A young man in a new and strange town gets recruited to be a supernatural secret agent, when he previously thought that those things were all myths. His story only gets crazier from there...
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I had some family come and visit, so I had several days away from the computer, now I ma back but feel overwhelmed. Here is the next chapter in The DOSCO Files!
Stirring, I rolled on my side. Sunshine streamed in through the window, but didn"t quite reach me. Lazily I stretched, slowly becoming aware that I was awake. Comfortable and warm in the bed down stairs in The LeClaire house, I looked out the window, into waning summer landscape of the back yard. The pool was covered, all the lawn furniture was put up in the shed, and only a small futon and two chairs remained outside, with a small above ground fire pit.
I jerked to alertness, downstairs? Curtains open?! Something wasn"t right, I had slept upstairs to avoid the creeps that I thought would be lurking outside the house. I had definitely drawn the shades tight. How did I end up here?
Memories, old emotions and fears, trauma from last night started to take hold. I thought that I had got us all out of everything, but then the men in the masks bagged us and injected us with something. The same thing as Roro? I hoped she got the same stuff as us, that meant she was most likely still alive.
It didn"t matter though, I was out of here. I had made a promise to myself, if I survived, I was out of New City, out of Maine in general. I didn"t know if I would end up in Canada, but it really didn"t seem like a bad idea. Everyone was always trying to get into America, no one would care if I tried to flee from it?
When I did eventually stretch my legs, I came to the icy realization my survival bag was gone, and I knew right where it would be.
* * *
Coming up on the tail end of Main Street, right by where Lacreshia"s vet clinic was, I crossed to the other side of the street, and walked up to the entrance to Javier"s store. Passing by the big bay window, I looked inside, and shockingly everything was the way it should be! There was no hole in the floor, no wood shattered, merchandise ruined or paintings destroyed, so maybe it wouldn"t take long for Javier to recover from this. Or, had I been dreaming?
Striding up to the front entrance, I tried to push the latch down and open up the door, but it resisted, not like it was locked, however, more like there was something resisting. I had to know if this was a dream or not, if it was a dream then I wouldn"t have to leave after all! I pushed harder, using too much strength and I busted through the door, shattering some more wood with it.
I tumbled inside, and fell to the ground. Javier rushed over out of nowhere and ran up to the door. "Hombre, I can"t have others look in here!" He swung the door back into place, and then slid a coat hanger across the two doors to prevent anyone else from doing exactly what I just did.
Javier finished and offered his hand to help me stand up. I hadn"t moved, because I was gaping. What had looked fine from the outside, was very much misleading. The store had a gigantic gash sliced through it, revealing the basement below. Where the Light had sliced away, the lines were clean, everything straight edged and cut nicely. The wall that separated the main entrance way, and the lower shopping area, were blown to bits, bullet holes punctured through everything. Clothes, books, broken chairs and pieces of the couch were scattered all over. Loose brick, splinters of wood, ceiling tiles and dust covered everything. It was a devastating sight.
"I almost forgot to call Roro out of work, before she left to come in. Dios mio, what would she have done?!" Javier wondered out loud, standing next to me, checking out the damage.
"But Roro was there last night, she was part of it all." I was confused, which wasn"t new recently. "She" fine, right?!"
Javier turned to me, staring at me curiously before he spoke. "You and Carmen walked out the door before me, when the guards grabbed you I struggled to stay back. It gave me a chance to ask Yvonne about Roro. She admitted that Roro would be fine, that she had just been taken to a witch to have her memory wiped. She cited the Law to me about humans not knowing about magic."
I had so many questions. "Well why would a human be allowed to work at this magic shop then? Why even have a magic shop, isn"t it counterproductive to staying hidden?"
"Most people think this is a nice trinket shop, with exotic smells inside. People come to see something different, or to buy something for a hippie friend." His accent made the word "˜hippie" all the funnier. "Besides, magic shops always seem to exist, isn"t it better if a witch watches over the store himself, and can regulate the humans, than let a Civi dabble in arts they don"t really understand, and cause unknown damage?" Javier"s face was downcast, as he finished up.
