It's been a long break, have you missed me?
Now here's a story, whose pacing, at best, is a B.
"Wait, wait. What kind of bun would you like that on: wheat or white?" I asked, frantically pressing buttons while a customer rambled off an order in a distinctly southern drawl.
The man sighed. "I'll just have a plain grilled cheese. Can ya give me that, missy?"
"I sure can, sir." My lip twitched at his condescending tone, but I placed his order, deciding that he was going to get rye bread and pepper jack cheese, since he obviously couldn't place an order correctly.
He gave me his credit card, and I swiped it through the cash register, putting the black strip on the wrong side, as always. I had even drawn a little picture and stuck it on the register, but I always forgot to look at it.
"Your food will be ready soon," I said with a long-practiced smile.
The customer didn't say anything as he grabbed his buzzer and stomped off, the spurs on his cowboy boots clanking together.
I groaned and rubbed my eyes. Thirty minutes down, five and a half hours to go.
Now, you may be wondering why I, the sole (as far as I know) daughter of Artemis, Goddess of Hunting and the Wild, granddaughter of the God of the Heavens, was stuck working at a minimum wage job serving hamburgers and scooping ice cream. Well, it started the week before my 18th birthday.
"What do you want for your birthday this year?" my dad asked me over dinner.
I had thought about it long and hard, and I had finally come to a decision. "Can I have a car? Not even a nice one necessarily! Just any ol' thing with four tires, a wheel, brakes, 4-wheel drive, airbags, a disco bal-"
To my dismay, my dad was shaking his head. "I'm sorry, Emily, money's just too tight right now. Maybe Artemis can help you out?"
I nodded, but I was kinda disgruntled. After the events of last year, my dad had taken a lower paying job in the middle of nowhere to separate us from the Olympian craziness. Ever since, we haven't eaten out as much or gotten new video games or basically done any of the things I like the most. And just so my dad wouldn't have to worry about me being kidnapped in the middle of the night by my enraged godly relatives.
Which is a completely legitimate fear, I'll admit.
So, I had rummaged in my room for a drachma, and I plopped it into the glimmering reflection of our glass table on the wall. My dad was leaning against the doorway, watching this communication with fascination, like he always did.
I had "dialed" Artemis and gone over my speech in my head. I was going to be witty, succinct, and persuasive.
"What?" Artemis greeted me in her typical brusque manner. "Are hellhounds attacking again? I told you last time, all you need is a laser pointer." Artemis's eyes were following something behind the camera, and I could feel her attention waning.
I snapped my fingers. "I'm actually calling to ask about my birthday coming up."
"Birthday?" Artemis's eyes snapped towards me, and she looked puzzled.
"You know, day of my birth? November-"
"Yes, yes, I know when your birthday is. I was there, you know." She said, rolling her eyes. "Hurt like a mother, too. What's your point?"
I took a deep breath. "Well, we mortals have a tradition of giving gifts on birthdays-"
"Gifts? For me? I knew there had to be an upside to having a child! Well, it'll cost you your soul, but there's this silver knife that I've always wanted-"
She kept rambling on, not noticing (or just outright ignoring) my look of horror.
"-and once you slay the serpent, all you have to do is mix the venom with some, okay most of, your blood, and pour some on the rock, and it'll open right up! There's a rumor that whoever touches it has ten years of bad luck, but that's most likely a slight exaggeration. I love human traditions!"
I had stood there in shock for a second before my dad cleared his throat, and I snapped out of it.
"It's for me! The present is for me! For my birthday! No serpents or venom or any of that! Just presents and maybe cake!"
"Oh." Artemis was clearly very disappointed. "If I'm not getting a present, then why are you telling me about birthdays?"
My patience was wearing thin. "I was calling to ask if you could give me a car, or money for a car, for my birthday, since it's my 18th and all. I know it's not something you've had to do before..." Was that subtle? That didn't feel subtle.
Yet again, my request for a car was greeted with a shaking of the head. "No can do."
"What are you talking about? You are literally immortal! You've had so much time to accumulate dollars!"
"And what use do you think I would have for mortal money? I only need hunting to keep me happy, and money can't buy that."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "But you're a goddess! You can literally summon things out of thin air before. I've seen you do it!"
"I can do little things, like food and such, but the bigger things are beyond my grasp. I can't assist you here, Emily."
I knew I was reaching for straws, but I tried my backup plans. "What about Hades?"
Artemis frowned in puzzlement. "Ghostrider was just a movie, Emily, and I don't think Hades gave him that car."
"Hades is the god of wealth, isn't he? Could he lend me money?"
"My lady?" I heard Thalia's voice from beyond the screen. "I think the boar has escaped."
Artemis looked over at her and I eagerly waved at the screen. "Hi, Thalia!"
