WICKED TALE II
By A. B. Wallace
He is not a man but a creature . . . created by man. He is made of stone, rock hard and cold. Yes, it was man who carved him . . . not in his own image . . . but in the image of a grotesque creature. His function is to guard the gate to Hell, and to do battle against the dark forces of evil should they attempt to enter the world of the living. He is the sentinel . . . forever trapped within a dull green slab of stone. He is a Gargoyle. And I am Sasha.
* * *
The wind whipped viciously about. Leaves, now brown, dry and coarse, slapped my face while dead branches beat against my body. What time was it? Close, I was pretty sure. My eyes, although frozen in place a few moments ago, were awake and rolling up, down, left, and right. A few more minutes, that’s all it would take. Next, a slight tingle would slowly feel like a thousand small, crawly creatures scrambling about my body, and then I’d completely awaken. Always the same—every night—at mid-night precisely.
Ah, I can’t help but remember the good old days when I was flesh and blood all day long. Yet, it was my fault, every single hour of stone cold being I have endured for the past year. Vengeance has a way of getting back at you. If only I hadn’t opened the gate to Hell. If only I hadn’t dealt with the Gargoyle. That’s how I ended up this way, a Gargoyle in my own right.
You see I expected to have fun, flying about, fighting evil and that sort of stuff. Well, the fact that if I hadn’t agreed to become one I’d be spending eternity on the other side of the gate helped. So instead, I get to spend it in front of the gate as a sentinel—guardian—a dull green slab of stone most of the time. And when I’m awake, I’m a very bored one at that. No excitement! Absolutely nothing to do!
Well, here it goes. My muscles ache, my back is as stiff as a board, and my feet are all cramped up. I take a step, then another, and another. My arms lift and I stretch for the sky, sway to my right and left. Keep moving, I tell myself. Get the blood flowing. An entire year of this agony and it still doesn’t get any better.
“Sasha. You are awake.”
“What the hell else would I be?”
He shook his pit bull head, flapped those enormous wings, and then padded over to me.
“My dear Sasha, what shall we do on this glorious night?”
“What haven’t we done already, Falcon? We’ve investigated every inch of this cemetery every single night for one year now.”
“We may not leave its confines, Sasha.”
Damned, he knew me well.
“Just for a little while, Falcon. I mean, in the year we’ve been here no one has come. No one has opened the gate to Hell.”
“True. But it is not allowed. We are the sentinels, the guardians. Our function is to protect.” He growled. “And we cannot . . . if we are not here.”
“Well, if that’s the way it’s going to be, I’ll stay right here. And you can go,” I waved my hand about, “and protect.” I was going to say more, but Falcon interrupted me. He flapped his wings. I ended up on my butt, and he ended up in the sky. When he disappeared from my view, I stood and slapped the dead leaves off on my backside.
Of course, I was sort of shrewish toward Falcon. But I couldn’t help myself. He was so positively straight laced all the time and so nauseatingly infatuated with me, he irritated the hell out of me. So, alone and with nothing to do, I did what I’d been doing every night. I scratched my head and starting walking around this gravestone and that gravestone. Didn’t bother to read them anymore. It was the same old thing anyway.
I’m not sure how long I’d been roaming about when suddenly a rustling sound stopped me in my tracks. Yes, a bush I thought. Ah, a person perhaps, one that intended to open the gate to Hell. Finally, a little action, a little adventure.
I turned in place, looking. Nothing.
Must have been a mistake on my part, my boredom causing me to imagine things. Oh, well. Head back to the gate, I thought. Had moved a few feet when I heard it again—rustling. Then I saw it. Vines shaking, so many little leaves dancing, so thick I couldn’t see what was behind them. Get closer, I told myself.
Tall. Oh my, how high they were, so much taller than I.
Gripped a handful, pulled, and ripped. A rusty sort of metal shone through. Grabbed another handful, and another, and another, pulling and ripping until I got a good view. It was a gate all right—a few feet taller than I and wide enough for me to get through and for Falcon as well—big, circular at the top and pitch black within.
Interesting. Very interesting. Could there be two gates to Hell? If there were Falcon had not mentioned it.
Pushed my head in closer. Couldn’t see the design, and there was one, I was sure. The other gate was much more elaborate, intricate sketches of demons carved within the iron.
