September 14th, 2019 by Patrick Starks
A warm golden light had beamed through the hole of a worn-out window curtain, along with a cold draft. It was morning. And the smell of rotten eggs was in the air. There was someone or something snoring behind me, but I couldn’t really make anything out of it. All I could feel was something pressing up against my back, like a wet nose but not human from what I could tell, not for how bumpy it was.
When I rolled over to my left side, there would be swampy skin and shark-like teeth right in front of my face, as the snot from its nostrils oozed in and out like Elmers glue. It then became apparent to me that what I experienced the night before wasn’t a dream at all, but not to cause any confusion, it wasn’t that kind of a party. I mean, I was just a kid. But moving on, more so, moving away from the creatures hot and horrid breath, I’d turn back on to my other side and witness another. By the window it casted a tall shadow. It was calm and still, but an intensity radiated off it that I couldn’t comprehend. Its arms were folded, and not a single bone in its muscular figure had shifted nor was fazed by the strong winds that expelled inside. Although, my guess would be due to the cold, that might’ve been why its arms were folded in the first place, however, I didn’t see one shimmy throughout the entire time I watched.
I’d scope out the rest of the room, and there in the middle of it a dozen statues stood, just like what I remembered. By the statue that remained engulfed by new and old flowers was the last one out of the three I believe, the last gargoyle, lying on the floor, snoring like a wild boar but had a dry nose at least. When it hit 9am, the clock on the Moonlight tower would ring. Thousands of pigeons and crows soared the skies and not long after all three, well two of the three would awaken, and the first to speak would be Athena.
“I knew you weren’t a dream little one,” she said, with joy.
In my mind I wanted to tell her that I was hoping that she was, a dream, but even though she was a gargoyle, she was still a lady and well… my mom whoever she was probably wouldn’t have appreciated me treating one in such a way, although says the woman that abandoned her baby boy, but that’s another story. Khon the gargoyle had already gotten up and departed from the statue he cherished so much, and finally the snoring had stopped.
“So, what would you like for breakfast?” asked Athena.
“I don’t know… what else do gargoyles eat? I remember you telling me last night that you eat humans, well, the bad ones anyways, but I don’t want to eat humans, even if they are the bad ones. Besides… I’m still trying to get over the fact I’m not human at all.”
“Your right… Everything was spilled on you pretty fast wasn’t it little one…” said Athena, concerned. “But I got the perfect thing to cheer you up.”
“What is it?” I asked. “Is it pizza!”
“No, even better. Boiled eggs!” she said, with excitement.
I cringed by the word alone, but without even getting my approval, Athena had already taken a plate that looked as if it had been pulled out from the garbage and plopped two boiled eggs on to it, serving it to me like a chef at a 5 star restaurant. And if there was any time or day that I hated eggs, it was that moment, and the sad part to it was that it didn’t even come with ham.
“How about you Luther? You want any?” asked Athena, while she watched and waited for me to take the first bite.
Luther from what I could remember was presumably the leader of the two, although I’m sure Kohn would’ve disagreed. Luther had stood there by the window motionless the entire time. And surprisingly not a smell came off him from the wind that blew past. Had it blown all the funk away?
With frustration, Athena had then asked Luther again if he’d wanted any of the food that I still refused to eat in front of me, but only the sound of snoring had come along with it.
Athena then sighed. “Ugh Males…”
“I’ll take three,” said Khon, making his way over from a dark patch in the room. He was always like a ghost, like darkness was his friend or something. If Kohn could ‘ve been the Houdini of gargoyles he definitely would’ve been just that, like a total Gargoudini. But before he’d grab his eggs, Khon would walk over to Luther giving him a slap on the back that echoed the whole city.
“S***, f***, s***!!!” yelled Luther, but then when he’d turned around, he’d realized that he’d just cursed in front of a twelve-year-old.
He cleared his throat. But to be honest I didn’t give a S***.
“I-I mean… sit duck, sit…” he said.
“Nice one,” Khon chortled.
“Are you two done being little boys over there?” said Athena, annoyed as ever. “Or can we eat already?”
Luther then walked over towards us and stared at me more seriously than I’d ever been stared at before. It was like a smolder mixed in with something else, like uncertainty, or something like that. Athena then got up and walked off with her plate, and Kohn had done the same.
“On a serious note,” said Luther. “As I said last night, you will be going to the Moonlight tower to see the Elders. Kohn will accompany us.”
I didn’t say a word. It wasn’t a dream, it was really my reality, one of which to be honest was cool but terrifying at the same time. A twelve-year-old boy surrounded by three gargoyles and now on his way to meet the Elders of the gargoyles. How many were there? Hundreds, thousands, maybe more. The thought alone brought me to a cold sweat of panic, but then Luther had said something that made me feel easy of it.
“Don’t worry little one… its completely normal to feel the
way you do,” he said. “Anxiety is normal for a gargoyle. In fact, it was even
normal before we became what we are… We spend our whole lives trying to find
our superhero costume when in reality we have never needed it, you know. You
are what you are and I am what I am. The quicker we accept that the better.”
