. . . And it Ends Terribly is the forty-third chapter of The Gift of a Best Friend. It was first published on April 8th, 2017.
I couldn’t believe what I just saw happen.
First, Ladon cut the side of Luke’s face and he collapsed. Then, when Ladon was about to bite him, Annabeth ran to him and took the bite for him. Now she’s lying in Luke’s arms and not moving.
Ladon seemed surprised and confused when she got in the way, but he processed it quickly and was now getting ready to attack again.
We were so close to grabbing a stupid golden apple, but after seeing Luke get hurt, then Annabeth, my best friend, I was not going to let them get hurt again.
Just as Ladon began to strike again, I took a step forward and activated my powers.
I felt myself in control of each head. I wasn’t sure if I could actually control them all at once, but after seeing them hurt my friends, I lost control of my anger and felt like I could control twice as many of them.
Ladon pulled back his heads from Luke and Annabeth.
“Luke,” I called. “Go!”
He stood up from the ground with Annabeth in his arms, but he didn’t move. He looked down at her and his expression turned mad.
“Emily,” he called. “Come take Annabeth.”
She ran to him. “What are you doing?”
Luke held Annabeth out to her. “Take her and Jasmine to the truck.”
She took her. “What about you?”
He picked his sword up from the ground. “He’s going to pay for hurting her.”
She realized what he was going to do, and I did too.
Before Emily could finish, he charged at Ladon with his sword held high.
I was too distracted, and Ladon was so angry, that I lost my concentration and he broke my control over him. It hurt when he did and I collapsed.
I quickly got back up and watched as Luke maneuvered over and around Ladon’s heads using his flying shoes, slicing at the heads every time they came within reach.
He got to Ladon’s body, to the claw that scratched his face, and he cut it off with just one slice. Ladon screamed in pain, but quickly recovered. He was about to attack Luke with his heads, but I wasn’t going to let him.
I activated my powers and got in control of him again, this time not allowing him to break it.
“Luke,” I called. “Go!”
This time, he listened.
He grabbed Ladon’s severed claw and ran to Emily. Ladon wanted to attack, but I held him back, and it took all of my strength to do so.
When Luke reached Emily, he grabbed Annabeth. “Come on, Jasmine!”
I ran to them, then I deactivated my powers, and we ran out of the garden.
I looked back at Ladon to see if he was following, but he wasn’t. His job was to protect the tree and he wasn’t going to let anyone separate him from it, not even us. But I did catch his eyes, or one of his set of eyes, and it made me stop. His eyes were full of pain. Pain that I could feel because I caused it.
Every animal I meet that feels my aura sees me as his queen and protector, even gigantic, thousand headed dragons. He may be mythical, but he’s still an animal, and nothing would ever change that. But what would change is how he sees me. It’s my job to protect him and any animal when he’s threatened, just like my family has done for cryptids long before I was born. But, for Ladon, I failed him.
I let Luke hurt him and didn’t even try to stop him.
Yeah, he hurt him and Annabeth first, but only because we threatened him first, and it wasn’t fair. Not at all.
I was so ashamed, that I started to cry.
“I’m sorry,” I told him, though I knew it wouldn’t make up for what I did to him.
I turned away from him and ran out of the garden.
But I had a feeling, that as much as I wanted it to be, it wouldn’t be the last time I’d ever see him again.
We got to the truck, and Luke put Annabeth in the back seat.
“Buckle her in, Jasmine,” he said.
I climbed in next to her and put her seat belt on. Then I put on my own right next to her and wrapped my arms around her.
Luke and Emily climbed in the front, buckled themselves in, then Luke turned on the car and drove away as fast as he could.
Once we got on the highway, I looked closely at Annabeth. Her eyes were a little open, and her mouth was too, but her breath was shallow. Then I looked at the bites Ladon gave her in her side.
“It’s green,” I said.
Emily looked back and saw it too. “It’s poisoned.” She looked at Luke. “We have to get her to a hospital, Luke.”
“And tell the doctors what when they ask how she got poisoned?” he said. “They won’t believe us if we tell them the truth.”
“We can say she got bit by a poisonous snake, a large poisonous snake. But we have to get her help and fast. I can feel her life force slipping away quickly. Do you want her to die?”
“No.” His voice was barely a whisper.
“Neither do I. And I’m sure that Jasmine doesn’t either.”
I shook my head in agreement.
“Where’s the nearest hospital?” Luke asked.
“Next exit, then turn right,” Emily replied. “We should be able to see it.”
A few minutes later we got to the hospital and Annabeth into the emergency room.
We waited anxiously until the nurse came back with the results.
“We managed to get most of the poison out of her, but we were unable to get all of it,” she told us.
“Why not?” Luke asked.
“The poison spreaded, and we couldn’t stop it in time.”
“So, what does that mean?” Emily asked.
“She has three days, maximum, left to live.”
“There’s nothing you can do?” Luke asked, his voice breaking.
“We did all that we could.”
“Please,” I begged, tears streaking down my face. “She’s my best friend. I can’t lose her.”
“There’s nothing left we can do. I’m sorry.”
“Can you put her in a comfortable room where we can say our final goodbyes to her in peace?” Emily asked.
“Of course,” the nurse replied. “We will move her into one right away.”
The nurse walked off.
Luke looked at Emily. “You look like you’re planning something.”
“I am,” she replied.
“Look, the doctors can’t save her, so we’re going to.”
“How? Are you a doctor?”
“No. But we do have nectar and ambrosia, which can heal any wound, but can burn you up if you eat or drink too much, right?”
