Warning: Contains abuse, self-harm, swearing, monsters, secret societies, death, memory loss, Hecate, twins, and a whole lot of stuff that PJO forgot to mention.
*Do Not Read If Easily Triggered To Self-Harm.*
Still 12 Years Old... Haven't Aged In a day or two..
Want to know something absolutely uninteresting about caves?
They're cold, and damp, and uncomfortable. I mean, anyone could say this, but I know very well that cold, damp, and uncomfortable is an understatement. It's always cold, and you could sense the moisture in the air. And most of all, the darkness. That part I didn't mind but the hard, rocky floors threw me off balance. At some point, I almost fell into a dark abyss, but caught myself on a protruding stalagmite.
Yeah, it sucked.
After I limped away from the teenage kidnappers, I set out to... go somewhere. As I was walking, I asked myself. "Where do you want to go, Sam?"
But I couldn't think of one place. I didn't want to go home. They were always "arguing", there. And really, I didn't know of any other place I was welcome. So, into the cave I went. I didn't much care if I died. I almost hoped I would. I wondered if I should use my knife on myself, just so I wouldn't feel numb anymore.
I was tired, ready to drop dead. There were whispers in my head, You were never strong, Sam.
I know, I told my brain, I know I wasn't. I have the scars to prove it.
As soon as that thought flitted into my mind, I swatted it away.
More whispers shot words at me like bullets.
You thought this was normal? The weird hallucinations. The way no one noticed you in broad daylight. The way you can see something that isn't bound to happen for years-
"Argh!" In frustrated, I slammed my hands over my ears as if that would stop me from hearing my own thoughts. I couldn't tell if anything that happened today was even real. Maybe I was experiencing psychosis. Maybe I wasn't even in a cave.
I wasn't surprised to feel warm tears leaking from the corners of my gray eyes.
And then I was sobbing. In the darkness, so alone, so alone, in a place that kept me hidden.
Yet.. I felt exposed, as if the whole world was watching me.
This wasn't the first time I'd felt vulnerable.
No. There were many times.
That time I was ten. The first time I actually did something to make myself feel in control.
They were arguing again.
"This is the fifth call in three months, Debbie! I'm getting tired of it. We need to send her away." He was agitated. He was my father, and he was agitated. A very bad combination. See, he didn't quite know how to control his anger. There was Father and there was Harold. Sometimes, Harold was Father, but when Harold was the only one there...
I heard my mother take a tentative step back. He was scaring her. He was always scaring her. She didn't feel at home in her own house anymore. But it was her duty to take care of her troubled offspring. With only one left, she'd protect me with her life. "No. No, you said you wouldn't. Harold, honey-"
"Don't." Even though I couldn't see him... I knew. His hand was raised and read to strike. My heart cracked, and I was sure they could hear my uneven breathing. "Don't try to sweet talk me this time. I am this close. This close. She needs to go."
"Haro-" My mother's voice broke, but she fought on. This wasn't the first time. She could take a punch for her daughter, but her daughter couldn't let her mother do that for her. I rushed in the door with a trembling battle cry.
For a moment, Harold was startled. I used his surprise to pick up a small kitchen knife. My hand was shaking, but we both knew I'd hurt him if I had too. I wasn't called crazy for nothing.
Harold put up his hands, feigning defeat. But his eyes. I could see them. Usually, there were mahogany. Warm, like a fireplace. Now, they were... they were liquid pennies. Burning, and sometimes they flared a blue-ish color or a bright silver, the way a fire looks if you sprinkle in magnesium or copper. Magical, hypnotizing, and uncontrollable. The color seemed to be seeping from his pupils, mixing and swirling with my father's brown eyes. His pupils.. they shrank as I stared, their blackness racing to border his iris's, like the thick black outlines in a coloring book, until only a pinprick of darkness remained in the center.
"Honey, Sam. Put down the knife. We can talk this out.." His voice, alluring, so persuasive. Like maybe he was right.
Mother's hand curled around mine, she slipped the knife from my grip and set it on the table.
I was vulnerable. I stared at Harold, tears in my eyes, but I couldn't stop. The front of my brain felt hot, like it was being steamed. I was so mad at him. How dare he speak to mother like that. How dare he lay a hand on her!
The heat moved slowly from my brain to my eyes. It started at the center. My hands flew up to my face.
"Nooo." Something raw and animal was crawling into my soul. My fists clenched. I knew I was dangerous. I was losing myself.
Fear in Harold's eyes.
I lunged at Harold, confident I could take on a middle aged man, a full hundred pounds heavier than I.
He slapped me, hard. I turned to ice. The steam went away, my eyes shrank back to gray and my pupils grew.
He slapped me again.
And then he started to kick and punch. It went on.
I cried, trying to block out the pain. Such a weakling. I was weak.
After he was done, he called the school.
"We're thinking about homeschooling. Yes. Mm hmm. Our address, yes..."
