By SF Hades
Show Must Go On
Mac Astley casually sacrificed himself for me.
Ximena became the class president and brought forward a new age for OrigOlympus.
But what about me?
I don’t know. I don’t know who I am, or what I want to do. But I do know I like her, thank you very much.
Charlie Leavings, girl next door, whatever. It’s clique!
But with a new student, new school year, maybe I can put this behind me, right? Because I was given a second chance.
And I can’t screw this up. Here I am, on the road again. Turning the page.
But this story doesn’t start with a new page, actually. I think I need to start where I last left off.
Five whole months back, a girl moved in from the house across from me. It was dark out, the moonlight was all that illuminated us. But well, there was one thing.
I liked her voice. It was pretty. And British.
Oh no, she’s funny, too.
Don’t screw this up…. Don’t screw this up, you idiot.
And I tripped on her stairs. Stupid. Stupid. So stupid.
The house infrastructure was identical to mine. Maybe I could point that out to make conversation. See, that’s what we call a bad idea.
“Wow, your house is just like mine!” I pointed to the left, at a random room, “That’s where you sleep. I know that because I sleep there.”
There was a pause. “In my own house,” I added. Still a silence. “Here, let me get these.” I grabbed her bags. I instantly dropped them. “Need help there?” She asked.
“No, no, no, I got this.” So I dropped it again.
“Really, it’s no issue at all.”
Sebastian, do not look like an idiot in front of the cute British girl.
I pick up the boxes, popping a tendon as I do it. I was never good with brute strength. I was used to exploiting weaknesses in the opponent. The only weakness I could exploit was removing items from the box. She switched the light on. “There?”
I dropped the box again. She was really pretty.
I tried to lift it again. She helped me this time.
And we brought it to her room.
“Let me guess,” she pointed at the floor, “That’s where I sleep?” She teased, and pulled a sleeping bag out of the box, throwing it to the floor.
“I- I’ll just. I’ll just go.”
I casually left the room, er, I tried to casually leave the room. But I bumped my shoulder on the doorframe… of what’s essentially my own house?
Why, universe, am I such a stupid person?
Come As You Are
Knock, knock, knock, knock.
I hate jet lag. Of course, switch time zones and your whole day is naturally out of whack. It doesn’t help moving to what- from my research- is the worst school in the state, and one of the worst of the states in general. I pound on the door. It’s… second period, is that what the Americans call it?
The teacher opens the door. She has a tall physique. She judgmentally looks me up and down, but I’m used to that, then she smiles. It seems genuine, like a good person being caught off guard. Many of the seats are taken. The bad part about coming to school on the second day. Wonder what the mindset of my parents was when they came to that decision.
But there are two seats in the far corner. There’s that kid- the funny one from across the street- in the far corner. The seat next to him is empty, as well as it is in front of him. He’s dressed in an outfit that looks strange compared to the other students- then again so does mine.
He doesn’t notice that I sit down next to him, he’s lost in whatever he’s writing, his earphones playing music. I can make out only the faintest sliver of Elton John. I’ve always liked that form of rock music.
Makes sense, The Beatles, Freddie Mercury, Elton John, all British. I fell in love with the genre, expanding into American music. It allowed me a touch of their culture, so it wasn’t all too surprising.
I listen to the teacher’s lecture. She’s nice, she’s the counselor, she says she’s free to talk all day, but we only get her for homeroom for like twenty minutes a day.
But, ummm, problem. Problem, problem, problem. Why is homeroom in second period?
Before I can ask my question, the lunch lady knocks on the door and passes out breakfast. Sebastian zones back to reality and walks to the front of the room.
He picks up a Pop Tart, while I remain seated. He notices that I’m sitting right next to him.
He breaks his Pop Tart in half, “Bet you never tried one of these, they’re called Pop Tarts. Try them. They’re good.”
“I know what a $%(#*) Pop Tart is, #*)@#()@.”
He frowns. After a while, I nibble away at the pop tart. He has this sad look on his face, like he’s being haunted. Through the day, I see people shoot him weird looks. It’s the way people would look at an unhinged dog. One that could snap at any second.
He didn’t look dangerous, if he was a mutt he’d be more of a lost and abused puppy.
