It's time for Chapter 2, sorry about the wait, life was messing with my head...
I think I forgot this last time, but anything recognizable, and everything in bold does not belong to me. It is the property of the author Rick Riordan
THREE OLD LADIES KNIT
THE SOCKS OF DEATH
Once everyone had become quiet and was sitting comfortably, Clarisse's scowl sped this process up considerably, Clarisse began to read.
"Three old ladies knit the socks of death," she began.
I was used to the occasional weird experience, but usually they were over quickly. This twenty-four/seven 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. 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.
"But you are psycho Percy." Travis announced proudly.
It got so I almost believed them-Mrs. Dodds had never existed.
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.
"That settles it; we're giving Grover lying lessons when he gets back." Travis announced proudly.
"Anyone else who'd like to join in can do so." Connor added.
"First lesson is free, and $5 per lesson after that." Travis finished with a grin, looking around at everyone else in the room hopefully.
Everyone just turned away from the two crazy sons of Hermes and looked at Clarisse urging her to continue before they could say anything else.
Something was going on. Something had happened at the museum.
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.
"That would be a bad nightmare." Leo shivered.
"Too bad he's seen worse than Alecto since," Annabeth pointed out. "We all have," she added, looking around at everyone in the room.
The freak weather continued, which didn't help my mood. One night, a thunderstorm blew out the windows in my dorm room. 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.
"Jupiter really is angry." Jason pointed out.
The clouds thundered in response.
"What made him so angry? It seems more than just finding out that one of his brothers had a son and therefore broke the pact."
"You're right," Annabeth answered, "but Zeus didn't even know Poseidon had a son at this point."
"Then what made him so angry?" Jason questioned.
"I'm sure Percy will address that, it seems to me to be the point of this book." Annabeth answered calmly.
"Okay, I'll wait."
"Okay," Annabeth nodded, "Continue Clarisse."
Clarisse looked like she wanted to protest being ordered around but seemed to think better of it and began to read again.
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.
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.
Everyone started laughing at this.
"Neither do I but it does sound good." Nico decided
Everyone nodded but continued to laugh.
Annabeth looked at the group incredulously. "Really, none of you know what it means?"
"Alright then, O smart one," Travis began, "What does it mean?"
"It means drunkard and Percy really shouldn't insult his teachers like that." Annabeth frowned.
Everyone stopped laughing at Annabeth's serious expression but nobody said anything so Clarisse just continued reading.
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.
Clarisse opened her mouth as if she wanted to comment on Percy's Prissy-ness again but was silenced by glares from Annabeth, Nico and Thalia so she just continued reading.
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.
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, who'd been a good friend, even if he was a little strange. I worried how he'd survive next year without me.
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.
"And that's a good thing too, Percy." Thalia nodded.
The evening before my final, I got so frustrated I threw the Cambridge Guide to Greek Mythology across my dorm room.
Annabeth gasped. How could anyone treat a book like that, but everyone seemed to ignore her and so Clarisse just continued reading.
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, or Polydictes and Polydeuces. And conjugating those Latin verbs? Forget it.
I paced the room, feeling like ants were crawling around inside my shirt.
I remembered Mr. Brunner's serious expression, his thousand-year-old eyes. I will accept only the best from you, Percy Jackson.
"No pressure then." Nico muttered.
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'm not usually an eavesdropper, but I dare you to try not listening if you hear your best friend talking about you to an adult.
"He's really not," Thalia admitted, "if anyone's an eavesdropper it's Miss Brainbox over here." She nodded in Annabeth's direction.
Annabeth blushed. "I am not." She added defensively.
Clarisse just continued reading to try to stop a fight from breaking out. This wasn't normal for her, but if anyone noticed they didn't comment on it.
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."
"If they had waited for that to happen then they'd still be waiting," Thalia laughed, "He's still not mature-"
She seemed about to continue but was silenced by a glare from Annabeth.
"But he may not have time. The summer solstice deadline- "
"What's the summer solstice deadline?" Jason questioned, "If you're not going to tell me why my father is angry then at least tell me what that is."
"They're related," Annabeth clarified. "I can't explain one without the other. And anyway, even Percy doesn't know at this point and it involves him so I think you can wait."
Jason huffed but allowed Clarisse to continue.
"Will have to be resolved without him, Grover. Let him enjoy his ignorance while he still can."
"Sir, he saw her... ."
"His imagination," Mr. Brunner insisted. "The Mist over the students and staff will be enough to convince him of that."
"Sir, I ... I can't fail in my duties again." Grover's voice was choked with emotion. "You know what that would mean."
"You didn't fail, Grover." Thalia replied sadly.
"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-"
"See, even Chiron agrees with me."
The mythology book dropped out of my hand and hit the floor with a thud.
