Alice stared curiously at her father.
"What a good invention," she repeated with disbelief. "Are you telling me that you made Sparky?"
"But Sparky is a dog. How could you make a dog?" Alice asked.
"With metal, a hammer, and lots of work," her father answered simply.
When Alice thought about it, it did kind of make sense. Sparky always had been different. But the only way you could make a living animal out of metal is if you were . . .
"Like . . . the god Hephaestus?"
"Whoa . . . that would make me . . ."
"A demigod," Hephaestus finished.
Alice was shocked. It was a lot to take in. As if just seeing her dad again wasn't enough, she now knew that he was a god, and he had created her best friend. She bit her lip. Things were getting really complicated really quickly.
She looked at her mother. She was so pale . . . so lifeless. Somehow, she kept hanging on. Alice reached out and wiped the blood trickling down from her mom's mouth with her finger.
"What will we have to do to save her?" Alice inquired.
"I don't know," he replied. "I'm not sure what we'll do just yet, but I'll think of something. We're landing now."
Alice sat at a table in a room branching off Hephaestus's forge. It was close enough that the heat could still be felt through the wall. The room was filled with metal things he had made, including the table. A futuristic-looking clock ticked while Hephaestus paced back and forth. Sparky was sitting by an identical copy of himself that Hephaestus had named Bennett. Their tails wagged in synchronicity.
The god paused and looked at his wife, who was sprawled on an uncomfortable looking couch. He said, "We're running out of time."
He went silent. Alice could hear nothing but the clock's ticking. He started pacing again.
"Well if she's not dead yet, maybe she's not supposed to die. We could try to heal her," Alice suggested.
"That's it! You're right!" Hephaestus boomed in agreement. "I wonder if you could find Calypso. It would be a long journey. You'd have to sail to her island. And who knows where that is . . ."
"Um . . ." Alice's face flushed, and then she sheepishly continued, "I . . . don't . . . I don't like the water. And I can't swim . . ."
"No worries, Alice. Sparky will take care of you."
"Ok," Alice squeaked. She loved Sparky, but she didn't see how he could make things better.
"Listen, I want you to take this ring. When you find Calypso's island, rub it to contact me. I'll be able to send your mother to you."
"How?" Alice asked.
"You'll see," he replied. "Let's get you packed up so you can go."
He handed her a gold ring with a ruby on it. It sparkled when she put it on. While Alice admired it, her father gathered supplies for her. He handed her a backpack with everything she needed: food, extra clothes, a knife (that Alice figured she wouldn't be using), and a blanket.
Hephaestus guided his daughter out of the forge. When they got outside, he crouched to her level and looked her in the eyes. "Alice, promise me you'll be careful. It's a dangerous world out there, and I don't want to be the only one left in our family."
"Sure, Dad," Alice said as she felt her stomach drop. He wasn't even going to help her any more. She was on her own.
Hermes frowned as he looked at his cell phone. He had just gotten a text message from Hades. He hadn't had to guide a soul to the Underworld in years. And now something had just popped up. Nobody believed in Greek mythology any more. So who would need him?
"What is it?" asked Ares, who had just paused from his head banging to say something
"I have to work . . ." Hermes answered.
"Whatever," Ares said. He shrugged.
As Hermes was about to walk out the door of the room on Mount Olympus, he stopped. "I love this song!" he shouted.
"I KNOW!" Ares yelled after he turned up the music even louder. It would've been deafening to any mortal, but they were gods after all. He decided to stick around to hear the thrash metal song that he liked so much, without realizing that it would make him late.