He lost his powers, that"s right. Was he a Civi now? I admitted that I had to believe in the Supernatural, I had seen vastly too much to argue it, that meant witches were real. That also meant that when Javier said "˜his powers were stolen," that he was telling the truth. I couldn"t imagine what it would be like to have powers like he must have, only to then have them stripped away. No wonder he was in so much anguish last night.
I wanted to change the subject, Javier was lost in his thoughts, so I started to look for my bag. "I didn"t happen to leave my bag here did I?"
Javier snapped to. "Yes, actually, I found it when I was checking things over earlier."
My heart leapt, this was probably the one thing I couldn"t make it without. That was melodramatic of me, but it would be a devastating blow. I wasn"t even pissed when I saw that there was a fresh hole ripped into the fabric. If you asked me, it gave it character.
Survival bag acquired. New world perspective confirmed to not be a dream. Mission progress, get the hell out of Dodge, don"t look back.
"You"re leaving?" Javier asked, snapping my attention back to the present. I had set my bigger bag down by the mostly intact counter, in order to more thoroughly check over my Osprey.
Looking up from my inspection, I saw Javier for the first time. Actually saw him. He was my age, had to be, he was athletically built, and had broad shoulders that helped give him his powerful frame. He stood right around six feet, but despite his build, he had a weight about himself, life was burdening him. His desperation was apparent to someone like me, someone so used to that feeling. His eyes were baggy and dark, but they also looked blotchy and tear streaked. I had managed sleep somehow, Javier hadn"t.
"Not right now, I want to stay and help you clean up here first." Making up my mind, I set my bags to the side. I don"t know where this sudden push of empathy came from, I had fought hard to suppress that during my travels, but the whole situation was tugging on my heart strings. I reasoned though, that this was a chance to get some answers. Even if I left and never dealt with the whole sketchy business of Supe"s again, I needed to settle my mind.
I glanced up, and realized Javier was staring at me. Our eyes met, and something sparked. I don"t know what it was, but when my eyes made contact with Javier"s, I saw something like understanding pass before him. It was like that feeling of happening upon someone, and you are instantly convinced you have met them before. I knew that couldn"t be possible though, so I shook my head, and went to my bag.
"Don"t feel responsible for this mess hombre, even if it all went down only after you entered the store, I"ll take care of it." Javier turned, waving me out.
"Ah, I have to stay after you say something like that!" Plucking my wallet from my bag, I straightened up, Javier turned back to me and winked, smirking. He was just teasing, I hoped he didn"t actually think that I had any part in all of it. "I"m going to go get us coffee, cream and sugar?" I didn"t give him the option, a small act of kindness from me would go a long way for someone in his situation right now.
Hurrying across the street to Selah Tea Café on the corner of Main St. and Appleton, I rushed inside, bought some coffee, and headed to the rear entrance of Back Door To The Moon, the thought made me chuckle.
"Okay, so I don"t know how you have felt about this in the past, but this will really help you right now." I calmly explained, I pulled out my pipe, filled with some bud. "It"ll help focus us, and keep us from getting overwhelmed."
Javier laughed out loud, a good belly shaking kind. "You and Carmen both, between the two of you I"ll be perpetually baked."
Carmen smoked too, cool. Didn"t really matter though, once I got answers and cleaned some, I would be getting back on that Greyhound and going anywhere else.
Passing my pipe six or seven times we both got into the zone. While we were in the middle of smoking he turned on some Bob Marley. "It only felt right." He defended, eyes half closed as he let out a big puff. I smirked with him.
After that, he and I just got down to cleaning up, getting all the wood and debris to the back dumpster, salvaging whatever books or trinkets we could, and cleaning out the glass and window panes.
"Once the dumpster is full I will call over a friend to have them Cast it away, make sure to sprinkle some of that grey sand as you add more trash into it." Javier explained, why I needed to do that, I didn"t know, and decided I didn"t care. I had bigger questions.
