Chapter no 10 – Everyone Is Totally Shocked

The Chalice of the Gods

Gotta love those Annabeth pep talks.

They always boil down to

If A = B => Okay; if A ≠ B=> Dead.

I didn’t know why we’d abducted Li’l Killer, or what Annabeth planned to do with her, but I hoped it wouldn’t come to Plan Chick. Unfortunately, that meant I had to pin my hopes on Plan Percy Sings, which sounded just as likely to get us murdered.

While Grover piled furniture in front of the doors, Annabeth and I ran to the stage and fired up the karaoke machine. (There is a statement I never thought I would make.) Li’l Killer made herself at home, rummaging under the tables for crumbs, moldy pizza, or fresh fingers to bite.

Annabeth scowled at the karaoke screen. “Is there a search function on this? Maybe I could cross-reference apology and forgiveness.”

“ ‘Sorry Not Sorry,’ ” I suggested. “Percy—”

“Okay, okay.” I racked my brain. “What’s the song where that one dude sings, like, ‘I didn’t mean to hurt you and make you cry’?”

“We didn’t actually make Hebe cry. . . . Oh, wait, you mean the John Lennon song? ‘Jealous Guy’?”

“I guess.”

“Did you just call John Lennon ‘that one dude’?” “Whatever. See if they have the song!”

The chickens were at the gates, slamming against the panels, rattling the frames, perforating the mahogany with beak-size holes. Grover huffed and puffed as he dragged tables over to block the entrance, but there was only so much one preadolescent satyr could do. I was about to go over and help him when Annabeth said, “Found it!”



She punched a button, and the first bars of “Jealous Guy” started to play. I wasn’t sure whether to feel relieved or not. Now I had to sing the song,

and I can’t sing. “You want to take the lead?”

“Oh, no,” Annabeth said. “You’re the one who made Hebe mad!” “Me? That was all of us!”

“Ninety percent you.”

“Only ninety percent, though. I’m improving!”

Grover wedged another table against the doors. “Just crank up the music!

We’ll both back you up!”

The teleprompter started scrolling, and Annabeth handed me the mic. (That’s another statement I never thought I’d make.)

I remembered the song from my childhood. My mom had played it all the time, even though it made her cry. I hate to see my mom cry, which is why it had stuck in my brain.

Looking back, I’m not sure if the song had made her think of Poseidon, or if she was playing it as a suggestion to my first stepdad, like, Perhaps you should apologize for being you. If it was the latter, Smelly Gabe never got the message.

The song started out slow, like a funeral dirge. As soon as I started mumbling the verse, the chickens battered against the doors even harder. No doubt they realized I had to be stopped at all costs before a perfectly good song was tortured to death. It didn’t help that I had my squeaky eight-year-old voice back. That was another thing I didn’t miss about elementary school.

Annabeth “helped” (full sarcastic air quotes) by warbling all the words half a beat behind me. This is how you know you’ve found true love: when your significant other is just as bad at singing as you are.

I got to the chorus and yelled, “This one’s for you, Hebe!”

(I’d also like to point out that when I typed chorus just now, it initially autocorrected to curse, which seems right.)

“. . . hurt you,” I muttered. “Cry. Jealous. Oh, yeah!”



Our chick friend Li’l Killer scurried under the corner booth to hide. She peeked out at me with an offended look as if she was thinking, I’m two days old and I could sing better than that.

By the second verse, Annabeth was getting into it. She threw her arm around me and belted out that she, too, was just a jealous guy. Her enthusiasm improved the song by negative five percent.

Finally, as we launched into the second chorus/curse, a whirlwind of glitter and prize tickets materialized in the middle of the dance floor. Hebe appeared, her fingers wedged in her ears. “Stop it! Stop it, already!”

The karaoke machine died. Li’l Killer disappeared back under the booth.

The doors stopped shaking as the army of chickens ceased its assault. “O great and extremely young Hebe!” I said. “We are so sorry—” “Especially Percy,” Annabeth said.

“I am ninety percent of the sorry!” I agreed. “Please forgive us!”

Hebe glared. “If that song was supposed to be an apology, you should direct it to John Lennon.”

“Please, grant us sanctuary from your wrathful hens!” Grover called from the doors.

“And please return us to our proper ages!” Annabeth said.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Hebe T’ed her hands in a time-out sign. “First you desecrate my karaoke machine, then you barrage me with requests? Why should I return you to your former ages?”

“Because . . .” I faltered. “Because you are generous and good, and also super young.”

“We are petitioners at your altar,” Annabeth said.

“Your holiest of holy karaoke stages!” Grover said. “Most sacred of disco boogie venues!”

