Old Death Socks

Book: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Chapter 3: Three Old Ladies Knit The Socks of Death

Day: Saturday 21st

Demigods: Annabeth, Frank, Hazel, Jason, Leo, Nico, Piper, and Thalia

Disclaimer: Rick and Stephanie owns everything but my plot.

Gods: Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Dionysus, Hades, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Isabella, Poseidon, and Zeus

Month: December

Posted: April 1st, 2014

Reader: Athena, Goddess of Wisdom

Residence: The Empire State Building AKA Mt. Olympus

Summary: (When eight demigods and one goddess get sent back in time to read some books.) [What's the point?] (The point is, what happens when Jinxx Radke adds her twist to it.)

Words: 4,223

Year: 1996


"Three Old Ladies Knit The Socks of Death." She read. The room shuddered.

I was used to the occasional weird experience,

"How were you used to a weird experience?"

"It's Percy." The futures answered.

"Is that your answer for everything?" Athena asked.

"Yes," Isabella answered with a proud look on her face. "Percy is in the demigod dictionary."

but usually they were over quickly. This 24/7 hallucination was more than I could handle. For the rest of the school year, the entire campus seemed to be playing some kind of trick on me.

"That would be cool if someone could pull that off." Hermes said.

The students acted as if they were completely and totally convinced that Mrs. Kerr-a perky blond woman whom I'd never seen in my life until she got on our bus at the end of the field trip-had been our pre-algebra teacher since Christmas.

Every so often I would spring a Mrs. Dodds reference on somebody, just to see if I could trip them up, but they would stare at me like I was psycho.

The futures snorted. "Percy is psycho."

It got so I almost believed them-Mrs. Dodds had never existed.

"Almost." The whole room chorused.

Almost.

But Grover couldn't fool me. When I mentioned the name Dodds to him, he would hesitate, then claim she didn't exist. But I knew he was lying.

"Don't hesitate. That is rule 2." Hermes said despair as if Grover was is the room with them.

Something was going on. Something had happened at the museum.

"Congratulations you just figure out that something happened." Athena said sarcastically.

The others looked scared for Athena who just insulted a very powerful goddess' brother while the demigods glared at her.

"Oh yes Athena." The gods flinched at the tone of Isabella's voice. "Because every demigod who just fought a monster that was covered by mist immediately would be able to know what happened."

Athena looked down then just continued reading, she would not let a little girl threaten her.

I didn't have much time to think about it during the days, but at night, visions of Mrs. Dodds with talons and leathery wings would wake me up in a cold sweat.

Ares wanted to say something but then remembered Poseidon's and Isabella's glares.

The freak weather continued, which didn't help my mood. One night, a thunderstorm blew out the windows in my dorm room.

Bella and Poseidon glared at Zeus.

A few days later, the biggest tornado ever spotted in the Hudson Valley touched down only fifty miles from Yancy Academy. One of the current events we studied in social studies class was the unusual number of small planes that had gone down in sudden squalls in the Atlantic that year.

"I hate it when they do that." Hestia murmured, no one but Bella heard her.

I started feeling cranky and irritable most of the time. My grades slipped from Ds to Fs. I got into more fights with Nancy Bobofit and her friends. I was sent out into the hallway in almost every class.

Athena shook her head, how could someone be so stupid, she thought.

Finally, when our English teacher, Mr. Nicoll, asked me for the millionth time why I was too lazy to study for spelling tests, I snapped. I called him an old sot. I wasn't even sure what it meant, but it sounded good.

"That is an old sot." Apollo said pointing at Dionysus, who sent a poisonous vine Apollo, which Isabella blasted away.

The headmaster sent my mom a letter the following week, making it official: I would not be invited back next year to Yancy Academy.

Fine, I told myself. Just fine.

I was homesick.

"Baby." Ares mumbled not wanting to get blast.

I wanted to be with my mom in our little apartment on the Upper East Side, even if I had to go to public school and put up with my obnoxious stepfather and his stupid poker parties.

Everyone, even Ares, Athena, Dionysus, Hera and Zeus frowned, not liking where this was going.

And yet... There were things I'd miss at Yancy. The view of the woods out my dorm window, the Hudson River in the distance, the smell of pine trees. I'd miss Grover,

"Grover is going with you."

"He doesn't know that."

who'd been a good friend, even if he was a little strange. I worried how he'd survive next year without me.

"That's so sweet." The women cooed.

