This story is by Molly Dunphy and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Γιαγιά, come look at this!” I shouted to my grandmother, staring out of my window and up at the clouds. “I think it’s a message from the gods!”
Γιαγιά ascended the stairs and looked out of the window as I pointed to where I was looking. “Look! There’s writing in the clouds!” My grandmother let out a small chuckle and said, “No αγαπητός, that’s just regular clouds. This is getting ridiculous.” And with that, Γιαγιά left me standing by the window, waiting for a sign.
Allow me to explain. My name is Παιδί, and, yes, it is Greek. But it’s easy to pronounce. Pay-dee is my first name. So, my name will from now on, be Paydee. Anyway, the Αποστολή family (‘App-osto-lee) is a very famous name in Greece. My great, great, great grandmother was sent down from Olympus to complete a task for the gods and her name was Ο πρώτος. Later, Zeus needed Ο πρώτος to complete another mission, but she was too old, therefore he blessed her with a child. After she had her daughter, Zeus blessed this girl with 3 attributes; unimaginable beauty, outstanding brains, and bravery of the gods. These things would help her to complete the challenges. And thus, a legacy began. Now, every child born into the Αποστολή family is a female and has a charge bestowed upon them by the gods.
I’ve been desperate to discover my mission ever since I heard that story. My eighteenth birthday is in three days and if you don’t get your assignment by the time you turn eighteen, you don’t get a mission, and I’m getting anxious.
I wandered up the second flight of stairs and into my bedroom, flopped down on my bed and sighed. ‘Why can’t I just get my mission now?’ I thought to myself.
I buried my head in my hands and groaned. To take my mind off my situation, I stuck my head under my bed and pulled out my homework.
After multiple trips to Google Earth for geography, I glanced at my clock; 11:15. ‘I have to sleep…’ I told myself. So, I closed my books, changed into my pyjamas, and curled under the duvet. I closed my eyes, sinking my head into my pillow and drifting to sleep…
“Paydee! Listen to me very carefully…”
A man was standing in front of me. He has greying brown hair, green eyes, and was holding a giant yellow rod of which appeared to be lightning. But that can’t be accurate, right? Oh wait… maybe this is my mission! This is my mission from the gods! Yes! And this is Zeus, directing me to begin my mission!
“I’m listening!” I called out. He started talking, but his voice was fading out….
My eyes snapped open and I was drenched in a cold sweat. I blink a few times, wondering why on earth I’m drenched in sweat… then I remember the dream. I sat up straight, ran to my γιαγιά, and shouted, “I HAVE MY MISSION!”
“Oh Paydee, I’m so happy for you! What is your mission?”, questioned my grandmother. “Oh, well… I don’t know. I woke up before Zeus could tell me what it was.” My shoulders sagged. I didn’t get my mission. I wasn’t going to do anything for the gods. “Ugh!” I folded my arms, and as I did that my arms squelched. Then, I remembered that I was soaked to the bone with sweat. “I’m gonna go and take a shower now.” I nodded, walking backwards as my γιαγιά continued, “Okay, but don’t use up all the water!”
I laughed and continued down the hall to my bathroom. I stood in the shower, and turned on the hot water. I could feel it cleaning me the moment it hit my skin.
The rest of the day was boring, until I fell asleep…
“Paydee! Listen carefully. Poseidon and I are trapped at the centre of the Earth by Hades! Find the things that symbolise us, and throw them in Santorini in three days, otherwise the world will end! Find them!”
I woke again, dripping with sweat. The time was 6:00 pm. I must have slept in! But now, I had my mission.
I must stop Hades.
I flew out of bed and ran to my grandmother. “I HAVE MY MISSION! FOR REAL NOW!” She jumped to her feet and fired questions at me and I answered them all as quickly as she asked them. With great haste, she turned and pulled out a backpack from the kitchen cupboard. “I made this as soon as you told me yesterday, αγαπητός. Now go!”
She hustled me out the door, and as soon as I stood in the oppressive heat, I realised that I had nowhere to begin. I thought about what Zeus said and realized that lightning bolt symbolised him.
I grabbed a notepad and pen from my backpack and made a list of the gods and the things they symbolise.
‘But where to begin?’
Abruptly, I felt a pull, as if someone was wrenching at my arm. For some reason, I trusted this tug and decided to follow it. It led me through the town and past the gates, and, after a very tiring trip, the dragging sensation ceased as I approached the foot of Mount Olympus.
I stood dead still. They want me to climb this? I can barely climb the rope in gym class! But alas, I don’t have a choice. So, I grabbed onto the rock and began to climb. After climbing for what seemed like an eternity, I stretched my hand up to grab a rock. It crumbled beneath my fingers. I was hanging by a thread. I screamed and cried out for help, but no one answered my plea. I knew I had to try something crazy and threw myself into the air. It worked! I reached the top I could see a small hole in the rock, big enough for a jam jar. I stood around it, wondering how to catch lightning. When all of a sudden, it hit me. I pulled a jar out of my bag and put it in the hole. As soon as I did that, the sky turned grey. Thunder brewed in the sky, and then… Blam! A lightning bolt shot forcefully and illuminated the jar. I snapped the lid on and laughed.
‘I did it!’
After carefully picking it up, I made my way to the ocean. Surely this is where to find Poseidon’s item, right?
‘But how to get in the water…’
“Do you want to buy some scuba gear?”
I turned to look at man carrying s suit and air tanks. I got the scuba gear and he got the money. That was that. There wasn’t any cheat in our deal.
Anxiously, I dove into the water from a cliff and aimed for the bottom. I kicked my legs as hard as I could, but I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. As fatigue took over, I kicked a little slower. I could see a looming figure in the distance. It was a large, majestic horse wholly constructed of coral. I swam closer and in the middle of it, there was a floating iridescent trident. I reached out for it and seized it. I resurfaced and was thankful I was back on land.
Three hours of drying and warming up later, I lay down to sleep.
“Now that you have the items, throw them into the volcano!”
I woke and stood immediately, which made me dizzy. I grabbed everything and headed for the train station. I hopped on the train and braced myself for the long journey ahead…
The train halted to a stop and I ran out. Before me, I saw panic and terror. People running away from something. Something called Mount Santorini. The skyline was covered in ash, the air was thick with noxious gases and the ground shook with the force of the tremor. I ran in the direction of the volcano and ascended half way when I heard a voice in my head.
“Don’t do it, Paydee. We can start a new, better world.”
It was Hades. I continued to climb with growing tenacity, but the voice continued to distract me.
“Paydee, if you don’t listen to me, you will be disobeying a god”
I reached the summit of the volcano and peered into the crater. The smouldering magma was bubbling beneath the surface. The stone was almost too hot to touch, but I continued to hold fast to it.
I pulled out the lightning bolt and plunged it into the crater, only to have it bounce back up. I tried prising opening the jar to unleash the lightning bolt, but it didn’t move. Then, I realised;
I had to go in with them.
I bravely stepped forward…
Then, with a final look over my shoulder… I let go.