"Uh, hi, Emily." She said, disapproving, as always, of my over-enthusiasm. "I'll leave you two to it, then. My Lady." She excused herself with a bow.
Artemis ran her hand through her hair. "You can't make a deal with Hades. He's quiet and crafty, and he always gets the better end of any given bargain."
"Well, then, could I take one of the thousands of pots from Olympus and sell it? It's not like anyone will notice!"
Artemis's eyes started glowing. "You would dare presume to steal from the gods? Do you know what happened to the last person who tried that?" she asked, her voice dropping into a poor imitation of Bale's Batman.
"Umm no..." I admitted, shrinking back a little bit.
"Really? You don't? You're the only daughter of one of the Olympians and you haven't bothered to do any reading up? Of all the unworthy-"
I slashed my hand through the image to dissolve it, and sighed. Looks like I was going to have to actually work for a car.
Which brings me to why I was working at 9:30 on a Saturday morning.
"Welcome to Lasko's Dairy, how may I help you?" I said, greeting yet another customer with a tired smile. My high school had won its Homecoming football game last night, so all the students (including myself) went to the local pizza place to celebrate, and I was exhausted.
As the middle-aged, slightly severe looking woman rambled off her order, my mind wandered to the thought of our big Powder Puff game tonight.
My high school has a tradition of the senior girls scrimmaging the junior girls in a flag football game to finish off Homecoming week, and it was kind of a big deal. As a relatively new student, I wasn't a part of any of the drama happening in between the teams because some junior was seen kissing (remember, this fic is rated T for a reason) a senior's boyfriend, but I understood the desire to maintain senior supremacy. The game wasn't until 6:30, so I had nothing to do but work in the meantime.
I swiped the customer's credit card and sent the order through, hoping I had heard her correctly.
"Have a nice- oh you're gone," I muttered (to myself, I guess) as the customer walked away. Rolling my neck, I turned to the next customer. "Hi, welcome to- oh no."
Standing before me was someone quite familiar to us by this time. Sporting an extremely expensive purse to go with her adorable sundress was none other than the goddess of love herself.
"Hello, Emily," she said, smiling as if we were old acquaintances. "How are you?"
I stared at her in shock, wishing I was anywhere else or at the very least not wearing my awful red uniform that reeked of grease. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to talk. Don't make a scene," she ordered, glancing around us to the people on either side of my register. "Tell your boss you don't feel well or something."
"I get off in five hours " I hedged, trying to think of a subtle way to run away screaming. "Could you come back then?"
Her eyes narrowed. Why do people always narrow their eyes at me? What about squinting makes me more tolerable? "You will talk to your boss now, or I will get you fired."
I carefully weighed my inability to do anything else. "Okay, one second."
My manager was surprisingly understanding (which might be because I'm kind of a terrible cashier and the line was really piling (lining?) up), and he let me go without any problem. Which was kind of a problem.
I followed Aphrodite out to the parking lot, and behind a shed that didn't really belong in the middle of a parking lot but was a hundred years old, so the owners left it.
My escape plan of leaping out of whatever car she drove was foiled when she grabbed my arm and we teleported. I hadn't experienced it in a while, so I felt kinda queasy when we touched down at my house. Queasy and annoyed that my dad's protective uprooting of our lives was in vain.
"So, you're probably wondering why I am wasting my valuable time on you," she started, letting go of my arm and then making hand sanitizer appear. She liberally doused her hands in it. "Oh, sorry, it's just that you reek, and I don't want to smell like grease."
I almost defended the honor of Lasko's Dairy, but I'm really not that dedicated of an employee. "Why are you here, Aphrodite?"
"That's 'Oh Mighty One' to you. But never mind. I want you to show me how to make an online dating profile."
I started laughing. "Okay, you got me, that was hilarious. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if you really had to ask a mortal how to-"
Her deadly glare stopped my laughter quickly. "I will repeat myself once, and then I will call Ares and have him destroy your house. Show me how to make an online dating profile."
"Heemph!" A chuckle escaped against my will. She lifted her hand to do... something devious, but I waved my hands. "I'm sorry, sorry! I'll help you!"
I started walking over to the dinner table, where the laptop was. Aphrodite followed me at a cautious distance. I sat in front of the computer and turned it on. While we waited for it to boot up, I motioned for her to have a seat next to me.
She did so, with obvious reluctance.
"Why are you making a dating profile only now? It became big several years ago," I asked, staring at the spinning disk on the screen.
She scoffed. "I've been a little busy, you know, titan rebellions and all. Plus, the thing with Artemis... Look, I can't handle being next to you. You smell to high Olympus. Go change into something else."
"But-" I tried to protest, but she pointed firmly at my room, and I like my room not being on fire.
