This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.


a Gargoyles tale by Jeff Morris

As a rule, you didn’t see too many New Yorkers walking their pets through Central Park at two in the morning, not even on such a clear, crisp autumn evening as this one. Most people had more sense than to go waltzing through the place at such a rotten hour, even with recently beefed-up police patrols. Unfortunately, when the call of nature hit, most animals didn’t give a hoot what the time was the case with the odd pair currently strolling along the somewhat-lit sidewalk.

The animal—you couldn’t really call it a dog unless you were feeling extremely generous—was a cross between a terrordog and the biggest damn mastiff in the world. He was trotting happily along, sniffing here and there without a care in the world. His owner, on the other hand, could barely conceal his frustration and impatience as he tugged repeatedly on the leash that was (barely) keeping the animal in line. His battered trenchcoat was obviously ill fitting, and the slouch hat he wore had been shoved down over his head as it possibly could go.

"Fine thing this is," Hudson grumbled to himself. "I ask ye five times if ye’d be wantin’ t’go out, and five times ye tell me no. But the minute somethin’ I want to be seein’ on the television comes on, then ye’ve got to take a walk!" He glared at the clan’s watchbeast, which continued sniffing at every tree and lamppost, utterly oblivious to the elder gargoyle’s discontent. Hudson sighed and shook his head. "Now I’ll be missin’ Wonder Woman’ for sure, and it was one I hadn’t yet seen..."

Bronx barked happily and lunged toward one particular grove; his abrupt change in direction was enough to snap the leather leash in two, leaving Hudson standing there in resignation as he waited for the monstrous animal to finish. He wondered if he should have taken the scooper with him, as Elisa was constantly reminding him to do—"It’s the law, Hudson," she badgered every night despite his protests—but Bronx had been in such a hurry to get out...

The aged gargoyle stiffened as he realized he was not alone. He turned slowly to find two young men standing there. They had greasy faces with nasty expressions etched upon them, long greasy hair, filthy leather jackets and ripped blue jeans. Their hands were shoved in their jacket pockets, but the old warrior knew trouble when he saw it.

"Hey, old man," the one the right said. "Kinda out past your bedtime, ain’tcha?"

"Be on yer way," Hudson growled. "I’ve nothin’ for the likes of ye."

"Now you don’t think we believe you, do you?" the second one sneered. "C’mon, Pops, let’s make this easy. We ain’t got all night."

"And I’m tellin’ ye to be off. I won’t be tellin’ ye again." Hudson glanced over his shoulder; where the blazes was that damned animal when you needed him?

The punk on the right sighed melodramatically and pulled out his right hand; it was wrapped around an object that quickly snapped into the shape of a switchblade. "We tried bein’ nice, Pops. Now give."

Hudson rolled his eyes. "Lad, I’m not in the mood for this..."

The smiles abruptly faded on the muggers’ faces, to be replaced with angry snarls. "Maybe you don’t understand, old man. I’ve got six inches of steel here that says you’re going to give me your wallet."

"Aye," Hudson nodded, then shrugged, letting the trenchcoat fly open. Before the punks could react, he’d grasped his sword and pulled it free from its sheath. "Well, lad, I’ll see your six and raise you thirty."

The punks’ eyes widened and their faces paled noticeably. "Damn," the one with the switchblade whispered, then let his blade fall to the sidewalk. The other one stood there for a moment, then turned around and raced off as fast as he could.

At that moment Bronx returned from his constitutional; the remaining would-be mugger took one look at the monster and fainted dead away. Hudson shook his head in disgust, then motioned for Bronx to join him. He pointed at the fleeing punk: "FETCH, boy!"

Bronx howled happily and set off in hot pursuit.

* * * * *

"Aw, geez, here we go again..." Patrolman Teresa Davis motioned with her nightstick at a pair of securely-bound teenagers lying beside the sidewalk. "Got two more, Jim." She dismounted from her horse and knelt down to examine her find.

"Oh man, thank God you’re here!" one of them babbled, his face a masterpiece of stark terror. "Please, Jesus God please, you gotta arrest us and take us outta here—now! Before he comes back!!!!" As Davis scooped up the pair of switchblades that lay just out of the tied-up pairs’ reach, she noticed that neither of them was wearing any pants—coincidentally, they were expertly bound together in a securely knotted network of denim.

Jim Harper drew up on his own horse and got down. "Is it our ‘Midnight Walker’ again, Ter?"

"Sure looks like it. Why don’t you look around for confirmation?"

Harper made a face. "Why me?"

"Cause I got my boots in it the last time. It’s your turn. Start over there." She pointed to a nearby grove. The other officer sighed in resignation and walked over to the clump of trees. "Now," she said to the punks, "why don’t you tell me what happened?"

"Oh geez...we were just havin’ fun with this old guy, but he whips this...this huge sword out of his coat and tells me to take my pants off...geez, I didn’t know what he was gonna do, but he looked like he meant business, so I did what he said...but Jack, he tried to make a run for it, and the old guy called out this...this thing...and God..." To Davis’s shock, the little punk was sobbing. She rolled the bound pair over and gasped in surprise. The kid was physically unharmed, but his clothing was in shreds. Must have put up a fight when the dog caught up to him, she mused. Stupid.

A cry from her partner made her head snap up. "Jim?"

"Oh, it was them again, all right. Damn it! These were new shoes!" Harper emerged from the grove with a look of disgust on his face; he paused and tried to wipe his shoes off on the grass every step or so. "Our ‘Walker’ strikes again. I swear, if I ever caught up to him, I don’t know if I’d give him a citation for cutting the crime rate down in the Park, or cite him for not using a scooper!"

"I don’t think you really want to meet him, Jim," Davis said as she raised her radio up to call for a wagon.

"Why not?"

She grinned at her partner. "You really want to meet the dog that leaves that kind of souvenir behind?"

Harper glanced back at the grove, turned toward the still moaning pair of muggers, and shook his head. "I see your point, Ter..."