Why are people acting so mean to him? Is it the fact that he’s a loner? People seriously need to grow up, people need to express themselves, really. I mean, look at me. Why shouldn’t you wear a jean jacket with all your favorite bands as pins that likely make you weigh ten pounds more than you do? It’s twenty twenty, dang it!
The bell rang, and in the next period, I snapped.
We’re Not Gonna Take It
The flashing colors. That’s all I see anymore. Xtreme.Fun, Professor Funtime staring at me, the cold dead eyes. Sometimes it’s a real guy- who I genuinely feel bad for, other times it’s a guy in a mascot costume. My bet is that the actor snapped mid-way through production, but no matter what happens, there’s always the screaming calculator. But it’s more than that.
It’s the flashing colors. They send me into a panic, my eyes start to dart around the room. It feels like my ears are bleeding. I can’t look at the ceiling, the light’s too bright.
I feel like something’s creeping inside of me, making it hard to breathe each and every day. Somedays I feel disassociated with myself. Like I’m not the one in control of myself- maybe it’s me, maybe Funtime numbed my nerves, maybe Flynn’s still lurking there in my head.
I jolted back to life when I heard the sound of a hand pounding on a desk. I turn and see that Charlie is taking issue with Xtreme.Fun.
If CHRONOS was still around, she’d make a great member.
“No one’s gonna talk about this?” She asks. I look around, no one else does. They don’t really care about rebellion, anymore.
“I mean, wow, this program is bloody awful.” She stands up.
“Miss Leavings, take a seat.” The teacher says, standing up.
“You first, buttercup.”
The teacher reaches for a detention slip. “Oh, that won’t be necessary. See, we’re already getting the same treatment as the kids in D-Haul.” She looks around, “Can’t talk, can’t look up from Professor #$*%time, yeah, don’t act like I didn’t read up on how this school failed to poorly handle protests from the students, instead expelling the guy who protests. Oh, and also, detention lasts thirty minutes shorter.“
I blushed from within my mask. Technically, they didn’t expel the perp. Technically, he still walks free.
Technically, I let an innocent man take the fall.
This time, the teacher reaches to buzz the office. Charlie sits down. She cussed out a teacher on her first day. But she flinches. “Miss Leavings, meet me outside.”
I raise my hand. “Ms. Binford, could I use the bathroom?”
In actuality, I go into one of the empty classrooms. I hop into the closet and into the labyrinth, ready to peek on in. Am I creepy?
“Miss Leavings,” the teacher says, “That behavior was unacceptable. However, I admire that pepped up attitude, and to be fair, I despise FunTime. You broke just about every rule in the handbook when it comes to disrespecting teachers, but that shows confidence, and you had a well reasoned argument.” He holds up a sheet of paper, one I can’t read from my peephole. “I used to be the debate teacher, but FunTime cut my club. However, I’ve, uh, partnered with Mr. Willigens, who’s coordinating after school events, and he’s cut me some slack. I want you in the new debate club.”
I exit the labyrinth. People shoot me more weird looks, especially Charlie who very clearly heard my rummaging.
Great. Word to the wise: Don’t spy on your crush.
But as I saw their weird looks, I realized that I needed to reinvent Sebastian Merrick.
My parents are away for the week, and I knew what to do.
I go to Xander after the bell rings, “So your Mom’s like- loaded right? Trust fund?”
He nods. He has this look of authority now that he’s Zeusigami. Leadership looks good on him.
“Well,” I lean on his locker, though it’s a bit too slick. “Could you help a homie out?”
Devil Went Down To Georgia
I showed up to the auditorium after school. There was a small group- six or seven people.
Mrs. Binford stepped into the room. She wore a business suit, and by all means, she looked good.
“Good afternoon, ladies, gentlemen! Welcome to “Our United Republic And Negotiations (That) Uses Skills” or-”
“NO!” One students screams, in a Reddit hoodie. “NO EVIL ACRONYMS!”
Mrs. Binford frowned. “Alright then. Well, first off, I’d like to introduce you all to each other. On some days, these people will be your brothers and sisters, on others, your worst enemies. But no matter what, you have to get to know each other.”
The first student stood up, dressed in all red, her ears pointed making her look like an evil elf creature. “Hi! I’m Georgia,” as she stood, there was a paper finger puppet in her pocket- yeah, I know about the trends. She had this smug look on her face and when she saw me she flinched.
