Chapter 17: Gargoyle
I keep my gaze locked onto the horizon… they truly are gone… for once.
I feel hands grip my shoulders but I don't respond to the feeling.
A silence falls between us. I can't hear: the monster trees, Asura hunting me, Nature's distinct melodies or my own breathing. Am I breathing? I can't tell, the only things that I do hear must have over powered the other sounds… or I could be in shock. It's quite difficult to tell the difference between the two.
I can only hear the voices. Ever since I could remember, they have been with me. They tell me their opinion of my life and sometimes they demand for me to explain what's going on in my life. They have endless questions, I try and answer them all but some of them are to abstract. Some of them remind me of myself. I don't know what they look like, all I know is that they question everything I do and they never shut up. Even in this scenario they just cannot sit down and watch the show of the great Madeline Hatter withering away in self Madness.
"Can you stand?"
Oh, I can hear again.
I remove my gaze from the crowd of trees and I look into grey cat eyes…. It's quite frustrating knowing that I can't read her feeling, action and mood through them. The eyes were made to be windows into a person's soul, so why can't I see her soul? Maybe the answer lies in the question? Since her cat pupils aren't like normal human beings' then that's why I can't read her thoughts… but my eyes are quite unique too, and people are able to read my mood from looking at me. My eyes aren't like Cataria's at all… it's quite difficult to explain them. Oh, Dracule has uncommon eyes too… now that I think about it, our eyes-
I'm pulled away from my thoughts when I feel myself being dragged away…
"Oh! It talks now! I thought you were going to be mute forever."
"…What… are you going?"
"Don't be stupid Hatter. I know your mad but that does not mean that you can be stupid too- what's with that look?"
"Hatter? Oh great. I finally got you talking again but within two minutes you go mute again."
"It's just that…"
"Oh she speaks again!"
"It's just that… I know- I knew someone who used to say that to me a lot…"
"Who was that?"
I can hear in Cataria's voice that she's curious and she wants me to keep on talking… but why? We're in a somewhat dark forest where we're being- scratch that. I'm in a forest where I'm being hunted… is she trying to get me killed. The first person who I trust while I'm away from Garrett wants to kill me… already, isn't that wonderful!
"…My mom used to say that to me. If I did something Mad she would tell me that I'm not allowed to be stupid…"
Cataria stops dragging me, actually she stops walking in general. Maybe she's going to release her iron grip on my shirt, but she doesn't. Instead she tightens her grip.
Cataria starts walking again. Her pace before was slow and somewhat cautious But now she's picking up her speed. She's ignoring our surrounding and she doesn't turn around and look at me while her hand is strangling me shirt… I hope she doesn't rip a hole in it. I really liked this shirt…
Cataria picks me up by the collar of my shirt and she throws me to the side. I land hard on my side. When I look up to Cataria to complain and curse at her she kneels besides me and she covers my mouth with her left hand. With her right hand she takes her index finger and holders it up to her mouth; she's silently telling me to shut up.
I stay silent even though my body is in a very uncomfortable position and I just want to sit on something soft and drink a cup of tea.
When Cataria determines that I will be quite she removes her hand from my mouth and she's looking around at the ground. She sees what she was looking for and she scoops up dirt from the ground. What the hell is she going to do with that?
She takes the dirt and she smears it all over my face, hair and body. I try to protest, scream and push her hands away, but Cataria takes one of her now empty hands and she pinches my throat. It's as if she's done this before because she grasps exactly onto my vocal cords. I can't speak, but I'm not choking. It's painful, and it's unpleasant but I don't feel like I'm dying. I always thought that when someone tries to strangle you, it would hurt and you see that bright fucking light which everyone talks about. But I don't see that. I just see Cataria.
I glare at Cataria and I'm about use it, but then I hear it.
I hear footsteps. They land on the ground fast and loud. This person must be big, in stature and weight. The sound breaks the silence and it sounds like a countdown. There is only one person who would walk that fast in this forest. Asura found us. His footsteps are the countdown until he finds us and kills us- until he kills me.
I move to get up but Cataria pushed me back down. I have no idea what she's thinking. She's able to do that disappear act, but I can't do that! I ran away before and I'm hell bent on not doing it again.
