hermes constructed out of midair an entire arena. Ancient Roman style. Sand track, marble stands leading too high for my eyes to see, thousands of screaming fans, (where did they come from?), all wearing either TEAM CHICKEN or TEAM TURTLE shirts. They waved green banners for me, and yellow for Connor. It was like jam packed Green Bay Packers game. But in Rome. WHAT?

     I found Connor and I suddenly in front of a makeshift black-and-white checkerboard line, halfway through the stretch of the track. Connor clucked frantically, looking every which way and spinning in circles, kicking up sand clouds. I yawned, stretching my beak as far as it would go. Being a turtle was relaxing.

     From the north end of the colosseum, Hermes sat in royal attire appropriate for an emperor, trading the black and purple FedEx outfit for a black and purple robe. He wore a golden circlet around his mop of brown hair. He waved to the crowd with a wide grin attached to his face. The crowd roared and waved their banners.

     "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!" Hermes boomed. "WELCOME TO THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH! THE RACE OF MY TWO SACRED ANIMALS!!!!! DEMIGODS BY BIRTH, CELESTIAL BEINGS BY MY HAND, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I GIVE YOU...CONNOR ALATI AND AVA GRIFFIN!!!!!!!"

     The crowd screamed in glee, chanting our names as if we were gladiators. Hermes smiled and nodded, basking in the reverence. Connor clucked frantically. I blinked lazily.

     Hermes boomed again. "CONNOR AND AVA!" More cheers. "YOU WILL RACE ONLY ONE LAP IN THE HOPES OF GAINING MY FAVOR! YOU WILL ENCOUNTER MANY OBSTACLES ON YOUR WAY! DO YOU THINK YOU CAN DO IT?!" I rose my head slightly. Connor pecked the ground. "GOOD!" Hermes turned to the audience. "AUDIENCE! DO YOU THINK THEY CAN DO IT?!" An eruption of applause broke out. Team Ava and Team Connor fans went wild, waving their banners and screaming till their lungs gave out.

     "ALRIGHT CONTESTANTS! ON MY COUNT!" Hermes looked to the side. "EVERYONE BE SURE TO TAG ME IN YOUR FACEBOOK POSTS!" Hermes turned back to Connor and I. A bubble of panic began to settle in my stomach. "ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

      BOOM.

      A loud, earthquake-like sound rocked the whole place. I froze; and for once, so did Connor. Hermes stood completely rigid. He grew very pale, although from my point of view he looked light pink. All of the fans disappeared as quickly as they came in a puff of smoke. Suddenly, Hermes, George, and Martha all spoke in unison.

     "Soar on the wings of eagles, sail as far as the east is from the west. You will run a race with no end. A race you cannot best."

     They echoed throughout the whole coliseum. When they finished, a daunting silence followed.

     "Uh, where was I?" Hermes regained color and scratched his head. He looked at me and Connor and smiled. "Ah yes! Looks like we have a tie!" Hermes clapped loudly. "Congratulations, Ava and Connor, I will grant you both passage to Sao Paulo!" I looked up at Connor with what I hoped looked like a confused expression. He squawked. What? A tie? The race hadn't even begun! It was as if Hermes had no recollection of what had just happened. Di that mean we weren't going to race?

     "Same Day Service!" Hermes reverted back to his FedEx uniform. "Here we go!''

     "See ya, suckers," George hissed.

     "Best of luck!" Martha replied.

     "The world rests on your shoulders, demigods! Don't screw it up!"

     Those were the last words Hermes said before we were consumed in a bright light.

    

     When I could see again, I was free-falling right for the face of Jesus Christ.

    

 

    

 

 

   

   

   

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