"So Supernaturals are real. Like, all of them?"
Javier and I both had big arm loads of debris that we were bringing out back, stepping through the now clean window, rather than walk all the way through the hallways out back. He gave me that curious look again, before answering. "Yes, of course, why does it seem like you don"t know?"
"I don"t know why you guys keep thinking I"m not human, I don"t know what any of this is! I don"t get at all what happened last night. That"s why I"m leaving, supernaturals? The first I heard about them other than in a Hollywood film was yesterday, you might argue the night before with Brad and Spencer." I indicated around me, this whole room and all that it represented from last night.
"Whoa. Yesterday you said?" He asked, I nodded. "Shit, that"s a lot. But how did you know the right words to say last night, and those two, Brad and Spencer, how did you get Yvonne to stop dead in her tracks?"
"I pieced together the lingo, and I took a gamble in threatening her like I did." I then shared my brief story of my woods endeavor with someone. This might be my only chance to, too. After that I got out my phone and I showed him the video.
"That scene on the little screen, shot in the dark and its blurry, and that"s what saved us." Javier was impressed.
"Is Maine the only place where these things exist?" I questioned, realized how that must sound, and stumbled over my words to correct my blunder. "I mean, Supers, Supe"s- is this the only place Supernaturals live?"
"You really don"t know, do you? Well you see, Branwood Forest located here in New City is like a beacon to Supe"s, particularly those that are loners or going it alone. Here in New City Supe"s have special protections and safety that they don"t have anywhere else in the world. Branwood draws Supe"s to it, and then houses them within it.
"You said that you went into the woods, and you talk about getting lost, that"s because you only knicked the surface of the land mass inside of those woods. You didn"t see the other river, and wouldn"t have for some potential hundreds of miles of walking."
Javier grinned, his pearly white teeth gleaming through. "Google Maps shows Branwood as a miles wide forest, with other woods close by, but not touching. If you go into Branwood, you enter into Supernatural territory, where the rules, cities, and life are all different. Within Branwood every potential living environment exists, and all of them simultaneously. Swamp next to desert, next to an ocean, every Supe" out there can find safety within Branwood."
"What about humans, wouldn"t they wonder why it takes HUNDREDS of miles to reach the river on the other side?" We carried more piles of junk to the dumpster, it was getting close to full. I sprinkled the sand over everything, and we went back for more shit.
"Humans are deterred from going into the meat of the woods, if they do go inside, different spells and charms will disorient them and make them believe that they hiked longer. Should any persist and go farther, well DOSCO wipes their minds." Javier looked angry at that, he went on before I could dwell on it too long. "The outlying woods, set farther back, closer to the river, are where humans are attracted, and on the back side of the woods, close to where the two woods meet by the water, warning signs are posted, claiming the land is treacherous and that it"s private property."
Things made a little more sense, that was why I got lost so quickly in the woods, and time had kind of warped, it was all the spell to keep humans out. "So, you"re saying that if you walk into Branwood, not the smaller woods, that you would end up walking for a couple hundred miles before you could actually reach the river on the other side? And in between are all these different living environments for every Supe" out there?!" I repeated back everything he said, just to make sure I was on the same page.
He nodded. "Well, I guess actually it"s all theoretical, I don"t know of anyone that has traversed from one side of Branwood to another. I know that maps are hard to come by, and even the best ones are inaccurate though. Lots of people have set out to make the quest, but as of yet, no one has returned. Creatures that live far back in the woods never make the journey this far out, so little is known past a certain point."
That made me get goose bumps. Unexplored land? Outside of Branwood most of the rest of the world had been explored, but there was still land in Branwood that was unchartered. That was unbelievably awesome! I could draw, to a degree. Maybe I should be the Map Maker, screw Canada, I have my own little Pokemon adventure to begin!
