Chapter 9 - The Malevolent Briana
“Most of New York has already been evacuated but for those who are unable to evacuate, the doors to the shelters will remain open for only a few more hours if the weather will allow it. If you do not make it to the shelters before that time, we advise all New York residents to stay inside until the storm has passed. If you can, find shelter on higher ground as flooding risks are at a whopping 87% due to the tunnels, subway systems, and natural depressions and faults and the prediction that the dykes will not hold. It is certain that Briana will devastate our great cities and that they will not return to normal overnight but the state’s recovery teams are prepared for Mother Nature’s worst. We will stay on the air for as long as we can to give you updates on Hurricane Briana. This is Joanne Sanchez reporting to you live from NY1.”
Winds raged with all the force of a murderous intent and yet neither malice nor animosity was harbored in this fatal storm. The sky was flooded and as it plunged to the earth, it stung all it encountered. Lightning shot here and there with a thunderous echo reverberating only moments after. At times it seemed that the thunder came before the lightning. It was the storm of the century, destroying everything in its wake but it would not stop the young gargoyles from her quest for the boy.
Only two hours ago did she and Lexington leap off the side of Castle Wyvern and head into Harlem. Haven, still new to the art of flight, was struggling to keep airborne but Lex stuck it out with her. Vision was near impossible and time and time again, they would be flung into various structures that made up the city by the unyielding gale. The wind was sucking the air from their lungs and the occasional debris would fly into them. The only thing that kept them going was the thought of leaving Kale out in this to fend for himself. He was a smart kid but he was still young and headstrong. The torrential shower reared hail that shot like bb’s. If not for their scaled-hide, it might have pierce right through the gargoyles.
The thunder, rain, and gusts were deafening that there was scarcely any chance for anyone, much less Kale, to hear calling out to them. “…le…! KALE!”
Haven who had just been flung onto a rooftop craned her neck to see Lexington landing only a few feet away, “You okay?!”
“They both stood and walked to each other but even that was a struggle, “I think the storm has gotten too bad. Maybe we should find Goliath and call off the search until it dies down a little.”
“And what about Kale? He can’t survive in this.” Haven protested. Lexington tried to dissuade her further, “I know you’re worried. We all are, but you can’t survive this storm either. None of us can. For all we know, Kale might have found a safe place to sit this out.”
“I can’t gamble on that! I’m not leaving the kid to die in this storm!” Haven got up and started towards the edge but Lexington grabbed her by the arm, “You can’t beat these winds and what if you get hit by lightning?! What good will it do him if you’re dead?!”
“I’d sooner die than make the same mistake again!” Haven leaped off the rooftop and glided awkwardly away, the storm making her more desperate. Lexington knew she was hell bent so, like Brooklyn, he decided it best to follow her. He instructed her how to glide better through the winds and to brace herself when the gusts came. For a while they fared well with only a few hitches until a more violent blast threw them into a radio tower. The metal beams bent and a loud clang echoed through the area from the impact. Lexington, lightest of the gargoyles, bounced off and was about to be blow away with the gust when Haven caught his wrist. But the wind stole him from her grip only moments later and spirited him away, out of reach and out of sight.
Haven recovered, shrugging off the pain in her lower back, and flew off in the direction Lexington was carried away in but in only a few moments, she was chucked right through a brick wall into an apartment building. Luckily, the residents had already been evacuated so there wasn’t as much issue as there could have been. It was somewhat warmer in the room even with the gaping hole in the wall but this was no time to enjoy a fleeting comfort. She labored to her feet but could merely sustain a kneel as she strained towards the opening to get back outside.
It was almost familiar, the area, as if all it took was a different perspective to fully recognize. Flopping against the fire escape and hanging on for all she had. She saw the convenience store she and Kale robbed across the street. It was dark and boarded up but there was no mistaking it. Suddenly, the idea to follow the route back to the boxes drove her to move from wall to wall, not trying to risk the wind taking her somewhere else.
