Chapter 1: Anything but Ordinary
I am anything but ordinary. Always have been and probably always will be. My name is Spencer Mason. I’m thirteen years old and can do some pretty crazy stuff. From the moment I turned seven, I could turn about anything into ice. Chairs, lamps, pillows, cats—you name it. Then when I turned eight, I suddenly started setting things on fire whenever I got mad. It started when my mom wouldn’t let me get this Barbie doll that I really wanted. That’s when all the screaming and crying began. Not to mention all the torched Barbie dolls. When I turned nine, I could control air. Then water when I was ten and later on I learned how to control the earth. I could simply grow a flower in the palm of my hand or change the color of leafs.
So I knew I was different. How could I deny it? I could set Barbie dolls on fire for crying out loud! But what was weirder was that my mom was completely calm through all of this. I figured any sane mother would freak out. Nope. Not my mom. It almost seemed like she had been expecting it.
So something was different about me and every time I brought it up with my mom, she would simply change the subject by ordering me around the house to help clean up. It was very annoying. The only time she ever brought it up was when I started school.
“Now please try to control your powers. The last thing I need is for you to be suspended because you accidentally burnt down the school building.” Boy I can’t tell you how many times that was tempting.
But aside from that she hardly ever brought it up around me. It was almost like if she didn’t talk about it, then my powers would simply go away. They didn’t. For me it felt like I was getting stronger with my abilities.
So now our story begins on my first day of school. Cliché, I know. I was just starting my first day of seventh grade. I hate school. I’m constantly picked on and always the last one picked for sports teams during gym class. I attend the most despicable excuse for a school. Spring High is known for its small amount of students and its unsanitary surroundings. It’s not a very good school, nor is it anything fancy, with its crappy gym and uncaring teaching staff. But it’s been my school for as long as I can remember so I try not to complain. Although I wouldn’t have minded attending Lake Side.
As mom pulled to a stop in front of the main entrance of the school, I felt like I might start hyperventilating.
Mom cleared her throat to get my attention. “Now Spencer, I want you to be on your best behavior. No using any kind of…magic. The last thing I need is to get a phone call from the principal, telling me my daughter set her teacher on fire.” She looked at me with a pointed expression.
Okay so I once set one of my teachers on fire because I got angry about some stupid math assignment. It was an accident. Of course, my mother always loves to remind me.
“Okay?” she asked.
“Okay.” I said, though I wasn’t making any promises.
Mom smiled. She looked quite pleased with herself. “Alright then. Off you go. Have a wonderful first day.”
I grimaced as I jumped out of mom’s perfectly polished, silver SUV. I watched as she drove off and turned the next corner that lead onto Main Street. My mother and I live in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It’s a big town on top of a dormant volcano that probably hasn’t erupted in years, and is usually full of tourists that come to see the little hot springs that are all around the promenade. It’s not much of a town, but its home.
I sighed and with great reluctance started heading towards the school.
It was just my luck that my first class would be PE. I sat at the top of the bleachers, looking down at the so-called-gym. It looked more like an abandoned warehouse. The walls and floors were cracked. Not to mention the floors looked like they needed a major scrubbing. The basketball hoops hung in way that indicated they needed fixing. The bleachers constantly creaked every time I shifted in my seat. In the end, I just stood up and leaned against the wall. I grimaced at the grime coated walls but shrugged it off. It’s better than falling through the bleachers.
We didn’t do much except talk about the rules of the gym and the dress code. Something about wearing booty shorts which they didn’t have to worry about me wearing. I couldn’t stand wearing stuff that showed my legs.
After that, the day continued uneventful. Mostly we went over the rules of the classrooms and went through the syllabus one step at a time. I yawned, feeling completely bored. Was this day going to get any better?
I regretted that question as soon as it popped into my head
“Hey loser.” said a familiar awful voice.
I looked up and saw Katie Hoe, a girl about my age and as mean as wolverine. And yes, her actual last name is Hoe. Fitful for someone who couldn’t keep her legs crossed.
“Katie.” I said as way of greeting. I pulled out Wuthering Heights as way to let her know that I wasn’t in the mood for chitchat.
