I stood behind the house in the early morning with Mya and few other onlookers on my side and admired my last night’s handwork. I measured the distance to the ground and calculated in the back of my mind how easily this could have been me had the bricks give out. I wouldn’t be laying here with any elegance, I gathered and I doubted if I would have been recognizable at all if I’d landed head first.
I felt guilty, when I realized she was the one, who was at work last night. I even liked her, in her quirky sort of way and I didn’t want her to be in trouble for it and suddenly I felt really good that I hadn’t come down with it.
“That must’ve been some wind!” Mya exhaled harsh and kicked the glass with her high heel. “We have had windows fall off before, but never from the kitchen!”
Where in hell did I come to live in? This place should be torn down, not sold out to students on monthly rent! It was a wasp, that orange-white remnant of house capable of stinging you down on the most unsuitable moment!
I should tell her. No, I decided the moment later. I couldn’t afford it right now. Maybe, when I was no longer living here. Yeah, that sounded about right.
I checked the sky and it was bright blue. The sun was bright, but I had to be patient. The goblin did say midday.
“Ok, everybody back inside!” Mya bossed us through the backdoor, walking behind us with her hands spread out as if coaching flock of sheep.
“Mya?” I turned around while we were climbing up the small stairs leading us to the first floor. “Will you be in trouble for this?”
“Why, of course I will!” she snapped. “Had to call house lady in the middle of the night to tell her the house lost one of the large windows?”
I nodded and it would have been funny if I wasn’t feeling guilty.
“What will happen now?”
“I’ll write a report, she’ll write a report and you, my dear thirder, will pay for it!”
The two girls in front of me sighed easier.
“Who else then? It came from your floor!”
“Oh indeed.” She sighed, suddenly sad and weary. “Look, I’m sorry, but that’s the law – unless someone comes forward, we have no way finding out, who did it, so the floor will pay.”
“Yeah, I understand.”
“You do?” she asked, surprised. I glanced up to her almond eyes. “And I had all the speech worked out for you!”
She snickered and I relaxed with a smile. At least she wasn’t at work today, when I had appointment with the box.
I returned in my room and waited there, keeping eye on it as if it would grow legs and run away. Instead it sat silently as if laughing over my situation and waited.
They started arguing again. The small guy was having a fit over something and the white shirt kept dodging his shouting with equal measure. I listened on them for a while until they settled and everything went quiet.
At least there wouldn’t be many in the house at midday. Most of the students had left for school and the ones, who were still in probably slept. Time kept going slowly, but suddenly the sun ray hit the small black box as if bell rang out in my head.
I checked the clock on my mobile. Midday. Time was up.
I picked up the box and gently trying not to disturb its balance, took it out of the room and quietly closed the door behind me. I went past the kitchen, to where the window in the end of the corridor was, until I felt the warmth of the sun hitting my skimpy outfit.
I adjust the position of the box on my hand so it was now sitting completely on the left palm and slowly pried the dome off.
The something I’d sensed in the box earlier didn’t wait until I had the entire cover off and slammed it off itself. It expanded with speed I had never witnessed before and less than a second later my hand felt heavy as if it was still standing on it. It wasn’t even remotely human with its large smoky attire. It was black and I could completely see through it except its shoulders and head, which now acquired a strange hold, as if looking straight at me with questions I probably had no answers to.
It took me only a moment to look that entity in its formless face to know I had just done something utterly and profoundly stupid. I wanted to scream, but the voice was choked low in my throat and suddenly I was out of air to breathe.
It stepped off my hand, there was no other way to explain the strange weightlessness that made my hand pop upwards and break the lid off. It landed with a clang before rolling away in the corner.
It started floating away from me and my lunges filled with fresh air filling the space it left behind. As if dark cloud had fallen down the corridor.
I began walking behind, keeping few steps between us so I wouldn’t get into its influence. My heart was heavy and my knees refused to work, but I forced the last out of them. I had to get to my room. I could block the bottom and wait it out. Yes, that sounded solid enough plan!
I had passed half of the space, when I could suddenly hear the chair fall over in the room next to me and I bounced back. I could hear him coming for the door. So could the smoke demon floating just steps away from us and it turned around.
He flung the door open and sniffed the air with panic so visible in his eyes I knew my little stunt was far worse than I tried to convince myself in. His looked puzzled, when he first saw me and then his ears moved and he turned to see the demon coming to abrupt stop.
