The weather outside is frightful, and so are the thugs trying to toss me off a snowy cliff…
Rochelle Stone, Earth Witch
Speaking out against a local bigwig who’s terrified of witches when you actually are a witch attracts trouble. Only the timely intervention of a big, hot biker dude saves me from a modern-day execution. He says he’s security for the Concrete Angels Motorcycle Club, but I know he’s more than that. I’ve always had an affinity for stones, and my affinity for Flint is through the roof. He’s hard as a rock and my hands tingle when I touch him. He doesn’t speak aloud, but his talented hands tell me plenty… Now if I can just get the jackass trying to kill me off my back, it’ll be a golden holiday for sure.
Humans. They’re either gloriously happy or dismally miserable.
Flint, Concrete Angels’ Security
With the holidays just around the corner, I’ve been looking for a quiet place to collect my thoughts. But that’s when Earl Creighton’s thugs try to throw a woman off my local cliff. I normally don’t get involved with human troubles, but something about this woman captivates me beyond reason. I know I can’t walk away until Creighton is dealt with and his connection to the shadow group, Backlog, is severed. Rochelle is a temptation I must resist. How hard can it be? I’m a gargoyle. Made of stone, especially my heart. Not even an earth witch can penetrate its solid shell. Right?
Havoc, hexes, and holidays? It’s the most wonderful time of year…
I sat on my bike at my favorite overlook in the Colorado Rockies and looked out over the twinkling lights of Fort Collins. Snow fell like feathers on the ground as if someone had engaged in a massive pillow fight and their weapons had broken apart. The temperature had dropped near true zero keeping most of the human population inside, but I didn’t mind the cold. I actually preferred this time of year.
The season shifted people’s awareness back toward hope and kindness, even if only briefly. The cold kept most of them indoors and that meant I could move around more freely. And the cold really didn’t bother me. Gargoyles rarely noticed it. The changes in weather didn’t often catch my attention. I could ride my bike rain or shine, snow or fog, blistering heat or brutal cold. Ice was always tricky, but even then, I didn’t really have to worry about injuries.
But tonight, the cold had penetrated deeper than usual. I rubbed my chest to massage away the ache.
Must be the time of year.
I could just pick up the strains of holiday music rising up in the windy air from the shopping centers below. Some of it was pretty, filling my chest with feelings of nostalgia and memory. Others sounded like dirges and were best left ignored. I preferred to sit above the comings and goings of the human world when they got into their celebratory moods because they could become so manic. Either deliriously happy or miserable depending on who and why.
I’d lived long enough to find the extreme highs and lows exhausting and frivolous. Such emotions seemed a waste of time. I preferred the calm beneath the thrashing of human existence. It let me see things more clearly and not get swept up in their brief excitement. I enjoyed humans for the most part, but there were times I needed my space away from them.
Loki had declared it a night of revelry though the actual holiday was still a week off, and I wasn’t in the mood. So I’d cleared my absence with Quan-Yin and Nessie, jumped on my bike, and headed out into the dark foothills of the Rocky Mountains, trying to find peace and quiet. This spot always settled me when the world threatened my serenity. I took a deep breath and let the snowy silence fill my soul.
Until the two 4WD SUVs came roaring up the quiet road and skidded to a halt, spraying snow and gravel ahead of them.
Oh for the Goddess’s sake.
They left the lights on as several male humans piled out of the vehicles, laughing and shouting in drunken revelry. I swallowed a growl. So much for quiet and solitude.
I sat no more than fifty feet from them, but they were too focused on their festivities to notice me in the falling snow. I prepared to kickstart my bike to find another quiet spot when a new sound reached my ears.
Is that a frightened woman?
Two of the males dragged a protesting female from the car, her body language screaming fear and anger. It felt as if someone had thrust the end of an electrical cable to my body. A low rumbling growl emanated from my chest and I rolled to my feet, stalking through the snow to the vehicles before I realized what I was doing.
“You been writing about shit you shouldn’t, little girl. The boss-man doesn’t like witches and says we can do what we want with you, especially if you come back dead.” The guy holding the woman around the throat squeezed as he shook her.
It was weird she never said a word. Could be that the hood on her head is muffling her screams.
“Think she’ll turns us into toads if we let her talk? Good thing we gagged her. Right, boys?”
Well that explains her silence.
A chorus of drunken predatory assent ricocheted through the air as the men converged on the woman. She squeaked, unable to voice her protest, and my lips pulled back from my canines. I didn’t suffer bullies in the MC, I definitely wouldn’t put up with them now.
I slammed my fist through one of the passenger windows, the glass shattering inward on impact. All the men whirled to face the new threat and I scowled. I pointed at the woman and shook my head, gesturing for the men to let her go.
Being mute always made conversations tricky, and most people didn’t know American Sign Language. But body language often spoke louder anyway. Oh sure, I could make grunts and growls, but enunciation was beyond me. ASL worked better anyway.
“Who the fuck are you?”
I raised an eyebrow. Yeah, like I’m going to answer that. I signed in ASL, “Let her go.”
“Oh lookee here, boys. We got a deaf guy trying to defend her honor.” The guy sneered as the others laughed. “Beat it, punk. She’s our prize for the night. But because it’s the holidays, you can have her when we’re done.”
I rolled my eyes. They always travel in packs of idiots. “Let her go now.” The energy of my hands was emphatic.
“Look, dummy, I’m gonna say this slow. Get. The. Fuck. Outta. Here.”
I shifted my gaze to the woman. She’d backed away and seemed to be working on the bindings on her wrists. That she wasn’t panicked surprised the hell out of me. Still, she couldn’t beat these odds. Go time.
The men thought I’d given them my answer so they weren’t expecting me to grab the first one, and throw him bodily into the others. They were so light it was always fun to see how far they’d go, like a stone skipping over a still lake. I braced for battle when the leader scrambled to his feet threw himself at me with snarl.
Bring it, bad boy. I grinned. Fighting an angry gargoyle never worked out very well for humans. But then, my human disguise worked so well, most didn’t know it until too late. They’d find out now. Come on, boys. Let’s dance.