The down pour was so thick it was unfeasible to think one could search through it for an aimless gargoyle much less a lost boy. Yet somehow, by the grace of some deity on high, she found one. At least she was sure she did; all she could see – after getting hurled about and knocked onto the ground that was now flooded by four inches fair – was a pair of small, seemingly lifeless legs hanging out a box among many. Hope seized her features as she moved in closer to see if hope could be realized. In the box was a young boy, fighting for consciousness. “Kale!”
He was soaked to the bone, his fingers and ears half frozen and the rest of him hot and clammy despite the freezing weather. The boy struggled to open his eyes but all he could manage was a flutter. Haven took him into her grip and he grunted loudly alerting Haven to his pain. Haven finally noticed the blood that dried a crimson stain in his shirt, not yet washed away by the rain. Pulling the sleeve back on the right, she found a nasty gash scabbed over. She tested his lower arm but he groaned at the slightest touch. At this, she then perceived that his whole right arm was broken, “Oh Kale, what have you done to yourself?”
Kale just mumbled senseless words. She wasn’t even sure if he even knew she was there, “Que está bien, Kale; I’ve got you. Just hang on for me. I’m gonna find you a hospital.”
Haven’s first thought was to make him a splint but just as she was coming out of the alleyway, a fierce gasp filled her lungs. Down the street at the pier, the dykes had fallen and an impressive surge of water was rushing right for them. Haven ran down the street like mad looking for anything that could give her a quick boost to higher ground since scaling a wall would take too long with Kale in her arms. Up ahead, there was a bus stop and a street light. Leaping on top of the bus stop and swinging from the lamp, she propelled herself onto the wall of a building. But when the wave came, she still proved too low and was washed away.
Haven used her tail and swam with all her might against the current to keep Kale’s head out of the water as much as possible. She kept getting knocked back by trashcans, parking counters, bikes and the racks they’re chained too, and anything else that couldn’t withstand the force of the rush of water but she held onto Kale with a death grip. Finally, she caught hold of a second story window and clawed her way up to the third story. The rushing flood beat against her while in the water and the increasing wind whipped at her once out.
Once she managed to reach a window on the third floor, she smashed it in, not noticing the elderly couple inside. One of the men took up a bat and started beating Haven, “IT’S A GARGOYLE! GET OUT, CREATURE! GET OUT! YOU WILL NOT COME IN HERE!!!”
“Wait, please!” Haven protested, “STOP IT!” she gripped the bat and growled at the man. He backed off quick, frightened by Haven’s glowing eyes. Too tired to even hold up the bat and quite sore from the beating, she dropped the bat and slumped against the window frame, “Please…help him.”
Haven revealed the boy in her arm to the couple, his waist tight in her grip and his head resting limply against the crook of her neck, “Please…”
The other man could see her exhaustion and hastily took the child not sure how much longer she could hold onto him for with the wind beating up against her, “His name’s Kale. I think his arm’s broken…an he ‘as a fever.”
The man nodded, “Alright, we’ll look after him.” Haven’s arm fell limp when Kale’s weight was taken off of it. She let out a sigh then tried to come in when another strong gust blew against her, this time in the opposite direction. Haven was caught off guard and tried to grip the window pane, the wall, another window, anything but the water again. However many times she tried to grab hold of something in the few moments, she was still knocked against the current and washed away.
She was too tired to fight the surge and was struggling to stay above the surface but kept getting pushed under. She tried multiple times to climb out but the water seemed to have a clutch on her and was stubborn to relinquish it. From here, her only relief was a light pole that she managed to gain hold of. She held fast to it with what little strength she had left. To distract herself, she thought of how tall the average street light was and estimated 25 ft. The water level topped of at the tip of the pole where the overhang began. That was where Haven was gripping desperately, her feet, tail, and long, crimson hair flowing with the torrent freely. Haven wasn’t sure how long she could hold on for, especially with large debris ramming into her occasionally, “Someone…Mother…help.”
A little ways off, Briana’s mighty breath was giving Brooklyn and Broadway a tough fight of their own. “They probably, went back to the castle. We can’t meet up at the park like this.”
Broadway was trying to convince Brooklyn to get out of the storm but Brooklyn understood Haven better than anyone else in the clan. He knew her to be so stubborn: the worst of storms wouldn’t stop her. “You don’t think…” he started while looking down at the rushing water.
