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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12. Storytime With The Murderer

     I blinked. "Ava, why does this say you're a-" I looked up. Ava was gone. "Ava? Ava!" I looked once more at the flyers that told me Ava was a murderer, and ran down the alley where we heard Laura and Jonathan arguing. "Ava!" I reached the end of the alley, with still no sign of Ava. I looked right. Nothing. Then left, where I saw a flash of brown hair dart around another corner. I ran after it. "Ava, wait!" I called after her, urging my legs to run faster. Thankfully the adrenaline and ambrosia in my system kept my calf from slowing me down. Stupid immortal hamsters.

     I caught up with Ava about 2 blocks later, where she stood weeping at the entrance of a graveyard. I reached my hand out, but Ava was too quick, flinching and taking off again.

     "Ava please! Talk to me!" She kept running until she was towards the very back of the flat, dead-grass plain. I felt a chill up my spine despite the heat. Somehow the domain of one of your father's worst enemies mixed with dead people did not sit well with my chocolate milk. I looked up at Ava, who was looking down at a humble headstone set in the ground. I grabbed her wrist before she could run again. I felt her pulse racing. She flinched, but didn't move away. Instead, she took a deep breath and looked up at me.

     "Read," she paused and sucked in a sharp breath. "Read the stone."

     I looked down and read aloud, "Here lies Mike Edward Dorea. I hope they have basketball in Heaven. Say hi to God for us. We love you." I looked at Ava in shock. "This is who everyone at camp talks about. Chiron, Ashley from Aphrodite-"

     Ava held up her hand and sniffed. "I know, I know. Here lies the boy I murdered."

     I choked on my own spit. "You really did it? You killed someone Ava?" Fear rose in my chest like a balloon with a thousand tiny needles on its surface.

     "Indirectly, yes." She sniffed again. "When I was 10, they started. A normal demigod becomes noticed when they hit puberty, normally at age 12 or 13. That's why we are both very strange." She gave me a blurry look, her eyes like shattering glass.

     "Thanks," I muttered. "Who's 'they'?"

     Ava gave an uneasy look around, like she was afraid someone was going to appear. "The spiders," she muttered. A fat tear ran along her cheek. "They attacked me every time I was alone. In school parking lots, at the park, in my sleep." Ava looked up in an unsuccessful attempt to stem the flow of tears. She sighed. "No one believed me. Not my dad, anyone. I had dyslexia, and ADD, everyone just thought I was a mental kid acting out." I looked away, knowing the feeling too well. "So I ran away. I don't know how I survived; Athena must have had great favor for me. And the Fates apparently. I was finally caught by the police in Madison when I was 11. Long story short, I was taken to a foster home here in Aurora. Where I met Mike." Her voice rose and cracked on the name Mike, and she looked back at his grave.

     "This town is very religious. Christianity dominated. My foster mom Reese immediately threw me into the youth group, where I met Mike for the first time. Apart from shoving his moronic religion down my throat, Mike was the only person I truly liked. Admittedly, I developed a crush on him."
     I shifted uncomfortably. "Did he like you back?"

     Ava looked down, forcing tears to fall over her lashes and down her cheeks. "Yes." She took another deep breath. "For the next few years I faked believing that God is Almighty, He made me for a specific purpose, blah blah blah." She sniffed. "But I really only cared about Mike. We spent a lot of time together. At church, school, youth activities, after school. Each chance he got he tried to witness to me." I gave her a look. "It means he tried to get me to believe in God." She explained. "They say to believe in God you have to accept the fact that you're a sinner, and that God's Son Jesus Christ came to earth and died for us all so we can go to heaven. Mike was trying to get me to do that. One day I realized we were never going to get anywhere if I kept pushing it away, so I pretended to believe it. I pretended to get saved."

     "You pretended to believe in God for a boy?"

      Ava rolled her eyes. "I was 13, deal with it water boy." She blinked, and cleared her throat. "Anyways, yes. Deep down inside I knew it was stupid to believe in one infinitesimal Being Who made everything from just a command but yet wasn't corrupted by any of its power. I know the world enough to know that such character didn't exist."

     I thought about her words. I've heard about big-g God, sure, but it seemed to weird to talk to no one and ask for help. The Bible was just an outdated book of rules, right?

     Ava continued. "Two days before the incident I discovered my fire powers. I had had an awful nightmare about these three women all playing with fire. I yelled at them to stop, but they couldn't hear me. They ended up burning down everything in sight, until the fire consumed them too." Ava looked at me. "I woke up screaming and engulfed in white-hot flames.

