This month’s theme is ‘gatekeeping’. Today’s piece is a snippet from my WiP, WRE looking at gatekeeping around the supernatural community and why they try to hide their existence from humans.
“I remember asking at dinner once, when I was a teenager, why we had to hide,” El said. “My father said it was for our safety. But afterwards my uncle took me out into the garden and told me more about the pact of secrecy. How the Council came together and the Wolves wanted peace. That our biology made us stronger. But how it also meant we would never outnumber the humans, unless enough vampires and wolves went on a rampage to force change upon people and that could not be allowed.”
“He said, ‘And yet the humans do not know how lucky they are that we keep to the shadows, what damage a single Cat could do if provoked. The agency covers it up any time one of our kind attacks or is attacked. For everyone’s safety.’ He said, ‘Look at how humans behave. They hate each other. Like us, they develop religions that are a choice, but unlike us they use them to persecute people for their skin colour, their gender, their sexuality, things which are not a choice. If a human can murder a man for loving another man, what do you think humans will do to a man who can transform into a Cat or a Wolf? Think of all the movies with the evil werewolves, the tyrannical vampires, the beasts who must be destroyed! Perhaps one day humans can be trusted, as some few are now, with our secret, but that day is a long way off’. I couldn’t disagree.”
Romaine tipped his head. “There are some homophobic Wolves and I’ve met a couple of very religious shapeshifters. We’re not all tolerant in the same ways, don’t all share the same beliefs.”
El sighed. “True. But we have more in common with each other than with humans. I think about what he said sometimes. I wish I could be naked more. I know England isn’t so bad and that there are places I wouldn’t even be allowed to go out without a male relative escorting me, but I’m not only female, I’m a Cat. And I want to roam free, both as a human and as a Cat.”
He understood her frustration.
“We spent some time at a naturist resort in Switzerland once, and it was wonderful,” El reminisced. “People were more accepting overall, as if without clothing they felt more the same than different. And we got a fortnight at one of the supernatural’s only parks when I was seventeen and it was the best time of my life. But I couldn’t live there, it wasn’t where I wanted to be; I don’t think I’m explaining it well. It wasn’t the place that I loved, though it was nice, just nice in the way holidays are but you wouldn’t want to live there? It was the freedom it offered. Being surrounded by other supernaturals and not having to hide who I am.”
Yet she dated mostly humans. Romaine didn’t point this out. El already knew she was a bundle of contradictions and she was clearly working through some issues.
“Anyway, being a Cat isn’t as good as being a Wolf when it comes to humans,” El concluded. “You just get mistaken for a loose dog if someone spots you. We get armed police sent out and cryptozoologists camping out for weeks afterwards trying to get photos.”
Romaine laughed and El grinned.
“My cousin’s the Beast of Bodmin,” she added as an aside. “My great aunt scolded him for being seen but he thinks the whole thing is hilarious – he won’t think so if he gets caught and the agency have to rescue him, or if some farmer with a shotgun takes a potshot at him but still.”