Chapter 21~The Island of Dreams
“So she told you that there is a reverse age fountain on this island?” Joe asked, pacing the deck of the ship and rubbing his chin as if deep in thought.
“Can we really trust her?” Angel asked. “I mean I don’t understand why she would let you find the one thing that could control her and help us.”
“I know, it seems pretty fishy to me too, but what choice do we have? She left us a trail down here for some reason and after we finished talking, she was pulled away by her own element. We can treat it like it is a trap and just be careful and who knows, maybe we will find something useful,” I suggested. We were out of leads anyway and I watched as they slowly came to a decision.
“I don’t like this, but if it gets me back to normal, I’ll try anything,” Joe said before looking at the ocean. “Angel, can you see the trail?”
“Of course I can, it is as clear as day,” she said as she looked out over the small cove. “We can leave whenever you’re ready.” Despite getting very little sleep the night before, watching the sun slowly creep over the horizon seemed to energize me somehow. Angel and Joe also seemed ready to go. I walked over to the helm of the ship and flipped a switch, causing the anchor to lift out of the water and the ship began to float out of the cove.
“Alright guys, let’s go,” I said as I turned on the motor of the ship and I heard it come to life. I turned the ship around and headed out of the cove. Angel was at the front of the ship directing us. She had her trident out and would point it in whatever direction we needed to go. Joe was walking around and checking out some of the things that Hephaestus had made.
“What the heck are these?” Joe asked as he pulled a box out from a compartment under a seat.
“What do they say?” I asked, still keeping my eyes forward.
“Tornado in a Can,” Joe replied, still looking at it quizzically. “Maybe we’ll get a chance to use it later.”
I hoped he was just joking when he said that. While I knew that we were in the Sea of Monsters, I was hoping we would run into a surprising lack of monsters. It seemed like the Fates were against me as we rolled up to a surprisingly scary looking island. It was a small island, but the landscape was rocky with jagged spikes standing up in places. There was also a single channel of water that looked like they could be small rapids, but they seemed to calm once you pasted the shoreline. The worst part was how the entire island seemed to be encased in shadows. The sun still wasn’t high in the sky and the rocky cliffs caused shadows to spread out across the landscape.
“Guys, we have a problem,” Angel said as she looked ahead. “The trail leads right through that island. I don’t know if we can go around, the magic in the Sea of Monsters is strong.”
“That doesn’t seem too bad,” Joe commented. “I mean I see a few rocky cliffs, but this ship was made by Hephaestus himself. I’m sure it can stand a few scrapes if we hit a rock or something.”
“Rocks are the least of our problems if we keep going. Don’t you know what island that is?” Angel commented and the confident smile on Joe’s face faltered. “That is the island of the Sirens.”
“You mean the ones that are supposed to just sing people into death?” I asked.
“That doesn’t seem so bad. We all just need to plug our ears or something.”
“Good plan, I think there are some headphones below deck,” Joe said as he went below. I walked back over to the helm and went to slow the ship, but the ship didn’t seem to slow down even when I cut the engine completely.
“I can’t seem to control the ship,” I commented, a bit worried. “It is like we’re being pulled in.”
“It is one of the enchantments of the island. The island of the Sirens is like a nexus in the Sea of Monsters, everything leads to it eventually and it will pull you in if you try and avoid it. There is also another curse of the island.”
“What would that be?” I asked, but before I got an answer, Joe came upstairs holding only two sets of headphones.
“Sorry guys, I could only find two sets. I looked around, but there isn’t anything to make earplugs out of. It is really weird,” Joe said as he held them in his hand.
“And that would be the other curse,” Angel said. “Just like in the original story, someone has to listen and tell the others when the song is out of range. Any takers?”
Everyone looked at each other undecidedly. We had to make a choice soon however as we were approaching the entrance. Pretty soon we would hear the song and then we would all be in trouble.
“I’ll do it,” Joe said as he walked over and pulled some rope out of another compartment. “Make sure the knots are tight.”
“No, it should be me,” I said.
“Look who is being all noble,” Angel said with a smirk.
“It isn’t because I’m being noble or heroic or anything. Actually, it is the other way around. If Joe does manage to get free somehow, we would never be able to catch him if he flew away. Plus, I know I wouldn’t be able to beat him in combat,” I said before turning to Angel. “Plus, you can direct Joe where to go. Plus, I don’t think I could stop you either, considering we are surrounded by water. I’m the best choice in case something goes wrong.”
“I can’t argue with that,” Joe said as he looked at me. “Alright, sit down over there.”
Joe quietly tied me up and pulled one of the knots tighter.
“Hey, that kind of hurts. Any chance you could loosen them up a little,” I asked, half joking. He just kind of shot me a look that made it seem he didn’t realize I was joking. He gave the ropes a few more tugs and walked over to the helm and plugged his headphones into a jack. As soon as he did, he pulled them off as fast as lightning before messing with a knob.
“What’s the matter?” I asked surprised.
