Chapter 3: Welcome to Hallowville
When I awoke the next morning I didn’t know what to expect. Sunshine was leaking through the windows, filling the room with light. I rubbed my eyes and I sat up, taking in my surroundings. The room that Death had purchased for mom and I was small, with one king size bed that we shared. I remember the bathroom being bigger than the room itself. The walls were a light color blue with brown trimming, the floors made of dark wood, which contrasted neatly with the blue walls. I was surprised last night to find that our room had a flat screen TV with cable. We flipped through the channels and recognized some of them that you would find in our world.
TBS, FX, Lifetime, Oxygen, Disney etc.
This place wasn’t much different then back home. If you don’t count how old fashioned these people seemed to be.
I looked at my mom’s sleeping figure. No doubt she was still tired from last night’s adventure. I debated with myself if I should wake her up, but in the end I decided to just let her sleep. I got out of bed and shivered as my bare feet hit the cold floor, while rushing to the bathroom. The bathroom was just as nice. The floors and walls were made of blue and white tile. The large, oval bathtub that looked more like a Jacuzzi, filled most of the bathroom space. I looked in the mirror and grimaced. I really needed a shower.
After I was clean and the smell of sewer water disappeared, I left the bathroom, looking for my suit case. I sifted through my clothes, trying to decide what to wear. Do these people dress differently than we do? Was there a certain way we must dress here? I thought of Jordan and the others. I remembered them wearing nothing but leather. Leather jackets, leather pants, leather boots…was that the style here? In the end I decided to just wear some regular blue jeans and a white tank top. Screw society. When I was dressed and ready for the day, I had this sudden urge to explore. I looked at mom again. She looked so peaceful as she continued to sleep. It would feel wrong to wake her, especially remembering how tired she was last night. So as always I wrote her a note:
I’ve gone out to explore the town.
I won’t be long and I promise to be back before lunch time.
I love you.
I put the note on my pillow and quietly left the room, feeling sort of guilty, knowing my mom will wake soon and I won’t be here. As I was walking down the hall, I noticed that it was completely deserted. Maybe mom and I were the only guests here. When I entered the lobby it was completely packed with teenagers about my age. I could hear a group of kids, about five or six of them, talking about Hunter Academy and how excited they were about the orientation tomorrow. That surprised me. The orientation was tomorrow! I remember Death talking about it, but I didn’t know that it would be that soon. Suddenly I didn’t feel so good, which didn’t make any sense. What did I have to be nervous about?
Just then, two girls stopped to stare at me. The way they looked at me made me feel self-conscious. No doubt they were probably making funny of me. So I was completely stunned when they both smiled friendly at me.
“What’s your name?” said one of the girls. She was really pretty with long, wavy brown hair. She had small green eyes, which looked like the color of grass. Her face, like everybody else here, was devastatingly beautiful. I started to wonder if there were any ugly people or if there was just me. I noticed that they were dressed similarly to me, which made me feel a little better.
“Spencer Mason.” I said, a bit shyly. I could feel my cheeks burn as they continued to stare at me. They didn’t look mean. “Um…what’s yours?”
She held out her hand. I took it hesitantly. “My name is Alicia Lawrence. And this—“she said, indicating the girl beside her. “Is my N’Sync. Jennifer Allen.” Jennifer had very dark, shoulder length hair, with wide brown eyes. Her skin was the color of mocha and when she smiled, it seemed to brighten the whole room. She was a very beautiful girl. I tried to fight the grimace that almost spread across my face. All these girls and their perfect features are going to make me lose all my self-esteem.
“Nice to meet you.” I said. And I meant it. It was the first time anyone really wanted to talk to me, which was kind of sad, considering the circumstances.
“So where are you from?” Jennifer asked. “We’re from Fandora. Have you ever been?”
“Ummm,” I said uncomfortably. “No, I haven’t. Actually this is the first time I’ve been to this world. I was raised among the Powerless.”
They were both stunned into silence, looking at me oddly. I took that as my signal to leave. “Well, it was nice talking to you guys, but I gotta go.” I don’t think I could have got out of there fast enough.
