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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11. I Hit A Hamster With Chocolate Milk

     "Connor, listen to me. Connor...She needs you...Wake...Protect my daughter...Hurry, you have arrived...Connor. Connor! CONNOR!"

     I jolted awake, nearly tipping myself off the back of the drakon. My first instinct was to save myself from falling to my death, which I barely did by grasping desperately to a rough scale in front of me. The drakon shook its head in annoyance. My fumbling woke Ava, who grabbed me in an attempt to steady herself also.

     I looked back at her, recalling the dream I had just had. Was it even a dream? It was all black, until an owl began speaking to me with piercing grey eyes. Was that Athena? Her animal was the owl, and she spoke of protecting her daughter. Was she warning me about Ava like Hestia had?

     "What?" Ava asked, eyeing me.

     "Oh, nothing," I lied, averting my eyes. I turned back around, and saw land. "We're here, Ava."

     I felt Ava shift behind me so she could see. A strip of green was becoming thicker and more prominent by the second. Wisconsin. Ava tensed behind me. Both Chiron and Apollo had looked at Ava with looks of deepest pity when they mentioned our first destination. Both Hestia and Athena-if that was Athena in my dream-had warned me about protecting Ava from something. But what? What had happened in Aurora?

     My thoughts were interrupted by a sudden jolt from the beast we were flying on. Ava grabbed me in surprise, and I felt that her hands were trembling.

     "Looks like we're descending," I told Ava. She shakily let go of me, not saying a word.

     The drakon flew lower and lower until its claws were skimming the surface of the water, some fifty feet from the coast. It continued to fly until we were positioned right in front of a large pier. I lifted my left leg over and slid down the drakon's rough and scaly back, landing on the pier with a dull thud. My sword Nero thudded against my leg. Ava followed after me, landing next to me silently with an anxious expression on her face and her lips set in a thin line.

     "You okay?" I asked tentatively. Ava nodded, not opening her mouth. I glanced at the drakon. "Thanks man." It grunted in assent and took off, the wind from its flapping wings pushing us back. All along the pier were hundreds of people climbing in and out of boats, yet not a single one of them ran screaming at the sight of an enormous dragon. I relayed my thoughts to Ava, who looked like she was trying not to throw up.

     "Later," she muttered, walking away. I followed, watching her backpack swing slightly. We walked off the pier, and down a sidewalk for about a block before coming to a stop at a bus stop.  Ava plopped down on the bench, resting her head in between her knees.

     I sat down next to her cautiously. "Ava, are you sure you're okay? Did the flight make you sick?" She merely shook her head, keeping her head down. Her long dark hair obstructed her face from view. "Do you need some breakfast? I'll grab you a granola bar-" Ava shook her head again.

     "No food."

     "Maybe some water, then? You're probably just dehydrated. Here," I reached in my backpack and handed Ava a water bottle. She looked up briefly, took it, but didn't open it. "Ava, what's the matter? If you're nervous about the quest, it's okay because I am too-"

     "It's nothing." Ava sat up straight, her face very pale but with a smile attached to it now. "Let's just sit for a bit and then we'll make our way to...Aurora."

     I nodded. "Why didn't all those people notice we were riding on a drakon? Or how did the entire city of New York not notice Olympus right above them? Or Argus driving the van? Or the fact I'm wearing a very deadly sword?" I looked at Ava, positive she wouldn't answer me. To my surprise, she did.

     "It's called Mist. Its this kind of invisible cloak that shields mortals from seeing things they wouldn't understand. Things from our world."

     "Like gods and monsters?" Ava nodded. "So, what did they see instead of the drakon?"

     Ava shrugged. "Probably some type of big green boat. They only see what they can comprehend. Humans will go to any lengths to ignore the truth."

     In the back of my mind, this voice, this being spoke. Remember her words Connor Alati. For you both are very human.

     I tilted my head in confusion. "What did you say?"

     Ava gave me a blank look. "Humans will go to any lengths to ignore the truth."

     "No," I cut her off. "After that."

     "I didn't say anything after that, Connor."

     I furrowed my brow and turned away. Was I hearing things?

     I turned back to Ava, who seemed to not have noticed my confusion, finally opening her water bottle and taking a small sip. Her dark curly hair lay across her back in a tousled mess, capturing the warm sun. She inhaled and exhaled, tilting her head up to the midmorning sun. I couldn't help but think she looked almost like an angel in the sun.