I'd miss Latin class, too-Mr. Brunner's crazy tournament days and his faith that I could do well.

As exam week got closer, Latin was the only test I studied for. I hadn't forgotten what Mr. Brunner had told me about this subject being life-and-death for me. I wasn't sure why, but I'd started to believe him.

The evening before my final, I got so frustrated I threw the Cambridge Guide to Greek Mythology across my dorm room.

"How dare he throw a book!"

Words had started swimming off the page, circling my head, the letters doing one eighties as if they were riding skateboards. There was no way I was going to remember the difference between Chiron and Charon,

"One is a hero training Centaur and the other is a suit-wearing gold digger." Bella said.

Part of the room had giggled in their hands.

or Polydictes and Polydeuces. And conjugating those Latin verbs? Forget it.

I paced the room, feeling like ants were crawling around inside my shirt.

"No Leo." Bella said in a firm voice.

I remembered Mr. Brunner's serious expression, his thousand-year-old eyes. I will accept only the best from you, Percy Jackson.

I took a deep breath. I picked up the mythology book.

I'd never asked a teacher for help before. Maybe if I talked to Mr. Brunner, he could give me some pointers. At least I could apologize for the big fat F I was about to score on his exam. I didn't want to leave Yancy Academy with him thinking I hadn't tried.

I walked downstairs to the faculty offices. Most of them were dark and empty, but Mr. Brunner's door was ajar, light from his window stretching across the hallway floor.

I was three steps from the door handle when I heard voices inside the office. Mr. Brunner asked a question. A voice that was definitely Grover's said "... Worried about Percy, sir."

I froze.

I'm not usually an eavesdropper,

"Oh please, Percy can eavesdrop without trying." Nico grumbled.

but I dare you to try not listening if you hear your best friend talking about you to an adult.

"He has a point." Thalia said.

I inched closer.

"... Alone this summer," Grover was saying. "I mean, a Kindly One in the school! Now that we know for sure, and they know too-"

"We would only make matters worse by rushing him," Mr. Brunner said. "We need the boy to mature more."

Everyone who knew Percy burst out laughing.

"Mature... ha ha... oh my gods!" Nico laughed, leaning on Isabella for support.

"But he may not have time. The summer solstice deadline-"

"What deadline?" Athena asked, but the futures just shook their heads while still giggling.

"Will have to be resolved without him, Grover. Let him enjoy his ignorance while he still can."

Thalia sighed, "ignorance is bliss but it will kill you."

"Sir, he saw her..."

"His imagination," Mr. Brunner insisted. "The Mist over the students and staff will be enough to convince him of that."

"That's not enough to stop Percy 'cause when he's determined, he's determined." Annabeth commented. The demigods that knew Percy nodded.

"Sir, I... I can't fail in my duties again." Grover's voice was choked with emotion. "You know what that would mean."

Thunder rumbled outside while Thalia was muttering, "I still can't believe he still blames himself."

"You haven't failed, Grover," Mr. Brunner said kindly. "I should have seen her for what she was. Now let's just worry about keeping Percy alive until next fall-"

"That's going to scare him."

The mythology book dropped out of my hand and hit the floor with a thud.

"Don't give away your position!" Hermes screeched at the book.

Mr. Brunner went silent.

My heart hammering, I picked up the book and backed down the hall.

"Yes." Hermes hissed, "don't leave any evidence," while the others were either not trying to laugh at him or show on their faces that he might be a little loopy in the head.

A shadow slid across the lighted glass of Brunner's office door, the shadow of something much taller than my wheelchair-bound teacher, holding something that looked suspiciously like an archer's bow.

"What is Chiron doing out in his form?" Athena questioned.

I opened the nearest door and slipped inside.

A few seconds later I heard a slow clop-clop-clop, like muffled wood blocks, then a sound like an animal snuffling right outside my door. A large, dark shape paused in front of the glass, then moved on.

A bead of sweat trickled down my neck.

Somewhere in the hallway, Mr. Brunner spoke. "Nothing," he murmured. "My nerves haven't been right since the winter solstice."

"What happened at the winter solstice?" Athena pestered the futures, who just shook their heads.

"Yeah, it's frustrating to be on that other side of the conversation." Apollo and Hermes snickered.

"Mine neither," Grover said. "But I could have sworn ..."

"Go back to the dorm," Mr. Brunner told him. "You've got a long day of exams tomorrow."

"Don't remind me."

The lights went out in Mr. Brunner's office.

