Ms. Trindell continued to return each morning; Sadie began to eagerly anticipate the sound of the VW coming up the drive.
On the tenth morning of their lessons, an hour before Allie was to arrive, Sadie murmured to Harry, “Tonight is the beginning of the full moon. How can I keep my promise to Father and still meet with Arachne?” The two seemed incompatible, the dog and the spider, she thought. “I wonder if Allie might help?”
The tutor and the student worked to study ecosystems for an hour when a heavy thump echoed down from the upstairs.
“I gotta go check on my mother. I’ll be right back.” Sadie disappeared from the library, her quick steps up the stairs a sign of her anxiety. She returned a few minutes later.
“I don’t mean to pry. I’ve heard stories about your mum, none of which I’m sure is true. But is there something I could do to help? Either her directly or by helping you on her behalf?”
“It happened two years before we moved here. When father’s car pulled up at my school he said that mother had had an accident and that we were going to see her in the hospital. He only said that she was alright, but she’d had an episode.”
“Was she injured?”
“Father says she suffered a…a…” Sadie searched for the word. “A psychotic breakdown.”
“Does she ever show signs of recovery?”
Sadie looked back to the verdant scene outside. She reached up to wipe a tear away and shook her head.
“I want you to know you can always call me to talk or whatever. Okay?”
Allie continued, “Was there anything about that day that you remember. If I knew a bit more I could research her condition. It might help.”
“Don’t tell Father, but I snuck into his desk. I found and read the doctor’s report. It said something about her seeing monsters, or a monster. It said she grabbed an antique sword that hung on the wall of her office, she worked in an auction place, as a researcher…
“She started waving it around like she was fighting off this monster. I think the word she kept screaming was Arrg or Argo, or something like that.”
“Did it ever happened again?”
“Oh, no. She’s quiet now.”
Allie smiled. “You’ve managed well I would say. The name your mother yelled, it wouldn’t have been Argus, would it?”
“Yeah, that was it. Argus something or other.”
Sadie spun back to stare intently at the tutor. She nodded her head slowly. “How did you know?”
“Here, let me show you.”
Sadie watched as Allie flipped up her laptop and began searching.
“This is the Greek giant Argus Panoptes, the watcher. He’s a myth. He has, either all over his head or all over his body, depending on the source, hundreds of sapphire blue eyes.”
Sadie stooped over Allie’s shoulder, staring at the screen. She reached in and scrolled past image after image of renditions of a Greek monster covered in eyes.
“This must be the Gribble.”
“The what?” Allie asked.
“Can you come back tonight? At midnight?”
“Midnight? What’s going on Sadie. What is this Gribble?”
“I don’t know. But I know who does. She’s to meet me tonight at midnight. But I have to bring Harry.”
“I don’t know Sadie. This all sounds fantastical.”
Deep in discussion, the two failed to notice the shuffling on the stairs. Their heads spun as Cassandra spoke.
“THE GATES GROW WEAK.
THE FORCES RESTLESS.
CHAOS SEEKS THE EYES, NOW SIGHTLESS.
SEVEN SUMMERS HAVE WE TO SPEND.
BEFORE THE WORLD WE KNOW WILL END.
ON ATHENS AND THE TRUTH DEPEND.”
Once spoken, Sadie’s mother collapsed to the floor. The two young women rushed to her carrying her to the small couch in the library. For a moment, Cassandra seemed to emerge from her permanent trance.
“Sadie, is that you?”
Tears streamed from Sadie’s her eyes as she hugged her mother. “Oh mummy, you’ve come back.”
As Sadie wept into her her mother’s lap, Allie knelt down and lifted Cassandra’s hand which even now slid listless off Sadie’s back. At Allie’s touch Cassandra’s gaze shifted to the face of the tutor.
Sadie pulled back to see the recognition that had fluttered to life in her mother’s features dwindle. Yet, the woman’s sight remained clear for a few more seconds.
Cassandra peered deep into Allies eyes. “Truthsayer,” she intoned, “seek out the darkness and the night. Betray them. Betray Him.” Her face turned back to her daughter and she smiled briefly. “Sadie, you’re beautiful.”
Sadie watched, mortified as the joy and light faded in her mother’s eyes.
Later, after then returned Cassandra to her upstairs room, Sadie assured her tutor that she could handle her mother, and that the attendant would arrive by six. “You’ll be back here at midnight then?”
“I’ll be here.” Allie gave Sadie, who was nearly as tall as she, a reassuring hug, and held her hand for a moment. “There’s hope for your mum now. Yes?”
Sadie nodded and replied with a wan smile. “The first in years.”