The Love Boat
I watched as Joe fell out of the sky and into the water. He seemed to sink like a rock and I was about to jump in to pull him out, but El was already one step ahead of me. She looked like a fish, the way she moved through the water as easily as I was running on land. She swam out to the area where Joe had sunk beneath the waves and dove down below the surface. We all watched the sea, waiting for any sign of the two as all we could do that this point was wait. Just then, El broke the surface of the water and I could see her pulling Joe in her other arm. She seemed to will herself forward and the water complied, pulling her toward the beach. When she made it back, she laid him down on the sand and placed her ear against his chest.
“He isn’t breathing!” she cried out. Jared ran over and pushed her out of the way.
“Don’t worry, I know CPR,” he said and placed his hand over Joe’s nose, closing it off. He then placed his mouth over Joe’s and filled his body with air before pumping his chest. I recognized the procedure from watching it a few times on TV, but the real thing was more than a little unsettling. There was something that you missed when watching it on TV that didn’t translate into the real world, and that something was fear. This wasn’t like on television where all our problems could be solved in a half hour or everything would be fine at the end of a chapter for a book. Just then, Joe’s eyes opened just as Jared was about to blow more air into his lungs.
“Get off me!” Joe shouted and pushed Jared to the side. He rolled over into his hands and knees and began coughing, causing water to spew from his mouth, most likely because he had almost drown a few moments ago. Joe then reached into his bag and pulled out a bottle of water, rinsing his mouth out and spitting it in the sand.
“You’re welcome,” Jared said as he got back to his feet and started patting the sand from his uniform. Meanwhile, Dan and I proceeded to facepalm while everyone else let out a laugh, trying to hide it from Joe. Joe on the other hand got to his feet and took a very shaky step, but started to fall because of the unstableness of the sand. El managed to grab him in time and propped him back onto his feet.
“Easy there, you almost just died. Take a moment and rest for a minute,” she said, but he seemed to be shaken about something else.
“I saw it,” he said in a whispered tone, still trying to catch his breath.
“What, your ego? It is kind of had to miss,” April joked.
“No, I saw the bomb!” he said and got a look like he was trying to remember something important. “It was only for a second I think. I was standing near the shores of a river and a boat was sailing toward me, but that wasn’t important because on the other side of the river, I saw Bunnies Sun carrying something out of a tunnel. No one seemed to notice them and before I could tell the guy in the boat, I saw…”
Joe looked over at Jared for a split second and his whole bodied shivered. However, if what he said was true, then our next stop was in a place no one ever wanted to go, the Underworld. I went there once and I can safely say it wasn’t my first choice for a vacation spot.
“But how do we get to the Underworld? I mean the only entrances are in California, New York City, and there was that one at camp, but I think Hades sealed it off,” El said while keeping Joe on his feet.
“We could all catch a flight to California,” Joe suggested, but El’s face took on a look of slight terror, which didn’t go unnoticed by Joe. “Oh come on, if I can swim then you can fly.”
“Then how about I take a plane and you swim to the entrance in New York City. I’m sure we’ll make it to the Underworld at about the same time,” she mocked and released him, causing him to fall into the sand.
“Hey,” he said angrily and I saw a few sparks in his eyes. For a second I was worried that they would start fighting again, but Dan stepped forward and the two turned their attention toward him.
“We won’t fly or swim; we don’t have the money anyway. A flight is too expensive and a boat will take way too long, especially just finding a ship to take us there would take time. Plus, I checked the map and the location of the bomb doesn’t appear to be anywhere on it, probably because it is below the radar. I hate to say it, but we may have lost this one,” Dan said sorrowfully and he started rubbing his hand through his air in an annoyed fashion. Then, out of nowhere he let out a loud yell of pure frustration and everyone was quiet for a few minutes, until I thought of something.
“We may be able to enter the Underworld from another entrance,” I said and everyone looked at me with shocked or confused looks on their faces.
“What other entrance?” April asked.
“Well the one in New York and California aren’t the only ones. In fact, the Underworld’s walls are alive and always changing, making new entrances and exits all the time. It is how my dad manages to get in and out of the Underworld to deliver messages. It is possible that some of the old entrances here in Greece could still be working, if Thanatos hasn’t gotten around to closing them that is,” I said, somewhat sarcastically, but mostly with optimism in my voice. “There is one only a few hours from here.”
“That’s brilliant!” El said as she jumped for joy. “Let’s go to wherever it is we’re going!”
