Alice couldn't remember a time where she'd been more tense while driving. Leo sat on the back seat, with the cage on his lap. The creature still screeched and its horrible bony teeth made a grinding noise against the metal as the creature tried to chew its way out.
"Don't worry," Leo told her. "It won't escape, and we're almost there." Alice couldn't believe there could be a worse neigborhood than the one where she'd found Leo's mother. Tall buildings with cracked walls and only a faint memory of paint blocked the light, filling every available space that hadn't been taken by the pavement, all full of potholes. The car tumbled and groaned as it made its slow way towards the most decrepit building in the street.
Alice parked right in front of the building, right behind a beat-up car straight from the 1950's. She locked the doors at least three times to make sure no one could break into the car, even though Leo assured her that it wouldn't be necessary.
"I'm with you," he said. "And that's enough to keep you safe in the neighborhood." The cage in his hands rattled, and he shook it to force the creature into submission. Alice took a step back, frightened. She couldn't remember the impulse that had sent her in that wild adventure with Leo.
He led her to the stairs. The narrow staircase appeared light-proof, it was so dark inside Alice had to hold on to the walls not to trip. Her fingers kept bumping against things on the walls she didn't want to identify; the whole buildinged to be sweating. They went straight to the fourth floor and Leo knocked on a door.
"It's me. I brought it." The door flew open as if by magic. A man with premature white hairs stared at Leo, his eyes shinning like the sun.
"You did?" Leo held up the cage and shook it a little. The creature inside shrieked and bit the bars.
"Excellent!" he said. "This is great! Where did you find it?"
"It was attacking this lady's mother." For the first time, the man noticed Alice. He examined her with those bright eyes, and a smile appeared on his face.
"What a beautiful lady!" he exclaimed. "Welcome, welcome, make yourself at home. Leo, take the creature to the back room, I'll take care of it later. You, young lady, please come in. Tea? I've got some really good brews. My name is Salvador, and I'm a Mexica priest."
"An actual priest?" she said.
"I'm a direct descendant from the Mexica priests that survived the Conquest," he said. "We have been passing down the secrets of our art for centuries, hidden from the Catholic Church." Alice blinked, stalling for time. After having watched that horrible thing, nothing could surprise her now.
"Why have you been hiding?" she asked, the least idiotic question she could think of.
"To survive, of course. The Catholic Church pretty much destroyed everything Mexica, and tried to leave no remainders of our culture. But we survived, because we know that the sun cannot live without nourishment. We have been providing that nourishment for centuries, it's our duty."