Jordan was right, I thought as I walked through the crowded streets of Hallowville. It truly was adventurous with its different shops and the people that walked the streets, their different shades of hair colors shining in the morning sun. I couldn’t tell exactly if it was artificial or if it was their natural hair color, but it was neat all the same. Then occasionally I would see people that were half-human, half-beast. Some had varies types of ears on their heads, while others had tails and whiskers. Regardless, I tried not to stare too much. Even the atmosphere here made it feel like it was a dream then reality. Truly this place is just a figment of my imagination.
I recognized Jordan and Morgan from a distance, looking in one of the shop windows. Their silver hair seemed to shine in the bright light, causing some people in close range to squint as if the sun were in their eyes. I didn’t see Gabrielle with them, which I found odd. I shrugged it off, before skipping towards them. They seemed to be staring in a shop full of weapons, looking at some of the machetes and maces that were displayed in the windows for pedestrians to stop and stare at. I shook my head at them. They look like little kids staring in a candy shop. They didn’t see me as I stood behind them, peering over their shoulders at the weapons inside. There were lots of different kinds. Some I knew of and others I’d never seen before.
“Dude,” Morgan said as he continued to stare at big knife with lust-filled-eyes. “I have got to get me one of those. Maybe I can talk Gabrielle into getting it for me.” I examined the knife that caught Morgan’s eye. I have to say it was pretty awesome looking. It looked bigger than your average dagger and had a strange, small symbol on the handle. Was it a pentagram?
“What’s that symbol on the handle?” I asked causing the two brothers to jump five feet in the air. They turned to look at me with wide eyes. I smiled sheepishly, before waving half-heartedly. “Hey guys!”
“When did you get here?” Morgan demanded, looking flustered.
“Just last night. So what’s that symbol on the handle? Is it a pentagram of some sort?”
“It is a pentagram. All our weapons have that symbol on them. It gives us the complete power to kill demons.”
“Cool.” I said, feeling smug because I got it right. “So you guys going shopping for weapons?”
“No,” Jordan said. “We won’t be getting weapons until we get to Hunter Academy. We all have a class that we’re required to take that will assign us weapons and how to fight with them.”
“Well, that’s useful.” They nodded in agreement. I noticed that they were still staring at me weirdly. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a pest. I just saw you guys and thought I’d come and say hello. I’ll leave you alone.” I started to walk away, feeling a bit dejected until someone grabbed me by the back of my shirt, pulling me backwards. I looked and saw that it was Jordan.
“You’re not a pest.” he said earnestly.
“Really?” I asked, taken aback. Well, that’s new.
“Yeah. So if you want…you can hang out with us. We’re just waiting for Gabrielle and then the real fun will begin.”’
“And what kind of fun is that?” I asked, intrigued.
Jordan smirked, looking very much like a bad boy. “We’re going to go hunt monsters.”
When we finally met up with Gabrielle, I was relieved. Morgan seemed like he had stick up his butt the whole time I was around him, but once we noticed Gabrielle waiting for us outside of what I assume was Hallowville’s library, he seemed to lighten up. Again, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were dating.
We hung out the whole day, which was amazing, but made me feel like I was forgetting something. It kept coming up repeatedly. A constant nagging sensation that every time I’d get close to remembering, it would slip away.
We went through different shops just to pass the time. Demons only came out during the night so that left us with nothing to do but to fool around. I realized in each passing hour that I really liked Jordan. He was really sweet and treated me like I was an actual person. We would talk about different things and asks trivial questions like “What’s your favorite color?” or “What do you like to do in your spare time?” It was just nice to talk to someone that wasn’t my mother. And the best part was he would really listen to what I had to say. He didn’t think I was weird as I rambled on about me and my likes and dislikes. He just smiled and asked more questions. For once in my life I felt normal.
When it was time to go hunting, I could feel myself getting nervous. My heart was beating frantically in my chest and my palms were beginning to sweat.
“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.” I said as we began making our way out of Hallowville. “Maybe we should tell someone.”