“We’ll head for the Acheron river, the river of sorrow,” I said, and instantly wished I hadn’t because everyone’s face kind of sunk and El stopped being so happy, considering the name of the river. “I’m sure it isn’t as bad as it sounds…”
The trip there wasn’t taking us that long; we were about an hour away the way I drive. We had rented a car with our dwindling supply of cash, as selling strawberries to local restaurants only made Camp Half-Blood so much money. Thankfully, we were able to rent a van which could comfortably fit everyone, but I felt bad because I knew there would be little chance we ourselves could bring the van back to the rental place, as we were heading to the land of the dead.
“Are we there yet?” April asked from behind me. She had asked it a few times over the past hour and it was kind of annoying.
“Don’t make me turn this car around, because I will,” I yelled into the back, but I was mostly joking.
“Considering where we’re going…Are we there yet?” Joe asked and I just decided to tune them all out and keep driving. Before long, we came up to the river and there wasn’t a soul around for possibly miles. All that was here was a small wooden shack with a sign that said Charon’s River Tours.
“This looks like the place,” Dan said and we all piled out of the van. Dan walked up to the door and knocked a few times on the ticket window. A shudder flew up and a man in a fancy suit appeared from behind the glass.
“Welcome to Charon’s River Tour. My name is Charon and I will be your tour guide today. My I ask how many members of your party are dead?” Charon asked with mild interest.
“Um…we all are,” Dan responded and Charon took another look around.
“And how did you die?” Charon asked Dan.
“We were eaten by a giant turtle on our way to Athens,” Dan said, and the idea seemed kind of funny. So funny apparently that I let a small chuckle escape my throat. This drew Charon’s attention toward me and his eyes narrowed. I stayed perfectly still and tried to look calm, but he was kind of freaking me out. Then his eyes shot wide with recognition.
“You!” he shouted and he completely vanished from behind the window, only to appear right in front of me. He grabbed my shoulders and lifted me with surprising ease. “I remember you, you got me to take you into the Underworld for free!”
I watched as Joe started reaching for his weapon, but I signaled for him to stay calm. I could tell he was a bit uneasy and he wasn’t the only one as everyone else had nervous faces.
“I just have one thing to ask you,” he said and I felt a chill run through my entire body, like I was somehow closer to death. “Does Erika ever talk about me?”
I didn’t know how to respond to that, and everyone looked completely confused. Joe looked like he was about to fall over again, but more from shock. Dan just looked completely confused and El looked like she was about to crack up along with April. Jared just kind of rolled his eyes.
“Ya…sure she does,” I said as convincing as I could.
“So she got my flowers then? What about the card I sent last Valentine’s Day? Oh, and the beautiful designer suit I sent to her. It was top of the line and I have a matching suit for myself,” he rambled on and I could see El and April were about to loose it.
“Actually, that is why we are here,” I told him and Charon had a huge smile come across his face. It scared me to death, which was good because if I played my cards right he would take us to the Underworld anyway. “You see, as a son of Hermes, I am here to deliver a message.”
“What is it? Some kind of love letter or a wonderful thank you message…in song maybe? I bet my lovely Erika has a beautiful sing voice,” Charon went on and I snapped my finger to get his attention back to me.
“She said that she wanted to go on your river tour and sent me to make sure it is entertaining enough,” I said and he seemed to light up.
“Well this is wonderful. I have the best river tour in all the Underworld. It is also the only river tour in all the Underworld, but the point still stands. I will show you the best tour you have ever had and my darling Erika will shower me with presents as thanks to me for giving you such a good time. But what about them?” he asked, placing me down on the dock and pointing to the rest of the group.
“Oh them…they are Erika’s friends too,” I told him and a scowl crossed his face.
“They’ll have to pay full price,” he said, which wasn’t good considering we didn’t have a lot of golden drachmas left.
“But Charon, imagine how much happier Erika will be to hear good things from a group of people over just one simple messenger,” I told him and he seemed to think about this.
“That is true. Alright, I’ll make this the best tour you six have ever had in your life,” he said and he snapped his fingers. There was a moment a silence, but then the waters of the river began to bubble and swirl around. Then, I saw a mast with a Jolly Rodger rise from the water, followed by the rest of a ferry boat. When it completely rose from the depths, I saw that while it looked like a regular ferry boat, it was decorated with bones and I wondered if it was real. “All aboard!”
“What was that about,” El asked quietly as we walked onto the ferry boat.
“Charon drank a love potion that we got by doing a favor for Aphrodite. He ended up falling in love with a friend of mine named Erika, a child of Demeter. Aphrodite said it would were off after awhile, but you have to wonder how long awhile is for a god,” I said and she just let out a small laugh. I also made a mental note to apologize to Erika later, as she may actually have to go on this tour, I promised Charon after all.
“You have to tell me about your adventures sometime,” she said and the ferry boat let out a whistle as the engines started and we pulled away from port toward the Underworld. Hopefully we would all escape the Underworld so I could tell her a few of my adventures.