“Be careful.” Was the last thing she said before the young journalist hung up. How many times has he heard her say that before? He knew he was onto something. The international flour company, Flour Power, has been rumoured to add a little special ingredient to keep consumers hooked. Phillip was not surprised that you had to pay nearly double the price for this prestige product when compared to other brands, though he was surprised that no one leaked their operations sooner. With a possible promotion on the way he wanted to make sure he’ll impress the boss. What better way to do it than to condemn a popular franchise to court by leaking out all their juicy dark secrets?
Being used to breaking in he knew how to avoid the cameras and slip into the building at the least suspected entrance. It was little past midnight and the factory stood abandoned. The first thing that struck him as odd was the lack of security guards, but this would only make his job easier. He could chuckle at himself as he softly snuck through one of the windows. Even though he was, there was no need to be so silent. He picked up his flimsy bag and strapped it over his shoulder. His Nikon Zoom hung comfortably around his neck, even though it was an old 1998 model it still did the job and he loved the little thing. It was his first own camera and he’s been pursuing truth with it ever since he got it.
Not knowing the ins and outs of the factory that well he found himself wasting time trying to locate the raw materials room. He came across a locked door and spent a considerate amount of time in picking it. Bingo! Not wanting things to look suspicious from outside he turned on his flashlight instead of the light and started inspecting the bags and taking photos where needed. Making sure to close the bags properly when done with his investigations he started exploring the room thoroughly. He had to find it!
“Shit.” He cussed as his flashlight died. He slapped it a few times but it wouldn’t go on. Taking a hold of his spare batteries he started the replacement. Before he finished the lights suddenly flashed on. Two rugged men entered the room dragging a blonde woman behind them. Phillip dropped behind some of the wheat bags but one of his batteries fell from his grip and rolled over the floor into the open. The woman resisted kicking and screaming. He looked around for anything he could use to rescue her but before he could arrange his thoughts properly another man entered. It was Jonah Bradley, the founder of Flour Power!
“So sorry that it came down to this my love.” He said in such a pitiful tone before kissing her cheek. She pulled away and tried to break free once more. “But I am afraid it has to be done.” He said with a sorrowful expression turning his back to the pair. Phillip’ eyes widened as Bradley pulled a pistol from his jacket and started to wipe the gleaming weapon with his handkerchief. The woman hauled some empty threats to her husband which he didn’t even seem to hear. A drop of sweat ran down Phillip’ cheek as he watched Bradley step over the battery heading over to his wife.
She was quite dressed up and Phillip could only imagine that the two were on their way out to some fancy restaurant. He wanted to shout “Stop!” but he knew if he made a sound he’d be killed. He jerked when he heard the shot that ended her and closed his eyes tightly mouthing a prayer as he gripped his bag tightly. Please don’t see me, please he repeated in his thoughts. He slowly peered over the bags and saw Bradley brushing her fringe aside with the pistol.
Trembling Phillip raised his camera above the bags. Even though this was dangerous, it would make quite the story, no, it would help to place a monster behind bars! Everyone knew Madame Bradley was a sweetheart who worked closely with NGO’s and other uplifting corporations. FLASH. No! He could’ve sworn he had turned the flash off! This wasn’t happening! Bradley aimed at Phillip as he angrily hurried that way. Phillip had to run for it, they knew he was there now! Out of pure desperation he leapt up from behind the bags and ran for the door. Bradley pulled the trigger but having slipped on the battery his aim was off and he missed Phillip only just!
“Get him you fools!” He could hear Bradley scowl. The race was on! Trying to retrace his steps he was trying to get back to the window he used as an entry point. The flimsier one of the two muscled criminals was starting to catch up, Phillip panicked as he ruffled through his bag. Grabbing a hold of his pepper spray he repelled his captor before squirming out of his grip and dashing off once more. He dived for the open window but his legs were grabbed by the second one. He kicked wildly but it wasn’t enough. He wanted to use his pepper spray again but the brute noticed it too fast and punched it out of his hand.
He wanted to cry when he noticed the second one was recovering and coming their way. Making a hasty decision he let go with one hand as he kept a tight grip on this window still with the other. He quickly ruffled through his bag and got a hold of a pen. Swiftly he punctured the brute’s eye. The brute screamed in pain stumbling backwards and letting go of Phillip.