Broadway looked too and felt the same concern but shook his head of the thought, “I’m sure she wouldn’t be THAT foolish.” Brooklyn knew she’d accept having her wings ripped off by Briana than leave Kale out in her wake. But he also knew that both he and Broadway couldn’t take this beating for much longer, “Fine, we’ll check the castle.”
Just as they turned around, the wind they were fighting against snatched them up the moment they stopped resisting. They were luckily thrown onto a rooftop and not the water but Broadway was tossed against the edge. Barely hanging on, Brooklyn crawled strenuously to reach him and pull him back up. Grasping the cement rooftop, Broadway paused, “Hang on, you hear something?”
Brooklyn listened through the deafening roar of the wind, and he did hear a familiar sound. Just as he realized what it was, they saw Lexington hanging on for all it’s worth to a billboard that was flying by them. They chased after him and the billboard until they caught hold of him just as he lost his grip. Once they were safe on the rooftop, Lexington was allowed to catch his breath. “You alright, Lex?”
Lexington took another moment before answering Broadway, “I’m fine, but I lost sight of Haven.”
Brooklyn shot to attention but Broadway asked first, “What do you mean? Where is she?”
“The wind blew me away but she crashed into a radio tower then a building while trying to help me. I don’t know what happened after that.” Lexington affirmed. Brooklyn, not waiting for an invitation or an opposition. Broadway, unable to stop him, carried Lexington to safety while Brooklyn darted towards the nearest tower he knew of.
Once there, he found the bent metal from when someone crashed into it. From there, he could see the hole in the side of the building she crashed into and headed there, wind beating his wings in many other directions. Inside, the place was trashed and there was a small red puddle on the floor staining the carpet and the rubble. Brooklyn’s stomach lurched and he gripped it tightly.
Coming out of the room, the alleyway was getting washed by the strong currents of the Hudson River, leveling off just a few inches shy of the third floor fire escape. There were no further leads so he climbed up to the roof and took off following the current blindly. It took him further into Harlem and he still found nothing. A tattered newspaper suddenly collided into his face throwing off his flight pattern. Brooklyn luckily evaded the water and seized a window bar. Removing the periodical and securing his claws in the brick, he saw a proverbial flash of crimson out the corner of his eye.
It was Haven, still clutching the light pole on the other side of the street for what was going on half an hour. He had just barely passed her, “HAVEN!”
Brooklyn called out to her many times but surmised that she was either too far away or too tired to hear him over the howl of the squall; it may have been both. Brooklyn fought tooth and nail against the blustery weather to get within reach before he called again, “HAVEN!”
This time, she heard him but she moved so sluggishly to turn her head towards the sound. Her eyelids were heavy and her mouth formed a weak smile. Brooklyn, holding onto the bars of another window (seemingly the style in these parts), stretched out the utmost length of his arm. Haven feebly reached back meeting his fingertips before the pain in her back throbbed and the last of her strength gave out. Haven was swept away by the current and Brooklyn didn’t hesitate to jump in after her.
Both of them were at the mercy of the surf, whipping through the flooded streets of Manhattan like it was an irrigation system systematically moving through a maze of crops. It was a struggle to keep afloat but Brooklyn swam with everything he had to reach Haven whose limbs were victim to the tidal puppeteer. Brooklyn, close enough to her now, reached for her arm but a motorcycle swept him further down. He watched as she was swiped by the alley stream. He followed her to the next street over across an alley nearest to him but couldn’t see her once over.
The undercurrent pulled him under at last ready to flail him about to drown him but Brooklyn would have none of it. His foot scrapped against the top of a bus so he dug his claws in and pulled himself down onto it, fighting the rush. That couldn’t last long because he knew he had to come up for air sometime. Just ahead, he could hardly make out Haven’s figure drifting under the surface towards him. He braced himself and held up one arm, snatching her ankle. He pulled her close and embraced her waist securely before he pushed up to the surface.