     "That was Thursday. My foster mom Reese feared I had been possessed. I was scheduled to meet with our pastor that Sunday. It never happened. On that Saturday my friends and I went to Dolo's like usual, minus the demon hamster. Afterwards, Mike and I were "accidentally" left alone. We were just going to walk home, but I decided to trust him with my newfound secret. And it was the worst decision I have ever made."

     I watched Ava as she tried to regain some semblance of control. She looked up to the sky as if there was a different story up there that she could tell instead of this one. I remembered my hand was still clutching her wrist, so I tightened it slightly for comfort. Ava looked at me, and I gave her a small nod.

     ''We were walking through the park when I stopped to tell him. I thought I could control the flames. I was just going to ignite my hand. So I tried. But like after my nightmare the completely covered Mike and I. Somehow they didn't hurt him. It encircled around us both." Ava's voice rose higher. "But I didn't know using my powers had attracted monsters. I didn't know what I was, how much danger I was in." Ava's voice was trembling so much it was like her throat was broken. Her lips quivered fiercely. "And Mike trusted me! He didn't judge me at all. He was scared at first, but it didn't change how he felt about me at all! And then..." Ava looked down at the grave. "What did I do, Connor? Gods, what did I do?!"

     Ava fell to the ground, taking me with her, both of us smacking our palms on the dirt. I grunted in response to the pain that shot up my leg. Ava was crying so hard her whole body racked with the sobs.

     "Ava...calm down." I tried to grab her hand again but she moved away. "Ava, tell me what happened next." She caught my eye, though I'm not sure if she saw me or not. Her eyes were bloodshot and as gray and as desolate as the sea. The sea was that color normally before or after a horrific storm. I couldn't tell whether Ava was just about to enter that storm, or if it had already passed.

     Totally abandoning composure, Ava continued. "It found us. I didn't even know they could be that size. It was from the very pits of Tatarus; the deepest pit in hell. Up until then it was the most petrifying thing I had ever seen."

     I gave her a look. "What? What was it, Ava?"

     "A spider. Terástia aráchni̱." She spoke in Greek. "Huge spider. It was larger than a pickup. It was completely black, and furry, like a tarantula. It's eyes were as big as my head, its mandibles as long as my thigh. It appeared as if by magic; one second it was just Mike and I and the next it was there too." The fear in Ava's eyes made me want to shrink back and hide. "I completely froze! It started coming for us, and I just wouldn't move!" Ava began yelling. "Mike, he, he pushed me out of the way! And was hit by that monster! He was in the air for forever. When he hit the ground...," Ava inhaled deeply and shakily. "When he hit the ground his legs broke. They crunched awfully and poked out at his skin in weird places. The spider knew he was done for, so it took its time, inching slowly and clicking its mandibles happily." Ava gagged. "Mike looked at me, blood was dripping across his forehead, his legs were twisted beyond repair, and he told me to run. That was it! He just yelled at me, telling me to run away, to save myself! But I couldn't! I just wouldn't move! I watched the spider get closer and closer, until I couldn't see Mike anymore. He kept telling me to run! Then he screamed until it was nothing but a gurgle. I saw the blood. So much blood." Ava groaned and pulled at her hair. "And then I ran."

     I let that sink in.

     "I am responsible for the death of Mike. And this whole town thinks I killed him." Ava turned over and threw up. I went over to her and held her hair, even though I was trying not to throw up myself.

     I waited until she recovered. When she did, she stood up and backed up. I did the same, trying to ignore the sickening smell.

     All of a sudden the ground shook. I yelled as a bright flash of gold wiped out my vision. In the same second it happened, the light disappeared. Like it never happened. But it did.

     Right in front of us lay an old roll of papyrus. Right on Mike's grave.

     I picked it up, opening it to read its message. Without a word, I held out the scroll for both Ava and I to read. In gold ink it said:

     First the Son, and now the Night. The world must never know their plight. They've conceived a wretched, the most devious plan. They're enemy; the Son of Man.

     What do you think of that one? It came to me when I was on vaca in L.A. I was near the entrance of the Underworld actually. I had never had inspiration like that before. It was as if the words were forced from me. Ah, the struggles of an aspiring and talented god. I expect a sonnet about this when you return. If you do. Best of luck!- Your Favorite god, Apollo.

     I blinked. Throughout all the chaos I barely remembered why we even came here. But here was the reason. Apollo's poem. And it was strange.

     Without a word, Ava snatched the scroll from me and placed it in her bag. She looked down at the grave again; almost as if she was expecting another message to magically appear. One didn't.

     Ava sighed."I am so sorry Mike." Ava turned and began walking away. I limped after her.

     And that was it.