I instantly knew I wanted to punch her. And then I recognized her puppet, Minthe, from Lore Olympus. My least favorite character.
From the bleachers, a voice said: “Hey, I’m…. uh…. Pablo.” He wore a pitch black shirt with a skull over it, and dark eyeshadow under his eyes. I respected the style.
Someone jogged in, wearing track pants. In his pocket was another Lore Olympus character, Hermes. Though this was his traditional greek form. He must’ve been part of the new OrigOlympians. “Howdy, guys! Name’s Heff.” He seemed nice.
A quiet voice, leaning on the bleachers bid hello. I turned and saw him. My neighbor. Sebastian Merrick. Georgia and Pablo seemed to silently panic, Georgia sliding two rows up the bleacher and into Pablo’s arms. So that’s how it is.
“Just… call me Seb.” He finished.
The teacher clapped her hands together. “Well, you guys all seem acquainted already. So you guys already seem familiar with each other, right?” We all nodded. “But let’s see how you guys fare against each other. Get into teams of two.”
Georgia and Pablo were already in each other’s arms. I turned to Sebastian and nodded. “Oy, get over here, Mer.”
Mer faintly smiled and walked over.
Heff huffed, and slouched over. Mrs. Binford panicked. “Uhhhh, Heff, you go with Seb and Charlie.”
“To see where you are, I propose an equal and fair debate, relating to this school.” She pointed to me, Heff, and Mer’s team. “These two are in charge of defending FunTime.”
And she pointed at Pablo and Georgia, “And you two are in charge of defeating it.”
She smiled. “Sound fair?” We all nodded, “You have the next half hour to brainstorm, and trust me, it’ll go by faster than it sounds.”
“Kind of a weird person, isn’t she?”
“I like her,” I decided. “Seb, what’s your opinion on her? I mean, I know you did blow u-”
“Well, I think she’s just fine. But there is something off about her. I know it. Anyway, back to business.”
“No, no, no, no, I have questions.” I said.
Sebastian coughed into his arm, “Of course you do.”
“So, I know about the origami craze. Is- is there any way I can join in on that?”
Heff smiled, “Well, I joined- like- this morning, you need credentials and a good history, you could probably join by-”
“Tomorrow,” Mer decided. He smiled.
“I was gonna say eighth grade.”
“Well, I can pull strings. I’m good at that.”
This time I coughed in my arm, “Of course you are.”
“Anyway,” Mer said, “Back to work.”
“Hey, which goddesses were you thinking?” Heff asks.
“Probably Persephone. From the webcomic.”
Mer sits up and pulls out a notepad, “Hey, which comic is that?”
“Oh, it’s called Lore Olympus.”
He writes it down, “Oh, oh, that’s cool.”
He pauses. “Or whatever.”
“But back to work,” Heff says.
“Wait, one more thing.” This time it’s Mer.
“Hey, I’m… uh… throwing a party. This weekend, you guys are invited.”
“Ok, now, back to business.” Heff says, now slightly annoyed, “How are we going to be defending Xtreme.Fun?”
“We can’t.” Mer decides. “Because truthfully, that’s what war does. It doesn’t really solve anything.” Heff seems to try and hold back a laugh.
“So what are we supposed to do?” I ask, “Do we just do nothing?”
“No, the Greek invented Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, right?”
And that’s what we used. Xtreme.Fun makes students miserable, dehumanizing them. Test Scores, while going up overall, have gone down when taking into account the drastic decrease in questions and challenge.
And of course, we win.
Georgia and Pablo’s argument was just that bad.
Georgia screams, “THIS ISN’T FAIR!” And storms off.
“What’s her deal?” I ask.
Sebastian blushes. “It’s complicated.”
I’m Still Standing
Flash forward a few days, it’s the weekend. Parents are away, whole cabin to myself. Xander helped me set up the party decorations last night, so we were good to go. Problem was, the party started at eight.
Around noon, while I’m taking a crap, I get a call. From Georgia.
I pick up. “Hey!” She says, cheerfully, “Did you get me the purse I wanted?”
