The taxi to the hotel near JFK was quiet. I remembered riding to the city proper from there when I was a boy. it was like yesterday the fear that ran through me as I sat next to a complete stranger in a little clown car. I learned later it was called a Fiat. But back then it was what I pictured clowns riding in and then piling out of forever. Clowns were not my favorite creature on the planet then – and even know I rationally knew they were people with make up and were being silly but that didn’t really stop my irrational fear of them.

I hardly slept that night. I was nervous and when I did close my eyes the nightmares threatened me immediately because of it. I hated change. I was going to do my best, but I was going to have to adapt quickly to this. I doubted my handler was going to give me any time to come down from this anxiety high.

Her name was Michaela Donovan. She was three years older than I was and a field hunter in the Rocky Mountains. Stationed out of Boulder, Colorado. And that was where we were going. Michaela was a hard core hunter. She was always on the move. Hiking the woods and mountain areas for rogue beasties. By human trade she was a park ranger, she knew everything there was to know about surviving in the wilderness. Everyone learned a specialty in the Academy. Mine had been Urban Investigation like Kai Viddens – my idol. Have I mentioned how fucked up it is that my father is my idol and I hate him for it?

Michaela had taken her concentration in Back Water Survival. There was desert survival which sent you to Africa to learn to hunt on the vast savannas there. There was even an aquatic concentration and one for the arctic areas. Each area you learned how to survive on your own. Year 13 and 14 you always did Wilderness survival which taught you the basics of survival. How to use a compass, find water all that. From 15 to 17 you went on trips specific to your calling. Unless you were Scrin and then you always went Wilderness when you were 17. At 18 you were dropped off in the middle of someplace you don’t know in your specialization and you have to find your way back to base camp.

I had reviewed my packet over and over. There was an envelope for my first assignment and one for my last which were addressed to Michaela not me. I could have opened it an no one would have known but I didn’t.

Sleep was precious when it came, but by the time 4 am came around I had been up for hours. I had been doing yoga when my alarm went off and I got ready to go to the airport. I’d be extremely early but I didn’t care.

I brought all of my possessions with me which included my cell phone and my laptop. I checked everything but my laptop bag once I’d reached the airport. I was so early that the terminal I was to go to wasn’t even set up for my flight yet. So I found a place out of the way and I sat down, pulled my ear buds up and listened to a calming play list.