Chapter 1 - Lost in New York
Outside, she heard man on the ship. “I’m getting tired of this ship, when do we get to port?” said one in a heavy Brazillian tounge. “Doon’t ye be worryin, ladi. We’ll be getting’ therre in half a foort night.” said the other in a deep Scottish brogue. “I’ve got some cheese me bonnie lass gave me before we left. It should calm yer nerves a wee bit.”
Six nights and seven days passed. With nothing to do but dodge shifting cargo, it felt like forever. On the evening of the seventh day, the cargo ship made port in Hudson River. Finally the swaying and the shifting had almost stopped. Man could be heard outside once more. “Come on lad, time we unload.”
“I can’t wait to see what’s in New York. I’ve heard it’s a place of dreams.” The men opened the door to the freight. “It’s a place yoo’ll get mugged in if yer not careful.”
The young gargoyle darted out of the freight and into the night. “Did yoo see that?”
“Not unless you saw it.” Yells of a monster echoed about the port. The young gargoyle ran on all fours to gain any speed she could; dodging men, freights, equipment, and light poles, racing away from the port and concealing herself in the dark alleyways of Manhattan. “What was that?”
“I doon’t know an’ I doon’t want to.” The darkness here was nothing like the shores only lit by moon light when it was out. It did not safely conceal her from the dangers of man. In fact, it concealed man more than it did her.
“Hey look, it’s one of those gargoyle things.” She spun around and there, emerging from the shadows, was a group of street thugs. “It’s got some long, pretty hair. What’s your hurry, doll?”
“What’s it doing here?”
“Who cares? It’s on our turf. I’d say that deserves a warm Blazers greeting.”
The men came at her with chains, guns, knives, bats, and metal rods. Before they could be used on her, she fled out of the alleyway and onto the street. On all fours, she ran and ran trying desperately to lose them. Two of them fired their guns. Luckily, street thugs rarely could hit water even if they fell out of a boat. She tumbled onto the ground out of shock but only for a moment. As soon as she regained her footing, the chase was on again.
Alley after alley, she darted in and out trying to disorient them, her breath slipping away from her with each step. After twenty minutes of running, she lost them. Tired and exhausted of all breath, she collapsed behind a dumpster until she could breathe through her nose again. At the end of the alley, there were some boxes arrange like a shelter. In them were many sheets and a few pillows, all dirty.
Moments later, a high pitched scream came from the sheets. A child of the sheets was staring back at her with great light blue eyes. The boy backed away to the other side of the boxes shrilling, attracting curious people. There was a brick wall that she could have leaped over had she not been exhausted from crate-travel and fleeing for her very life. Only logical option was to rush in and muffle him. “Probably just some kid that saw a spider.” As they left, the gargoyle let out a sigh of relief.
“Don’t scream again. Just give me a moment to catch my breath.” Her voice gently reverberated the accent of a Hispanic. She loosened her grip over his mouth but quickly tightened it when he tried to scream again, “Listen, I’m not here to hurt you. If I was, you’d be soaking in your own blood by now. Just…” she sighed, “just, please don’t scream.”
The boy looked at her puzzled as she let go of his mouth. “A-are you a gargoyle?”
“Why, you got a problem with that?” he shook his head violently. Her stomach growled ferociously. After ten nights in a cargo freight, she was relentlessly hungry. “Are you going to eat me?”
She sighed heavily. “I’m not that hungry. Tamales would be bueno.” The boy relaxed a little. “All I have is corndogs and cans.”
“What’s a corndogs?” The boy rummaged through the sheets and pulled out a corndog, half frozen and bitten off. “There’s only one left but…” Without hesitation, she snatched the meat from him and wolfed it down. “Ay dios, that’s good. Do you have anymore?”
The child handed over a can of tomato sauce and noodles which she took little time eating. It went all at once and so fast she forgot to breathe, “Thank you…uh…”
“Kale. Gracias. I haven’t eaten much in weeks.” Kale sighed with a faint grunt, “That was my last bit…” The gargoyle stopped licking the can and looked at how empty it was, “I…I’m so sorry…”
“Nah, I had to get more anyway. Just as long as you don’t eat me and give my brain to your alien overlord.” The gargoyle giggled, the boy mistook it for insult, “What’s so funny?”
“You. Gargoyles don’t eat children. And we certainly have no dealings with aliens. Who told you that?” she kept giggling so the boy changed the subject, “So what’s your name?” She calmed her laughter enough, “Don’t have one. Don’t really need one.” Kale was quiet for a moment, “Oh.”
“So tell me Kale, why do you sleep in boxes?”
“I ran away from home to find my mom. Dad said she died but I saw her at the Puerto Rican Day Parade, so I’ve been looking for her.”
“How do you even know…” Her stomach began growling again.