“So how was your summer? Boring as usual? Just like you.” She and her friends laughed. I sighed, not really understanding how that was funny and went back to reading.
One of her friends, April I think her name was, slapped my book out of my hand and sent it flying across the classroom. They laughed harder as it dropped into the trashcan.
“Now that’s where I think books belong.” She said maliciously. “With the rest of the garbage.”
I balled my fists into anger as I tried to reign in my temper. I so badly wanted to set something on fire, specifically April. I got up swiftly and headed towards the trashcan to dig up my book. Of course, to my luck, Katie got to it first.
Katie scoffed as she turned it over, examining the back of the book. “How sappy. A tragic romance.” She smirked as she tore some of the pages from the book. I gritted my teeth to keep from screaming. “I guess that’s the only romance you’ll ever know. Seeing as you can’t even get a guy to like you.” She and her friends busted out laughing again as they watched the expression on my face. It must have been something because their laughter became louder. It sounded like it was echoing all through the classroom. As they continued to laugh, something inside me snapped and they went from laughing to screaming. Katie threw the fireball that was once my book into the trashcan and started running around the room, flailing her arms, looking quite stupid. Yeah, like throwing a fireball into the trashcan is going to make the fire stop, I thought sarcastically. I sighed and simply distinguished the fire with my water magic before it could do anymore damage. After I got done putting out the fire, I looked around at my classmates.
They were all staring at me with wide eyes and jaws hanging open – looking at me like I was a freak. I couldn’t stand the awkward silence and judgment in everyone’s eyes. So being the coward that I was – l ran out of the room, fighting tears as I rushed to the only sanctuary that I knew: the girl’s bathroom.
Mom was furious. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised. This wasn’t the first time I did magic in school.
“I specifically told you to not use your powers at school! Do you have any idea how frustrating that is?”
I was sitting on the couch with my hands between my legs, trying to avoid mom’s piercing gaze as she continued to scold me. “I didn’t mean too. I just got mad—“
“You always get mad!” mom yelled. I flinched at how loud her voice rose and tried to fight back the tears that threatened to spill over. I heard mom sigh quietly. I was surprised when she took a seat and wrapped her arms around me. It was quiet for a while as she held me.
“I’m sorry.” she finally whispered. “It’s just hard. I don’t know what to do. Having a daughter that can do magic, well, it’s kind of rough.”
“I don’t mean to make things hard. I really do try to control them. It’s just when Katie picks on me…”
“I know,” she sighed. Finally, she made me look at her. Her eyes were such a beautiful blue. It reminded me of the ocean. “Maybe if you told someone—“
“And be known as a snitch? No way!”
“Well, I don’t see where catching a person on fire is a better alternative.”
“It is when it’s Katie,” I mumbled. “And besides I didn’t set her on fire. I stupidly set my favorite book on fire!”
“Yeah, while it was in her hands.” She pointed out.
“So she got scorch marks on her hands. Big deal.”
“It is a big deal. You don’t just set things on fire to get back at a person. There are other ways you know.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not like you. I’m not very good at mastering evil schemes or coming up with smart remarks.” I bowed my head in shame. “I’m not good at anything.”
“That’s not true,” She said earnestly. I looked back up at her, meeting her unwavering gaze. She smiled. “You can control all of the elements. For your age that is very impressive.”
Hearing her say these words brought a smile to my face.
“Oh, my special girl,” she said as she squeezed me tightly. “No matter how infuriating you can be, you know that I will always love you, right?”
“Yes, mom,” I replied. She laughed and kissed me on the forehead.
“I love you. Sometimes I wish your father was here to see how well you turned out.” The mention of my father sent a big lump in my throat. My father. I never knew him. I don’t even know what his name is. Mom never talks about him and I’m too afraid to ask questions.
She kissed me one more time and sent me off to bed.
As I tried to fall asleep that night, I swear I could hear crying from the other room. Most likely mom was crying over dad, missing him.
So many questions I want to ask, but at the same time, I’m scared of what she might tell me. Mom couldn’t do magic like me. So I’ve always wondered if I had inherited my abilities from my father. Or maybe there was just something majorly wrong with me. I also wonder sometimes if there are others out there that can do magic too. I hope so. It sure would be lonely being the only freak among humankind.
