Look, I never wanted to know my real parents.
If you're an adopted kid reading this, I'm sure you follow some of my feelings--at least in the beginning of my life. I always wondered about them, where they were, what they were doing, and (of course) why they had given me up. Ever since my adopted parents had told me about them when I was five, I was never quite able to stop thinking about them. But, to my credit, I had mostly given them up. Or, given up on them.
If you aren't adopted, I envy you. You know where and who you belong too. You don't have to worry about some strangers showing up on your doorstep and trying to take you away from your family. You don't have to fight with conflicting feelings about your real parents, feelings that try to tear your brains out. And you most certainly don't have to worry about a chihuahua, whom your father angered, trying to kill you.
Just another great thing that I got from my parents: a whole lot of enemies. Not that I knew that at first, of course. I was so oblivious for the first fifteen years of my life, it makes me want to reach back in time and laugh at myself. Or maybe warn myself to never, ever, order that pizza.
The point is, I didn't want to know the people who had given me up. I didn't choose to try and get myself killed for their sake. I didn't care about them; all they'd ever done for me was name me (and really, good job; who names their kid "Cas"?) and give me a pen that didn't even open. For the first fifteen years of my life, I peacefully hated them. Heck, for the first fifteen years of my life, I was safe.
Guess with my father's blood in me, I never had a chance of staying that way.
My name is Cas Jackson. I'm fifteen years old, and up until a few weeks ago, I was home schooled in New York City. My adopted parents always said that home schooling was the easiest thing for "special" kids, that it helped them focus more. Am I a special kid? Ya, you could say that.
Anyways, since I can remember, I'd been living with my Aunt Kinzie and Uncle Butch. Don't ask me why I call them my aunt and uncle when I was adopted by them; they always insisted on it. As if me calling them "Mom" and "Dad" was just unthinkable. Whatever. Aunt Kinzie was a ginger, with pointed ears, and an impish type of smile; when she smiled, that is. Uncle Butch was this huge guy, with piercing dark eyes, muscles like guns, and a rainbow tattoo on his bicep. Don't ask me how a man who looked like a pro-wrestler got a rainbow tattoo; he got distant when I tried to ask about it.
However weird they were, the two had always taken good care of me. We lived in a little two bed roomed apartment on the Upper East Side; it was kinda small, but I'd always enjoyed how close it made me with Kinzie and Butch. Not that they cooped me up much; they were always shooing me out, insisting that I make some friends, despite the fact I didn't have any because I didn't go to actual school. Still, I had this one friend that I usually hung out with, running up and down the streets, popping into Central Park, and sometimes going to Georgie's school's gym to shoot some hoops. Georgie was the only kid I'd ever met who put up with my ADHD, so I was always appreciative of him for putting up with me.
Georgie was kinda odd, the same way my aunt and uncle were. He was two years younger then me, putting him at age 13, though he had more acne and thicker whiskers then I did. He kinda walked funny, but I'd seen him run faster then a cheetah hyped up on an espresso when we played basketball together. He was also afraid of the pool that we often visited; Georgie always refused to swim with me. The weirdest thing about Georgie though, was the way he knew Aunt Kinzie and Uncle Butch, like they really were his aunt and uncle.
Sometimes I wondered what to make of those three. Whenever I had Georgie stop by, and I had to go grab my skateboard from my room or something, I'd find Aunt Kinzie, Uncle Butch, and Georgie speaking in quiet tones, always stopping once I came in the room. No matter how many times I asked him, or them, about it, they all gave me the same answer; that they had been talking how the summer camp Georgie went to was, or how his family was doing.
I think my adoptive parents really like Georgie because he was always keeping me out of trouble. They told me when I was little, 3 or 4 years old, I would wander away from them when they took me to the park, and always return to them with scratch marks covering me, from my curly blonde hair, to my little blue Nike shoes. What I always wondered about the story was how they let me wander and not notice it. I use to go to a normal preschool then; I guess my "adventures" I can't remember got me kicked out, and Aunt Kinzie decided to stop my future school hopping then. Anyways, Georgie tended to keep me from going down dark alleys that peaked my interest, or playing dodge ball in parks with really huge kids.
