Safehouse – chapter 13

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My feet were heavy, when I set out to Thorwald’s room after the next sunset. I managed to my door and past that my feet filled with led. I had bad feeling about this. I had bad feeling about everything at this point, I reminded myself and forced my feet to move.

The knock sounded hollow. His heavy weight lifted from the creaking bed and walked straight at the door. It was pulled open and his mass filled the small space. New harness was hanging loose around his shoulders and his wings were free. I couldn’t look him in the eye, so I used the moment to look at his enormous wings and how they moved in the same rhythm with his breathing.

His eyes fell on two small white boxes in my hands. I had bought three lemonades to go with it and they were sitting on top of it.

What is this?”

Peace offering.” I nudged the food box towards him.

It disappeared warily and he stepped out of the way, wordlessly calling me in. The moment I wasn’t holding on to the packet anymore, I had nothing to do with my hands. I kept scraping them against my sides, but then slid them quietly in jean’s back pockets, hoping it would look less desperate than massaging thighs.

My eyes fell on the tree spirit unconscious on the bed. I thought the spirit would have better instincts not to get on his nerves right now. Right, like me! Standing here, bringing peace offerings!

I cleared my throat to get my nerve back.

He is out?”

And will be for a while.” He kicked his shoes off his feet and sat down on his bed on the opposite side of the room, balancing the three drinks on top of the boxes. I found it calming to see him wearing black socks matching with his suit pants.

Aren’t you afraid you knocked him too hard?” He set one of the box and cup aside, giving me the third one before prying it open.

Tree spirits don’t get headaches and besides, I didn’t knock him out, he is healing. It will take time. What is this?”

Chips and fish. I didn’t know what to bring.” I apologized, sitting next to him on the bed, nearer to the edge. He pulled his wing out of my way, closer to his body without looking up.

He set the box between his crossed legs. “And this?” He opened the cup and sniffed the lemonade in it suspiciously.

Fanta.”

He wrinkled his large nose with disgust.

I’m sorry, I…” I began, but watched him then set his hand on top of the cup and swirl the entire thing around few times.

It’s alright.” He sounded friendlier and I breathed easier. Then he presented me the cup and I arced my eyebrows. The water had turned clear and glistened as if I was looking at the purest spring water in the world.

If that works for you…” I began and shrugged, casting the thought aside. Miloard let out a muffled cry before turning on his other side. “Why are you considered a good choice to protect him?”

There isn’t much that can face a gargoyle.”

They don’t take you seriously?” I teased, recalling the ignorant punch that had indeed tried.

Ha-ha.” He mocked and gulped down next mouthful of chips. “We are stone statues, who are brought to life to fill the task of a watchdog. After the purpose is filled or deemed done, we are returned to our position in the warehouse.”

I thought you turned into stone, when you hit the daylight.”

No, we do sleep, but it’s not like…” he eyed me for a long moment. “It’s different.” His eyes glassed and for a long moment I felt I’d hit the topic I shouldn’t have, so I just sat there, holding the cup between my knees and waited quietly, eyes fixed on the whimpering spirit on the bed.

The first time the gates opened, it was in the middle of the night.” He started seriously, his eyes fixed on his fingers playing around with french fries. “Few of us came through first to check the surroundings. It was night, when they left. They never returned. When the next night came, others were sent to find them.”

They found them on top of your churches. Frozen, or asleep. They guessed they went up there to see better in the morning’s light, but something in the light…” he shook his head, deep in thoughts. “It triggers our bodies to turn into hibernation,” he knocked his forehead, “even if our brains say it is not the time. We haven’t found the way to reverse the process. Every one of the gargoyles touched by direct Sun’s light are frozen. First the body, then the head and brain.”

Same happens in your world?” I coached, trying not to pry on things he didn’t want to speak about. If it was the same there, that was one hell of a lifestyle they must have.

No. The star in our world has no such effect on us. There, we hibernate when we need to rest. Or when we choose to.”

I nodded, although I doubted I understood it well enough. All I could think about was that he was revealing me more than I should know and it bothered me.

You’re taking it rather easy.” I changed the subject. His frowned, but didn’t attempt to stop me. “The thing…” I still didn’t know what it was. “He hired me to get you killed. Somebody probably paid him more?” I offered one solution.