Collected some saliva in my mouth and let out a good spit, then I lifted my arm and wiped my sleeve against the metal. Nothing. Couldn’t make out a thing.
I sighed and turned away. How disappointing!
My body stiffened, my eyes darted about.
“Sasha. I have been waiting for you.”
“Who is it?”
I took a step, then another.
“Yes. Closer. Closer.”
I stopped in front of the gate and peered between the openings of small, square, rusty pieces of metal. But still I could see nothing. Then, like a cloud it took form. A man, I thought. It continued to change, slowly moving to where I stood. My eyes bulged.
Incredible! It was Jim Stobbler. Could never forget him. My first crush you could say. Tall, thin hips, beautiful wavy blonde hair and hazel eyes.
Fingers, slender and warm, crept through the gaps and touched my face.
I jumped back.
“Sleep,” he said, “I will be there for you, pleasuring you, loving you.”
I blinked. Then, I got mad.
“Sure you will. Like I want you there.”
The fool! Oh, he’d come to me before, all right. Nightmares were more like it. “Great body,” he’d said, “if only I could stick a brown bag over your head.”
“Go to hell,” I screamed, then laughed. Yes, laughed my head off. He already was in Hell.
Well that got to him. Lost that perfect smile, those wonderful dimples. Slowly, he started changing again. This time, perfection—a gorgeous face and what a body, it was the type women would swap their souls to have on top of them. But a pretty face and killer body didn’t do a thing for me.
“You can forget it, sweetheart. I’m not opening the gate.”
He cocked that beautiful head to the side. “I do not want you to,” he said. “I have been alone for too long, with no one to speak to and nothing to do.”
“So, you’re bored, huh. Well, welcome to the club.”
My mouth opened wide. I covered it with my hand.
“Would it not be wonderful . . . to join the outside world. Take my hand and we can for just a little while.”
My mouth opened wide, covered it again, then I plopped onto a gravestone. A warm hand wrapped itself around mine. I stood and we walked through the cemetery and onto the freeway. It felt good. Felt wonderful . . . until I heard a boisterous growl. Then, I toppled off the gravestone and landed onto the ground.
Falcon stood in front of me. “What have you done?” He growled.
“Nothing,” I screamed. “Fell asleep, that’s all.”
I lifted myself to my feet.
“Asleep, Sasha.” Damned, that Mona Lisa smile was twitching. “You fell asleep.”
“Yes, I fell asleep. I was tired. I was bored. And so, I fell asleep. Took a little nap.”
He looked over my head and snarled. I’d forgotten about the gate.
“Don’t get all bent out of shape. The gate is closed.” I waved my hands in the air. “The world is safe.”
“Did you dream?”
“Ah, my dear Sasha. You released the Dream Lover.”
“I didn’t. The gate is closed.”
“Through your dream Sasha. You opened your mind to him and now he walks amongst the living.” He shook his pit bull head, lowered it, flapped his wings and turned from me. Anger I could deal with, but disappointment . . . well, let’s just say, brings me to my knees. And damned if Falcon didn’t know it—used it on me all the time.
“So, we’ll just go get him. Put the Talisman on and let’s go.”
He faced me again and growled.
“The Talisman is of no value. The Dream Lover is too powerful a demon. No. I am afraid . . ..” A thunderous explosion interrupted him, and within a second, my entire body was wrapped within his protective wings.
Gray smoke shot upward from the ground and toward the sky, and when it dissipated a small crumpled up old man stood in its center. My, the man was ancient, dressed in a white gown that was covered with a decorative blue coat, little silver half moons and stars all over it. Waist length snow-white hair covered his head and face, frigid azure eyes stared as he hobbled toward us. In his hand he carried a gnarled walking stick for assistance. Not that it did much for him. His body wasn’t in any better shape than the stick.
He stopped a few feet in front of us and leaned against a gravestone. He sighed, flipped a hanky out of nowhere, and wiped his forehead. When he was finished he flicked the hanky in the air and it disappeared. There was something awfully familiar about the figure before us. But for the life of me I couldn’t figure it out.
“Did I not tell you that she would be far more trouble than she was worth,” he said. “You should have allowed me to have a proper companion sculpted for you.”
Falcon growled. The old man waved his hand in the air.
“Yes, yes. I know. She was your choice and I did agree. A pity.” He placed the walking stick across his lap. “You may release her. No harm will come to her.”