“Will you relax,” Morgan said. I glowered in his direction, which he didn’t notice. “If you don’t want to help fight demon’s then that’s fine. No one here is forcing you too.”
That was true, but I would feel responsible if something were to happen to any of them. “Look I’ll try,” I said. “But I’m probably not very good at it. At fighting, I mean.”
Morgan snorted, but didn’t reply. Gabrielle elbowed him in the ribs. “Be nice.”
Jordan was walking alongside me as we continued our way out of the small town. He was looking at me anxiously. “You really don’t have too, you know. I won’t make fun of you and neither will Morgan because I will kick his ass if he does.”
I giggled at that. “That would be nice.” I murmured. We both chuckled at that as we walked through green fields.
I didn’t understand why it was quiet or why we suddenly stopped until I noticed Jordan and the others looking around frantically.
“What’s wrong?” I whispered. I didn’t like the looks on their faces. They went from these silly, fun loving kids to serious, no-messing-around demon hunters. I began following their example, looking around for any sort of danger.
Jordan looked at me sternly. “You didn’t hear that?”
“Hear what—“Then out of nowhere a huge looking insect-like creature jumped out of one of the many trees that surrounded us. It was making an odd chittering sound. Maybe that’s the sound they heard earlier. I watched in horror as it lunged at Morgan, making him jump out of the way and into Gabrielle. She pushed him off of her roughly – which sent him flying through the air, causing him to land forty feet from us – and started shooting these huge thorns out of the palms of her hands, aiming them directly at the monster. I may have to have Gabrielle teach me how to do that. It yowled as the thorns sank into its body and started charging at Gabrielle. Swiftly Jordan jumped on it, while stabbing it with some unknown, sharp object that I couldn’t make out in the dark. Was it a knife? It continued to screech in pain as it tried to shake Jordan off its back. It did manage to knock Jordan off it and sent him flying through the air. Amazingly, Jordan did a back flip off a tree and landed on his feet gracefully.
I stared at him desperately, trying to send a message that I might need protecting, but it was too late. The creature turned its full attention towards me. I screamed and tried to run, but it was too fast and was blocking my way to Hallowville. Something hit me then as I stared into its big, ugly bug-like eyes. I wasn’t ready to die. Not after realizing today that I might actually have a purpose in life.
I summoned the power within me and used every ounce of my magic on this wretched creature. As it began to lunge, I used all my energy and froze the demon mid-air. It crashed to the ground, with nothing left but ice and insect body parts scattered around the area. I sighed in relieve. Glad that was over.
On our way back to Hallowville, my new friends continued to congratulate me on killing my second demon in two days. I waved it off as just pure luck on my part, but they wouldn’t have it. They continued to talk about how amazing it was (although it wasn’t really that great considering I tried to run away at first). Even Morgan couldn’t stop talking about it.
I tried not to get a big head. I didn’t want to be one of those people who thought they were better than everybody – because I wasn’t. I was still the same Spencer Mason from Hot Springs, Arkansas. The only difference was that I would always be a loser there, but here I knew I had potential. Here I knew I could be more than just that weird kid who could do all five of the elements. Here I finally found where I belong.
My thoughts were interrupted when I suddenly heard Morgan and Gabrielle whispering amongst each other. What they were saying I couldn’t tell, but it sounded like they might be arguing.
Unable to control my curiosity, I nudged Jordan with my arm. He looked at me expectantly. “Maybe it’s none of my business, but are Morgan and Gabrielle dating? Their always together and they seem very close.”
“Oh, their close alright,” He said. “But not the way you think. They have an N’Sync bond. They’ve been best friends for as long as I can remember, but people always assume that their together, which is sickening to them. It would be like incest in they’re case.”
“Wow.” I said, completely stunned. “So they’re that close that they consider each other brother and sister.”
“Yep,” Jordan replied. He frowned. “And if they ever do decide it’s more than friendship then I’m leaving this world and I am never coming back. It’s already annoying as it is. I don’t need them coming up with pet names and making kissy faces at each other.” He shuddered.