The footsteps stop.
I don't hear anything for a few minutes until I hear someone take a deep breathe. Unconsciously I hold my breath; it sounded like he was right behind me. I try and turn my head to see if he really was there but Cataria catches my face in-between her hands and she holds my head still. All I can do is stay still and look at Cataria. Her face is emotionless, but I can tell she's scared. Her hands are clammy, but they aren't shaky. She's trying to make sure that I stay calm. Cataria wants me to stay calm? Alright then, I'll stay calm.
I close my eyes. I escape from Cataria, this fucked up island and from Asura.
I enter my thoughts. They are crazy, irrational and running around.
I see images of tea, hats, everything I love and sadly, everything I hate.
When I see someone who I despise, I quickly banish that thought away. I need to stay calm. Calm. What will make me calm?
I blink my eyes a few times and instead of standing in darkness surrounded by my memories and thoughts I'm somewhere else.
I'm on a grassy hill sitting on a checkered blanket. I'm wearing the dress that I left in and my whole body is sprawled out on the blanket. I flutter my eyes some more and I realize that my arms are behind my head and I'm using them as a pillow. I sit up and I stretch my back, when my back cracks a pleased sound escaped from me.
"You do realize when you do that you sound like an old maid."
I look to my right and there he is. He's sitting up with his right leg crossed over his left while on the blanket next to me. In his left hand is holding a book about four inches thick. He doesn't turn his head to look at me, but instead he glanced at me from the corner of his left eye. His gaze lingers on me for several seconds but after he realizes that I did hear him he turns his attention back to his book and he flips to the next page. He takes his right hand and he levitates his index finger over every word. His eyes flicker across the page with lightning speed. I watch his finger and it flies across each word and within a minute he moves onto the next page.
I finally get bored of looking at him and I look around us to fully grasp our surroundings. I see that we are on the top of the hill and at the bottom is the ocean. I sit cross legged and I lean forward to see if anyone is around, and there isn't. We're the only one's here.
"An old maid? I forgot how old fashioned you are."
His body stiffens, but then he relaxes and smiles. He doesn't look at me but he keeps on reading with one of his stupid smiles on his face.
"You smile too much."
"Would you rather see my frown or smile?"
He chuckles at my response.
"Only my mad Maddie would say something like now."
"And only Garrett the Gargoyle would say that I sound like an 'old maid' instead of saying that I sound like an old hag when I pop my back."
Garrett looks at me from the corner of his eye again, but instead of continuing to read he takes a bookmarker from the pocket of his jacket and he places it inside his book so that he won't lose his place. He closes the book and he sets it inside a basket. From the basket he takes out a tea pot, utensils, a sugar bowl, creamer and two tea cups. He pours tea into one of the cups. "So what's troubling you this time?"
He pours a gracious amount of creamer in my tea. "Well you would not be here if 'Nothin'' was wrong." He takes a spoon and stirs the cream around so that it blends with the tea. "It's quite a lovely day isn't it?" he offers me the tea cup and I take it without questioning him. I look up into the sky and I see multiple clouds around us.
"Yes, it's wonderful weather to have tea."
Garrett makes himself a cup of tea. He doesn't add any cream, but he does add one sugar cube. "Any time is tea time for you."
Now it's my turn to giggle. I close my eyes and saver the feeling of the breeze hugging me. "Now I can't argue with that."
I take a few sips of my tea before I just look at the honey yellow tea. It's Chamomile tea today. "I can't defeat him…"
"You just have not looked at all the facts yet."
I drain the rest of my tea in one gulp. "Facts? Ha! I know nothin' about this bastard!"
I flop back down on the blanket and I scrunch up my face. But Garrett doesn't respond. He continues to smile, but instead of smiling at his book he's smiling at the sea.
"What is his name?"
"What does Asura look like?"
"He's tall, maybe around 6'8. He's not over weight, but his body is all muscular. He has black inky hair and poop colored eyes."
Garrett's smile wavers but he composes himself. However, he eyes me, silently scolding me for my choice of wording.
Eventually Garrett stops his silent scolding and he coughs into his right sleeve, most likely trying to continue the conversation.
"Is Asura a pirate?"