Popping out of the waves, he gasped for air but Haven didn’t. The Hudson wasn’t so kind as to let them stay afloat and pushed them back under. Realizing he wouldn’t be able to simply climb out, he caught hold of the brick surrounding a window and broke into it. Brooklyn carefully swam in, trying not to scrape Haven against the glass shards. Swimming from room to room, he found the front door and kicked it as hard as he could muster, detaching it from its hinges. Into the hallway and up the stairs, his lungs about to give out, he finally burst out of the water six stairs from the door to the roof.
Brooklyn scooped up Haven’s legs and carried her to the top, resting her on the floor, cold as it was, “Haven! HAVEN!”
She was unresponsive. Her skin was like ice. “No.” Brooklyn shook her shoulders then cupped her cheeks and shook her head from left to right, “Come on, Haven, don’t do this to me! Breath!”
There seemed to be no life left in her. Her orange skin was starting to bleach. Brooklyn thought hard back to when Angela stopped breathing and what Elisa did to save her. Pinching her nose, he placed his beak over her lips and breathed air into her. After four times of doing that, he pause only long enough to remember the chest compressions. He placed one hand overtop the other and made the short, rough presses into the center of her chest. Elisa counted three times so he did three as well before going back to her lips, this time giving five breaths, thinking them more important. After his second round of breaths, he became desperate with his compressions, “Come on! I don’t even know what I’m doing here! I need you to breath!”
On the third round of breaths, between the second and third, he whispered a final plea, “Please…wake up.”
Short of hope on the third, he breathed long and deep on the fourth. Haven twitched violently shocking Brooklyn away from her as she turned to the side and vomited most of the water that collected in her lungs and stomach out of her system. Coughing up the last of it, she collapsed on her side and panted. Brooklyn was so relieved that he took her into his arms and held her close, “Thank Oberon.”
It was hard not to grip tightly but he knew she still needed air. Haven took a moment to recognize the voice, “Brookl…”
She was still too weak to lift her arms and her eyes were listless. Brooklyn noted as he released his grip to see that her stone-like skin was still frigid cold, “Come on, let’s get you warm.”
There was no point in going back downstairs for blankets so he decided to see what was on the roof. The only thing on that roof that provided sufficient shelter was a half-brick, half-wood, tool shed. Brooklyn lifted Haven into his arms and got her head to rest on his shoulder. Once on the roof, he wished he had enough strength to carry her to the five-story building three complexes down but with the wind and the rain whipping against them, there wasn’t much chance of that so he entered the shed.
Inside, he found various supplies designated for the residents that evacuated that complex. There was a first aid kit, a toolbox, spare lights, batteries, and other comforts. It was as if the tenants were preparing for emergencies like this. There was only one spare blanket so he tore open the plastic and wrapped Haven in it. Sitting pretzel-style with Haven wrapped up in his lap, he moved to warm her back, brushing against her injury. Haven groaned at the pain, reminding Brooklyn of the red puddle. Looking at his hand, he found a small red stain.
He unwrapped Haven and placed her on her side to see the wound. It was a nasty gash with signs of bruising around it. He grabbed the kit and cleaned it the best he could. The ungodly sting from the alcohol wipes made Haven writhe and growl but once he had the laceration cleared up and began wrapping her waist, she relaxed exhausted.
“This should be gone by tomorrow night. Try to last that long.” Brooklyn assured. Haven whispered softly as that was all she could manage at the time, “I…*gasp* found him.”
Brooklyn paused then continued wrapping, felling it better not to comment. Haven kept on, “Eva will watch him.”
Her words were spaced by semi-heavy breathes. Brooklyn finished and enveloped her in the blanket once more. In her slight delirium, she nuzzled her head into Brooklyn’s neck to get warmer, “I hear…a drum…”
Brooklyn blushed violently and was sure she could hear his heart start to race a little but shirked it off as the developing fever talking. His body heat soaked through the sheet just as much as hers. He didn’t know what to do about her fever so he just held her more closely.As the night continued on, thunder roaring, lightening flashing, rain pouring, gusts whipping and floods rushing, all fell quiet in her ears as she lulled off to sleep. In her delirious visions, she played with her little Eva before she saw her sister take her first flight over the clouds.