“I think they would be great together.” I watched Morgan and Gabrielle closely as they shoved one another playfully. Yeah, they would make a cute couple. I’ve always heard that falling in love with your best friend makes the best relationship. Unless it doesn’t work out. Then you’ve just lost a potentially lover and a friend.
“You know,” Jordan said, sounding embarrassed as he cleared his throat. I looked back at him curiously. It was hard to tell in the dark, but I’m almost positive he was blushing. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something—”
I stopped in my tracks then, staring at him with wide eyes. Jordan seemed confused by my expression. “I hope you’re not trying to ask me out because I don’t feel that way about you.” The words came out before I could stop them. I didn’t regret saying them though. I didn’t want to give him the wrong idea. I mean, he was good looking, but I couldn’t seem to get passed seeing him as a friend.
Jordan seemed to understand.
“Oh, no, no, no,” Jordan said swiftly, while waving his hands in front of me. “I was just wondering if you would like to be N’Sync with each other. Tomorrow is the orientation and it’s probably the only time we’ll be able to do it. It would be cool to have a partner and someone I know I can rely on.”
That was completely unexpected. Jordan wanted to be N’Sync with me! “Wow,” I said. “That’s not what I thought you were going to ask at all.”
“Yeah, well…” he looked a bit sheepish. “If you don’t want to I completely understand—“
“I’ll do it.” He looked surprised by my answer. I watched as a smile slowly creeped upon his face. I smiled in return. “And besides, you’re probably the only friend I’ve ever had. I would be honored to be you’re N’Sync.”
He shook his head. “I think I’m the one who’s honored.” He grabbed both my hands in his, holding them tightly. “So you really want to go through with it tomorrow?” Jordan asked, dubiously. “Because once it’s done it can’t be undone. We’ll be bond for the rest of our lives. Well,” he seemed to consider something. ”Unless one of us dies first.”
“I’ve already made up mind and I’m not changing it. I know that you will be there when I need you. I know that I can trust you.”
We smiled brightly at each other until he finally said, “Same here.”
We all parted ways as we made our way back into Hallowville. Me, I couldn’t stop smiling as I made my way back to the inn. One day and I already have a friend who wants to be bond to me. It’s a big leap, but I know for a fact that Jordan will always be there to catch me if I were to fall. I suddenly wondered about the orientation tomorrow. I wonder what will take place besides N’Sync ceremonies and sorting students into elemental groups. Since my most powerful element is ice then surely they’ll stick me with all the other ice users. I couldn’t wait to see who would be in my group. Hopefully their all nice.
When I made it back to my room, I found mom lying on the bed, watching TV. Inwardly I smacked myself. I was supposed to be back here before lunch. How could I be so stupid?
“Hey,” I said wearily. I was waiting for my mother to explode in rage, demanding where I was, but she remained calm as she watched Law and Order.
“Hey,” Mom replied. She seemed relaxed. “Did you have fun?”
“Yeah,” I said. I sat down on the edge of the bed, trying to keep a safe distance in case she tried to attack me. “Sorry I stayed out later then I was supposed to. I met up with some friends – the ones I told you about yesterday – and just hung out. I kind of lost the track of time.”
To my surprise, she smiled. It was one of my favorite smiles. It was so full of love that it could have lit a dark room. “I’m just glad you got out and had fun.”
I sighed in relieve when I realized that she wasn’t going to jump from the bed and beat me with a stick, or something. It was nice not getting in trouble for once. I was surprised that she wasn’t asking questions about my dirty state. I was about to get up and take a shower when I remembered something.
“Oh, yeah. Tomorrow is the orientation at Hunter Academy. I didn’t know until I heard a group of kids in the lobby talk about it. I guess we need to go tomorrow.”
“Yeah, I know. Death came by and told me while you were out. He said that we need to be there around ten and that you need to wear battle gear.”
“But I don’t have any battle gear.”
Mom pursed her lips as she pondered something. “Well, I suppose we can do a little shopping before the orientation. I guess it’s good I brought some money or you would be screwed.” She said teasingly.
“Yeah and it would have been your fault.” I laughed.
“Hey, I didn’t say you had to come here. It was your choice. Not mine.”