     Or a ghost.

     I realized I was staring.

     "Ahem," I cleared my throat. Ava looked up. "So, how do we get to Aurora?"

     Ava seemed to get even paler. She pointed to the bench we were sitting on. "The bus, duh."

     "After riding all night on the back of an aethiopian drakon, somehow the idea of a bus seems, well, lame."

     "You have a better idea?" Ava snapped.

     I looked at her in shock. "No, I guess I don't."

     "Didn't think so." Ava stood up. "Wait here." I watched Ava walk up to a newspaper stand and buy one, furrowing her brow as she scanned the front page. She took her seat next to me on the bench.

     "Hey Ava," She turned her head and looked at me. "What town are we in?"

     "Green Bay." Ava barely even hesitated. As if she had been here before. "We're about 100 miles from Aurora." I noticed her wince. "Look at this," she handed me the paper, changing subjects.

     On the front page was a story about the condition of the wars going on in Saudi Arabia. The war had been on-going for several years, but news of treason were displayed on the page. Apparently a once-respected army official had given top secrets to the Saudi Arabian government.

     "What does this have to do with anything?" I asked Ava.

     "Absolutely nothing." I raised my eyebrow at her.

     "Then why did you want me to look at it?"

     "Gods your dense," Ava sighed. "Connor, there's nothing here about the sky ripping open. The mortals didn't notice it at all."

     I let that sink in. "What does that mean?"

     Ava shook her head. "I'm not sure. There's no way it wasn't global. Maybe it just wasn't big enough for them to really see it?"

     "How could they not notice that?"

     "I don't know. But the longer they don't notice, the more time we have to go unnoticed. Which is good. We can't have mortals getting in the way."

     "Right." Ava turned back to the newspaper, frowning as she read. I glanced at my white wristwatch. It was 10 in the morning.

     "Ava-"

     "The bus will be here in ten minutes."

     I shook my head, wondering how she read my mind so easily. I stole glances at her from the corner of my eye until the bus came to a screeching halt in front of our bench. Ava stood up, tossing the newspaper in the nearest trash can.

     "Are you ready?" She asked. I nodded. "Then let's go."

     The bus we rode on was very luxurious, with comfy gray one-person seats that reminded me of what people sit on in airliner commercials. Having never been on an airplane myself, I happily took a seat in an empty row right by a window. Instead of taking the seat next to me, Ava sat in the seat closest to the aisle.

     I gave her a look. "I don't bite, ya know." Ava returned my look, but didn't say anything. I sighed. "Ava," I moved over to the seat next to her. "I know you're hiding something from me." She took a sharp breath. "Ava, I trust you. But I'm risking my life for this quest too. If there's something I need to know, tell me."

     Ava paled and looked right at me. I could feel her grey eyes searching mine. Her eyes started to glisten. "Connor, I did a really horrible thing in Aurora. But," she bit her lip, "I just can't tell you. I can't. Please believe me." Her eyes pleaded with mine.

      I had known Ava for hardly a month. But no matter how wounded she seemed, I couldn't help but want to know why. I wanted to fix it for her. So I smiled. "I believe you." I put an arm around her. She tensed, but smiled. "We're going to be okay. You'll see." Ava replied by laying her head on my shoulder, taking a deep breath and letting it out in a puff. We sat there in silence, me smelling her hair that smelled like the lake, and her probably listening to my very obnoxious heartbeat. I glared at Nero's sheath, which rested in between mine and Ava's legs. I rubbed her shoulder with my left thumb. "It's all going to be okay."

 

     The bus rolled over a pothole, jolting me awake. I quickly gathered my bearings, as I remembered where I was. Ava snored softly beside me. Her head still rested on my shoulder. I smiled and looked out the window. Houses passed by, but they were far and few between. A green sign flashed by. I read the name Dawn. Dawn? That was an odd name for a town. Then my mind clicked. I had read that in Greek.

     I used the arm that was around Ava to gently shake her awake. She mumbled something about wanting five more minutes, but I kept shaking her anyways. Finally she groaned, rubbing her eyes and sitting up.

     She looked at me with an irritated look. "What?"

     "What's the greek word for dawn?"

     Ava gasped. Her mind seemed to fit all the pieces together in a millisecond. "Did you read that on a sign?" I nodded. Ava looked as if she had aged ten years. "Dawn means Aurora, Connor." Her voice cracked. "We're in Aurora."