I still managed to get myself in trouble. I'd gotten myself caught running in the middle of a busy street, with a car hurtling at me. I swore to the police I'd only closed my eyes, but somehow the car ended up flipping over me, the driver claiming an earthquake had over taken it, which the police didn't buy, but there was no other real explanation. Another time, I got in a fight with this girl in a little cafe (something over her calling me an idiot for trying to order pancakes at a "bakery") and before I could blink, she was soaking wet, and we were standing on the other side of the room by a water fountain. Everyone in the cafe said they had seen me push her over and stuck her head in the fountain. The girl's two friends (a scrawny guy that reminded me of Georgie, and a blonde girl that was probably younger then the dark haired one I got in a fight with) had been the only ones who didn't look totally convinced I'd done it.
The memory was fuzzy, but I was pretty sure the girl had done...something else, other then calling me stupid. I was pretty sure that the scrawny kid had tried to talk to me too, before Georgie gave him the stink eye; the trio had left, and I was alone to be questioned by the owner of the restaurant. I had to mop up the water left on the floor (which I only did because the man threatened to call the police) and ended up landing a job there as a type of janitor.
Whatever I did, if Georgie was there or not, Aunt Kinzie and Uncle Butch never seemed to freaked out about it. I could have told them I caught a unicorn trotting in the Empire State Building and they wouldn't blink an eye. I never said it aloud, and neither did they, but I always figured they didn't get angry at my incidents because of my real parents, whom I was sure they knew. If they did, they never gave me any insight on it. At least, not until Mellow Mushroom's pizza delivery lady exploded on me.
It had been a few weeks into my summer vacation (ya, home schooled kids get those), early June. Aunt Kinzie and Uncle Butch had taken off on their annual "Longs Island Three Day" trip, so I was hanging out in the apartment. These were the only three days I wasn't allowed to leave our complex building, or have Georgie come over, or do anything really. The closest I got to freedom was sitting on our fire escape.
I'll admit it; I was in a pretty bad mood that first day. I mean, I had (just) turned fifteen that May, and was kinda hoping that they would take me with them for once, since I was older; they didn't, needless to say. I had been stomping around, riding my skateboard through the place, refusing to eat the breakfast Kinzie had left out for me. I was pretty sure I'd broken the sink; it kept sputtering when I went near it, and I couldn't get it to shut off. That kinda counted me out of making myself any food after I realized how hungry I was beginning to be, at noon.
So, I headed into my room, not only to get my phone, but some cash. We weren't poor, exactly, but if I wanted to do something, Aunt Kinzie usually made me use my own money. Butch sometimes slipped me a few dollars underneath the table, but for the most part I payed for my own stuff. I dialed Mellow Mushrooms, quickly. I was sitting in our little living room that connected to the kitchen, flipping through channels on the TV. I put my order in for a small cheese pizza and hung up. Maybe my instincts knew something was off, because without thinking about it, I slipped out a black, ballpoint pen from my pocket, the cap still on.
This stupid pen was the only thing Kinzie and Butch had given to me that was apparently from my parents, my father in particularly. I'd never used it; the cap refused to come off no matter how hard I tugged at it. I couldn't loose it, either, and trust me, I had tried. Throwing it into rivers, tossing into trashcans, slipping it into girls' purses. Nothing worked; the pen always managed to appear in my pocket or on my dresser in my room. I'd given up trying to get rid of it.
I had this itching feeling, however, that maybe I'd be able to take off the cap today. Wasn't quite sure what I'd do once I got it open; doodle? Nope--I sucked at drawing things other then a basketball. Still, as I sat on my couch, fiddling with the writing instrument, I tried taking it off, to no avail. I looked at the stupid thing; how much did it cost? 50 cents at the most? Did it even work?
And the million dollar question: why would my parents leave me with it? Or maybe, why did I keep it?
I'll admit, I didn't have a real good explanation for the first one, but the second one was almost too embarrassing to admit. I use to keep the pen because it was something of my parents. Something they had once touched that was now mine. Once I grew up a little, and realized it was probably something they had dropped when they left me, I still kept it because...well, because it reminded me of Riptide.