Actually no, he is one of most honest men I’ve known.”

Honest?” That would be the last thing I’d call him. “I’d say he is dishonest and on top of that all greedy.”

What makes you think he is paid off?”

I opened my mouth, but clamped it shut, realizing I hadn’t really thought about that. I had accepted he was greedy and that was it. Something in his eyes, I reasoned in my head, but I didn’t bring it out.

It wouldn’t be the first time he’s doing it. The airhead did try double game few years ago.”

How did it go?” I blurted it out and saw corner of his mouth twitch, humored.

Not good.”

He is sabotaging his own workers?” Despite the evilness of this world, I found it hard to stomach to imagine that he would stick with a boss like that.

Is this self denial talking or what?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!

We’re his tools – he has no illusions of discarding any of us should he get better offer. He is not our friend. He is my boss.”

I’d be furious!”

I am. But I will deal with it later. Right now my contract is on him, “he nodded towards the tree spirit, “and I will protect him even from Griffin.”

So that’s what the fur ball was called! Of course!

I wanted to argue back, call them to arms, fight against boss! Tell them it was wrong on so many levels, friend or not!

A boss should not treat his employees like that! If it is not normal in your world, then should be first!” I went on for a while, when I realized he wasn’t arguing. I shot my eyes up and fell straight in his grinning eyes while he pushed another fry in his mouth. My mouth slowed down and after a long moment all I could think about was to tell him to stop that smiling or I’d hit him hard with whatever was available. It was frustrating how easily he finished my entire thought pattern by just looking at me.

I got up to put the cup on the table and try ask him to say at least something to show me I was in any good direction with it, when I heard something run through the corridor.

It was fast, coming straight in our direction and trusting our recent experience, it would probably stop behind our door.

Thorw…” I turned, alarmed, but I was too late – the door slashed in thin pieces and a huge guy, close to Thorwald’s size came crashing through. His face was red and he roared so bad I was sure the whole house heard. His short trimmed hair were partly painted green and the ridiculous muscle shirt only added to the image of what I could assume was nothing more than a bad tempered boxer.

The hell?” I whispered, trying to get away from it.

Thorwald had already put the box out of his way and launched up, tossing the guy off balance and on the bed next to Miloard, who bounced high next to them without waking up once.

I was watching battle of the titans by the looks of it. Both in the same weight categories this would end up at least with few bruises on the gargoyle.

My heart was pumping and I felt complete panic take over, the frustration turning my entire body into jelly. I could hear their bones under the muscles crack from the hold. That was second before I saw the boxer slam into Thorwald’s side, cracking some ribs for sure, because I couldn’t see how in any conditions anyone could put up to such hit. Thorwald staggered apart to get out of his hold and to have room for right hook to the large guy’s chin.

He launched forward and grabbed hold on his harness, swung him around and slammed into the wall next to the door. He had no time to turn, the boxer grabbed his wing again and flipped him.

Thorwald landed on his knees and hands, locking them so he wouldn’t fall flat. He groaned, when the monster land on top of him.

He tried to flatten him against the floor. I looked around for anything sharp – anything that would let me distract him! The knife on his back, I remember and then nearly laughed. It was between his shoulder blades! I will just slide between the two rocks and get it?

The boxer tried to bend his left wing so hard I was sure he’d snap it off if he put any more pressure on it.

I couldn’t get to the door to call help. Oh, and who would you call, smart-ass? I scold myself. Ghostbusters?

Thorwald bounced close to floor before springing back up and rolling him so he was flat on his back. He was cringing his teeth and tried to get up, but received a painful hit in his lower back. But it was enough to get free, for with one hand the guy stood no chance of holding him. The gargoyle suddenly pressed himself up on his wings, rose nearly a meter from the floor, locked his muscles so his entire body turned hard and free-fell back on floor, hitting air out of the guy’s lungs. He used the moment to hit him hard in his face for several times, but he only shook his head and then myriad of restrained laughter rolled out of his wide grin. Thorwald pulled away. He rose above the guy, rose his hands on both sides, fisted and then crashed into him from both sides and this time I was sure he’d broken ribs if not the entire ribcage.

The boxer let out loud moan and only managed curling up after that. His face turned red and the next hit knocked him out.

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