I changed into my striped pink shirt and purple plaid shorts, just to annoy her. Sure enough, she winced when I opened the door but refrained from commenting.
"Any particular website you want to join?"I asked as I started up Chrome. "Probably not Christian Mingle, huh?"
She shook her head. "Just take me to the most popular one."
"eHarmony it is," I said as I silently apologized to the eHarmony community for unleashing Aphrodite on them.
I started an account and filled in the information she gave me, after she smacked me upside the head to saying "ugly brown" for her hair and "crazy as a kumquat" for her eye color. She also didn't like her Interests being listed as "Torturing, meddling, kidnapping, blackmailing, generally being a nuisance." Finally, her account was complete, but I paused before clicking the final confirmation button.
"Do you really think you can seduce a bunch of strangers over the internet? You don't even know how it works."
She smiled. "The language of love speaks to everybody. And you doubt my powers of seduction? I could seduce you if I wanted to."
"Please don't." Grimacing at the thought, I clicked the button.
I showed her how to view profiles and how to send messages. She took to it like a psychopath to murdering, and it wasn't long before she didn't need me to be there at all, so I went and started playing my PlayStation.
"Alright, mortal, I have accomplished my task. If I find you have accessed or modified that account in any way, I will make you wish you had been sent to Tartarus."
I stood. "Why'd you make me teach you, anyway? Surely you have minions or someone who knows how to use a computer."
"Or, I could make you teach me and guarantee that nobody on Olympus would find out because I'll kill your family if you so much as think about this near other Olympians. Toodles!" She strolled out the door, and I rolled my eyes. Some people had no manners.
It was only 1:30, so I settled down for a nap before the game.
I had a bunch of dreams that foreshadow the ending of this story but I can't remember them, sorry.
"Emily, time to wake up," my dad said as he shook my shoulder. "You're supposed to be at the school in half an hour."
I had drooled in my sleep, and detaching my face from our leather couch wasn't exactly pleasant. My right leg was still asleep, so I limped over to my bedroom and changed into the blue football jersey (juniors had to wear white). I carefully braided my hair into two French braids, and grabbed some eyeliner (Gasp! I'm a girl!)
"Hey, dad, can you put this underneath my eyes like they do in the NFL?" (Gotcha!) I asked, walking over to where he was sitting at the computer.
He was making a powerpoint for his class, and I sincerely hoped Aphrodite had remembered to exit out of eHarmony. "You want eyeblack? Okay, but you're playing at night, so you don't really need it..."
"I want to look tough," I insisted, making my scariest face.
He applied the eyeliner, and when he was done I looked like a fierce warrior. Who was 5'5 and had her hair in two sloppy braids.
He drove me to the school, and I ran out just in time to be announced as Emily "The Big Bad" Wolf.
"Alright, team," Tim, one of the senior football players (who were our coaches), started. "what you're going to do is play hard, and pull those flags. Now, I have no idea who stole whose boyfriend, but this is a great time to work out some of your frustration. Let's go seniors on three!"
We all put our hands in a pile, and after he counted, half of the hands went up, half of the hands went down, making us look as disorganized as we were.
I was starting on the defensive line, and I got in the three point stance (we called it the tripod stance during practices to annoy the coaches), and locked eyes with the girl across from me.
I think her name was Rebecca, and she had Romans 1:14 written on her eyeblack.
It was always a little awkward when she tried to invite me to church, because I happened to know several gods personally, which I'm pretty sure isn't something Christianity is usually cool with.
Something about the verse made me pause and consider something I hadn't thought of before. 'Romans... Wait. If the Roman gods were the same as the Greek gods, that means Artemis is also... someone else! Weird. Am I-'
"We did it!" Brittany (a girl in my science class) exclaimed, slapping me on the back. "You were an animal!"
"What?" I asked, blinking furiously. "What happened?"
Tim was walking next to us and laughed. "You tore them apart, that's what happened! I've never seen anyone play like that! MVP of the game, that's for sure!"
"Wait, how did this happen? The game hasn't started yet!" I was incredibly spooked. Did I blackout, but the kind of blackout that makes you good at tackling?
I saw my dad running over to the sidelines with the rest of the parents, and he had the biggest smile on his face. "That's my girl!" He hollered, giving me a big hug.
The parents around us laughed, and I felt several people pat me on the back. The next couple minutes passed in a blur of congratulations, pictures, and chanting "We undefeated, we undefeated!" (Yes, it's awful grammar, but what're you going to do?)
Finally, the crowd cleared, and I made my way back to where my dad was. Standing next to him in a black coat and silver pants was-
"Artem-mom! What are you doing here?" I approached her cautiously, not remembering if we were on hugging terms or not.
