I'm Afraid for My Kids
Sarah Browne did her best to stay calm as a rough-looking young man with a gun backed her into an alley.
"Give me the purse, and you won't get hurt."
Sarah began to hand over her pocketbook. It would be tedious replacing her credit cards and ID, but she could spare the little cash she had in it. The important thing was to stay alive. Billy and Susan needed her. She would do anything to protect them. That was the whole reason she joined the Quarrymen. Even if the hoods reminded her of the Ku Klux Klan, even if Mr. Castaway came across like a hellfire preacher during meetings, she needed to protect her children. The Quarrymen were the only ones doing anything about those monsters that had invaded Manhattan.
As the thug's free hand closed around his prize, two of those very monsters descended, eyes blazing white. Her way out of the alley was blocked, so she could only watch as the small, pale blue thing brandished a short sword at the man while its big brown companion landed behind the thug and knocked him out. The blaze of their eyes faded away as a brown one addressed the blue one.
"Now remember, lad. We make sure not t' cause any lasting damage. Just scare them into a different line o' work and disable them long enough for the police to find them."
The high pitch of the voice surprised Sarah. It sounded like a child. She found a question coming unbidden to her lips as she resettled her glasses. "How – how old are you?"
The pale blue creature turned toward her. It had black hair and a beak and wore grey shorts and a dark blue t-shirt with the sleeves ripped off and "USN" printed on it. "Nineteen," it said.
"Nineteen?" Sarah responded, confusion evident in her voice.
The brown one, the one the young one had called Hudson, put a hand on the small one's shoulder and addressed the woman, "Gargoyles age half as fast as humans, so Nashville here still has a long way to go."
The little one, Nashville, looked ready to protest something, but before he could say anything Sarah spoke. "You send your children out to fight?"
Nashville piped up, "I was sick of being cooped up at the castle! I just wanted to stretch my wings a bit."
"I had just caught up to him when we saw you. We had to help. After all, a gargoyle can no more stop protecting the city…"
"Than breathing the air," Nashville finished with the air of someone who learned a motto by rote a long time ago.
"He's still armed," Sarah said, gesturing at the now seethed blade tucked into Nashville's belt.
Hudson shrugged, "We live in dangerous times. It won't stop a Quarryman's hammer, but it might make others less likely pick him as a target. Of course," he turned to Nashville, "he still shouldn't go out into the city alone."
An annoyed look crossed Nashville's face. It amazed Sarah how, even with the beak, it was so much like the expression Billy wore when she told him he was too young for something. He pushed Hudson's hand off his shoulder. "You don't even know half the things I've seen and done. I can handle myself." The young gargoyle turned around and began to scale the building. He looked back down for a moment, "And I told you to call me Gnash."
Hudson sighed, "I'm sure his father didn't give any o' us this much trouble until he was at least thirty. But then, he had his rookery bothers and sisters for playfellows," he looked at Sarah. "Nashville… Gnash is the only hatchling we have now. It's hard to have no one else your own age around." The old gargoyle grunted as if bracing himself for the task ahead. "Well, I have a wee one to catch. Could you please call the police?" He pointed at the still unconscious man. "That one should be waking up soon. And get home safe."
Just as Hudson disappeared over the roofline, a beat cop passed by the alley and spotted her.
"Ma'am, are you alright?"
"Yes," she pointed at the man just beginning to stir. "He tried to mug me and two g-gargoyles s-stopped him."
"I'll take him in. It's late, and I can tell you're shook up. You can come to the precinct tomorrow and give your statement. I'm sure the Taskforce will want a word with you too, if gargoyles got involved. Can you make it home?"
"Yes, my home is just a block away."
"I'll be watching till I see you go inside."
"Thank you officer," Sarah said as she started away. Her mind raced with what had just happened.
Nine and a half, that little gargoyle was the equivalent of a nine and a half year old child. The same age as her son.
"You don't even know half the things I've seen and done." Her mind pictured Billy saying that. Chills ran up her spine.
"We live in dangerous times. It won't stop a Quarryman's hammer…" A Quarryman's hammer… a Quarryman's hammer sparking lightning and crashing into that little body. Her hand went to her mouth as a small wave of nausea hit her stomach.
All this time, she had been afraid for her children.
All this time, the gargoyles had been afraid for their child.
That night, she burned her Quarryman's hood in the sink and washed the ashes down the drain.
Author's notes: Sarah Browne is a background character we see a couple of times in Gargoyles. In the issue "Nightwatch" we she her speaking the title quote in a man-on-the-street interview and later at a Quarrymen meeting. In "Masque" we see her trick-or-treating with her kids. You can tell she's unnerved when a uniformed Quarryman passes by.
Sarah is just a normal, honest person worried by a new and frightening element in her life. I wanted to write a scene where she sees the gargoyles are not as different as she thinks.
As for Nashville, I figured that traveling all the time for the first nineteen years of his life with just his parents and Fu-Dog would leave him uncomfortable staying in one place with the whole clan around him. Add to that that there really is no one his age around and I can see him running off now and then.