As I explained here, I will be using this blog to develop a story I’m working on. If you haven’t read the opening scene of Chapter 1, stop what you’re doing and read it here! The rest of this post won’t make sense without it.
Below is what happens next. Just as a side note, I don’t have a title for the story yet so if you have some ideas after you read this, please let me know in the comments. Thanks and enjoy!
After walking for a few minutes behind the woman in silence, the man spoke up.
“By the way, my name is Max.”
“Andie,” the woman replied, glancing over her shoulder without breaking her stride. Her brisk pace made Max feel like he was walking with a bodyguard.
“Andie, um, the police station is actually the other way,” Max continued after silence from Andie, “I work there. We can talk to some of my buddies.” He felt if he could make it to the station, to a familiar setting, and explain what just happened out loud, it would all make sense.
Andie didn’t respond nor did she change direction. Thinking the sound of the rain muffled his voice, Max spoke up a little louder.
“Hey, Andie. The police station is that way.”
Andie stopped in her tracks and turned to face him. Max was surprised to see that she looked tired.
“What do you think that was?” Andie asked.
The cuts on Max’s face smarted in the rain.
“I don’t know!” he yelled out of frustration, but Andie didn’t flinch or retort angrily, she simply raised her eyebrow. Instantly, Max felt embarrassed for yelling at a stranger who had just saved his life. His body sank in defeat as he leaned toward her, “I don’t know what I just saw, do you?” Max asked quietly.
She sighed, “I know someone who can explain.”
That cryptic answer did not sit well with Max. He raised his voice again, “Where are you taking me?”
Andie didn’t answer. Instead she turned left and quickly descended a flight of concrete steps leading below the sidewalk. Max fingered the pistol Andie had returned to him before following her down.
The stairs led to a landing in front of a large cast iron gate beyond which lay a stone corridor lit with small lit sconces. The long hallway lead to a large intricately carved wooden door. Andie began rifling through her backpack and extracted a set of jangling keys, selecting a silver one and jamming it into the lock. It refused to turn.
“Damn it!” She selected another silver key and tried with the same result. She paused to compose herself before choosing another key. This time she was met with success.
She opened the gate and motioned for Max to go through first and made sure to carefully close the gate behind her. He paused, wondering how foolhardy it would be to go down a darkened corridor with a very strong woman he’d just met. But curiosity fueled by the three vodka sodas he had earlier got the better of him. The click of the lock echoing through the long passageway unnerved Max but he did not betray his police officer training. He quickly began examining the scene and noticed there were smaller wooden doors all along the corridor, each carved with a unique design. He stopped at one door with a symbol etched into it in the shape of a book.
“Max!” Andie hissed, his name echoed through the hall.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. Andie halfway down the hall and was standing near the large wooden door at the end of the passageway. She looked annoyed.
Max thought they were going to go through the large door in front of them but Andie turned to a door on the right with the symbol of a crossed arrow and sword. She unlocked the door on the first try this time.
Max waited a beat before following Andie into the space. He shook himself mentally to prepare himself in case he needed to use force and stepped across the threshold. The sight beyond the door made him gasp.
They were standing on top of a long flight of steps. Beyond them was a cavernous stone room with high vaulted ceilings. Below them was equipment what looked to Max like a cross between circus equipment and hi-tech gym machines. Above them, thick wooden balance beams and trapezes, the kind gymnasts use, crisscrossed each other with net below.
Andie made her way hurriedly down the steps without looking back to see if Max was following her.
“Hey Andie, what are you doing back? I thought Wallace let you go early.” A young woman with skin the color of mahogany approached her from a wide circular rubber mat on the floor.
“Sarah, where’s Wallace? I need to talk to him. Something happened.” Andie rushed.
“What do you me–” Sarah caught sight of Max, still at the top of the stairs, marveling at the inventions above and below. “WHO is that?!” Sarah exclaimed.
“Sh! Keep your voice down. I need to find Wallace!” Andie pleaded. Sarah nodded and ran to fetch him.
“Wait, who are you?!” shouted another voice at Max from across the training floor. Max snapped out of his awe and looked down towards the sound. The voice came from a young man with blonde hair and an angular face, who had begun walking towards Max. Andie quickly cut him off before he could reach the stairs.
“Relax, Jack. I brought him here. Something’s happened. I have to talk to Wallace. This guy was –” Jack tried to side step Andie who blocked him again. This time she shoved him. “He’s with me. Something’s not right, and I need to talk to Wallace.”