“There’s a QuickMart around the corner. I could take you there.” Kale got up and ran to the mouth of the alley and into the light. He was about four and a half feet tall with dark skin and short black hair, wearing denim jeans too long for his legs, a tan t-shirt, and a moss-green, striped jacket. He looked around the corner and motioned her to come when it was safe.
She crawled out of the stacked boxes and followed him into the light. He turned around to see her approaching him. She was almost six feet tall with wavy cherry-red hair all down her back and a lock or two hanging just over her eye. She had two pairs of small horns leaning backward and her ears were fin-like, colored of ivory, with one star earring on the right. Her lips shined like gold.
Her skin was orange and her wings were like bats but the flaps were pearl white. She wore a white, strapless tank top tied together down the middle and embroidered jean shorts of cerulean. Her hands donned black palm-gloves and her feet, black leggings that stopped mid thigh, just below her shorts, leaving her toes exposed.
Kale gawked in awe. “Woah, cool threads, but you’ll stand out like that, we need to get you a disguise.”
“Wait here.” The gargoyle popped over the wall, her body now able to withstand the strain on her arms. Kale listened carefully but for a while only heard silence. After a few minutes, there was a cry from a man then silence again; then another man minutes later, then quiet. When she hopped back over the wall, she was wearing a gray trench coat and a hoodie under that. “Will this work?”
Her wings, ears, and horns were hidden, and her fish-like tail was low enough that most wouldn’t notice it so he nodded hesitantly. She followed him out of the alley, down a few blocks, into another alley which turned twice until he stopped before going into the street. He pointed to a convenience store across the street sitting on a corner. “There’s lots of food in there. But the shop keeper’s still in there. We’ll have to wait until he uses the bathroom or two or more people take his attention.”
“Or…” She crossed the street while taking off her disguise, walked right into the store and up to the counter. The man was reading a magazine and didn’t even look up. “Excuse me, do you have any Don Julio?”
“Please present identification showing proof of age,” the man’s speech was totally lifeless and sounded so scripted, “Acceptable forms of ID are a driver’s license, military ID, or civilian I…D”
The man finally looked up from his paper and froze while she coyly moved her hair behind her ear and leaned over the counter, “Aw, so my pretty face isn’t enough for you?”
“Gargoyle!” the man yelled as he darted out of the shop crying for the police. Kale came in as soon as he was gone.
“Not bad. We better hurry up. He’ll be back soon with cops.” Kale got straight to work while the gargoyle stared confused at everything on the shelves, “What am I grabbing here? None of this looks familiar.”
“Don’t worry. I got you covered. Just help me carry some of this.” The boy grabbed a tone of colorfully wrapped items, some cans, some microwavable items, a flash light and batteries, and all the hotdogs, donuts, and brownies he could from the counter.
“Alright, let’s go.”
They stuffed all the food in bags and ran back across the street, almost laughing the whole time. After another four minutes, the shop keeper finally came back with cops, but they never found the thieves. Kale and his new friend feasted on the snacks. “Well, what do you think?”
“Not bad. still not hot tamales, though.”
“What are tamales?”
“It’s popular back in Costa Rica.”
“Is that where you’re from?”
“Then how’d you get here?”
“My little brother wanted to play hide-and-seek. Somehow it moved to a cargo ship and I got shut in a crate by mistake. Don’t know how long I was in there but there was nothing edible to eat.”
“How’d you survive?”
“Cardboard and rain water dripping in. I don’t know how I’ll get back yet, but I’ll think of something.” Kale found a pizza box from a few days ago in his little hideout and it still had one semi-eaten pepperoni and sausage piece left. He offered it to the gargoyle but she refused it while cleaning out a can of soup. He downed it and followed up with a bottle of soda. “So have you found your mom is yet?”
“Nope, but I have a picture of her.” Kale showed her the picture of a man and a woman holding a baby, “That’s my dad and that’s my mom holding me when I was a baby. That’s how I knew it was her. I’ve stared at that so long there’s no way I’d mistake it.”
He pointed at each of them so she could identify them. Looking over the picture, she couldn’t help but think back to holding her little sister like that just after she hatched, “You were a cute human.”
Kale blushed, “Don’t call me cute. Guys don’t like to be called cute.”
She giggled, “Alright then. What’s they’re names?”
Kale pointed at the two again as he answered. “My dad’s name is Clyde and my mom’s name is Cielo.”
“That means ‘heaven’ in my tongue.” she asserted almost excitedly, “Where is she from?”
“I don’t know.” he replied, “Dad didn’t talk about her much. Hey, I never got your name.”
“I don’t have one. Gargoyles aren’t born with mothers to name us.”
