(G1) Chapter 1: In the Beginning
This isn’t how things were supposed to be. I had my life planned out. After graduating college I was going to travel the world looking for unusual creatures of legend. I am talking about things like Sasquatch, Chupacabra, The Loch Ness Monster and unicorns. It was my plan to write about and share my adventures with the world. As I put pen to paper – yes, real pen and real paper…all the computers are gone – I look back and remember what things used to be like when they were normal. I also wonder where everything went wrong. What series of events were put into motion that changed everything?
Two weeks before college graduation I received a phone call from a lawyer named Mr. Davis. I was told that I needed to visit Sunset Valley at my earliest convenience, that he had something to discuss with me. Only after telling him that I had no idea where Sunset Valley was, that I was in the middle of finals and getting ready for graduation, and that I had a flight booked to Mexico the following day did he divulge any information.
“It took me a while to find you, Ms. Taylor. All things considering, I am surprised that I found you at all. Your brother has died and you are his only living relative…”
I cut him off. “You must have the wrong Jessica Taylor. I don’t have a brother. I have never had a brother.”
The line was quiet for a moment. “You don’t know?”
“I don’t know what?” I asked. I was sure this guy was a nutcase who was just screwing with me and I would have hung up the phone if I thought that he wouldn’t call right back.
“Your parents are David and Laurie Taylor, correct?” He questioned. “And they are deceased?”
“How do you know that? Am I supposed to know you?”
He let out a sigh. “This would be much easier to explain in person. In fact, if you were able to meet me this would go a lot easier as I could show you all this documentation.” He waited for me to respond, to tell him I had changed my mind and I would be on the first flight there. When I didn’t he continued. “I am looking at adoption records here that show that David and Laurie Taylor adopted one Jessica Newman. That would be you. You had a twin brother named Justin who was adopted by William and Gertrude Flores. His name was changed to Basil.” He paused again giving a chance to start digesting everything he just told me. “I just assumed you knew your family history. I am sorry that you had to find out this way.” Another pause. “Now, about Basil. There was a car accident three weeks ago…as I said, it wasn’t easy to track you down. Anyway, you are the only living relative and there is a matter of a small inheritance.”
My mind was reeling. I had a thousand questions and I didn’t know where to start. “My birth parents?”
“I don’t have much information. Your fathers name was never listed on your birth certificate or on any of the adoption paperwork. There is some mention of him being deceased at the time of your birth. Your mother, Opal Suarley died ten years ago in a freak boating accident. It can only be assumed that you and your brother were put up for adoption because she didn’t want to be a single mother. I have no other information, unfortunately, like why you and your brother were not adopted together as the case usually is with twins.” He took a breath. “Look, if you have a fax machine I can send you copies of all this paperwork. You can call me back after you look at it.”
I rattled off the number of the fax machine in the student union and told him I was headed directly over there and hung up.
I spent the next hour receiving page after page of legal documents. I spent the night reading everything and had a hard time staying away through my literature exam. As the mind has a way of doing when it’s trying to process important and life changing information when you are tired, it won’t let you sleep. After a failed attempt at a nap I asked one of the law professors to look over all the paperwork. Everything was legal and in order. I was adopted, I had a brother who recently died and there was a house in someplace called Sunset Valley waiting for me to claim.
I suddenly realized that I was really alone in the world and I had no idea who I was.
Ironically, as big as that seemed at the time, in just a few short years it would be the least of my worries. In fact, if I had the ability to predict the future, I wouldn’t have bothered to waste any time, effort or energy on it. Like they used to say, there is always a bigger fish.
The Chupabara would have to wait. I canceled my trip to Mexico, packed my things, and headed out to Sunset Valley as soon as I had my degree in hand. My life had changed drastically, and this was only the beginning.
My next surprise was waiting for me when I arrived at the address Mr. Davis had given me. It wasn’t a lawyer waiting for me, it was an off duty parking cop.
“I thought Mr. Davis was going to meet me here.” I explained.
“There was no need for him to. You signed everything and sent it back to him, remember?” The young man looked as confused and tired as I felt. “Apologies. My name is Alister.” He held out his hand for me to shake. “I sort of lived here with your brother. I hope that you don’t mind I am still here, and I will be out of here as soon as I can find somewhere within my budget to move into…”
I held up my hand to make him quit talking. “You and my brother…” My voice trailed off.
“Oh no, it was nothing like that. We met in kindergarten and have been best friends ever since. We even roomed together in college. His mom, your birth mom, left him this house when she died. He never knew her so it was always confusing as to why she did it. It remained abandoned for a number of years. His parents, the ones that adopted him, died in a house fire caused by a neglected grilled cheese sandwich on the stove during our last year of college. Since he had nowhere else to go after college, he finally decided to move in here and asked me to move in with him. I am going to warn you, the house isn’t much. Being guys we really didn’t see the need to do much decorating either. What you see is what you get. There is nothing else.”
I nodded my head in understanding.
“There is one other thing, I haven’t been to Basil’s grave yet. I was waiting for you. Somehow it just seemed appropriate.”
I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel. I also didn’t know what I was supposed to say. “Look, I don’t mind if you stay here. Honestly, I don’t know how long I am going to be here. I am supposed to be in Mexico looking for the Chupabara.”
He cut me off. He really liked to talk. “The Chupabara? You’re a cryptozoologist? You know, there have been rumors of a unicorn sighting here in Sunset Valley. Before you leave, maybe you could investigate it?”
I raised my eyebrows at him. “Am I hearing this right? You are actually encouraging me? Normally people look at me like I sprouted an extra head or two and laugh.”
Alister shrugged. “I am not saying I believe in mythical creatures. I am not saying I don’t believe in them either. There are a lot of strange and unexplained things in the world and looking for answers, if nothing else, sounds like an awesome adventure. More exciting than writing parking tickets, at least.”
We ate lunch. He talked about my brother and I listened. We went to the cemetery and visited his grave.
And that was that. I had no idea at the time that particular day was going to be the start of what would become my life.