apples of hesparidies


1. We Learn We Are Demigods and Go to Summer Camp

My name is Alana and until a few weeks ago I thought I was just a regular thirteen year old. I lived with my mom, and my twin sister, Lisa, well at least we lived with our mom during the summer when we weren’t at boarding school. Okay, the part about being normal wasn’t quite true, Lisa and I are both ADHD, and we’ve never been able to get through an entire school year without moving, getting expelled or both. The getting expelled was mostly Lisa’s fault, well my plans involving Lisa doing stuff and me not getting in trouble. We’ve been to nine schools in the past eight years. Lisa and I are known as the trouble twins. It helps with evil plans if you have twin telepathy. Last fall we started at a new school, NYHS, as schools go it wasn’t that bad, it was close enough to home for us to ride the subway every day like most kids, and we’d almost made it through an entire school year without getting expelled. Okay, okay, this doesn’t make any sense; let me go back a few weeks to our trip to the beach.

* * *

It was a rainy Wednesday in early June, right after school got out for the summer, Lisa, my mom, and I were getting into our car for a trip to the beach.

Mom asked, “You both have everything you need right?”

Mom.” I said rolling my eyes. “Of course we have everything; we’re not little kids anymore.” I put my bag in the trunk and climbed into the back seat next to Lisa.  We drove for what seemed like hours to this little beach house that we’d been going to forever on a beach near Cape May Point.

When we got there mom unlocked the door and I brought my stuff inside. I swept out the house while Lisa and mom got the rest of the stuff. When we were done Lisa grabbed some firewood and started a fire on the beach while I got stuff for s’mores and grabbed some sticks for roasting marshmallows. When I got back the fire was roaring, casting flickering shadows on everyone’s faces. Once the fire was low enough for there to be coals we start roasting our marshmallows. Lisa told a ghost story about this girl who was home alone on Halloween and mysteriously disappeared, I wasn’t really paying attention until the end when mom said something about dad.

We never really knew much about our dad, I’d always figured he’d died, mom never wanted to talk about it. “Your dad had wanted me to send you to a summer camp on Long Island. I should have sent you there years ago. It’s a place for special kids like you. . .”

“You mean freaks.” Lisa muttered.

“It’s a place where you’d fit in.” She continued like Lisa hadn’t said anything. “I didn’t want to send you there, it’s dangerous, kids die.”

“What kind of summer camp do kids die at? And when can we go?” I asked, interrupting her again.

“It’s a summer camp for demigods.” She answered.

“Demi-what’s? Weren’t those like what they called the children of the gods like back in ancient times?” I asked.

“Yes, that’s what they call the children of the gods. I know this may be hard to believe, but the Greek gods are still around. They were immortal, right, so they didn’t die, they moved with western civilization, going to whichever country was strongest. They may have had different names but they were still the same, still powerful. Now the heart of the west is here so the gods are here.”

“Wait, what do you mean ‘the gods are here,’ they’re just myths to explain the seasons and stuff.” Lisa said, and I had to agree with her.

“No, the gods are not just myths.” Mom said emphatically. “Also the gods aren’t the only things that are still alive. The monsters like the Minotaur are still around, trying to kill demigods. They never die, they disintegrate, sometimes they stay dead for a century, sometimes only a day or two. Demigods aren’t that lucky; when they die they stay dead. Out here in the mortal world they don’t last long. At camp they would train you to fight monsters, to stay alive. Some demigods can come home for the school year, live a normal life, but some demigods are too powerful, they attract too many monsters, it’s not safe for them to leave camp. They can live there year round. You can go there if you want, I want you two to be safe. Think on it overnight and tell me in the morning, ok?”

“Ok.” Lisa and I say almost simultaneously.

Mom went inside leaving us to talk it over.

“What do you think? Has she finally gone off her rocker?” Lisa asks.

“Not funny, I think she’s serious. If it were true that would be so cool. A place where we could fit in, it does sound too good to be true.”

“Hey, I was just joking. I believe it’s true, well at least I want to believe it.” She said defensively. “So what do you think, want to see what it’s like?”

“Of course, idiot, but think of how it would make mom feel.” I answered.

