001 – Garden of Dreams
Location – Spokane Valley, Washington
Date – Thursday the 8th of September, 2016
Part I – Dawn
Running through bushes and puddles, a girl pants, exhausted and unsure of where she is running too or what she is running from, she twists and turns, through trees that rise like skyscrapers. The fireflies attached to the trees bring forth a dim light, and are in line with one another vertically, an odd parallel fashion. While the cicadas hum and give song to the dark and busy forest, the girl slows to catch her breath and darts her head back up to search ahead.
She spots a golden fox and squints her eyes. The fox’s fur glows brighter than twenty torches. Her anxiety and unease fade as she chases the fox, again twisting through the lush forest towers.
The chase leads the girl to a small field of flowers, almost a perfect circle with the trees surrounding it. The girl glances up at the night sky. She regains her stamina quickly, much faster than before. The blue star flowers glisten as they bask in the full moon’s light.
Unexpectedly, the moonlight disappears and the girl looks for the golden fox once again. She sees it crouched near a large dark mound in the middle of the field. The mound suddenly shifts and the girl’s uncertainty and concern returns. As the figure stands, the girl begins to discern its identity. It resembles a tall man. The girl sighs with relief and begins to approach him, but as the clouds part, the moonlight brings out the truth. In an instant the man has become a giant serpent.
The girl feels no fear as she continues to approach the enormous reptile. The serpent’s eyelids part and its eyes strangely reflect the colour of the surrounding flowers, a pale blue. The eyes pierce the girl as she steps forward. Her uncertainty returns but she is drawn towards it. As she gets closer, the serpent’s jaws unhinge and the girl’s vision fades quickly to black.
A sea of fire swallows the room around her. Her eyes dart about, searching for an escape but none exists. The floor disappears and the girl falls. She screams as the view of the burning room grows distant and turns to a flickering flame. The girl’s vision shatters like glass and darkness returns.
Her screams become an urgent ringing, continuously gaining volume. The girl awakes in her loft, the alarm ringing. She lashes out at the annoying clock to stop its whining. She tries to recall what she had just seen, but can only remember a portion. The girl exhales a sigh of calm.
Hannah sits up on her bed and her feet reach the wooden plank flooring. Still dazed from deep slumber, she stares blankly at the ground. Hannah looks over her left shoulder at her television and is blinded by the glare of the sun seeping through the window behind it.
Hannah closes the curtain and opens her chest of drawers, carefully choosing her clothes for the day. She turns to the television, grabs the remote and selects the weather channel.
“64 degrees, I’m gonna need a jacket,” she tells herself.
Hannah pulls out underwear, some worn and comfortable jeans, a white t-shirt and a black leather belt, bundles them under her arms and heads down stairs to the shower.
Hannah climbs down the ladder that connects to the rest of her house. The ladder leads to a large open room that looks worn and unfinished compared to the rest of the house. The room’s white walls are stained with age, the hard wood flooring looks dusty, no matter how hard she tries to clean it.
A crack in the wall to the left of the ladder and a broken window to the right, have been patched with spare pieces of timber. The room has unused furniture scattered about, some covered with white tarps, some without. At the other side of the room, a hallway leads to the rest of the house, these walls painted a deep red and doors stained a dark brown. The bathroom is at the end of the hallway.
Hannah steps into the shower after placing her clothes as far away from it as possible. The shower head has been acting up again and spraying all over the place lately. She stands just within reach of the faucet handles, twisting them to get the best temperature. Her arm gets goosebumps as the cold water rains down on it. During her shower, Hannah hears a loud knock on the door.
“Hey Sunshine,” her father calls out. “Breakfast will be ready by the time you finish in there. We also need to talk about tomorrow”.
“Okay, I understand,” Hannah calls back. “And don’t call me Sunshine!”
Charles Hummings is a 65 year old semi-retired hunter and adoptive parent to Hannah. He had rescued Hannah from a burning house when she was just five-years-old and the ordeal had left her with amnesia. Hannah could only remember her given name.
