Yeah, I'd seen the abyss, and found myself wondering why the hell anyone would make a career of staring into the portal of deviance and depravity that couldn't have but one bottom ... but hearing Gordon's casual comment about how the local Gatekeeper for the supernatural felt it was proper to seal creatures beneath the earth over a thousand feet down gave me a queasy feeling. I had not really thought the whole abyss thing through, so it would seem from hearing Gordon's tale; the supposed 'wise' Gatekeeper had twisted the possibilities of what could happen, and had made a horrific executive decision. One of my kind had possibly been forced into captivity in the salt mines below Michigan. Once I added in the information I'd uncovered from the journal I'd read, he'd mostly likely died there. So naturally that meant I had jump into the mix and see if there was anything bright and shiny below the crust. I was now starting to get the feeling that I may have bitten off quite a bit more than I could even begin to chew, much less swallow.
Gordon watched the fleeting expression of revulsion wash quickly from my face, then he offered, "Esmeralda, as I said, this wasn't some whim of a fool. Supernatural and humans alike were being ground literally to dust and bones. They had no way of containing by recognized methods some of the magical creatures that were caught. The decision was made and blood was spilled to enchant the cages and seal off the chambers, before all of mankind found out that what creatures slept under their beds were the least of the nightmares."
Riley looked at me and said, "Told you Gordon knew his sh -- stuff." I noticed he'd been ready to use a swear word when the other werewolf caught his eyes. Gordon looked handsome and approachable but there was something lurking in his eyes that definitely kept me in line. Riley was having the same reaction. But then he'd invited Gordon to the dance, not me.
They both had slowed down their eating, but I wasn't going to risk trying to remove their bowls just yet. Werewolves could eat a tremendous amount of food, much to my rapidly growing dismay. The blizzard outside hadn't even begun to subside and I wasn't looking forward to having nothing to offer them. Thankfully I did have a backup choice. I was more than capable of literally disappearing if push came to teeth. Uncle Harry would be pissed, but it was always a backup plan.
"He sure does." I calmly answered, wondering how Gordon thought I was going to get into the mines. I knew I was going to pop myself down, but it wasn't something had I ever shared and I knew that Riley hadn't, because Uncle Harry would never have sent him if he thought the werewolf would blab. I was growing nervous as I caught Gordon staring at me. I knew better than to let him catch my gaze. I hadn't been around vampires for years unassaulted to simply give my mind to the first old werewolf I met. The fairytales and stories about creatures able to control humans through just a glance weren't made up in the least. Self-preservation kept my eyes respectfully downcast most times I was around vampires and werewolves. I didn't like the subservient routine, but it was better than becoming a main course or worse. I'd seen some 'or worse' in my life; I had no desire to become the cautionary tale for nighttime bed stories.
"After the remaining humans were convinced to leave, and the creatures that weren't a flight risk were moved elsewhere, the decision was made to protect all creatures from any more incidents. The Gatekeeper was walled in with the remaining supernaturals, and the werewolves in Michigan tasked with keeping the mine closed."
Okay my creepy meter hit through the roof with that disclosure of the Gatekeeper's location. Obviously the plan to wall in creatures for humanity and general safety ended up coming back to haunt that occupation. I suppressed a shudder that I couldn't blame on the slight chill remaining in the room.
"And from what Riley said, and your presence, it appears that that is about to change. Am I correct?" Again I noticed that Gordon seemed to be cut from another age and definitely was choosing his words carefully.
I nodded and said, "It's been purchased by some huge conglomerate that plans on reopening the mines for commerce and as sort of a historical museum. There was also some speculation that older areas were going to be used to store either weapons or toxic waste." I was compelled to tell this werewolf the honest truth through nothing magical, just the knowledge that if what he was saying was true, there could be a really bad incident or two really soon.
Growling lightly, Gordon got up from his chair and began to pace. It seemed to be a trait with werewolves -- it didn't matter how much space was available, they had to move once agitated. Riley began to remove the bowls from the table without being asked. I guess he did have some manners.
Putting a forefinger to his lips Gordon tapped his chin while pacing and thinking. "Your method of getting down to the mines?" He turned to me, catching me by surprise, and I was suddenly unable to look away from his piercing stare. Damn, his eyes were sparkling and glistening with untold thoughts. I knew instantly he had some idea of what or who I was. Either question was not crossing my lips despite the stare.
"Fast in and out," I replied earnestly. I could feel him trying hard to push into my thoughts and I constructed a nice solid wall on anything of substance and began to picture fluffy kittens and roly-poly puppy dogs. His eyes widened and he shook his head.
