Camp Thárros: A New Beginning

13 year old Athena Williams believes she is an ordinary kid with nothing special about her or her life. But one day she finds a book on Greek mythology in her basement and discovers secrets about herself and her past that she never thought possible. She embarks upon a summer trip to Camp Thárros, only to find that these hidden secrets are not quite what they were cracked up to be and that a darker and more mysterious force is at work. She must complete a wuest along with her friends and encounter things far more ferocious and dangerous than any book could begin to describe.

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1. CHAPTER 1: HALLOWEEN

Darkness. The inky black sky, the treacle silhouetted shadows. There’s so much out there that we can’t see: mysterious creatures of the nocturnal night; so much more to discover, in the world around us and, the shimmering stars above. We’ll never know it all though, no matter how long the Earth lives for, it constantly changes, they’ll always be so much more to discover. It’s8 amazing really, mind blowing, and that’s what Athena found most annoying of all.

Athena was a 13 year old girl with scruffy wavy hair past the shoulder; her eyes were like the golden brown of an eagle, her skin soft to the touch. She looked just like an ordinary teenage girl, but she was anything but ordinary, she had been through so much, it was shown on her face. All the pain and misery she had gone through, but each day she would get stronger.

It was the 31st of October, Halloween, and she was reminiscing on her dad, remembering the day he ‘died’. It was fresh in her mind, as if it were only yesterday, as clear as a freshly lit beacon in the midst of the autumn nightfall. Gazing out of the window, like her dad used to when he was in his study, researching things for the discovery at the museum. Of course all of his studies were confidential so Athena was never certain of what he was up to. She hadn’t been in his study since the day the police came to take a few things out of it for some sort of reason as to why the car or driver might have sped out of control.

Slowly, she allowed herself to fall into the memory. Closing her eyes, she could see the small circular room with deep red curtains limply hanging from the golden brass twisted rail, underneath this, the battered wooden window sill had been turned into a semi circled royal ruby seat, well just a few comfortable pillows really. Papers, files, boxes and old documents scattered the floor and desk like the crisp, dry, lifeless leaves of the autumn season. Her younger self was there now too, clutching a model aeroplane, that her dad had made, she watched in desperate horror as the policemen looked through documents and took out certain pages and placed them in a strange box. They were sealing other things into tight plastic transparent bags, including a model fighter plane, she and her dad had painted together , her and her dad giggling whilst painting it, and each other flashed through her mind. Her 10 year old self let a small tear roll from her eye as a policemen guided her out of the room, she had taken one last look and then pulled herself out of the memory.

She had never been in since, not out of cowardice, but because she didn’t want to remember, not in the place in the house that her dad had spent so much time in.

Hopping down from the window sill, she went to grab a snack, her mouth was dry and she didn’t feel like a full blown meal, she was full on memories and only grieved for her dad. Grabbing a sandwich out the fridge, her mum emerged into the room with some washing.

‘you should probably have more than a sandwich for dinner honey’ advised her mum, Hilary

‘I’m not hungry’ Athena claimed

‘I know things are hard, especially with it being your dad’s birthday tomorrow, but he wouldn’t want us to reminisce now would he?’ her mum stated.

‘ but he wouldn’t want us to forget either’ pointed out Athena, and with that she departed from the room leaving her mother astonished and silent. Athena walked weakly back to the window sill, setting her plate down on the little oak table beside her; she stared back out the window. It was six pm now and completely pitch black. A few trick-or-treaters came out of their houses, each one in costume.

‘So it begins’ muttered Athena to herself.

‘It’s not all doom and gloom though’ her mum reassured her all of a sudden, it made Athena jump slightly.

‘Isn’t it’ mumbled Athena

‘Tom phoned, he wanted to see you’ she blurted. Athena gave a weak smile, and then resumed her position gazing longingly out of the window. Although her face may not have shown it, she was very grateful for Tom’s visitation, he was her best and only friend. Tom had bright bleach blond coloured hair, but specks of brown hiding underneath. He had eyes as bright and as blue as the shimmering summers sky above a calm sea of joy. He was of average height (like Athena) and he was just the same as an ordinary teenage boy, but the only kind of ordinary these two were, was extraordinary, they just didn’t realise it yet.

A few moments later the doorbell rang and Tom came limping into the front room.

‘Hey Thee’ he grinned

‘Hey’ Athena mumbled. Tom came and sat next to her, only then did Athena break her gaze with the strong darkness.

‘So what did you come over for?’ Athena questioned

‘I come over all the time’ said a confused Tom

‘But why today of all days’

‘I think you know why ‘

‘I’m fine’ and with that Athena resumed her gaze out into the pathetic night.

‘It doesn’t have to be like this’ Tom assured

‘Like what?’ snapped a whispering Athena

‘Like this’ after Athena’s vacant expression, he persisted ‘you have me to talk to, if you want’

‘Like I said, I’m fine!’ Athena emphasised, Tom sighed then said

‘I’m going to unpack my stuff’

‘Okay’ Athena murmured, ‘Wait, what?’

