Authors: James Thompson
Tags: #young adult fantasy, #fantasy action adventure fiction novel epic saga, #fantasy urban, #fantasy adventure magic escapism elements literature teen dreams epic fiction legendary legends, #fantasy adventure book, #fantasy without magic, #fantasy books for young adults, #fantasy adventure fantasy, #fantasy action heroic fantasy epic, #fantasy action heroic epic, #fantasy for young adults, #young adult fantasy about titans
The Return of the
Published by J.J.Thompson at
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Table of Contents
Justin slammed the door of the lobby and
stomped into the small entry way. Rain water was dripping from his
soaked clothing but he hardly noticed. A single weak bulb hung
naked from a wire dangling in the middle of the cracked and stained
ceiling, and he took a moment to allow his eyes to adjust to the
His nostrils stung a bit from the musty
smell in the air but Justin was used to it. He began to walk toward
the stairs across from the door, when a voice stopped him.
“Wipe your feet, lad.” It was Wilson, the
janitor. He stood in the doorway to the first floor hallway and the
dim light reflected dully off of his balding head.
Justin just stared at him. He had been so
deep in his own thoughts that he hadn't recognized the old man for
“You heard me. You're soaked through and
leaking all over my lobby. Now wipe your feet.”
Justin shuffled his feet on the thread-bare
mat that stretched to the stairs and started walking again.
“Oh fine, don't say hello then,” Wilson
turned and limped back toward the first apartment door in the
hallway. Justin took two more steps then he turned to apologize.
Wilson was an okay guy, he thought. He shouldn't let his bad mood
hurt the man's feelings.
But the apartment door slammed before he
could say anything. He waited a moment then shrugged and started up
the stairs. I'll apologize later, he told himself.
He walked up the three flights of stairs to
the top floor.
When he got to his apartment, Justin opened
the door as quietly as possible. No one in the building ever locked
their doors. For the first time, Justin wondered about that. It was
natural for him to just come and go without worrying about house
keys and yet he knew how much crime there was outside of the old
building. Then he shrugged and concentrated on entering as
noiselessly as possible.
He knew it was a waste of time. His mother
heard everything, even with the television playing so loudly that
he could usually hear it from the door, just like he could now.
Justin closed the door behind himself gently
and took a step toward his room at the end of the long central
“Hon, is that you?” The gentle voice could
barely be heard over the noise of the television.
He sighed. I knew it, he thought. “Yeah Mom,
it's me,” Justin said loudly.
He began to quickly walk down the hall. If
he could slip by the living room doorway and into his bedroom, he
could change before his mom could see him. He got halfway by the
“Hold on there, mister,” she said.
Justin stopped abruptly and almost tripped
on the carpet. He turned his head and looked across the room at his
mother, who was lying on the couch facing the television as
“Yes, Mom? What's the problem?”
“Turn right around and face me, Justin.”
She's got me, he thought with a mental
wince. He turned slowly and faced into the room.
His mother sighed loudly and hit the mute
button on the remote. “What was it this time, Just?”
He looked down at his clothes. Besides
dripping with water, his jacket and shirt had several grass stains
streaked across them and the left knee of his jeans was ripped
open. He was surprised. He hadn't actually noticed the damage until
“It was Chris again, Mom. I don't get it. We
hung out all summer and now that I'm in high school and he's one
grade higher than me, he's always picking on me.” His mother just
watched him. “It's not like I go out of my way to bug him. Since he
made it clear that he doesn't want me around him and his friends, I
never even talk to him. And now it's like he looks for me to pick
on.” He shook his head. “I just don't get it.”
His mother tucked her legs up and made room
for him on the couch. “Sit down, sweetie,” she said gently.
“Mom, I'm soaked. I think I should change
She smiled slightly. “Okay, hon. Just leave
the clothes in the basket. Mrs. Petropoulos will mend the rips, as
usual. Then come straight back after you change.”
He nodded. “Yes ma'am,” he said and headed
for his room.
“And don't get on the Net either,” she
called after him.
Man, she knows me too well, he thought. He
walked into his room and closed the door. He took off his clothes
and tossed them into the wicker basket in the corner. Mrs.
Petropoulos picked up the laundry twice a week. He had a feeling
that he was in for another lecture about taking care of his
clothes. But she was so good to his mother and took such good care
of the apartment and both of them that he never said anything.
Besides, he'd known her most of his life.
He changed into sweat pants and a t shirt,
then looked at his computer. Just a quick check of my email, he
thought and tapped the keyboard to turn on the sleeping
A small screen popped up. Two emails.
Listening for his mom's voice, he double-clicked on the mail icon.
