Echo followed behind Ivan and Jack as they drove through town. Not much had changed in his time away. Several shops and restaurants had been added to the landscape, but their arrival came at the departure of older businesses; less a change, and more a shift.
As far back as he could remember Hanford had always been a small rural town digging deeper and deeper into itself looking for new life. A dissatisfied soul desperately searching for validation; trying to prove to everyone (especially to itself) that is more than an irrelevant sleepy farm town in the middle of the desert.
It had a soul, a beautiful twisted soul, and Echo had always felt that. Deep down he knew there was a great evil writhing under the very soil of the entire Central Valley, but also a light. A will to fight its wicked nature, and he saw this expressed no clearer than in Hanford as people drew together against all odds to make their lives better.
In the gloom of the pouring rain under the shadow of an angry sky it was the darker side of Hanford which existed outside his windshield. A haunted town where darkness hovered over every empty street. He could almost swear he saw malicious blurred figures wandering the darkest corners. Hungry souls seeking to drain all hope and vitality from whatever hapless living victim they stumbled upon.
The streets were familiar. In his youth he had travelled the whole town on foot many times over. South on 11th Avenue crossing Fargo, down Grangeville passed the Christian private school, until finally turning onto a residential area just off 12th Avenue.
They pulled up to a esoteric stone home reminiscent of an exaggerated storybook cottage. The house belonged more to the cliffs and pastures of Ireland than next to the large modern homes filling the neighborhood.
The lot on either side stood vacant, landscaped, and obviously purchased to provide a comfortable distance between the home and its neighbors. A weeping willow overlooked a small pond as large standing stones etched with archaic symbols stood watch over the property throughout the landscaping.
Echo parked beside the white van pausing for a moment to take in the beautify of the strange home. It was a perfect fit for its unique residents. Following Ivan’s and Jack’s lead, he stepped out of his car and walked alongside them to the front door.
“Welcome home.” Jack shot a knowing grin to Echo as he unlocked the door and sarcastically ushered them all in with an exaggerated bow complete with an over extension of his arm towards the interior of the home. “Abandon all hope, ye who enter.”