I let my mind run wild for a while as Javier and I meticulously gutted out everything that was ruined or beyond repair. The dumpster filled up fast, but all Javier had to do was make a quick call, and his friend came over. It turned out to be another Supe", this one was an Imp of some sort, a squat creature with a wrinkly face, and a single curved horn in the middle of his forehead.
The Imp, a fire imp I gathered by the small flame that appeared on the tip off his horn. Once the tip was on fire, he thrust out his hand, and the flame spewed outwards like a flame thrower. The wood caught fire inside the dumpster, and the whole pile whooshed up in flames, not touching the metal at all. The fire crackled with white flashes of brilliance, and at the end the embers all popped bright orange burst of light. It was pretty awesome actually, and it really helped me to solidify my belief in the extraordinary.
Realizing that I knew more about the woods than I did the man I was helping, I asked Javier some basics about himself. He would try to ask me some in return, but I would always counter with another question to him, before he knew it he would be distracted and telling me his life story.
Javier grew up the only child to Javier Gonzales Sr., his mum died in child birth, and together, Javier"s left Argentina, his birth country. They traveled up all of South America, into Central America, and then finally into America. It wasn"t till they were in Texas that they knew definitively where to head to follow Branwood"s magnetic pull. He shared a few stories of what it was like to grow up on the go, with no one but his dad. He claimed it was lonely, which I totally understand, but at least he had his father.
Then Javier reached his early teens, and magic was easier for him to manipulate, even though he had always been able to feel it. Javier Sr. was a mid-level witch before he burnt himself out on their travels to Maine, but he raised his son so that Javier Jr. knew exactly what to expect, and how to handle the power inside him.
"My dad always claimed that I would have double the power he did, and that I would make a mighty force to reckon with, one that would always fight for the good of people." Javier finished his story, but then got a little chocked up. "But my dad is dead now, and my power is forever gone. I"ve really failed him."
My heart sank. I didn"t have words to speak, I didn"t even know what one could say. I just radiated comforting energy instead. I had heard that friends sometimes didn"t need you to say the right thing, so much as they just needed you there. I was hoping this was one of those times, and I wasn"t just making us stew in awkward silence.
"Enough on that. You must be starving. Let"s call it quits for today. I"ll treat you to The Madd House, that way you can at least say good bye to Carmen. I already called some Supe" plumbers and electricians from Vahal, and they will come out tomorrow to assess and fix the damage, and then after I have a Tree Spirit friend that will rebuild my store. Thank you so much for your help."
Glancing around it was only half done. We had made a lot of progress, but there was still so much left to do. It had taken two of us working all day to get the half done that we did.
"Fuck it, I"ll stay one more night, and help you clean tomorrow morning so the plumbers and electricians can get to everything they have to." I decided on a whim. That was the best part about living my life, I got to choose when to stay and when to go, I made the calls, and I was calling this one.
Javier didn"t say anything at first, but he smiled at me appreciatively. That was that. "Grab a coat, let"s go to the bar!"
With that we left the store, he made sure to lock it up tight. As he was securely bolting the back door I noticed a half circle of stained glass adorned door way above it. The glass had odd shapes and symbols emblazoned in the middle. I didn"t know what any of them meant, but I did recognize a few from the "Co-Exist" campaign. The kind you see on bumper stickers.
"Does the door matter that much?" I asked, pointing with my thumb over my right shoulder to the bay window on the back side of the store. Yesterday it had been filled with a brilliant green and blue stained glass master piece. It had been shot through, leaving the window frame empty, but after Javier and I had finished for the night, we stapled down a brown tarp to keep people from seeing in. The front window had an enchantment cast on it, so passerby"s couldn"t see any odd behavior inside, the back one had never needed one, and now Javier was powerless, so he couldn"t do anything about it. The tarp was as much as we could do, nailing in a board would have been counterproductive, in the am window fitters were coming.
Javier looked were I was pointing, and then sighed, remembering painfully.
Thanks KT for the continued comments! I appreciate the feedback! I promise I am trying to read more of other people's writings, i just have a ton on my plate right now. Thanks for reading and rating!