“I don’t understand… What are you talking about?” I asked.
Luther then bent down to one knee and tried ruffling my shaggy hair. His hand nearly covered my entire head.
“What I mean is that you will eventually become a gargoyle yourself. The Water Test already proved that. So, don’t try to fight it or be afraid of it, or be afraid of what others might now think of you. As long as you are happy with who you are that is all that matters.”
“Oh, will you give a rest already!” shouted Kohn from outside. “The boy doesn’t want to hear about your insecurities Luther. Hears a piece of advice boy, don’t listen to an insecure gargoyle.”
And then Athena added her own little note. “Word of advice little one! Don’t listen to these two at all! Just be yourself!”
“That’s what I was trying…” Luther paused. “Ahhh… never mind. Let’s get going little one. Onto my back now.”
Luther would then take me up to the skies with Kohn, while Athena waived goodbye, but in her eyes was the same worry a mother would have watching her young boy go off to the army; the thought of not knowing if he’d ever return. And seeing those eyes made me worry even more to what I was flying into.
“There, there it is!” Kohn shouted. “Time to see the old geezers. I mean, the elders.”
While Kohn had laughed in the wind, I couldn’t help but notice how gorgeous the tower was. It was even more massive in person. I’d never been to Moonlight tower. Matter of fact, I don’t even think I knew anyone that had. When we landed, already there would be two gargoyles larger than the ones I already knew.
One of them had long grey ponytail that coiled around his neck like a snake, and at the tip of it was a ball with spikes on it nearly the size of my head. The other gargoyle was obviously completely bald by the light that shined off his head. It was like looking at waxed peanut, hysterically. I honestly wanted to laugh but the look in his eyes had said that he’d already have enough of that for one day. Kohn looked to Luther and nodded.
“Alright little one stay back here with Luther,” he said. “Watchgargs don’t like uninvited guest…”
Luther then walked over, and Kohn had cleared his throat multiple times while he watched. I tugged on Kohn skirt, no quilt. Then again, he wasn’t Irish… I don’t know but I’ll just call it a quilt.
“What are Watchgargs?” I asked, still tugging on Kohn’s quilt.
Kohn didn’t respond a word. His eyes were still locked onto Luther. There was something in his hand that he was clinching on to. It looked like a note, but the closer I looked the more I had to ask.
“So, what’s that in your hand?” I asked, still tugging.
Kohn shook his head off and looked down at me, and then locked his eyes onto what was revealed a picture in his hand.
“Sorry… you were saying something about Watchgargs?”
“Y-yeah… What are they?”
Khon then clinched on even tighter to the picture.
“Yes, I thought that’s what you were asking about. You shouldn’t worry about them,” said Kohn. “The only thing you should know is that they aren’t the most compassionate type. You see the one over there, with the ponytail and the scar around his neck?”
“Yeah… what about him?”
“Stay away from him,” said Kohn sitting down by a nearby bench on the roof.
Before I could even ask why, Luther had returned. He looked relieved but still unsure of what was going to happen next.
“So?” said Kohn.”
“Let me catch my breath first,” said Luther.
“You’re not gonna have much of a breath if things don’t go right here…” Kohn responded.
“I know, I know… They said that we can bring the little one in but…”
“But they said you needed to stay out here.”
“What!” shouted Kohn. “It was the one with the ponytail wasn’t it! You remember what he did don’t you!”
“Shhh… Please Kohn calm down… I know. But this is what is required to bring the little one in. I promise we will deal with him afterwards.”
“Ah, ya said that the week before and the month before that,” said Kohn, walking away.
“I promise…” said Luther. “Today we will settle it all.”
Kohn walked away grim, with a bad taste in his mouth. Luther then looked at me.
“Alright little one, it’s time for you to meet the elders.”
Luther walked me passed the two guards and as we did not a smell had come off them. It was strange for gargoyles. All this time I thought they all smelt of rotten eggs but then the bald one had pinched his nose as Luther walked by, which gave me the indication that he didn’t approve of the smell neither.
Past them was a double door, with engravings on it. They looked gothic, which wasn’t really a shock at all for gargoyles. Luther this time didn’t even look down at me he just placed both his hands on the doors and pushed them open. Most would’ve expected light to come right out of like the heavens metaphorically speaking but it was completely dark s***. And then someone spoke.
“Why did you bring a child to our tower,” it said, with a faint voice.
Luther swallowed. “The little one has passed the water test,” he said.
Thousands of golden eyes revealed themselves in the dark, just like what I remembered on my first encounter. They all oohed and ahhed by what Luther had just said.
“Did you say that that boy beside you passed the watered test?”
“Did I st… I mean, yes. Yes, I did.”
OOoooooo Ahhhhhhhh!! They’d all chanted.
