Chapter 3 - Haunting Illusions
Moonshine is an entity of dreams for all but the nocturnal. But for one gargoyle, it was no different than the diurnal creatures. Night after night, staring endlessly into a fountain, dreaming with open eyes that it could give her answers to questions she didn’t know to ask; nothing but still waters only disturbed by the occasional breeze from the currents of her level in the atmosphere. All is quiet in the courtyard until a wind of a different kind blows her way.
Haven laid spread out on the edge of the fountain swirling her tail in the water, reminiscing of the saline gusts that blew her hair in the moon light, flowing with the tide and cutting through it, fishing with her brothers, dreaming of home. The night air here smelled of smog and dirty streets. The waters were over flowing with trash and had a brownish tinge that one can’t help but question. And at the moment, she was alone; and she liked it that way.
The humans usually stayed inside and when they came out, they were in the other courtyard. If any gargoyle wished to talk to her, they knew where she was and the humans seemed to know to avoid her. She snickered at the thought of them fearing her temper, if they thought she had one strong enough to kill them. It was a curious question to her if she’d start with the infant, the way the humans did with her very young sister. But this half of the courtyard was relaxing enough to calm her thoughts of murder. There was grass here and trees, a semblance of the ‘Rich Coast to distract her, at least before she began to question why she not only didn’t kill Kale when he screamed but lacked the urge to period and even helped him…three times. It even disturbed her to think about it.
The others had gone out on patrol and the male human was holding a meeting with his business associates, like she cared. It was only her fourth night in Castle Wyvern and she already regretted what she said to Brooklyn. Just then, someone popped into her line of sight to remind her she wasn’t the only one there.
“Hi, Haven!” Haven jumped, nearly falling into the fountain as Kale showed up, “Hi, Kale. ‘Speak of the devil.’
“So I was thinking, if you’re not doing anything, you could take me flying around the city.” he half asked with eager anticipation. Haven tried to change the subject, “Pequeño, gargoyles don’t fly, they glide.”
Kale dismissed it, “Ok, can we go gliding then? Please, please, pleeeez?” Haven tried not to look him in the eye. That sparkle of innocent excitement was just a tad too heart-wrenching, “I…I’m sorry, Kale, but I can’t.”
“Why not?” Kale looked on in disappointment. “I’m sorry,” she sighed, “I just can’t.”
“I just wanted to go fly over stuff. It’s not like I wanted to go far.” he pouted. Haven half snorted, “If we went flying, I’d probably drop you off with your dad. You should talk this out with him.”
“No way! And you don’t know where I live!”
“You’re right. And it wouldn’t be safe for us anyway.”
“Well, all that flying around, he might see us and think I kidnapped you. Then he’d fire a gun at us.”
“MY DAD WOULD NEVER DO THAT!”
“You think too highly of him. He's human, and all humans are the same with monsters.”
“Not MY dad. He’ll probably thank you for bringing me home. And he makes good bread pudding.”
Haven stared off with a sobering expression, keeping silent so as not to ruin that innocent outlook that all children have on the world. Kale puffed out his air and slumped against the side of the fountain. It was silent for a while and a little uncomfortable. But of course, children are often oblivious of awkwardness, Kale spoke out against it, “So what are you doing out here?”
Not sure how to answer, she just gave a simple response, “Thinking.” But no simple answer ever satisfied the mind of a child, always searching for a deeper meaning even though they may not always understand, “About what?”
Haven sighed deeply, “Home.” Again his curiosity poked at her, “What’s your home like?” Haven finally looked down at him, “Pretty, I guess.”
Kale tucked in his knees ready to hear her, however long she spoke. Haven took a deep breath and let it out before speaking, “Well, there are trees everywhere – not like here - but it’s always humid. The winter is hot and sunny but the breezes cool it down.” Neither of them noticed some of the Gargoyles came back and that Angela was listening in. “It rains a lot in the summer but that’s when we lived on Mt. Chirripó. Before sunrise, Alonso took me and Jerico to the top: it looked like an island floating on a milky sea.”
