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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Thanks for the feedback KT!
As soon as he was done, we were off, but not north on Main St. like I had thought, but rather back towards the way I had come. This can"t be right, I thought, I walked this path earlier, nothing but homes and forest. No bar, tavern, or even a small Chinese restaurant. But figuring he knew the area better than I did, I went along with him.
"I guess working helped me to not think about things, but I have a few questions now;" I ventured, still not sure of where Javier and my friendship/acquaintanceship started and ended.
"Wait till we get there. Then I"ll explain." He smiled at me, and the warmth and genuineness of it caught me off guard. It is not an occurrence one comes across while running away from home and ducking close connections.
So I walked beside him like an obedient dog. The sky shined with the light of millions of stars above us. There wasn"t a cloud in the dark night that I could see. The moon was radiant, despite it only being about half full. As we walked along I breathed deeply, inhaling the coming fall air. It was well on its way, and I found that made me giddy.
As Javier and I quietly strolled down the street, I realized that this was the exact way that I would walk home. Granted there weren"t many streets in this small Maine town, but I knew for a fact there weren"t any bars close to the house I was squatting in. I was about to ask where we were going, when we veered off the road to a small trail. It connected the corner of Cushman St, where NC High was located, to the road that lead to the bank, the one I took to get to the LeClaire house. The trail passed over a large creek, a simple, but elegant wooden bridge spanned the width, a small plaque on the railing claimed that Matt Reynolds of The Boy Scouts of America Troop 443, constructed the bridge in 2008 for his Eagle project.
I had been over this bridge 30 times, large mounds of earth rose up on either side of the it, with water passing under, twisting the trail a little, making it hard to see too far in front of us. Javier had his phone out with the flash light app on, guiding our way. Our feet clomped on the bridge, before we stepped back to cold ground. Following the trail as it twisted to the right, I kept striding forward, when Javier stopped. I didn"t stop in time and I smacked into him, watching as he assessed the mid-sized drainage pipe, with bars down the front. I backed away from him and straightened my clothes, trying not to act awkward.
I was about to ask what we were doing, when he held his hand out in front of him, as if to touch the bars, but he didn"t make to take hold of them. There was an uncomfortable pause, when the bars shimmered, and an old oaken door appeared, a sign swaying in the night air above the door.
My mouth fell open.
Javier let out a huge sigh. "Whoa, I was afraid it wouldn"t work."
"What do you mean?" I asked absently, I was too busy taking in the magically appearing door and sign.
The sign was cherry wood, or some similarly dark pink tree, with wood burnings creating a painting. It was supported and rooted to the wall above the door by cast iron beams, each intricately weaved and twisted giving it a chaotic look. But that was only accentuated by the wood burnings itself.
A toad sat at the bottom of the sign, all in black with pink of the cherry beneath, the toad"s eyes were cross-eyed looking upwards at what first appeared to be a hat, but upon closer examination, turned out to be a house designed into the hat, as it sat atop the toads head. The house, that was also a hat, was crooked and twisted, and had irregular and scattered windows that were lopsided and slanted. Some of the windows were open, a few had small designs of people, a couple waving, a boy falling out of one, a mother spanking a child in another. The toad and the hat/house made sense when you read what the sign had printed, "The Madd House," with two "˜"˜D"s"
Despite the intricate beauty of the sign, there was no denying that it was, in fact, a truly mad picture.
"Well, my witches ability was taken, so I wasn"t sure if this door would recognize me. It works off of heat signature, Supe"s have a special kind, any supernatural being that walks close enough to this would be able to open it." Closing his eyes, he whispered. "Thank god I can still get in, I don"t know what I would have done if I hadn"t been able to."
Taking my gaze from the sign still slowly rocking back and forth in the wind, I looked over to my companion. He had tears in his eyes, but they were held at bay. I had met him at a tragic time in his life. I didn"t think too hard on it though.
Smiling despite his teary eyes, he led the way inside, with me toeing after.
* * *
Inside the door lead to an old tavern style bar, that was as creatively and elaborately decorated as the sign marking the establishment. Floor, ceiling, and all four walls were made with a dark oak wood. The walls had unique and artistic moldings casing the wall to ceiling and wall to floor. It looked like the molding had at one time been gilded in gold, but that over the countless years it had faded and chipped away, leaving only the faint impression of its former glory.
The drainage pipe entrance opened into a small coat room, hangers lining the wall, benches under both filled most of the room. Leaving our jackets there, we walked into the opening to the main room. To our left was a casual lounging area, some chess tables were set up, one of which was being used by two older; creatures? Supe was probably the better projective. The wall next to them wasn"t a wall at all, but a lattice work partition that had dark red and green leafy vines growing up the side of it.