“So, it’s decided. We’ll tell her tomorrow.”

After kicking some sand over the remains of the fire we went inside to get some sleep. It took me forever to fall asleep, thinking about how tomorrow we’d be at a camp with other kids like us.

I woke up the next morning with the sun shining in my face. That was a really weird dream, I thought, me a demigod, yeah right.

Lisa stuck her head in the door and said, “Breakfast in ten. Don’t be late.”

“Wait,” I yelled after her, “is it really true, about the camp and demigods and stuff?”

“Well, sense you remember it and the probability of us both having the same dream are very, very low, I’d say yes, the gods are real.”

“Shit, I was kind of hoping it was just a dream.” I muttered to myself.

I got up and pulled on a clean pair of jeans, and a t-shirt. That done I brushed my teeth and went out to the kitchen. When I got there I saw an amazing sight, my sister cooking. Yes I know cooking isn’t that extraordinary, but you haven’t met my sister, she NEVER cooks. Also she is a terrible cook, so we don’t let her.

“Do I have to eat the food she makes?” I asked mom.

“Hey, it’s not that bad! And if you don’t want to eat it, make it yourself.” Lisa said indignantly.

“All write, all write, I’ll eat it, but if I die it’s your fault.”

“Ha, ha, very funny. Although, on the bright side, if you were dead you wouldn’t be so annoying.” She retorted.

I got out plates, cups, and silverware and started setting the table. By the time I was finished, Lisa was done making breakfast. I sat down and waited for mom and Lisa.

I had just started eating when mom asked, “Have you made up your minds about going to the camp?”

Lisa glanced at me and from the look in her eyes she might as well have shouted “you answer” but luckily for me I’m great at giving evil stares so she backed down first.

She answered. “We would never want to stay there all year, but we at least want to see what it’s like.”

“Ok.” Mom said, looking kind of sad we wanted to go but at the same time happy we would be safe. “We’ll leave as soon as you’ve packed.”

Once we finished breakfast we went to pack while mom washed the dishes. When I was done I put my stuff into the car and went back inside to help mom with everything else. When everyone was ready I climbed into the front seat while Lisa got in the back. Even though I had my iPod it still seemed to take forever to drive to Long Island even though it only took about three hours.

We were driving up a country road, Farm Road, I think, there was a hill with this big pine tree at the top. Coiled around the base of the pine tree there was what appeared to be at a glance to be a pile of very thick cables. I looked again and saw what had appeared to be a pile of cables was actually a dragon. Then I saw something glittering on the lowest bough, it was a golden fleece. I thought, well it’s a Greek camp so they have a replica of the Golden Fleece. Then I thought, if it’s only a replica why is there a dragon guarding it? Then I realized that it must be the Golden Fleece. We stopped at the base of the hill.

Mom said, “This is as far as I can go. Once you get over the top of that hill you’ll be safe, monsters and mortals can’t cross the boundary line into camp without permission.”

She got out of the car and helped us carry our stuff up the hill. At the crest of the hill I stopped to stare, in the valley was a camp, and just down the hill from us was a cave with a purple curtain over the entrance and flickering torches framing it. There was a group of what I took to be cabins built in the shape of an omega. I saw an arena and Greek pavilion. At the bottom of the hill there was a big blue three story house with an eagle weather vane on top. At the other end of the valley there were woods that stretched to the ocean and had a creek flowing out of them. There was a canoe lake near an amphitheater and climbing wall with boulders and lava running down it. I saw strawberry fields and other scattered Greek buildings. Then a voice interrupted my thoughts.

“New recruits?” The voice asked. At the crest of the hill stood a blond girl in armor that I hadn’t noticed before. “I don’t remember seeing you before. I’m Annabeth, I’ll take you down to Chiron, he’s our activities director. Jake, keep an eye on things while I take them down to Chiron!” She yelled to a boy farther down the hill.

I hugged mom goodbye and said “See you at the end of the summer.” Then I grabbed my duffle bag and followed Annabeth and Lisa down the hill.

“So, what are your names? I don’t believe you ever introduced yourselves.” Annabeth said.

