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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2. CHAPTER 2: THE FLASHBACK

The rest of the week after her dad’s birthday went really quick, and Athena was glad. It had got the disappointment and depression out of the way, but she just couldn’t forget the dream. It had been different, more blood thirsty than ever. Naturally, she had tried to talk to Tom about it, but things would always ‘pop up’, or he’d hush her down and tell her she was worrying about nothing. It was about time that she tried a different approach, but what? Athena needed a place to think, somewhere that she could go and ponder on nothing else but what mattered. It was only a matter of time before Athena knew exactly where to go and it was only another matter of time before she got there. After all, it was only in her beloved back garden. She trotted out the back door and silently closed it behind her. For a few solemn moments she gazed out into her garden, just absorbing the beauty of its sweet, kind nature. Looking around astonishingly at the gorgeous gardens wonders, Athena felt surprised and a little disappointed, that she hadn’t been in the mystical garden voluntarily for some time. It was rather daunting really.

After a long mournful gaze, she persisted in slowly tottering forward, still taking in the natures beautiful glorifying, well, nature! Eventually, Athena managed to draw herself out of the enchanting overgrown back garden and instead to the dark, tan-coloured wood tree house, that nestled in the branches of the rather large oak tree. It was situated at the foot of the garden, slightly to the right. Smiling like a fool at the battered tree-top shack, she lazily clutched at the wood-paving ladder, before pulling herself up. As she clambered up, the memory of her and her dad giggling and grinning, 7 years ago, at the finished cabin, filled her mind. It was a glorious memory; her dad had been clutching a paintbrush that had proudly given the tree house a water tight glaze. Athena herself had been in dungarees, hair a-flow and grinning madly whilst she compared the picture she’d drawn to the one her dad had courageously structured. Then with a white flash that was like a cheesy signal that the memory had ended, Athena had come back to reality and the broken bark that clambered round the tree like peeling, dry, weepy skin. This immediately caused Athena to sorrowfully grimace, and then continue to climb the tree houses welcoming wooded-panels and smiling silver symbol, that had scratched off and faded into the memories. It was long gone now, and her dad had died before Athena had asked him to repaint it. She would have done it herself, but it hadn’t even lasted very long as the paint wasn’t water proof and she couldn’t even remember what it was. Plus it would never the same and it would never have her dad’s subtle touch. So with one last breathless step, she pulled herself into the boxy wooden room. Admirably, she allowed her eyes to wonder around the place. On the back wall was a drawing permanently scratched into the wood, it was a stick girl and boy that Athena had carved on her first ever visitation into the block, it was a bad drawing but at the time she had been six. It was meant to be of her and her dad, she had once covered over all the other doodles with a glaze type cote of clear paint, but that one had remained, by choice of course. Erasing it would be like erasing a million memories at once as well as betraying her dad. Athena lifted up a limp palm and ran her fingers over the sketch, a tear slowly rolled down her cheek. ‘I wish the past could have a future’ she thought.

There was nothing else in there other than a few wooden chippings that had worn away with the tree houses’ age. Athena settled down into a welcoming corner and began to ponder.

“Why was the dream so violent?” she thought aloud. “What had triggered or enabled it to become so blood thirstily gory?” There must have been a reason for the way things were.

Looking for some inspirational things around the tree house to trigger thought, Athena felt hopeless. She clutched the golden, spherical locket, that hung round her neck, “why dad, why?” she questioned to the ceiling of the tree top wonder. Then, all of a sudden, as if an obvious voice had spoken out from the emptiness around her, her mind yelled ‘LOCKET’. ‘Of course’ she thought, wait what? The little voice in her head said ‘use the locket, its past will determine your future’. It was as if the voice had been put there, its thoughts didn’t feel like her own. ‘How?’ she asked it, ‘how? I don’t understand’. But still the hoarse voice repeated the same words; ‘its past will determine your future’.

“What does that mean?” she asked herself. For some solemn periods of time, Athena sat, reasonably still in her decrepit tree house corner, ‘is it a riddle?’ she thought. After a whiles longer time problem solving, Athena had a sudden out-of-the-blue thought.

“That’s it!” she cried. “I get it now, the day I found this locket, it had been in the middle of nowhere, supposedly belonging to no one, so I had no idea where it had come from” she paused, then with an excited expression, continued “whoever or whatever it belonged to before, its past, apparently determines my future!” however at those last words Athena thought how absurd it sounded and also that it had nothing to do with the dream. Athena pondered over it again, well what had happened that day, that could hold the answer? So naturally, she allowed herself to fall into the memory.