Peering through the plants and lattice I could just make out a dark room on the other side. Hammocks were set up in the middle of the room, with some old fashion bunks along the sides. A couple small candles lit the area. It looked like the only current occupant was a pile of sticks and leaves swaying in one of the hammocks.
I followed Javier farther into the building, as I got a view of the beautiful tavern. A large and elaborate door faced me, Javier explained that it was the Branwood Entrance, the one Supe"s used. Two large fire places adorned the left wall, chairs and sofas set up in front of them. These chairs weren"t normal though, every chair was of different size, color, angle, and position. Some chairs hung in impossible directions were no one would be able to sit, yet one dark haired Supe sat cross legged on a large lounge chair, nearly upside down, but they stayed in! The hair even hung at a normal sitting position.
Another set of people sat in chairs that were suspended from the ceiling, up high, with people sitting in them. How they got there, I wasn"t sure, but maybe they were able to fly. I watched in amazement as the bar maid, who I quickly recognized as Carmen, delivered two large pints of frothy beer. Standing under the table suspended from the high ceiling above her, she simply reached the beers out, and they started to lift from her hands, were they rose up to the table, and passed through it, coming to a rest in front of the customers.
"Welcome to the Madd House, an establishment that boasts it hasn"t closed its doors in over 600 years!" Announced Javier, even opening up his dark tan arms and sweeping them around in a dramatic fashion.
600 years?! That"s a hundred years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue! I stuck my hands in my pockets nervously, and peered around a little. "What is this place? And why have I never seen it by the drainage pipe?" I mumbled shyly.
"All that and more will be answered today! But first, cerveza!" Javier announced, walking towards Carmen who had turned to see us.
Carmen flipped her tray out behind her, and hugged Javier as they came together. She whispered something to him, what, I couldn"t hear, before he nodded, and she rubbed his back, her long nails dragging on his spin, before the broke apart. Carmen walked back towards the bar, indicating with a wave we should follow. With that, Javier grabbed my arm, and pulled me into the tavern. Finding a vacant seat he heaved himself into one of the bar stools with no back. He was sitting at the end of right side of the bar, forcing me to sit to his left in one of the seats that had a humungous back to it. I pulled it out wearily, not sure if the top heavy seat would cause the whole chair to topple backwards. However the chair didn"t seem to require any special care, even if it was twice as heavy as most.
Apparently I was making a face, because Javier started to laugh, "Don"t worry hombre, it won"t fall over, this place is enchanted. So things that don"t happen out in the "˜real" world, can happen here."
Finally taking a seat, I sat down next to Javier, twisting the seat to the right so I could see him better. Carmen came up around the side of the counter towards us, setting her tray down, she looked up at me with a smirk. "If it isn"t the wonder menace in the flesh."
I gaped at her, I wasn"t sure what to say. She was just teasing, I knew. I wanted to come up with a clever response, but I found that while looking into her crystal blue eyes, that any other thoughts were meaningless. I was really starting to zone out, her eyes were gorgeous and alluring, I could look at them all night.
"Are you Swaying him?!" Javier asked, only sounding a little shocked.
Carmen rolled her eyes, "I don"t trust him, last night was too bizarre, tell me Wonder Menace, why did none of that shit start till after you entered the scene?"
"Don"t accost mi amigo like that Carmen, come on. Chill."
My thoughts raced back, it was almost as if I could feel my synapses connecting again. I felt I had been stopped from forming thoughts before I had even started. And when I finally could think again, they all raced back at once, and I realized I almost shared my secret of my past. Not kosher.
"Like I told Javier earlier, I have no prior knowledge of-" whispering the word I went on, "Supernaturals."
Carmen laughed out loud. "You can say "˜Supernatural" out loud here, all of us are." She turned the conversation back to the original topic. "It"s too much of a coincidence, how everything connect."
"I have no fuckin" clue, and that"s the damned truth." I let my irritation show. Carmen sensed it, and didn"t push.
"What will you two boys be having?" She finally asked, switching subjects to something less tense.
"Have you ever had a Pumpkin Head?" Javier questioned, when I replied no, he ordered two, promising I would love it with the brown sugar rim. He also asked for some food menus. "Supe"s came all the way from Vahal to eat here," Javier informed me.
I wasn"t sure where that was, but I trusted it was good, it smelled great coming through the back service window.
