Erika wanted him to see a dingy building fifty yards from the diner. “This is it?” he asked.
She nodded. The building was twenty by fifty and made of a sturdy, dark red wood. It was only around ten feet tall. There were three doors evenly spaced across the structure. The first said MEN, the middle said ENTRY, and the third said WOMEN. Both of the teens stood at the middle door.
“It’ll smell musty for a while, and then you’ll get used to it.” Erika told him.
“That’s okay,” Michael said, “I’ve smelled worse.”
“Breathe,” she ordered. “Don’t be afraid of them, I’ll do most of the talking when we meet up with them.”
Them, the turned werewolves, he thought grimly. On the way here she kept reassuring him that they won’t hurt him. It was forbidden. She did warn him however to stay close and don’t stray. None of the locals were kindly to tourists knowing their secrets. The plan was for Erika to briefly explain that Michael knew about werewolves already. So in essence, he was ‘cool in the pack’.
She reached to open the clean door handle, “Wait,” he said. She paused but didn’t draw her hand back and looked at him.
“Would they be in packs down there?”
“Some of them,” she paused, “The sheriff wanted the search parties down there today. So they may not even notice us,”
“People have been disappearing?”
Erika nodded and was about to pull open the door when it opened by itself. “Yeah,” a slightly overweight young man with a mustache said. “They’re down there alright,” his brown eyes landed on Michael and then back to Erika. “Stay out of McGraw’s way.”
“Hi to you too,” she said. “Are there any leads yet?”
The guy frowned, “Not yet. They can’t even smell the fuckers remember?” he rubbed dirtied hands over grimy jeans and then readjusted a dark green sweater. Cold air was washing over the already cool day. “McGraw cordoned off a few areas in the tunnel with silver,”
“Can we still go down there?” Erika asked.
“Sure but give a wide berth to all the cordoned off sections. Don’t even try opening them.” He looked at Michael again, “I’m gonna tell you what Erika may or may not have already told you. No one outside of this town hears about the tunnels, otherwise you know what happens. Understand?”
Michael nodded, “Yeah, yeah. I got it,”
“Good, I have to go run some grunt work,” the other guy said. “Check you later, be careful,”
“Sure thing Robert,” Erika told her friend. He nodded to both of them and brushed by. Michael waited until the kid was a good distance down the path.
“Who was he?”
“Chef at the diner,” she said, “Come on. Before things get out of hand,”
Michael let her step in first. On either side were wide wooden doors with the MEN and WOMEN signs in their respective places. A caged bulb was implanted into the ceiling. Erika closed the door and then pointed. “These are the dressing rooms for the turning. Werewolves like their privacy so there are separate stalls for when they turn. Locker rooms and showers take up the rest of the space.”
Erika nodded, “Their clothes rip apart while turning. So they bring their own bags to take on the way.”
“Ah, werewolves carrying bags, sounds neat.”
“Duffel bags, gym bags, don’t taunt them about it.”
“I won’t,” he neared the staircase a few feet away from the doors. The ground was tiled with an autumn-red scheme. Erika was right about the smell. It smelled like wet dog and earth, not too unpleasant to handle. The stairs were lit every few feet by the caged fixtures. “It’s quiet here,” he said.
“Sound proof doors at the bottom of the stairs,” she said, descending. Each of their footsteps echoed. There was enough room for them to walk side by side. By the look on her face Michael didn’t think she wanted to talk again until they were at the bottom. Michael lightly rubbed his fingertips against the rough stone walls in the beginning. They tingled when he drew back. He didn’t want his scent to travel around this place.
It led them to around twenty feet below the earth. The temperature was dropping. Erika tugged the light jacket she had brought tighter against her neck. Michael zipped his windbreaker up. “I guess we’re good to go in,” he said. The door was taller and wider than most doors. And instead of wood this was made of a heavy metal. Erika nodded and strained a little to pull it open.
“Come on,” she waved him in quickly, “It won’t stay open.”
He went in and she followed. The door groaned like a monster in itself as it closed. Michael swallowed and looked around. Tile was replaced with hard-packed earth. Even still huge footprints spiraled on the ground. Some were human but most had the wolf imbued into them. Any of the human prints had shoes too, so at least they weren’t barefoot in here. He was thankful of that because it just would have been weird.
“So where are they?” he asked. His voice was loud. It echoed back to him almost instantly. “Wow,” he commented on the noise.
“Wow what?” she asked, “You weren’t expecting them to show up now were you?”
“Sorry I misinformed you, but they mostly walk closer around the center of town. There’ll be a few around close by.”
“How often do you come down here?”
“Whenever it’s too hot up-top,”
It's their vacation, what else are they supposed to do?