The next day, after school, I arrived home with a missing a mother and a note attached to the fridge:
Going to be working late tonight.
There is lunch meat in the fridge for dinner.
“I guess the hospital really needed her tonight.” I said absentmindedly, as I continued to examine the note. I sighed, threw it away, and looked at the fridge. I wasn’t really in the mood for sandwiches tonight. I had some money put up for special occasions like these. There was a McDonald’s just two blocks down from here.
When I made up my mind I rushed upstairs to find my secret stash. When I had the money stuffed deep in my wallet, I then shrugged on my coat and locked up as I left.
Stuffed and fully satisfied – I started heading home. It was dark out and the streets were completely deserted, which was odd. Hot Springs was always filled with ongoing traffic, especially around these parts. I was almost home when I heard a sound coming from a dark alley that I passed by. I wasn’t entirely sure, but it sounded a lot like voices and something else – loud noises like banging and profanities from where I stood.
I should have just walked away and went straight home, but having the kind of curiosity that I possess – well, I just had to investigate – like the idiot that I am. I crunched my nose up in disgust as I walked down the dark and dirty alley. God, it smelled horrible – like piss and garbage. Debris littered the grounds and the walls were covered in graffiti. I nearly screamed when I felt a rat run across my foot as it went to hide under the nearest garbage can. I sighed as I tried to calm my racing heart and continued walking towards the end of the alley.
So you can imagine the shock when I saw three kids about my age fighting this huge monster. It was scaly, with razor sharp fangs and stood on all fours like a dog, but the size of horse. It almost resembled a dragon.
Sure enough it spit fire at one of the boys – who to my surprise – had silver hair. I did a double take at that. His hair was silver! It was hard, but I tried to examine the boy from where I stood, which was in the shadows where they couldn’t see me. He was handsome, with flawless features and looked about my age. His hair probably came to about his shoulders if he didn’t have it pulled back. The way he held himself made me think he was a bit arrogant. His brother (which I assume he was since they both looked identical) had shorter, silver hair and was a bit burlier then his brother, who was leaner, and on the taller side. Then there was the girl, who was shorter than the two boys and very pretty. Like them, her features were also flawless, with long brown hair that was pulled back into a French braid. I watched in amazement as the three of them worked together, trying to take down the monster. They were very strong and quite fast. Like at one point the boy with the short silver hair barely kicked the monster and yet he still managed to send him flying. The monster crashed into the brick wall, making it tremble from the impact. They all seemed to almost blur as they ran at the monster.
And what shocked me the most was that they used magic. The two boys used air while the girl could control the earth. She summoned her power and wrapped a vine around the monster’s neck, squeezing it tightly, causing the monster to gurgle and choke. Of course, in the end, it tore through the vine like it was nothing and continued to attack them as they used what little weapons they had. It was unbelievable and yet I felt hopeful for the first time. There were actually people out there just like me.
I must have made a noise because the dragon-like-creature turned its attention away from the three teenagers and looked directly at me, its wild red eyes hostile and deadly.
“Uh-oh,” I said as it lunged at me. I didn’t think – just acted. With all the power that I possessed, I summoned the fire within me and just let it burn.
Everything was shrouded in darkness. Probably because I had my eyes firmly shut, waiting for the beast to sink its teeth and claws in me. When it didn’t, I opened my eyes and saw the three strangers looking at me, their eyes wide and mouths hanging open. Suddenly I felt self-conscious. I don’t know why they looked so surprised. I saw them doing magic too. I should be the one gaping at them! I looked to where the monster had been earlier. I saw nothing but ashes in its place. I was speechless.
Oh. My. God. I just incinerated that dragon-like-creature. I looked away from the ashes and at my hands. They looked the same as usual. Small and pale with a couple freckles here and there. My palms were a little red, but there were no scorch marks or any burns to indicate that I had used fire magic. Maybe my mom won’t find out…
“What the hell?” said a deep voice.
I looked back at the three strangers. They were still staring at me in bewilderment.
