You guys wanted to see the little thing with the lighthouse. *shrugs* Read Acrophobia first.
A four year old Artemis stared straight up at the winding staircase that led to the top of the lighthouse, swallowing rapidly. Did he really have to go all the way up there? What for? Was it really that important to see the world from that high up? And besides, the view was just the ocean. He could see that from the beach!
Juliet, being eight years old and fearless at the time, grabbed the young geniuses hand to where he followed behind her. Angeline Fowl was already a quarter of the way there, and Juliet said so. “We wanna get to the top so we can meet her. Come on, Arty!” She said playfully. The raven haired boy sighed quietly, reluctantly following the blond. That was why he was doing this. His mother.
Juliet released as soon as Artemis was on the first step, rushing to catch up with the boys mother. Artemis’ teeth chattered loudly in his skull as he began his ascent.
One, two, three, four…
Juliet was calling to him now from the halfway point, telling him to hurry up. He didn’t hear her. He just stared at each step as he got to it, focusing on the numbers.
Twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen…
Butler followed closely behind, keeping in step with the boy. His pace was painfully slow, but he appeared not to mind.
Twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five…
His breath was getting shallower. He was hyperventilating a bit now, he knew, but he continued. The only thing to fear was fear itself after all. Yes, yes that helped a little. But not much.
Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-thee…
He was over halfway there. He nearly heaved a sigh of relief at the thought, but that was quickly demolished as he looked through the railing, suddenly dizzy. He was so high up. This height was more than enough to be fatal should he slip through. His eyes snapped back to the step in front of him, choosing not to look down long enough for the mental image of his splat to appear. He continued.
Forty-two, forty-three, forty-four…
How many steps were there?! Surely he should have been to the top by now! But he wasn’t. There was still a good ten plus stairs to go. Dangit.
Fifty-two, fifty-three, fifty-four…
So close. Just three more steps and he’d be at the top. He wasn’t sure whether he was comforted or terrified by that.
Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven!
He was at the top! He’d actually made it to the top! Juliet smiled and ruffled his raven hair. “Good job, Arty.” She said in a teasing voice. “You made it up without killing yourself.” Artemis nodded, out of the corner of his eye looking through the railing again. It was so high… He walked over to the blond, stumbling a little because of his sudden dizziness. What if he fell somehow? What if the whole lighthouse collapsed on them? He’d be dead in a minute.
He started hyperventilating again, though tried to calm his breathing. He’d be fine. If Butler had thought the building was unsafe he wouldn’t have let him enter, right? But the manservant couldn’t predict how close it was to crumbling beneath their feet, could he?
After a brief moment of consideration, he tugged on Juliet’s sleeve.
She looked down to the boy, a slightly puzzled expression on her tan features. “Yes Arty?” She questioned.
Artemis bit his lip for a second before asking. “Could you come back down with me please?” Juliet nearly laughed. the tone the genius was using was so odd for a four year old! As if he were in a business meeting!
She nodded, picking the boy up and putting him on her shoulders. His eyes widened and he grasped the hand she offered as if for dear life. “Three hundred ninety-nine.” He muttered suddenly. “Three hundred ninety-nine.” Juliet said nothing as she began, merely smiled. Every time she had ever picked him up he would do that. Just spout out a seemingly random number an repeat it to himself. It was like he was trying to distract himself.
Before he knew it Artemis and Juliet were back on solid ground, her gently lifting him off her shoulders and placing him in front of her. He blinked once in surprise and Juliet laughed, ruffling the geniuses hair for the second time in so many minutes.
That’s when she finally asked, “Why three hundred ninety-nine?”
Artemis’ brow furrowed for a moment before he answered, as though it were obvious.
“It’s the number of steps multiplied by itself.” He replied simply.