I jerked back to reality. I was in an airplane, not our family jet a commercial one, sitting in the middle of the first row of seats with Poppy on my right and Murphy across the aisle on my left with Sandy in the window seat and Terry across the right aisle. I had Mythomagic cards in my hands and so did the others. My heart pounded wildly; this was all wrong – we shouldn't be here! I have ADHD-PI so it's not at all unusual for me to zone out but I don't normally snap back in a panic!
I tried to remember: Mom and Dad had the plane, they were going to LA on business, and we…we were going to a camp – that's right – a special camp for ADHD kids in New York. We were going to spend the winter session there to see how we liked it. If we did we'd go back for a few weeks next summer. I put down my cards and wiped my hands on my jeans. Dummy, what's the matter with you? Everything's fine. We'd taken the first two rows in first class like we usually did when we flew commercial. All us Fields – including Mom and Dad - got ADHD. Murphy is Primarily Inattention like me but Poppy and Sandy are incredibly hyper, being close to the bathrooms and seat hopping helps.
"Hey, Fancy, you playing?" Sandy demanded impatiently.
I picked up my cards they were from my 'Age of Heroes' set. I was playing Tiresias – as a woman – like usual, with Hera as my patron. I threw down one of my Answered Prayer cards. "I pray to Hera for rain to put out the flames before they get to us."
"Wait a minute," Poppy protested, "this is Greek fire we're talking about here. Mere water can't put it out!"
"A magic rain from Hera can." I insisted.
"Right, the queen of heaven can do whatever she wants," Terry agreed and gave Poppy a quizzical look. "What's with you, Atalanta, you wanna burn to death?"
She blew out a sigh. "Okay, fine. We're all wet. What next?"
"Heracles says let's smash some monsters!" a typical Sandy contribution.
"Yeah, well Theseus says let's think before we act," Terry countered.
Sandy pouted, "You're always spoiling my fun, Theseus."
"Somebody's got to," muttered Murphy, aka Bellerophon.
A low chuckle came from the seat behind him. "Always listen to the smart guy, Heracles."
I turned my head to see the most gorgeous guy in the world sitting in the aisle seat behind Murph; short reddish dark hair, face like a Greek god, broad shoulders draped with black leather coat over a khaki Army sweatshirt. Older than me, but not impossibly so… Mark. That's it, his name was Mark and he was going to the camp too.
"Darn right," agreed another voice from the seat directly behind mine. That would be Poly, the gangly redheaded kid. And Callie would be sitting next to him behind Poppy with our chaperone Woody Groves (what a name!) across the aisle from her. We'd all been introduced at the airport, what was the matter with me? I was PI not an amnesiac! And why did I still have this nagging feeling that something just wasn't right about all this? I tried to forget about it and concentrate on the game which went on in the usual way with Heracles charging in where even demigods should fear to tread and the rest of us yelling at him.
As I mentioned Sandy is incredibly hyper, he's also an undersized eleven with big geeky magnifying glasses which he claims help his dyslexia – we've all got that too - guess why he likes playing hulky Heracles. As usual he got us all killed in short order – it was the Hydra this time – and the game ended, as always with an argument.
Poppy, aka Atalanta, was ready to punch the kid – she takes Mythomagic waay to seriously. Terry got between them and ordered a seat hop to defuse things. Terry is seventeen and very conscious of being the oldest which makes him a real pain at times. On the other hand trying to ride herd on four younger siblings who are either bouncing off the walls or zoning out can't be easy, especially when you're ADHD yourself. Better him than me!
Poppy settled grumpily next to Poly. He produced yet another gizmo, of which he seemed to have an endless supply, from the deep pockets of his trenchcoat. This one tooted and produced shots of steam and soon she was laughing – ADHD remember. Her interest in Poly was a new and unusual development, Poppy's sixteen to my fourteen and but a confirmed tomboy. She's got this notion that her carrot red hair, freckles and broad shoulders make her so ugly there's no point in even trying.
Meanwhile Mark was giving our baby brother pointers on how to fight hydras. "Frontal assault is not the best way no matter how tough you are, you need to have a strategy or you end up with a thousand headed monster for some other poor hero to try to off."
"You play Mythomagic too?" Sandy asked eagerly.
Mark gave a funny kind of grin, "Never heard of it until today."