     The bus stopped in front of a decrepit bench, where no one was awaiting us. The bus driver looked in his rearview mirror. "Anyone for Aurora?"

      "Yes, right here!" I called, waving my hand while standing up and placing my backpack on my shoulders. I gestured for Ava to do the same, but she sat frozen, like she was in a trance. "C'mon, Ava," I muttered. She didn't move. Sighing, I picked up her bag with one hand, and with the other I grabbed her wrist and pulled her to her feet. She swayed. "Let's go." I gently pushed on her back, sending her towards the front of the bus. People all around us gave us strange glances and whispered to their neighbors, eyeing our backpacks and dirty clothes. We probably looked like a couple running away from home.

     The corners of my mouth twitched.

     I thanked the bus driver, and climbed down the steps right behind Ava. She moved mechanically, like every step caused her a great deal of pain. We both plopped down on a bench. The bus rolled away in a cloud of exhaust.

     Turning to Ava, I sighed. "How ya doing?"

     She looked at me and grimaced. I think she was trying to smile. "I'm okay."

     I looked up at the sun, which was beating down on our heads from directly above. "We've got a lot of daylight to burn. Do you wanna get some lunch?" I looked around at the very small town. There was one main street lined by older looking buildings with awnings that provided shade for those walking around. I saw maybe twenty people walking about, and every single person smiled and waved at every other person. I could tell immediately Aurora was one of those towns where everyone knew each other. We wouldn't blend well here.

     "There's a diner a block over," Ava said, drawing me from my thoughts. I looked to where she was pointing, then followed her arm back to her face. It was pale and sickly. She put on a wide smile though. "C'mon," Ava stood up, extending her hand for me to grab, "they make the best blueberry pie!"

     I grabbed her hand and laughed. "You don't need to say another word."

     Still hand in hand, we walked for about five minutes before stopping in front of a humble 60's styled diner, decorated with any and everything from that era. Ava let go of my hand as she led me into the restaurant. A bell rang to announce our presence.

     There were so many colors I thought I was having a seizure. Black and white checkerboard tiles, booths of flashy purple velvet, walls decorated with neon signs and pictures of singers that were popular at the time, and even a completely-out-place-disco-ball, giving off every color of the rainbow all over the place. I blinked.

     Ava looked at me and laughed. The first time I heard her laugh since the beginning of the quest. I smiled.

     "Welcome to Dolo's. I missed this place," she sighed, looking at the place with nostalgia. "I used to come here every Saturday with...my friends." She looked down.

     "Hey, why don't we find a booth?" I caught Ava's eye and smiled. She merely nodded.

     Though I had never been here before, I led the way to an empty booth near the back of the place. Ava sat across from me, looking anxious and miserable all over again.

     "How are you two doing today?" I looked up startled at the waitress who magically appeared next to us. She set down two glasses of water in front of us, followed by two menus.

     I cleared my throat. "We're good, thank you."

     She smiled, showing off her rather unkempt teeth. "I'm Dolo, and I'll be your waitress today. Our specials today are roast beef sandwiches and gumbo shrimp platters." She brushed a loose strand of tangled light brown hair from her narrow face. Dolo? She must've been the owner.

     "The roast beef sounds great."

     I nodded. "I'll have what Ava's having."

     Dolo clucked her tongue in an almost disapproving way. "Are you sure you don't want the shrimp? I have a feeling you would really like the shrimp."

     I gave Ava an odd look. "No thanks, I don't like any seafood." Since discovering I was a son of the sea god, I've come to realize eating anything from the sea would be just wrong. I could talk to them for crying out loud! It's pretty much cannibalism.

     "You seem like you would love to eat something from the sea. Wouldn't you now, dear?" She grinned.

     "No, really, I wouldn't. Thank you though."

     Dolo clucked again. "You will someday, I'm sure." I gave Ava another look. She shrugged. "Would either of you like something to drink?"

     "I'll just have the water," Ava replied.

     "I'll have chocolate milk."

     "I'll be right back with your drink then." Dolo gave another smile, took our menus, and left.

     "What kinda name is Dolo?" I asked Ava incredulously.