“The radio is stuck on the Apollo Poetry Century. It's really bad, and I can’t change the channel!” Joe said and I let out a relieved sigh. “Are you sure you don’t want to trade places Ash?”
“I would, but I’m a little tied up at the moment,” I said. Joe placed his headphones over his ears and grabbed the helm, taking us toward the island. Angel just placed a hand on my shoulder.
“You know, you’re not as weak as you think you are. Give yourself a little more credit sometimes,” she said, but placed her headphones on as well and plugged them into another jack. “Oh wow, this is bad…and nothing rhymes with orange.”
I kind of tuned them out for awhile as they navigated into the entrance of the island. I kept my ears open, as I needed to hear their singing so they knew when it was safe. As we went down the small waterway, I saw a few ships that had crashed or rotted over the years; it was a bit depressing, like a graveyard for ships. It was right then that I heard the sound echoing off the rocks. It started out as just a few low notes, but then it became a bit clearer. Despite already knowing what the Sirens were trying to do, I found myself struggling against the ropes. I could feel my skin being burned by the friction of my arms constantly pulling against the tight ropes. Joe and Angel couldn’t hear anything and I found myself yelling at them.
“Guys, let me go! Joe, I’ll trade places with you, just take off your headphones and untie me! You guys hate me don’t you! You think I’m useless and just keep me around to make yourself feel better! Just untie me and let me go to the music!” I yelled and screamed. They looked back at me sometimes and they looked hurt, but didn’t make a move to help me. Couldn’t they see I was in pain?
I needed to go and I wasn’t going to let them stop me. I tried to call on my power, impose my will on the ropes to make them elastic like rubber or as weak as tissue paper, but I couldn’t focus and my blue flames didn’t respond to me. The music was close now, very close. Maybe if I could dislocate my thumb, I could slip my hand out of the knot. I pulled a few times, but I couldn’t get enough force to slip my hand out. I tried everything as I pulled my body in ways that my rational mind told me was impossible, but I didn’t care. The ship went around another corner and I saw them, three beautiful women playing harps and singing into the air. All three of them locked their dark eyes with me and it was like I was being taken to another world.
“What is going on?” I asked as the ship seemed to melt away and my world was replaced with a vision. The vision was in stark contrast to the beautiful sounds that the Sirens had sung to me. This world was dark and gray, as if someone had taken all the color from the world. However, I could still hear the music playing in the back of my mind. “Where am I?”
“You’re useless,” said a voice from behind me and I was shoved forward, falling to the ground. I quickly rolled over and saw Aisling standing over me. “I’m not even a full demigod and I’m still better than you.”
“Why are you saying that? I thought we were friends,” I told her, but she just looked at me with an evil grin. Her teeth looked like fangs and her eyes were darker than I had ever seen them.
“She is saying it because it is true,” came another voice. I jumped to my feet and saw Joe walking toward me with his weapon drawn. “You don’t take responsibility for anything and leave it to others. You never take the front lines and it leads to us getting hurt or worse.”
“Joe, is that really what you think?” I asked him.
“It is what we all think,” came another voice. I turned and saw Kimi standing there and I looked into her dark eyes. “You run away from your problems. You run away from anything that could upset your sad little world.”
“When was the last time you took one for the team?” Joe said with a shove.
“Or cared about what we think,” Aisling said.
“Or took the time to really listen to anything we have to say,” Kimi joined in. All three just kept going until it all just became a tangled mess and I didn’t know who was saying what anymore.
They just kept going and I couldn’t stand it anymore. I held my hands over my ears and tried to block them out, but I could hear every name and insult directed at me. When I heard the music of the Sirens become louder, I looked up and saw the three Sirens with their teeth drawn ready to sink into my flesh. However they stopped and looked behind me and I did the same. While I didn’t see Joe, Kimi, or Aisling anymore, I did see someone else I recognized instantly, but at the same time looked different.
“Is that me?” I said out loud. The Sirens looked confused as well, still singing but it seemed like something unexpected had found its way into this dream world they had created.
“No, you’re weak and I’m strong. I can do all the things that you can’t. I can be the demigod that you never could be,” he said. Unlike everyone else, who had dark eyes, this person’s eyes looked like mine, but I could see a small spark of green flames in them, which was unsettling. The Sirens turned away from me now and moved toward this new person, singing louder now but not seeming to have any effect on him. “Please, I am above your trivial tricks.”
He extended his hand and a blast of green flames flew from his hand and burned one of the three Sirens. The other two shot back and seemed to be worried. The figure swiftly moved forward and blasted one before drawing his sword. It looked just like mine, but radiated green flames. He slashed the last of the Sirens in two and it vanished. As it vanished, the entire dream world seemed to be crumbling. The figure walked up to me, standing over me and looking down.
“Who are you?” I asked again.
“Isn’t it obvious, I’m you,” he said. Then his body became covered in green flames and he placed his hand on my chest. I tried to resist him and blue flames covered my body. I tried to push back, but this thing was too strong and I was engulfed in green flames. It felt like someone had dropped a jar of Greek Fire on me. I screamed and then the entire dream world collapsed and everything went dark.