“Then I’ll name you. You could…nah. It’d be weird if I named you like my mom…but I can’t think of anything.” They thought for a moment, then the gargoyle spoke.
“If you take out the first ‘e’, the word is haven and it technically means the same thing.”
“Ok, that’s your name: Haven”
“I can live with that I guess.” Suddenly, the sky opened up and it began to rain. In minutes, it was pouring.
The cardboard ceiling began to drip. “Get under here.” She took him under her wing and held him close. Kale yawned and laid his head on her lap. She didn’t mind at all. “Tomorrow, can you take me flying with you?”
“Uh…” Kale lifted his head, “You’ve got wings. Don’t you use them to fly?”
“Well, I can’t exactly walk in sunlight, much less fly.”
“Then tomorrow night?”
“Well…we’ll worry about tomorrow night when it comes. Just throw a cover over me until then.” The boy closed his eyes and let the sound of the rain lull him to sleep.
The next morning, he awoke to find his friend stone. He didn’t have time to freak out since he began throwing up and developing cramps throughout his gut. He also had a serious urge to use the bathroom. With no toilet anywhere, he had to use a box. The pain continued for hours, long into the evening when the sun set on another day in Manhattan.
Haven began awakening from her solid, slumber and stretched until she hit a box over her head. The first thing she saw was Kale, writhing in pain from cramps and nausea. “Kale?! Are you okay?”
“No, *groan* It hurts!”
“My stomach!” He groaned loudly. “What’s wrong with your stomach?”
He started groaning even louder then he threw up in the box next to his pillow. “Maybe there’s some medicine in that convenience store. I’ll be right back.”
She went through the alleys and street and into the convenience store. She had the trench coat and hoodie on but the store keeper wasn’t fooled and was ready for her with a new rifle. “Stay back monster!”
“Look, I don’t have time for you. Just give me stomach me…” he fired a shot, poor shot since his eyes were half closed. Instead, he took out a light near the refrigerated drinks. The man aimed his rifle at her neck but was so scared he couldn’t hold it steady. She snatched the rifle from him and broke the trigger.
“Yeah, no.” She then gave him back his now useless weapon and took his collar into her hand and brought him close. “Either you help me or I help myself. Now, where can I find some medicine for an upset stomach?”
Meanwhile, across the street, Kale was groaning so loud that he attracted the attention of a gang walking the streets.
“God, what is that noise. It sounds like a dying kid.” They rounded the corner to where Kale was. “Lucky guess.”
“So what’s a kid like you doing such a long, long way from home? Your old lady must be worried sick.”
“Yeah, she’ll be saying ‘oh my darling wittle baby is out there a~ll alone. What if someone comes along and takes advantage of that?”
“Hey guys, looks like the kid’s livin’ in here.” The man picked up a Reeses Cup and nommed it down. “Hey, that’s mine.” Another man picked the kid up by his jacket collar. “Didn’t you’re mommy ever teach you to share with guests.”
“Jerks, put me down.” Suddenly, the urge could be denied no longer and he threw up on the man holding him. “Ew, gross!”
He threw Kale to the ground and kicked him into the boxes. The boxes fell everywhere. “The little shit just spewed on me.”
He walked over and started kicking the kid while his boys just watched, “Can’t say I blame the guy.”
“He’s lucky though: at least it wasn’t Marco. That guy’s got a mad itch.” At that moment, a voice drew their attention. “You guys are a real class act, picking a fight with a sick kid?”
They turned around to see Haven standing behind them. She only had the trench coat on. “Well looky here. You get back from a Halloween party, sweetheart?”
“Did they bore you? You just wanted some real company, huh?” he grabbed a lock of her hair and sniffed it, to which she twisted his wrist out of place. As he screamed in agony, she removed the coat and revealed herself.
“It’s that monster from last night!”
“Kale! You okay?!” Kale didn’t answer. “He won’t be getting up for a while so we can play without interruptions.” Haven’s eyes started glowing. She leaped at them to attack. Throwing most aside and punching the rest. Her tail stunned most followed by either a foot or fist. She tossed the trench coat over two of them and tied it off with their chains, dumping them in the dumpster. She ripped out a bar in the fire escape and hung one up there.
One took out his gun ready to fire. She grabbed the barrel the wrong way and the man fired a bullet right into her right palm. She grasped her hand in pain but got over it quickly to squeeze the bones in his hand to cracking in uncommon places. One caught her hair and pulled her to the ground as another took a crowbar to her back thrice. He was about to strike again when out of nowhere, he was knocked back and the one holding her hair followed.
Haven pushed herself off the ground quite strained now that it hurt to move, unaware of what just happened, when a radish-red hand appeared before her. When she looked up, all she saw was a silhouette of another gargoyle outlined before the over-head street light. The only things she could make out were wings and shining, silver hair.