The Heroes of the OrigUnderworld

The Heroes of the OrigUnderworld 

By SF Hades

Prologue

Ashley Somrew

The nineties. God, what a wonderful time. Life was so good way back when. I mean, needless to say, there was drama. 

I heard that Athens still had issues, wars that lasted for years. But truth be told, it’s silly. Why? Because all of this, it’s just drama. 

And at the center of it was the name that I never wanted to hear again.

Emily. 

The Emilys are terrible, so terrible that one- the worst of the bunch, Varsity Kemp, got my entire name tarnished because of something I had no control over. 

But that was- oh my god, thirty years ago. What have I been doing with my life? 

But I know from experience, people can change. 

Which brings me here. It’s a Saturday afternoon, and I’m sitting in a greek restaurant in some mall. Sitting in a booth is a group of twelve people, some are new faces, but most are familiar. 

Varsity Emily Kemp, the lady who betrayed me all those years ago. Zeusigami. 

William Emily. I always had a bit of a crush on him- almost all the girls did. But man, his life really went downhill. He looks like a mix of both of the guys from Karate Kid, and not in a good way. Posideonigami.

Speaking of the name Daniel, there’s Lina’s husband. Daniel Kemp. Heragami. 

Jennifer Leavings. She moved back to the UK after eight grade, I heard. But she came back to raise her daughter. Good for her. Demtorigami. 

David Hunter. He was a bit of a wimpy kid back in the day, but he loved music. That was his passion, and people bullied him for it, weirdly enough. But I think he’s cute. Even after that, he’s had a bit of a glow up. He seems to radiate a sort of youthful, lively energy. 

And then there’s his sister, Samantha Hunter. Her and I would argue a lot, mostly about the topics of deep concepts. What really is gender, conceptually? Stuff like that. 

And then there’s Alec Monroe. OrigAres. Now that guy, he was a cutie. I admit it, I chased him a bit in seventh grade. But then my boyfriend caught me. 

That brings me to Dimitri Fells. He would often act like I was someone out of his league, and he acted tough about it. He wasn’t a bad person either, he just didn’t possess the traits I was looking for. 

Then there’s Ximena Strohm. Arthena. I hear she named her child after herself, and it shows. That cocky attitude of hers. No wonder her husband ended up in jail. 

And then there was a lady I didn’t recognize. She had those red cateye glasses and was sipping a glass of wine. I instantly knew I liked her. 

Varsity snapped her fingers at me. “Hey Ashley!” She yelled. 

I sat down. Samantha smiled. “Wow,” she said, “The gang’s all here.” 

“No,” I said. “Where’s Charles and Mari? Lucas?” 

Varsity coughed into her elbow, “Anyways, Jen. I hear your daughter joined the new OrigOlympus.” 

I almost choked on my own saliva. “The new what?” 

“Didn’t you hear? There’s finally a new group of OrigOlympians.” 

“Well, that’s quite interesting.” I say. Because it’s news to me. I left the OrigOlympians in the middle of a civil war. And I just assumed they died out. 

That clearly wasn’t the case. 

I took a peek at the girl who I didn’t recognize. “Sorry,” I say, “I don’t believe we’ve met.” 

She smiles. “Hi, I’m Amy Youmans. I was her assistant, until- until I #&!) slapped a child across the room.” Yeah, I liked her. 

Mrs. Kemp nodded, “You- you did do that.” 

Amy Youmans looked proud of herself. “I’m not allowed within thirty feet of children.” 

“Well, that’s- that’s good to know.” Samantha said. 

“She deserved it.” Alec said, “She was sass-talking all day. You’re my hero, Amy.” Amy smiled. 

“$*!) Anastasia.” Dimitri said.

“So,” I said, “What are you guys up to now?” 

“Oh, well,” Varsity said, “I’m the principal of Athens.” 

“Y’know, that’s a nice change.” 

“Oh that’s not all that changed.” Daniel smiled. “I work in real estate.” 

“So you two are like,” I pointed at them, “rich?” 

Varsity nodded, lacing her hands in that of Daniel. 

“I’m a coach,” Alec said. 

“Girl’s Volleyball coach. Also head of a mercenary organization.” Said Sam. 

William smiled, “I am a member in several multi-level marketing campaigns.” 

“Nice,” Demitri said. 

“And I run a children’s karate dojo.” 

“I thought you’re not allowed to be near kids,” I said. 

“Well, it’s my husband who touches the children.” 

A waitress stopped by. “Are you guys ready to order?” She asks. 

We all nod. She looks at me first, “Oh, I’ll have a… I look at the menu. How old are you?” I ask. 

“Forty six.” She says. 

I pulled her out. The puppet I had folded all those years ago. Art-rodite in all her beauty. 

She seems taken aback. “Ashley, is that… you?” I nod. Varsity smiles. 

“Lisa! You still work here?” Lisa nods. 

“Shame,” Demitri says, “I could hook you up nicely.”

“Ok,” Amy interrupts, “How do you know this lady?” 

“Well, The OrigOlympians first formed at this restaurant. She was the waitress that night. Do you remember the honorary character we folded for you?” Varsity explains. Lisa nods.

“Hestia.” She says. 

“Yep,” Varsity says. “Well, we’re doing a reunion.” She says. “And I think we’d all like to have our old usuals.” Varsity looks around, we all nod, and we put the OrigOlympians forward. Can’t believe we all held onto our puppets. She admired our puppets so much we all got discounts. 

“So,” Lucas says. He turns to stare at me and Jenny. “Varsity, care to explain to the uninformed what’s happened the last thirty years.” 

Varsity nods, “After the war with Charles.” A tingle was sent down my spine. I had sided against the OrigOlympians on that day, and I could still feel like Charles was near me. “The OrigOlympians died down. But the Greek puppets didn’t. They expanded. They doubled down. In 2005, they threw the Percy Jackson books into the mix. But one student,” she glared at Lucas, “Ruined everything. Ruined all of Athens, wielding an origami version of the main antagonist of the series, Luke CastePleat, and later on, now, he wields Hades. I believe we’re all familiar with what happened last time someone wielded Hades.” She coughed into her arm, “Civil war. He’s been a thorn in my side for so long. Which is what brings me to this,” she fished through her purse and pulled out a box. “Shortly after The War of the Bloodlines, Angela left us with this.” It was a very pretty box, I admit. 

“After the War of the Bloodlines, Caesar split into three schools. Athens, Caesar, and Carter. The schools were separated, developing different ideologies along the way. Later in life, she put me in charge of Athens, and Gates in charge of Carter. You know how we disagreed about things.” 

“What about the Norse Origods? Like Ximena’s husband.” Jen asked, looking at the former Arthena.

“As far as I’m concerned, Ragnarok worked. It still works.” Varsity said. “But we’re getting off topic. Back to the box. Angela decreed that the object contained in the box is sacred, and as per the code, I’m not allowed to obtain a sacred object without the council’s permission. Whatever is in this box, will be able to single handedly cause the collapse of a school. I’ve talked with Mr. Gates and Dr. Foust, and they have been forced to close off Carter, reforming the Caesar Dynasty that we had created.” 

All of the OrigOlympians nodded. 

“All those who work for me will keep their jobs after Athens closes.” 

“Wait, we’re closing an entire school?” I asked, “Doesn’t that sound a bit much?”

Varsity nodded, “Modern problems require modern solutions, don’t they?” 

I nodded. “Don’t worry,” she said, “Caesar will still remain a private school but no longer have an entrance fee, and I’ll be willing to accept all of your kids. I’ve talked with Angie. Your children will continue to have a private school level education.” 

Lisa brought us our dishes. I just got a simple, humble, Baklava. 

The moment she walked away, Varsity smiled. “So, who’s in?” 

We all nodded. “That’s not gonna do. Remember how we voted.” 

“Oh god.” David said. She pulled out a hat. “Put your puppets in the hat if you’re ready to bring us back to greatness.” We all hesitated. 

Ximena is the first to put Arthena into the hat. The rest follow. I’m the last, but I still place the puppet into the hat. 

“How sentimental,” a voice says from the booth over. “Y’know, I haven’t been this choked up since I got a chunk of moussaka caught in my throat. Eh?” No one laughs at Charles. Just a dead stare. 

“What is this, an audience of a mosaic?” He mutters. He waves at us, at David, “Hey, how ya doin?” And then at me, “Hey, lookin’ good, nice dress.” 

Varsity’s frown quickly turns into a smile. “So you finally made it (with no invitation)! How are things at the Qwikpik?” 

“Oh, they’re just fine. A little dark. A little gloomy. And as always, full of braindead people, but hey, what are you gonna do? Anyways, came to just say hi, oh and a warning. I’ve been sitting here for the last thirty minutes,” he giggles. 

Varsity tried to keep her cool, “Charles,” she said, “Don’t be such a stiff.” 

He giggles, “Hey, hey, love to sis, but unlike you OriGods, lounging about up here, deciding the fates of children’s lives, I regrettably have a full time gig that you, so charitably forced upon me. So can’t. Love to, but can’t.” 