The wings imprisoning me flexed out, and I stumbled forward a bit but regained my footing easily enough.
“Who is he?”
“Come closer,” the Creator said.
Was the command for me? I wasn’t sure but took a step toward him anyway. Falcon soon preceded me, blocking me from the Creator—watching over me no doubt.
“The Dream Lover must be found and brought back. Do you understand?”
Falcon nodded. So did I.
He snapped his fingers and a silver chain with an amulet in the shape of a star appeared in his hand. Falcon lowered his dog head and the Creator slipped the chain around his neck.
Before my eyes Falcon changed into a man, a fully clothed one to boot—tight blue jeans, white sneakers, and a loose fitting beige knit shirt. He turned and I lost my breath. Wavy shoulder length brown hair, a truly masculine face, and a dimple in his now oh so male chin. At least his eyes were the same green, not quite as dull though. A bit too vibrant I’d say.
“This will allow you to walk among the living without causing attention.”
Well, hell’s bells. He had to be kidding. Heads would turn, I was pretty sure. Then again, this was less conspicuous than a seven-foot tall pit bull with wings. But what about me, I thought.
“You have another one of those, don’t you?” I asked.
The Creator shook his head. “You will be better served as you are.”
I sneered, “I’m green.”
The Creator sighed, put off I think. Then, he lifted his hand, palm up, and blew. A mist, more like sand from the feel of it, flew into my face. I sneezed, spattered, and spit. I almost went for his scrawny little neck, but Falcon grabbed me around the waist and pulled me up against his body.
Naturally, I bitched and bitched and bitched, but I was smart enough to wait until the Creator departed before doing so, and he did in a puff of smoke.
“Falcon.” I’d bitched. “You look great! And I look . . ..” I took a moment to huff and puff, then continued in a low voice, “like Medusa.”
From Falcon’s facial expression I could only assume he found my statement amusing. And why shouldn’t he? I knew that my frizzy tube curls were bobbing about my head like snakes. But at least I wasn’t green anymore.
Finally, he grinned and in a wonderful English accent he said, “ah, Sasha, Medusa is a beautiful creature with the face of an angel.”
“Sure she is. One look at that gorgeous face and you turn to stone, but that’s not a problem for you, is it?” Not a problem for me either, now that I thought about it.
He shook his head and sighed. I guess he’d been trying to make me feel better.
“So what do we do?”
“We find the Dream Lover and bring him back.”
My feet were already in motion. His hand landed on my shoulder and I stopped. He embraced me, a nice bear hug. Then, he let me go, gripped my hand, and touched the center of the amulet with his other hand. Suddenly, we were encircled in a blue light. When the light dissipated we were somewhere else, right in the middle of a crowd, neon lights glittering all about us, traffic bumper to bumper.
We were in the city, Times Square, if I wasn’t mistaken. Although it’d been awhile since I’d been in New York City, I’d spent many of my youthful years in that part of town, mostly on street corners hurling insults at anyone stupid enough to look at me the wrong way. Still, it was nice being back. So nice in fact, I hoped it would take us a very long, long, time to find the Dream Lover. Fat chance though. The five points of the star on the amulet started flashing red.
“I assume.” I pointed at the amulet. “That means he’s here.”
“We are near. But it is up to you to locate him.”
“I haven’t a clue.”
He looked at me with those brilliant green eyes. “You invited the Dream Lover within your mind. There he has found his prey, an innocent.”
I didn’t know what he was talking about. As if I knew an innocent.
Falcon grinned. “Yes, an innocent, my dear Sasha. Someone who has been caring and kind to you.”
Couldn’t think of one. Nope. Not a soul. I shook my head. “No one, Falcon. You must be mistaken.”
He laughed. Yeah, a deep rich laughter that sent shivers up my spine. Had a little bit of the gargoyle in it. “Time is running out, Sasha. We must find him.”
"Why? How much harm can one demon do? So he gets a little. Big deal!”
“You do not understand. One soul is too many. We must save this poor innocent.” He hesitated a moment. “We will be handsomely rewarded.”
That got me thinking real hard. Then, it came to me. Malissa. She was my friend, the only friend I had, then she’d gone and done it, became a nun. It horrified me. She’d change, I was sure, and she’d not see me in the same light anymore. I couldn’t deal with it, so I decided to have nothing else to do with her.