My sleeping bag’ and Tom got up and started scaling the stairs.

‘I’d really rather you didn’t’ admitted Athena, once again breaking her gaze ‘Tom? Tom!’ but all he replied with was: ‘I’m staying whether you like it or not’. Athena shot a nasty look to the ignorant staircase, but that slowly turned into a smile.

After Tom had unpacked, they decided to order pizza, just one, but pizza always cheered Athena up and she certainly wasn’t cheerful at the moment. They took the pizza up to Athena’s small, box like room, where she hardly any items or treasured. What could be found though was a large varnished, glazed wood desk, in all its grand entirety. Her dad had apparently bought it back from the museum offices as they, were clearing out. In the corner her strong single bed lay in all its oak wood glory. She had an old style chest of drawers opposite her bed, which stood valiantly like a knight in battle. A petite shelf was perched low next to her bed with her shiny steel work alarm clock, buzzing annoyingly on top. The only other thing there was a medium sized, proud wardrobe, that overpowered and ruled above all her other furniture.

Tom lay out his sleeping bag on the floor and the soft quilted cover rolled out almost instantly upon the rough ragged, cream carpet.

‘What’s the time?’ Athena queried

‘8:00 pm, ish’ Tom replied

‘Oh I’m going to sleep’ she “yawned”

‘At 8:00 pm’ Tom insensitively said, and when Athena didn’t reply he finished with ‘Oh yeah, sorry’.

Within a few moments Tom was fast asleep and his silent snores whooshed soundlessly from wall to wall, whereas Athena wasn’t really asleep. She faced the wall and whispered:

‘I miss you dad, you know I do’, and with that she took one last glance at Tom, smiled solemnly, then closed her eyes to be taken away to the dreamland, where the memory of her dads last days filled her head.

It was a long night for Athena, she dreamt that she was looking down on the day that her dad died, it was a strange dream, but she always had it. She never had any clue as to what it meant, or if it was true, but she knew there must be some reason for it. Everything was blurry, as if her eyes couldn’t focus on anything; her dad appeared out of the blur now. In the dream he was always in a rush, looking for something, his car keys? After a few minutes he had found whatever he was looking for, next thing she knew, he was getting in the car. “Don’t do it dad” she had always thought “it can’t be as important as your life”, but it must have been, he seemed so brave, but nervous? Then the car pulled up somewhere amongst some scratchy bracken, the outskirts of a forest path? The car was at an angle, as if he had pulled over in a painful hurry. He was then running through the leaky trees, spiralling out of control, then the blur turned into a midst of crimson and it was now more blurry than ever before. He appeared now, to be showing something to a dark, piercing figure, much taller and evil looking, the background around the scene of the two figures turned a violent blood stained red. The taller being whacked one of its giant hands across her dads face, and he kept smacking and hitting as her dad put up a noble fight, but it was no use. Writhing and doubled over, her dad had no chance. STOP! STOP! STOP! NO, NO, NO, DAD! She tried to yell, but not a hoarse whisper came from her mouth. All of a sudden, the dream started fading away, like ink to water, and then she woke up with a start. Dripping with sweat she tried to slow down her panting breath. Reaching for the glass on her bedside shelf, she checked to see if Tom was awake. He stirred, flopped his arm, then looked fast asleep again. Without checking the time, Athena tried to force her eyes back closed, but she would never be able to finish the dream, the truth was too much to bear, it always had been, ever since the first one, three years and a bit ago.

After the even more bloodthirsty dream of her dad’s death, she eventually woke up again, she was nervous that she may forget. The time on the clock read 6:00 am, “few” she thought “right on time”, no one will be awake yet, “perfect”.

Violently, Athena threw back the covers and they piled into a crazed, frenzied slump at the foot of her bed. She tiptoed over Tom’s dead-to-the-world body and grabbed her vibrant green new York Yankees rucksack, containing a tie for the flowers she would pick, if she could find any in the lifeless patch of tasteless grass in the ghostly graveyard. As well as a picture of them smiling, happy as they could be, thinking that they would be forever in each other’s glorious company, taking it for granted without realising it. It wasn’t meant to happen like this, he should be alive, here right now. So that he could have his birthday, but he can’t, not physically at least, although spiritually forever.

Heading out of the medioka doorway, Athena took one last smiling glance at her best friend in his tangled mess, and then silently jogged down the stairs and out of the battered green doorway, that was the front door. Athena hopped on her bike that was in front of the bright, fresh painted, glowing garage, it was bland, chipped and the white wheels had been stained with icky brown mud. The brand name was covered in scratches so you couldn’t read it anymore, the once pale blue bicycle was now white, grey and black with dirt, chippings, peeled letters and scratches. Not to mention the handle bars- secured with duct tape to ensure some form of safety. The gears were jammed so she only gears 3 and 4 to alternate between, which was murder when going uphill. As for downhill, the brakes were on their way out as she had to press them about 5 metres away from the place she wanted to pull in at because they were delayed.