“Slow down, you’d work yourself to death.” Demitri smiles. 

I can’t help but giggle, but the joke somehow sends Varsity into an intense laugh. “I’m dead.” She says, wheezing for air. 

“If only. If only.” Charles said walking off. 

“Anyways, all puppets are in the hat, correct?” 

“NOT MARIANNA’S!” Charles screamed exiting the door. 

“WE NEVER MADE MARIANNA AN ORIGOLYMPIAN AND YOU JUST HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT!” Varsity screamed back. 

“SHE HAD A PUPPET, DID SHE NOT?” 

“THERE WERE THREE MORE FUNCTIONING HADESS THEN YOUR DUMB $&@!” 

Charles storms out of the restaurant once more, before Lisa can run in from the kitchen and ask if everything is alright.

“Yes,” Varsity smiles while looking at the twelve of us reunited. 

“Everything’s just fine. OrigOlympian meeting #682 is adjourned.” 

“Goosebumps there.” I said. I like to lighten the mood. 

 My Son Sleeps On The Couch

Charles Emily

“How’d it go, Daddy-O?” Edward asks. 

“I was, as usual, right. So, it went poorly.” I respond, my wife, Marianna steps in from behind the counter. “That’s too bad.” She says. I nod, undoing my tie and tossing it into the Manager’s office. I go into the break room and pull out the futon. 

“Edward, you’re getting the couch today.” I say. He fired finger guns at me. I worry for that boy, but you know, when you take in one of those box babies, they always give you the strange ones. Which leads me to a weird assumption, why does he care? He’s not legally or biologically related to Mac Astley or any of the OrigOlympians? Why did he become Nico Di AngeFold?  Does he actually… just care? Just because? 

Edward begins to follow me as I walk into the Employee’s bathroom to take a shower. “Father!” He shouts. I don’t respond. “Pappy!” He chases after me, clonking his head on the door as I close it. “Do I need to do it?” 

“Uh, sure, yeah, that’s going to happen, actually.” I quickly put a robe on, and step out of the bathroom, “Let’s talk about that.” 

“Yeah?” He asked. 

“During Kaitlyn’s time at Athens, she documented several students as being potential threats. At the same time, there’s several new students who came this year.” I open the cupboard in the TV stand and pull out the file. “Here’s this.” I then proceeded to pull out his paperwork to become a student at Athens, “And here’s this.” 

He reads over the names, “Sebastian Merrick, August and Peyton Hunter, and Keana McDaniels.” I look down at him. “We’ll need more than that,” I sigh, “But those are your starting points.” He nods. “Now, please let me take my shower, I smell like my sister.” 

Marianna stops me. “Hun, they might steal my seat from the city council.” I say, “Especially after the fiasco I went through, trying to remove FunTime.” 

“I’m telling you, we should expose her now. Stop all of this at its core.” 

“That wouldn’t work. We need to show the others the voices of the students. Show them that they won’t be pushed around, y’know? Back when I was a teacher, I heard rumors about Pandora’s Box coming to fruition. On the last day before Winter Break, there’s always a pep rally and a big announcement. Varsity had nothing planned, or well, no speech planned. She seemed preoccupied. Maybe, just maybe, she did have plans for something to go on during the pep rally.” 

“Well then, Mari, we’ll have to do what we do best. Rebel. We don’t want another eighty nine on her hands. But just remember, this was your idea.” 

She laces her hands into mine, “It always was.” She says. 

“Ok, now please, let me take my shower.” I plead. 

Yeah, We’re Just Friends. But

Edward Emily

Okay, okay, jeezus. This is only the second chapter I’ve been asked to write. This is kind of a big moment, actually. Yay me. 

For those unaware, I’m Edward Emily. I was a lying, cheating, scumbag. But good news. I’m not that anymore. I healed Mac Astley, after all. I think I deserve at least a little bit of credit for the “defeat” of Sebastian Merrick, but that’s neither here nor there, because just as quickly, another crisis is growing, one bigger than Athens, and The Heroes of OrigOlympus will be unable to prevent this from unfolding. (More on that later.) 

So, first person on my list here. Sebastian Merrick. Him and I are… parasocial, let’s say that. Yeah, I know… pretty much everything about him? I was an advocate for his redemption, too. But, I think the only time he’s known me was as a potential member of CHRONOS, but since that’s dead now, that’s not likely to happen. 

I caught up with him with his girlfriend, Charlie Leavings. I think she could be a possible candidate for The Heroes of the OrigUnderworld. Where did I catch up with him? In the labyrinth, of course. 

I did a bit of redecoration of course, actually. The deco was terrible, I set up some LED lights. There was a cabinet just flipped onto the floor, so uncivilized. It’s disgusting.

The second he peered through the door, I snuck into the shadows. He peered around and sniffed the air freshener. “Something’s off,” he said. 

“Hun,” Charlie said, “This whole day’s been off.” 

“Not for me, it hasn’t.”

I stepped out of the shadows, clad in my beige suit and slightly unbuttoned dress shirt. “Good afternoon, gorgeous.” I said, looking at Sebastian, “You too, sweetheart.” I directed my attention towards Charlie. 

“Sir, sir, SIR-” Sebastian began to inquire, “Who are you?” 

“Name’s Edward Emily, but I bet you already know my name.” 

“You’re one of the big three’s children.” He says, “I searched for you.” 

“Yes you did, sir.  And I think your goons could make it clear to you that I’m quite slippery.” 

“You are that.” He decided. 

“Do you two… know each other? And Bas, what’s all this about goons?”

“Shut up,” we both said at the same time. Sebastian wrapped his arm around his girl, “Only I get to tell her that.” 

“Shut up,” Charlie said to him. 

“Yeah, shut up, pipsqueak.” I told him. 

“Who you tellin’ to shut up?” Sebastian asks. 

“I’m tellin’ you to shut up, Mister Sir!” 

“WILL BOTH OF YOU JUST SHUT UP AND EXPLAIN WHAT’S GOING ON.” Charlie screamed. I collected myself and took a deep breath. “We have a problem. After the events that unfolded on the first day of school-” 

“WHICH NO ONE SEEMS TO TELL ME ABOUT!!” Charlie said, calmly. 

“After the events on the first day of school, the OrigOlympians got scared. They fear that the students will take power into their own hands. So they want to destroy Athens as a whole.” 

“I literally got here months ago and this happens. At least my old school had origami from a MAINSTREAM book series.” 

“Honey, why are you grumpy today?” Sebastian asks, but he looks at me and nods. “Go on.” He says, wrapping his arm around her. 

“The Heroes of OrigOlympus will be unable to prevent this for reasons that will soon come to light. So I’m forming an alliance of ex-CHRONOS members, and all around rule breakers. It will be our job to prevent this crisis. Sebastian, you bury your past well. Too bad I’m a better digger, that’s why this is mandatory. If something goes wrong, I expose your past to the school, and you will have a severe dent in your permanent record. Same thing applies for Charlie, except I don’t have to do much digging.” 

“So you’re blackmailing us?” Sebastian balls his fist. 

“Not entirely, little man. You’re free to not join, free from consequence. But if you choose to join, and betray us. Then you will have to say goodbye.”

Sebastian nods. “Flynn used that technique. He was smart. And I think you are, too. Ironically, I like you.” He said. I nodded, “Of course you do.”

***

Later on I caught up with Peyton Hunter and Keana McDaniels. The two had history together, they hated each other’s guts out after Peyton joined CHRONOS. Recently, however, they became friends once more. I caught up with them hanging with the other Hunters of Art-emis. 

“Excuse me, madams! Madams!” I cried. 

“What?” They both asked, looking at me. “I have the offer of a lifetime for you two beautys!”

“No.” They both said. 

“Jesus, gross, gross. I’m a homo, actually. I worded that very badly. 

Peyton nodded. “No cap, man. Reword. Reword, now.” 

“I would like for you guys to join a team I’m forming.”

Keana shook her head. “I think I’ll have to pass on this one, already in a team, y’know.” I nodded.

“That’s cool. No hard feelings at all, might wanna sleep with one eye open but-” 

“I’ll join!” Peyton cheemed. “Wait, what? Just like that?” Peyton nodded. 

“Hey, what’s up, Chro-Chro Cray-Cray?” A girl says, passing by.

“Oh, suck on an egg.” She pauses. “Suck. An. Egg.” She repeats once they’re out of earshot. 

“What’s that all about?” I ask. 

“What do you call when two notes are tied together, yet the notes change?” Peyton asks. 

“I’m not in band,” I stutter, “I don’t-” 

“A SLUR.” She says, “That’s what they call CHRONOS members these days. Er- FORMER CHRONOS members, these days. Thes worst part is these $#(holes think they’re being original.” 

I decided not to tell Peyton that I invented that term.

“Well,” I put my hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry to hear that. But we can back you up. We can be your friends. We can save you from bullies.” 

“That’s why I joined. That, and I enjoy the safety in numbers aspect of joining a gang.” 

I noticed the girl who called out Peyton was walking back down the hall. I tripped her. I fired off some finger guns at her, “No problemo.” I say. 