Jack grimaced before retreating, carefully eyeing the intruder. Andie knew Jack wouldn’t let this go but she had other things on her mind. She looked up at Max who slowly walked down the steps towards her.
By the time he reached her, a door on the far corner of the room swung open, and out stepped a grey haired man. He was well-built with broad shoulders and a strong chest.
“Andie, I thought you were heading home.” Wallace spoke softly.
“I was waiting for the train when this guy –” Andie gesticulated to Max.
“It’s Max.” He replied.
“Yeah, he was attacked by a Moledaemon. Look at his face.” Andie pointed.
All three turned to stare at Max. He didn’t understand the word she just used and fidgeted uncomfortably before offering, “It only had three fingers.”
“That’s why I brought him here.” Andie replied. “Wallace, it crawled up from the subway and tried to take this guy –”
“Max.” Max interrupted.
Andie ignored him. “I killed it, of course, but someone needs to check with the Mole People.”
Now Mole People was something Max understood. As a cop and someone without a car, he had encountered homeless people who lived in the subway system on a daily basis, and had even heard rumors of there being colonies of people, or Mole People, who lived under the tracks.
“That was a Mole person?” Max asked, relieved.
“Good thing you were there, Andie,” Wallace said. “I’ll send a message to the Mole People alerting them of the situation. You should escort him back to his apartment immediately.”
“That’s it?” Andie moved closer to Wallace.
“If The High Council finds out about your friend here, there will be an inquiry as to why you saw it fit to bring him to the training center. I’d like to avoid that, Andie. Especially given the current climate.” Wallace’s face was grim.
Andie felt her outraged at her dismissal and began rallying up arguments in her mind but then a better idea crept into her mind. She decided against arguing. “Fine. I’ll take him home.”
“Thank you. And I’d appreciate your discretion.” Wallace nodded at Sarah and Jack.
“I won’t say a word if this means I get to go home.” Sarah said hopefully.
“By all means.”
“Great.” Sarah walked towards the stairs but paused to whisper in Andie’s ear, “Call me when you drop this guy off.”
Jack, though, didn’t move.
“And what are we going to do about him?” Jack pointed at Max who opened his mouth to repeat his name but Jack cut him off, “I don’t care what your name is!” he hissed viciously. “We can’t just let him walk off after what he’s seen and I’m not talking about this supposed Moledaemon.”
There was that word again that Max didn’t understand, Weren’t we talking about Mole People? he thought
“So what should I have done?” Andie rounded on Jack.
“Let him go home, obviously. You didn’t need to bring him here,” he countered.
“What difference does it make to you?” Andie threw back at him.
“You’ve compromised the whole system!” Jack yelled exasperatedly.
Andie threw her hands up, “No one’s going to believe him anyway.” She turned to Max, “Are you going to tell people what you saw tonight?”
Max shook his head vigorously, he decided it was best to side with her because she looked dangerous in her current agitated state.
“Exactly,” said Andie as if this concluded the discussion.
“It doesn’t matter if he’s going to say anything, it’s a matter of safety,” Jack said as if he were speaking to a child.
“Whose safety? I brought him here because he was attacked by something that shouldn’t even be out. It’s our job to keep them safe,” Andie waved her hand at Max. “This is what we train for or would you rather not get your hands dirty?”
Jack stepped closer to Andie who immediately straightened up and balled her fists. She was tired and frustrated but Jack had always been difficult and punching him would be a great stress reliever.
“Enough.” Wallace, who had been watching the exchange with bemusement, finally interrupted. “Jack, I’m not angry that Andie brought this man here.” Max quietly wondered if they’d ever learn his name. “She brought him to the safest location she knows. Now, Andie, kindly take this gentleman back home.”
“C’mon.” Andie put a hand on Max’s shoulder and led him up the stairs.
“Andie?” Wallace called after her.
She stopped and turned to look down at him.
“Take a cab.”
. . .
Back out onto the street, Andie began walking down the block toward an alleyway where she knew she could find them. She noticed Max was walking as close to possible to her, almost at her heels. She felt pity for him. He seemed like a nice guy, a run of the mill type, who’d probably wake up the next morning, push the night’s events into the recesses of his mind, and carry on his life as normal. She almost envied him.
“We’ll walk up to the next avenue. It’ll be easier to catch a cab there. What’s your address?” She asked kindly.