“Why didn’t you give me a hard time about coming here?” I asked, curiously. “I was so sure that you would have said no when I brought it up.” Mom looked away from me, but not before I saw the look in her eyes. “It was for dad’s sake, wasn’t it?” And I knew for a fact that it was.
“He always talked about how excited he was about you attending Hunter Academy.” mom said. “He made me promise that if anything were to happen to him that I would do my best to get you to Hallowville so you could go to school here. I was actually thinking about it before you brought it up yesterday. I knew I was going to have to tell you soon. I just didn’t know how.”
I patted her back reassuringly. “Well, we’re here now. You fulfilled that promise. I’m sure he would have been really happy.”
“I know he would have,” mom said. She seemed to smile to herself. “It was he dream, however, to bring you here himself, but since he’s gone I guess it was up to me.” I felt guilty as I looked at my mother’s sad face. Oh, I so badly wanted to tell her about the possibility that dad might still be alive. But I promised Death, and he doesn’t seem like the person I would want to cross.
Then I remembered something else I was going have to tell her. I’ve already made up my mind that I’m going to do it. There’s nothing she can say that will change my mind, but she is my mother and she had the right to know beforehand.
“Do you know anything about N’Sync’s?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah,” she said. “You’re father told me all about them. It’s a bond between two demon hunters. You’re father had an N’Sync. I never met him, but he talked about him a lot. What was his name…?” She trailed off, lost in thought as she tried to remember the man that was “supposed” to be my dad’s best friend.
“Azazel.” I said before I could stop myself. Mentally I gouged my eyes out. Now she’s going to wonder how I knew that name.
“Yeah,” mom said, eyeing me suspiciously. “How did you know?”
“Death told me a little bit about him. It wasn’t much – just that he and dad were BFF’s.”
“Yeah, they were pretty close,” She sounded distracted as she continued to stare me. Mom crossed her arms then. The smile that was once there turned into a frown. A very terrifying frown – one that caused children to have nightmares and to run screaming for their lives. “What’s all this talk about bonds and N’Sync’s? Is there something you’re trying to tell me?”
I gulped as I looked at my mother. God, she can be so scary sometimes. I took a deep breath. Here it goes. “My friend Jordan and I have agreed to become N’Sync.” I held up my hands up in defense. “Now I know you’re going to say it’s too soon – that I don’t really know him, but I really think I can trust him, mom.” I looked at her earnestly. She seemed baffled, but didn’t say anything as I continued, “He’s really sweet and I feel like I can count on him, like I know he’ll be there when I need him. I know you may not approve, but I’ve made up mind and I’m doing this. He’s my N’Sync – I can feel it as a Reaper.”
“Well,” mom said not sounding truly convinced. “I can’t stop you. Your thirteen years old and should make your own decisions, but I do know a little bit about being N’Sync to someone. It’s permanent and it should be taken seriously.” She eyed me quizzically. “You’re not doing this because you like him, are you?”
“No. We’re just friends. I don’t see him that way. Well, not right now anyway. My feelings could change overtime, I suppose.”
“The way you’re father put it,” she continued as if I hadn’t spoken. “Being N’Sync to someone is like being married. You have to put a lot of work in your relationship with that person. You have to communicate, remain loyal, and be there for that person who needs you the most. Can you do that for Jordan, Spencer?”
N’Sync was a lot like marriage. I never thought of it like that. Can I do it? Well, I’ve never had friends before and I’ve definitely never been married so this was all so new to me. But to be fair to myself I think I can. I know I can be loyal, trustworthy, and have Jordan’s back whenever he needs me. And I knew – without a doubt – that he would too. But what if something happens to Jordan in battle and you’re all alone? What are you going to do when it’s just you battling the demons? That annoying little voice asked in the back of my head. I thought about that for a bit. Well, I would do what I can to protect him and try to get us out of there alive. That’s all I could do.
I looked back at mom. My mind was already set.
“I can do this. I know I can.”
She seemed skeptical, but didn’t argue. “Go take a nice, hot bath. You don’t want to go there tomorrow looking like you just got done battling demons.”