Lastly, I admit. I learned something about myself! 

I flirt with everyone… except for people I am actually attracted to. Then I freeze. And I can’t talk. And I’m quite jittery. And I know my Dad reads these case files, but I don’t even care anymore. You can’t give romance advice you literally got cut from the family fortune over my Mom. 

Because there was this one moment, where we locked eyes. I am not a believer in love at first sight, and I still stand by that. I was just immensely attracted to this man, that’s literally it. 

I was just making my way through, y’know, my regular classes of Athens Middle School, as one does. I knew I’d have to find August Hunter, but school is school, therefore I would not be able to do such. But no matter, because the fates seemed to align, my friends. The crippling loneliness of the seventh grade is what brought us together. 

You get the drill, new kid sits alone, not because people are particularly mean, but like other people have other friends to attend to, and like, you can’t demonize them for that, because you know if they got to know you then they’d see that you’re really cool, but this is a busy time in their live’s and they can’t be expected to actively seek out friendship, because that’s unreasonable. 

Oh yeah, but there was one guy who literally did just that. And it was August Hunter! 

Kaitlyn would always joke about me having a “type,” the blonde, tanned, nice guy. Don’t look too far into that. He sat down next to me at lunch, a few minutes after I bought my ice cream sandwich. “Man, first days can be tough.” He said. “I mean, I wouldn’t know, I’ve been here since kindergarten but that’s actually neither here nor there ‘heHehehEheeeeeee’”,  that last ‘heHehehEheeeeeee’ was the best way I could translate that noise into writing. 

He extended his hand, “Hey, I’m August Hunter.” 

“Edward Emily- I uh-” he pointed at my pride pin, “I like your pin.” 

“Thanks, my Dad made it for me.” 

“Ah, that’s great. I don’t think my Dad would make me one.”

“Well, why not?” 

“I mean, he’s a great guy. He’s the band director, but he’s a man of faith.” 

“So I see.” He looked around, “You could use a buddy, right?” 

“I mean, you probably have your own social network of friends, right?” 

“No- not, not really.” 

“So Sunny D decides to hang out with the goth kid. I smell a sitcom.” 

He laughs, “What’s Sunny D?” He asks, deadpan. 

“Y’know what? Forget it, how’s your day goin’ so far?” 

“Oh, I met this great guy named Edward.” 

“Ooooh, what’s he like?” 

“Oh, he’s awesome. The moody, loner type.” 

“Hey, I’m not moody! In fact, I play backseat bingo all the time!” 

“You play what?”” 

“Uneducated chuckles$#*^.” 

He giggles and places his arm on my shoulder, “You’re a riot.” 

“Got thousands more, hot stuff.” 

He blushes, likely because I made him feel weird. I’m blowing it. 

I dump my tray in the trash can and ask if he wants to hang out outside. He nods, “Yes.” 

We head outside and listen to the birds chirp, it’s just such a peaceful serenity, away from all the chaos and weirdness. Just me and my crush, listening to the birds chirp. 

“Yo, question.” He says.

“Fricken have at it, man.” 

“What was your life like before you came to Athens?” 

“Eh, I was homeschooled. My Dad ran the QwikPik. Never really made friends easily that way, scammed a lot of people.” I wanted to tell him that I was one of the people most responsible for saving this school, but it seemed, I don’t know, out of place. “You?” I asked. 

“I’ve always been at Athens.” He says, “My Dad is the band director, actually. Again, super nice. I just don’t think he really- gets me, y’know?” 

“Me and my Dad are so in sync it’s annoying, dude. Like, he can practically read my thoughts. Hey, at least I got a shoulder to cry on.” 

He smiles and runs his fingers through his hair, “I have a sister.” 

“I met her. She’s nice. Very…” 

“Quirky?” 

I nod, “That’s what Reddit does to one’s psyche.”

“Are you one of those guys who like- has a Reddit account with a bunch of karma yet actively makes fun of Reddit?” 

“Oh, you got me. Yes, I’d like to come out as a Redditor.” 

“At least you don’t use TikTok, such a cesspool.” 

“Oh my god, you should’ve seen Mac’s.” 

“You knew Mac?” 

“Yeah, we were pretty tight.” 

He made a gesture with his mouth and hands, referring to what Mac supposedly spray painted about Professor FunTime. “Takes guts.” He says.

“Yeah,” I agreed, “I mean not wrong but also takes guts.”

He noticed me just absolutely chowing down on my ice cream sandwich. 

“Wow, you’re not getting a brain freeze?”

“Mhm.” I say cheerfully, “I so am. But that’s the beauty of it.” 

“What do you mean?” He asks. 

“Well, I don’t want to get into it but-“

“No, no, no, why are you proud of this?” 

I sit down on the grass and continue to nibble. “My Dad’s always ran a Qwikpick. First, it was in Brooklyn. Then in Boston. Then in South Carolina, and even Arkansas just last year. That was not a good place to go through puberty at,” I scratched my shoulder. “I never bothered to learn people’s names, people lie, people are bad. So, instead of treating them like walking trash, you treat them like walking wallets. Eventually, the only person I ever really trusted was my Dad. And my Mom. And my sister, and above all else, the Qwikpick. Because everytime something bad is about to happen, it’s there for you. Each store is the same, those beautiful linoleum aisles. And there’s always that little chamber of frozen snacks. Dad always lets me get leftovers, but never actually takes anything out of the freezer. He could get caught and fired and the higher ups at Oura- nevermind, I-” I couldn’t find the words. I forced the emotions out of me, and gulped the pain down. “And so you freeze your brain,” I say. “You go numb to the world around you. Everything numbs. You don’t need the special medicine, god forbid self harm, either.  Because the world doesn’t owe you healing, it owes you money.” He pauses. 

“That’s-” 

The bell rang, signally it being time for everyone else to head out. The stampede of people nearly knocked me over. August seemed to get defensive, telling them to watch where they step. Being short is hard. Eventually, Peyton stumbled out of the passing crowd, dazed. 

“Jesus,” she said,  wiping dirt off of her jacket, “You would not believe the kind of inbreds you see here.” August patted his sister on the back. “It’s okay, it’s okay.” She said, and peered at me. 

August bushed and scratched his neck, “Me and Edward were just talking.”

“I actually didn’t ask,” Peyton said, smiling mischievously. Keana ran from the lunchroom, late, and slapped Peyton’s neck. “Oh, it’s on, Keana!” She bolted after her, leaving us with a peace sign. 

I looked back at August and my brain sparke, “You got a puppet?” 

“No, actually. I could never really find a good character.” 

“Well, that’s great!” He looked puzzled. “Because I do! But I’m no good at origami. But I know who is, and we can go visit them now.” 

He walked forward into the courtyard, yet I grabbed him by his collar. “No, no, no, you won’t find him socializing.” I crouched down, “Should be behind one of these bricks.” 

For some reason, August seemed confused. After a bit of searching, I found it. “Hey, go ask Sebastian for a knife.” 

“Fricken’ ‘scuse me?” He asked. 

“Knife. Go get me one.” He came back a minute later with a knife. 

I cut through the fake mortar like it was butter and pulled a brick out, “And bring this brick to Chase Kemp. He’ll love it.” 

“Why?” 

“Just shut up.” He carried the brick to Chase Kemp, when he returned, we had a small pile of bricks. August already looked exhausted, “Hey Peyton!” He shouted at Peyton from across the courtyard, “Help me carry a large amount of bricks to the new kid! That nice goth kid wants me too.” 

I want a shirt that says ‘That Nice Goth Kid.’ I could probably sew one. 

By the time they had distributed the bricks to Chase Kemp, I had cut a decently sized hole out of the fake bricks and mortar that can be found in this school, encompassing the Labyrinth. 

“Hey August, can you fit through the hole with your shirt on?” He looked even more confused. 

“Yes, I can.” 

“That too b-” 

“But why did you cut a hole into the school’s basement?” 

“Trust me,” I said. 

“You now literally have my full trust,” he said, sarcastically. 

“Now get in the hole.” I said. “I’ve gotten into the hole. Seb got in the hole. Your sister got in the hole. All the other people in my team have gotten in the hole.” 

August then proceeded to get into the hole. 

I got into the hole as well. 

“You still haven’t told me what we’re doing here.” He said, his voice echoing through the dark tomb where I (don’t) bury the bodies, the stench filling his nose. He put his shirt over his nose. 

I fired a finger gun at him, “Ah yeah. Breathe it in. That’s the stench. That’s how a real man smells.” 

“Did a piece of dog #*)! take a dump in here?” 

“No. But your Mom did.” 

“My Mom is dead.” 

“Sorry for opening up that wound. Your Dad did, though.” 

He laughed. “No but seriously, I feel like I’m gonna get shot.” 

“No, no, no, there are witnesses here.” 

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE ARE WITNESSES? THE HALLS ARE EMPTY!”

“Are they?” 

He moaned. “J.D. lookin mofo.” He said. 

“Oh, I didn’t know you like Heathers. What’s your favorite song?” 

