by Edison T. Crux
Season 1, Episode 1: Winter Road
“Whatcha got there, buddy?”
The journal was snatched out of Will’s hand. He reached out it, but he was too late; Travis was already reading his private thoughts. Will was embarrassed. He didn’t plan to share that journal, not even with his best friend.
“‘Our choices make us who we are,’” Travis read aloud. “Alright Einstein, since when did you get into philosophy?”
Will’s cheeks were rosy. “Einstein was a scientist, not a philosopher,” he corrected. “And that journal is personal.”
Travis laughed. “Fine, fine. Have your diary back. I didn’t really want to read about your boy crushes anyhow.” He handed it over. “Since when did you have a diary?”
“Journal, Travis. It’s a journal,” Will said. “The doctor said it would be a good idea to start one. It helps a lot of patients keep track of progress. Besides, practicing my handwriting is important.”
Will stowed away the journal, and glanced at his hands. With his heavy winter gloves on, you could hardly tell there was anything wrong. Until, of course, Will had to make an awkward left-handed handshake, or attempt to pick something up with his right hand. Then you would notice the mechanical way that hand moved. You would stare, because people always did, until it finally clicked—there wasn’t a hand under that glove at all.
Last summer, Will became an amputee. His right hand was missing, along with a few inches of his forearm. It happened during the Walworth County Fair in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Ever since then, Will struggled to explain his injury to curious onlookers. If he was a little older, people might assume Will was a soldier and lost his hand at war. But Will was a boy of 16, and couldn’t be mistaken for a veteran. He was grateful that most people lacked the courage to ask. It was impolite to go up to someone and say, “Hey dude, where’d your hand go?”
Which was good. Because they wouldn’t believe it if he told them.
His amputation was one of many scars from that night at the fair. Will’s missing hand was a daily reminder of what he lost, and of what he still had. True, Will’s life changed. Forced to rely on his left hand, he felt painfully incompetent at the most mundane tasks.
But he was alive. For that, he was grateful.
Not everyone at the fair was so lucky. Four people died that night. Four. They were kids, really. Just a couple years older than Will.
He was reminded of those four people daily. Will remembered them every time he looked at his sloppy left-handed writing, or struggled to pick something up with his prosthetic, or felt a phantom twitch of pain in a hand that wasn’t there.
Will remembered... Because he felt responsible.
Travis scoffed. “Looks like you get along fine with your bio-hand, but whatever. Have your little diary if you want. You should get some stickers for it, though. Flowers, sunshine, smiley faces. You know, really deck it out!”
Will shook his head. He knew Travis was only teasing. This was how Travis communicated. He made light of dark situations, and joked about serious matters. Judging from his appearance—shoulder-length oily black hair, long face, baggy black Tripp pants, and jingling metal chains criss-crossing his pockets—you would think Travis Scott was a rebel without a cause.
But there was more to Travis than met the eye.
Travis had more bravery than anyone Will knew. So much, in fact, that it often crossed the threshold to recklessness. This was a kid who would jump off a building for you, or stare down a monster to come to your rescue.
Will knew this, because Travis had done those very things for him. More than once, in fact.
“Besides,” Travis continued. “We aren’t out here to write some memoir; we’re headed to the heart of the action, to kick serious supernatural butt!”
“I’m not sure you really understand what we’re doing, Travis,” said Will.
“Oh yeah?” Travis leaned over him. “And what about you, huh? Do you even know what we’re doing?”
To this, Will said nothing. He sat back in his seat, and rode in silence.
Will and Travis had been sitting in the back of an ancient luxury Jeep for a day and a half. They took a short break to sleep, and stayed at the fanciest hotel Will ever went to. It didn’t last long, though; they were back on the road 6 hours after checking in. They didn’t even have time to shower (although Will was pretty sure Travis pocketed all the complimentary toiletries and single-pot packs of coffee).
They came all this way, and still didn’t know where they were going.
Yesterday was Christmas Day. The day Will and Travis made the decision to give up their lives of mediocrity to jump headfirst into a world of mystery. So when the man in his old Jeep pulled up, they climbed in the backseat and didn’t look back.