"Is Asura apart of a pirate crew?"
Garrett chuckles again at my childish response.
"It would be stupid if he want in a pirate crew! All pirates are in a pirate crew!" I explain.
"You are not in a pirate crew," he challenges.
"I am!" I fight back.
Yep! I'm the captain and you're my first mate!"
Garrett removes his gaze from the horizon and he looks at me dead in the eye. He doesn't pull one of his half-assed smiles that he always wears. Right now he's showing me one of his rare and brilliant smiles which just radiate tranquility. "Yes," he looks back at the horizon. "I am your one and only first mate."
"What are Asura's powers?" he says, trying to steer the conversation back into the direction he wants it to go in.
"….I don't know."
Garrett finishes his tea and he refills both of our tea cups. He adds the same amount of creamer as before to my cup and only one sugar cube to his cup. "That does not sound like the Mad Maddie I know."
I look up into Garrett's gold eyes. I'm listening to everything he says. I always have and always will.
"The Mad Maddie I know," he continues, "she is a determined person who often becomes distracted. She acts childish when she does not get what she wants and she never backs down from a fight or challenge."
I look into my tea again, and I see my own reflection. Same old face, but this time I'm wearing an expression that isn't on my face often. Disappointed.
"But I did run away. I ran away when I knew I should have just fought him. I was a coward…"
"You, Madeline, are never a coward and never will be one," he spoke as if he was saying that the sky is blue. He knew without a doubt in his more logical mind that he was right on this single topic.
"You were just scared-"
"See! I am a coward! Cowards are scared!"
"You were scared because you wanted to live. Anyone would have done the same thing if they were in your predicament."
"NO! He wouldn't have run! He would have just cut the guy in one swift flick of his wrist and gone back to his stupid boat and sailed off while getting drunk!"
"Cheshire Cataria is scared right now." He counter argues.
Damn little tricky Gargoyle always has to point out something which I didn't want to know.
"She's a stupid cat who is always scared!"
"That is not nice to say to a person who you trust."
"Shut up before I knock you out…"
"She was scared when she saw Asura coming, that is why she left you."
"Garrett," I hiss.
"But she was watching over you. When she saw that you were in danger she came and helped you. Cataria was the one who knocked out what you call, 'The Monster trees'."
"…" so she was the one who took care of those trees. "… You don't know that for sure."
"Yes I do," there he goes again sounding all sure of himself.
"How are you so sure?"
"I know Cataria disfigured and killed those trees because you know. Deep down there was only one person who would help you in this situation."
"The old Geezer could have done it…."
Garrett chuckled again. "You really expect a 2,300 year old man to move that fast in a forest."
"…He has the Forest-Forest fruit so-"
Garrett takes one of his fingers and he places it over my mouth to shut me up, "ah, but he does not," he says.
That's right. That stupid jackass took his devil fruit so-
"I will ask once more, what are Asura's powers?"
"He has the Forest-Forest Fruit…"
"…Super human strength. He did rip open a man's chest and-"
"I know. What else?"
"What are his other powers, which you are aware of or have seen?"
"…I think…" I hesitate.
"You do not think. You know."
"I know," I say with full resolve, "I know that he has a devil fruit power that allows him to steal other's devil fruit powers or abilities."
I look up at Garrett to see if I'm right. I see him shine that smile that puts me at peace, but I realize that I knew all of that before I told me… so why is he asking me these questions?
"What else do you know about Asura?"
"What? I only know that he's a strong and infamous pirate whose know as a wild card, super strong and he's going to kill me!"
Garrett sighs; it shows that he's disappointed. His smile leaves his face and he breaks eye contact with me. Now Garrett's only looking at the sea again.
"My Mad Maddie…"
"It's not my fault! He's just too strong; I'm the only one who was willing to at least look at him in his ugly face!"
"His face is so ugly! Just look at his nose, it's the size of Dracule's Pride! His cheekbones are high, on some people it would look nice or attractive but on him it just makes his face look like a goblin, NO! Goblins look better than his face!"
"Oh will you just shut up!" I took my tea cup and I threw it at Garrett. Once the object left my fingertips I instantly regretted my actions.
