Based on characters and situations from Disney's Gargoyles.

Originally published in Compadres #29 by Neon RainBow Press.

Standard fanfic disclaimer that wouldn't last ten seconds in a court of law: these aren't my characters, I'm just borrowing them for, um, typing practice. That's it, typing practice. I'll return them to their actual owners (relatively) undamaged. This is an amateur work of fiction; no profit beyond pleasure was derived from the writing.

Urban Folklore

by Susan M. M

"Hey, we're on TV," Lexington announced, the remote control clasped in his green hand.

"Lucky us," Hudson muttered sourly. Nonetheless, the elderly gargoyle seated himself in a recliner-chair in front of the television.

"Ur-ban folk-lore," a middle-aged man pronounced slowly, imitating Mr. Rogers. "Can you say urban folklore, boys and girls?" In a more normal tone, he continued, "Gargoyles are no more real than alligators in the sewers or the exploding chihuahua in the microwave. They don't exist."

Broadway and Brooklyn traded amused glances.

"You hear that?" Broadway, a portly blue-skinned gargoyle asked (with his mouth full). "We don't exist."

"If you don't exist, then who ate half the pizza?" Brooklyn asked.

"Hush, lads. I want to hear this," Hudson ordered. As far as he was concerned, the more humans who were unaware of their existence – or at least considered them imaginary – the better. A thousand years ago, they'd been the protectors of Wyvern Castle in the highlands of Scotland. Most of their clan had been betrayed and slaughtered. A curse had condemned the five remaining gargoyles to sleep until the castle rose above the clouds. And so they slumbered, still as stone, until David Xanatos, an American millionaire had purchased the castle, had it disassembled stone by stone and brick by brick, then carefully re-assembled atop his New York City skyscraper. They had lost their castle home to Xanatos, and now lived in a clock tower above a police station. Now they were learning to cope with life in the Big Apple in 1994, and New Yorkers were learning to co-exist with creatures that most considered only myth … or architecture.

"No, sir, they are real," contradicted a black-clad man. He was in his late 30s or early 40s. "Real, and evil."

The talk show host, 'Mad' Madison Fleming, a chubby fellow in a loud Hawaiian shirt, inquired, "And what is your proof of that, Reverend?"

"Proof? Look at them! Their very appearance is Satanic."

"So is a chupacabra's, but they're not real either," interrupted the first man. "They were made up by the National Register1 to sell newspapers."

"Dr. Heyes, Professor Keller and Reverend Campbell seem to have been dominating the discussion. What do you think?" asked the host.

"Thank you, Madison; it has been rather like sharing the stage with Dr. Brin and Mrs. Bradley," the blonde acknowledged. She was easily a decade younger than the other two talk show guests.

Madison Fleming smirked. Most of the viewing audience was probably too mundane to catch the reference – certainly neither Prof. Keller nor Rev. Campbell had – but David Brin and Marion Zimmer Bradley were known microphone hogs. Both tended to run roughshod over any panel they were on at an SF con.

"I didn't want to interrupt," Dr. Juliet Heyes continued. "However, it is my professional opinion that gargoyles do exist and that they are sentient."

"Sentient?" Broadway repeated the unfamiliar word.

"Sentient?" repeated Campbell, outraged. "They're soulless beasts!"

"Sentience refers to intelligence, not spirituality," she informed him.

"I know what the word means," he snapped.

"Why do you think they're real?" demanded the professor. "You're a scientist."

"Photographic evidence. Madison, could you ask your crew to play the tape, please?"

At the clock tower, the gargoyles saw themselves on TV, foiling a convenience store robbery. "I remember that," Brooklyn said. His skin was reddish-brown, and he had an evil-looking beak filled with sharp teeth. "That was about a month ago."

"Didn't realize they got pictures of us," Lexington murmured.

"This is from a security camera," Dr. Heyes explained in a voiceover. "The owner had it installed after the fourth time he was robbed. Your 'urban folklore,' your 'soulless beasts,' stopped him from being held up a fifth time. And after word got around who protected him, no one's made a sixth attempt."

"Hey, good for us." Lexington smiled.

"They're nothing but animals. They could have attacked the storekeeper as easily as they did the robber," Rev. Campbell suggested.

