So this is REALLY the last chapter for this story. I will get started on my next story once this is finished, so watch for my next story. Not sure yet on title. On to the story.
I opened the door to the facility and walked inside. I haven't been back here once in the five years that have passed since Percy and Annabeth rescued me from this prison.
Life's been getting better for us demigods since then. Slowly, but I am seeing improvements in our quality of life.
Percy and Annabeth got married about a year ago. Who would have guessed he'd put a ring on it.
Me. That's who guessed.
Other than that, and the new cabins for new gods, I can't think of much that's changed significantly. There's always the minor changes. Training with Dad, meeting new demigods, killing monsters that get too close to the camp boundary. I do have to train against something, and I'm not using my powers against other humans.
Oh! There was one thing. They started a program, named Endeavor, for anybody who wanted to get out in the real world, but couldn't get a quest. Since the number of satyrs is on the low side, Grover, Dad, and the other satyr lords set up a program by which any demigod over the age of fifteen may apply. If they're accepted into the program, they get to go out and act in place of satyrs and as a monster hunting force. They go out into the world and kill monsters, and get called upon to retrieve new demigods. I've been in the program since it started, and I ain't stopping anytime soon. I found my calling, and it's being part of Endeavor.
I should probably tell you what's happened with me over the past five years.
Physically, I've changed quite a bit. Not exactly surprising, I went through most of puberty in that time. I've gotten taller, tacked on a fair bit of muscle mass, my voice is deeper. Overall, I've just sort of filled out. At 18, I think I'm getting close to peak physical performance.
Mentally, I like to think that I've grown, but not a whole lot. Making friends at camp didn't exactly come easily to me, but I've gone and made a few friends. Still on the lookout for someone to be for me what Annabeth is for Percy. I expect I'll be waiting a fair while before I meet someone like that.
I'll be honest, I didn't expect to be talking to you ever again. Nobody else from before has come back, so I'm wondering how you came back. Questions for another time.
I took a seat in the waiting room, next to all the other visitors. I looked at each of them, wondering if any of them were here for the same person as me.
What? You didn't think I'd have a reason to come back, did you? Well, there's someone here who I hurt, back when I had no control, and now that I have the power, I want to return to him his sanity. He'll still be an asshole, unfortunately. I'm not a miracle worker.
I approached the reception desk, sending a smile to the nurse stationed there.
"When did they add the mints?"
"Sorry?" the nurse replied, perhaps taken aback. She was probably new here, so she wouldn't remember my face from when I was committed.
"This bowl of mints. It wasn't here the last time I was here. When did they add them?"
"Oh, sorry. That was set up a few months back. I'd just started. Something about increasing visitor satisfaction."
"What utter nonsense. It's a mental facility. The patients here don't exactly get treated, am I right?" I was hoping to put her on the back foot, so she wouldn't look too carefully at the information I was going to give her.
"Um, sure, I mean, I don't know." Wonderful. My plan worked.
"Anyway, I'm here to see a Franklin West. Is he still here? I haven't visited in a long time, so he might have been moved."
"Um, let me check." The nurse typed his name into the database, scrolling through the names slowly. "Yup, he's still here."
"Perfect. I was afraid he'd been moved." I gave her the information she needed, and she swiped it through without incident. Thank the gods.
"He's in the main room right now. I'll buzz you though."
I walked through the doors, and headed to the living hall.
Franklin was over in the southeast corner of the room, as far from the door as you could get. He sat there, talking to a wall. As I approached, he froze and did a 180, turning to face me. He met my gaze evenly.
Exactly as I had suspected. He wasn't insane. I suppose what had happened was I put images of those Greek monsters into his head, and when he reacted to the images flashing through his mind, everyone else had interpreted it as madness. I suppose I should feel bad. He has been kinda stuck here for the last 5 and a half years, with no one else who is remotely sane that understands what he believes, who has seen what he has seen.
He shrank away upon hearing my voice, attempting to go further into the corner. Definitely sane, and I suppose he recognizes my voice. Strange, considering how deep my voice has gotten and that I dress similar to a biker now.
"Don't come any closer, asshole. And don't even think about putting more stuff in my head."
"Franklin, calm down. I know what you saw, and I want to help you."
"What? How?" The hope in his voice crept in, an emotion likely foreign to him after so long in here.
I put my hands on his head, my thumbs pressed against his temples. "Unfortunately, I won't be as helpful as I would be if you'd actually gone mad, but I may be able to do something."
"I don't care. Whatever you can, do it. I need to get out of here and back to my family."