Hebe stared at him.

“Too much?” Grover asked. “All we want is to leave here in peace, at our normal ages—so we can spread the word about the wonders and terrors of Hebe Jeebies!”



“And with a little information about the chalice of the gods, please,” I said.

Annabeth kicked me in the shin, but it was too late.

Hebe bared her teeth. “There it is again. That insolence. That slander.

Perhaps I did not send you far enough back into your childhood.”

“Forgive him!” Annabeth cried. I noticed her gaze kept drifting to the corner booth where Li’l Killer was hiding. But if she was waiting for the chick to launch a sneak attack on the goddess, I didn’t like our chances.

“We would never try to run out the clock on you!” Annabeth added.

That last part was meant for me. Even at eight years old, even being not the sharpest ballpoint pen in the box, I could tell that much. Annabeth was stalling for time. But why?

“It’s true!” I said. “Clocks are bad!”

Hebe’s hairdo seemed to be curling tighter, as if forming a protective helmet against traumatic injuries like listening to us talk. Was it my imagination, or was she also getting shorter?

“You are spouting nonsense,” she said.

“Exactly,” Annabeth agreed. “He does that a lot! That’s why you must forgive him.”





“Should! Might. Could, if you happened to be so inclined. Please, O goddess!”

Hebe stomped her go-go boots, which now came up to her hips like waders. “You are all so—so yucky!”

She was shrinking before our eyes. Her minidress became a maxi dress, the paisley hem puddling around her ankles. Her cheeks filled out with baby fat.

“What is happening?” She shook her now-tiny fists. “I don’t like it!”

She looked younger than we were now—maybe seven years old. Her eyes kept their wrathful glare, but her voice had an I just sucked helium squeak that made it hard to take her seriously.

“Don’t look at me like that!” she cried, her lip quivering. “You’re a big dummy!”

But I couldn’t help staring. She shrank to kindergarten size, then became a toddler. Even Li’l Killer peeked out from her hiding place to watch.

Finally I understood Plan Chick.

Hebe always had to be the youngest one in the room. Her powers were reacting to the presence of the chick. As a goddess, she should have been able to stop the process, but I guess it caught her by surprise. Or maybe making herself older just went against her nature.

She fell over, unable to walk. She started to crawl toward me like she wanted to grab my ankles, but then she fell sideways, squirming, and began




to bawl. The goddess of youth was now the youngest in the room: a cranky newborn with a bright red face.

“What just happened?” Grover asked.

Annabeth strolled over and picked up the baby, swaddling her in Hebe’s paisley dress. “Li’l Killer pulled juniority on Hebe.” Annabeth tickled the goddess’s chin. “But you are so adorable.”

Hebe squirmed and grunted. She tried to bite Annabeth’s finger, but she didn’t have any teeth.

“Now hold on,” Annabeth told the baby. “I know you’re fussy, but I’m sure you’re not making an age-based complaint, are you? The chickens wouldn’t like that.”

Baby Hebe became very still.

“Great,” Annabeth said. “Then here’s what I suggest. We agree that some young ages are just too young. Then we remove Li’l Killer from the room so you can age yourself back up to at least elementary school. Then you accept our apology, put us back to our normal ages, tell us whatever you know about the chalice of the gods, and we all go our separate ways. Gurgle once for yes. Poop yourself for no.”

I had never wanted to hear yes so much in my life.

Hebe gurgled. It might have been just a random gurgle, but Annabeth seemed to accept it as a promise.

“Grover,” she said, “would you ask Li’l Killer to return to her pen, please?”

Grover made a couple of bleating noises. Li’l Killer peeped at us— probably saying, Thank you for the excitement and crumbs and blood

—then trotted to the doors and wriggled through one of the beak holes the hens had made.

Judging from the clucking sounds outside, the hens welcomed the chick as a conquering hero. Then their cackling got fainter as they retreated to their pen. I suppose Li’l Killer had spread the word that we’d agreed upon a cease-fire.

Immediately, Hebe began to grow. Annabeth quickly set her down. We watched as the baby fast-forwarded into a kindergartner, then a fifth grader, and finally stood before us as the angriest-looking high schooler I’d ever seen.




“You three . . .” she growled.

“We apologize, Great Hebe,” Annabeth said. “And ask for sanctuary.”

“And information,” I added. Annabeth elbowed me. “Please,” I added.

The goddess fumed. She snapped her fingers, and suddenly we were our normal ages again.

“You’re lucky I like John Lennon,” the goddess muttered. “Sit, and I will tell you what I know. But you aren’t going to like it.”

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