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Chapter 3 : Well, This Is Trippy
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“What are you wearing? No, no, no, that’s no good.”
“It was good enough last week when we went to New York to take care of that hell-hound.”
“And do you see the seared holes all over it?”
Ugh, they were fighting again. This was going to drive me over the edge, which I really didn’t want. The last time I lost it, I wound up eating a whole bag of plastic bottles. And plastic is not good for my digestive system.
“So why would you wear it then?”
“You know this is really important, and that first impressions are crucial in this situation. They probably already think we’re a joke.”
“Well, I know you are…”
“What? I didn’t say anything.”
Gods, I wish they would just shut up and kiss already. That way I wouldn’t be so stressed out!
“Of course you did,” Annabeth retorted. “You’re always saying something.”
“Oh, my Gods, Annabeth, so are you and you know it,” Percy said, annoyed.
“Guys,” I cut in, “if you two don’t stop fighting, they’re gonna swim back to England before anyone can say ‘cheerio!’”
After a few seconds, both of them sighed together. “Grover’s right,” Annabeth relented. “They won’t be able to take us seriously if we’re always at odds.”
“Yeah,” was all Percy could say. There was silence for a few moments after this realization. It was a good thing I would be the first to meet them. At least I was fairly normal. Except for the hooves. And,yeah, the horns.
That would probably freak them out a bit.
“Hold on,” Annabeth started. “I’ll try to go find something presentable.” As Percy turned around, stressed out, she mouthed the word “Hopeless” to me, pointing at him. It was hard not to laugh. When she was finally out of earshot, I walked over to him.
“So, when are you going to tell her, man?” I asked. “You said you were gonna tell her last week.”
“I’m working on it,” he admitted. “It’s not as easy as I was hoping it would be. I’m guessing she’s stressed out about what’s to come, because she seems angrier than usual.”
“And you’re not?” I pointed out.
“Well, yeah,” he agreed, “but at least I try to keep it covered up-”
“’Cause that’s exactly how you handle anger.”
“Look, what am I supposed to do?” he asked, annoyed. “So many people are depending on me, and they’re like, ‘All you have to do is destroy Kronos. No pressure.’ Wrong! Big pressure!”
“Dude, you’re eye is twitching.”
“Oh.” He started rubbing his eye. “Well, I don’t know. Maybe it’s that time of the month for her, you know.”
As I was laughing, Percy fell to the ground, as though he’d been shoved.
“What the-?” I started laughing even harder when Annabeth appeared, cap in one hand and a fairly clean blue shirt in the other.
“And maybe you’re just insuffersble,” she taunted over him. When he saw her, he jumped to his feet as if a chimera had bit him.
“Hey, invisible eavesdropping,” he said, dazed, pointing at her. “Not cool, Annabeth. I thought we made a pact on that.”
She stood for a few seconds, contemplating. “Oh yeah, I remember that now.”
Percy just shook his head, and Annabeth threw him the shirt. “Here, Seaweed Brain. Try this on.”
“Alright.” He took off the battered shirt, and-
“Oh, Gods! I’m blind, I’m blind!” Annabeth ran around the field like a maniac as Percy and I laughed uncontrollably.
“Calm down. I’m decent,” Percy announced, still laughing.
She turned around with one eyebrow raised. “Well, that part is debatable.”
This was how they called a truce: one making jokes about the other. If it wasn’t for the stupid war, it could always be like this.
“Grover!” I heard a distant voice call. We all turned to see Chiron racing towards us.
Looked like it was time for me to go.
“And did anybody give you a suspicious article on the plane?”
Now that we were here, I was even more scared. From what we had been told, Kronos was even more dangerous than He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named could ever have hoped to have been. Threat-wise, You-Know-Who was a fire ant, and Kronos was a King Cobra, and he wanted to take over the entire world. He was closer to getting it, too.
Yet, believe it or not, that wasn’t the reason I was scared. I was scared for Harry.
I mean, he had been so close to death only a month ago, and here he was, ready to fight something else that seemed totally undefeatable. He had almost died, for God’s sake! Why was he doing this? Did he feel like he had something to prove? Didn’t he know that this was tearing me apart?!
I loved him. I wanted to get married, to have a family, to grow old together, and die together. We’re not supposed to die apart! And here he was, putting his life, all our lives, in danger, and this wasn’t even our problem. Well, okay. If we didn’t help solve it, it would soon become our problem as well. But still-
“Huh?’ I looked up to see Harry standing right in front of me. The rest of the group was halfway to the elevator, turned around and watching us.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
No, I’m not, you git! Are you mad?
But I just sighed. “I’ll talk to you later,” I murmured, walking ahead of him. I was suddenly so mad! I saw Ron and Hermione exchange a worried glance. At least my brother was going to be happy after all of this was over, but I was probably going to lose the only man I’d ever really loved.