After her shower, Hannah dries, puts her clothes on, then some light make up and heads down stairs. The staircase leads to Charles’ open-room study, opposite the study are the doors to the kitchen. Charles’ desk sits towards the back of the room close to the staircase and the rest of the room has boxes full of scrolls and book cases stuffed with books on monster lore, mythology, rituals, plants and herbs, witch craft and other insightful topics. On top of his desk is a half-full bottle of whiskey and a glass next to an open book, turned to a chapter on Hybrid-Creature Lore. Strangely the bookmark never leaves that section.
Hannah opens the door to the kitchen and finds her father already sitting and reading the newspaper, while eating a bowl of cornflakes. Hannah sits down opposite her father and begins to eat her bacons and eggs.
“How come you didn’t make yourself bacon and eggs?” Hannah questions, cutting into her eggs.
“A friend of mine is visiting today,” Charles explains, after gulping down the left over milk in his bowl. “They really like bacon and eggs, and we’ve only got enough for you and them this morning.”
“Huh, can you buy some more today so we have some for tomorrow before we leave?” Hannah enquires, doe eyed.
“You won’t be leaving tomorrow, you’ll be leaving tonight and that’s actually what I wanted to speak to you about,” Charles crosses his arms.
“What?” Hannah replies.
“Are you absolutely sure you want to start hunting?” Charles queries.
“Knowing what’s really out there is one thing, but going out of your way to look for it is a completely different playing field” he continues with a serious expression.
“I know that,” Hannah states with a smirk. “I wouldn’t have spent all my spare time over the past 11 years training and learning to fight evil if I was going to give up the day before starting.”
“That’s my girl,” Charles grins.
Hannah smiles. “More importantly, did you cut the fat off my bacon?”
“Err, yes I did,” Charles lies.
“Even I can tell that’s a lie!” Hannah stands up, smacking her hands down on the table. “I’ve already eaten it!”
“What’s the problem?, It’s not like you’re gonna gain any weight from a measly smidge of bacon fat,” Charles returns. “Anyway, you’re way more active than any average teen your age I’ve seen, you’d lose it in no time.”
Hannah sighs and changes the topic.
“When will your friend get here?” Hannah asks.
“They’ll get here shortly after school starts today,” Charles explains. “In fact, they’re dropping off all the fake I.D. cards that you’ll be using.”
“You mean we’ll be using” Hannah corrects.
“That’s actually another thing,” Charles says with a stern look on his face. “I know I’ve always said that we’d go hunting together, but, I’m sorry Sunshine, I just can’t now. I’m too old to be travelling the country all day everyday”
“What?!, then who am I supposed to hunt with?,” Hannah fears. “I can’t hunt by myself, at least not yet, I don’t have enough practical experience.”
“Don’t worry,” says Charles, trying to calm Hannah down. “A friend of mine is going to teach you”.
“Do you know whether she’s a good hunter or not?” Hannah asks still concerned.
“Of course, believe it or not, they started training and learning to become one as soon as they could walk,” Charles states confidently. “I heard the first hunt they went on was phenomenal, took down a pair of adult dragons single handedly”.
“Are Dragons even real” Hannah questions skeptically.
“Sunshine,” Charles sighs. “Everything mythological is real”.
“Your claim contradicts itself,” Hannah says apathetically. “And don’t call me Sunshine!”
Hannah begins to pack in her books for the day. She contemplates ditching school all together, seeing as she isn’t going to be attending anymore. Hannah thinks of all the kids she met at school over the years and believes that there were probably a lot of people she could have become friends with, had she not resolved to become a hunter. Hannah had known that if she made lots of friends, it would have become very difficult to leave them when the time came.
Approaching eight o’clock, Hannah makes her way to the front door when she remembers she needs her jacket. Hannah runs swiftly up to her loft to grab it. Her jacket is a dark brown bombers styled one that is shorter than a usual one, as the torso only reaches just past her ribs. As she leaves, Hannah check herself out in her bedroom mirror. The young woman that looks back at her is of slender build, and has a slightly rounded, oval shaped face, with short, messy, dark brown hair and deep brown eyes.
