Rachel and Seth lay sprawled on a grassy common, staring up at the gargoyle perched on the First Baptist cornerstone. Dusk had come and gone, and now the only lights were the artificial gleam of street lamps, humming across the dark Alabama air. Rachel swatted at another mosquito, wishing she’d remembered to bring some bug spray.
“So you really think it’s true?” she whispered, her voice drifting softly across the thick humidity.
“My uncle Carl knows everything. He’s a genius. So it must be true.”
“How long do you think we’ll have to wait?” she asked, digging in the box of Dunkin’ Donuts propped between them for a lemon-filled.
“Carl says that when the top of the full moon is just above the tallest tower that the gargoyle will jump to life. He said he and his buddy Roger saw it themselves, back in 1982. They were sitting right over there, by that tree,” Seth said, gesturing across the street to an old oak, “talking about girls, and they didn’t even notice at first.”
Skin shivering with delight, Rachel said, “How long did it take them to notice?”
“Well, the way Carl tells it, they were just kicked back, eating Hot Tamales and drinking Peach Nehis when suddenly they heard something.”
“What did it sound like?”
“Like muscles grinding, like the weight of heavy stones trying to move, that hadn’t moved in maybe centuries.”
Rachel licked the lemon from the hole of the donut. “So were they scared?”
“Heck yeah they were scared. They looked around and at first didn’t see anything. Then finally Carl shoved Roger in the back and pointed right there,” Seth gestured to the second gothic window in the tallest tower, “They saw him hanging there, his stone claws gripping the rock of the church, his eyes glowing in the reflection of the moon. Then he looked right at ‘em.”
They were both silent for a minute, contemplating. The moon was centered over the tallest tower, and they’d been waiting now for two hours. Rachel stretched her limbs, and felt dampness on her shorts from the grass. She wished they’d brought a blanket. Digging in her pack, she brought out the binoculars. Holding them to her eyes, she adjusted the focus, and the gargoyle gleamed in the moonlight.
“I think I saw him move! He wavered, just for a minute!”
“Nah, it’s too early. Lemme see!” He grabbed the binoculars and held them up to his eyes. For a moment, he was silent.
“I don’t think so Rach. We’ve still got another 30 minutes or so.”
“Seth, I just heard something,” she whispered, fear rising up with the rapid beating of her heart.
“Rach, I…” he stopped and was quiet. Setting down the binoculars carefully, he waited, listening.
“Do you think..”
Rachel slowed her breathing, afraid to even inhale. She had a sense she was being watched.
Suddenly, footsteps approached, softly at first, then rapidly. She spun around to see a hunched figure step from the shadows. Cloaked in blackness, Rachel could barely make out the aging deformity in his face, a lump of bulging skin under his wrinkled, swollen eye.
“You kids don’t know what you’re doing,” he rasped, “Get out of here, now, before it’s too late!” The alcohol on his breath fumed.
The man crouched down, grabbing the binoculars from the grass and looping them around his neck, before leering at them once more, “LEAVE!” and then he took off, running, his gait an odd hobble as he skirted the curb and disappeared around the corner.
This week's prompt from The Red Dress Club: Someone has stolen something from you (or your character). Something of tremendous value. What will you do to get it back? Or will you give up?
I already knew I wanted to do a story on gargoyles for the next prompt, but I didn't know where the setting would be until I did a google image search for 'gargoyles gothic architecture' and stumbled across THIS BLOG on Selma, Alabama. Her gargoyle picture pulled my story together. Critique is welcomed.