Carmen approached us at the bar carrying two pints of Shipyards Pumpkin Head, setting them in front of Javier and I. My eyes lingered on her round ass, but realized that she noticed, our eyes met for a second, until I turned away bashfully. I haven"t spent significant time with other people recently, and I"m afraid that it was painfully obvious.
"So are we all just playing a game where we pretend like we weren"t kidnapped, interrogated, and barely escaped with our lives, let alone our memories, last night?" Carmen asked, popping her own beer, taking a big swig of the liquid.
"Good, I"m glad that someone else brought that up, I felt like such a pain asking all those questions today." I directed at Javier.
It was Carmen that replied though, in her charming way. "Don"t think you"re not." I contorted my face at her, she laughed, before looking out the back service window, no one was there, so she came closer.
"How is it that you were able to shut Yvonne down like that? Who are those two, Brad and Spencer, why did they matter so much to her?" She inquired, Javier patiently waited too.
I got out my cell phone and showed Carmen the footage. I told her what little I knew about the other two, but I couldn"t answer as to why they were so important.
"Did either of you recognize my expert manipulation?" Carmen turned herself profile to us, tilting her head up towards the ceilings, arching her eye brow at us. We both shook our heads, she clicked her tongue like Roro, but seemed happy enough to tell us. "I played Yvonne like a harp."
"How so?" Javier was as confused as me.
"Yvonne Tereshchenko, she is the head of supernatural and humans relations, as well as a prominent member on many boards at DOSCO. She"s Ukrainian born, but I would guess hasn"t been home in a while, there was long time yearning when she spoke of it. In order to be as high up as she is in rank, she has to be in her forties, at best. She trained in martial arts, so she is highly active and fit, so she could easily be older than I am thinking, but not younger. Her hand was stilled by the threat of breaking The Conformity Treaty, so that tells us that she is a left brain thinker, the Law means more to her, than the ones they are supposed to protect. It can be dangerous to deal with people like that, unless you can appeal to their logical side, emotions won"t win her over. They were keeping us at DOSCO, in their official offices underground, we were on the edge of some serious shit, and we barely kept from toppling over."
"Whoa." Javier and I breathed out together. I am sure that I could have pieced that together, some of it at least, but Carmen was the one that had sparked the information to begin with.
"What is DOSCO anyway?" I may feel like a pest always asking questions, but I still wanted to know. "Department of Supernatural Cooperation and Organization, but what does that mean exactly?"
"Cooperation? No, it"s Department of Supernatural Control and Organization." Carmen corrected, tapping my hand with hers.
"Oh, I could have sworn that Yvonne said "˜cooperation."" I thought back, it was all a blur though, so much had happened.
Removing her hands from mine, she went on. My heart beat faster, it was only a little body contact, but at least it was something. Now the area where her hands had been laid were longingly cold, and it made me want to reach out and grab onto her hands for dear life. "DOSCO came in some years back, no one is sure when they made their roots, most think in the last 60 to 70 years, alongside the development of the CIA and secret service, but there are myths that say they date back as far as the founding of the town in 1776.
"Because of Branwood"s unique beacon system, Supe"s of all kinds are attracted to the area. DOSCO claims to be the defense between Supe and human. They try to convince us that they prevent 99% of Supe crime, and that they have 100% of the time stopped the media from getting wind of Maine, or its special "˜quirk". I would bet that that is why Yvonne held back from pushing us too far, she didn"t want to be the one responsible for allowing media to get a hold of the video that you have. God, I just realized I don"t know your name."
That"s when it dawned on me, I hadn"t introduced myself to either her or Javier, and we had worked together all day! It just had never come up, we hadn"t had to use each-others names, but I already knew theirs from hearing them say one another"s.
"Awkward. I"m Neil." I shared my name. "So, who knows about DOSCO? Do the locals? If they have been here so long you would think they would have seen something."
Javier shook his head. "No humans that I know of, knows that DOSCO exists. Supe"s only know about them, because they make us agree to live life by their terms here. I would guess that maybe some high up locals in the government know, maybe the police chief, but it is kept very hush hush."
"What about like, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts? They must attack humans sometimes, how does DOSCO cover it up?"
Carmen got suddenly upset, and threw her hands up in despair, "Why"s it always about the fucking vampires. There are other god damn supernatural creatures out there. Explore them people!"
Blood rushed to my cheeks, I was embarrassed for another damn time.
"Relax, she just gets intense about Specie Discrimination." Javier said comfortingly.
"So what are you then?" I asked Carmen innocently enough, but Carmen dropped her jaw, disgusted, and Javier paled slightly. My cheeks got redder. What the hell did I do wrong this time? I desperately implored.
