AN: Hi! This is my first fan fiction story and I'm very excited. Let me know what you think. Review with any suggestions for this story. Just so you know, I don't know the city of Manhattan so if you do, sorry if I'm wrong. ENJOY! :)
Summary: Percy is kidnapped by a psychotic man and is held there for eight years with dozens of other kids. Will he ever see his mom again? If he escapes, is it worth going back to his old life?
Disclaimer: All characters, familiar places, and familiar writing belongs to Rick Riordan. Not trying to steal Rick's work here!
Revision on: 2/22/14 for grammar and wording.
The Milk Carton Kids
Look, I never wanted to be a milk carton kid. None of us did. Some days, just thinking about it makes me blank out for a few minutes, reliving the memories. Other days, I laugh and smile and think about how much my life has improved since 'The Era of the Carton Kids,' that's what we(the milk carton kids) like to call it. Anyways, lets get this over with.
You see, this goes back from my early years to when I was 16. It goes from my 'age of depression' to my 'golden age.' It's not always a happy story, but then again, how can there be a story without dynamics? Without dynamics, I wouldn't be telling you this story because that would mean my life was either always terrible or always wonderful. My life is a twisted version of both.
My name is Percy Jackson and up until a few months ago I was "living" in a basement filled with other kids that had been kidnapped by a psycho guy.
When I was five, my mom married this awful dude, Gabe Ugliano. Like his last name, he was ugly, inside and out. Every Friday, he had his stupid poker buddies over to play poker. He drank beer and got drunk and never let my home feel like it really was my home. The only good thing in that apartment was my mom. She was loving and kind and always put up with me and Gabe and his stupid poker buddies. He made her cook and clean and do whatever he asked.
He hated me and I hated him back. He made me give him any extra cash I had so he could use it to bet in poker. Gabe was the thing I never missed during my time is a milk carton kid. I still have scars from the beer bottles he threw at me. I have a really bad scar behind my left ear that I got the night before . . .well . . .you'll see.
I was in second grade at the time. When I got home from school that day, I knew it was going to be a bad night. Gabe's buddies were over and it was only Thursday. They were all drunk and Gabe was losing his poker game.
"Get in here punk!" Gabe said before I even sat my bag down or closed the door. "Got any money?"
"No," I lied and attempted to duck away. I had learned quickly that if you don't have anything Gabe wants, then he'll usually leave you alone. This time, it didn't work.
"Yeah you do. You paid for the bus on the way home from that fancy school that you go to because you got kicked out of all the other ones."
He was right. I'd been kicked out of every school I'd ever attended. I'm dyslexic and have ADHD. It's not like I tried to get kicked out, it's just that stuff always happened and I was always the kid that got blamed for it.
"Now pay up kid!" Gabe finished.
I grumbled as I fished a wad of fifteen bucks out of my pocket and threw it on the table."I hope you lose.''
I quickly turned on my heel and attempted to walk out of the room as fast as I could.
I had barely taken three steps when I heard the scraping of wood on wood and felt a glass beer bottle shatter behind my ear. Pain blossomed out and I felt the warm flow of blood on my neck. Almost immediately, I crumpled to the ground in pain.
"That's what you get for disrespecting your father you pig." Gabe was hovering over me, his beer gut blocking my view of his face.
That was the last thing I saw before everything went black.
I woke up on top of my lumpy mattress with a sense of comfort. I opened my eyes and saw my mom's caramel brown locks dangling in front of my eyes. Her hair disappeared as she leaned back so I could sit up.
"Hey baby, how are you feeling?" asked my mom as I sat up and faced her. I reached behind my left ear and felt gauze and medical tape there in place of my usual long, jet black hair.
"Fine. Thanks mom." I replied with a smirk.
"You had me scared there. When I got home from work, I saw you on the ground with blood all around you.'' She took a shaky breath. "I'm sorry honey. I need to protect you better."
"No, Mom. It's okay. Besides, it isn't like he's gonna be here forever right?" At this point, I was still convinced that Gabe was just temporary, like my schools and my mom's jobs. I was so naive back then.
My mom's eyes darkened a bit at this. "Yeah! Of course honey. Just try not to anger him too much, okay? I don't want that to happen again. Promise me you'll be nice to him?"