“Oh, I really like the reprise of ‘Seventeen’, but I’m really relating to ‘Meant To Be Yours’ right now.”

“My bad,” I said, tripping over a deer carcass. Jumping back into conversation, I nodded at Tyrone, who was leaning on the wall. “Wassup, Tyrone?” 

He nodded, “Ayy, Eddie! You got an appointment?” 

“Nah, but I got blondie here.” I pointed at August, “He’s one of the OG’s kids!” Tyrone laughed, “Ay yo, my bad. Carry on.” 

He opened the door for us, and standing before us was a shorter boy. His hair was slicked back, black and greasy. Wiping his hands with a towel, he wore nothing but a stained tank top and jeans. Behind him, many much taller and muscular men worked away at folding masterful origami, their exposed biceps scarred with paper cuts. 

“Edward! How we doin’, buddy, how we doin’?” His italian accent, thick as usual. 

“Sir,” August said, “Your shirt is violating the dress code.” 

He looked at me, “Hey, where’d you find this guy? Jersey?” 

“Nah, nah-” 

“I’ve been in this district for six years.” He said. 

“Yeah, I love this city. Never left. My momma birthed me right in these tunnels.” 

“I’m sorry, WHAT?” 

“How’s ya Mum?” He asked August.

“Dead.” 

He nodded, “Ya Mum doin’ good? Good, good, that’s good.”

“Anyways,” Edward said. “This guy ain’t got a puppet.” 

“All other guys not presently in the room,” he screamed, “This kid ain’t got a puppet!” 

The amount of people in the room seemed to double, “Ay, you don’t got a puppet?” They all asked at once. 

“We’ve been over this. No. No I don’t.” 

“Well, we gotta fix this.” He said, “We got one on the house for you, brother.” He decided. “I’ll have my nephew, Tony, fold you one. He’s the best. Oh and Edward, don’t forget. We got a shipment comin’ in at four am tomorrow, eitha you be there or you square.”

“You got it.” I said. August got really close to me, “Edward, I’m scared.” 

“Didn’t ask.” 

“Hey!” The short young man shouted, “Tony wants to know which character!” 

“Uhhh! Will Solace from Percy Jackson!” 

“No problemo!” He shouted, stepping out of the room to help Tony fold the puppet.

August took a long exhale, “Edward, seriously, what is happening.” 

“This is Francesco LaRusso. Origami Hephaestus. He’s your go to guy for origami.” 

Francessco came in a little after and handed me the puppet, let me tell you this. It was perfect. Down to every last crease and doodle. An exact recreation of the official drawing, made into puppet form. That curly blonde hair, unbuttoned green flannel.  

I placed the puppet in my hand and knelt down. I opened my cupped hand and presented the puppet to him. “August Hunter, if you so choose, you will be presented with this puppet and join great ranks. You and I will be able to be the guardians, the ones who subtly topple and conquer empires, operating as children of both the shadow and the light.” 

He nodded, and grabbed the puppet. He placed it on his finger. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… Dollar Bill Solace.

You Won’t Believe The Day I’ve Had.

Sebastian Merrick

Note: I have elected not to place this chapter until I can get EVERYTHING sorted out, until then this is a chapter of my life I’d rather not about or have made public 

So, I had a pretty stable gig going, y’know. But how do I say this, life likes to slap you around a little to remind you who’s boss. 

So, I’m laying in bed. Not paying attention to much of anything. My brain, taking a relaxing stroll down the lane of REO Speedwagon and Twisted Sister. When my phone buzzes. Twice. 

The first time, it’s from the OrigOlympians group chat. Charlie, saying: 

“Please do not text me my mom has my phone”

“I am leaving discord” 

“Sorry” 

Teagan, Demetorigami, responds with a tearful, heartfelt message on how we’ll miss her. It’s not like she’s moving or anything. 

Heff responds with a skull emoji. 

Xander leaves an F in the chat. Real nice leadership, there. 

Peyton says that the situation all around is not an epic chungus moment. 

Heather, Art-rodite, tells Peyton to shut up. 

Ben pings me. 

I ignore the ping and check the private message from Heff. 

“Seb”

“What” 

“Did Charlie tell you why she’s getting her phone taken away”

“No, why?

I wish she did tho 

Did she tell you” 

“Yup” 

“Can you tell me please” 

“It was because of yalls messages 😭” 

“YOU ARE LYING 

TELL ME THIS IS ONE OF YOUR PRANKS” 

He sends me screenshots. “Hey please don’t respond so my parents don’t get the notification but they took my phone, I’m typing this from my watch, phone taken because of tiktok and instagram and stuff” Charlie says, in the screenshot. 

“I’m stuff.” I text to Heff. 

“😭”

“Wait

No

Noooooooooo

There are some weird#*( messages in there” 

“Ouii like what” 

“$*^^^^^^^^^^^$*”

“What if her mom finds out”

“Well nah #*(@ she’d find out” 

“I’m slow” 

“Yes you are”

“I hope she doesn’t get into too much trouble” 

As you can see, that was not my most intelligent night. The next day, I didn’t have either Charlie nor Heff in my first period. But guess who did? 

Xander. 

Xander should be telling this story, but I don’t want to split this up into a multiple chapter thing so here we are. 

Allegedly, Xander had already known that Charlie had gotten her phone taken away and took it at face value, and he sat with Heff in the first period. Charlie came later in the day, looking extremely out of place and uncomfortable. Heff and Xander helped her through the process, and Xander offered to make a mini casefile, yet specifically requested for the weird chat logs, for scientific purposes of course. 

Charlie, nor myself, elect to share said chat logs with anyone. 

Save for the fact that I literally did a month ago, but that’s neither here nor there. 

Later that day, Xander shared this information with me, and towards Advisory, which all of the OrigOlympians somehow share, we met up and discussed how everything was crumpling. And I don’t just mean our relationship, I mean the foundations of our school’s entire social hierarchy. 

Charlie herself sighed and placed her feet on the desk. “I think I know what we have to do.” She said. 

We all stared at her. Xander stood up, “Your best case scenario is to just man up to it, dude.” 

“Bas, he interrupted me.” 

“Xander, don’t interrupt her.” 

Xander giggled, “I do whatever the #(!] I want, you are all pawns.” He mumbled under his breath. 

Charlie smiled, “Anyways, Xander does have a point.” She nudged me in the shoulder, “Bas, c’mon. Be a man. Sit down and have dinner with us.” 

I nodded, “Yeah, I see your point. I’m just anxious, gang.”

“You’re a wuss,” Heather mumbled under her breath. 

“Hey, don’t do my boy Seb like that.” Ben said. 

I pulled out a pencil and began to do the knife game. Heff grabbed the pencil out of my hands. “Don’t do that.” He whispered, then began to do the knife game himself.

“Hey, isn’t that my pencil?” Peyton asked.

“You guys are getting besides the point,” I say, stealing Peyton’s already stolen pencil back for myself. 

Heather smiled, “C’mon. Just go for it.”

Ben patted me on the back, “Let the man make his own decisions.” 

“He can ask for help,” Xander said. “Clearly, we, the OrigOlympians, don’t have the emotional maturity to handle Seb here’s pickle. As supreme chancellor, I vouch that we drop the topic and allow for him to come up with his own decision. Maybe go to other sources for help, maybe you could have a chat with my sister, aren’t you guys friends?” 

“Oh yeah, Ximena’s the best.” Charlie said, “I agree with Xander. Maybe go talk to The Heroes of OrigOlympus, while you’re at it. They’re cool.” 

“Yeah, they’re honestly pretty epic chungus,” Peyton said. Heff threw Peyton’s pencil back at her. The final bell rang, and as I exited the room, and headed down the walker hall, Xander ruffled my hair. “So you gonna go talk to Muffet?”

“I am now.” I turned the corner. He smiled and exited through the double doors, into the car rider’s lane, “Catch ya on the flip side.” He said. 

“Ditto.” I said, and stepped through the door. Immediately, I am scared. 

Mr. Willigens’ entire room is completely different. There’s normal reorganizations they make yearly, but these ones aren’t usually that big. The walls are repainted, there’s completely new posters on the walls, showcasing sixth graders who I don’t even know. “Kato Somrew” seems to have the most gold stars. !>#]:&$^ nerd.

The guy up front looks like- oh my god, it’s him. This man was a legend on the dark side of Athens. He defeated Mac Astley. 

This man was his father. 

William Emily.

William didn’t look like the pinnacle of evil. He looked sad. He looked like a child put into the timeout corner. The next thing I noticed was that Lina and Dennis weren’t there. In their place was Georgia and Pablo, faces I never wanted to see again after the debate team fiasco. All around, Ximena was not surrounded by great people. 

I knock on the door. “Can I talk with Ximena?”

He waves his hand, “I couldn’t care less. Mom has me on probation for rebelling.” 

“Mood,” Georgia mutters under her breath.

“Shut up, Georgia.” Ximena says. 

“Yeah, shut up, Georgia.” William says. 

“No one loves you.” Ximena says. 

Pablo wraps his arm around Georgia, “I love you.” He says.

“We’re not there yet.” Georgia says. 