The Jeep belonged to a man named Xavier Orrick. He was a timeless old man who dressed like a nineteenth-century gentleman and rarely gave a straight answer. Xavier was also the grand master of Enoc, a secret society dedicated to enlightening the masses to the dark truth—monsters are real, and all around us.
When Xavier came to Elkhorn, he didn’t have to convince Will or Travis of that fact. They had already discovered it the hard way.
With Xavier’s guidance, they defeated an ancient demon and put an end to the Wisconsin Werewolf. If it wasn’t for Xavier, Will probably would have been number five to die at that fair.
So when he offered to teach them how to detect and defend themselves from the supernatural, Will and Travis knew their answer right away. Will resisted at first. Becoming a member of Enoc was the right choice, but it wasn’t the easy choice. It would have been easier to stay in Elkhorn. To live with his great-uncle. To stay with his girlfriend. To pretend this last year never happened.
But Will never would have chosen that. He knew now that dangers lurked in unexpected places. And Will knew that he had the power to save people from it. That was the worst of all; being able to fight. If Will refused Xavier, he would have to live with the knowledge that people were dying because he was too scared to help.
Will couldn’t stand that guilt.
That’s why he got into this Jeep, without knowing exactly where or what was ahead. He did it because he knew he could make a difference. Did Will want to spend his life battling the supernatural? No. Was he afraid? Oh yes, absolutely. But this was the only path he could live with.
“How much longer we gotta go, baldy?” Travis asked.
In the front seat, Xavier smiled. “Patience is a virtue, young Mr. Scott.”
Travis rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Tried that once. Not really my style.”
Although Will had patience, curiosity was gnawing at him. Near the start of their journey, Xavier said they were going to New York. Travis lit up at this. Travis was a city boy at heart, having lived in Chicago before getting stuck in little old Elkhorn. Xavier laughed, and explained they might find New York a little different than expected.
This wasn’t New York City; far from it. They were driving through upstate New York, which had grander wilderness and larger forests than anything in Wisconsin. Travis was disappointed, but Will was relieved. Cities weren’t Will’s idea of a good time. Once, when he was younger, his parents took him to the Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago. Although he loved the museum, the crowds made him nervous. Will would pick a small town over a bustling city any day.
They rounded an icy corner, and the Jeep began to slide.
The loss of friction lasted a few seconds. Then Xavier smoothly regained control of the vehicle, and they were back on course. All the same, Will’s heart raced. He didn’t want to show it, but there was another reason to keep a journal. Will needed a distraction, something to keep his mind off the snow and the road. This drive brought back terrible memories, which put their journey into an ominous light.
Last winter, on a snowy drive similar to this, Will was in a car accident.
That moment, just before blacking out, was forever burned into his mind. His mother screaming, covered in cuts from broken glass. His father, struggling under the might of the Beast’s claw. That was the last time Will saw his parents.
An entire year passed, yet the memory remained as clear as ever.
Thankfully, neither Will’s nerves nor Travis’ patience had to hold out much longer. Within ten minutes, Xavier declared they were almost there.
Will scanned along the road, looking for an indication of where they were. He caught sight of a simple road sign that read “Newcomb. Population: 436.”
436 people? That made Elkhorn look crowded!
Newcomb appeared to be hardly more than a few homes and buildings on the edge of nowhere. It was both small and secluded. There were miles and miles of forests in every direction, and not another town in sight.
“Is this where we are going?” Will asked.
Xavier laughed. “Not quite, my boy.”
They took a turn away from town. It was a small road winding through the woods. The trees formed a thick canopy above them, so that only a stray snowflake made it to the road.
When the trees parted, Will and Travis were speechless.
At first Will thought it was a castle, sitting on the edge of the lake. When the initial shock subsided, he saw that it was too small to be a real castle. It was a mansion, built in the style of a medieval fortress.
The beauty and majesty of it was awe-inspiring. Behind this modern castle was the backdrop of a still lake, surrounded by forest and vast mountains. It was like something out of a fairy tale. Even the snow took on a majestic quality here.
The pride in Xavier’s voice was unmistakable. “Welcome,” he said. “to Garlock Manor.”