And then one of them appeared from the shadows and into the moonlight. The first thing that I noticed was his webbed feet and the enormous claws that pouted out from them. It had long grey hair and was almost too tall for the ceiling that hung above us. Were these the elders? How big did gargoyles get?
“Bring him to me,” it said.
But I stuck onto Luthers side like tape.
“It’s okay little one,” he said. “Trust me… he won’t do a thing.”
I then made my way over to where the elder stood. Again, there wasn’t a smell at all. I didn’t understand the difference between Luther or them but I knew that there was definitely a difference.
“Yes, yes. Come closer child,” said the elder.
When I stood in front of him, my body was completely frozen. Already I could feel its wet tongue lick the side of my face, as its breath vibrated.
“Ummm tasty,” said the elder, drooling all over my head.
Luther made a few steps forward, for he was concerned.
“Don’t take another step!” yelled the elder. “Or I’ll bite his head off right here and now.”
Luther stood trembling, but still ready for anything.
“Now!” shouted the elder. “Has Luther told you about this
I honestly, wanted to run right then and there but I shook my head instead.
“Shame… Might’ve given you a seat here,” said the Elder. “Your something special you know that… Where are you from?”
“From here… In the city,” I said, softly.
“And your parents?”
“I don’t have any. I’m an orphan.”
“Shame indeed… An orphan child has no business in a world like this but then again you’re not quite the orphan now are you?”
“N-no. I mean, I don’t think so. Luther said that…”
“I already know, “ interrupted the elder. “I could taste it on you. “You’re a gargoyle but not a full one, not yet.”
“Are you saying I’ll look like one of you?”
From out of nowhere another elder appeared, and by my surprise he’d smell like rotten eggs, which had now left me with confusion and annoyance all in one.
“Is that a problem?” he said.
I then corrected myself. “No, not at all.”
And then the other elder faded back to where he’d came, and the smell would as well, thankfully.
“Let’s cut to the chase shall we,” said the elder in front of me. “We are going to put you through a test with a few others. If you pass, then you will be allowed to stay with Luther or us if you like. But I highly recommend you consider that it be us. The trial will start now.”
Luther’s eyes had widened. “My lord, you can’t be serious, he’s just a child.”
“Luther question me one more time, and I’ll bite your head off instead. You should know as well as I that this not just a child. This child is a Gartran. And ya knew it way before ya walked in here. Now shut it!”
I looked to Luther for answers but immediately, he’d turn his back to me.
“Luther… what is a Gartran?” I asked. “What’s he talking about?”
“Yes, tell him Luther. What is a Gartran? I’m having a hard time remembering. You know I am getting a little old,” the elder chortled.
Luther took a deep breath and then spoke.
It had been a long time since anyone had seen one but decades before the city of Burdenham had become what it was there was a gargoyle and her name was Penelope. Unlike the rest of us, she was absolutely gorgeous. Her hair was luxurious, dark as the night and silkier than silk. Penelope was one of the first and only gargoyles known to keep her human form. One minute she could be walking amongst the crowd that walked to their 9-5’s below us, and the next soaring the skies as if she’d always been a gargoyle. But there was a day when the skies were red everything changed for her. She had a child. Literally, still wet behind the ears, but as big as a baby elephant. Both her and Riar her husband, named the child Athena. On that day the rain poured so hard that the city became flooded in ways unimaginable, and within a blink of an eye, Penelope’s baby girl would be swept from it, like a fallen leaf. Penelope and Riar searched for years looking for her but never did they find one clue of her. Riar had become so ashamed of himself for letting such happen that one night he just vanished, never returning back to Penelope bedside. And that was when it happened. On the next night Penelope cried so hard that she’d eventually became stone. No one had ever thought that a Gartran could turn to stone but then they’d all realized that it hadn’t rained at all that day. That what made her stone was her own tears.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Out of all the people in the world, how could I have been a Gartran? It didn’t make any sense. I mean, the water test proved that.
“But what about the water test?” I asked Luther.
“What of it little one?”
“You said it was rainwater. That was what it was right?”
“No little one…” Luther paused. “That bottle was filled with nothing but salty tears.”
“B-but how? That would mean that…”
“Yes. You are Penelope’s grandchild.”
“But how is that even possible? Wait… You said the babies name was Athena… Are you saying…”
“Yes… Our Athena was that lost child. And she has never forgotten a day of how much pain she’d cause her mother. And before you ask, yes, she Athena is your mother. We, well… she knew all of this time. She’d had you by another, a human, before she’d realized what she was. Only it seems the trait of what her mother had skipped over to you. The form that she is in now, is the form she has to live with forever.”
A loud knock then banged on the double doors.
“Let me see him!” yelled a voice from outside. “I want to see my little one!”
Before anyone could open it the Watchgarg with the ponytail came through it with is arm twisted up by Athena. Kohn as well had come through nearly in tears for how hard he had been laughing.
“Serves you right,” he laughed. “Oh, how this has made my day. Luther! Victory has been served!”
And then me and Athena locked eyes.
“Little one!” she shouted, echoing the room.
To be continued.