As told by Gabe and recorded in Maya’s journal
My dad was an awesome person. I didn’t actually know him, but, I mean, how could he not be? First off, he was wicked smart. Taught at Stanford as a geneticist. Mom said that his students really liked him, that he was “the cool professor”. He was funny. She always told us how funny he was.
He met my mom at Stanford. She was a graduate student, and she eventually became a professor of literature. He had to work his ass off to woo her, because, I know she’s my mom and everything, but she was quite the catch. Dad, well, my mom always said I look like him, so not exactly much to work with except his personality.
He did it though. Swept her off her feet. Made her get her head out of all her books. They got married, and they got busy, because a year later the terrible Ts were born, Tammy and Tarren.
He met Dr. Cook at Stanford, and, not realizing that Cook had some major mad science going on, helped him in his research. Maybe my dad was a little too smart for his own good, cause it was only a few years later that Cook developed the formula that would make the angles.
It wasn’t Dad’s fault. He thought all the research was theoretical, but when all them angels went on a big old killing spree, I guess he felt responsible. He and Cook destroyed Cook’s lab, and then Cook decided the only way to keep the formula out of the hands of Robert Thane and the other angels was to off himself. Before Cook blew his own head off, my dad vowed to find and kill all the angels the formula had created.
I’m pretty sure Dad just got caught up in the moment. Had he realized exactly what it meant to hunt down and kill dozens of very wealthy, very dangerous people, maybe he would have made a more manageable vow, like, maybe to try and kill one per year.
But that’s the vow he made, and that’s the vow he tried to keep.
Mom says he’d never even owned a gun before, so he had to learn everything from scratch. We’re talking some pretty intense training montages here. I honestly don’t know how he did it; I wish I could ask him what it was like, taking on that huge burden on his own, keeping his wife in the dark.
My dad was a superhero. For reals.
He wasted a lot of angels in his day. He even killed Robert Thane, though he got pretty banged up in the process. He dragged himself home, needing all sorts of medical attention. By that time, Mom, a pretty sharp cookie herself, had already stared figuring out that Dad hadn’t been spending all those late nights at the office. You can only say you accidentally hit yourself in the face with a stapler so many times before people get suspicious.
When Mom saw Dad all beat to hell, she was fit to burst. Literally. The world was just about to receive its greatest gift ever – me.
Dad told mom everything, and that did it. She went into labor, and I came into the world that same night.
I don’t know much about the next three years. I think Mom was royally pissed at Dad for a really long time, but he wouldn’t stop his quest. I guess that’s why most superheroes aren’t married, or, if they are, they marry other superheroes.
Mom didn’t help him with the angel killing. She had a full time job at the school and us three kids to take care of when she got home. I have no idea why she let Dad keep doing what he was doing; how he convinced her that saving the world was a good idea and he was just the guy to do it.
When I was three and the Ts were six, Grand tracked down our parents. He murdered my father, and, as we learned much later, raped my mother. She managed to set the house on fire and escape, picked us all up from daycare and brought us here to Colorado where Dad had provisioned a safe house.
I wish I could remember my dad. Even just one single memory would be…I guess it’s pretty pointless to wish for something you can never have. Mom didn’t like to talk about him, but she did, because she wanted us to know what he was like. He loved us and would ride with Tarren or Tammy on his shoulders around the house. Once, when I was one, I got really sick, and he stayed up with me for two straight days. He wouldn’t leave my room even to eat.
Tarren remembers him a little. I wish I weren’t so jealous about that, but I am.
Mom, wow, where to even start with her. She was, well, basically incredible. She escaped the night Grand finally tracked them down and killed my father. I don’t know how she did it, how she was strong enough… She always said it was us, that she had to be strong for us, but I think she always had a lot of steel in her soul even before she became an angel hunter.
She took us here to Farewell, Colorado. Nine months later, out you came. I don’t remember any of it, but apparently she decided the right thing to do was to valiantly give you up to protect you from Grand’s wrath. I don’t know how she could have been strong enough to do that either. Actually, I’m not even sure if she did the right thing. I mean, you were family, how could she…well, not like it matters now. History is history.