"There's something weird about this," Murph said softly across the aisle to me. Unlike the other boys, who are skinny and blond like Dad, he takes after Grandpa Dan being brown haired and stocky, and at twelve he hasn't lost all his puppy fat yet. He likes being Bellerophon because he gets to ride Pegasus. I'm a brownett too, like Mom.
"You feel it too?" I said, all my uneasiness returning full force.
He nodded. "I know we're going to some special camp on Long Island, but I've been trying and trying and I can't remember when we heard about it or when we decided to go."
"Me neither." I looked at Woody, who was talking to Terry. He was a short skinny guy, maybe twenty or so, with a silly little goatee and stocking cap on his head. "Something very strange is happening here."
"Yeah," he agreed.
Then Callie stepped between us. It should be illegal to look that good. She made a yellow tunic dress over leggings work like crazy. Without makeup and with her hair done up in a sloppy twist she outshone any supermodel you care to name. It was so unfair. "Hey, we're supposed to be switching seats here."
Okay, fine. I got up and went to sit across the aisle from Mark. Might well take advantage of a chance to get close to the cute guy!
La Guardia was a madhouse, as you'd expect less than two weeks to Christmas…wait a minute, Mom and Dad would never send us away to some camp over Christmas! The dislocated feeling came back full force and I came to a full stop right in the middle of the concourse. We weren't supposed to be here! What was going on?
Then Callie took me by the arm. "Come on, let's try to get to the luggage before the rush!" and the feeling vanished – but the memory of it didn't. I went along with the others but now I knew for sure that something weird was going on.
We collected our luggage, not much just a duffle-bag apiece for us Fields and backpacks for the other three kids, Woody didn't seem to have any luggage at all except for a 'man purse'.
Poly and Callie went off to get their cars while the rest of us waited. "Their families' are loaded," Mark explained casually, "like yours." He grinned to show he didn't resent it. "Woody and me are the spiritual, un-materialistic types."
Then a huge Hummer rolled up with Poly behind the wheel, followed by a low, slinky Porsche. My jaw dropped, and so did my brothers and sister's the Hummer had just about every customizable feature you can thing of from a roll cage to four triangular tank treads instead of wheels. It looked positively scary but the funny thing was it was exactly the same deep metallic gold color as Callie's Porsche, almost like they'd deliberately gone for matching cars – at least as far as paint went. Who rode where pretty much settled itself; Poppy and the kids hopped right into the Hummer and Woody followed them while Terry and I wriggled into the back seat of the Porsche and Mark rode shotgun, goody! We followed the Hummer onto highway 495 and headed east into the wilds of Long Island.
Terry tried to pump Callie and Mark about the camp. They seemed forthcoming enough but I got a definite feeling they were holding something back. There were lots of activities, they promised; arts and crafts, rock climbing, canoeing, and some academics too; history, languages, animal behavior - for some reason Mark had a coughing fit when Callie mentioned that last. There were twelve cabins but we Fields would be all together in number eleven which was reserved for new arrivals. There probably wouldn't be a lot of kids, winter session was always thinly attended, but summer would be a blast, and for some reason that comment got Mark a glare from Callie.
Terry and I looked at each other and I could tell that he was getting strange vibes too. I wasn't exactly scared but I didn't trust Callie - or Mark gorgeous as he was. And that went for Poly and Woody too. Who were these people? What was this camp and why were they taking us there? Were we being kidnapped? Had we been drugged or brainwashed somehow into thinking it was all okay? I know, I sound paranoid if not insane but all of a sudden our lives had gone all Twilight Zone.
Okay, it's not as if we Fields were exactly your average American family, for one thing we had a lot more kids and for another all those kids had learning disabilities which was why we were being home schooled. We had some tutors, especially in music, but mostly it was just Mom and Dad and I guess you couldn't really call it a balanced curriculum being heavy on the humanities. We knew Latin and Ancient Greek (which was a whole lot easier to read than English) Philosophy, Mythology and Literature but we were light on the sciences though we knew Geometry and Astronomy. To be honest what we were best at was Mythomagic and Mom and Dad's idea of phys-ed.
It didn't seem to worry the folks possibly because it was unlikely any of us would ever have to earn a living in the real world. We did have money, lots of it. I mean we had our own private jet which we used to circulate around six – yeah six – homes stretching from sea to shining sea. Basically we lived in our own private bubble, Mom, Dad, us kids, Grandpa Dan, Grandma Teri and the aunts. It was hugely out of character for Mom and Dad to send us away from them to stay with a lot of strangers. Did they even know where we were and where we were going?
Okay. Now I was scared.