“My eye!” The brute screamed as he fell to his knees. The pen was still deeply shoved into it. Phillip fell out of the window and ran for his scooter. He reached it just in time to dodge a few bullets from Bradley’s pistol as he raced off.
He definitely didn’t look forward to his instant transfer to a new town, but it was for his own good. He sighed as he looked at the old fashioned houses and little convenience store. It was a small town far away from everyone and everything. He pulled up into a scruffy driveway and looked at the two story block of apartments. The crime rate here was low if non-existent but still he didn’t like the fact that none of the windows had burglar bars. Dragging his feet he climbed the few stairs pulling his bag along while carrying the rest of his belongings in his hand. He didn’t have much. Most of what he had was still back home, but he wouldn’t dare to go back for it.
“What are you going to do now?” She asked. He was lying on his new uncomfortable bed. In the distance the sun was setting and he had just finished packing out his things. Although he’d have to set time aside to sweep and wash the floors before he could truly be satisfied with the place.
“I don’t know Anne… I might apply for a job at the local paper. But I don’t think much goes on here.” He looked out of the window, it’s not even been a day and he longed to go back home. He wanted to take his camera to the police station right away and get Bradley arrested but things weren’t so simple. It seemed there was a good reason as to why Flour Power hasn’t been shut down before. Bradley had contacts… in the police force.
“Whatever you do just be careful okay? And call if you need something.” He could tell she was worried from over the phone. He nodded but then shook his head remembering she couldn’t see him.
“I will…” he was worn out when he hung up. If this mess wouldn’t be sort out soon he’d have to redo his second year of college if not able to return to university. He didn’t have the money for that. And now unable to work for his usual paper he couldn’t haul in a reasonable amount of cash either. So many worries penetrated his mind. Pulling his blankets over his head he rolled onto his stomach before falling asleep.
He raised his eyebrows as the fat man across the desk stuffed his face with another doughnut.
“You don’t look like a journalist.” The man finally said after an awkward moment of silence before investigating what else was in his lunch box. Phillip was too busy looking at the messy place to reply. The curtains were wildly ripped open as one of them hung by only a thread. The man rolled a piece of bread around in his mouth as he looked at Phillip from over his glasses. Phillip jerked when he noticed and cleared his throat to speak.
“I promise you sir I will do a good job. I’ve wanted to be a journalist all my life.” He couldn’t hand the man a proper CV because he had to keep his identity hidden. The man nodded.
“I’ll give you a chance. One chance, but if you do not deliver you can go watering for Tina’s Diner.”
He frowned as he passed Tina’s Diner. It was a rundown restaurant with a few rugged customers who stared at Phillip as he passed them. He greeted them kindly as he passed but they didn’t even bother to move an inch. His first assignment was to write an article on some ancient artefact that was in the local museum. How interesting could that be, seriously? He didn’t want to write such boring nonsense he was a journalist not a historian! Standing before him now was a large well looked after building with medieval architecture. He brushed his fringe out of his eyes then headed inside.
“That’s what it costs around here.” The man behind the counter said. Phillip frowned as he reluctantly paid for the overpriced ticked. He didn’t want to be there but he had to make a living. He wished his parents were still alive so that he could at least have borrowed some money. He rolled his eyes, sighed, and dragged himself through the museum trying to find to so-called artefact. The museum had no theme and no order; ancient cutlery lay next to Viking armour, stuffed animals next to medieval beds and so forth. The only thing that separated one section from the next were the rooms. He walked into a next room. It was quite empty when compared to the others. A large marble figure of a well-built male stood at one end – probably something to do with ancient Greece. A few pots and pans lie in a display case. In the centre of the room a stone figure of a winged man bend forward was displayed. Passing the description it read: Gargoyle statue from Liechtenstein. He didn’t even know such a place existed! He dropped his bag and his shoulders when he noticed the small little teapot. This was what his article was to be about. Those who passed him were as confused as he was about the little teapot’s role in society.
