The Sea of Monsters – Chapter 16: I Go Down With The Ship

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Chapter 16: I Go Down With The Ship

“You’d think he’d run out of rocks,” I muttered. 

  “Swim for it!” Grover said. 

  He and Clarisse plunged into the surf. Annabeth hung on to Clarisse’s neck and tried to paddle with one hand, the wet Fleece weighing her down. 

  But the monster’s attention wasn’t on the Fleece. 

  “You, young Cyclops!” Polyphemus roared. “Traitor to your kind!”

  Tyson froze. 

  “Don’t listen to him!” I pleaded. “Come on. ”

  I pulled Tyson’s arm, but I might as well have been pulling a mountain. He turned and faced the older Cyclops. “I am not a traitor. ”

  “You serve mortals!” Polyphemus shouted. “Thieving humans!”

  Polyphemus threw his first boulder. Tyson swatted it aside with his fist. 

  “Not a traitor,” Tyson said. “And you are not my kind. ”

  “Death or victory!” Polyphemus charged into the surf, but his foot was still wounded. He immediately stumbled and fell on his face. That would’ve been funny, except he started to get up again, spitting salt water and growling. 

  “Percy!” Clarisse yelled. “Come on!”

  They were almost to the ship with the Fleece. If I could just keep the monster distracted a little longer …

  “Go,” Tyson told me. “I will hold Big Ugly. ”

  “No! He’ll kill you. ” I’d already lost Tyson once. I wasn’t going to lose him again. “We’ll fight him together. ”

  “Together,” Tyson agreed. 

  I drew my sword. 

  Polyphemus advanced carefully, limping worse than ever. But there was nothing wrong with his throwing arm. He chucked his second boulder. I dove to one side, but I still would’ve been squashed if Tyson’s fist hadn’t blasted the rock to rubble. 

  I willed the sea to rise. A twenty-foot wave surged up, lifting me on its crest. I rode toward the Cyclops and kicked him in the eye, leaping over his head as the water blasted him onto the beach. 

  “Destroy you!” Polyphemus spluttered. “Fleece stealer!”

“You stole the Fleece!” I yelled. “You’ve been using it to lure satyrs to their deaths!”

  “So? Satyrs good eating!”

  “The Fleece should be used to heal! It belongs to the children of the gods!”

  “I am a child of the gods!” Polyphemus swiped at me, but I sidestepped. “Father Poseidon, curse this thief!” He was blinking hard now, like he could barely see, and I realized he was targeting by the sound of my voice. 

  “Poseidon won’t curse me,” I said, backing up as the Cyclops grabbed air. “I’m his son, too. 

  He won’t play favorites. ”

  Polyphemus roared. He ripped an olive tree out of the side of the cliff and smashed it where I’d been standing a moment before. “Humans not the same! Nasty, tricky, lying!”

  Grover was helping Annabeth aboard the ship. Clarisse was waving frantically at me, telling me to come on. 

  Tyson worked his way around Polyphemus, trying to get behind him. 

  “Young one!” the older Cyclops called. “Where are you? Help me!”

  Tyson stopped. 

  “You weren’t raised right!” Polyphemus wailed, shaking his olive tree club. “Poor orphaned brother! Help me!”

  No one moved. No sound but the ocean and my own heartbeat. Then Tyson stepped forward, raising his hands defensively. “Don’t fight, Cyclops brother. Put down the—”

  Polyphemus spun toward his voice. 

  “Tyson!” I shouted. 

  The tree struck him with such force it would’ve flattened me into a Percy pizza with extra olives. Tyson flew backward, plowing a trench in the sand. Polyphemus charged after him, but I shouted, “No!” and lunged as far as I could with Riptide. I’d hoped to sting Polyphemus in the back of the thigh, but I managed to leap a little bit higher. 

  “Blaaaaah!” Polyphemus bleated just like his sheep, and swung at me with his tree. 

  I dove, but still got raked across the back by a dozen jagged branches. I was bleeding and bruised and exhausted. The guinea pig inside me wanted to bolt. But I swallowed down my fear. 