After “The Battle of the Night Sky,” I made the mistake of promising each CHRONOS member a gift. That included Georgia, who actually had a major bone to pick with me. Being my ex, and all. “Um, yeah, I did, but-”
“That’s great.” She hangs up. After flushing, I stare at the purse.
I pour an entire bottle of soap in it.
Why? BECAUSE I COULD.
Xander and Ben arrive an hour early. “So, blue-boy,” Ben says, “You got a date? Georgia, maybe?”
“$#(@, we broke up.”
“I, for one,” says Ben, “Am grateful. I don’t have to spend the evening with that trash.”
“Do you have a date?” I ask them both. They both nod. Ben’s eyes shift around, and he frowns. “Yes.”
“Well, that’s just peachy. I’m the only one alone.”
“Relax,” Ben says, “No one will notice.”
And at eight, it all broke loose. I mean, with that being said, people were surprisingly civilized.
Me, Ben, and Xander were all just kinda standing around. Ben had a cup of punch in his hand, which he promptly snapped.
“Seb, did you invite OrigOddesseus.”
“No, no, no, no. no. That was Xander.”
“I find it really entertaining when you get mad.” Xander said.
And that’s when the crowd parted. And I saw that Charlie had arrived. “Someone’s staring.” Xander said.
I chuckled, “Oh, I don’t know what you mean. I don’t stare at women.”
Ben laughed, “Yeah, he stares at men.”
“Henry Cavill was an exception, jerk.”
“You need to talk to her,” Xander decided.
“I’m more of an admirer from afar,” I said.
“Stalker,” Xander coughed.
“Don’t worry,” Ben said, “I have a plan.”
“Hit me.” I said.
“No can do, it’s a secret. Xander, go turn up the music. What’s she into?”
“Uhhh, Queen, Elton John.”
Ben giggled, “Hey could you play I’m Still Standing?” I almost choked on my kool-aid. This didn’t sound good.
So there I was, awkward standing in Charlie’s general direction. Nodding my head to the music, tapping my foot, Xander just straight up BLASTING Elton John.
Ben was on the other side. He put his finger to his mouth. I mouthed to him, “What are we even doing?”
Xander, from the DJ booth, shrugged. Ben runs over, behind Charlie. He puts three fingers up.
This is a bad idea.
This is a really bad idea.
WHAT IS HAPPENING.
He kicks Charlie in the legs and she falls flat on her face.
“WHAT THE ##*)*# WAS THAT?” I scream to Ben.
“YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO CATCH HER IN YOUR ARMS, IDIOT!”
“Well,” Xander said, calmly, “She’s certainly not standing.”
“YOU MORALLY CORRUPT PRICK!” I screamed at Xander.
“Guys, guys, we need to quit arguing and focus on the topic at hand. What do you think of my outfit?” Ben asks.
“No one was talking about that!” I shout.
“Yeah, I was trying to get the ball rolling on that, it’s good, right?”
I groaned and cupped my face in my hands. “Shouldn’t we focus on Ben’s aggravated assault?”
“It wasn’t aggravated!”
“Yeah, Seb,” Xander says, “It’s just regular assault.”
“God, I hate all of you.”
“Would it be a bad time to ask him our question?” Ben asks Xander.
“Yes, Ben. Yes it is.”
“Look,” Ben said, “We can make this work.”
“Whatever you’re about to say, no.”
“Ewww, no, look, just take her home, nurse her to health, or whatever. I swear, this isn’t what I had made.”
“WHAT DID YOU HAVE IN MIND, DIRT BUCKET!?” I collected myself. “I’m sorry I called you a dirt bucket, Benjamin.”
This time, it was Xander that groaned. I ran to the DJ booth and turned off the Elton John. “Everyone, uh, party’s over. Get out.”
No one listened.
Xander ran over and turned a strobe light on. He played dramatic thunder over the loudspeaker that rattled the windows. “BY ZEUSIGAMI’S BEARD, I DECREE THAT YOU #*_* OFF!” He shouts.
People ran away, after that.
Xander and Ben wanted to stay behind, to help. They’re loyal friends.
“Xander, Ben, you two. Please, just… go away before you make this worse.”
I brought her to my bed, first. I laid her down, and made sure she took her shoes off, so they don’t get sore. Around ten, she woke up, and screamed.
“WHAT? DID- DID YOU KIDNAP ME?”