"Riley, you really did hold out on me." His voice had more of a growl in it than I cared for. The nape of my neck was itching as the hairs rose straight up with the basic instinctive flee or flight adrenaline whipping through me.
"Gordon, we were in the middle of a burning building. What would you have suggested we do? Sit down in the flames and chat?" Riley diverted Gordon's focus with a snicker. He came back to the table and finished clearing the dishes. Amazingly, he then turned his back to us and began soaping the dishes and running water over the bubbling mess he was making.
Gordon stopped abruptly and spun back to me. "You could easily die down there, do you know that?"
I nodded and shrugged because I was still thinking my window of opportunity was closing faster than I'd anticipated. There was no way that Gordon wouldn't tell his werewolf friends about the mine reopening, and remind them of what had happened the last time it had been running. He hadn't exactly given me much information, but my over-active imagination was more than capable of filling in the unspoken blanks.
"What can I say to dissuade you from this ill-planned trip?" He asked sincerely, while standing closer to me than before. I could smell my own bath soap on him along with the faint scent of warm male. The smoke and wet dog aroma were thankfully gone. I wasn't a fan of that smell in the least. Sadly it wasn?t my first brush with the scents. But admittedly my life was really different than most folks.
Riley barked out, "You can tell her more about the Gatekeeper and the role of the werewolves in the local pack. Maybe a few nightmare stories will push her home."
He didn't sound overly sure of himself, but then Riley knew more of the stories than I did. But he did know me, so I guess my stubborn streak was pretty well established. He began actually washing the dishes properly and I looked up to see Gordon was now less than ten inches from me -- well into my personal space bubble.
"You smell human, but not." He finally announced. I gave him my big-eyed innocent look but I could see he wasn't buying it.
"Sorry, want me to shower?" I nervously quipped. Probably not my smartest comment to date, but I wasn't going to volunteer any information. I knew perfectly well I was still a desirable commodity in the supernatural community, and the current census put it more towards the dead column versus the alive choice.
"You are her, aren't you?" Finally he stated as if it was a question.
Batting my eyes, I shrugged my shoulders, still not willing to speak. Her was just a nice pronoun, it didn't mean me in particular, I rationalized while wondering how far I would have to pop to escape Gordon's attention. I itched to reach out for Uncle Harry but squelched that stray thought quickly. A vampire added to the werewolf blend would not be a great combination, and I'd never be able to find out anything about my past.
Riley took pity on me and said, "Gordon, she's Harry's pet. Okay?"
Gordon's head jerked in obvious surprise. I would have figured that had been long established by Riley before he'd even told Gordon to come talk to me. The next words out of Gordon's mouth confirmed that and shook me to the core, "Well, that I already knew. But she's the one from legend right? The jumper."
I never thought of myself as having a legend and I preferred to call my little parlor trick as 'popping' since 'jumper' implied, in my mind, some deranged person on the edge of a building or clinging to the railing of a bridge.
Riley snapped a bowl in half.
"Hey! I only bought a set for four! It's not like I'm made of money, you know," I called out, trying to defuse the situation.
He slammed the broken dish into the trash and said, "What she is -- is a pain in my fucking ass." He tried for casual menace, but even I could see Gordon wasn't buying it.
"I'm me." I said in a very light voice. I stood up and said, "I want to find out a bit more about my family and I think one of them was sealed down there." I felt a weight lift off me as I admitted to the reason I wanted to go into the mines. Gordon continued to look at me but had stopped pacing.
"You still can die," he said, more softly.
"Or not," I argued back with a slight smile.
Laughing he looked to Riley and said, "She defies logic, does she not my friend?"
Chuckling back, "Gordon, you have no idea."
"Oh, I have quite a few." Again he'd gone back to the flirty werewolf. I found that more disturbing than the pacing worried werewolf. Gordon's eyes were again full of unspoken knowledge, and now something else glittered inside their depths. That was my concern ... what was he holding back?
"Riley, we need to get this show on the road, then. I don't see her listening to anything I can tell her. She's too single-minded, and from what I have picked up during my lifetime it serves no purpose trying to change a lady's mind once she's set her sights on a particular object. So we need to get her in and out fast." Gordon's words danced on my thoughts and Riley's face grew darker.
"The main way to get down there is in a large elevator that hurls down a thousand feet. That sound like any fun to you, Gordon?" Riley shot out trying to get Gordon to change his mind.
"Riley, the creatures that were imprisoned didn't go in a cargo elevator. The werewolves have a back door that the humans were never privy to." He made it sound so easy. I knew there had to be a catch. I waited, standing firmly in between the two werewolves. Riley dried his hands on a dish towel and approached us both.
Grinning up at both of them I said, "Goody. When do we leave?"