Pointing her finger at me threateningly, she walked up, and leaned in closer "Never," she began, "Ask a Supe what they are. Especially saying "˜what" and not "who." I am a person, not a fucking animal."
Javier jumped to my defense. "Chill chica, this is all new to him, the first thing he knew about our kind was when a Sorcerer attacked us in my store last night. Give him a break."
"You guys are such a touchy feely- lovey group, aren"t you." I let the sarcasm roll off my tongue.
"What do you mean?" Javier questioned.
"Roro at the store-." I realized I didn"t want to talk about that, I had no business ratting on her to her boss, even if he was my age and seemed pretty chill. I could tell them about my first night here though. "SFN or whatever, they welcomed me with three gun shots my first night here."
Carmen shrank back, but still had a venomous look on her face. "Some Supe"s just don"t like others prying into their race. If they don"t offer up what they are, don"t ask. Not all supernaturals are treated the same by others."
I was too proud to apologize, and wasn"t experienced enough in it to even want to try. Carmen glared at me like she had Yvonne last night, I pointedly looked anywhere but at her, chugging down my beer, forcing her to go get another one.
"What was that you said about SFN?" Javier asked.
I then told them the story, all of it, there was no reason to lie. I did down play my panic attack some, I didn"t make it seem as if Lacreshia had completely saved my life, just assisted. Pride again.
"Shit hombre! Be careful with the SFN, they mean business when they mark someone a target!"
"Javier"s right, look at us, we are "˜Spiks" in their books, or "˜Niggars" depending how drunk and incompetent the individual harassing us."
"Consider me marked." I took a big ass swig of cerveza. I didn"t say anything else, just sat in silence facing forwards.
"To answer your question," Javier tried to move back to less sensitive ground, "werewolves are pack animals, because of their bond to one another, they don"t feel the magnetic pull of Branwood. Ghosts don"t actually exist. It seems that maybe at one time what we call "˜ghosts" did exist, but they don"t anymore. Vampires are a different story."
Carmen came back, with my second beer, sliding it to me angrily. She was a moody one.
Javier went on, "Vampires have always been kind of an enigma on other Supe"s, no one looked on them favorably. They almost went extinct several times throughout history, the last purge started in the 90"s when there was a sudden swelling of numbers. They came to the attention off humans even, and up rose vampire hunters.
"Most humans disregarded what the news was saying about the undead, but the ones that did believe all raced to have the most fangs draped around their necks. I"ve heard that even though the vampires are pretty much gone, small factions of vampire hunters are still in operation, and wait for the undead to slip up and reveal itself. They are said to be a merciless group." Javier had an awesome orators voice, even with the accent, he belonged on radio.
"So what brought you to Maine, Neil, where are you from?"
I hesitantly responded, I could tell Carmen didn"t trust me, but I didn"t really trust her either. It took a compulsive liar to spot a compulsive liar. "I mean, I don"t know, I have always wanted to come to Maine." Javier now looked at me like Carmen was, like some lab experiment they were observing.
"Why?" Javier"s single syllable seemed to cut me down to my core.
"Why?" I stupidly repeated, "I just have always wanted to come to Maine. For lobster and shit, you must know the deal. Maine is Vacationland after all."
Javier seemed to relax slightly, the answer satisfying enough for him. Carmen continued to hound me. "Don"t you think it is weird that, along with all other Supernatural beings, you felt the same tug to come to Maine?"
I had no idea what to say, sure, I felt pulled to Maine, even to the point that I would get physically sick. But I wouldn"t say that out loud. After all, there is no way that I am a Supernatural being!!! "Not all tourists that come to Maine are Supe"s, are they?" I drilled back.
Carmen finally shrugged, realizing that she was pressing a dying movement. "All I"m saying is that it"s a little weird."
We sat there is silence for a while. Finally Javier broke the silence, after sipping from his beer. "Are you gonna take our order or what?"
Carmen held up her left middle finger with particular practiced grace. Javier gave a soft chuckle. I wanted to ask more questions about Supe"s and their powers, different kinds that were out there, different "˜ghost stories" that parents told their kids. How many of them were real?
I sat back drinking from my beer instead, relaxing a little. Even though the situation was beyond crazy, it was good to have a couple of people to talk to. Supe"s, I corrected, not people. That wasn"t that bizarre of a thought to me, surprisingly. I was still planning on leaving in two days, but for the first time in years I felt like I could put my boots up, and rest a while, and I wanted to savor every moment.