Sue me. I was a low-key fanboy. I had read Harry Potter and Divergent and the Book Thief and the Hunger Games and Percy Jackson and many, many others. I only ever started reading because of Kinzie's English lessons; then I became addicted. I devoured books by the dozen, because there was simply nothing to do while I waited for Georgie to get out of school. I could finish any book in a day, though when I got tired some dyslexia started to kick in. That certainly didn't stop me from reading though.
But how embarrassing would that be to bring up when everybody already thought you were weird because you were homeschooled? That still couldn't stop me from keeping the pen that reminded me of the gift Poseidon had given to his son. It made me hope that my father had purpose for me to use the pen; stupid, I know, but a boy could dream. Maybe if a god could remember to give one of his (previous) thousands of sons a special weapon, my dad could give me something special to remember the person who had abandoned his child.
The door knocked just as I threw the pen back in my pocket in frustration. As I got off the couch, feeling the twenty dollar bill in my pocket, a feeling of uneasiness fell over me. I stopped reaching for the door handle, my left hand going into my pocket and bringing out the stupid pen; as much as I hated it, it made me feel safer. With it in my left hand, I slowly opened the door; nothing was there except a fat, older lady, holding a pizza and a dog leash.
"Um, hi," I said, shoving my hand into my pocket for a my cash. Before I turned back to her , I threw my phone on the kitchen island, next to Butch's beaten down baseball cap. The lady had a large denim dress on, a floppy hat to match it. The dog on the end of the green leash was a little chihuahua. He was foaming at the mouth, and snapping his little jaws at me, struggling to get into my apartment.
"Oh, Sonny, stop this," the lady chided her dog, peering down at him. "Here's your pizza dear," The lady handed me the pizza, snatching the money out of my hand in one quick exchange.
"Thanks," I said. I would have shut the door, but the dog hopped into the doorway, forcing me to move back. I slid the pizza on the little kitchen island that was quite close to the door, and eyed to the dog warily.
"Sonny," the lady said to the dog; I found this unnerving. "His father is the one who you bit last time, not this fellow." She looked up at me momentarily, squinting as if she was trying to make sure her memory fit. But I was frozen; my father? He had met this woman? When? Did he live in New York, too?
"Yes, he does look like the blonde we saw with him."
"My father," I repeated, stupidly, as the dog looked up and barked more calmly to the lady. She rolled her eyes, her forked tongue flickering between her thin lips, before she answered him.
"Sonny, we got in much trouble last time," the lady reminded her dog.
"Sonny," I repeated, my mind still somewhere between my father and the forked tongue. "That's...his name?"
The lady rolled her eyes again. "You speak just like the son of the sea god! Is it not obvious that is not his name?"
"What." I said, my face deadpanned. The dog barked, a little more savagely.
"Fine. Only for my husband, though." The lady finally said. Tucking my money into a pocket of her dress, she rolled up the sleeves of it, revealing green, scaled skin underneath. I stumbled backwards, trying to shut the door. The dog however, kept it open by standing in the middle of the doorway. Was it bigger now?
"You have...green skin," I said, my hands fumbling with the pen that was still in my hand.
"You expect the mother of all monsters not to resemble her children?" the lady asked innocently, placing a step into my apartment.
"The mother of all monsters..." I repeated, leaning against the island to get away from the stench of the lady that had now filled my lungs. Either she hadn't showered in a few weeks, or something was really wrong with my pizza. The name stuck with me for a reason; where had I heard that phrasing before?
I looked to her dog, who had grown into the size of a Great Dane, and was no longer a dog. It was a lion, now, with a diamond headed snake as a tail. The collar, with a leash that was much to small for the beast, read: Chimera. Deadly, fire breathing, poisonous. If found please return to Tartarus.
Mother of all Monsters. Sea god. Chimera. Tartarus. Words I'd only heard from Aunt Kinzie's history lessons. Then, the pieces of who this fat lady was clicked.
"You're Echidna," I said. "But that's impossible."
"Really," the lady chuckled, her pupil's turning into snake slits. "What do you think of the disbeliever's comment, Son?" I realized all too late that "Echidna" was controlling the opposed Chimera. And that my comment had all but made her mad. The next thing I saw was the now lion, still standing in the doorway behind it's master, unhinging it's jaw to bark.
That's what I thought until I saw the stream of fire billowing from it's muzzle, firing straight towards me.