“I think I know who. But we’ll need some help.” I pointed at the amulet. “Can that thing get us about the city and let us know how close we are to the Dream Lover?”
“Okay then, churches. You’ll have to take us from one to another until we hit the right one.”
And he did, right up to the front of the church, then to its side where the nuns’ accommodations were. By then the amulet was flashing like a roulette wheel.
It was dark—nearly pitch black inside. Not unusual under the circumstances. Nuns go to bed early, praying in the dark and that sort of stuff.
Falcon grabbed my hand, and then planted a wet one on my lips. He licked me.
“You’ve got a lot to learn.”
“You can teach me later,” he responded with a wide grin. His eyes glittered in the light of a vigil lamp.
He pulled me forward and opened the door. Actually he broke it open, took part of the doorframe with it. Then we were inside, up the stairs, and finally in the hallway. Now, which room was the Dream Lover in? We walked down the hallway and waited for the amulet to let us know. And it did, did it ever. Flashed like crazy. I inched forward, grasped the doorknob, turned it, and then pushed. The door screeched open and we stepped inside, me in the lead, Falcon right behind me.
I couldn’t see much of anything, but I sure could hear. Moans. Groans. Grunting. Growling. But I intended to put an end to it, slid my hand against the wall and flicked the light switch on. What a mistake! What a horrible sight! I actually gasped. There, in the corner, on a twin size bed laid Malissa with what I’d call a pretty monstrous hairy thing on top of her. And he stunk too. Could hardly breathe.
The Dream Lover turned its hideous head toward me. “Sasha,” he said, “thank you.”
I almost said you’re welcome but stopped myself in time. Really, to be thanked by a demon—especially in the position I was in.
I looked at Falcon. He was looking at the Dream Lover and from his facial expression he wasn’t seeing what I saw. His movement toward the bed while removing his knit shirt on the way proved it. I don’t know why, but I sidestepped him, stuck my foot out and felt very satisfied when Falcon, the great Gargoyle, went flying. Not in his usual way, mind you. This time he went down, rather than up.
Falcon shook his head, then turned it up. “Sasha,” he said. Came out more like a question.
He looked toward the bed.
He glanced at me, his cheeks nice and rosy.
He didn’t say anything. I didn’t want him to.
The Dream Lover was trying to seduce Falcon, bring him into his world, and why not. Ingenious actually. Imagine the fame of stealing a gargoyle’s soul—worth a damn lot more than an innocent human soul. And from the look of it, Falcon was not immune.
Interesting. Very Interesting—and scary. Sort of left this all up to me.
When I looked at Falcon again, his eyes slowly drifted closed, and his head dropped onto the floor, a soft snore escaping his lips. Well, this was just wonderful.
“Hey, sweetheart.” Slowly, I swaggered over to the bed. He, it, whatever, ignored me until I said, “so, how about giving me some?”
His furry, beast head changed into beauty once more.
He grinned, touching my face with a dirty claw. “I have all I want and need.”
“Yeah, but you don’t have me. And I want you to.”
He shook his head and laughed. “You do not desire . . . love. You have something else in mind?”
“You’re right. You don’t do a thing for me. But I was thinking, maybe I chose the wrong side. Now, it doesn’t appear to me that your life is a boring one. Looks pretty exciting. Something I’d be interested in. How about making a deal?”
He was listening. Was he ever!
“I’ll bet Falcon is fighting . . . how can I put it . . . your advances.”
He cocked his head. Get on with it, I told myself.
“Well, he’s not interested in you. But he is interested in me. If you were to let me in your dream and I brought him over, what would it be worth? What would I get in return?”
“Whatever you desire, if it is in my means to give.”
“I want total freedom. To do what I wish, whenever and wherever I wish. In return I’ll give you Falcon.”
“I see. But what makes you think I haven’t already seduced him.”
I smiled. “I know Falcon, know him really well. He’s not going to fall for any imitations. He’s only going to go for the real thing. And that’s me. So, if you think he’s going to fall for you cause you look like me, you can forget it. Besides, I’m still here and so are you.”
He nodded, grinned devilishly, looked into my eyes and whispered sleep. And I did. Out like a light, even felt my body falling, but instead of hitting the hard floor, I floated into the Dream Lover’s dream. Not at all what I expected either.