"They could've," she acknowledged. "They didn't. They made a deliberate choice to use their strength and abilities to help instead of harm. They spoke to the storekeeper and –"

"Parrots and magpies can be taught to talk," Campbell interrupted.

"Birds can be taught to mimic certain words. The gargoyles asked if he was all right. That, sir, in my professional opinion as a zoologist, is proof of sentience, that they are more than animals. And that they chose to fight the robbers, that they cared enough to inquire after a stranger's well-being, is sufficient proof that they have souls, and better ones than some humans."

Campbell opened his mouth to protest.

Dr. Heyes cut him off mercilessly. "And that is my professional opinion as the Rev. Dr. Heyes." She turned to Madison with a smile. "I have two doctorates, a Th. D. and a D. V. M."

Professor Keller raised an eyebrow. "That's an unusual combination."

"It's a long story." She glanced at her watch and smiled mischievously. "Actually, Rev. Campbell, there's more evidence for the gargoyles being angelic than satanic."

"What?" To say he was shocked was an understatement.

"Are you familiar with the Gospel according to St. Luke?" she asked.

"Of course I am!" Campbell was insulted by the question.

"Luke, chapter 1, verses 12 and 13. Zechariah2 sees Gabriel and is frightened; Gabriel tells him not to be afraid. Chapter 1, verse 30, Gabriel tells Mary not to be afraid. Chapter 2, verses 9 and 10, the shepherds were 'sore afraid' and the angel told them to 'fear not.' There are other citations elsewhere in the scriptures, but obviously, angels were considered frightening in appearance. Just as some people consider gargoyles," she emphasized the adjective slightly, making it clear she was not among that group. "Angels have wings; gargoyles have wings. Angels protect mankind; gargoyles protect people. Is there any reason why the gargoyles flying over the skies of New York today couldn't be the same creatures as the angels of biblical days?"

Keller was biting his lip, trying not to laugh. Campbell turned white, sputtering, too upset to talk. Madison caught a signal from off-stage.

"Unfortunately, we're out of time, so we'll have to quit on that note." Madison tried not to smirk at how Juliet had one-upped Campbell. "My guests tonight have been Professor Roy Keller, sociology professor at E.S.U.3, the Rev. Mr. George Campbell, pastor of Atonement Church on 32nd Street, and Dr. Juliet Heyes, veterinarian of Central Park Zoo. I'm 'Mad' Madison Fleming, and I'll see you all next week, when the vice-president of the local chapter of the Flat Earth Society will be my guest. Good night, New York."

"Okay, we're off the air," the cameraman announced.

"Julie, that was perfect timing," Madison congratulated her, not bothering with any pretence of neutrality now that the cameras were off.

"You heathen! You heretic!" Campbell couldn't think of names bad enough for her. "You—you—"

"My dear sir, you seem to forget that we are ecumenical colleagues. I am an ordained minister of the Church of the Eternal Light of Truth," Julie said very calmly, slightly pompously.

"Isn't that one of those tax-shelter churches that sells ordinations?" Keller asked. "So much to be a minister, more for a bishopric?"

Julie nodded. "The last year of veterinary school, some of us were getting depressed studying for midterms, not sure we'd ever be doctors. So after a few too many beers, we all chipped in $50 to buy a doctorate in theology and had a drawing. I won."

Keller laughed.


Three days later, Julie Heyes lounged in an old beanbag chair, indulging in three of her favorite luxuries: a cold Cherry Coke, a can of Pringles, and a Robin of Sherwood fanzine. After a hard day at work, there was nothing like crunching Guy of Gisbourne to help a woman relax.

She heard a knock. Reluctantly, she pulled herself up out of the beanbag. Then she stopped. The knock had come from the window, not the door. She turned and looked.

A red gargoyle with a pterodactyl's beak was on her fire escape.

Julie inhaled sharply. After only a second's hesitation, she went over and opened the window. "Hi, there."

"Hi. Just wanted to thank you for standing up for us."

Julie smiled, relaxing slightly. "You're welcome."

This is the end of the first Juliet Heyes story. Three and a half are written thus far; the third is too young to be posted on the 'Net yet.

1 Jack McGee's newspaper on The Incredible Hulk, and Edgar Benedek's on ShadowChasers.

2 Revised Standard Version says Zechariah; King James Version says Zacharias. Editor's choice.

3 Empire State University is where Peter Parker was working on his master's degree.