“Sorry.” 

  Ximena gets up, “Oh, Georgia, while I’m gone, just remember to like- literally shut up.” She closes the door. 

I place my hand on her shoulder, “Hey, can we talk. Like, in private?” She nods her head, “Yeah. We can always talk. After that big fight we had in the bus line, you’ve been so distant.”

“Eh, I’ve been doing alot of self-discovery recently.” 

“I took up a mentoring gig with this one girl. Kato Somrew, Ashley Somrew’s kid.” 

“Really? I didn’t know she had a kid.” 

“Yeah, she went to Caesar. Her parents moved to Athens due to-” she looked around. “I think you already know. Can we go talk in the Labyrinth?” 

“Totally.” I say, “There should be an entrance around here,” I say. Ximena pulls out and checks her phone, “Janitor’s closet.” 

“How did you-” 

“I’ve been doing my own thing too, Seb.” She said, matter of factly. We raced down the hallway and opened the janitor’s closet. Like the wardrobe into Narnia, another doorway stood before us.

Ximena swung it open. 

Believe me when I say that the Labyrinth stinks. I’ve been in and out of there countless times, I can probably say I know it better then anyone in this school’s history. I know it’s ins and outs. 

But I never got used to this putrid odor. Imagine smelling your worst fear’s corpse. 

It feels nice to be with a familiar face again, despite having met Dennis and Lina first, I guess I could say that Ximena was the first person I ever really connected with. 

Ximena began to talk, but I pressed a finger on her mouth. “I have a place.” I said. “Where does a CHRONOS member go after another big victory? We go to the tunnel of love!” I shouted, starting to feel like my old self again. I ushered Ximena to what should be underneath the courtyard.

There was a thin, yet long and winding path of water before us, and a little car that would be towed along through it. I pushed past that little metal bar and offered Ximena a seat. “What’s your favorite color?” I asked. 

“Hot pink.” She said,

With the press of a button, hot pink lights illuminated our path. “So, I came here to ask you for help, but uh-” I began, you go first. 

“Well, I’ve been getting by. I’ve gotten over Mac, but I just feel so, lonely, y’know. Mrs. Kemp forced Lina and Dennis out. Lina needed to focus on homework and Dennis needed to “take a mental health break,” ALLEGEDLY.” 

I nodded, “I feel you. I feel you. You can let it all out.” She smiled, warmly. 

“Xander’s been caught up in OrigOlympus. Xena’s been in tough crap with Mom for not being as successful.” She curled up against me, “I haven’t really had anyone to talk to in ages.” I felt- mildly uncomfortable. Way less than I should have been. She knows I have a girlfriend, right?

“But speaking of Xander,” I have a suspicion. I was combing over old evidence and-” she pulled out a new Annashred Crease, with plenty of new doodles, “We made a mistake in our calculations. They were not referring to a “Alexander, The Puppet.” They were referring to someone named Alexander and reminding them of a puppet. I get he’s your friend and all, but maybe my brother is-” 

“I believe you.” 

“Really? Because I was only, like, like, half-sure, and now that things have been validated I can go on, and on, and on and- something’s wrong at Athens. There’s a force trying to push apart and-” 

“And we’ll unite. Together we stand, divided we fall. We’ll always stay united. And I’ll always be here for you.” 

Ximena sighed, “I love you.” She said, platonically. 

“I love you too,” and I had made my decision then and there. Love is the answer. And Ximena helped me with this. She really does care about me, more than I think anyone in the world does. 

I needed to go walk home and see Charlie. “Hey, can we go out?” I ask. 

Very poor choice of words. 

She practically jumps on me, leaning in for a kiss. 

I don’t pull away. Something leads me to just- y’know, not being able to. I had a mix of emotions, really. I gently placed my arm on her back, as she pulled away. Ximena looked stunned. 

I stepped away and ran down the hallway, out of the Labyrinth. Out of the sixth grade hall. Out of school. 

Dinner with Charlie’s parents was nice.

Edward Actually Pays For Something

Peyton Hunter

Woah. First chapter. Greetings and salutations, my good folk! Peyton Hunter here, arguably the best Hunter. I don’t actually know why I wrote this chapter, but I feel like I need documentation of it. So here we go. 

Edward had invited all of our new alliance together to eat at this diner, Ceres. It’s built into this mall and has some bomb Greek food.

Anyways, let me put you in my shoes. I did not have the slightest clue as to who would be attending this meeting. We didn’t get a class roster in the mail. 

When I arrive, I see a bright group all around. My dumb#*) is always late to the party, and this time, wammo, there were stakes! I had to bring my brother with me, so I made him late. And he’s totally crushing on Edward. 

Keana showed up, I guess she actually did want to join. There was also my old employer, Seb. And his girlfriend, Charlie. Seb looked awkward, sad, and honestly just really confused. I kind of wanted to give him a hug. The couple shared a small basket of stuffed grape leaves. When I arrived, Edward’s mouth grew into a grin. He waved at me. I waved back at him. It felt nice having someone excited to see- oh yeah, my brother is behind me. Why am I not surprised? 

Edward saved August the one seat they had left, leaving me to have to pull up a chair. A little bit too late, I realized someone was actually sitting there and had been in the restroom. She was a nice old lady and looked more sad, if anything. 

“So,” I said, after that ordeal was handled, “What we talkin’ about?”

Edward pops the collar to his jean jacket, “Well, I was wondering. Sebastian Merrick and Charlie Leavings here both, at one point or another, showed a rebellion against authority. I am pointing out the irony of how Charlie showed willingness to perform acts Sebastian Merrick had also performed in his time as head of C-” 

“Don’t say it,” Sebastian warned. 

“You can say it.” Charlie pleaded. 

“Well,” I nodded my head, “What Flynn had was a strength in numbers. Charlie rebelling against authority and standing with a small few is entirely different from Sebastian’s union in numbers which would’ve led to a hypocritical fascism.” I smiled. 

“What?” Charlie asked. “Babe,” she placed her hand on Seb’s arm, “Did you ever do any hypocritical fascism I should know about?”

“N- Not that I know of.” In all my time at CHRONOS, I had seen Sebastian Merrick stutter only three times. Each time, he felt anxious. I needed to loosen up the conversation. I opened up Reddit and showed them an image that I can’t legally expose them to. 

Edward and August looked away in disgust. Charlie didn’t bat an eye. Sebastian nodded, “Hey, can you send that to me later.” 

“I haven’t said anything in a while.” Keana said. 

“We know, Keana.” I said.

“No one cares, Keana.” Sebastian said.

“Hey, Keana’s nice.” August said. 

“Question:” I say, “How many elementary schoolers could you take in a fight?” 

“What grade?” 

“It rotates. One is third grade. Two is fourth grade. Third is fifth grade. And repeat.” 

“Fourth graders are OP.” Sebastian said, “But I can realistically take a lot of faith graders.” 

“Oh yeah, my sibling says all the kids in they’re class are punks.” Charlie says. 

“They literally are,” Keana said. “You could just punt them into the gym wall, one by one. Run from left to right, kind of like pong.” 

“What about third graders?” Edward asks. 

Keana takes a sip on her straw. “What about the third graders?” 

Sebastian winces, “Ooooh, they’re wild cards.  I got in a lot of fights in the third grade and they were pretty easy to win, then again I was also a third grader. On the other hand,” Sebastian pulls his collar down and shows us his clavicle with teeth marks sunk in. “A third grader did this.” 

“So, they’re dangerous.” Charlie says. 

“Not exactly. Because, while being vicious, they’re pretty dumb. You could probably knock over random shelves and stuff and just crush them.” 

“They have team work, though.” I say, “Like, imagine you just annihilated the entire third grade hallway. And as you exit the hall and make your way to the fourth graders, five stacked together in a trenchcoat just barrels down the hall. You’re pretty much screwed.” 

“What trench coat would be big enough?” Edward asked. 

“They’d stretch out the sleeves and have each sleeve contain a child, those children serving as limbs. There’s two in the trench coat, the top one would get a piggyback ride and kind of be a lookout.” 

“Well,” Sebastian says, “If I saw what you just described I’d be filled with the exact amount of both anger and strength to snap every last one of their necks.” 

“Don’t go for the neck,” Charlie says. “Fight dirty, pull at their hair. Mess with their tendons. Aim to cripple, neck snaps seem cool but are actually hard to pull off.”

Sebastian nods, “I have this cool trick you can do with their heels. Gets them every time, I tell you.” 

I interrupt. “So, final number.” 

“Maybe a classroom of fifth graders.” Keana says. 

“All of them.” Charlie and Seb say at the same time.

“Why are we killing Elementary schoolers?” August asks. 

“They said something about our Mother.” I told him. 

“All of them. And then the faculty. And then their parents, they failed as parents.

“I’d probably be able to get maybe the entire fifth grade. I’d take all of their money and their fake gold chains, sell them to the fourth graders to get them on my side and kill the third graders. I’d actually only give the fourth graders one chain and let them fight it out. Divided they’ll fall.” 