I sighed. "Yeah, sure."
"Alright. You have school today. And no, you can't skip. I have work. You would be alone with Gabe and I don't think either of us wants that, right? Alright. Let's get you ready for school." She pulled me in for a hug and then kissed the top of my head. She smells like chocolate chip cookies and vanilla. "If anybody asks, you fell down the stairs, OK?"
"Sure mom." She gave me a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes, and walked out of my room.
That was the last time I ever heard or saw my mom.
After I ate a quick breakfast and walked out the apartment door, my body switched into auto pilot as I walked through the streets of Manhattan. I'd lived here ever since I can remember and knew the streets like the back of my hand. It took me about an hour every day to get to school. My school was a place for upper class kids whose parents didn't feel like dealing with them. Because I was so poor, and no other schools would take me, I had gotten a scholarship to the school. Gabe refused to let my mom drive me to school using his car, and we couldn't afford the school bus, so everyday I walked and took the public bus there.
I was never bothered much with the fact we were poor. The part that bothered me most was that Gabe wasted our money and didn't even work himself. Since he and my mom had married, we had moved to a smaller apartment, my mom had picked up a night job along with her day job, and I had become used to pain.
I was a very mature eight year old looking back on it now. I never really goofed around. I guess living with Gabe had hardened me up a bit. I didn't pay attention to grades and I couldn't care less about them. School was just a distraction from the real world in my opinion.
I turned left onto 5th avenue and passed the Rockefeller Center. Across the street was the bus stop I always took that was next to the fro-yo shop. If I had extra money from the bus, then I would occasionally stop there and get some after school and finish it on my way home from school.
I never liked the word 'home.' In my opinion, anywhere with Gabe isn't my home. They say that home is where the heart is, and my heart is not with Gabe. Looking back now, I would classify myself as homeless back then. I have a home now.
On the bus, I was sitting next to this guy who smelled horrid. He was dressed in a frayed, gray sweatshirt with coffee stains on it. He had woolen gloves with the fingers cut off, and his pants were floods, making it obvious that he was missing a sock. He looked so lonely and I was a sympathetic eight year old with nobody to talk to, so I talked to him.
"Hi!" I said energetically. He seemed surprised that somebody was actually talking to him. "My name's Percy. What's your name?"
He narrowed his eyes at me and his mouth opened a little bit, revealing his rotting, yellow teeth.
"That's okay. You don't have to talk to me. You looked lonely. I just wanted to give you a little company. Here. You can have my leftover money. I'll just walk home today. You need it more than I do." I handed him over my wad of bills. He didn't say anything back, but he took the money. He didn't need to respond for me to understand that he was confused by my generosity, yet thankful that he would have a dinner that night. He kept the money in his hands, fiddling with it throughout the rest of the bus ride.
If I hadn't given him my money and been forced to walk home that afternoon, then I most likely wouldn't be telling this story. It's funny how one action or one word that you say can chance your fate so much.
The rest of the ride, I sat in silence. Occasionally I would feel a sharp pain underneath the gauze that caused me to wince. I guess that's what happens if somebody throws a glass bottle at your head.
After about half an hour, the bus pulled up at the stop at W 165th and Broadway. I smiled at the homeless man next to me and walked off of the bus.
From the bus stop, I could always see my school, even though it was still several blocks to the east. It started to drizzle as I crossed over Broadway and approached McKenna Square. My hair quickly became wet. I loved the feel of the cool rain on my skin. It always seemed calm my mind down.
Every day, I dreaded going to school. I had no friends. People would make fun of me because of my grades. They called me Seaweed Brain or Kelp Head because I loved water and the ocean so much. Their comments usually rolled off me like water though. You never know how judgmental second graders are until you're bullied by them.
Even though I usually didn't let them get to me, today this one kid named Nathan was really getting on my nerves. He had red hair and lots of freckles. His two front teeth were missing. He sat behind me in class and was always poking me with his pencil or pulling on my long hair.
That day when I walked into school, I was early. As I walked down the hallway, I started making my sneakers squeak on the white and gray tile floor. When I reached the classroom, The door was open, and there were only about six kids in the room. My teacher wasn't in the room. Nathan was one of the people in his desk. I shuffled over to my desk in front of him, still squeaking my sneakers. His head looked up at a particularly loud SQUEEEEEEEK of my shoes.