"Your father insisted I come to one of your school events, and this one was at least a little interesting. Good job," she said, clasping me awkwardly on the shoulder. "From the shouts of the other parents, you did well."
I wanted to tell her about the possession or whatever it was, but just for a moment, my mom was giving me a genuine compliment. And, boy, was I thirsty for those.
"What was your favorite moment?" I asked, linking arms with my dad as we walked to the car. As they (mostly my dad) went on about how amazing I was, I was incredibly weirded out by having a normal interaction with both of my parents but overall pleased.
We got home and Artemis left, after congratulating me formally, again. My dad wanted to stay up and talk about the game, but I convinced him I was too tired, and he let me go to bed without a fuss.
After I brushed my teeth and showered (hygiene is important!), I crawled into bed and opened my Facebook app. I was tagged in a bunch of statuses, but what really caught my eye was the video someone had posted of a couple minutes of the game.
As it loaded, I hoped I wasn't going crazy, because I didn't really have time for that.
The video loaded, and it was shot from the highest bleachers, so the little players were tiny blurs of pixels.
I watched the junior quarterback receive the ball and drop back for a pass, only to see this blue blur tear after her and rip her flag away.
"That's Emily again!" The voice of whoever shot the video said. "She's sacked the quarterback 'bout 10 times now! She's playing like a demon's after her!"
On the next play, it looked like they had two people blocking me, but I shoved them away and sprinted after the quarterback, who saw me coming and fumbled the football, which I recovered.
I watched the entire quarter, and it filled me with apprehension. What happened to me? Was it triggered by something?
The video maker discovered he could zoom in at the end, and he captured me (I think it was me, it was super blurry) "tackling" the running back in the backfield. I had thrown the flag on the ground, and looked directly at the camera. There was a hardness of expression in my 6 or so pixels, and I don't think I've ever looked that serious in my life.
Turning my phone off, I plugged it in to charge, and lay back in my bed. What was happening to me? Who was that person who played like that? How amazing are the Colts?
Questions swam through my mind, and I found that I couldn't sleep.
I tossed and turned for about 15 minutes before I decided some cool air would calm me down.
Tiptoeing to avoid waking my dad (who snored so loudly there was no way he could hear me), I opened the sliding glass door and stepped into my backyard. The moon was shining brightly, and it was unseasonably warm for October in the Midwest.
I started walking towards the old tire swing at the very back of our half-acre property, but I tripped on one of my strategically placed gnomes that were there to, well, trip people. (Don't try this at home, kids)
"Daughter of Artemis!" I exclaimed softly, rubbing my foot. It was throbbing but not the "It's going to look like I have conjoined twin toes tomorrow" throbbing.
"You?" I heard a voice behind me, one I didn't recognize.
I whipped around to see Artemis. "Geez, Mom, don't sneak up on me like that. And yes it's me. Who else would trip over one of her own gnomes?"
Her face was in shadow, and when she stepped out, I could tell something was different. Her face had a cold fascination I hadn't really ever seen. I do many things, and inspire emotion is definitely one of them. "You call me Mom?"
"Well, I don't call you Dad. What are you doing in my backyard?"
She continued to walk towards me, with the look that gave me shivers. I took a step backwards. "Artemis, you're freaking me-"
"Be silent and still," she ordered, which definitely proved it wasn't the Artemis I knew, who knew better than to give me direct commands.
I lunged to the left, knowing I wouldn't get away but that I had to try.
What I didn't know was how badly it would hurt when she stuck her arm out and let me clothesline myself.
As I lay wheezing and embarrassed (as per usual) on the ground, she continued to stare at me, showing no more emotion than she had before. "Fascinating."
"Wh-ho are yo-ou?" I gasped out, pretty sure my windpipe was now the size of a coffee straw.
"Typical Artemis to not teach respect. I'll let it slide, girl, this once because I'm sure my Greek half has messed this up, too. I am Diana, Goddess of the Hunt, Roman counterpart to Artemis, who I see has made a horrible mistake in reproducing. And I am left again to clean up her messes."
I was speechless. And freaked out. "What do you mean 'clean up her messes'? Where's Artemis?"
"She's in here somewhere," Diana (I guess) said, gesturing in her general head area. "Only one of us can be present at a time, and it is my turn to run the show. And by 'clean up her messes,' I was referring to eliminating you. I apologize, I should have been more clear about that."
Well, since she put it so nicely...
Hey, everybody! I just felt like I wasn't finished with AM's universe, and I wanted to see what Emily's next adventure was. Before you guys point out any errors in my logic, I have to admit that I haven't read the Lost Hero or any of the sequels, but I really like the concept of the Roman sides. So, I'm cashing in my voucher for creative license, and I hope you enjoy the story!