Luke nodded. “Right.”
“So we can use that and I can have my powers summon me some healing cream, which works just as good as ambrosia and nectar, but much safer to use, and it works on poison.”
“So Annabeth will live?” I asked.
“Yes,” Emily replied. “Once we fix her wound.”
“Alright then,” Luke said. “Let’s do it.”
“Ok,” Emily said. “Now, I doubt that the doctors and nurses will keep us from healing her, but let’s just keep this between us. When they transport her into a room, we’ll try to give her some ambrosia and nectar, then I’ll put the healing cream on her. Got it?”
“Ok. Then let’s go.”
When the nurses put Annabeth in her room and left us alone with her, we didn’t get to work on her immediately. We just stared at her for a moment.
She was asleep, but she was no paler than she was before she went into the ER.
Luke got the ambrosia and nectar from his truck and started giving her nectar through a straw while holding her hand. Emily got the healing cream, and I helped her put it on Annabeth’s wound, then we bandaged it back up.
“There,” Emily said, satisfied. “She’ll be fully recovered soon, but not completely until the next time she goes to the bathroom.”
“Why does she have to go to the bathroom in order for her to fully recover?” Luke asked.
“Well, the healing cream doesn’t dissolve the poison, it just, I guess, flushes it down into her bladder, and it will stay there until the next time she uses the bathroom. Her urine will be green, though it’s not really urine, it’s the poison, and then her health will return back to normal.”
“Eww,” I said.
“Yeah, eww. But that’s how it goes.”
“So, she’s still poisoned,” Luke said.
“Technically, yes,” Emily said. “But it’s not affecting her as much. When she goes to the bathroom, then it will be completely out of her system, which she should be able to do when she wakes up in a little while. Until then, all we can do now is wait.”
So that’s what we did.
Luke and I sat by Annabeth’s bedside and held both of her hands. Emily sat next to Luke and cleaned the scar on his face, then she played some kind of game on her phone or listened to music.
“Hey, Luke,” she said. “Do you realize that this is the exact same hospital we went to last time?”
Luke looked confused by what she meant at first, then seemed to realize it. “This is the exact same hospital?”
Emily nodded. “Yeah.”
“I thought that was in L.A.”
“It was supposed to be, but he came out about a week early while she was here.”
“Who did?” I asked.
Emily looked at Luke to explain.
“Uh, nobody,” he said. Then he stood up. “I’m going to walk around for a while.”
“Can I come?” I asked.
“I’ll stay here with Annabeth,” Emily said. “And I’ll come get you if something happens.”
Luke nodded. “Ok. Come on, Jasmine.”
I didn’t want to leave Annabeth, but I was curious about why Luke and Emily were here before. I stood up and grabbed Luke’s hand and we left the room.
We walked down the hall and came across a drink machine.
“You want a soda?” Luke asked me.
I nodded. “Yes, please.”
“Which kind do you want?”
Luke pulled a couple of one-dollar bills out of his pocket (surprisingly) and put them into the machine. He let me press the buttons for Sprite for me and Coke for him. He helped me open my can, then we continued walking down the hall while drinking our sodas.
We went up a floor, and we walked by a window that showed a room with a lot of babies in it, like the one I saw at the hospital near my home when Mommy had Johnathan and Savanna had Bobby and Matthew.
Luke stopped and stared at them. I looked at them too.
“Are they all your babies, Luke?” I asked.
He apparently thought it was a joke because he laughed. “No. I just wanted to see them.”
“They’re so cute,” I said.
“I know. Just like you were.”
“You didn’t know me when I was a baby.”
“No. But I’ve seen pictures of you as one, and you looked just as cute as they do.”
“Are you and Emily going to have a baby together?”
“Someday, maybe. We might have a couple of them.”
“What will you name them?”
“Luke!” a voice called, sounding frantic.
Emily was running toward us.
“What’s wrong?” Luke asked.
“Annabeth’s in trouble,” she replied.
As soon as she said that, Luke and I ran quickly to her room, throwing our sodas in the trash along the way.
When we reached Annabeth’s room, we noticed her heart monitor was a flat line and beeping really loudly. The doctors were already in there, trying to jolt her back to life.
They wouldn’t let us in the room, so we had to watch helplessly through the window in the hallway.
“I thought you said she would live,” Luke said to Emily, his voice breaking.
“The poison is still inside her,” she replied. “She hasn’t woken up yet so that she could pass it out of her system.”
“Now she never will, and it’s all my fault.”
“Don’t say that, Luke. It’s not your fault.”
“Yes, it is. I let her come on this quest with me, and now she’s going to die because of me.”
Emily looked like she wanted to argue, but she knew that no matter what she said, she wouldn’t get him to think otherwise. I didn’t know whose fault it was that Annabeth got hurt, but I do know that it didn’t matter right now. What does matter is that she lives. And so far, she’s not.
I was really crying, and watching the doctors trying to shock Annabeth’s heart into beating again and failing each time made me cry more and more. Emily wrapped her arms around me to give me comfort, and I wrapped my arms around her.
Then it finally happened.
It felt like forever, but the doctors gave Annabeth one last shock and that last one got her heart beating again. We all sighed in relief.
After the doctors told us that she was stable and left, we went into her room. Annabeth still looked the same. I wanted to wrap my arms around her and give her a hug, but I was afraid to until she woke up. I held her hand, and Luke held her other.
I couldn’t believe I almost lost her. She was my best friend and I left her alone. Best friends don’t do that.
I was going to stay here with her and I was never going to leave her side again.
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