Chapter 9: The Llorentes

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When her uncle finished the story, they sat in silence.

"That was real? All of that?" asked Agata.

"It was, and it's still real. There is still a Mytro, and there is still a way to travel, I suppose, in a way that we still don't understand," said Ernesto.

"The Llorentes decided they had to keep the secret. José swore he would find his brother, but he never could," he continued. "However, he did discover a way to use the Mytro to travel from the hill to Bilbao in a few seconds. In his grief he threw himself down the tunnel and was picked up by the wind. He wrote that he was trapped in darkness for what seemed like hours. He thought about his wife and children in Bilbao. Then, suddenly, he popped out into another dark cave. Another small hole led to the outside where he heard carriage traffic and someone mentioning the road to Bilbao. He realized he had thought of Bilbao while he was in the tunnel and now he was close to it. He would think of a destination and the winds would take him. He went back into the tunnel and thought of the hill, and he returned to it in an instant. Whatever Carlos thought when he was in the tunnel, José couldn't imagine, but he suspected all the talk of the underworld had placed Carlos in a bad place."

"José realized that the tunnel would let him carry anything he wished through the dark. A few nights later he rode the Mytro to Bilbao and opened the tunnel slightly wider. The hole was big enough for him to come and go, but when he came back the next night, there was a small, perfect door in the hole that matched the surface of the wall into which it was embedded. Something strange was happening."

"But he was a businessman. He realized he could ship things to and from the town with ease now, and he promised merchants in Bilbao that he would get them crops sooner than any of the other farmers if they paid him a bit extra. They paid him, and he whisked bushels and bushels of wheat, potatoes, and rice to and from his farm in seconds. With the extra money, he was able to buy the hill and the surrounding land and began building what amounted to a carriage run that would carry goods through the Mytro. It was a very primitive system, but it worked for years until it was upgraded to the trains you see today. He never told anyone except some of his closest business partners. The Mytro was a Llorente secret for almost a century."

"So carriages would work as well? Would anything work?"

"There's no telling. No one knows. Whatever metaphor you use, the Mytro remains a means of transport. To transport something, you usually need a vehicle," said Ernesto. "We have only scant information because much of this was destroyed by José before he died. He didn't want the Mytro to run after his death. It had taken his brother—somewhere, he supposed—and he didn't want it to take anyone else. That's why it took so long for your father and me to discover the truth."

Agata sat, stunned.

"The Mytro uses vehicles not because it has to, but because it makes it easier for us to understand it. The family even named it, calling it Mytro after the first Metro lines. Before the carriage, you were sucked in, and you ended up who knows where, somewhere far from your home. But then they added vehicles, which made it easier for humans to understand. But when you have a vehicle, you need a map," he said.

He walked over to a gray metal filing cabinet and pulled out a sheaf of papers, old ones, held together with a rusted metal staple. "This is one. It's mine, but I have a copy that I'm going to give you. The only way to survive on the Mytro—the only way—is to have the map. You choose a location and you will go there. Otherwise, you can get lost forever, moving from station to station and never getting out. That's what I believe happened to Carlos. He couldn't find his way out."

She thought of her ancestor barreling through the dark, unable to stop or even imagine where he could end up. Did he die of exposure? Thirst? Hunger? Was he still alive, somewhere in that hole?

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