     She shrugged. "Maybe she's foreign, I never asked." I nodded, and took a small sip from my glass of water. "The last time I was here I was on a date," Ava confessed, biting her lip. I choked on the water that had just reached the back of my throat. Ava didn't notice. "Well, I wanted it to be a date, anyways. I didn't think he liked me back until we went to the park..." Ava stood up abruptly. "I'll be right back."

     "Ava, wait!" She ran before I could catch her. I huffed. What was that all about? A twinge of jealousy sat in my stomach. Who was she on a date here with? And why'd she bring that up?

     "Here's your chocolate milk, Connor", Dolo sat a tall glass in front of me. Did I tell her my name? "Where's your girlfriend?"

     I choked again. "Oh, Ava? She's not my girlfriend! She's my uh, cousin." I thought back to the story of how Athena came from Zeus' mind. Did that make Zeus Athena's dad? If so, since Zeus and Poseidon were brothers, it pretty much made Ava and I second cousins. That didn't seem very healthy.

     "Oh, I knew that, silly!" Dolo displayed her teeth again, and sneered her weasel-like eyes at me. I was growing less fond of her by the second. "I'll have you know I was very surprised to see you two here together."

     Looking around, I realized there was no one else in the restaurant. No one at all. I looked up into Dolo's rat-like face. "Why's that?"

     She threw her head back and laughed. I shuddered at her teeth, which seemed to get even more gruesome. Had they been that sharp two minutes ago? "Your head's thicker than titan's armor!" Dolo snorted with laughter. Titan's? "Because, son of the sea god, your parents despise each other."

     My eyes widened. Oh crap.

     Dolo smiled from ear to ear. Her teeth looked more like a rat's than a human's. "Well can you blame them? Ava, daughter of wisdom." She lifted her hands in the air. "And you," I jumped in my seat as she thrust her finger in my face. "You, son of, well, lack of wisdom." She smirked as my face grew hot. "What were the Fates thinking? Now Ava, yes, she could have been the savior of this world all by herself, if she didn't have so much slowing her down." Dolo looked at me with accusing eyes.

     I felt a pang in my chest, like I was a balloon, and Dolo had just stabbed me with a tack. "You mean me? I'm slowing Ava down?"

     Dolo made an animal like growl in the back of her throat. "Yes. You're catching on." Dolo smirked, while she took off the smudged apron that was hiding a pair of pants that looked like they had been through about 300 very vicious rinse cycles. I noticed red smudges on her apron that didn't look like ketchup. She threw it on Ava's seat. "Did you know that the word "shrew" can be defined as a nagging woman?"

     I furrowed my brow at her. What the heck was she talking about? Who cares!, I thought to myself. I needed to find Ava and get out of here! I decided to keep her talking. "I thought a shrew was a rodent."

     "Yes you stupid demigod! See, as a deity, I can choose any type of form I want. And as the god of shrewdness, don't you think taking the form of a shrew was rather fitting?" I did a double-take.

     "You don't look like a shrew," I observed.

     "Didn't I just tell you that nagging women can be described as shrews?!" Dolo threw her hands up in the air in obvious frustration. I winced at her raised voice. Where is Ava?

     Wait. Did she just say god? Crap crap crap crap...

     I searched my memory for anything that could keep her talking. And not ripping my face off. "Did you say god? You don't look like a god."

     "It almost makes me pity the mortals, knowing their fate is in your hands." Dolo sighed. "Technically, yes, I am the god of shrewdness. But like I have said, I can possess whatever form I want! And I thought that taking the form of a nagging woman, which also means shrewd, would be very fitting. Have you got that yet?"

     Truth was, I had. I think. But I needed Ava. I shook my head, hoping she would keep trying to explain her messed-up logic. She didn't.

     "I grow tired of talking. I might as well show you. Then you can understand. And it will be the last thing you do." I scrambled to the back of the booth until my back hit the cool linoleum. Dolo began to shake and morph, her body seizing and convulsing. Her skin began to stretch and turn grey with thick, grease-matted fur. Her front teeth grew until they touched her chin. She stretched out her hands, with grew gruesome claws that were cracked and caked with blood. Dolo screamed this awful sound, like a squealing mouse.

     "AVA!!!!!!!" I yelled at the top of my lungs. Dolo stopped thrashing suddenly. She looked right into my green eyes with her malevolent red, beady ones. I sucked in a breath. I was literally looking at an overgrown hamster with dental issues and clothes that were 20 sizes too small. I suppressed a laugh that bubbled in my throat. It was the most terrifyingly hilarious thing I had ever seen. She bared her incisors. My heart was ramming against my ribs. What do I do?

