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The Fear Landscape Series: Annabeth

03 Jul
The Fear Landscape Series: Annabeth

“Percy!” Annabeth screamed as she ran, stretching her legs and pumping her muscles as hard as she could and yet never gaining any ground. Percy to tried to run to her, but was only being pulled further back. Annabeth cursed the gods of Olympus. “If you take him from me again, I swear on the River Styx I will never forgive you for it,” she hissed at Hera. This was her. It had to be.
Sparing her terrain only a moment, Annabeth furrowed her brow as she realized that there was nothing around them. At all. Just blackness, all over. She looked back to Percy, stopped in her tracks, and screamed.
He was gone.
She’d turned her back for one second, and he was gone. Annabeth ran to where she’d last seen him and tore at the ground. It felt like kneeling on concrete, and yet her hands grasped at nothing.
After several minutes, Annabeth stopped trying to get to him. She crumpled in on herself and fell limp onto the black floor sobbing.
As a daughter of Athena Annabeth had thought she’d be better at this. The fear landscape. The ultimate training. A few of the Athena kids had gotten together with Ares and created it. And of course, like a fool Annabeth had been the first to volunteer to go through it.
Who knew what that serum did? This was an experiment! How did she even know this was the true simulation? What if this were real?
Annabeth forced her abs to stop contracting and shut her eyes. Breathing in, breathing out she regulated her breath to calm her down. Real or not nothing would be gained by having a meltdown.
Slowly, Annabeth stood and dried her eyes. If this were real, she’d have to figure out how to find Percy. If this were a simulation, if the serum had worked, she’d have to show the program that she could conquer her fear.
It took all Annabeth was to turn her back on where Percy and walk away, but she did. Calmly and decisively, she strode away from the area, trusting the invisible path she walked on not to falter. Annabeth walked away.
And walked into Olympus. All of a sudden the overwhelming blackness disappeared and was replaced by the golden grandure of Mount Olympus. Annabeth breathed a deep sigh of relief. The serum had worked. This was a simulation. And she had beaten her fear.
But why was she in Olympus? Unless… her second fear took place here. Annabeth shuddered.
Another person stepped before her and Annabeth’s gaze traveled from the woman’s shoes to her face. Athena, goddess of wisdom. And Annabeth’s mother. Annabeth cringed.
“Hey, Mom,” she said as nonchalantly as she could.
“Do not address a goddess that way,” snapped Athena in return.
Annabeth gulped. “Alright, Mother.”
“Well that’s slightly better at least.” Athena rolled her eyes. “It’s a start.”
Annabeth’s mind gnawed on the situation and weighed it from all angles, all the while panicking internally. She didn’t exactly have the best relationship with her mother. She hadn’t realized that the fear of her mother was so deep-set as to be in her fear landscape, but she had known about it. If this was anything like her nightmares, the situation was about to get a lot worse, fast.
“Were you watching when I volunteered to use the fear simulation serum first?” asked Annabeth anxiously.
Athena was skeptical. “I was. You volunteered first. It is not wise to trust the shoddy workmanship of other demigods, particularly any of Ares. You have acted foolishly, daughter, and it may well cost you before the end.”
Annabeth was afraid of that. But a daughter of Athena doesn’t fall apart at a little bit of criticism. “You may be right,” she said, posture perfect and voice strong. Mount Olympus faded away, and Annabeth breathed a sigh of relief. That wasn’t too hard.
She stopped breathing entirely when she saw where she was. A dark, dank forest. Alone. With spider webs all around her. The webs were like four walls that locked Annabeth in place. Despite herself, Annabeth was able to keep her composure. That is, until she saw the actual spiders.
Big, black, and fuzzy. And a lot of them. They covered each of the four walls of web and stared at Annabeth with their many eyes. She couldn’t take it. Annabeth screamed.
“Get away, get away!” she screamed, making shooing motions with her hands but not being brave enough to move them forward very much. “Get out of here! Go! Please, go!” The spiders were not in a cooraporative mood.
Shaking, Annabeth crumpled to the forest floor, hugging her arms to her body and not willing to move from the center of her prison. She had to get past it, had to get past it. Get past it. Conquer it. How could she conquer this?!
Once again Annabeth forced her breathing to become regulated. Her heart still sped, but the breathing was a start. She had only one choice; dive deeper. And in the case of spiders, Annabeth knew what that meant. She would have to run into them. On purpose.