“Sorry, name is Alana and this is my twin sister Lisa. We just learned about the whole gods’ thing. It’s kind of hard to believe this isn’t just some weird dream.” I apologized.

“No problem, I remember when I first got when I was seven, and I’ve lived here ever since.  I was a little more used to it ‘cause I had been living on the streets with two other half-bloods, that’s a more common name for demigods.” Annabeth said.

“Wow, that must have been hard, you were only seven? How could a seven year old have survived to make it to camp, even with two other half-bloods?” I asked, amazed.

“It was hard,” she admitted. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of Thalia and Luke, the other two half-bloods that were with me. After a while Grover, he’s a satyr, found us and helped us make our way to camp.  We had to fight monsters every step of the way.”

I noticed that we were almost to the big house I had seen from the hill.

When we got to the porch Annabeth said, “Wait here, I’ll go find Chiron,” and headed around the side of the house.

I turned to look out over the camp. There were kids from seven or eight to collage aged, although most were in there early teens like us. I saw a short, scrawny boy several years older than me with black curly hair wearing a tool belt covered in pockets of all sized coming up the steps to the big house.

“Have you seen Chiron?” He asked distractedly. “I need more celestial bronze for the Argo 2.”

“Um, we haven’t met Chiron yet. We just got here. Annabeth went to look for him. What is celestial bronze?” I answered.

“Oh, hi,” he said, really looking at us for the first time. “I’m Leo. Celestial bronze is bronze mined from Mount Olympus, it can kill monsters but won’t hurt mortals. Since Annabeth is looking for him I guess I’ll wait here for him. So, you’re new to camp, it’s a lot to take in isn’t it? Your dad doesn’t happen to be Hephaestus, does he? I hate it when pretty girls are my sisters.” While Leo had been talking he’d pulled pieces of metal out of his tool belt and made what looked like a dragon windup toy. He turned the nob and the metal dragon whirred off his hand into the air where it flew in circles before disappearing into the woods.

“Yeah, it’s a lot to take in. I’m Alana and this is Lisa, my sister. I have no idea who my dad is.” I answered. “How did you make that dragon?”

“Aw, that was easy. He’s nothing compared to the life sized one that used to live in the woods.” Just then I saw Annabeth coming around the building.

“I see you’ve met Leo.” She said. “How’s the Argo II coming along? It will be ready before next summer?” she asked Leo.

“Of course it will be ready before next summer. I was just coming to ask Chiron for more celestial bronze. Would you mind asking him?”

 “Course I wouldn’t mind.” She replied. “Anything to get it done faster.”

“What’s the Argo II?” I asked once Leo had left.

“The Argo II is a flying warship that Leo’s building to go rescue my boyfriend, Percy Jackson. He was kidnapped by Hera in one of her plans. You see, she traded the heads of the two half-blood camps, they got Percy and we got Jason, I don’t think it was a fair trade, not that I don’t like Jason.” She explained. “Come on, let’s go see Chiron.”

We walked around the corner of the house and I saw a guy in a wheelchair siting at a table.

“I’m Chiron, and who might you be?” said the man in the wheelchair.

“I’m Lisa Hunter and this is my sister Alana.” Lisa answered him. “Our mom told us about the gods and stuff like that.”

“Ah, then I guess you will not need to see the orientation film. It’s almost dinner time anyway so we’ll just have one of your cabin-mates show you around tomorrow. Annabeth, can you keep an eye on them until campfire tonight?” he asked her.

“Of course Chiron.” She answered.

Just then I heard a conch blast.

“That’s the signal for dinner. Come on guys.” Annabeth told us.

As we left I saw Chiron get out of his wheelchair to follow us, but instead of having legs he had the lower body of a horse, Chiron was a centaur. We walked towards the large pavilion I had seen from the top of the hill. When we got there I saw that it was filled with tables. Almost all the tables had kids siting at them, Annabeth led us over to a table filled with kids.

“Conner, Travis, can Alana and Lisa sit here for tonight? They just got here and haven’t gotten claimed yet. They’ll probably be claimed by camp fire tonight.”

“Course they can Annabeth. Everyone, make room for them. And no pickpocketing, it’s there first day.” Conner said, or was it Travis? They looked so similar.