Kale didn’t look impressed so she got more in depth, not even sure why, “At dusk, the ocean turns blue and red, and rosa, er pink. It’s great fishing at that time since barley anyone’s in the water. When it gets too dark to fish, we go to the resorts near the banks for the traditional bailarines on stage for the guests.”
“Don’t you mean ballerinas?” Kale asked. “No, bailarines. Sorry, I go in and out of my language. They’re robust dancers. Anyway, the women always wear these long dresses with bright, colorful ruffles and the men usually have a red scarf around their necks and wear very large hats. The food is ok; most of it goes great with Lizano.”
“You speak a lot of Spanish.” Kale noted, “I don’t know much. Just what I used to see from Dora the Explorer.” Angela giggled quietly from where she was as Haven continued. “I wouldn’t imagine anyone your age would try hard to learn Spanish if they don’t already know it.”
Haven half giggled then cursed herself for giving into this human’s questions. Kale crossed his legs and faced her, gripping his ankles and rocking, “Keep going. I want to hear more.”
She couldn’t think of a way out of this fast enough so she just kept going. An older memory came to mind. “I used to live with my familia in the abbey of Carhuita, a coastal small town next to a national park. One Augusto, Jerico got sick. Jerico and I hatched minutes apart but I was first. Eva took another year to hatch and Alonso hatched almost two years before me. Monja Iveliesse, that’s the woman who found us as eggs, she didn’t know what was wrong, couldn’t take him to the town doctor, or the apothecary. She didn’t know what to do so she sent us to the Basilica in Cartago to pray to the Black Virgin, La Negrita, to save him. It was my and Eva’s y Jerico’s first time out and everything seemed so big.”
Angela moved in closer to hear, staying in the shadows all the while. “It felt like Monja Ivelisse packed more worry than provisions and kept saying ‘be careful’ and ‘stay safe’ and ‘keep hidden’ a hundred times over. When we finally set out, Eva and I carried the bags while Alonso carried Jerico. He said the roads were too dangerous so we only followed it past la Árbol de la Vida and took the river upstream through the mountains the rest of the way.
“We stopped near a small town in Valle La Estrella where people go to this thing called Colegio to get smarter…I guess. Alonso was going into town for any extra supplies since it would be the last time for miles that we’d have that luxury. He left Jerico with us and told us not to go near any humans if we saw them, but we didn’t listen. Eva heard some young woman tumbling about. She was stung by something in and it made her blind so she couldn’t get home by herself. We helped her back to her casa which was hard since we didn’t know the area and Jerico was so heavy. She was so grateful for our help that she invited us into her home for dinner. Just as we were about to ask if our other hermano could come too, her family found us and chased us away with stones.”
“That’s horrible! Didn’t you tell them about helping the girl?” Kale protested. “Wouldn’t have mattered. The instant her family told her she was walking with diablas, she reached for a stone herself and shouted for her family to tell her where we were.”
“My family would never do that, and if they did, I’d throw rocks at them for being so stupid.” Haven shook her head, “You’d stone us too if you heard we were demons. We grew wiser that day; more wary of humans. Alonso didn’t even scold us much.”
Haven remembered the names they were called and the animosity from the woman they helped. She remembered Alonso hardly asking about their scars. The look of confusion on Eva’s face and hurt on hers should have said enough. She continued, taking note of her extended pause, “It took us three nights to get to Cartago and when we got there, it was much bigger and busier than we could have imagined. Not to mention, the Basilica had to be the most magnífico place I’d ever laid eyes on. Its white columns and moldings was so well lit with azul, naranja, y blanco on the outside but the inside: oh the inside was shades of rojo anaranjado and verde jade.”
“Oh, red-orange and jade green. Everything looked bejeweled and glistened and the alter for La Negrita was the most so. They adorned it with a golden crowning decoration that outshined everything else there. We caught all the lights the next night before it closed. The first night it was too late and the sun was near ready to rise but the sight of it even without the lights was amazing. We prayed to La Negrita to save our brother Jerico for three nights and by the end of the third, Jerico was nearing a full recovery.
