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The Tree of Life and the Root of All Evil.


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Atticus Hammond

“After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.”

― Mark Twain, Diaries of Adam & Eve


The adjustment without Camille was, well… Difficult. Atticus is a diligent father in every measure, content to sacrifice his own endeavors to protect their daughter and raise her lovingly. Both he and Camille were completely unprepared for parenthood, but had quickly found a rhythm to caring for their daughter. He is often first to volunteer in the early morning, so a week without his wife is no drastic rewrite when it comes to the baby, but instead to his own personal comfort. He trusts his wife without the shadow of a doubt, but comes to find himself yearning to be with her in the most poetic, Southern way possible.

When he had first awoken to find the note Camille left in her absence, Atticus had gathered his things – knowing it was as good of a time as any to introduce their daughter to his parents. Without Camille to boo-hoo telling Sookie, he’s boarding a plane set for Charleston. It’s a two-fold approach, to introduce his progeny to his parents, and to leave said progeny behind in the wake of an alarming new discovery. A true test lays before him, in that he’s never told his parents of Camille’s pregnancy, and now, of their granddaughter.

Big Forrest is harmless, certainly… Atticus can make no sincere predictions as to his mother’s reaction. Hurt, no doubt, he can only hope Charlotte Eleanor Hammond’s piercing cornflower eyes enrapture Sookie into silence.

His truck pulls up to Hammond residence slowly, thoughtful to the fact that Charlotte is fast asleep in her car seat. His parents are expecting him for dinner, assuming of course his confirmed ‘plus one’ would be none other than his infamous wife.

The screen door swings open and slams shut behind them – though Charlotte appears undeterred. As if a switch is flipped, his southern drawl makes an appearance as he shouts, “Mama! We’re here!” As he begins to step further into his childhood home, he can hear squabbling on the back porch.

“Goddamn it, Forrest, I told you if you left the paint out the critters would track it all around the porch… Look at what you’ve done to us!” Sookie is railing, hands flying around as she motions to and fro.

“It was one ‘possum, Sook. Don’t get all riled up, now. I’ll paint over it in the mornin’.” Big Forrest looks amused, hands on his hips as he sweeps a hand right back. “Looks like a baby did it, anyway.”

“A baby? Those foot prints are bigger than your oversized heart you f-ckin’ Neanderthal!” She shouts back, and looks as though she might continue you until Atticus’s obvious presence interrupts them.

Speakin’ of babies… I found this on the porch.” Atticus flashes a toothy smile, amusing himself more than he knows either of them will be. “This is Charlotte.”

“Lord have Mercy upon me, my son has bore a child out of wedlock with a woman of the night!” Sookie throws a dramatic hand against her brow. “And what excuse do you have, Atticus Lee Hammond, for bringing home a baby you clearly made none of our business?” Despite her grievances, she’s already unlatching Charlotte’s harness and pulling her up into her hold.

I’ve got to go away for a little while, and Camille’s abroad as well… I thought you might like to get to know your granddaughter for a week or so.” He sets down the now empty car seat. “I brought all of her things with me… It really would be a big favor.”

“This might be the only time in my life I’ll get the baby without your wife as baggage. Where’re you off to this time, Atticus? Another scheme?” Her skepticism and raw judgement show on her face plainly.

“I’m going to Paris.” He offers a placating lie. They both know he’s lying, but it allots Sookie the ability to lie to any family members they may ask after him, and now the mystery surrounding his child. “My flight leaves tonight, actually. So I won’t be able to stay for dinner.”

“Well you just let us know when you’re coming back, son. We’ll take good care of little Charlotte, here.” Big Forrest interjects, one of his very vague smiles showing. “Teach her how to hunt ‘possums.”

“Forrest, I swear to Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, …”

Atticus is already beginning his exit as his mother prattles on, giving his daughter a quick peck before he’s quickly walking in the direction from which he’d arrived. Of course he feels a pang of guilt leaving Charlotte – only because her impressionable nature is certain to be taken advantage of by her grandmother.

The movement of the rest of Charlotte’s necessities to the front porch is effortlessly fast, and he’s soon enough heading back towards the airport. On the way, he dials Sammi’s number.

How does a desert vacation sound to you?” The smile in his tone might just about transcend the phone-line.

“Atticus, please tell me you’re not going to…” Her voice sounds exhausted – always perplexed by his antics.

“Olduvai Gorge. Yes.” He nods, even though he knows she can’t witness it.

“Tell me, please, why you’re chasing them all the way to the Garden of Eden?”