We all got really quiet after that. Edward smiled, getting into the groove of things. “Okay, so tell me about you guys. What’s your personalities like? If we’re going to save the school then we have to be in sync. Seb, you go first.” 

“I prefer to keep my past quiet, but pretty much all of you know. I like to think I’m smart, but I’m kind of moody.”

“You’re actually a highly functioning bi-polar.” Edward says. 

“Really? Wait- how do you know?” 

“Oh, it’s just a hunch. And sir, you are smart. Charlie, you’re up next.” 

“I’m Charlie Leavings. My Mom is apparently Demetorigami, I came here from Britain. My American accent is pretty good, I’d say. I like to rebel against authority, but I don’t really take the time to analyze most problems.” 

“Well, that’s what I’m here for.” August said, “People always called me a golden boy. I don’t really know, I don’t get I’m arguments easily but when I do I really can’t back down. But I really can’t just stand to watch other people argue, or be mean to each other. Because I don’t think any human should be bullied, we’re all human, and we all have our own redeeming qualities.” 

Edward butterfly flapped with the tips of his fingers. “I’m a scam artist. I’ve actually stolen out of all of your wallets.” 

“Nice.” Keana says, “I kind of side with August. I don’t want confrontation, but I think I’m more willing to get into a fight. I’m still always watching my back, and arguably I don’t like rebelling against authority. It often spirals out of control and leads into crazier stuff. I really don’t know why we always have this crazy urge to fight back. But hey, no one’s perfect.” Keana directed her eyes at me, of course. 

Who am I? I can be anyone. I stared into my water glass. For once in my life, I didn’t know what to say. “I’m Peyton. I worked for Sebastian a while ago. But things got weird, and Sebastian had a change of heart. And here we are. I like to make people laugh.” I made a funny face at them. No one laughed, except Keana who giggled.

Charlie’s phone went off, Come On Eileen, by Dexys Midnight Runners. We all sang along. 

“Jesus, it’s my Mom.” She declined the call. That’s when Sebastian looked around. 

“Guys, do you know what this means?” He seemed nervous. He paused for a brief moment. 

“We all like the classics.”

Keana smiled, “Hey, I guess we do.” 

Sebastian smiled, “So, Eddie, we’ve stalled long enough. What’s going on?” 

Edward coughed. “I came to Athens for a reason. The OrigOlympians came to the decision that this school has to go, and they’re trying to get it shut down. Yet Mrs. Kemp doesn’t want to be held responsible, so they’ve orchestrated a plan. They’re trying to find a way to blame it on the students. But first, I have to take you back. Recently, Ximena came into office. This was directly influenced by the actions of Xander Strohm, and in turn, Xander went on to get his own role in power as Zeusigami. What if that was his intention, to rise to power? To create an unstoppable force to better his means?” 

Sebastian bit his lip, “I got something else to add. Ximena recently listened again to a recorded conversation. It was previously believed that they were referring to a finger puppet of “Alexander, The Great.” The pun being “Alexander, The Puppet.” But that’s not it. It appears they’re talking to someone named Alexander and reminding them about a puppet. What if Alexander is Xander, and they are referring to a finger puppet. This would mean that Xander is a member of the Triumvirate.” 

“What’s the Triumvirate?” Charlie asked. 

Sebastian stared blankly at the ads on the diner table. He shook his head. “No one really knows. But they’re dangerous. If we’re facing off against them then… we need a plan.” He looked at Edward. 

“We do what we do best. We break the mold. Worst case scenario, this stupid school dies.” 

“Wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen.” I noted. 

Edward shrugged, “It could set off a chain reaction. We don’t even know why we’re being set up yet.” 

“So,” August says, “We break the rules. We get the short end of the stick. We operate from the shadows. The risk we take is the death of that which we care about.” He looked at Sebastian, who pulled out Shradies. “We’ll need a name.”

I gasped. Everyone turned to face me. 

“THEY SCRAPPED THE LIZZIE MCGUIRE REBOOT! Ok, carry on. What’s the plan?”

Sebastian smiled. 

“Don’t we have a pep rally tomorrow?” 

I Take The Red Pill

Sebastian Merrick

“Tick.” 

“Tock.” 

“Tick.” 

“Tock.”

Mrs. Kemp had us cleaning out this storage closet just before Christmas break, after all, we both had all of our work done. I worked in silence. He didn’t. Xander made eye contact every chance I could. But over it all, I could hear the ticking of the clock. Xander would always get talkative before big events, and

After a while, his lips tensed. “There’s something I’d like to talk to you about. My first action as Zeusigami was to set up cameras in The Labyrinth. After all, you saw the trouble we got into.” He noticed the fearful look on my face as we carried a chair out onto the hallway. He set it down. 

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell your squeeze about your,” He giggled, “Re-La-Tion-Ship.” He poked my chest with each syllable. “I’m more pis- that’s not the word. Annoyed, yeah, that’s it. Annoyed. Because, well, my sister is smart. I didn’t expect her to not find out I’m one of the Triumvirate. I even suspected she’d tell you. And all is forgiven, Seb. Because it looks like you’re my date to the pep rally tonight!” He picked up a desk and began to carry it into the band room, placing it right next to a door to some random closet. I tried to follow him. 

“What? Why?” I pleaded, chasing him through the halls. I was careful not to run or raise my voice. 

“On the voting ballots for Ximena’s election silly, there was a little clause Mrs. Kemp added.” He pulled out a sheet of paper and smoothed it against his trench coat. “Maybe you’d like to see what they really signed?” He giggled. “You really thought you could outsmart us, mister? The Triumvirate controlled- no, controls present tense, CHRONOS.” I stumbled back. 

“AND WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT,” He stepped into the open hallway where students would do their work from the couches. “CHRONOS CONTROLS YOU! FOREVER! YOU CHUCKED US OUT, THINKING WE WERE TRASH. BUT NOOOOO.” His voice boomed through the echoing hallways. He looked around. 

“And it’s not your fault either. It’s this whole world. They expect us to fit into these neat little boxes. Daddy’s in prison, Mommy’s left with a new man each week, constantly pushing her children against each other to see who comes out on top. Y’know, I was supposed to be the class president. Not her. My whole life, I’ve been the weak one! The second place trophy, in the $&×[#>! flesh! But you showed me the light! We can overthrow Flynn! Me, Mallory, and you, ruling over Caesar, and standing in the rubble of Athens Middle School! And so, tonight, our school is Vietnam! LET’S FINISH WHAT WE BEGUN! SO WHEN THE SCHOOL GOES “SPLASH!” We’ll plan this note,” He tore off part of the student election ballot, “Explaining what happened.” He read aloud. 

“We, the students of Athens Middle School, sealed our own fate. And we will do so, time and time again. The opening of the flood gates, the day in which Noah will not have his ark, might be what gets through to you. Because the society you created torments and manipulates, and tonight, and on December 16th, we say no.” 

He continued and pulled out a small red pill. “And then there’s the alternative, of course.” He was red now, and sweating from all places. He dropped the pill onto the ground as the bell rang. I began to see wisps of light. 

I could see them. Mac Astley, Kaitlyn Emily, all the people who I ruined or got expelled. Not-Mac crept up to me. “Good job. You got what you wanted. Yo unsealed Athens’ fate.” I could see people, some rushing out the exits to their car or bus, but most heading to the pep rally. I bumped into some kid. I started hyperventilating. I was left gasping for air. I couldn’t even think straight, only hearing the voices. Mac must be going through hell at Caesar, right now. And I caused this, I caused all of this. I’m doing this to myself. 

Something fell out of my pocket, Luke CastePleat. “Pick it up, you’ve earned it.” Not-Mac said.  I could only realize Xander probably sneaked it into my pocket. “Keep it together,” I heard the voice of Flynn say, giggling. 

I bumped into the counsellor, dropping the puppet. 

She picked it up and read something that I didn’t even know was written on the back. She smiled, warmly. “Y’know, I was looking for you. Your friend, Xander, stopped by. He told us everything. Your bi-pilar disorder, your struggle to feel loved. He even showed us your copy of The Giver.” She opened it and showed several rambles written into the pages. 

I saw Charlie staring at me from behind her. I couldn’t tell if she was real or not. “Lookie, he’s got your handwriting down, cold.” 

“Please, talk to us.” The counselor urged. 

‘No, no,” I could barely stammer, “You wouldn’t understand.” 

“Try me.” She said, “I’ve been through everything you’re going through right now, and I know that sometimes it feels like you’re carrying the world on your shoulders. But I promise, they’re not.” 

“You don’t know what my world looks like!” I snapped. I ran off. 

The voice synced together, “Sebastian,” they taunted, “You must be tripping on truths now, thinking you can hide.” I was panting. “NOTIFY YOUR NEXT OF KIN!” Flynn giggled.

Someone places their hand on my shoulder.

I turned around, their faces seemed blurred. “Seb?” Her voice asked. 

It was Peyton. Behind her, was the rest of the gang. My senses calmed themselves. “C’mon,” Edward urged, “We have time to spare. You seem pretty shaken up. You want to go talk in The Labyrinth? He gestured vaguely at the entire school, “Maybe, I don’t know, away from the noise. That usually helps. C’mon, there should be a closet nearby.” 