I waited in the dark for what seemed like forever.

Finally, I slipped out into the hallway and made my way back up to the dorm.

Grover was lying on his bed, studying his Latin exam notes like he'd been there all night.

"Hey," he said, bleary-eyed. "You going to be ready for this test?"

I didn't answer.

"You look awful." He frowned. "Is everything okay?"

"Just... Tired."

I turned so he couldn't read my expression,

"It's won't work, Satyrs are empathic." Athena said.

"We know." The room chorused.

and started getting ready for bed.

I didn't understand what I'd heard downstairs. I wanted to believe I'd imagined the whole thing.

But one thing was clear: Grover and Mr. Brunner were talking about me behind my back. They thought I was in some kind of danger.

The next afternoon, as I was leaving the three-hour Latin exam,

"Three hours!" Leo exclaimed.

"Ours was only an hour." Jason commented.

my eyes swimming with all the Greek and Roman names I'd misspelled, Mr. Brunner called me back inside.

For a moment, I was worried he'd found out about my eavesdropping the night before, but that didn't seem to be the problem.

"Percy," he said. "Don't be discouraged about leaving Yancy. It's ... It's for the best."

"Oh no." Bella said.

"He's going to take it the wrong the way." Annabeth said.

His tone was kind, but the words still embarrassed me. Even though he was speaking quietly, the other kids finishing the test could hear. Nancy Bobofit smirked at me and made sarcastic little kissing motions with her lips.

I mumbled, "Okay, sir."

"I mean..." Mr. Brunner wheeled his chair back and forth, like he wasn't sure what to say. "This isn't the right place for you. It was only a matter of time."

Bella groaned.

My eyes stung.

Ares would have said baby but he remembered that Isabella had painted a target on his back.

Here was my favorite teacher, in front of the class, telling me I couldn't handle it. After saying he believed in me all year, now he was telling me I was destined to get kicked out.

"Harsh." Leo said.

"Right," I said, trembling.

"No, no," Mr. Brunner said. "Oh, confound it all. What I'm trying to say... You're not normal, Percy. That's nothing to be-"

"Thanks," I blurted. "Thanks a lot, sir, for reminding me."

"Percy-"

But I was already gone.

On the last day of the term, I shoved my clothes into my suitcase.

The other guys were joking around, talking about their vacation plans. One of them was going on a hiking trip to Switzerland. Another was cruising the Caribbean for a month. They were juvenile delinquents, like me, but they were rich juvenile delinquents. Their daddies were executives, or ambassadors, or celebrities. I was a nobody, from a family of nobodies.

"Nobodies." Bella loudly whispered, making the demigods laugh and most of the gods glare at her, which she ignored.

They asked me what I'd be doing this summer and I told them I was going back to the city.

What I didn't tell them was that I'd have to get a summer job walking dogs or selling magazine subscriptions, and spend my free time worrying about where I'd go to school in the fall.

"Oh," one of the guys said. "That's cool."

They went back to their conversation as if I'd never existed.

"That's rude." Demeter huffed. "He needs more Cereal."

"Shut up about the cereal woman." Hades groaned.

The only person I dreaded saying good-bye to was Grover, but as it turned out, I didn't have to. He'd booked a ticket to Manhattan on the same Greyhound as I had, so there we were, together again, heading into the city.

"Clue number 1." Bella said in a game show voice.

During the whole bus ride, Grover kept glancing nervously down the aisle, watching the other passengers. It occurred to me that he'd always acted nervous and fidgety when we left Yancy, as if he expected something bad to happen. Before, I'd always assumed he was worried about getting teased. But there was nobody to tease him on the Greyhound.

Finally I couldn't stand it anymore.

I said, "Looking for Kindly Ones?"

"That's going to scare him." Leo said.

Grover nearly jumped out of his seat. "Wha-what do you mean?"

"Called it." Leo sung, much to the approval of Apollo.

I confessed about eavesdropping on him and Mr. Brunner the night before the exam.

"No don't confessed." Hermes moaned in despair.

Grover's eye twitched. "How much did you hear?"

"Oh... Not much. What's the summer solstice dead-line?"

"Oh... Not much just the whole thing."

He winced. "Look, Percy... I was just worried for you, see? I mean, hallucinating about demon math teachers..."

"Percy's not that slow." Hazel said.

"Grover-"

"And I was telling Mr. Brunner that maybe you were over-stressed or something, because there was no such person as Mrs. Dodds, and..."