That’s what she had to do, and Annabeth knew it, but honest to Hades she wasn’t sure she could. Knowing what to do and not instantly doing it was a new and strange feeling for Annabeth, but no matter how much she tried to prepare herself for walking forward Annabeth’s legs refused to move. She was stuck.
Percy wasn’t scared of spiders. He’d be able to do this no problem. Annabeth pictured Percy standing on the other side of the webs, arms out and smiling slightly lopsided. She couldn’t help but smile back. In small, minuscule steps, Annabeth edged closer to the webs. And at the last second, she ran.
Right into… a school building? This one—Annabeth had no idea what was coming. A school building? She was afraid of school? No, she wasn’t though. As the professor began his lecture and all of the students tried their hardest not to fall asleep, Annabeth strained to hear him. She didn’t get it. What was going on?
Had the simulation malfunctioned? Was this not a simulation at all, but real? What was she supposed to do? With the spiders Annabeth had known what to do but hadn’t wanted to do it. Here she really wanted to do whatever came next, but had no idea what was going on. She started to sweat as she thought frantically.
Wait. Annabeth raised an eyebrow. There was one thing she knew she was afraid of. And it might not be the point of the simulation, assuming this was a real simulation, but maybe it was worth a shot. Annabeth feared not knowing. Not having all the answers. And right now she didn’t have any answers.
How could she beat that? It wasn’t like she could invent problems that she knew she wouldn’t be able to solve. That ruled out that whole option, leaving only one. If Annabeth could show the machine that her heart rate was regular and her breathing normal, the simulation would continue on. But considering her heart hadn’t gone down to normal since the first fear, Annabeth wasn’t so sure that would work either.
One, two, exhale, one, two, inhale, one, two… Annabeth chanted as she breathed. Minutes past and all she did was concentrate on breathing, trusting that her heart would settle down in time. The longer the wait, the more Annabeth was afraid this wasn’t the right answer, and the faster her heart rate wanted to go. More minutes of breathing. Fifteen minutes. A half hour. And, finally, her breathing and heart were registered as normal and Annabeth found herself being transported somewhere entirely different. A place she was very familiar with.
Camp Half-Blood. Only it didn’t look like it normally did. Camp Half-Blood was in flames. Annabeth’s mouth literally hung open in shock, too taken aback to react in any other way. What should she do? What should she do? What should she do?
Annabeth grabbed a bucket of water and tossed it on the Athena cabin, but if anything it only made the flames stronger. Demigods ran around in all directions, and as Annabeth followed them with her eyes, she realized what was going on. It was a Roman attack. The Romans were burning her only home.
The other demigods had the battle on check, but no one was fighting the fire. The Greeks were just letting the Romans burn their home. Annabeth ran from the well to the cabins to the well and back again, but no amount of water seemed to help. By the time Annabeth had given up trying, the Romans had one. They’d left. And no demigods, save her, had survived. Bodies of those Annabeth had the honor of calling friend lay dead all around her, and the buildings were all burned to the foundation.
She tried to stay strong. She really did. When she walked past Chiron, and Piper, and Leo, Annabeth shook with the strain of not reacting, but managed to still stay together. But when she found the body of Percy, lying close to the Athena cabin, clutching Riptide, Annabeth broke down completely. Before she’d thought that the half hour just breathing had been a long time, but now time seemed to mean nothing. Nothing meant anything anymore if all of this were real.
Annabeth cradled Percy’s head in her lap and sobbed onto him, only stopping for breath, and then not for long. Simulation or not Annabeth knew that things could never be the same after experiencing this.
But, she thought, wiping her eyes and sniffing hard. This was a simulation, if the Ares and Athena cabins had been right in their calculations. So if she could just get past this, she could wake up. It was all a dream. Only a dream.
Percy wasn’t really dead. He was probably in the room with her when she went under. He was probably still there now. Annabeth laid simulation-Percy’s head back on the scorched grass and rose shakily. “This is a simulation,” she said. “This is a simulation!” she repeated louder. Her calm confidence paid off despite her inward doubt. Annabeth woke up.
There was a hand clutching hers. “Annabeth?” asked Percy weakly.
“I’m back,” Annabeth assured.
Percy sighed. “You really had me there for a second, wise girl.”
Annabeth smiled. “It had me half the time, too, seaweed brain.”

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