Note:I'm pleased (and very, very frightened ;) to say that I actually did some research for this one, mostly because the location IS a local tourist tra- er, spot, Gillette's Castle, and I haven't been there since second grade and my memories are a bit fuzzy. If you wanna know more about the castle, I got my info from http://dep.state.ct.us/stateparks/parks/gillettecastle.htm. With luck, that should open the link in a new window. If you don't want to bother, all you need to know is it's a castle built in the early 1900's by the guy who basically first played Sherlock Holmes in the theater.
Drivers along the Gold-Star Highway found traffic as usual for most of their ride. At seven at night in spring, there weren’t that many vehicles at all. But for the cars headed south, the passengers were treated to the antics of the passengers of a van.
Any car fanatic would have labeled it as only a year old, in reasonable condition. The green paint was still shiny through the dirt, and the tires were unworn. It was the passengers that made the van remarkable.
The driver was a teenage girl, with short brown hair and average looks. She was constantly fiddling with the radio after the man riding shotgun changed the station/volume. He was tall with long, shaggy gray hair pulled back into a ponytail. With what had to be called wolfish good looks, heavily muscled, and dressed in L. L. Bean’s best, he looked like he’d stepped out of a camping advertisement and into his seat.
The two in the middle seat were best described as a dating couple. Despite their seatbelts, they managed to snuggle together, much to the (loud) disgust of those in the back seat. The man was in his early twenties, with long red hair pulled into a braid and a muscled build. The girl could’ve passed for the driver’s sister with her short build and long brown hair in a ponytail.
The three in the back were also teenagers, only one of them male. On the right was a small woman with a dark olive complexion and a loose bun of light green hair that spent most of her time staring out the window. Next to her was another woman, a bored brunette in sunglasses who was exchanging quips with the man next to her; also dark complexioned, with auburn hair cut close to his head and dressed in jeans and a NIN shirt.
And the battle continued....
“Change the station again and lose the hand,” Jay growled. The tall man riding shotgun snatched back his hand like it’d been burned, giving her an offended look.
“The reception – is – fine. Moving doesn’t do anything to it. Just leave it alone, Liam. You may be acting chaperone, but I’m the car expert here. Meg, you sure this hologram thingy will hold?”
The girl in the middle seat looked up. “Hmm? Oh, yeah. No problem.”
Collective snickers wafted up from the back seat. “Yeah, if she and snugglebuns can keep their hands off each other. Ow! Watch the tail.”
“I am,” the redhead in the middle called back. “So you just watch your mouth, junior.”
Frank pulled himself forward to lean over Troy’s shoulder. “Look, will ya cut that junior crap? A few years doesn’t give you nearly enough right to call me that, dammit!”
Troy twisted to glare him in the eye. “Howzabout a few millennium?”
Unable to come up with a decent answer, the younger gargoyle resorted to a rude gesture and raspberry.
Jay sighed. “For some reason I have the weirdest urge to threaten to pull over until everyone’s gonna act like the adults they’re supposed to be.”
“Responsible adults? Only Liam!” Kyla quipped.
A faint ding saved Jay from murder charges. Startled silence descended over the disguised gargoyles. “What was that?” Liam demanded.
Jay winced. He was gripping the arm rests hard enough to make the illusion look white-knuckled, and with his wolf-like claws.... She didn’t even want to think about the holes he was probably leaving. “That was the van saying ‘you forgot to fill the gas tank, stupid!’ Next station I’m going for a refill.” Five minutes later, the relieved teen turned off the vehicle and got out to pump some gas.
If we all make it back alive, I swear this will be the last time I ever drive that crew anywhere, she thought viciously. I don’t care what Liam has on me, I’m not doing this again. The gargoyle had, in a typical moment of twisted inspiration, decided he needed to take some of the ‘youngsters’ on a little trip for some bonding time, and then blackmailed Jay into chauffeuring. Well, ok, since it’s to Gillette’s Castle, it wasn’t THAT hard to twist my arm. But why on earth they’d even want to go there – ok, why on earth Liam thinks they’d want to go there is beyond me. She sighed, jiggled the pump, and worked the last few drops into the van. It’s the hologram thingy that gets to me, though. She blinked and shook her head. It’d been a nasty shock to find six humans at the house, but to have Meg – and it was painfully, obviously Meg – declare it was a magical illusion was too much for Jay’s brain. Thankfully, Megan had given her an alternate explanation of an experimental hologram. It sounded a lot like an adult humoring a silly child’s whims, but Jay wasn’t about to quibble. She had to draw the line somewhere, and magic happened to be it. Science based weird shit she could accept, but her belief in the fantastic ended with the existence of gargoyles.
