Title: Hunter: The Serpents Mounds
A Lian Hunter Adventure
Author: C. L. Hagely
Genre: YA/Sci Fi
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2
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It’s sophomore year. Lian Hunter and his side-kick and best friend Gabriel were hoping for an uneventful and normal school year at Tri-Asterisk Academy in downtown Los Angeles. But Fate has once again strategically placed gigantic problems in their paths.
When bones and more bodies are found in a serpent-shaped mound, is it a connection to the reptilians or is a new predator feasting on students’ hopes and dreams? An ancient enemy has also arisen on Nibiru to stake their claim on Earth.
Lian pressed his face against the glass, using his sleeve to clear a circular patch off the condensation covering the windows. He looked out at the mountainous terrain as the rain was coming down in sheets. Black plants painted the landscape, and in fact, much of this area’s vegetation was singed from the recent fires, all fanned by the Santa Ana winds. The rain made the area much more dangerous, creating a larger chance for mudslides and flash flooding. Lian watched water pour from a particular shelf of rock that jutted out, resembling a huge spigot gushing brown water over a section of road. This huge barrage of water crashed onto the highway, flooding the lanes and closing it off to traffic, before innocently flowing down a hill to the ocean.
Lian ran his hands down the front of his jacket across the Tri-Asterisk emblem, mentally visualizing the triangle and the wordsAcademiae…Artes…Astronomicasas his fingers slid over the embroidered symbol and letters. The car started to slow down as it made its way around a curve in a slow downward spiral. He leaned in closer to the glass. A lone figure stood in the rain staring back at him as the car passed. There was nothing around but barren land, and the rain seemed to have no effect on the man, as he stood there gazing back at the passing cars. Something disparaging and interesting about this homeless man had Lian squinting his eyes to get a clearer view of him, even turning his head to follow him as the car proceeded forward. As the man was moving out of Lian’s view through the side door glass, Lian suddenly saw something, and found himself pushing his face even harder against the glass trying to get a better look at the man. He was now peering at what seemed to be a large hulking green figure instead of the homeless individual. His heart immediately started thumping, and he shifted completely around to look out the back window. A surprised Lian moved his head back at what he saw. The green figure was gone, and the homeless man was the only thing in view from the rear window.
Lian slowly turned his body around to face forward and slid down the seat, looking down at his hands. He felt them slightly trembling, but he had to check, just as he had to check if a reptilian actually stood on the side of the road. Did imagination once again take over his common sense? Lian started to wonder if this year was going to be driven with more incidents of his wild imagination and larger-than-life predicaments. His whole body jerked from its slumped position in the seat when a beep sounded and a small screen came down in the middle of the car.
“Lian.” Gabriel was smiling, his face now lit up on the screen.
Lian put his hand on his chest. “Jeez, Gabe. You scared the heck out of me.”
“Start of the sophomore year shakes?” Gabriel was grinning, his smile creeping up one side of his face. “Hey, I’m just calling to tell you I’m sorry we couldn’t ride in together. I’ll meet you in front of the school in a half hour.”
“Alright, see you then.” Lian sat back against the seat and inhaled a deep breath as the screen slid out of view. “Great. I’m already shaken up. I’m seeing things, and I haven’t even reached school or started any classes yet.” he muttered to himself. “Yep…this is going to be some year.”
The rain started coming down harder, making the visibility even harder for him to see out the side window. The car approached the on-ramp, and Lian leaned forward to look out the front window. He was checking to see if the homeless lady was still there.
Nope, looks like we won’t be seeing our little ol’ friend today.He watched the cars merging into the ongoing traffic. Other homeless people still gathered under makeshift tents near and under the overpass, their faces hidden by hoods pulled up over their heads. Well, things could be worse, I guess.Lian put his head back and closed his eyes, his hand now resting on his backpack next to him. The car’s motion along with the sound of the rain almost lulled him to sleep. He rubbed his eyes and looked out as the car slowed and the gate opened.
“Tri-Asterisk Academy, sir,” Fila announced as the car edged forward.
Lian quickly went through the identification process at the gate, sticking his head out the side window until his face came up on the monitor. The car moved forward and into a long procession of other vehicles lined up in front of him. He looked out to see if he could spot Gabriel. His eyes moved toward the three statues, still there marking the entrance to the academy.
“My old friends,” he said while looking up at the familiar figures. The rain and grey skies somehow made the three statues seem even more eerie with flashes of lightning reflecting off each one as they stood frozen in their triangular positions. He shifted his eyes as the car crept up closer, looking at the reptilian head on the one statue. The rain dripped slowly down its bronze face, almost making it appear like tears were running from its eyes.
Lian turned his head away quickly. Again, his thoughts turned to just wanting to have a normal school year.
“Pull over right here, Fila. With the rain pouring down, this is about as close as we’re going to get for a while, it appears.” Lian grabbed his backpack as the car stopped and the door opened up, his seat belt sliding off. He held the bag over his head as he ran toward the front door, the rain pelting around him. He peered out at the dark clouds looming over the academy, low and deep thunder grumbling in the background.
“Hopefully this isn’t a bad omen.”
“Hey, Lian.” Gabriel grabbed his shoulder, holding an umbrella and pulling Lian under it with him. “You gotta be prepared for these monsoon rains.”
Lian smiled, relieved to see him. It was always a comfort just knowing he had his childhood friend with him in such a foreboding place. He still couldn’t shake the feeling of not fitting in at the academy. Most of the time, Lian couldn’t tell if he wanted that situation to change or not.
Keywords: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Mystery, Dystopian, Serpents, Los Angeles