Oh, yes. Harry and I were going to have a very long talk.
“Now, I want you to be on your best behavior.”
“C’mon, Annabeth. When am I not?”
She laughed lightly. “Yeah, right.” Man, I love that laugh. So beautiful, so melodic, so… Whoa, I needed to focus! This could be the biggest fight for my life, and I was thinking about my potential girlfriend.
But I guess that’s where the ADHD comes in.
Or maybe just being sixteen.
Truthfully, I still wasn’t over the fact that there could possibly be some other great power out there, like that of a demi-god. It was like having confirmation from NASA that there was intelligent life in some other distant galaxy. Which, with all the things I’d been through in the past few years, would not surprise me in the least.
It was just ironic that I found it hard to believe in one myth, while I was a totally different one myself. Talk about life perspective.
“Percy, did you even hear a word I said?” It felt like I was coming out of a haze when I heard Annabeth’s voice. This happened quite a bit, especially when I was stressed.
“I’m sorry,” I said sincerely. “What did you say?”
She sighed, running her hand through her hair. “Look, Percy. I know you’re stressed out about this whole thing, we all are, but you have to focus. I said that we need to get to the top of the hill. Chiron is waiting for us.”
“Hey, losers! Wait up!”
Oh, Gods. I knew those dulcet tones.
“Hello, Clarisse,” Annabeth said patiently. Wow, she really tried with that ill-tempered little shrew. I wish I was as patient as her.
Great. Now that Clarisse is walking with us, I can’t tell Annabeth what I need to, I thought. I had to tell her sometime before we were up to our eyeballs in baddies. Again. I wasn’t even sure I could do it without messing up and reverting to something about the weather. Could you get anymore cliché?
We were halfway to the hill, the border of the camp, and we could see Chiron, Tyson, Mr. D, and…Rachel Elizabeth Dare?
“What’s she doing here?” Annabeth asked, sounding a bit disgusted. Ha ha, jealous.
“She’s part of this, too. Thanks to Big Mouth.” Clarisse taunted. I just rolled my eyes.
“More importantly, how did she get in?” I asked, worried. Both of them comprehended what this meant, mirroring my concern. This meant that the camp’s borders were weak enough to let anybody in. As the three of us reached the top of the hill, all I could do was hope and pray that these were some wicked mortals. We were going to need all the help we could get to keep this camp from going up in flames.
“Guys, I said no.”
“Hermione! Why can’t we go there? I like the name: McDonald’s. Their fries from France sound pretty good!”
“Personally, I don’t think you’re missing out on much of anything. And French fries are actually from Belgium.”
“Well, that’s bloody confusing!”
Gosh, we had just landed, and they were already complaining about America.
“It’s not that bad, Ron.” I could always depend on Luna to be on my side. “But I do feel that I can’t breathe as well as I could before.”
“Why is that?” Neville asked.
“I’ve heard that America is one of the most polluted countries in the world,” Luna answered, giving a small cough, as if to prove her point.
“Brilliant!” Ron exclaimed. “Not only do I have to worry about confusing food nationalities, but now I’ll be thinking about poison coursing through my lungs!”
“Oh, you’ll get used to it,” Ginny assured him. “It definitely won’t be the first time.”
I thought back to the incident in sixth year, when Ron almost died because of some poisoned mead that was supposed to have been for Dumbledore. “Oh yeah,” he recalled, shuddering.
And on that depressing note, we walked out of the cold, metallic airport and into the hot, blinding sunlight.
We didn’t have to look very long to find our ride. On the curb right outside the door, there was a long black limousine. Beside that stood a driver in a suit and hat, holding a sign that said “Schwartz”: our code name. I picked up my rolling suitcase to put it in the trunk, only to have the driver take it out of my hands and do so himself.
“Thank you, sir,” I said politely, as he proceeded to do the same for everybody else. Everything seemed normal, but the weirdness started when we climbed into the limo.
From the outside, a limo looks very big and elegant, just like it’s supposed to be on the inside. But we climbed through the sleek black doors, and into the interior of a mini van.
“Um, okay,” Harry said, as confused as I was. Nobody else said a word as they climbed in.
“I’m confused,” Neville admitted. “I know this was a limo before.”
“What do you mean?” Luna piped up. “It always looked like a van.”
“So, what the bloody hell is going on then?” Ron asked, exasperated. I could tell he was nervous; knowing that we would be fighting an evil that we didn’t fully understand, being a strange country, and now this.
“You’ll understand everything soon,” a deep male voice said from the front seat. When he turned back to face us, my eyes popped open in surprise and I had to keep from gasping. The guy, about our age, had a mess of curly brown hair on his head—and two horns growing out of it.
“I’m Grover,” he announced with a smile. “Welcome to America, guys!”
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