“It’s the origin of all life, Sammi. Whatever they’re conducting there… I need to be there. I need to see it. This could be the opportunity to find a cure.” His optimism, while charming enough to keep her hanging around as a helping hand, is misguided.

“That’s all well and good, but - … Oh. Would you look at that! You might want to postpone your trip, handsome.”


“Just received a ping from that facial recognition software you asked me to set up. I have a frame-set of Camille entering Heathrow just now.”

“Perfect. I’ll make it a honeymoon, then. Thanks, Sammi.” He squints hard, perturbed by the lack of communication on her end, especially if she’s returning to Arcadia’s grounds. Perhaps bringing Charlotte to his parents had been premature. “I’ll let you know when I’m in Tanzania.”

“Please be safe, Atticus.” The hesitation in her tone is clear – after his first run in with the cult, she had done her best to convince him to retire from his trade, but such an endeavor was a fool’s errand. Atticus is nothing without his work.

And, after he adjusts his travel plans, Atticus embarks for London once more.

While he’s an absolute alcoholic, nothing can mean as much as Camille does to him – and something about her behavior has struck him as odd.

June 14, 2018 11:24 pm

Atticus Hammond

Atticus thinks about, more than anything, the promises he’s made in the course of his life. It’s a very simple response, ‘I promise’. But somehow Atticus has escaped the trap for most of his life. The only true promise ever being made is to Camille - a promise of faithfulness and steadfast love, and much less boring things as well. Somehow, despite his sometimes incredibly immature lifestyle, he has managed to keep his promises to the ethereal being he is lucky enough to call his bride. He’d like to say he knows his wife better than anyone else, but he knows they both have their well hidden secrets. Secrets, like what took Camille away in the middle of the night, and brought her back to London without a word. If the behavior wasn’t so peculiar, Atticus would normally pay it no mind.

He is no stranger to abrupt travel, of following a lead he or Sammi have discovered through the grapevine, but it’s not as if he’s unreachable. There’s no doubt Camille is as odd of a bird as her husband, but he’s also a naturally suspicious man.

Asking questions and pursuing leads has been his life’s blood, and this situation is no different. Now, however, he has to accept another person into his life, making room for their own idiosyncrasies, behaviors and needs. Besides Sammi, Atticus has never taken the time to lead a lifestyle inclusive of anyone else, so it’s safe to say a wife and child thrown into the mix has complicated his normal rituals - but you won’t find him complaining.

Having spent his life as a misunderstood dreamer, a scholar in a field unrecognized, it wasn’t before Camille that someone outside the scope of his work took interest in what he does. Somehow, she has managed to wedge herself into his life, and frustratingly, he finds himself detouring his trip to Tanzania if only to check up on her wellbeing.

He followed Camille to Arcadia after Sonder closed its doors, hypothetically leaving him at the mercy of one Lloyd Darrow, but that dweeb isn’t around much to inflict any more misery in his wake. Instead, it’s a rather straightforward arrival back to the grounds of their sanctuary, not much activity leading up to the door that would lead the way to their apartment. The house in Charleston is coming along at a sluggish pace, with much of the work left to Big Forrest, and the funding for said project coming in at unpredictable intervals.

Camille?” He drops his backpack near the doorway, wandering from the narrow hallway into the open living space. “Well hey there, sugar.” He offers his most endearing, lopsided grin, capturing her into an all-consuming bear hug. But something seems off, even if he can’t quite put a finger into it. They sit in silence for awhile, Atticus having to explain where Charlotte is, and Camille seemingly bizarrely disinterested. He then broaches the subject of Olduvai Gorge, which seems to trigger her interest.

“Olduvai Gorge? I’ve mentioned it to you before. I spent a few years excavating the Great Rift Valley after I’d left college. It’s believed to be-”

“The Garden.” The two words leave her lips, settling them both into an eerie silence.

“I wanted to know if you’d accompany me. With everything that’s happened, I only want you with me. Especially if things go south.” He dampens his lips with the edge of his tongue, moving to the edge of his seat as he awaits her answer.

“Of course I’ll go with you.”

Well… Alright. We’ll call it a honeymoon then.” He pauses, pulling a handful of loose change out of his pocket. “Do I need to add money to your meter to get a conversation out of you? Or does your motor need an oil change?” He squints, eying her over. “You’re rather robotic this evening, Cam-Cam.”

“Just looking forward to our trip!” And the excitement, whatever the source, is enough to keep Atticus’s curiosity at bay.

June 15, 2018 09:03 pm
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