It was nearing closing time when the ticket seller came to tell him he should get ready to leave. No one else was there anymore and he still couldn’t get a good story on the little pot. He has been Googling from his mobile phone for a few hours but it didn’t provide him with any useful information. He slipped his phone back into his pocket and turned to leave when he noticed the brute from behind. Panic pierced his mind! He looked around for anything another exit out of the room but there was only one, the one where the brute was! Leaping behind the gargoyle statue he held his breathe.
There wasn’t much to do but admire the gargoyles fine detail as the brute took his time to look at the artefacts. When the man turned around Phillip realised he has never seen him before and that it was a false alarm! He chuckled at himself but he felt dizzy. Climbing off of the statue’s display he didn’t realise his camera falling from his bag as it got stuck to the gargoyles left hand.
He looked everywhere but there was no sign of it. He looked under the pillow on the living room sofa again then stood with his hands on his hips as he retraced his steps. Perhaps someone handed it in at the Museum’s lost and found section. He headed over there but the ticket seller was on his lunch break and refused to let Phillip in as he slowly enjoyed his meal. Afterwards Phillip tried to explain that he lost his camera but the seller told him he had not seen it. He just wanted to quickly see if it wasn’t still somewhere in the museum to which the seller only replied he needed a ticket.
Agitated he stomped down the empty passage towards the last room where the teapot was. He looked around before noticing the camera hanging from the gargoyles hand. Relieved he looked around and when the coast was clear he climbed onto the display again and lifted his camera from the gargoyles hand. It was stuck. He couldn’t believe it! He could’ve sworn the gargoyle’s hand was in a different position the previous night! He tried again to retrieve it but it was really stuck.
Heading over to the vendor he tried to explain the situation but the vendor wasn’t buying the story. Raging at him for his lack of service the vendor finally agreed to go take a look. He tried himself to retrieve the camera.
“No dude. It’s part of the gargoyle.” The vendor said as he climbed back off.
“It’s NOT part of the gargoyle! That piece of crap dates back to the thirteen-hundreds and that camera is from 1998!” Shouted furiously. The vendor shrugged.
Dark clouds were coming in as he sat in Tina’s Diner. He didn’t care about the stares or glances he received although he did regret ordering a meal there. He was upset and somewhat angry. Without his camera he couldn’t do his job properly and he didn’t have the money to buy another. Worst of all the photos on there could land someone in great danger. He was going to retrieve it even if he had to break the statues finger off.
He waited until after midnight before sneaking down the road towards the museum. He already observed the museum’s security system earlier and knew it would be difficult but not impossible to break in. He had to hide and emerge quite a few times before he finally managed to pick the lock on the back door. A security guard passed by every few minutes which meant he had to keep focussed. Once inside he used his flashlight to sneak down the passage. Everything looked different in the dark and somewhat frightening even. He passed the Greece statue and aimed his light to where the gargoyle was. To his surprise there was nothing but an empty display stand.
“I’m telling you it was right there!” He tried to reassure Anne that he was not going crazy.
“Listen Phillip. Calm down, maybe they just moved it. It happens.” Anne’s words were not comforting at all. If they had moved it he was never going to get his award winning story to the press! But worse, he was probably going to pay for that with his life. After he hung up he worriedly slipped his mobile back into his pocket and started his trip home. Somewhere high up on the Museum’s roof a dark figure crouched looking at Phillip.
He had to blink a few times before looking again. There it was, his Nikon, comfortably resting on his bed. Someone must have broken in but the alarm never went off! Maybe it was broken, or tampered with? He picked up the broom and softly snuck through his own apartment without turning anymore lights on. Normally he would’ve called the cops but now he couldn’t risk it. If anyone knew he was there, especially the cops, it could be the end of him. Realising he was on his own he locked his door and closed all his windows; he was going to make that a habit from now on. Maybe he could even turn the manager’s finger to allow him some burglar bars.
After his shower he got into bed and closed his eyes. Those eyes, those stone eyes were in his dreams. It had such fine detail and was somewhat beautiful. It reached towards him and he took its hand, it was cold but gentle. He jerked sitting upright after his alarm clock went off. That was one crazy dream. He got dressed and had a quick breakfast. He had to hand in his article the following day so today was the last day he had to write something exciting about a teapot no one knew or cared about.