"Okay." I adjusted my hands to something that was more comfortable, and I locked his gaze to mine. I focused, and then I dove in.
If you ever get the chance to enter someone else's head, reject the offer and never regret it. It just might be the most uncomfortable experience in existence. I'll even bet they use it as a punishment in Tartarus.
My eyes opened, and I saw the knowledge that made him "mad." I found the memories, the images I had forced upon his mind. Time to fix this mistake so that we may both move on. I thought about removing other memories that came about as a result of these images, but I decided against it. Those were not caused by me, nor were they the source of Franklin's trauma. And in the absence of the traumatic images, those memories might even be good for him.
I focused on those images, and remembered the training from Dad. Focus. Think of the madness like a loose thread in their mind. Now take it in your hand and pull it out of them.
I took the images, now a writhing, silvery worm in my hand, and tightened my hold. Then I closed my eyes and focused again.
I opened my eyes and I was back in the living hall. I looked at Franklin, whose eyes were still closed. My hands were still holding his head, glowing a faint purple-black.
I pulled my hands away, and the glow faded. Franklin opened his eyes, sharp and focused. The fear of me, of what I represented to him, was gone.
"Franklin? How are you feeling?"
His eyes filled with tears. "I don't remember them anymore. They're gone."
He wrapped his arms around me in the tightest hug he could manage, being the smaller man now.
I reciprocated the hug, if not quite as tightly. Once he was done, I held him at arm's length.
"You have to make sure that you get yourself cleared. Show yourself to the doctors and answer their questions. Just make sure you don't tell them that it was me who helped you. Can you do that?"
He nodded his head vigorously. "Yes, of course. Thank you, thank you so much!"
"Godspeed, Franklin," I said in farewell, turning back toward the door. After I passed the nurse at the reception desk, I put on a pair of aviators and stepped outside.
I saw a sprinkler going across the street, so I crossed over and pulled out a drachma. I flipped the coin into the stream, hoping Iris would put me through.
"Grover Underwood, Camp Half-Blood," I said to the water, making sure to thank the god of rainbows when his face showed up.
"Hey, James. You good? It's been over two hours." Guess I spent longer in there than I had thought.
"Yeah, I'm good, Grover. What've you got for me?" I asked, falling into the routine of Endeavor protocol.
"I think you're gonna like this one. Way out in rural Missouri. Little town outside of Springfield."
"Isn't that the capitol of Illinois?" I asked, a little confused. I hadn't been to Missouri yet, so the exact mapping wasn't complete in my head.
"Apparently there's a Springfield in Missouri, too. Not very big. Anyway, your target's name is Hailey Addams. 17, raven-haired, likes horses."
"17? How have we not picked her up yet?" I asked, getting more and more confused.
"No idea, but this assignment is big. Came all the way from the top."
"The Big Three? One of them asked for ME to take this assignment?" The first one from the The Big Three we'd seen since the Di Angelos. Could she be the one I'd dreamt of?
"You're the best we have, and that's what they've asked for," Grover replied. "Head out toward Missouri, and contact me once you're in Springfield for more details."
He ended the call, and not a moment too soon. Not five seconds after his face left the stream, the sprinkler shut off. What a coincidence.
I opened the door to my old Mustang and took a moment. I guess I'm off to the heartland. If she likes horses, I'm going to need to learn to ride. And probably get some appropriate attire for the activity. A biker jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots would work well here in Detroit, but not on horseback. Well, the jeans would. I'll worry about that when I got into MO proper.
I opened the glove box and pulled out my CD book. I could've gotten an adapter for AUX or Bluetooth, but I felt if you were going to have an old car, you might as well do it right.
I selected the CD labeled "Bluegrass" (don't walk me when I got that, I don't know either), and popped it into the stereo.
"Yee haw," I muttered to myself as I gunned the engine and streaked off toward the highway.
I think that's where I'm gonna end it. I had an idea where Jimmy would be in town, where he'd find his target, but I got to this point and it just seemed weird to continue it any further. Don't worry, you won't miss anything. I'll put it in with the sequel.
Most of this chapter has been off the cuff, shoot from the hip. I sit down to write what I planned, think of something alternative, decide that's better, and go with that. Praying I stick to the plan maybe a little more in the next series. Speaking of which, got a title, Tides of Madness. It's very on the nose, but quite frankly, I do t care. It's my title and the best I can come up with, so that's what you're getting. So if you want to see what I have next for Jimmy, look for that title if you're not following me. Until then, Godspeed.