The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2) - Rick Riordan

ONE

MY BEST FRIEND SHOPS FOR A WEDDING DRESS

My nightmare started like this.

I was standing on a deserted street in some little beach town. It was the middle of the night. A storm was blowing. Wind and rain ripped at the palm trees along the sidewalk. Pink and yellow stucco buildings lined the street, their windows boarded up. A block away, past a line of hibiscus bushes, the ocean churned.

Florida, I thought. Though I wasn’t sure how I knew that. I’d never been to Florida.

Then I heard hooves clattering against the pavement. I turned and saw my friend Grover running for his life.

Yeah, I said hooves.

Grover is a satyr. From the waist up, he looks like a typical gangly teenager with a peach-fuzz goatee and a bad case of acne. He walks with a strange limp, but unless you happen to catch him without his pants on (which I don’t recommend), you’d never know there was anything un-human about him. Baggy jeans and fake feet hide the fact that he’s got furry hindquarters and hooves.

Grover had been my best friend in sixth grade. He’d gone on this adventure with me and a girl named Annabeth to save the world, but I hadn’t seen him since last July, when he set off alone on a dangerous quest-a quest no satyr had ever returned from.

Anyway, in my dream, Grover was hauling goat tail, holding his human shoes in his hands the way he does when he needs to move fast. He clopped past the little tourist shops and surfboard rental places. The wind bent the palm trees almost to the ground.

Grover was terrified of something behind him. He must’ve just come from the beach. Wet sand was caked in his fur. He’d escaped from somewhere. He was trying to get away from … something.

A bone-rattling growl cut through the storm. Behind Grover, at the far end of the block, a shadowy figure loomed. It swatted aside a street lamp, which burst in a shower of sparks.

Grover stumbled, whimpering in fear. He muttered to himself, Have to get away. Have to warn them!

I couldn’t see what was chasing him, but I could hear it muttering and cursing. The ground shook as it got closer. Grover dashed around a street corner and faltered. He’d run into a dead-end courtyard full of shops. No time to back up. The nearest door had been blown open by the storm. The sign above the darkened display window read: ST. AUGUSTINE BRIDAL BOUTIQUE.

Grover dashed inside. He dove behind a rack of wedding dresses.

The monster’s shadow passed in front of the shop. I could smell the thing-a sickening combination of wet sheep wool and rotten meat and that weird sour body odor only monsters have, like a skunk that’s been living off Mexican food.

Grover trembled behind the wedding dresses. The monster’s shadow passed on.

Silence except for the rain. Grover took a deep breath. Maybe the thing was gone.

Then lightning flashed. The entire front of the store exploded, and a monstrous voice bellowed: “MIIIIINE!”

I sat bolt upright, shivering in my bed.

There was no storm. No monster.

Morning sunlight filtered through my bedroom window.

I thought I saw a shadow flicker across the glass-a humanlike shape. But then there was a knock on my bedroom door-my mom called: “Percy, you’re going to be late”-and the shadow at the window disappeared.

It must’ve been my imagination. A fifth-story window with a rickety old fire escape … there couldn’t have been anyone out there.

“Come on, dear,” my mother called again. “Last day of school. You should be excited! You’ve almost made it.’”

“Coming,” I managed.

I felt under my pillow. My fingers closed reassuringly around the ballpoint pen I always slept with. I brought it out, studied the Ancient Greek writing engraved on the side: Anaklusmos. Riptide.

I thought about uncapping it, but something held me back. I hadn’t used Riptide for so long….

Besides, my mom had made me promise not to use deadly weapons in the apartment after I’d swung a javelin the wrong way and taken out her china cabinet. I put Anaklusmos on my nightstand and dragged myself out of bed.

I got dressed as quickly as I could. I tried not to think about my nightmare or monsters or the shadow at my window.

Have to get away. Have to warn them!

What had Grover meant?

I made a three-fingered claw over my heart and pushed outward-an ancient gesture Grover had once taught me for warding off evil.

The dream couldn’t have been real.

Last day of school. My mom was right, I