Squeaking her way down the road to the graveyard on her oil craving bike, Athena wondered whether her dad could see her, she wondered if he remembered that today was his birthday, or if he could even remember her.

Before she knew it, Athena had arrived at the small Perrenporth cemetery. The mossy stone walls had aged with the dead bodies under the gravestones, they too were rotting and being overwhelmed with a number of weed like plants and insects.

Pushing her bike violently, against the toughened, crusty walls, she breathed a panicked sigh of relief. Jogging down the small width, gravely lane to the gravestones, Athena slowed down near the ninth gravestone. There she left the track and slowed down at the fourth one. She knelt down beside her dad’s grave. Athena stared into it, smiling, as if her dad was there, smiling back at her.

Looking over her shoulder and then in the surrounding area, to check that Tom hadn’t followed her here. “Few” she thought “I’d rather be alone”. Soundlessly, Athena pushed herself up from the crippled floor and slowly scanned her surroundings. She needed to pick some flowers for her dad’s birthday; he had always liked wild ones, so she wasn’t going to buy any. It had always been hard to find alive, bright, healthy flowers in autumn, especially growing in a wildly placed graveyard. But something yellow suddenly caught the corner of her eye. Staring at it in amazed confusement, Athena squinted her eyes and started dithering over to it.

She bent down and plucked a single yellow flower from the wispy grass.

‘Chrysanthemum’ Athena whispered standing back up. A half grin of proud appointment crossed her face and her golden brown eyes shimmered under the early morning sun. This was it, the perfect flower! Andreas, her dad, had always loved Chrysanthemums; he always told her they were nature’s way of telling us that we were all winners, because the bright yellow was the happiest winning colour of all.

Once she had arrived back at her dad’s grave with the Chrysanthemum and a swirly tangled vine type plant, she set them carefully on the ledge coming from the bottom of the grave. As she dug around in her bag for the little plastic tie she was going to use to bind the plants together to form a sort of bouquet, she caught a glimpse of the picture of her and her dad and smiled. After she had found it, neatly, she arranged the plants together into a beautiful formation of wilderness that her dad would have loved.

‘Happy birthday dad’ Athena whispered, setting the arrangement on the foot of the gravestone, whilst running her hand over the rounded edge and smiling at it in a sweet mournful way.

‘Yeah, happy birthday’ said a kind voice that could only be recognised as...

‘Tom?’ Athena said shocked to see him standing there before her eyes ‘what are you doing here?’

‘Well, I woke up and realising that you weren’t there, I knew there was only one place you could be’ Tom started, glancing round ‘here’ he finished. Athena opened her mouth to speak, but Tom hushed her down fondly. ‘I found these in your back garden’ Tom declared, prising 7 Chrysanthemums in front of Athena’s sorrowful gaze.

‘Tom...you shouldn’t have, I mean they’re...’ began Athena

‘Beautiful?’ Tom assumed

‘Well I was going to say dad’s favourite, but yes, they are very beautiful’ Athena finished. Tom picked up the small yellow Chrysanthemum Athena had plucked from the desolate graveyard and he slotted into the middle of the bunch he had picked from Athena’s back garden.

‘There’ Tom concluded and with that he placed them back in the spot Athena had originally set them down in. ‘Now, let’s sing him happy birthday, he’d like that’. Athena said nothing, but nodded clearly, as her golden eyes went to a dim brown as they began to fill with tears.

‘Happy birthday to you’ Tom sang slowly and softly

‘happ-ha-happy birthday to you’ Athena sniffed

‘Happy birthday dear dad-‘

‘Happy b-birthday to you’ they chorused. For a while they both knelt there staring in silence at Andreas Williams’ gravestone, until finally, Tom broke the silence by insisting that they go back.

‘Come on then, we can come back later if you want, but we best go back to yours, your mum will be wondering where we are’

‘Okay’ Athena mumbled, wiping away a tear from her cheek. Tom got up first and once he had brushed the hollow dirt from his knees, he gave Athena his hand and yanked her up too. Together, they stepped a few paces, but Athena suddenly stopped, Tom had got to the end of the row before realising Athena had lagged behind.

‘Let’s go!’ Tom called. Athena glanced at Tom, then at the crippled grave, then back at Tom.

‘Coming!’ she called back, she took one last refreshing look at the broken grave and whispered: ‘bye dad’ before jogging back to Toms welcoming side. Whilst they walked out of the smiling walls, Tom put his arm round Athena’s shoulder in an embracing sort of shoulder hug before grabbing her bike. Tom pushed the battered bicycle all the way home as Athena carried her Yankees rucksack over one dreary shoulder, “I guess” thought Athena, ‘that today wouldn’t be so bad after all” and together they walked back in the sleepless sunrise.

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