Mom never told us about you. For most of my life, I never even knew I had another sister.
I always wonder why mom decided to start hunting angels herself, whether she felt obligated to take up my dad’s noble quest, whether it was just plain vengeance, for whether she was just bored hiding up here in Colorado with a bunch of kids always needing attention. Probably not that last one, but maybe that was a little part of it.
Anyway, she started hunting angels. Not right away, or at least this is what Tarren tells me. As far as I can remember, she was always doing it, disappearing for a week here and there. It was mostly a part-time gig in the beginning. Remember, this was the early 90s, so the Internet wasn’t what it is today, and there were a lot fewer angels back then. They were hard to find.
Besides the occasional disappearing act, Mom home-schooled us. I don’t know how to describe her personality. She was just Mom. She had an edge to her. When she got mad, all she needed was a look. That look could…I think she could probably melt ice with that look. Good thing Superman never went up against her. She’d have chewed him up and spit him out.
But she wasn’t mean or harsh. She would read to us at night, and I remember her humming me to sleep when I was young.
When we got older, she started to train us, just as a cautionary measure. She’d started taking some martial arts lessons and signed us up as well. Tarren hated it, but he hated everything back then. I thought it was awesome. It was the first time I got to really hang out with kids my own age.
I’m not sure when she sat down and told us about the angels. I remember always knowing about them and that they killed our dad. I used to think they were monsters, real monsters, like I’d see on the Power Rangers. I’d imagine that our family had some mythical bloodlines and we were protectors of the human race.
I guess that’s true in a sense.
Tammy wanted to go on missions, and since Tammy wanted to go, I wanted to go. Tarren, of course, didn’t want to go, but since Tammy wanted to go, he pretended he wanted to go too. Mom didn’t want us involved at all. Tammy and Mom fought about it all the time, but they pretty much fought about everything.
Then, Grand figured out the whole bone marrow thing, and suddenly the shrinking population of angels started growing again. I started getting savvy with the Internet and found my first angel for Mom when I was eleven. That’s when this thing became more than a hobby. There were more angels every day, and it was easier than ever to find them by reading national obits and deciphering kill patterns.
Mom got real injured once. An angel threw her into a parked car, and she broke her arm and some ribs. She never told us the full story, but it must of have been a pretty damn close call, cause that’s when she doubled down on the rules, bought more guns and finally let us join in the fight.
I was thirteen when I started going out on the road for real. Tammy and Tarren were sixteen. Tarren refused to help us on the mission, and my mom never pushed him. He would drive and dig graves with us, but he wouldn’t even carry a gun.
I killed my first angel that year. It was kind of an accident. Mom and Tammy where breaking into a house where they’d identified an angel. I was outside, making sure the coast was clear. Well, it wasn’t. Apparently the guy had a brother. He strode into the house, and I went in after him and killed him. That was…well, they say you always remember your first, and I do. I can still see all that blood soaking into the carpet. It was white carpet.
Anyway, we were a good team, the three of us and Tarren tagging along. Mom was always really careful, really conservative, and Tammy didn’t like that either. She wanted to go off on her own, but Mom never let her.
Then, Mom started kind of wilting. I don’t know what else to call it. She couldn’t drive more than eight hours straight before one of us had to take over, and sometimes it was hard to wake her up. She started losing weight.
I made her go see Dr. Lee, and he said it was bone cancer. The worst part is that Mom didn’t even seem surprised. She’d already known something really big was wrong with her. Dr. Lee told her to go to the hospital to get chemo, but she didn’t.
It’s really hard to say this, but I think a part of her was looking for a way out. I don’t think even she’d admit it, but she was tired and she missed my dad. She told me that last part when things got bad and we had to put her on heavy meds. She’d tell me over and over again how much she missed him. Sometimes she thought I was him. It was…really hard.
She still went on missions for another year, but then it just got too hard, and I wouldn’t let her go anymore besides. I made her stay home, and Tammy and Tarren kept going out. This is when Tarren finally started carrying a gun. It was only to protect Tammy; he still hated it all.
Mom got worse really fast. By then it was too late to give her any treatment, though Dr. Lee said it probably wouldn’t have done much good anyway. He and I took care of her together, and then, towards the end, I took her home, because she asked me to.