“What did you do?” He roared at me with such hatred, it made my feet feel weak and I fell over, stumbling over my own feet.
He landed between us and let out such a strong roar it made the thin walls shudder in response. I heard the buckles snap and the leather give out around his chest and for the first time I saw what it was holding in place.
It turned and began gathering speed away from him while his large leather wings swiped the air few times. They scraped the paint on the walls, but it didn’t seem to bother his reach. He hunched lower, stretching the leathery wings out and took from his place. It took four large steps and he gained enough speed to launch at the smoke.
To my surprise he got hold of the creature and his large claws dug deep into the flesh of the demon. His entire being had changed from anything looking like man to grey bat-like demon himself.
I struggled to get back up, but after few tries I managed to get my hold and got up. Just in time to watch him slam against the green wall and lose grip on the hellish creation. It turned its attention back on me, reaching out for me as it flung closer and I saw its tale being grabbed by the thing again.
My ears rang from the revelation and I didn’t know if to cry or laugh. He was a grey mass of stone, hunting what looked like large mass of smoke!
And that mass of smoke was currently after me as I felt it grab hold on me and pulling me under it and the air disappeared from my lungs.
“Don’t breath!” I heard him yell and I could see the black smoke being pulled out of me. It went from my lungs, causing painful fit of cough launch from my chest. It was painful and I gagged to get the air back in there.
I pulled myself up on my hands and tried to get back to the sunlight. Sunlight always worked on them, right? It had to! All the stories, they couldn’t be there just for the horror!
I got pass the kitchen door and rolled myself into there, with clear view on the corridor.
It didn’t follow me. It swung past the door and I had clear view of the gargoyle launching after it, his right hand reached forward and about to grab the monster from its middle.
“Where’s the box?” he yelled from the shadow and I heard them thumb into the other side.
“Box?” I repeated, lost for a moment. How did he know it came in a box?
“Get me the box, woman!” He insisted and I lurked closer to the door. He was holding the thing from its neck. His hand muscles were locked around it, but the sweat appearing on his forehead said it was no easy task. “Are you deaf?”
The box, I tried to remember. My brain was not working. As if with air, the demon had also locked my brain away.
“THE BOX!” He reminded me and it dawned on me, where I’d seen it last. I lowered my head and saw it sitting right where it had landed – near the window behind them.
I got on my feet and started moving towards them. He kept flipping his eyes between the demon and me and it carried only one question – are you mad?
I must have been, because I kept going, pressing myself against the paint that was peeling off and clinging at my t-shirt now for sure. The demon moved and they both slammed into me, causing all the air leave my lungs in one swift move.
He rolled the creature off me and slammed it back into the opposite wall. He pulled his wings tight against himself, but the edge of it still ripped the skin on my hand, forming a large thin line run from the wrist all the way to the elbow.
“You alright?” he managed, panicking glance measuring the injury.
“Yeah, I’m ok.” I managed after coughing got me back to breathing and I continued my journey, running to the box.
I gathered the two pieces and stood, holding them out for him, but realized then that they were both moving eerily fast towards me and instead of just giving them over, I was suddenly standing with both my hands held high above my face to protect myself from the impact. I could only think that I really didn’t want to fly through the window right now, when I felt the bottom of the box disappearing from my hold and moment later the dome of cap followed and I heard it clap shut.
I wouldn’t let my hands down for another long moment before I realized it had got very quiet around me and all I could hear was the creature’s breathing I was already familiar with. I dared to raise my eyes after it became clear the sunlight was warming my back again and it all seemed nice and clear of the smoky thing.
He was glaring me down, the box sitting between his two large hands and claws that pulled back into the flesh, forming back into perfect manicure I was familiar with. His perfect white shirt had ripped and hung around him like a rag.
He was standing in the shadow, where the sunlight didn’t reach, but I could see even from here that his left shoulder wasn’t dark, wet grey like the rest of his body, but bright cement-like grey and it made me winch, remembering all the stories from the childhood about gargoyles turning into stone, when they were hit by sunlight.
But the most fascinating about him were the two massive wings that filled the entire corridor. My eyes followed their passive movement to his fast rising chest and from there to his strong neckline all the way to his fixed jaw.