"This Grover is a really, really bad liar." Hermes grumbled.

"Grover, you're a really, really bad liar."

Hermes turned an interesting red color.

His ears turned pink.

From his shirt pocket, he fished out a grubby business card. "Just take this, okay? In case you need me this summer."

The card was in fancy script,

"And why is the card in fancy script?" Athena asked, looking Dionysus.

"To make them suffer." He replied, looking through a Wine Of The Millennium magazine.

The gods with children threw apples at him which just randomly appeared.

which was murder on my dyslexic eyes, but I finally made out something like:

Grover Underwood

Keeper

Half-Blood Hill

Long Island, New York

(800) 009-0009

"What's Half-"

"Don't say it aloud!" he yelped. "That's my, um... Summer address."

My heart sank. Grover had a summer home. I'd never considered that his family might be as rich as the others at Yancy.

"Okay," I said glumly. "So, like, if I want to come visit your mansion."

The room giggled.

He nodded. "Or... Or if you need me."

"Why would I need you?"

"Oh." The room instigated.

It came out harsher than I meant it to.

Grover blushed right down to his Adam's apple. "Look, Percy, the truth is, I-I kind of have to protect you."

I stared at him.

All year long, I'd gotten in fights, keeping bullies away from him. I'd lost sleep worrying that he'd get beaten up next year without me.

"That's so sweet." Aphrodite squealed, making Ares flinch.

And here he was acting like he was the one who defended me.

"Grover Underwood," I said, "what exactly are you protecting me from?"

"Oh nothing much, just your Uncle Zeus who is not only suppose to a responsible god but likes to create tornadoes for no reason." Isabella glared at said god.

The some of the others glared at him, thinking of the times they were caught in his tornadoes.

There was a huge grinding noise under our feet. Black smoke poured from the dashboard and the whole bus filled with a smell like rotten eggs. The driver cursed and limped the Greyhound over to the side of the highway.

"Something's going to happen." Hestia said softly. Poseidon paled.

After a few minutes clanking around in the engine compartment, the driver announced that we'd all have to get off. Grover and I filed outside with everybody else.

We were on a stretch of country road-no place you'd notice if you didn't break down there. On our side of the highway was nothing but maple trees and litter from passing cars. On the other side, across four lanes of asphalt shimmering with afternoon heat, was an old-fashioned fruit stand.

The stuff on sale looked really good: heaping boxes of blood-red cherries and apples, walnuts and apricots, jugs of cider in a claw-foot tub full of ice.

"I'm hungry." The group of demigods announced. Demeter snapped her fingers and plate of veggies burgers and Baked Sweet Potato Fries, with a glass of apple juice appeared in front of them.

Leo looked at the fries like it would eat him alive, "what in the name of Chaos is this?" he asked not taking the plate.

"Leonardo Enrique Valdez, you take that plate right now." Isabella scolded him. The demigods snickered under their breath, watching Leo who glared at their mother.

"I am not taking that- that," he pointed towards the plate, "is a disgrace to all french fries."

"No it's not, it's just the same but healthier." Isabella pointed out, "just because we are not a camp doesn't mean you're going to be snacking on junk food."

Demeter nodded in agreement.

"Dude, just listen to Mom and try it." Nico said trying to keep the smile off his face.

"Mom?" Poseidon whispered to Hades who shrugged.

"Why don't one of you try it." Leo snapped.

Thalia had already been eating her fries, when Leo asked her how they tasted which made Isabella roll her eyes and huffed.

Thalia just smirked and shook going, "nom nom nom."

Leo turned back to his mother. "Eat It."

He picked up a fry and sniffed it, making the room giggle. He bit it and took a small chew.

"Mmm, this- this doesn't taste that bad."

"Told ya." Isabella smiled.

"Moooomm." Leo groaned.

"Mom?" Apollo whispered to Hephaestus who shrugged as well.

There were no customers, just three old ladies sitting in rocking chairs in the shade of a maple tree, knitting the biggest pair of socks I'd ever seen. And there was a little girl sitting by their feet while playing with a Rubik's Cube.

"THE MOIRAI" Poseidon shouted turning as pale as Hades was.

"The Moirai? Are you sure, there is never a little girl with the fates." Apollo said.

I mean these socks were the size of sweaters, but they were clearly socks. The lady on the right knitted one of them. The lady on the left knitted the other. The lady in the middle held an enormous basket of electric-blue yarn.