Ten minutes later, there we sat. The gang just… putting up with me. Slowing the mission down. They were so kind about it. Eventually, we realized what we were under. 

The gym. I heard a deafening screech. 

“Hello students of Athens Middle School!” Xander’s voice erupted. “Tell me, what are The Eagles gonna do to the Rottweilers at tomorrow’s game?” 

“CRUSH THEIR SKULLS!” They chanted. Even Peyton joined in. “Sorry,” she said. That made me laugh. 

I realized I was crying. 

And it was because of guilt.

It’s my fault. 

“Now, now, calm yourself.” Xander said, “Because we have a performance here from Heather Sawyer!” 

I smiled. Heather had been practicing for so long. She had filled our group chats with videos of her practicing, Ben, Xander, and Heff always responding with a drooling emoji. 

And I stood up, and I looked at my new friends. “I created CHRONOS to break social norms. To crack the worst parts of society. I wanted people to be themselves, to express themselves and fight against tyranny. But I let everyone else’s anger fester, and infect me.” 

“Heyo, Athens!” The chanting of hundreds of students roared above us like thunder. 

 This solution that we came up with, it’s a lie. Nothing here deserves to be destroyed. Except for me,” I said, after a moment. “This is the monster that I created.” 

“Heyo, Athens!” 

“It’s one more dance with the devil.” I said, and they nodded with determination. 

The band kicked in. The trombones and low brass played two quarter notes, followed by the higher instruments. 

Other students followed with their hands and feet. 

“Stomp. Stomp. Clap.” 

“Heyo, Athens! Hey! Tell me what’s that sound!” The choir rang out. 

Stomp. Stomp. Clap. 

“Here comes Athens, comin’ to put you in the ground!” Somehow, other students joined in as well. I guess they might’ve been broadcasting the lyrics onto the wall or something. 

Stomp. Stomp. Clap. 

I heard a screech. This one was nearby. And then, a series of clanks. It wasn’t from above us. 

Stomp. Stomp. Clap. 

Edward placed his hand to his lip, shushing us. 

Stomp. Stomp. Clap. 

We crept over. It was Xander, tinkering with the school’s pipes. He made eye contact and jumped off of his ladder. 

Stomp. Stomp. Clap. 

His eyes glistened in the darkness. “Step away from the pipe.” I said. 

Stomp. Stomp. Clap. 

“This?’ He laughed. “I wouldn’t call this a pipe, even. You know, over the summer, and quarantine, we had budget cuts. And EduFun supplied us with these, the weakest pipe systeming in the state, actually.” He sounds surprised, though he probably heard it many times before. “And well, all these trips into The Labyrinth we’ve been making, gah, they messed the place up. This place was here for technical reasons, only when OrigOlympus came- when it was still fresh- did it have the structural capability. CHRONOS ruined The Labyrinth with each step. With each step you took. And in a matter of moments-“

Stomp. Stomp. Clap. 

The microphone screeched once more. 

Stomp. Stomp. Clap. 

Mrs. Kemp’s voice spoke, “We’re making some changes. From now on, it will now cost students money to do their work on school issued chromebooks. Teachers, sorry for not informing you earlier, but you will be expected to make new curriculum for both students who do virtual work and students who can’t afford it.” 

Stomp. Stomp. Clap. 

“We also have a new policy in regards to bus riders! A bus driver now has the right to stop a bus and hold it there for as long as need be if students misbehave, the bus driver will be allowed to define misbehavior.” 

Stomp. Stomp. Clap. 

There were some boos. 

Stomp. Stomp. Clap.

“We’re removing several items from our school menu, most notably the crunchy crispito.” I could hear the sound of people banging on the bleachers, shaking the guard rails. Some students continued on with the stomping and clapping. 

Stomp. Stomp. Clap. 

“And we’re replacing Oracle News With Iris Rainbow!” 

The stomping and clapping stopped. 

You could hear a stampede, shouting emerging.

“You see, now? Me and Mrs. Kemp are different in one key way. Sure, we’re both Zeusigami. And we both want Athens destroyed. But I don’t want this totalitarian regime to stand, while she represents the empire we’re trying to squash. People will see the rubble of Athens Middle School and will think that this school did not crumble because society doesn’t care, but because this school represents society! The only place where we can get true equality is within Caesar’s walls! Within our walls!” 

I looked at him, and tears welled in my eyes. I turned to face everyone else. “Go upstairs. Handle what’s going on. Keana, round up the Hunters, even.” They ran off. 

“Can’t you see?” Xander said, “It’s too late.” 

A tear ran down my cheek. “I wish your Dad had been around. I wish your Mom was a better person.” 

“Don’t talk about my Mom.”

“I wish for the upper class. understood. But I wish that we’d met before all of this, before you were convinced that life is a game to play, or some war to win.” I reached my hand out to him. “I wish you could come with me. We could heal you.” 

He smiled. “You ever hear this joke about asylum inmates? I’m not walking across the beam of light. Either you join me, or you’re nothing.” 

“I won’t. I won’t be manipulated anymore.”

He opened his arms, whide. “Then take your shot. You don’t have the nerve.” 

I lunged at him. He dodged. I ran into the pipe.

I bursted it. 

Xander ran off, one way. I ran the other. I exited through a closet in the band room. The exit, however, was covered up by a desk. A desk I had watched him place there.

Water- and a lot of it, rose through the tunnel and into the band room. I jumped up and over the table, but by the time I made my swift exit out, chaos had already erupted. 

The tables and desks me and Xander had set up were flipped over, some even on top of students. 

Edward and August emerged, hand in hand, with matching black eyes. Peyton stood behind them, hand on her gut. “We tried,” was all Edward was able to say. 

How could I have been so stupid? 

I punched the brick wall, my fingertips now chapped with blood. 

Me and Charlie work to clear up the collateral damage. A lot of students got injured, even Mrs. Kemp, who surprisingly walked it off. 

Eventually, they called an evacuation. A Lot of the water was unfiltered and potentially contaminated. As the doors swept open, I could see a small red blob floating in the water. 

When it arrives, I see it. Xander’s red pill. 

It wasn’t a pill. 

I now had a small rubber dinosaur. 

I wanted to crush it, like an asteroid. 

But I had already done too much destruction today. 

Come On Eileen

Edward Emily

“Congratulations, Dad! You raided a #*!)× failure!” 

“Good job,” Mom said. 

Dad facepalmed. “You just got home from school, Edward. What happened?” 

“After today, there might not be a school for me to come home from.” 

“I have worksheets!” Mom chirped. 

“I’m sorry, what?” My Dad asked. 

“Athens is shutting down. The Project failed. There’s going to be a meeting among the students, and a letter sent out to the parents in a week.” 

Dad looked like he was about to hit me, but I knew he wouldn’t. Dad frowned, and looked off at the setting sun. “Do you know what this means?” 

We all nodded. 

“Yes.” I said, “It means that we have a new battle to fight. And this time, it will be the union of three schools. Now, arrangements have already been made, likely by my Mother, to keep our family out of Caesar Middle School. So, I suppose your time will be better spent here. At the Qwikpick.” 

I frowned, it was nice to get out sometimes. But I immediately got curious. 

“Dad, you said three schools. I know about Caesar and Athens but,” I paused, “people came here to visit. They claimed to be from another school. With Egyptian gods, Dad. Is this the third school?” 

He paused and conjured up an old memory. “My Mother was our world. She worked herself up from nothing, and eventually founded a pristine public school. There were, at the time, thousands of students. And at its core, was the shining OriGods Program. Gifted students called together, to hoan skills in Origami and history, but also to learn people skills, strategy, and even literature and arithmetic. You always assumed that there was only one pantheon, but that’s wrong. There were three. Greek. Egyptian, and the third one, well-” His eyes shifted, “That’s a story for another day. Then, OriChronos struck. He caused so many problems, the school diverged into factions. The pristine aspects of the Greek gods remained at Caesar, eventually morphing into Roman gods. Athens was created as a place for all the mistakes and mishaps to reside. And then there was The Carter Institute. The Egyptian OriGods embodied a separate system of beliefs, separate ideologies and they were way more dangerous, they tried to get them as far away as possible. In Brooklyn. But now, I have reports from a friend of mine. The one who funded us when times were tough. He says that Carter is also shutting down. My Mother is getting exactly what she wants. The three schools united underneath her control once again. She wants to finish what she started. Which is another reason why you should not be at Caesar, right now. And why we-” he gestured frantically at me and Mother, “will not be talking about this matter again. Just, we’ll get you to the big announcement and go from there, okay?” 

I stopped him. “Hey, didn’t you send Kaitlyn to Caesar?” He laughed. 

“Oh, I did, yeah.” He turned to my Mom. “I forgot about her.” 

A few weeks pass, and Dad drops me off with his hearse. I rush into the Monroe Center, the stadium where they hold these big events. I find that the announcements have already begun. Across the auditorium, Peyton screams at me. 