I didn’t know what to say. I just continued to stand there awkwardly with my palms still outstretched in front of me.
“How did you do that?” The boy with the long hair asked.
“W-what do you mean?” I stammered.
His brother sighed impatiently. I realized he was the one who spoke earlier. “What my brother means,” the boy seethed. “Is why a Powerless such as yourself is able to do magic?”
“What do you mean by ‘Powerless?’” I asked feeling outraged. Who does this brat think he is? “Didn’t you just see me do magic?”
“Oh, we saw alright,” said the girl. She had a very sweet, delicate voice. – Like wind chimes. “I’ve never seen such power. Well, at least not someone of our age.”
“It was very impressive.” Said the long haired boy. “Especially for someone who comes from a Powerless family.”
There’s that word again. “What do you mean by that?”
“Well, you come from a human family, don’t you?”
“Yes,” I said slowly in bemusement. “But aren’t you human too?”
“Er, kind of.” The girl said. She skipped towards me, eyeing me curiously. “What’s your name?”
“Spencer Mason,” I replied coldly. “What’s yours?”
She smiled brightly at me. I was little confused by this girl. “Gabrielle Swan is my name and these two handsome gentlemen are Jordan and Morgan Grey.”
I eyed the two brothers. “Whose who? They both look the same. Are you guy’s twins?”
The boy with the shorter hair scoffed as if my questions were ridiculous. “Of course, we’re twins. I’m Morgan and he’s Jordan,” he said nodding his head towards the boy with the longer hair. The boy named Jordan smirked at me, making me want to smack him.
“Uh-huh,” I said, distracted. My mind was still on the whole “human” thing. “Well, if you’re not completely human then what are you?”
“Well, we are human. We’re just a little bit different and a lot more powerful. We’re very strong and fast as you could see, but we have to be for what we do. We’re demon hunters, but we’re also referred to as Reapers. We fight the things that go bump in the night.” said Gabrielle.
“And” Morgan added grudgingly. “We can do elemental magic.” His gray eyes seemed to shoot daggers in my direction. “Apparently, you can too.”
I was astounded by all this information. Demons. Hunters. Elemental magic. What the hell? Not only were there others out there like me, but they hunted monsters. I so badly didn’t want to believe them, but I knew they were telling the truth. Hell, I just fried a monster not too long ago.
“So I guess your elemental power is fire.” Jordan said, interrupting my reverie.
“Not exactly.” I answered. I felt myself blush inexplicable. Why was I so embarrassed all of sudden?
“What do you mean ‘not exactly?’” Morgan snapped. “We just saw you—“
“I mean that I can do more than one element.” I snapped back. “I can control the other four: ice, water, earth, and air.” I smiled, feeling quite smug as I looked at their dumbstruck faces.
“You can do all five!” Gabrielle asked, incredulous.
I just nodded.
“Prove it.” Morgan demanded. “Prove that you can do all five.”
I glared at him for a fraction of a second before I closed my eyes, trying to summon the magic within me. I felt the magic as it ignited through my veins and coursed through my body. I opened my eyes then, watching as a rose grew from the ground. It was the only pretty thing in this dark alley – aside from the pretty strangers. They gaped, but didn’t say anything as I summoned the air. The wind tore the rose roughly from the earth and blew it to me. I caught it and held it gently in my hands, holding it out for everyone to see. Jordan and Gabrielle looked amazed, while Morgan looked like he just ate something nasty. Their reactions made me smile. It was then that I summoned ice. The rose that was once beautiful, looked broken and withered as it became nothing but a frozen ice sickle. Gabrielle looked at the rose wistfully and gasped as I lit it on fire. I let the ashes fall and summoned water, letting it drip where the ashes littered the ground. Seconds later, a beautiful red rose popped from the ground, looking lovelier then the one before.
Gabrielle clapped her hands in excitement, while the two brothers eyed me with wonder.
I looked at Morgan and smirked. “Still think I can’t do all five elements.”
“That was amazing,” he said, his lips curving into a genuine smile. I couldn’t help but smile back. “There hasn’t been a gifted since, well…” he trailed off awkwardly.