He checked the addresses. One was generic junk mail, an offer to
share some lottery winnings. He just rolled his eyes and deleted
The other one was a mystery. The title line
said “Remember The Titans”. Titans? What are Titans? he wondered.
And the address line was messed up. Just a bunch of weird random
characters. He was about to open the email when he heard his mother
from the living room.
“Justin, are you surfing?”
Damn, he thought. “Coming, Mom,” he called
and headed for the door.
He walked back into the living
room, sat at the end of the couch and watched his mother. She was
staring at the still-muted television set. She seemed to do that
more lately; just staring into space, lost in her thoughts. Justin
grew nervous when she did this. She was so tiny now and the
that had ravaged her for two years
was progressing rapidly. As he watched, a small tremor shook her
tiny frame. She ignored it as she always did. Then she turn her
head and looked at him with a smile.
“Don't stare, sweetie.
It's not polite.”
He blushed. “Sorry, Mom,” he mumbled.
Her smile widened and then she looked
serious again. “Honey, let's talk about Chris.”
Justin turned and looked out of the wide
picture window to the building across the street. “Why bother, Mom?
He's not going to change or go away, so I guess I just have to put
up with it.” He glanced at her and was surprised to see her
“I know it's not easy,
hon. Especially after you were friends with him. But people change
sometimes and teenagers,” she grinned at him and he rolled his eyes
at her, “often change a lot. I'm guessing that he wants to feel
more grown up and you being a year younger and a lot smaller might
make him feel too much like a kid.” Justin frowned at the thought
and his mother hurried on. “No, you're not a kid, sweetie. And it's
not your fault that you're small. You get that from me, I'm afraid.
And the blue eyes, you lucky guy.” They both laughed.
“I don't mind being small,
Mom. Not really. But it's frustrating that I have to act like such
a wimp. Why can't I just stand up to him or anyone else that
She sighed. “Just, we've had this
conversation several times now. Ever since you were twelve and we
realized that you were changing. You know how people feel about
anyone who's different.” Justin looked at the floor. The smoldering
anger that he always felt when he had to pretend to be a coward
rose up in him again but he pushed it back.
“I know you have the heart
of a lion, hon. That's what you got from your Dad. But you can't
let it get the better of you. What if someone reported a young man
who couldn't be hurt? Who didn't feel pain? Don't you think that
someone in the government might be curious enough to
Justin sighed. “Mom, um, don't you think
you're being a bit, you know, paranoid?”
His mother frowned slightly. “Maybe, Justin.
But we never got a straight answer about what happened when your
father went missing. Even though he was an important diplomat and
the father of a two year old, they just swept it under the carpet.”
She looked away and Justin saw the tender expression he knew meant
his Mom was seeing his father's face. “He went into that country in
the middle of a war to broker a peace deal and disappeared and all
we got out of it was his pension.” She looked at him. “I will never
trust the government again. They took away my husband. They won't
take my son!”
He reached out and took her hand. Her bones
were so thin that it was like holding the hand of a child. “Mom,
I'm not going anywhere. But I know you want me to be safe, so I'll
keep pretending.” He shrugged. “At least, for as long as I
She patted his hand. “Good man. And I'm sure
that Chris will get bored eventually and find another target. Just
avoid him as much as possible. Okay?”
“Okay Mom.” He stood up.
“Do you want any dinner?” He already knew the answer but asked
His mother clicked off the mute button on
the remote. “No thanks, hon. I ate earlier. Mrs. Petropoulos left
something in the oven. Just dig in when you get hungry.” She looked
at his expression and laughed. “I know, I know. You're always
hungry. Off you go, sweetie.”
As he left the room she called after him
“And don't forget to...”
“Put the dishes in the
dishwasher, I know, Mom.” He grinned as he heard her laugh again.
She was so rarely happy anymore that the merest smile from her
always cheered him up.
After he had eaten, Justin went back to his
room. The computer was still on and the email still open. Oh right,
he thought. The mystery email.
He doubled-clicked on it and the letter
screen opened up. There were only a couple of lines. It just said
Remember The Titans and some stuff about Greek mythology and
Atlantis. Justin reread the letter and then just stared at the
screen. Greek mythology? Who cared about that? He looked at the
address again but it was still just a bunch of weird little
pictographs and symbols that reminded him of some old Egyptian
writing he'd seen in a history book once. He was about to delete
the email when he noticed that the letter extended beyond the
screen, even though it was just blank space. He scrolled down. At
the very bottom of the screen were two short lines. It said “Learn
this. Your life depends upon it.”
He sat back and stared. What? My life
depends on this? What the hell does that mean? He wondered if Chris
or some other jerk at school had found his email address and was
trying to play head games. No, that couldn't be it. One thing those
guys weren't and that was subtle.