Max gave her his address in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
“I have to stop here for a second.”
Andie had found the spot she was looking for. A dark little alley behind an apartment building packed with dumpsters and trashcans. She grabbed onto the little gate separating it from the sidewalk and began making clicking sounds as if calling something. Max moved back a few paces. There was some movement among the refuse and two big city rats came scurrying up to the gate. Max moved back a few more paces until he was almost off the curb.
Andie knelt down, almost eye level to the rats, and whispered something. Both rats raised up on their hinders and nodded their little rat heads to show they understood and scampered back.
“Did you just talk to some rats?” Max’s eyes were still bulging from the scene he just encountered.
“They understand English for the most part.” Andie began walking toward the brightly lit avenue.
Max remembered something he had wanted to ask, “So that thing was a mole person? Man, the city really needs to do something about them.”
“No, what attacked you was a Moledaemon. The Mole People are charged with protecting the outside world from those creatures.”
“Sorry?” Max felt the air deflate from his lungs.
“Moledaemons are . . . well, they are creatures that live under the earth. And there are a lot in New York City, because back in the 1900s, when subways were being built, the drilling released these creatures from the places where they lived.” Andie said this all very quickly without looking at Max. She paused for a moment but he didn’t respond to this pronouncement so she continued. “They can’t survive being in the light of day so they attack anyone they can and use their bodies as hosts. They can’t stay in one body too long so they jump from one person to the next, that is, until we find them.”
Andie turned to see Max’s reaction. He was even closer to Andie now.
“Don’t worry. Moledaemons haven’t been seen for a very long time. Until now, I guess. The Mole People were sent to force these creatures back underground.”
“Homeless people were sent to fight those things?” Max was incredulous, the more information he got, the more confused he became.
Andie rolled her eyes. “The Mole People are guardians of the underground. New York City has the largest dwelling of Mole People on account of the subway.” She noticed the blank stare she was receiving.
“Right, let’s get a cab first and I’ll explain.” They had reached the avenue and Andie put out her hand to hail a cab.
“Should you be telling me this?” Max asked.
Andie hesitated, “Probably not. But I don’t want you to be scared. There are a lot of forces out here to protect you.” Privately, she thought he wouldn’t believe her anyway. A cab came speeding down and stopped in front of them. Andie let Max get in first as she took off her backpack. He gave the cabbie his address while Andie got in and began rummaging in the pockets on the outside of the bag.
“Here,” she pulled out a small white bottle, “Put this on your wounds.” Max took the bottle out of her hands and squeezed out a clear jelly like substance. The smell was light and almost familiar, he smeared it on his face without looking. The liquid cooled his bruises.
“Is it, like, a potion?”
“It’s aloe vera.”
“Oh,” Max felt silly.
“We’re not wizards. They usually live in the outer boroughs. More space to grow keep a garden.” Andie said matter of factly.
“Of course.” Max thought it best to just agree. He checked to see if the cabbie was listening to their conversation but the driver has headphones in his ear blasting music. “Uh, so you were telling me about the Mole People . . .”
“Yes, right. They’re part of a larger network of guardians who protect this world.” Andie said
“What do you mean this world?” Max asked.
“This is one world. The world you live in here. And there’s another world right next to it. On the same plane. Just on the other side with other beings. And we guardians keep the balance between the two worlds,” Andie explained.
Max sat in stunned silence. And then he started to laugh, first just a soft chuckle, and then into full blown guffaws.
“Ok. Yeah, right. That’s just fucking ridiculous. ” He said when he caught his breathe.
Andie sighed and then smiled, “You asked.”
Max side-eyed her and then decided not to invite further conversation. They were over the bridge into Brooklyn now and close to this apartment. He had completely sobered up and was starting to became uneasy. Now she would know where he lived and she obviously was either playing him or unhinged.
They were a few blocks away from his apartment when he asked the cabbie to pull over, “You can stop here, I can walk. It turns into a one-way up ahead anyway.”
Andie didn’t say anything as the car pulled over to the curb and Max got out.
“Um, so thanks for the ride. Here.” Max poked his head back into the cab and pulled out some cash from his pocket.
“No, don’t worry about it. It’s all part of my job.” She said wryly.
Max left the money on the seat and shut the door. The taxi made a u-turn and drove away. He had walked to his apartment building when he realized he was still holding the bottle of aloe vera. He turned the bottle in his hands and then lobbed as far as he could and didn’t wait to see where it landed.
. . .