It was her dads funeral, everyone wore a desolate black that reminded her of a cloudy nights sky where all the stars had been erased by mist. A final song had been sung, and then everyone in the chapel had all bunched up and bogged off into separate groups to socialise and mourn. However, Athena had, had different ideas. Her dad had been cremated and the ashes still lay outside, along with the burnt, plain coffin. Socialising wasn’t Athena’s thing, and she despised the careless adults who came up to her and said things like ‘he’s in a better place now’, their supposed comforting made Athena turn up her nose, mop her eyes and then back away. Hilary, her mum, was having deep conversations of reminiscence with Andreas, her dad’s, mother, or Athena’s grandmother, who died a few days later of a heart attack. Athena was not stupid and she knew that strange men would come and collect up her dad’s ashes in a large turquoise, china pot, to later bury under his grave. One thing Athena was oblivious about though, was the time. For all she knew, the men could come any minute, so she had to be silent and quick moving, she couldn’t afford arousing suspicion. Athena had snuck out, claiming that she needed to go to the toilet, before then soundlessly whooshing out of the back exit. ‘Yes’ she had thought ‘no one’s seen me- yet’. The large scribed, paint glass windows could reveal her at any moment, but (luckily!) the draping black, robe-like curtains were pulled in the main room, where the guests had been. Not that they would stop the nosey people taking a sneaky peak at the ash by pulling the curtain back. ‘Honestly’ she had thought, ‘you’d think we were in a zoo! No privacy these days!’ Athena felt the wicked wind whip her face, ‘ahh free at last’. She crept over to where the ash lay. Lowering herself to the floor so that she could be level with the ash and whisper to it, she closed her eyes, inhaling the final smoke supplements of her dad’s dead body.

Eventually, she had got up again as tears had mysteriously formed in her eyes. Suddenly, an instinct somewhere deep inside of her told her that there was someone or something watching, but not from the chapel. Athena felt the gaze coming from the petite woods directly in front of her. Staring harder at the wilderness, she narrowed her eyes to get a more precise look.

“Who’s there?” she had quizzed. Then she was sure she had seen some glistening brown lamp-like eyes, but a second glance told her she was mistaken. “Hello?” she called. Nothing answered, but a further rustle told her something was there. “Show yourself!” she impatiently squeaked. Still, nothing, until she heard another rustle, followed by several others. ‘That’s it!’ Athena thought. She edged forwards and followed the noise of the mysterious being. It led her to an open canopy of trees, where one single branch clasped out. Athena ran straight into it, BUMP! “Ouch!” she cried, rubbing her head, as she let her hand fall away from her forehead. Blood trickled from the finger where she had just touched her face. This caused her to glare angrily at the beckoning branch. Only then did she notice the golden locket that glistened and gleamed in the shimmering sunlight.

Carefully, Athena stood up; blinking hard to make sure that it wasn’t a hallucination. Gazing around suspiciously to see if it belonged to anyone, she reached out a shaking blood- spattered palm and clasped for the locket, expecting there to be nothing but air. However, Athena was surprised that she could feel the stone-cold metal beneath her fingers. She felt it before opening her closed eyes to make sure it was what she thought it was. Several more glances around revealed that it belonged to no one, or whoever it had belonged to had decided to hand it over to Athena.

She hung it from around her limp fingers and strolled back through the woods to the chapel, ‘what on earth was that?’ she had thought, if it was from earth.

Once Athena had arrived back at the chapel she resumed her earlier position and persisted in doing what she had arranged to do in the first place. This was to find a small handful of nice ash with no wood chippings, mud, grass or stones.

Athena gathered small portions of healthy ash one by one, but suddenly she heard the creak of a door and bewildering voices. She now had no time to be fussy; Athena grabbed one last small portion of ash and then stuffed it, along with the locket, into her jean pocket. ‘Escape’ she thought, she crept into the woods and still keeping her eye on the men, rushed out soundlessly at a convenient time to the front entrance.

Here she was greeted by a total stranger who said:

“Where’ve you been sweetie? Your mothers been worried”

“Oh urm, just getting fresh air” Athena ruefully lied. The stranger smiled and embraced her in a hug. Athena managed to wriggle out and then she went to find toms’ family.

That was the end of the memory, so she pulled herself out instantly. That wasn’t the only close-to-heart funeral she’d been too though.