I don’t really want to go into the specifics. It was…it was terrible. She wasted away. There was a lot of pain, and the only thing I could do was give her more and more morphine, but then she wasn’t herself. That’s when I learned what really happened when Grand track down my dad and when I learned about you.
That was a pretty big shocker, to say the least. Mom had a lot of regrets. She didn’t think she’d been a good mother, and that hurt the most, because she tried. She’d always really tried to do what she thought was best, and she’d loved us. We missed out on a lot, but I never felt unloved.
I saw the way things were going, and I called the Ts to get back to the house. But Mom died that night. I was there. I heard her last breath, and then it was just me in that house alone. Tammy and Tarren got back in the morning, and by that time I was pretty drunk. I think I also took some of the morphine, I can’t remember. Tammy said I was passed out in the hallway with my shoes on my hands she and Tarren made it back. There were flowers all over Mom and the bed. I guess I’d gone out and picked them. I don’t remember doing it.
Tammy and I dug a grave next to where my Mom had set up a memorial for our father in a small grove in the woods, about a mile out from the house. Tammy cleaned Mom and wrapped her in a sheet, and Tarren carried her to the grave. And we put her down there.
I was sixteen.
Tammy was a rebel. If you told her the sky was blue, she would insist that it was green and then smack you on the back of the head if you tried to argue with her. She was, god, she could be really mean sometimes, even cruel. She’d find all your weak spots and then use them against you just when you were the most vulnerable. But I loved her. We all did.
It didn’t matter how mean she was. She would terrorize me growing up, especially when Mom was away. Tammy and Tarren both, but it was always Tammy leading the charge. Tarren would do anything she said.
They’d make me be their slave or mix up concoctions in the kitchen and make me drink it. Honestly, I’m surprised one of those worm shakes didn’t kill me.
Mom put us all through martial arts. I think it was karate first, and then twai kwan do and eventually Krav Maga. Tarren refused to go. He hated fighting, but Tammy relished it. She was the best in her class. She would make me practice with her in the backyard. And by “practice”, I mean I was the practice dummy. I was so afraid, but I never said no. I let her beat the crap out of me.
Tammy had that effect on people. She could get away with just about anything. Tarren always followed her around like a lost puppy.
Tammy would tell me stories too. Stories that scared the holy hell out of me, like how our house was haunted or how the angels had finally found us and were just waiting for Mom to leave before they attacked.
But Tammy’s personality could shift as suddenly as an afternoon rainstorm. She’d be sweet as sugar one moment, wanting to hang out, telling you a secret and then she’d drop you like a stone down a well. Sometimes she would say something mean, really, really mean, and then the next day she’d treat you like a prince.
It was different with Tarren. She never picked on Tarren. She protected him, almost like he was this fragile thing that needed extra special care. She’d never get mad at him, never yell at him. When the other kids in the karate class picked on him, she would kick all their asses.
Tammy was beautiful, and she sure as hell knew it. When she was eleven or twelve, she’d hitchhike into town and hang out with kids a lot older than her. She always had a boyfriend. Sometimes two or three. She’d break their hearts and then be back together with them a week later. It was hard to keep track.
I know I’m making her sound like a total bitch, and she kind of was, but you always forgave her for it. She was fiercely loyal. I got sick once when I was six. Mom was gone. Tammy carried me all the way to Dr. Lee’s house, and she was only nine years old. I threw up on her, and she still carried me.
She saved my life too out in the field. A lot, especially in the beginning when I was still learning. The night I killed my first angel, I was kind of a mess. Tammy made me take a shower, made me brush my teeth, and then she and I talked all night long. She made me see that we were doing the right thing and that by killing that angel, I’d saved all of the people he was going to kill in the future.
She was an amazing fighter. Better than all of us. Better, even, than Tarren is now, I think. She had dead on aim and endless stamina. She had no patience though. That was her flaw. She couldn’t sit on a site for more than two hours before she wanted to storm the castle gates and shoot everything in sight.