“On the way back Jerico wanted to help look for water since our canteens were nearly empty. We were near Laguna Angostura but we were also near another town, one we avoided on the way to the Basilica. But Alonso said it was dark enough that it shouldn’t matter so I went for a swim with him. While Eva waited at the back with Alonso.
“We swam out farther than we should because we found a dam taking in the river pouring from the mountain before it reached the lake. I wanted to go back but Jerico has always been the exploring type. That’s when we heard a man crying out for help. I tried to ignore it but Jerico rushed in to help him. The man had fell into the water and the current was pushing him straight to the dam’s mechanisms. Jerico tried to help him on his own but he ended up falling in himself. By then it was hopeless pulling them out so I done in to help him swim the man out.
“Once the man had rested enough on the rock bed of the banks, he sat up with a smile to thank us. I had already pulled Jerico into the shadows of the trees but the man convinced him to reveal himself. Once he did, the man froze for a second then pulled out a knife. He swung it while screaming he’d seen his own grave. He back himself up to the river’s edge then when realized we were in his path for escape, he attacked us.
“I wasn’t strong enough to fight him and Jerico just froze in fear no matter how much I yelled for him to run. He over powered me but Alonso, who came looking for us and heard my shouts, took the knife into his arm for me. The man got another jab into his side before running to warn others of us. He was so badly injured, Alonso was barely hanging on by morning when he could heal.”
“Did he live?”
“He did, but it was a long walk back.”
“Wait a second. You guys WALKED there?! Why didn’t you just fly?”
Haven said nothing, remembering that Eva asked that too. She never got an answer.
“It would have been SO much faster. You could have been there and back in ten minutes.”
“I’m not discussing this with you, Eva.”
“Who?” Haven stopped. She definitely had this conversation before, “Nothing.” Kale continued, “So why can’t we go gliding now? We haven’t left this convent in forever.”
“What did you say?” Haven swore she heard…but hoped she imagined it. “I said we haven’t left this castle in forever.” She sighed and tried to ignore it, continuing the conversation. “We just got here three nights ago. This place is huge. Have you bored yourself already? There’s even a library. You couldn’t possibly have read all those books by now.”
Angela felt any longer would be prying since she was already guilty of eavesdropping, thus she left. “Books are boring,” Kale continued, “and that doesn’t explain why we can’t go gliding. It’s perfe…”
What Haven was hearing started merging from memories, “It’s a beautiful night and your birthday but you the festival has music besides, what’s the difference between flying and Jerico wants to go to and Alonso is hey, are you ok He wants to get you one of those bailarina dresses that swish and hello, anyone the~ can’t we just go out just this once Haven did you hear something HAVEN LOOK OUT!!”
“STOP TALKING! I can’t think with two of you in my ear!”
“But it’s just me…” Haven snapped out of it. Kale was backing away from her…but he had wavy naval blue hair and grey skin and wings under her arms and a spiked tail. Now it wasn’t déjà vu, it was a full on hallucination. She was actually seeing her little sister, not Kale. Kale came back, “You’re scaring me.”
Haven sat there blankly trying to dispel the visions she just saw but they just kept flooding back, haunting her. She rubbed her eyes and looked; it was Kale. The vision was gone but the memory was there, “You should or read a book or something. I’m just gonna…”
She got up and stumbled off to the garden. “Are you okay?” Kale looked on from the distance. He saw her eyes were filled with shock and sweat trickled down the sides of her face. “I’m a little light headed. I think I’ll go lay down somewhere.”
Kale realized how far away he was when she stood up, knowing it was his own fear but shrugging it off to offer aid. “Do you need any help?” Kale requested worriedly. “No, I’ll be fine. You go read tv.” And with that, she was gone. “Okay.” Kale answered to comfort his mind more than for her to hear him.
Haven walked over to the trees in the garden and sat in the dark shade of their branches. She held her hair between her fingers and pressed her temples in, rocking back and forth, “That was not Eva. Eva is dead. That was not Eva. Eva is dead. That was not Eva. Eva is…” on and on she went like that as tears overflowed the wells of her eyes.