                                                               ***

Athena had, had a sister, her name was Anna. Her hair was always light blonde and glossy, like her mums. Athena’s dark auburn hair looked almost black compared to it. Anna had died 3 years before her dad, she had been ran over by a car and died almost instantly. Athena was never as close to Anna as she was Andreas, but she did talk about her an awful lot with her dad, both before and after her death.

They did play together sometimes but Anna, being 4 years older, matured quicker and grew out of all the imaginative games, unless they were on holiday. Plus the two of them, despite being sisters, couldn’t have been less alike.

If Anna had ever gotten a scrape, she would bawl her eyes, whereas Athena would continue whatever she was doing. Anna liked baking pink, glittery, fairy cakes, but Athena would rather make mud pies in the garden, Anna would wheedle round in her pink play-car, however Athena would climb to a high branch of the tree house, or lie down flat on a swing and pretend to fly a dragon.

The truth was Anna was into anything girly; makeup, pink, nail varnish, dolls, whereas Athena was the mischievous one, but Anna was the good girl who always made her mummy proud by winning certificates and medals. The only certificate Athena obtained was the one that identified her birth!

It had always made her quite jealous, but her dad seemed to reward her his own way, by just being around her. Anna told on Athena quite a lot, but her dad would mostly stick up for her.

Athena smiled to herself as Anna’s squeaky voice engulfed her brain. Leaning back, she closed her eyes, and with giggling serge of childish laughter from the young Anna, a flash sounded across her vision; another flashback.

This time it was a hundred memories rolled into one. The first was of Anna watching Athena suspiciously from the patio, then the second; Anna telling Athena off for ‘digging for treasure’ in the flower bed. A third now, it was of the girls splattering each other with nail polish, giggling as they did so. Fourth, Anna wearing a snow- white summer dress, her long white hair flowing behind her as Athena pushed the loose swing back and forth. Number five, Anna’s scream as she died and Athena’s own, nails-down-a-black-board screeches as she found out. Sixth, Anna’s lifeless body in the white summer dress Athena had picked out, as the coffin closed over her. Then finally, number seven, the longest of them all. In this one Athena was 10; it was a few months before her dad’s death. She wore short dungarees, green converse and a vibrant but mucky yellow t-shirt.

“Dad” she said as she stood gazing at the stars, “what happens when you die?”

“Well it depends on your beliefs” he coughed

“What do you believe?” Athena asked puzzled.

“Well, I believe that you leave your body behind and travel upwards, for a long time, but occasionally your spirit can wonder back to earth to give advice, wisdom and life to those who need it most” Andreas stated. Continuing to gaze at the Technicolor starlight, Athena quried:

“What about when you’re up there, what do you do then?” Andreas hesitated for a while, pondering it himself before deciding:

“You become a star”. This time Athena paused and gazed blankly at the mid night sky.

“Do you think Anna became a star?” Athena questioned, letting a tear fall from her eye. Andreas thought this over then patiently said:
“I think Anna is that bright shining yellow one, just there, see?”

“That’s Jupiter dad” laughed Athena

“Well maybe that one, or that one; she could be any star you want”

“That one”, Athena pointed to a pale blue tinted star “that one’s pretty”. Silence fell as the two studied the stars, both secretly crying. “Why do people have to die dad?” Athena groaned

“Well the world would be a very confusingly busy place if they didn’t” he chuckled

“I’m serious” Athena gulped impatiently.

“Well again, many people believe different things” he claimed

“And you?” Athena lazily asked

“I believe that everybody has a purpose, or is part of a purpose, that will change the world in some way. Then, when your purpose is up or for filled, you die”. The silence this time was deathly itself.

“What about Anna, she’s too young to have for filled a purpose, isn’t she?” Athena queried once more, she was surprised that her dad hadn’t told her to stop asking so many difficult questions, but he didn’t, and that’s what made him her dad.

“Well sometimes, other people are blind and don’t see their purpose, so they interrupt or destroy others or sometimes their own” he guessed

“Will living people ever truly know what happens when you die?” Athena lastly asked

“No, not whilst they are still alive and breathing. That’s why to the curious and open-minded death is the next great mystery that is just waiting to be solved” Andreas glanced at his daughter, seeing the tears in her eyes, he smiled. Embracing her in a hug, they wept on each other

“I hate mysteries” Athena complained.

Then with a flash, the memory was over and Athena found herself crying in reality. It was true she did hate mysteries, so solving them was a problem.

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