The librarian at least gave him a few practiced smiles as she signed him up to be a member before handing him his card. He headed over to the history section but after a few minutes of reading about the boring teapot his curiosity about the gargoyle strengthened. It took him quite some time but he eventually found an article on the library’s database about it. It was one of four statues made by a poor blacksmith for his master. It was believed the four statues would protect the mansion’s inhabitants and they were placed one on each corner of the roof. Furthermore it didn’t have much information except that the blacksmith mysteriously disappeared and no one knew what happened to him.
He wished he could just vanish like that blacksmith did. He was on his way to the apartment but didn’t feel like going there. He dialled Anne but there was no answer she was probably busy instructing her gym class. He turned on the TV but didn’t find anything entertaining. Eventually he decided to head over to the museum. He wasn’t one to believe in fantasy but he knew what he saw.
Rolling his eyes he paid for his third expensive ticket then headed over to the gargoyle. It was Sunday and there weren’t many visitors if any at all. He looked up at the statue then looked around before actually starting to talk to it. In his defence he did confess how crazy it all was… to the gargoyle. Climbing onto the display he rested against the cold statue. He felt so alone especially as he was used to going to parties and spending time with friends. He pressed his fingers on his temples as he explained his current situation. As expected no reply came then he finally broke down. He was going to let it all out tomorrow was a day he would be strong again.
“I’m scared…” He realised.
“Hey! Get off of there!” The vendor was coming to chase Phillip out. Today, however, Phillip quickly left he didn’t want anyone to see him cry!
It was probably around two am when he went to fetch a glass of water. He was barely awake as he passed the dark shadow behind his curtains. Once he returned he noticed the curtain was waving in the wind. He walked to it and found his window open. He grabbed a hold of the broom! Holding his breathe he softly snuck through his own apartment once more. Every step was making him more anxious than the previous. He slowly peered around the corner and into the living room; it was as he had left it. Feeling the broom being pulled he looked behind himself. A topless winged young man was calmly pulling the broom out of Phillip’s grip. Phillip screamed and then stormed off!
He looked back a few times to make sure he wasn’t being followed as he headed to the payphone. Shaking, and still in his pyjamas, he dialled Anne. He had to dial again before she picked up sounding very sleepy. He blurted the whole situation out to which she only replied he had to take it easy. He yelled at her when he realised she thought he was losing it. She tried to calm him down but he refused. He was not going crazy! These things were really happening! He slammed the phone down.
Not wanting to return home he spent his time at the bar until it closed even though he didn’t drink anything. He bit his lower lip as he thought back to the muscular creature from his apartment. Those white eyes, even though frightening, they were undeniably sexy. He wasn’t really into the dark and gothic side of things but he even liked the long black hair. He couldn’t believe what he was thinking. His life was in grave danger but yet he couldn’t resist the temptation. Cautiously he returned to his apartment and explored every room only to find them all empty. Satisfied he locked all his doors.
Maybe it was all just a dream after all. He had no reason to be ashamed. Blushing he didn’t want to look at his own face in the bathroom mirror. He didn’t like having two different coloured eyes. One was blue, and one was green, his brown hair needed a cut. Closing his eyes tightly he bit his lower lip again. His body tightened before relaxing once more.
“If you can hear me, I am sorry for screaming like that.” Phillip stood in front of the lifeless Gargoyle. He handed in his teapot article earlier and the boss was very impressed with it. “But you scared the shit out of me.” Phillip could strangle himself. Was he really talking to a statue?
Hours spent in the library bared little fruit. There were very few books on gargoyles but they did hold ‘useful’ information. Like the myth that gargoyles came to life after sunset but froze back to stone when the sun came up. If this was true many things would be making sense. But this was not some fantasy film…
It doesn’t want to hurt me Phillip decided. If it wanted to it could’ve killed him in his sleep and it even allowed him to run away without pursuing him. But still Phillip was frightened of it. What if the thing was homophobic? He’d be slaughtered! Sliding the book back into its shelf he headed home. Freezing he pulled his jacket tighter around himself. It took him a while before he realised he was being followed. Picking up the pace was a bad idea the hooded person was now walking faster as well but didn’t slow down again when Phillip did. He set into sprint but didn’t know where he was going as he didn’t have time to explore the little town yet. [To be continued…]