"Hello there Kelp Head. How yah doin'?"
I narrowed my eyes at him and plopped into my seat. I leaned forward and laid my head down on the wooden desk.
"What happened to your head? Were you clumsy again and slipped down the stairs? Did your mommy bandage that up? You still call her mommy? I outgrew that name in preschool." He said this all very smugly and mockingly.
I managed to bite my tongue and keep my head down.
"Aaaaaaw. Are you feeling shy? Not want to admit that you're just a stupid little baby?"
When he said this, my temper flared and I whirled around. In a mature voice that no eight year old should use, I said, "Don't you go talkin' about stuff you don't know an inch about." I sent him a death glare and then plopped my head back on my desk. Nathan never spoke to me again.
The school day passed in a blur. The teacher called on me to read and the kids laughed at my attempt. The words swirled around the page and I couldn't put them together. Then we worked in two's to draw a picture that went with the story we had just read out of the reading book. I was embarrassed when the teacher had to work with me because everyone had a partner besides me. I was relieved when school was finally over and I could take a nice bus ride home.
When I stepped out the door, it was pouring down rain. Sure I like water, but after a while you get cold and wrinkly. I quickly jogged to the bus stop and waited under the canopy for the 3:15 bus. I tapped my feet and cleared my mind. My mom was getting out of work early today and would probably be able to see me for about an hour before she had to leave for her night job. I walked back into the rain as the bus screeched to a stop in front of me. The driver gave me a nod. I had been on the bus everyday since school started in August and it was now March, so I usually smiled at him. He would watch me and would ask me why I wasn't there if I missed a day of school.
I walked over to the ticket machines in the middle of the bus and reached in my left pocket for my money. My hand came back empty. I checked my right pocket, thinking I might have put it there instead this morning. As I realized it wasn't in there either, I recalled the old man and me giving him my money on the bus that morning.
Nervously I walked up to the driver.
"Hey kid, somethin' wrong?" He asked, never taking his eyes off the road.
"Well er . . . I don't have any money so . . ." I trailed off and twiddled my fingers around.
"Well then I'll have to ask you to get off at the next stop," he said frowning slightly.
"OK." I mumbled and sat behind him in the first seat. When we got to the next stop, I got up and walked down the steps of the bus.
"Be careful, kid," he said and then pulled the lever that closed the hinged doors closed.
Almost immediately, I was soaked to the bone with a deluge of rain. Somewhere in the distance, I saw lightning crackle, illuminating the dark sky to a purplish color. I began walking briskly towards Gabe's apartment along the barren street. Even though it was March, the wind made it feel as if it were January again.
I had never seen the streets of Manhattan so empty before. There were always hundreds of other people barreling into you. Without people, I felt very exposed and vulnerable. I turned right, taking a shortcut through an alley way and came out on the other side facing a man in a long tan trench coat that was holding a large black umbrella. His hands were stuffed in his pockets and his face was masked by a fedora and some shades even though it wasn't sunny out. There was an aura around this man that made him seem like he was a very dangerous and powerful man. It almost seemed as if he could stop time. I stopped in my tracks as he began to walk towards me. Slowly, I began to back up into the alleyway I had just came from.
"Hey little buddy. Where are your parents? You shouldn't be out here all alone," he said, tilting his head down, his sunglasses slipping down his crooked nose to reveal a glinting set of gold eyes. I shivered. They seemed to be prying into my soul, seeing my darkest secrets.
"Why don't you come with me? I'll give you some soup and hot cocoa with marshmallows to warm you up. I'm not gonna hurt you." I took another step back and hit the side of a dumpster.
"Come with me. No harm will come to-" That was all I heard, because at that moment, I whirled around and met a sight that made my claustrophobia jerk awake. There was a man who was almost as wide as the ally due to his muscles blocking my exit. I snapped my head back and saw fedora man blocking the only other way of escape. I shouldn't have given him my money, I thought as the muscular man took a few steps forward and slammed a cloth into my face. Immediately, I crumpled to the ground, and everything went black.
AN: You like? Review please! Let me know if I should continue.