Annabeth, Isabella, Nico, and Thalia shared a look that did not go unnoticed by the gods.

"Is there something you would like to share?" Athena questioned said group.

"We," Isabella pointed to herself, Annabeth, Nico, and Thalia, "already know who's life thread that is." she said fingering an electric-blue necklace, not that anyone have notice.

"Care to share?" She asked rudely.

"No, we don't."

All three women looked ancient, with pale faces wrinkled like fruit leather, silver hair tied back in white bandannas, bony arms sticking out of bleached cotton dresses.

The weirdest thing was, they all seemed to be looking right at me.

"Poseidon went paler than Hades then... POP!

Everyone looked over to Poseidon.

"Is he going to be ok?" Frank asked clearly worried for his many time great grandfather.

"He'll be fine." Isabella said. "Percy went through the same thing when he thought Annabeth was pregnant."

"WHAT!" Athena yelled.

"Pregnant, bun in the oven, carrying a child, knocked u-" Isabella was cut off.

"Ok we get it." Hermes said laughing with the others.

"Do you not understand what pregnant means?" Leo said quietly, but not quiet enough as Athena heard him and turned her glare at him.

Nico snickered.

I looked over at Grover to say something about this and saw that the blood had drained from his face. His nose was twitching.

"Monster radar." Piper and Thalia high-fived eachother quietly. Even though they spent little time together they were like white on rice.

"Grover?" I said. "Hey, man-"

"Tell me they're not looking at you. They are, aren't they?"

"Yeah. Weird, huh? You think those socks would fit me?"

"This is not funny, Perseus." Poseidon gurgled from his puddle.

"Not funny, Percy. Not funny at all."

The old lady in the middle took out a huge pair of scissors-gold and silver, long-bladed, like shears. I heard Grover catch his breath.

"We're getting on the bus," he told me. "Come on."

"What?" I said. "It's a thousand degrees in there."

"Come on!'" He pried open the door and climbed inside, but I stayed back.

Across the road, the old ladies were still watching me. The middle one cut the yarn, and I swear I could hear that snip across four lanes of traffic. Her two friends balled up the electric-blue socks, leaving me wondering who they could possibly be for Sasquatch or Godzilla.

"Godzilla, they were for Godzilla."

At the rear of the bus, the driver wrenched a big chunk of smoking metal out of the engine compartment. The bus shuddered, and the engine roared back to life.

The passengers cheered.

"Darn right!" yelled the driver. He slapped the bus with his hat. "Everybody back on board!"

Once we got going, I started feeling feverish, as if I'd caught the flu.

Grover didn't look much better. He was shivering and his teeth were chattering.

"Grover?"

"Yeah?"

"What are you not telling me?"

"Everything."

He dabbed his forehead with his shirt sleeve. "Percy, what did you see back at the fruit stand?"

"You mean the old ladies? What is it about them, man? They're not like... Mrs. Dodds, are they?"

"Worst."

His expression was hard to read, but I got the feeling that the fruit-stand ladies were something much, much worse than Mrs. Dodds. He said, "Just tell me what you saw."

"The middle one took out her scissors, and she cut the yarn."

He closed his eyes and made a gesture with his fingers that might've been crossing himself, but it wasn't. It was something else, something almost-older.

He said, "You saw her snip the cord."

"Yeah. So?" But even as I said it, I knew it was a big deal.

"This is not happening, " Grover mumbled. He started chewing at his thumb. "I don't want this to be like the last time."

Thalia grumbled about making sure Grover didn't blame himself anymore.

"What last time?"

"Always sixth grade. They never get past sixth."

"Grover," I said, because he was really starting to scare me. "What are you talking about?"

"Let me walk you home from the bus station. Promise me."

This seemed like a strange request to me, but I promised he could.

"Bet you ten drachmas that Percy is break the promise." Leo betted Piper.

"Deal." They spat on their hands and shook them, to the disgust of the gods.

"Is this like a superstition or something?" I asked.

No answer.

"No one ever gives him a straight answer." Isabella commented

"Grover-that snipping of the yarn. Does that mean somebody is going to die?"

He looked at me mournfully, like he was already picking the kind of flowers I'd like best on my coffin.

"Dun, dun, dunnnn." The group of demigods said with laughter.

"What will read next?" Athena asked.

"I will, Thena." Artemis volunteered.


Sorry for the long wait. How was that chapter?

Bella thinks of all the demigods as her kids.