“Perfect” Hannah tells herself.
As she walks downstairs, Hannah begins to hear whistling from the front yard. After picking up her bag and opening the front door, she sees her one and only best friend, Emory.
Emory is Hannah’s only friend and he would often wait outside for her to get ready for school. Emory is rather small for a boy Hannah’s age, but he’s still about a head taller than Hannah. Emory is very attractive and has beautiful blond hair and light blue eyes. His hair reaches the nape of his neck and his fringe looks like it’s been push backwards one too many times.
As Hannah approaches Emory, his expression turns ghastly.
“Ha…Hannah?!,” Emory stutters. “Where has all your hair gone?”
“Very funny buddy,” Hannah sighs. “It’s not as if I had it completely shaved off, I’m just going for a shorter look. Besides we both promised that I’d cut most of my hair off and you’d shave yours’ if we were gonna drop out of high school.”
As the two friends walk in silence, Hannah peeks at Emory. Something felt off today, she didn’t really pay too much attention to Emory’s appearance before but Hannah notices that he is really hot. It didn’t feel off because she didn’t realize how handsome he was, she knows that most of the girls at school are fans of his. She feels the full brunt of the girls staring daggers at her every day. She knows he is attractive, she’s just never felt anything about it before. Emory breaks the silence.
“So you really are dropping out huh?” Emory utters, disapprovingly. “I know you said you would years ago, once you turned eighteen and all, but I always thought that it was like an impulsive promise that kids make which they then forget or realize how childish it was.”
“It’s not like that,” Hannah protests. “It’s not some impulsive childish decision. I’ve thought about this every day since I told you that in elementary school. I just never saw myself going to College or University, I just can’t picture it.”
Hannah’s face was stuck in a half grimacing expression for the rest of the way to school, often giving only short, and closed answers to Emory’s questions. Hannah has only ever told Emory about her dream to hunt the supernatural. In elementary school, Hannah was shy and purposely closed herself off from others because of her determination to become a hunter and one day leave. Hannah didn’t want to be remembered by her classmates and even made sure to give generic answers about what she had planned for her future, as she feared unnecessary questions, discrimination and being considered a nut or a satanic cult worshiper.
As the two reach the front gates, Emory begins to tell Hannah about a car he saw, a Cadillac from the fifties. Emory explains to Hannah that usually he wouldn’t pay too much attention to the old cars, but claims he saw a similar car in a nightmare he had a while ago. Emory told Hannah that the car was driven by a murderer, who had a bunch odd weapons in the trunk.
Hannah asks Emory how he knew the man was a murderer. Emory pauses.
“Because I was killed in the end” Emory concludes, giving a half-assed smile.
Hannah gazes at Emory with concern in her eyes, and with disquiet in her stomach. Hannah thought back to the nightmare she had earlier, and how vivid and real it seemed and whether it could…
I’m over thinking this.
Hannah looks up and notices that Emory has been staring at her for a while now. She asks him what’s wrong but he redirects her question back at her. Hannah states nothing is wrong and Emory bursts out with laughter. She begins feeling embarrassed and annoyed as Emory tries to put her mind at ease for worrying about him.
“Doesn’t worrying and caring about me contradict your whole lonely hero of justice that Gotham deserves speech?” Emory jokes.
“Of course not,” Hannah replies. “For years, dreams have been known to sometimes give premonitions of the future. You should take this seriously”.
“Well I do have a reason why I don’t believe this dream was a premonition” Emory explains.
“…And what’s that?” Hannah asks annoyingly.
“The reason why I don’t think it’s a premonition is because it was Charles who killed me. No way that’s happening” Emory smirks.
“Yeah, your right. I can’t think of a reason why dad would want to kill you unless you raid his liquor cabinet” Hannah laughs.