“NO, NO, MY FRIEND KICKED YOU FOR SOME STUPID PLOY!”
“WHAT WERE YOU EVEN TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH?”
“WHY DID YOU YELL THAT?”
“I THOUGHT WE WERE YELLING!”
“Ok, calm down. Tell me exactly what happened.”
“Ok. So a friend wanted to kick you for a big plot.”
“And what was the plot?”
“I- I was not involved in the plot itself.”
“But you bore witness, you were right next to me. I saw you. So you were involved, whether you want to be or not.”
I sighed. “You- you had me there.”
“Was the music suspiciously getting ear piercingly loud part of your scheme.”
I nodded yes. She sighed. “You’re off the hook because I like you.” I perked up, “As a friend,” I perked down, “But maybe you could make it up to me.” She smiled. “Didn’t you say you could make me an OrigOlympian?”
When Doves Cry
Me and Pablo had gathered at her office. We served as witnesses.
Charlie Leavings’ public freakout went without consequence.
This is unfair. This is… unjust.
And that’s why myself, Pablo, and our friend decided to tell Principal Kemp. And I gave them puppets, of course.
Pablo got Thanatos. Death god. Hot.
Mrs. Kemp put her hands together and sighed, “These allegations are serious. If what you’re leading me to believe is correct, Mrs. Binford aided in preventing a student from receiving punishment. And of course, Leavings broke over thirty percent of the rules in our handbook. If this is true, there will be….
So… I’m Persephopleat!
Yay, I guess.
I… I don’t feel any different. But weirdly enough, I feel constricted. Like I can only do “Persephopleat” things, when, well, I don’t know what that is. But Sebastian was eager to get the ball rolling on the new OrigOlympians.
Sebastian catches up with me during lunch, and he smiles. “Hey Charlie,” he says. I smile back at him, we lock eyes and I can tell he’s blushing under his mask.
“Hey, so I uh, caught up on that webcomic you mentioned. Lore Olympus?”
“You read a hundred and eighteen chapters in one night after I mentioned something in passing?” He nervously laughed, “No issue. But anyways, I talked to Xander. He’s letting me become an OrigOlympian!” He pulls out a piece of origami. Blue skin. White hair. Red pupils. Kind smile. Black suit. Hades, Lord of the Dead.
Things instantly become incredibly awkward. Sebastian awkwardly cleans the space between his thumb and nail.
“Wanna go out?” I casually ask him.
I don’t know if that’s a yes, he just starts crying.
“I- I can go.” I say.
“No, no, no, I- I lo-” He flinches, “I really enjoy your presence as well, I would enjoy it if we partake in those activities.”
“I really enjoy your presence as well,” I mock, “I would enjoy it if we partake in those activities.
My new boss slides in between our heads. He smiles. “Not showing any public displays of affection, are we? I’d hate to have to tell your parents, she’s a nice lady, by the way.” Xander says, still staring at the both of us, way too close for comfort. “Anyways, I’ll leave you two lovebirds alone.”
Back at the debate team, me, Sebastian, and Heff all take a seat near Georgia and Pablo. We try to make amends, no can do. Georgia spouts about how it’s unfair. That people like me and Sebastian get off scot free, but the little guys, the people who pull out a lighter during a fight, get in trouble. And I can’t help but agree.
She shows excellent pathos, I admit. And Pablo talks about his own life, and I can’t help but feel bad. He says “CHRONOS” ruined him. That Sebastian somehow ruined him.
And that’s when I realize what I see in Sebastian’s eyes, what I’ve always seen. And what I can’t help but feel.
That sensation of longing.
But now, Pablo and Georgia claim that we’re gonna pay.
Mrs. Kemp storms into the room and to Mrs. Binford, who’s doing some paperwork. For a split second, I see Mrs. Binford look of sheer panic. Then she collects herself. “Miss Leavings, please come here. Mrs. Kemp needs to see you.”
I awkwardly step over. Georgia smiles.
Mrs. Kemp silently brings me to her office. She put her fingers to her temples and groaned. “You’re a bright kid, your Mother and I were close friends. She showed me your test scores from your old school, and boy. You’re good. And on your first week here, you really seem to hit it off with everyone. But I’ve gotten reports from a few students that you…” she looks at the file on her desk. She’s making a vivid point to constantly make eye contact. The desk is thin, and she’s leaning forward, three inches from my face. I notice each and every wrinkle, frown lines, too. Her face is a shade of red. “Disrespected and cussed out a teacher. Is this true?”