Garrett and I are only sitting about a foot away from each other so the cup didn't soar in the sky, but I did throw it with a lot of force. The cup was heading towards Garrett's head and I could just picture it; the cup smashing into Garrett's head; he would clutch his head and blood would seep through his fingers. Garrett would look at me with blood running down his face with his golden eyes looking at me, asking me why I hurt him, again…
My fear of seeing Garrett like that never happened though.
The cup went racing to Garrett's head and before it smashed his skull he took his right hand and caught the porcelain tea cup. He didn't crush the little cup in his hands though, he gingerly caught it as if it was a baby bird that just fell from its nest, and he caught the cup with gentleness and no anger.
Garrett brought his hand to his face so that he could look at the tea cup fully. It looks like his gentle brain was thinking about something but what?
"…My hand is red," he declared.
His hand? But he caught it with so much care that his hand couldn't have been hurt. Why did he say-
"Oh!" I jump up from the blanket and I start jumping in circle in front of Garrett. I stop my jump and I take the tea cup from his hand and I throw it in the ocean. I watch as the tea cup joins the ocean and I hastily grab the utensils and other porcelain pieces and throw them in the ocean to join its sibling. After they all smash into the ocean I start jumping in my circles again with a huge grin on my face. From my dizzy haze I can see Garrett smiling at me with his perfect hands in his lap.
"Oh Garrett! You," I stop my jump and I strike a pose while pointing at Garrett, "Are a genius! You have the most beautiful brain I have ever known!"
"Oh? How are you a genius?"
I start pacing around Garrett, "Oh how could I be so stupid! STUPID, STUPID, STUPID MADDIE! It was right in front of you!"
"His hand? What is important about the hand?" he voices in a smug voice that just screams that he knows the answer but he's playing along.
"Without hands you can't make tea or fight with a sword, well you could with your feet. But that would mean that your tea would smell like feet and if you try and fight your enemy with a sword then you would have aches in your ankles because of the awkward angle you would have to hold it in-"
"Maddie, you're rambling."
"Am I? What was I thinking about again? Hands! Oh how wonderful hands are!"
I start jumping up and down on the bawls on my feet, "Asura's hand turned red!"
"What is the importance that Asura's hands are red?"
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no! You clever boy don't you dear play stupid!"
"Then do not play ignorant Madeline," he says sternly.
That caught me off guard. "…What?"
"You are a brilliant girl Maddie, you should know by now."
Garrett stands up from the ground and even though we aren't even close in height I feel like we are equals, no. We have always been equals.
"Are you calm now?"
Oh…Oh. I really am acting stupid today.
"You aren't my real Garrett Gargoyle…"
He tilts his head to the side and he closes his eyes, "not exactly."
"Ughh, Garrett you're just confusing me!" I stomp my feet on the ground to make a point.
Garrett opens his eyes and he straightens his head. "I am physically an image of your Garrett, but emotionally and personality wise I am him. Your mind created someone who would put you at ease, which happened to be me."
I guess that makes sense. I know Garrett so well that just by glancing at him I can tell what he's thinking and what he's going to do.
I needed to calm down, and the first thing that I thought about was Garrett.
"Have I clamed you down Maddie?"
I look up into my not so real Garret, but at the same time, he is a little bit my Garrett too.
"Yes. I have calmed down. Thank you Garrett."
Garrett flashes me that smile that ease my nerves. "Thank you Captain and I will see you again, soon."
I'm left here in this very tranquil place in my mind. How could I have been so stupid? I need to survive. I don't care if my hands are cut off and I have to make tea with my feet for the rest of my life! I need to survive and wait the three years that I promised Garrett. I need to make sure that when the three years are up and Garrett comes to find me, and I am alive and I will welcome him to our amazing crew.
My little Gargoyle has watched out for me for the past eight years, physically. But now, my little Gargoyle is still watching out for me, but in a different way. My inner Garrett is telling me that I am okay and I will succeed.
I'm okay. I look around the grassy hill one more time, and then I close my eyes.
It's time to return to reality. I can't doubt myself, if I do, I will end up dying. Garrett would have a major hissy fit if that happened. So I will not allow myself to die on this island. It's not my time yet. I haven't made my legacy yet.