While Hannah puts her bag in her locker, Emory asks about whether she’ll be hunting alone. Hannah tells him about how she was going to be hunting with her father and that’s what was originally promised, but Charles suddenly decided he was too old to travel the states and hunt with her. Hannah goes on and says that she’ll be travelling with someone else that Charles seems to trust a lot. Despite hearing this, Hannah notices the worrying expression on Emory’s face. Hannah reassures him before parting ways to go to her homeroom.
Hannah sits at her regular seat at the back of the class next to the window. She stares outside to the oval. Some of the students with morning baseball practice are stumbling to grab their gear and are racing to the locker rooms to change before their home room teachers arrive. As each student runs from the ovals, a pigeon replaces them. The pigeons find an area on the field where some food is and chow down.
The school has only had one big building complex in the center of the block for all the students and even bigger sporting areas surrounding it. Orange bricks cover the building’s walls, and at the front of the school is a massive carpark and a soccer field. At the back are six baseball fields, to the right is the stadium with the football and track field, and a bit further are the tennis courts. Hannah feels that if she wasn’t hunting, she’d be on her way to fame through tennis.
The bell screeches, giving everyone one last chance to get to homeroom. After the last few students spill into the room, a strange man arrives to the classroom. The man proceeds to the white board and use a marker to write his name. It reads ‘Kirein Steins’.
“Good morning everyone,” the man says lethargically. “My name is Kirein Steins and I’m your substitute homeroom teacher for today, I’ll also be taking a Physical Education class at the end of the day in place of Mr. Skinner.”
Kirein? That’s a weird way to spell Kieran. The man claiming to be our substitute is young, very young. He doesn’t look that much older than me, he could pass as a student.
Mr. Steins has long red hair in a ponytail, which reaches the middle of his back. He’s easily over six-foot and has the girls of the class swooning. He’s wearing a plain white tee which fits a tad loosely and a pair of dark, worn jeans with brown leather formal shoes. On closer inspection, he has what appears to be a red tribal symbol tattoo on his right hand. After putting down his old and tattered brown briefcase on the desk, he walks around to the front of it, sits down, puts on a pair of thick, black rim glasses and begins taking the role.
Hannah listened to and practiced memorizing the names on the role each year and made a habit out of it. Hannah knew that she would need to remember the names of future clients, witnesses, and fake aliases she would come to use. Mr. Steins is calling everyone out using honorifics and their surnames, which Hannah thought was a bit old fashioned, but it wouldn’t affect her memorizing the student’s names. Mr. Steins was coming close to Hannah’s name on the role.
“Ms. Stevens?” Mr. Steins calls.
There was no answer. There has never been any named Stevens in our class Hannah thought, and it had look as if this Ms. Stevens has been called in place of Hannah. Mr. Steins calls again, still no answer.
“Uh, Mr. Steins,” Hannah speaks up. “There is no one named Ms. Stevens in our class.”
“Oh, please call me Kirein,” Kirein corrects her “I haven’t gotten used to Mr. Steins yet.”
“Kirein…,” Hannah tries again irritably. “There isn’t a ‘Ms. Stevens’ in this class.”
“Really? That’s strange, I’ve got Miss Hannah Stevens’ name right here on the list.” Kirein stares at the role, scratching his head.
“I’m Hannah, Hannah Hummings, not Stevens.” Hannah explains, leaning back in her seat.
“Oh, sorry…, don’t know how I messed that up,” Kirein apologizes. “Okay, back to the role, sorry for the mistake.”
Hannah thought it was strange how her name had been changed on the role, this had never happened with other substitutes over the years. She begins to get a strange vibe from her new teacher.
Huh? What? Why can’t I recall the names of the students in my class all of a sudden?
After Kirein finishes the role, he speaks up and lets the students know that if they need some help understanding things for assignments and homework, that he should be able to help with anything they bring him. Hannah didn’t care about that for obvious reasons, but wanted to approach Kirein after home room to try and figure out what that weird vibe was all about.