Our sandaled feet spewed up tuffs of dirt and grass as we sprinted across the Crete countryside. Behind us was a whirlwind of terror: griffins, eagles, bulls, and lions alike all pursued us. The wind was a torrent against our bare skin, snatching up leaves and branches to assault our skin. The sky had darkened considerably since our escape from Crete. Fat raindrops threatened to blind us as we sprinted into the wilderness, pure adrenaline surging us forward.
Arion winced as his back received another shock from the bolt strapped onto his tunic. The thing was four feet long, surging a bright yellow, nearly white, and radiated power. If you got too close to it, it would kill. Luckily, though, Arion was the son of Astrape, a minor goddess of lightning. He could withstand minor shocks.
"Run run run run," Helen whispered to herself next to me. "Run run run."
My chest was heaving; all I wanted to do was stop. My mouth, dry as a cracker, begged for water. My side was contorted with a cramp so big I knew I would collapse if I stopped. But I had to keep running. If I didn't, then Zeus's minions would get me.
Ahead of us all, Arion suddenly diverted his path. "Cliff!" he shouted, running to the west. I followed him, praying to Zephyrus to guide us to safety.
Behind me, I heard Helen cry out. I watched as she stumbled upon a vine that had latched onto our ankles. Before the monsters could get her, I yanked her away from them, dragging my friend away from the branches and the monsters.
"It's Demeter," Helen panted as we continued running. "Or Pan. They must have teamed up with Zeus to track us down..."
I cursed under my breath. Now we had two deities pursuing us? One was bad enough. Now we would die, for certain, a terrible and painful death.
"Keep running," I advised, shaking my hair away from my face.
Helen nodded, swallowing. She glanced back behind her, and, filled with fear, sprinted ahead of me, terrified of what was chasing us. I heard her scream once before turning back around and running.
"Don't look back!" she warned Arion and me in a frantic tone. "Whatever you do, don't look back - "
Her voice trailed off after that as I watched, in horror, as her head slowly turned to stone, sending her careening to the ground. I stared, terrified, at my friend's face, etched into the stone with fear and terror as the stone laced down her convulsing body.
"Helen!" I yelled, my eyes threatening to cry. My comrade, my friend, dead just like that. It couldn't be possible; demigods were supposed to die heroic, noble lives, not at the hands of Medusa, the evilest creature known to Greece. It wasn't right. It wasn't fair. For the first time, I felt anger towards my mother, Nemesis. She was supposed to prevent things like this from happening; she was the goddess of justice! She was my mother! Surely she would bring Helen back to life... she had to...
No. She wouldn't. Deities didn't do things like that. They were merciless, unforgiving creatures who enjoyed torturing young demigods. I kept that in my head as I kept running, jumping over Helen slowly solidifying and screaming to Arion, "Medusa! Zeus has released Medusa!"
Scree! Sharp talons suddenly snatched at my back, ripping through my tunic and skin like parchment. I screamed from the sudden burning pain that was coursing through my body as a creature tossed me up in the air. "Arion!" I shouted. "Arion!"
Arion raised his eyes skyward, finding me in a matter of seconds. I heard my name, Delia, once before he suddenly convulsed and fell to the ground, twitching and shaking like in a seizure. I saw tendrils of lightning coursing over Arion's body, and, even as far away as I was getting, smoke rising from his clothes. So that was it. They were both dead.
A cry from the griffin brought me back to the sky. I watched in terror and awe as a golden chariot, too bright to look at, slowly approached, carrying a figure wearing very Roman attire. I recognized him immediately. Apollo, the sun god. As he neared me, he flashed a brilliantly white smile, and suddenly Crete disappeared. All of a sudden I was standing in a gray city, full of towering buildings that defied physics, filled with humans dressed in absurd clothing, home to the destroyed world of nature. A place of metal and machinery, socializing and partying. It was terrible.
As soon as the vision had started, it ended. I gave Apollo a bewildered look before he finally spoke.
"That's the world in a few thousand years. Depressing, no?"
I nodded my head best I could.
"Imagine having to deal with it all your life," Apollo remarked. "It would be torture."
I nodded my head again.
"Do you know how hard it is to deal with every day?" Apollo continued, his bright blue eyes flashing angrily. "You would go insane."
"Yes, sir," I whisper.
He fixed me with a glare so intent it hurt my eyes just to stare at his face. I whimpered and cowered away from him.
And then the future hit me, hard.
Cities being destroyed. Greece being taken by Romans. Massive destruction of the world. Nature destroyed. Gray cities, gray world. Aliens of humans ruling the world. Terrible persecution, shootings, a grave of thousands of babies. People being gassed, red-skinned women and children being shot. Demigods against each other, a collapsing world. A lightning bolt stolen, a labyrinth opened. Titans restored, Gaea ruling. Human misery. Death death death...
It was too much. I felt something inside my brain snap, and the world was shattered in a million different colors. My senses sharpened and dulled at the same time. Apollo grew, shrunk, and turned into my mother, shaking her head. She didn't approve. No one approved. No one ever did...
I let out a blood-curdling scream as the world assaulted me, and Apollo smiled. With a majestic sweep of his hand, he motioned for the griffin to let go.
Millions of humans cramped into ships. Whips striking skinny backs. Ignorance of the gods, demigods holding the sky, Hecate freezing time. Monsters killing humans, demigods standing against Titans. Demigod slaves, torture, prisons, a steaming, desert wasteland of a world...
I felt myself tumbling down thousands of meters of air, yet I didn't care anymore. My life was destined to end anyways, at least it would be quick. I felt cool water wrap around my skin and sooth my burning back. And I smiled.
A girl tortured to blindness. A boy jumping off a bridge. Blood spots on a clean carpet, guns lying in cold hands. A man nailed to a tree, the world as dark as night. Teenagers breaking rules, girls being assaulted and murdered, terrible, terrible world...
Apollo's arrow went flying into my skull.
And I was gone.