I nodded. “As you know, that behavior is not tolerated, We’re suspending you for a week.”
Mrs. Binford suddenly appeared in the doorway. “Did you check with the school board? The city council declared that to suspend a student you need to work with the school board, because, well, you’re a bit trigger happy. I would know,” she smiled, “After all, I’m on the city council.”
“Mrs. Binford,” Mrs. Kemp fakely smiled, “While you are on the city council, it’s currently work hours, meaning, at the moment, I outrank you, an important part of being a competent city council member is knowing when and where your jurisdiction ends.”
“Well, clearly, it appears you’re unable to have a civil conversation with either board.”
“I AM THE BOARD!” Mrs. Kemp shouts.
Sebastian falls out of a closet, likely stopping an all out fight from breaking out.
They both go quiet, their faces pale. “Sebastian, how did you get in there?”
Sebastian turns pale. “Oh, yeah, that’s… I thought this was the bathroom.” He lies. Mrs. Kemp panics. “Please, just don’t tell anyone about this.”
Everyone’s panicking now.
But Sebastian smiles. He jumps up from the floor. “But what if I did?”
“Please,” Mrs. Kemp pleads. I put my feet on the table. Mrs. Kemp flinches at the splotches of paint on my white shoes, “I’ll pay you,” she says.
“How about you do something better…” I begin. Sebastian reads my mind. “Hey, how about you kind of remove FunTime? Give us back our electives back.”
“OH SHUT UP ABOUT THOSE STUPID EDUFUN TEST SCORES! OF COURSE THEY’VE GOTTEN HIGHER THEN THEY WERE IN DECEMBER, WE STARTED USING THE PROGRAM IN JANUARY!” Mrs. Binford snaps. She then collects herself.
“Mariposa! Please, you were an OrigOlympian once. Remember?” She searches through her desk and pulls out an Origami Hecate. Mrs. Binford snatches it from her hands, placing it on her finger. I put Persephopleat on mine, and Sebastian puts Shradies up.
We face Mrs. Kemp. Mrs. Binford pulls her phone out. Sebastian begins to hum Ballroom Blitz. Mrs. Binford turns her phone on, revealing the recorder app.
“You just attempted to bribe a student, lied to faculty, and alluded to being corrupt. Now, of course,” she hovered her hand over the trash icon, “This could all go away.”
Mrs. Kemp sighed. “I suppose I could talk with the school board…”
“Actually,” Mrs. Binford said, holding back a laugh, “You can talk now. They all run after school programs, after you, y’know, cancelled their classes.”
We all looked at each other and Mrs. Kemp sighed.
Mrs. Binford pulled out an envelope and slid it across the desk. She wrapped her arms around me and Sebastian and together, we walked away.
The Power of Love
“Wow, this is heavy,” Charlie said. We were standing in the labyrinth, the air moist. I pulled out a pen drive and placed it in CHRONOS’ lair. I didn’t tell her the truth- not yet, just that it was important to me. She nodded and realized what had to be done.
Life has been good- it’s been, what, a few weeks? Yeah, a month, probably. Mrs. Binford keeps finding us outside of school which is really strange. But the best part is that FunTime is gone, we got our electives back, guys!
So, we ride off into the sunset, ready to face whatever comes our way.
And I have a feeling that you’re reading this story at a time in your life when you need it, so know that it’s never too late for redemption.
I say stay curious, Charlie says stay weird, but we both agree… stay kind and don’t let anyone hold you down and tell you that you’re nothing. You’re an honorary member of the OrigOlympians, and your story starts today.
Charlie Leavings and Sebastian Merrick, signing off.
Me and Sebastian were exiting the labyrinth, Sebastian was giving us his tour. On one of the doors, there was a big origami skull. Sebastian looked disturbed. He didn’t remember hanging that up.
We open the door and a bright light blinds us. We find that the room was painted the same color as the lights blinding white, the floor was waxed and tiled the same color. Empty black shelves lined the walls. I can almost see someone standing in the black door across the room.