 

     We walked until we were out of town, and then another town, and another, until the sun had begun to set. We hadn't said a word to each other the entire time. We didn't stop for food, directions, anything. More than once I found myself walking like a drunk in an attempt to not pee my pants. And it didn't help my leg was killing me. I chewed morosely on an ambrosia square. I thought about what Ava told me today. To be honest, I had felt a twinge of jealousy whenever Mike came up. I knew he was always on her mind. But I understood now. How could she not think about that 24/7? I didn't believe she was responsible for it. What could she do? I understand why she hates her powers, and why she can't tame them. I wondered how she lives with the guilt. I wondered if she wishes she had died instead. Or if she just would.

     Ava finally spoke. "3...2...1..." Black.

     The sun touched the earth, and then the whole sky died. Every hue of the rainbow was sucked into nothingness until the whole world looked like a classic black-and-white film. A tear in the sky opened to reveal utter emptiness. It was so black on the other side it was like it was solid color. Like the color was so intense it was tangible. Almost as if a new color had been made. The earth seemed to pull in the direction of the hole, like dirt to a vacuum. I felt the iciest feeling of dread and hopelessness wash over me like the tide.

     Before my eyes flashed memories I didn't even know were mine. A little baby boy with dark brown hair and green eyes crying in a blanket while tan hands grabbed him. A woman with black hair and laugh lines smiling down at me. My friends from school running from bullies. Me on the run from the hellhound. Riding the bus with Ava. This moment.

     The sky ripped even more. The blackness occupied at least a fourth of the sky now. It was growing; feeding on the imbalance of time.

     With a bright flash the planet was put back into place and suddenly the moon and stars were there. We were relatively in the middle of nowhere, but still there seemed to be hardly any light from the moon; the stars were dim and barely noticeable.

     "By the gods," Ava murmured. "We're running out of time."

 

     Ava and I ran until we reached the next town. Panting, starving, smelly, and miserable, we entered a small gas station. I headed straight for the bathroom; Ava did the same. I splashed my face with cold water, feeling immediately refreshed. The water clung to my skin like it didn't want to leave.

     I met Ava back in the hallway. Her face steamed slightly. "What should we do?" I asked.

     "Buy us something to eat, and meet me outside." She began to walk away.

     "What's the magic word?" I teased.

     Despite the day's events, she looked at me and smiled. "Please, water boy."

     I grinned. "Anytime, lava girl." She smiled and headed outside. I grabbed us both two turkey sandwiches and Coke. I thanked the cash register, and walked out the door to find Ava sitting on the curb. I took a seat next to her. "What's the plan?"

     Ava looked around. "The plan is...," she snatched a sandwich from me. "Eat."

     I laughed. "Don't have to tell me twice." We both ate in silence, looking at the stars. Suddenly, a semi pulled into the parking lot. The driver climbed down from the cab and walked past us to get inside. Ava tensed.

     "Follow me. Now." Ava threw her wrapper on the ground and started hustling over to the semi. I gave her a look, even though her back was turned to me.

     "Ava, what are you doing?!"

     Ava looked back at me. "Shhhh! Come on, Connor!" She kept running for the truck. I followed. She went to the back and lifted the latch and door. Inside the trailer were dozens of boxes packed tight with who knows what. They didn't looked secured at all. "Get in."

     "Are you insane?" I asked incredulously.

     "Connor we need a ride or else we'll never make it in time! Get in now!" Shaking my head, I listened to her, throwing my backpack and Nero ahead of me. Once we were both in, Ava slammed the door shut, putting us in total darkness. "Connor, where are you? I can't see."

     "I'm right-" Ava tripped over me and landed in my lap. "Here," I groaned.

     "I'm so sorry, Connor!" Ava scrambled off of me and sat to my right. I felt my cheeks go hot, and thanked the gods that she couldn't see.

     "It's alright." Awkward silence." How do you know we're not gonna end up in Canada or something?"

     "Mexican license plate. I'm hoping for the best." I tried to not let the doubt settle in. Fail.

I heard the engine start up and jumped. We were moving. I prayed a quick prayer that the driver had a lead-foot. "Hey Connor?" Ava interrupted.

     "Yeah what's up?"

     "Do you hate me for what I did?"

     I laughed. I heard Ava suck in a breath. "Of course not! Ava it wasn't your fault! It really wasn't! I'm sad for you, because I don't think you deserved that. But I could never ever hate you."

     Ava was quiet for a bit. "Promise?"

     "Promise."

     We made pillows out of our backpacks. Ava and I laid there in silence for awhile, listening to the sound of cars and engines and pavement. I paid attention to Ava's breathing, which grew deeper and slower until it was a soft snore. In the back of my mind I wished she had put her head on my chest, so I could smell her hair and hold her.

     I told my brain to shut up.

  

 

 

 

 

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