Oh, I was still in the bedroom but everything was shaded in a cloudy white film with no floor beneath us and no roof above us—just a bed with a naked Malissa on it, Falcon standing at her feet, and Falcon standing at her head. Two of them, identical from head to toe and fully clothed to boot.
Which of the two was the Dream Lover? Hell if I could tell the difference.
The one at Malissa’s feet extended his arm and invited me forward with his fingers, and damn, if the one at her head didn’t do the same thing at the same time.
“Come to us.” they said in unison. The same voice too, a little of Falcon, a little of the Dream Lover.
Well, what could I do? I asked a question.
“How are we going to do this? There are two of you. Which one is mine?”
“Both,” they answered, “yes, the three of us . . . together.”
“A threesome, huh.”
Two beautiful faces, sexy smiles, and dimpled chins, nodded their heads in unison.
Oh, hell. Enough with the chit chat. It was now or never, so I went for it. Walked as sensually as I could under the circumstances. Couldn’t feel anything hard beneath my feet so I’m sure I looked more like a drunk than a Siren, but one must do with what one has.
When I reached my loving Falcon, I stood between them for a moment, then said, “well, come and get it boys.”
And they did, hands and kisses all over the place. I took a deep breath—okay, I took a moment to enjoy as well—ran one hand over Falcon’s chest, the other over his doppelganger’s, then my fingers curled themselves around the chains, and I pulled with all my force. Yep, I did it. Ripped them right off their necks.
What happened next left me giddy and proud. My Falcon turned back to what he was, a Gargoyle, and the Dream Lover found himself in a very bad situation. Falcon, much larger, and actually far more terrifying with his outstretched wings, muscular pit bull body, and those canines . . . my, they were imbedded in the Dream Lover’s hairy neck, shaking the demon until it looked like a raggedy doll. It was truly wondrous to behold.
I was mesmerized, until I heard a slight faint voice from behind me, is that you? I turned and saw Malissa, the sheets clutched within her hands and wrapped around her neck.
“Yes, it’s me.”
I sat next to her.
“A nightmare is more like it.”
She laughed, then turned toward Falcon and the Dream Lover. She shivered and the laugh turned into a strange strangling sound.
“It’s only a dream.”
I touched her cheek.
Her eyes met mine.
“A nightmare . . . and you are my angel?”
"Yeah, your angel.”
As children, growing up together, Malissa handled people’s cruelty by offering the offenders her other cheek. Not exactly the way I dealt with cruelty. I’d learned to be just as brutal, even more so. And I took care of her, attacking with malice where she could not. She didn’t approve of it then, constantly said. “What matters is what is inside a person, Sasha. There is good in everyone. But some people are afraid of being hurt so they hide behind their cruelty. Do not hate these people. Embrace them. Love them.”
What bull! But for some strange reason I just couldn’t ruin the little fantasy world she lived in.
I combed my fingers through her hair.
“Sleep. When you awaken, you’ll remember none of this, only a dreamless sleep.”
Her eyes closed, and she burrowed her head into the pillow. “Yes, a sleepless dream,” she whispered. Then, “I have missed you . . . Sasha.” It almost brought tears to my eyes.
When she was asleep, I stood, the two chains with the amulets both flashing red, and walked over to the monsters. Didn’t know which of the amulets was the real one, but it didn’t really matter. I stopped in front of them, stretched my arms out to the left and right, and pressed the button in the center of both amulets at precisely the same time. A blue light surrounded the three of us, Falcon and the Dream Lover still at it, and within a few seconds, it dissipated and we were back in the cemetery, directly in front of the Dream Lover’s abode.
I stepped over to the gate and opened it wide. Falcon flung the Dream Lover inside by the scruff of his neck and I slammed the gate shut behind him. Naturally, the Dream Lover wasn’t happy about it, sort of screamed some pretty foul words at us, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. I had other things on my mind, like a reward that was due me.
“So, Falcon. What are we getting for a job well done?”
He grinned, the chain jangling in his paw.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” I said, then a thought came to mind. “Do we get to come and go as we please?” He shook his dog head. What a lousy reward, worse than no reward at all. Then he grinned that Mona Lisa smile. “The Creator feels you have too much free time on your hands and has ordered me to keep you busy.” He placed the amulet around his neck, turned into that gorgeous man once more, and said. “It is time you keep your word . . . and teach me how to be a man.”
Well, maybe it’s not such a bad reward after all.