     "You will never leave this place alive, demigod." Dolo raised her paws, reading to slice my face into shreds. I looked frantically for a weapon. I grabbed the first thing I saw: my glass of chocolate milk. I threw the entire thing at Dolo's face, watching it shatter and splatter her face. "Ach! Stupid child!" Dolo cried out as shards of glass pierced her face.

     I took that moment as an opportunity to get out of there. I got halfway over the booth before I felt knives stab into my right calf. I screamed; Dolo pulled me back into the booth with her claws that were almost completely in my leg. I smacked back down onto the seat, hitting my right cheek on the table. Hot blood ran in rivers, staining my sock. I nearly blacked out. I reached for my sword, mentally kicking myself for not getting it earlier, but I could barely move.

     Dolo smiled a smile that belonged to a human but was on a rat's face. She tore her claws from my leg, ensuing another scream from me. The edges of my vision tinged red. Dolo raised her paw, it sopping in my blood. "Send Hades my regards." I watched her swing her arm at my exposed neck. All of a sudden I heard a thud and a hiss. "AHHHHHH!" Dolo shrieked and backed away from me, grasping her arm. I saw a gleaming dagger embedded in her arm, all the way to the hilt.

     Ava appeared, her face sickly. "Oh gods, Connor." Her voice cracked when she saw me. She quickly turned around, facing Dolo, who was whimpering as Ava's magic blade burned her. Gold ichor-the blood of immortals-ran down her arm. Ava grabbed a plate from a nearby table and smacked Dolo across the face with it before she could react. She fell to the ground, knocked out cold.

     "Now that's what I call a TKO," I smiled weakly at Ava. Ava looked at me, breathing heavily.

     Without a word, Ava ran to her backpack, grabbed some ambrosia squares, and shoved them into my mouth. "Eat them." I obeyed, smiling at the warm taste of blueberry muffins. Immediately my leg began to mend, the pain easing away. "Drink this." Ava pushed a bottle of water at me. I gave her a look. "Please," her voice caught. I nodded, and took a drink. "Can you stand? We need to get out of here before she wakes up."

     "I'll try." I sat up slowly and took Ava's arm for support. She gently placed my backpack against my back, and pulled my arms through the straps. Ava slid a hand around my waist, and pulled me to my feet. I leaned on her heavily. We stepped over the snoring Dolo, careful to make as little noise as possible.

     Once we were outside, we began sprinting. I was so scared the pain in my leg ceased to exist. Ava grabbed my hand and led me into an alley. We kept crisscrossing through back streets, slipping in puddles and scaring mice.

     We turned another corner, and Ava stopped abruptly. I crashed into her back. "Ow!" I glared at Ava.

     She held a finger to her lips. "Shh." She pointed to our left, where voices were coming from another street. The voices were yelling.

     "...need to give it a rest Laura! It's been almost a year!" Next to me, Ava paled slightly.

     "I don't care!" The other voice-Laura-sounded like a wounded animal, she must've been crying. "He was my son! And I will find her!"

     "Laura, listen to me. She's a kid. Do you really think she could have done such a thing? You saw him, his throat was ripped out-"

     "Do you think I could ever forget that, Jonathan?" Laura sobbed loudly. "Every single one of you at the police department have given up hope on finding her! You don't care about avenging my boy. Oh..my boy..." Her sobs echoed. They sounded awful. I winced.

     Ava grabbed my arm. "We need to leave. Now," she tugged on my arm. I ignored her.

     "Laura, these flyers, they're pointless-"

     "You think I'm crazy! That's it! You and everyone else in this town! Even my family! She wrecked it! She killed him and wrecked it all!" Ava started trembling.

     "Laura, it's time to let go. Mike's not coming back."

     "You want my flyers? Take them!" We heard a whoosh, and hundreds of papers flew into the alley. I heard two pairs of footsteps running away, Jonathan calling after Laura.

     "No, no, no, no. Oh no, please no." Ava sobbed, falling to the ground.

     "Ava! Ava, what's wrong-" I stopped short. All around me were Ava's-their faces smiling up at me. I read the flyers, each telling me an unspeakable story. I knew then what had happened in Aurora.

     "AVA GRIFFIN: WANTED FOR THE MURDER OF MIKE EDWARD DOREA"

 

  

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