“Edward!” She points, interrupting Mrs. Kemp’s speech. She snaps and points at the seat next to her. The whole school staring at me, I rushed to the seat they had saved, wedged in between Heather Sawyer and August.

August looked me up and down. “You look like hell.” He decided. 

“I just got back.” I kissed him on the cheek. He blushed. Peyton clapped. 

“If you all are done with your interruptions and public displays of affection,” Mrs. Kemp said, signaling us out. Some kid threw an open bottle of lime Gatorade at me and August. Keana fired it back with her Zerf Bow Mini, “Then I would like to finally get to the big news of the evening. Ever since the eighties, Athens Middle School has stood as the epitome of Public School perfection. But, there’s always been competition. And it hit me that there’s no need to compete with the private schools, they’re our friends.” I reached my neck across to find Sebastian. 

“Where’s Charlie?” I asked. 

“You’ll see.” He said. 

“So,” Mrs. Kemp continued, “after Christmas break, we will be merging with our friends over at Caesar Middle School and an institute all the way out in Brooklyn! Letters are already being mailed out to your parents. But the question remains, what does this mean? It means that Athens Middle School will be left behind, likely becoming abandoned. But do not worry, Caesar has more than enough dorm rooms for you all to stay in, and due to Mr. Silver of Ouranatox, we’ll be able to serve all of your educational needs, and with plenty of new and old faces there to help you along the way! So keep in mind, this isn’t the end at all! This is only the beginning! And with that, I bid you all good night, and a lovely second semester across town. You are dismissed.” 

Students muttered and murmured for a moment, and some awkwardly shuffled off 

The only people that remained were Heather, Ximena, Xander, Georgia, Pablo, and my friends. 

Heather got up and left, shortly after. “I guess Athens was the one that got put into the ground.” She looked genuinely ashamed, and walked away. Then Xander came up to me. 

“What do you want?” I filled my voice with so much, so much hate and venom, I actually almost felt bad for him. Almost. He looked at me kindly. “Thank you.” He says, full sincerity in his voice. 

“For what?” He gestured widely at the empty auditorium.  “For inspiring me. So,” he smiled, “I’ll see you around. And I’m sure Mr. Ordonia will be happy to see you.” That sent a chill down my spine. Xander walked away; Ximena waved, shyly, and turned to follow her brother. This left us, alone, in the auditorium. 

The lights went off. 

Poor old Johnny Ray

Pink balloons rained from the ceiling. 

Sounded sad upon the radio

Moved a million hearts in mono

Charlie torpedoed down the hall. “Get off the bleacher. I made us a little treat.” She said to Sebastian, kindly.

Our mothers cried

Sang along, who’d blame them? 

The lyrics. The tune. 

You’re grown (you’re grown up)

So grown (so grown up)

Now I must say more than ever

(Come on Eileen)

Toora loora toora loo rye ay

And we can sing just like our fathers

Come On Eileen. 

Sebastian led Charlie down the stairs and onto the actual court. “Oh my god,” Sebastian cheered, “For once, this school is playing good music!” 

Come on Eileen, oh I swear what he means

At this moment, you mean everything

You in that dress, my thoughts I confess

Verge on dirty, ah, come on Eileen

Peyton looked genuinely surprised. “Oh #(!]. Holy @(!]×. They’re playing good music. 

Come on Eileen

These people round here

Wear beatdown eyes sunk in smoke dried face

So resigned to what their fate is

Peyton ran down the seats and jumped over the railing. 

Keana pointed at her, “I better make sure she doesn’t break any limbs.” 

But not us (no never)

No not us (no never)

We are far too young and clever

Toora loora, toora loo rye ay

Eileen, I’ll hum this tune forever

As Peyton happily, yet awkwardly flailed around and Keana watched, I followed August down the steps, to watch from the sidelines. 

Come on Eileen, oh I swear (what he means)

Ah come on let’s, take off everything

Pretty red dress, Eileen, tell him yes

Ah come on let’s, ah, come on Eileen

That pretty red dress, Eileen, tell him yes

Ah, come on let’s, ah come on Eileen, please

Charlie and Seb seemed so on point, so focused, so synced. 

My parents came in through the door, worried. “Oh my god, where is- where is- they saw the dancing unfold. And they looked at each other, and my Father walked my Mother down. And they danced as well. Me and August awkwardly nodded our heads to the music and made eye contact, on occasion. 

Come on Eileen, oh I swear (what he means)

Ah come on let’s, take off everything

Pretty red dress, Eileen, tell him yes

Ah come on let’s, ah, come on Eileen

That pretty red dress, Eileen, tell him yes

Ah, come on let’s, ah come on Eileen, please

Sebastian and Charlie even did that one trick from Dirty Dancing, just before the tempo slowed down. 

Come on Eileen, too loo rye ay

Come on Eileen, too loo rye ay

Now you have grown, and now you have shown

Oh, Eileen

August grabbed my hand. 

Slowly, he pulled me out onto the dance floor, capturing me in a trance. 

I gulped. 

Sebastian and Charlie cheered as they saw us step into their circle. Charlie wrapped Sebastian’s scarf around me, while he affectionately poured the rest of the Gatorade bottle (Where did he even get it from) on my head. It was then, I knew, that no matter what happens in the future, everything was going to be alright. 

Slowly, the tempo picked up. 

Said

Come on Eileen, too loo rye ay

Come on Eileen, too loo rye ay

Now I must say more than ever

Things round here change

I said, toora loora, toora loo rye ay

And August twirled me around.

Dad affectionately ruffled my hair, sending Gatorade flying into Peyton’s eyes.

Come on Eileen, oh I swear what he means

At this moment, you mean everything

You in that dress, my thoughts I confess

Verge on dirty, ah come on Eileen

And that’s when August pulled me in close. And we kissed. 

Come on Eileen, oh I swear what he means

At this moment, you mean everything

In that dress, oh my thoughts, I confess

Well, they’re dirty. 

And we kissed. 

Come On Eileen 

Epilogue One

As Varsity Kemp cleaned out her desk, she found herself staring at this photograph. Dating all the way back to the eighties, or seemed like a relic. Her Mom, Angela Emily, her Dad, Fredrick Silver, and her siblings. Her. Charles. William. The perfect family of five, opening up a school. 

She picked up her old rotary phone and spun in a number. 

“Hey Mom,” she said… 

“It’s been a while. But we’re coming home.” 

Epilogue Two: Time Travel In Madison!

The Iris Rainbow Writer- Vicky Manief- Bringing You The Crystal Clear Truth Since 2018

(Rainbow Writer Editor’s note: to whoever may want to read this. It never saw the light of day because of the numerous integral flaws and horrible interviews)

My fellow students of Athens, I bring you good news!

I understand that after the actions of the once-hero Mac Astley we are currently all feeling the effects of a widespread depression but I bring you all really important news. As of yesterday, Madison New York has become the first city in the world to have recorded time travel by yours truly. 

You are about to read first person testimonies from people who were with me when I made contact. This event is sure to be one that we will all remember.

Minnie Masters (A worker from the cafe where contact was made): They were [looked like] ordinary people. Also, didn’t I ban you from this place after the fight you caused? Yeah, I think I did. So SCRAM!

(Rainbow Writer Editor’s note to Vicky: you can’t just redact supposed eye-wittness testimony)

Edward Emily: You want my what? About the who? Sure, ok. I’ll tell you for all the money you have. You’re not going to hand it over? What a shame, they told me so much. I don’t care if you were going to buy your crush a gift with the money. Hey, HEY, stop fussing. Here is what they told me. They told me you need a shower.

What I saw: They were wearing really strange clothes that they insisted would help them blend in. They also told me that they were searching for 1.21 Gigawatts of power. I contacted the local electric plant to see if they would help but they insisted that I fell for some prank. I don’t know where they are now but they would probably be very old so I went to the local retirement home but was quickly forced out when I started to scream that I was searching for time travelers that called themselves “Star”, “Hermit” and “Magician”. I also got visited by the police for “harassing a government paid agency” and “disturbing the peace” but I knew they just wanted to shut me up.

(Rainbow Writer Editor’s note: You ma’am have come very close to getting fired but this is the first time I might honestly consider it.)

(Vicky’s note to Rainbow Writer Editor: Athens is literally closing. You can’t fire me.) 

Acknowledgments

So this is it, huh? We’re approaching the end of the ROU, but don’t worry, we still have Fold 3 to deal with it. 

Usually, I’m not one to do acknowledgments, but I can’t help with this one because it’s really the one story I’ve always wanted to tell for the ROU ever since day one, actually. 

I’d like to thank SF_THRAWN and Donatello for the stories they’ve written, and SF Jar Jar Pleats for the story he has to come. 

And of course, Happy Pride Month! This story has some seriously queer vibes and I swear, every last one was intentional. 

Next stop: 

“Who do you think you’re kidding, Mac? You’re still the ace degenerate.” Kaitlyn said to me, laughing. 

I raised my finger in the hair, “Hey, Ex-Degenerate, cuz. I got two more semesters to make it work, and that’s what I’m gonna do. Make it work.” 

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