Mother crawled to me, her thin face taut with worry. I was still trembling on the floor, eyes glazed over. I couldn't bring myself to move.
She held my head in her lap and whispered to me, "I'm so sorry. I'm so, so sorry."
Harold hung up, and his shoulders slumped, becoming Father again.
"Get out, please." His voice heavy with guilt.
Mother obeyed and carried me to my bedroom. After she set me down and left, I got up. I sat down in front of my full length mirror with the clean, shiny pocket knife I found in father's office when I was nine, the same one that was in my hand that day in the cave. Slowly, I unfolded the sharpest, longest blade.
There were no emotions in my eyes.
My face was blank. I rolled up my sleeve hungrily. This was the first time, but it wouldn't be the last.
I was a neat-freak with everything, including self-harm. With precision, I dragged the knife across my wrist, eyes flicking back and forth between the mirror and the bluest vein I'd ever seen, begging for attention.
It was quick and sharp when I broke skin. Not too deep, but deep enough. I dragged it across my skin, and even when my nerves were on fire, I continued.
Ten cuts for how many times he hit me.
Cuts for me, I didn't have guts. I couldn't fight back.
For months, the cutting continued, even if I wasn't beaten that day. Some days, Harold would be triggered by tiny things like shifting your position. I could hear my mother's cries as she was slapped by Harold.
Those cuts were the deepest.
Weak. Selfish. You should've known what they were, his eyes, his eyes. You're not special, and you failed to save your own mother.
You denied everything, you deserved the punishment you g-
Suddenly, I was yanked out of my memories by faint footsteps.
They got louder, and I rose to my feet. I was tired. I couldn't fight, so I leaned against the wall. Two hours before, I'd found three water bottles, a little baggie, a canteen, a cloth, and a bottle that I assumed was that same liquid that seemed to have struck me unconscious before. I took my chances with the water, but it hadn't helped my energy much.
The walking person stopped in front of me. The girl's voice said, "Hey."
"You kidnapped me." I recognized her as the girl who kept calling that boy a freak, and probably as the curly-haired silhouette.
"My name's Gillian. And we didn't kidnap you. We were saving you." She said, sounding tired, almost defeated.
I scoffed. "From what?"
She was quiet for a moment. "I think you know." I didn't answer. "You took the bag. Are you still tired?"
"How did you..?"
"How'd I know you were tired? Who wouldn't be?" She laughed a little, but it sounded kind of strained.
"No. How did you.. you find me?"
Gillian hesitated. She cocked her head, listening.. for something deeper in the cave. I could almost hear it. A low hiss. "I can't tell you, not here. We need to get out. Now."
"You go. I can't.. Go another mile." I didn't expect her to actually go 'Okay' after hours of walking to find me, but it was worth shot.
The girl snatched the bag from my arms and unzipped it. She whipped out the canteen, and said "Drink."
"Just do it. It'll help. And hurry, we have to go." I could hear Gillian bouncing on the balls of her feet, probably out of anxiety. The hissing was clearly audible now.
I took a drink. The stuff tasted like tacos to me, which is really weird, because drinks aren't supposed to taste crunchy. I was flooded with warmth and strength. It was like I could do anything.
"What the fuck is this?!" I asked loudly, because dude it'd be the best energy drink on the market. Ever.
"Shhh! Now, c'mon." Gillian took the canteen from me and I heard a gulp, so I assumed she took a swig. She threw the bag over her shoulder instead of giving it back to me. I was glad, as I didn't like to imagine the next few hours carrying that thing.
She walked away, and I followed the sound of her footsteps.
As we walked in the direction I'd come without speaking, I absentmindedly stroked a scar on my wrist, from the year before, after one of my therapists went missing.
"You okay?" Said Gillian, and I nodded But then, I remembered she couldn't see me.
I started to say yes, but Gillian said, "Good." And turned away.
I wondered how she could see me, but found I wasn't that surprised if she could. Psychosis doesn't make sense.
"Faster." She urged, and so I sped up.
It was strange. In an hour or two, we could see daylight coming through the entrance to the cave. I had felt like, originally, it'd taken me something like six hours to get to the point I was. Maybe it was just because I'd been tired.
Suddenly, Gillian stopped. "Vlacas" she said.
Part of my brain translated it. Idiot. I ignored that part, pushing it down. It only seemed to back my theory that I was not in my right mind.
"Ugh, I'm so stupid!" said Gillian.
"How?" I asked.
"Fuck. You'll see. Let's go."
I guess that day, it took a lot to surprise me, because when I caught sight of the thing what she found so unpleasant, my heart didn't do so much as skip a beat: It was one of the secretaries at Mr. Patski's office, the one that was only there every few weeks. Whenever I saw him, I assumed he was a retired guy who couldn't stand not working, I figured he had a lot of jobs to keep up with. I barely thought about him, obviously enough. He was supposed to be a background character in my life. I'd only ever seen him behind a desk yet... I had never imagined that below his waist, he'd be a white stallion.