Mr. Brunner went silent.
"He's been discovered." Travis exclaimed.
"Man down, man down. Retreat!" Connor shouted.
Everyone just shook their heads.
My heart hammering, I picked up the book and backed down the hall.
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.
"He's armed? In a school?" Rachel questioned.
"It's probably celestial bronze," Annabeth answered, "for monsters, not students."
"What about monstrous students?" Travis question petulantly.
Nobody answered him so Clarisse just continued.
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."
"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?"
I turned so he couldn't read my expression, and started getting ready for bed.
"That won't work," Thalia chided, "Satyr's can read emotions."
"But he doesn't know that." Annabeth added in Percy's defense.
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.
"Try a lot of danger." Annabeth added sadly.
The next afternoon, as I was leaving the three-hour Latin exam, 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."
"That must've made him feel bad." Nico 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."
"And that made him feel worse."
My eyes stung.
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.
"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-"
"And that just takes the cake."
"He really isn't good at comfort is he." Thalia added.
"No, he isn't," Nico agreed, "I feel sorry for Percy now."
"Thanks," I blurted. "Thanks a lot, sir, for reminding me."
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.
"Thanks Percy." Everyone but Rachel chorused.
"He really makes us feel loved doesn't he." Nico mused.
"Give him a break, he didn't know at this point." Annabeth said as she glared at Nico
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.
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.
"What a coincidence." Nico added sarcastically.
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 must have really shaken him up." Nico laughed.
"It was mean on Percy's part." Annabeth added.
"I agree," Thalia added, "but I still wish I was there to see his face."
Even Annabeth had to agree on that one.
Grover nearly jumped out of his seat. "Wha-what do you mean?"
I confessed about eavesdropping on him and Mr. Brunner the night before the exam.
Grover's eye twitched. "How much did you hear?"
"Oh ... not much. What's the summer solstice dead-line?"
He winced. "Look, Percy ... I was just worried for you, see? I mean, hallucinating about demon math teachers ..."
"And I was telling Mr. Brunner that maybe you were overstressed or something, because there was no such person as Mrs. Dodds, and ..."
"Grover, you're a really, really bad liar."
"And that is why we're giving him lessons." Connor added
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, which was murder on my dyslexic eyes, but I finally made out something like:
Long Island, New York
"I often wonder if Mr. D just made those card like that just to mess with our heads." Annabeth wondered out loud
"He probably did." Thalia agreed, "that seems just like him."
"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."
"Percy's already feeling bad enough after what Chiron said to him, now Grover's making it worse." Annabeth added.
He nodded. "Or ... or if you need me."
"Why would I need you?"
"That was harsh Percy." Thalia muttered.
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."
"And that just sounds funny." Travis laughed.
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. And here he was acting like he was the one who defended me.
"He has a point, Grover is kinda scrawny." Nico mumbled
"Grover," I said, "what exactly are you protecting me from?"
"Monsters." Travis added simply. "Don't worry it's nothing new they try to attack us every day. It's no biggie."
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.
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. 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.
"Is that…?" Thalia questioned.
"Probably." Nico shivered.
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.
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 seemed to be looking right at me.
"No don't look at Percy." Nico whined hysterically.
Leo, Piper and Jason just looked at Nico questioningly.
Annabeth looked at the trio but gave no answer. "He's still alive and that was 3 years ago." She said to Nico.
Nico stopped whining, "You sure?"
Annabeth simply nodded. "Yes."
I looked over at Grover to say something about this and saw that the blood had drained from his face.
His nose was twitching.
"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?"
"Percy this is not the time to made jokes." Annabeth frowned, "can't you see how terrified he is?"
"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."
"That won't help," Nico sighed. "If it's meant for you, it's meant for you."
"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.
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.
"What are you not telling me?"
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?"
"No Percy," Annabeth replied sadly, "They're worse, much worse."
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.
"It's definitely a big deal." Thalia added.
"This is not happening," Grover mumbled. He started chewing at his thumb. "I don't want this to be like the last time."
"What last time?"
"Always sixth grade. They never get past sixth."
"And now you're terrifying him." Annabeth sighed.
"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.
"Is this like a superstition or something?" I asked.
"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.
"That is creepy." Travis shuddered.
"I don't want anyone to look at me like that ever." Connor added.
Clarisse closed the book with a snap "Well that's the end of that chapter, who wants to read next?"
She looked at the two brothers who shook their heads in unison.
"I will." Annabeth added, raising her hand so Clarisse could give her the book.
"Grover Unexpectedly Loses his Pants." She began.
"Awesome!" the two sons of Hermes exclaimed.
Everyone else couldn't help grinning at the title, the next chapter was going to be good.
The next update will be soon, the chapter is almost finished!