That piqued my interest. “Since when?”
“Er, well, it’s been awhile.” Jordan said, giving his brother a look I couldn’t quite decipher. He smiled. “So Spencer it looks like you’ve got Reaper blood.”
“All Reapers can control one of the elements, right?”
“Well, our kind learns the others as we grow. The first element that we were able to specialize in is our strongest.”
“So ice would be my strongest since it was the one I first specialized in.”
“Yes.” Jordan said. “Air is mine. It’s my brothers as well.”
“Mine is earth.” Gabrielle said at the same time a little patch of lilies grew next to an abandoned dumpster.
“You guys use your magic to stop demons, right?” They all nodded. “How did you learn to fight like that? And how can I learn to fight and kill monsters too?”
“Well, first off,” Jordan said. “You have to become a student at Hunter Academy,”
“Where’s that?” I asked. I had never heard of it. Not around here anyway.
Jordan wrapped an arm around my shoulders and started walking with me. His brother and Gabrielle walked ahead of us, standing very close and whispering to each other. I wondered if they were together.
“It’s not in this dimension, I’m afraid. It’s in Hallowville. A small town full of adventures and a place with the best candy shop ever.” His gray eyes seemed to sparkle at that last part.
“And it’s in a different dimension?” I asked, incredulous.
“Yes.” he answered. “It’s not too hard to get there. Even a Powerless could do it if they knew the right places to go.”
“A Powerless is a regular human being, right? Someone who can’t do magic and isn’t a Reaper.”
“Very good. I think you’re finally getting it.” We were finally back on the dark and desolate street. It was no different than before.
“How do I get to Hallowville? And how do I attend Hunter Academy?”
“Well, finding the portals to our dimension will probably be the trickiest part. They can be anywhere in this dimension. As for getting in Hunter Academy…well, you shouldn’t have a problem there. As long as you have Reaper blood and can control one of the five elements then you should be eligible.” He was eyeing inquisitively. “How old are you anyway?”
“I’m thirteen.” I answered.
“Cool. Same age as us. This will be our first year there so it will be yours too.”
“So you’ve never been?”
“Nope. I’ve seen the school from a distance, but I’ve never attended. I’ve heard it’s amazing. You see, we usually don’t specialize until we’re either eleven or twelve – so you usually can’t attend until next year. Morgan, Gabrielle and I just specialized last year. So we we’re eligible this year. How old were you when you first specialized?”
“I was seven.” Jordan looked impressed, but didn’t comment. “And every year after that I kept specializing in the others.”
“That’s amazing,” he said. “I know the gifted started off young, but…wow!”
It was then that I noticed that it was suddenly quiet. I started searching for Gabrielle and Morgan, but they were nowhere to be seen. “Where did Gabrielle and Morgan go?”
Jordan didn’t look worried. He merely looked behind him. “Huh. They left me. Typical.” He looked back at me. “Well, it was nice meeting you, Spencer. I do hope I see you at Hunter Academy.”
“Well, it’s going to be hard to do that if I don’t know how to get to your Hallowville.”
Jordan laughed and winked at me. That made me blush. No guy has ever winked at me before. “Don’t worry about it. You leave that to me.”
I was relieved to find the house empty when I got home. If mom found out that I had left the house while it was dark out, she would have killed me. Of course, I was going to have to tell her about Jordan and the others. I was going to have to tell her about Hallowville, while also begging for her to let me attend Hunter Academy. Maybe I can finally get the guts to ask her about my father. She must know something about all this. I mean, she didn’t freak out when I first started developing my abilities or when I accidentally froze Todd, my hamster. Not to mention, I’ve always been a bit stronger than the average teen. I mean, is it normal to be able to pick up an L shaped couch with one hand? I hadn’t thought about it much at the time. Then again, I’d been more focused on finding my phone. I was fast, but not nearly as fast as the others had been. And I’m definitely not as graceful.
I frowned at the thought.