She and Mom would get into such terrible fights. The house would rock with their voices. When we saw it starting, Tarren and I would just leave. I wish they wouldn’t have fought so much. Tarren says it’s because they were so much alike, but they didn’t seem very alike to me. Mom always wanted us to be safe and careful, and Tammy wanted to get the kill.
She smoked, maybe for two months, and I think it was just to piss Mom off. Finally, Tarren asked her to stop and she did.
She came home with a motorcycle one day and no explanation as to how she got it. We didn’t ask. She dyed her hair a lot, especially those last two years after Mom died. Every other month it was a different shade, like she could never decide who she wanted to be or what she wanted to look like. Her hair was really brown, the same color as mine, but the last time I saw her, it was black. She did black a lot, though sometimes red and blond and even purple once. Tarren thought the purple was a really bad idea; that she was way too recognizable.
Mom was the only one who could ever keep Tammy in some semblance of check. When she died, Tammy became more wild than ever. Sometimes she’d take the motorcycle out and just be gone for a week at a time without telling either of us where she was. No check-ins. It was really tough on Tarren. I’m surprised he didn’t sit at the door howling until she got back.
That’s how Tammy could be. So selfish. But then she’d get back, and we’d spend all night on the porch getting drunk, laughing about nothing, and it’d be so great. Even Tarren would drink back then, and Tammy would tease him, and he’d tease right back. It was hell in the morning, but those nights were the best in my life.
We’d play video games too, and that was the one and only thing I could ever beat Tammy at. She’d get so mad, she’d throw the controller at the TV. She busted like three of them until we instituted a no throw rule. Then she only busted one more.
That’s why Tarren finally started to fight and train and go on the missions. He knew if he left her to herself, Tammy wouldn’t probably get herself killed.
And she did.
I knew it was a mistake when she found that lead on Grand. Mom had told us how he’d devise ways to flush us out. She’d almost gotten caught in one or two of his traps herself. He was way too dangerous. Too smart, too fast, too invulnerable, but Tammy wanted to kill him so badly – to avenge our father. It was this burning desire in her heart. She talked about it a lot.
She killed his younger brother, who was a particularly nasty angel, but even that wasn’t enough. She had to go after Grand.
You know the rest. Tammy and I had a huge blow up about it. Tarren wouldn’t take sides. He knew it was a trap. We all did, but he’d never disagree with Tammy. Never. She could have told him to jump off a cliff, and I’m pretty sure he would have done it, no questions asked.
That was a terrible fight. Things were said that I’ll never be able to take back. The last words I said to her were angry ones. Mean things. The next day she and Tarren were gone. They’d left me.
I would’ve gone, even though it was a trap. Maybe if I had things would have turned out differently. Maybe I could have saved her or Tarren. Or maybe I would have just died too. I don’t know. I think about that day so much. The fight we had. What I could have said that would have made her stay or at least take me with her. If I could have convinced Tarren somehow. I think if we had both been against it, she might have yielded.
But that’s not how things ended up. Tammy and Tarren went after Grand. He caught them. He tortured Tarren and killed Tammy. Tarren won’t talk about how it all went down. Won’t talk about Tammy at all. Won’t even say her name.
He puts on such a brave face now. He’ll run into a burning building to save someone. He’ll take on a dozen angels without blinking an eye. He’d probably trade his life for mine in a heartbeat. But that doesn’t make him brave. If he were brave, he would be able to say her name. He’d be able to talk about her and remember her the way she was.
He wouldn’t even put up the stones in the grove. I did it alone. It was December. The week before Christmas. The ground was frozen solid. It was nearly impossible to dig even a small ditch, but I did. My fingers about froze off. And then I buried a chest of her things – there was her leather jacket, her diary, some of her CDs, her brush, a knife she used to like, and a couple of other things.
She was only twenty-two when she died.
I kind of thought that time would stop after Tammy died, but it hasn’t. Things have changed. I’ve changed. Tarren is a completely different person. Maybe half a person. But life goes on. It still hurts, but not as much. I’ve gotten used to her being gone. I miss her, but it’s more sadness than the way I was feeling in the beginning.
I think about what things would be like if she were still alive, how much better things would be, but it’s all useless. She’s gone. I’ve learned to live with it, but I don’t think Tarren has and I don’t know that he ever will.