Then Chiron came in in full centaur form.

“Just a few announcements before dinner,” everyone groaned, “we have two new campers tonight, Lisa and Alana Hunter. Also tomorrow night is capture the flag, the Athena and Ares cabins presently hold the flags.” He said.

“Wait till you’ve played capture the flag, we are so going to win, it’s a lot different from regular capture the flag, we get to use swords, spears, or magic items.” Someone further down the table said.

“Isn’t that dangerous playing with swords and spears?” I asked, “Not that I’m complaining but don’t people get hurt?”

“There’s a punishment of no s’mores at campfire for a week if you hurt someone badly.” Conner explained.

“Not that that stops the kids in the Ares.” Someone muttered.   

Suddenly platters of pizza and fruit appeared on the table as well as plates and goblets. I grabbed a piece of pizza and a bunch of grapes from the platters. I was about to start eating when I noticed that everyone was taking their plates up to the front, like, maybe they were getting dessert or something. I followed the rest of the Hermes cabin and saw that everyone was scraping part of their meal into the brazier.

“Burnt offerings for the gods, they like the smell.” Explained the girl in front of me.

I then noticed that when they tossed in the food each person would say the name of a god. When it was my turn I didn’t know what to say so instead of saying anything I prayed to my dad to claim me tonight at campfire.

When we got back to the Hermes table Travis said “Just tell the goblets what you want to drink, non-alcoholic of course, and it will magically appear in it.”

“Dr. Pepper.” I said and the cup filled with soda.

“Can we eat now?” Asked Lisa and Travis nodded.

It was some of the best pizza I had ever had.

When dinner was done we headed to camp fire with the rest of camp. We sat with the Hermes cabin and tried to sing along with the songs, which were pretty strange, like This Land is Minos’ Land, Down by the Aegean, and I am My Own Great-Great-Great-Grandfather. We roasted marshmallows and ate s’mores. Camp fire was almost over when suddenly everyone around me was bathed in a golden glow. I looked around for the source of the light, then I realized it was coming from over me and Lisa’s heads. I looked up and saw a glowing sun hanging over my head. Then I noticed that everyone around us was kneeling, even Chiron.

Then Chiron said, “Hail Alana and Lisa, daughters of Apollo.”

I was thinking, like, WTF? I mean, I liked singing and both Lisa and I had been talking guitar lessons since we were nine, but that doesn’t mean that we’re children of Apollo. And I’d definitely never wanted to be a doctor. I mean I’d never even shot a bow. A boy near a golden flag with a bow and quiver of arrows in the center stood up and beckoned for me and Lisa to sit over there.

Once we’d managed to push though the other campers to the boy he said, “Hi, I’m Will Solace, the senior counselor for the Apollo cabin.” Will looked like he was about to say more when Chiron dismissed us from campfire to go to our cabins. We followed Will and the rest of the cabin back towards the cabins I had seen from the hilltop earlier today. Was it really today? It seemed like it was so long ago.

“This is cabin 7, where you’ll be staying while you’re here.” Said Will.

Will led us to the 3rd cabin on the left hand side of the omega. In the twilight the cabin seemed to glow gold. Will led us inside. Both walls were lined with bunks. Some of the bunks had bows or other weapons hanging above them. I saw that someone had brought me and Lisa’s stuff to the cabin. Will led us to two bunks near the back of the cabin. I set my duffle bag on the bottom bunk and pulled out my sleeping bag and toothbrush. After brushing my teeth and hair I climbed into bed, within seconds I was asleep.

Of course my mind couldn’t let me get a peaceful night of sleep; no it had to send me on my way to a nightmare. Suddenly I was standing at the top of one of the hills surrounding camp. I knew it must be a dream, but it was much more realistic than any dream I had ever had. I could feel a cold breeze blowing in from the sea giving me goose bumps. Then I saw a face appear in the dirt right in front of me. I tried to back away from the face but my feet seemed to be stuck. I looked down and saw that my feet where sinking into the ground like it was quicksand.

The face said “Hello my little hero. You’ll help me rise won’t you? Do you have any idea how boring it is to be asleep for three thousand years?”

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