My father must have been a hunter – a Reaper. My mother couldn’t control any of the elements and Jordan said I had Reaper blood. I sat down on the couch, trying to think of a way to tell my mother about all this. I wonder if she’ll react, or will she simply accept what I tell her? Oh, I hope so. I really don’t want to fight with her. But I will if it means I can go to Hallowville. Maybe, if my father was a hunter – and I think he was – maybe he took her there once.
My thoughts were interrupted when I distinctly heard the door open and close. Mom was home. I could hear car keys jiggling and the tapping of her shoes as she walked on the linoleum floors. I took a deep breath. Show time.
Mom took the news rather well. It was surprising considering how my mother tends to overreact. I was expecting her to blow up like a volcano. She did look horrified when I told her about the demon. Her blue eyes seemed to widen in fear as I told her how it tried to kill me. That made it worse. I tried comforting my mom by explaining how I killed it with my fire magic. Of course, that didn’t seem to put her at ease either, which wasn’t surprising. She’s always worried about me. But what was weird was that she believed me! She didn’t smile or shake her head as I told her my story, but looked at me as if she was really interested. This made me wonder if she already knew about this stuff.
“And these kids were telling me about a school for people just like me and I really want to go!”
Mom closed her eyes, massaging her temples as I silently stared at her with wide, pleading brown eyes. She looked deep in thought. I noticed that she looked really tired. Her red hair was tied back into a messy bun and there were dark circles under her eyes. Her pink scrubs looked tattered and worn. Finally, she opened her eyes and sighed. Behind all the tiredness, I could see the love and adoration that has been my strength and salvation for so long. It would hurt to leave my mom behind, but deep down I know that I belong at Hunter Academy. Not here where everyone thinks I’m a freak.
“Is this what you want?” she finally asked breaking the silence that was starting to feel uncomfortable.
“It’s where I belong,” I said, speaking my earlier thoughts. “Is that where—“I took a deep breath before trying again. “Is that where my father went to school at? Was he just like me?”
Mom winced. Just hearing the word father made it hard for my mother to function correctly. Even now she looked as if she was having a hard time breathing. “Yes,” she finally answered. Her voice seemed to crack in places. She cleared her throat as she went on. “I knew your father was different, even from the moment I laid eyes on him.” Her eyes seemed to take on a dreamlike state as she thought of my dad. “He was so beautiful, your father. I never thought he would have chosen someone like me…but he did.” She smiled as she stroked my red hair, looking at me with love. “Then a year later we had you.”
“What happened to him? Why did he leave us?”
Mom sighed and dropped her hand. “He said he had to protect us. And in order to do that he had to leave.”
Now we’re getting somewhere. “Protect us! From who?”
“He didn’t say. He just said, ‘I got to protect you from him.’He never gave a name or a reason why so I assumed it was an excuse to get away from me.”
“Mom,” I whispered. Now I understand. It wasn’t the thought of my father being gone that made it hard for my mother to talk about him, but because she thought he didn’t love her. “That’s not—“
I was cut off from the sound of someone knocking on our door. Mom and I exchanged uneasy glances. Who would be knocking at our door at this time of night?
“Who do you think that is?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but I don’t like it.” She jumped to her feet as ran into the other room to answer the door. I continued to sit there, my thoughts running wild.
So I was right – my father had been just like me. He had attended Hunter Academy and became a demon hunter. But why did my father leave? Was it really because he was trying to protect mom and me? Or did he really just get tired of us?
“Spencer,” My mom yelled from the other room. “Will you come here, please?”
Following my mom’s orders, I got up and ran to the other room, hoping I wasn’t in trouble or something. Her voice sounded like it was coming from the dining room/kitchen so that’s where I went. I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw a very handsome man seated at the head of our dining table. He looked about mom’s age, with very long black hair and, wait for it…red eyes! He had pale skin with flawless features, with the exception of a scar that was on the left side of his face. It looked like it had once been a third degree burn. On his head he wore a black top hat, which made me want to laugh. Nobody wears those anymore. He seemed very immaculate with his black suit and red tie. He looked intimidating. The man smiled kindly at me.
“Spencer,” My mother said. My eyes flicked to her. She was sitting in the seat right next him, fear visible in her eyes. “I would like you to meet the headmaster of Hunter Academy: Death.”