  Polyphemus swung the tree again, but this time I was ready. I grabbed a branch as it passed, ignoring the pain in my hands as I was jerked skyward, and let the Cyclops lift me into the air. At the top of the arc I let go and fell straight against the giant’s face—landing with both feet on his already damaged eye. 

  Polyphemus yowled in pain. Tyson tackled him, pulling him down. I landed next to them—sword in hand, within striking distance of the monster’s heart. But I locked eyes with Tyson, and I knew I couldn’t do it. It just wasn’t right. 

  “Let him go,” I told Tyson. “Run. ”

  With one last mighty effort, Tyson pushed the cursing older Cyclops away, and we ran for the surf. 

  “I will smash you. ’” Polyphemus yelled, doubling over in pain. His enormous hands cupped over his eye. 

  Tyson and I plunged into the waves. 

  “Where are you?” Polyphemus screamed. He picked up his tree club and threw it into the water. It splashed off to our right. 

  I summoned up a current to carry us, and we started gaining speed. I was beginning to think we might make it to the ship, when Clarisse shouted from the deck, “Yeah, Jackson! In your face, Cyclops!”

  Shut up, I wanted to yell. 

  “Rarrr!” Polyphemus picked up a boulder. He threw it toward the sound of Clarisse’s voice, but it fell short, narrowly missing Tyson and me. 

  “Yeah, yeah!” Clarisse taunted. “You throw like a wimp! Teach you to try marrying me, you idiot!”

  “Clarisse!” I yelled, unable to stand it. “Shut up!”

  Too late. Polyphemus threw another boulder, and this time I watched helplessly as it sailed over my head and crashed through the hull of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. 

  You wouldn’t believe how fast a ship can sink. The Queen Anne’s Revenge creaked and groaned and listed forward like it was going down a playground slide. 

  I cursed, willing the sea to push us faster, but the ship’s masts were already going under. 

  “Dive!” I told Tyson. And as another rock sailed over our heads, we plunged underwater. 

  My friends were sinking fast, trying to swim, without luck, in the bubbly trail of the ship’s wreckage. 

  Not many people realize that when a ship goes down, it acts like a sinkhole, pulling down everything around it. Clarisse was a strong swimmer, but even she wasn’t making any progress. 

  Grover frantically kicked with his hooves. Annabeth was hanging on to the Fleece, which flashed in the water like a wave of new pennies. 

  I swam toward them, knowing that I might not have the strength to pull my friends out. 

  Worse, pieces of timber were swirling around them; none of my power with water would help if I got whacked on the head by a beam. 

  We need help, I thought. 

  Yes. Tyson’s voice, loud and clear in my head. 

  I looked over at him, startled. I’d heard Nereids and other water spirits speak to me underwater before, but it never occurred to me … Tyson was a son of Poseidon. We could communicate with each other. 

  Rainbow, Tyson said. 

  I nodded, then closed my eyes and concentrated, adding my voice to Tyson’s: RAINBOW! We need you!

  Immediately, shapes shimmered in the darkness below—three horses with fish tails, galloping upward faster than dolphins. Rainbow and his friends glanced in our direction and seemed to read our thoughts. They whisked into the wreckage, and a moment later burst upward in a cloud of bubbles—Grover, Annabeth, and Clarisse each clinging to the neck of a hippocampus. 

  Rainbow, the largest, had Clarisse. He raced over to us and allowed Tyson to grab hold of his mane. His friend who bore Annabeth did the same for me. 

  We broke the surface of the water and raced away from Polyphemus’s island. Behind us, I could hear the Cyclops roaring in triumph, “I did it! I finally sank Nobody!”

  I hoped he never found out he was wrong. 

  We skimmed across the sea as the island shrank to a dot and then disappeared. 

  “Did it,” Annabeth muttered in exhaustion. “We …”

  She slumped against the neck of the hippocampus and instantly fell asleep. 

  I didn’t know how far the hippocampi could take us. I didn’t know where we were going. I just propped up Annabeth so she wouldn’t fall off, covered her in the Golden Fleece that we’d been through so much to get, and said a silent prayer of thanks. 

  Which reminded me … I still owed the gods a debt. 

  “You’re a genius,” I told Annabeth quietly. 

  Then I put my head against the Fleece, and before I knew it, I was asleep, too. 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20