5.6: Waiting and Mourning
Maggie and Ruth tended the gargoyles' wounds as best they could from the few medical supplies Dr. Lacey and the clinic nurses always left out for after-hours use, bandaging Delilah's scalp and wing and improvising splints for Malibu's wing. While they did so, Claw and Dana signed their story to Talon and he relayed it to the other Labyrinth residents. There was a great outcry of rage and grief when they learned of Brentwood's death, and several of the more excitable residents swore bloody vengeance even though Dana assured them that those who had actually killed him were dead.
Talon added grimly after their recital and his translation was over, "If it hadn't been outright war between gargoyles and Quarrymen before, then it will be now. And we're going to be square in the middle of it… I want a total lockdown, sealing all known entrances, right now. Dobbins, you know all five of the people we've got out scrounging at the moment; find them and guide them to Our Lady of Guardian Angels' tonight for shelter, and tell Father Sullivan what's happened. Let's move, people, before that Quarryman who ran can get his buddies down here! We've got gargoyles, women and children to protect!" As people scrambled to do his bidding, he added, "After we're secure… then we can mourn."
Through the rest of the long night, people tried to take care of and comfort each other. Jody and Judy huddled and cried with the grieving clones, while the twins' mother and several others brought them bowls of pigeon stew, telling Delilah especially that she had to keep her strength up for the egg's sake; Brentwood would have wanted it that way.
There was no body to bury, but Talon decided that it was time to start a 'Hall of Memories' to honor their dead. They had already lost one resident, sixty-year-old Agnes, to pneumonia three days ago; Dr. Lacey and the clinic nurses had done what they could for her, but she had steadfastly refused to be taken up to a hospital and more sophisticated medical care, and in the end her aged body had simply stopped fighting to live. The Labyrinth residents had carried her body in solemn procession up to the surface in the middle of the night, and left it on the steps of a hospital with her name and all the information they knew about her pinned to her threadbare coat, trusting the city to notify whatever next of kin they could find and give her a decent burial in the local "pauper's field."
Now, the residents cleared an unused chamber of all debris and chiseled onto one of the walls, "Agnes Thompson. Born January 1936-died November 25, 1996. Always a lady." Then just before dawn they brought the gargoyles in, and Delilah, who could read and write a little already, inscribed with her talons on the wall as the tears flowed down her cheeks, "Brentwood. Born August 1996-Died November 30, 1996. Our brother. He died protecting."
At the time of the inscribing, Dana and Claw were not present; they had already gone to their room hours before, to deal with their own roles in the night's tragedy. They lay for a long time on the bed, holding each other tightly and occasionally trembling. When sleep finally came to them, it brought nightmares for them both, but when they awoke from those nightmares with shouts and yowls, they were able to comfort each other.
Sleep finally came for the gargoyles when dawn rose over the city above, and found them still huddled together in a knot of grief. Gargoyles can dream, too, and both Delilah and Malibu had nightmares, but for them there was no hope of reprieve by waking up before sunset.
For three long days and nights, the Labyrinth was in lockdown. The dock entrance to the Labyrinth was not just sealed, but permanently blocked and cemented shut, never to be used again. All other entrance routes were closed down and camouflaged except one little-used one (little used because it stank to high heaven, running through one of the sewers), by which they posted a constant guard equipped with shrill whistles for alerting the rest if anyone unauthorized came through. Street-savvy runners held their noses as they went back and forth through that one entrance to convey messages between the Labyrinth and its helpers, and to listen anxiously for the slightest rumors that the Quarrymen were planning another attack.
For three tension-filled days and nights, they lived off their stored food supplies and kept quiet, speaking in hushed voices even in their homes far below the surface. For all three days and nights Talon bitterly second-guessed himself over his earlier decree that no weapons be allowed in the Labyrinth, and debated if he should have some of his more stable people train for defense on the captured Quarryhammers. (Maggie did her best to calm and reassure him, but persuaded him to keep the hammers locked away for now, as the gargoyles were still too traumatized to be able to cope with their friends and neighbors wielding the very instruments that had killed their brother.) For three anxious days and nights, they waited, and worried, and prayed.
Finally, when they'd heard no hints of retaliation, Talon said it was okay to reopen the common entrances again. Slowly, their lives returned to normal, though with a few sad changes; the gargoyle clones still grieved over their lost brother and now declined to return to the surface for exercise, preferring to run or gallop on all fours down some of the longer unused tunnels instead. Delilah, hardest hit by all that had happened, took to staying in their chambers and huddling on the little nest she'd made of old blankets, rocking back and forth and quietly keening. Sensing her grief, little Fluffy kept her company every night while her remaining brothers brought her fresh rats and other food.
As the Labyrinth's scroungers went through the streets collecting useful things, they collected information as well. And one thing that they learned was that the Quarrymen were indeed in an uproar again, but this time as much a puzzled one as a vengeful one. The Quarrymen knew one of their squads had vanished, expensive equipment and all (and of course were blaming the gargoyles for it), but knew nothing about exactly how it had happened. When this information was brought back to the Labyrinth, Talon heaved a huge sigh and said, "Thank God for small favors. But I wonder what happened to the eighth guy?"
The eighth Quarryman hadn't stopped running until he'd reached the alley containing the dark blue vans he and his companion had stashed there. He'd thought as he rounded the last corner that he was almost safe; safe at last from the monster that had killed his squad! And he knew just what he'd do when he got into one of the vans. He'd drive like a bat out of Hell until he reached Headquarters; then he'd give a full report to Castaway about his squad's slaughter and about how these monsters knew how to use guns. Then he'd head straight for Kansas City, and never return to New York again, not even to collect the furniture from his apartment. He'd had enough of this crazy city…
That was exactly what he was going to do when he reached the vans, only there was a slight problem. Namely, the group of car thieves that were presently occupied in 'boosting' the vans, to haul them off to their chop shop for dismantling and selling for parts.
When he burst onto the scene, both he and the ring of thieves froze for a second. Then their leader counted only one of him, unarmed, against his entire crew. One silenced pistol shot later, the crew resumed their work of hauling off the vans. And Castaway and his Quarryman organization never did find out just what had happened to Squad Two.