- The Hidden Oracle
Sally looked at me, then Meg. Her expression softened, her innate kindness perhaps overweighing her concern. “All right. Be careful. It was lovely meeting you both. Please try not to die.”
Percy kissed her on the cheek. He reached for the cookies, but she moved the plate away.
“Oh, no,” she said. “Apollo and Meg can have one, but I’m keeping the rest hostage until you’re back safely. And hurry, dear. It would be a shame if Paul ate them all when he gets home.”
Percy’s expression turned grim. He faced us. “You hear that, guys? A batch of cookies is depending on me. If you get me killed on the way to camp, I am going be ticked off.”
Couldn’t possibly be worse
Oh, wait, now it is
MUCH TO MY DISAPPOINTMENT, the Jacksons did not have a spare bow or quiver to lend me.
“I suck at archery,” Percy explained.
“Yes, but I don’t,” I said. “This is why you should always plan for my needs.”
Sally lent Meg and me some proper winter fleece jackets, however. Mine was blue, with the word BLOFIS written inside the neckline. Perhaps that was an arcane ward against evil spirits. Hecate would have known. Sorcery really wasn’t my thing.
Once we reached the Prius, Meg called shotgun, which was yet another example of my unfair existence. Gods do not ride in the back. I again suggested following them in a Maserati or a Lamborghini, but Percy admitted he had neither. The Prius was the only car his family owned.
I mean…wow. Just wow.
Sitting in the backseat, I quickly became carsick. I was used to driving my sun chariot across the sky, where every lane was the fast lane. I was not used to the Long Island Expressway. Believe me, even at midday in the middle of January, there is nothing express about your expressways.
Percy braked and lurched forward. I sorely wished I could launch a fireball in front of us and melt cars to make way for our clearly more important journey.
“Doesn’t your Prius have flamethrowers?” I demanded. “Lasers? At least some Hephaestian bumper blades? What sort of cheap economy vehicle is this?”
Percy glanced in the rearview mirror. “You have rides like that on Mount Olympus?”
“We don’t have traffic jams,” I said. “That, I can promise you.”
Meg tugged at her crescent moon rings. Again I wondered if she had some connection to Artemis. The moon was my sister’s symbol. Perhaps Artemis had sent Meg to look after me?
Yet that didn’t seem right. Artemis had trouble sharing anything with me—demigods, arrows, nations, birthday parties. It’s a twin thing. Also, Meg McCaffrey did not strike me as one of my sister’s followers. Meg had another sort of aura…one I would have been able to recognize easily if I were a god. But, no. I had to rely on mortal intuition, which was like trying to pick up sewing needles while wearing oven mitts.
Meg turned and gazed out the rear windshield, probably checking for any shiny blobs pursuing us. “At least we’re not being—”
“Don’t say it,” Percy warned.
Meg huffed. “You don’t know what I was going to—”
“You were going to say, ‘At least we’re not being followed,’” Percy said. “That’ll jinx us. Immediately we’ll notice that we are being followed. Then we’ll end up in a big battle that totals my family car and probably destroys the whole freeway. Then we’ll have to run all the way to camp.”
Meg’s eyes widened. “You can tell the future?”
“Don’t need to.” Percy changed lanes to one that was crawling slightly less slowly. “I’ve just done this a lot. Besides”—he shot me an accusing look—“nobody can tell the future anymore. The Oracle isn’t working.”
“What Oracle?” Meg asked.
Neither of us answered. For a moment, I was too stunned to speak. And believe me, I have to be very stunned for that to happen.
“It still isn’t working?” I said in a small voice.
“You didn’t know?” Percy asked. “I mean, sure, you’ve been out of it for six months, but this happened on your watch.”
That was unjust. I had been busy hiding from Zeus’s wrath at the time, which was a perfectly legitimate excuse. How was I to know that Gaea would take advantage of the chaos of war and raise my oldest, greatest enemy from the depths of Tartarus so he could take possession of his old lair in the cave of Delphi and cut off the source of my prophetic power?
Oh, yes, I hear you critics out there: You’re the god of prophecy, Apollo. How could you not know that would happen?