Best to just not think about it, she decided, fishing for her wallet as she headed inside. It was empty except for the guy manning the register. “Evening,” she called. “Your parents ever take you on any road trips?”
He raised an eyebrow at her sudden question. “One or two. You?”
Jay chuckled and shook her head in disbelief. “I’m amazed my parents let me live through even one of them.”
“Eighteen fifty. Whoo, guzzled that. Seeing it from the other side?”
“Brother.” She rolled her eyes. “This is the last time I take any of my relatives anywhere.” She handed over the money. “Thanks.”
“Thank you. Have a good trip!”
“Not likely!” she called back as she left. On her way back to the van, she sighed and gave the vehicle a once over. It was looking a little grungy, and by filling the tank she got a free car wash.... What the hey. Brownie points with the parental units is good. “Everybody buckled up?”
“Yes Mom,” wafted up from the back as she obeyed her own hint. Their cackles died off into general chatter and banter between the seats.
“Good,” she muttered to herself. I wonder if the hologram keeps up when they die.... she wondered as she maneuvered up to the car wash, punching in the code like ordering a messy painful death.
The doors slid open and she drove in. The gargoyles finally came back to reality when she stopped. “What the – ?” Frank muttered.
“What is this?” Liam asked her.
Jay blinked. Come one, everyone knows what a carwash –
A second later, when the machines started up, she was very grateful for seatbelts and child safety locks as the gargoyles collectively yelped and tried to get out of the car.
When the sound of her smothered, near-hysterical giggles and the fact that they weren’t in trouble hit them, she got on the receiving end of a group look that could kill. “I- it’s just the carwash. You heard about that, right?”
“You could have warned us,” Nina snarled.
“Now where’s the fun in that?”
She got several rude mutters and gestures in reply, which she cheerfully ignored. As the light turned green and she eased past the dryers Jay called, “Next stop is the castle. And dammit Liam, leave the radio alone!”
Jay wasn’t sure who said it, but she mentally admitted that whoever it was had it right. The castle loomed over the parking lot, complete with turrets, balconies, and ivy. DAMN that’s impressive. “So let’s get moving and see the inside.”
“Just one thing?” Frank called as he pulled his way out of the door.
“Why is Sherlock Holms on the sign?” The group stopped and turned to stare at him. “What??”
Sighs and rolling eyes floated through the disguised gargoyles, and Meg casually whacked him upside the head. “You are such a dork,” she informed him.
“It’s a legit question!”
“Oh come on,” Troy sighed, “even I know that one.”
“Then howzabout sharing your wisdom, oh ancient one?”
“Only if you ask nicely.”
“Kids!” Liam’s bellow kept the pair apart as much as his physical presence between them. “Frank, didn’t you listen to anything I said?”
“Yeah, the whole get out of patrol while Jay drives us to see a castle.”
“This will have to wait,” Liam sighed. “We have an appointment to keep.” With that, he herded the unruly youngsters inside.
Oh god. Ohgodohgodohgod. There were people in the castle. Kenny shifted from foot to foot, then put an elaborately carved box down.
“ ‘Sup?” Rick asked.
Kenny shushed him and moved over to look in the mirror, using the chain of reflections to look into the main room. One of the uniformed tour guides was talking to what had to be a group of tourists; three men and four women. “Shit!”
Rick moved to look in the mirror. “What’re they doin’ here? I thought this place closed at six.”
“How the hell should I know? Shit, this is not good.”
“So... what do we do?” his partner asked, looking worriedly around the room and at the priceless antiques they’d planned to remove – of if you wanted to be crude about it, steal and fence for a whole fucking lotta money.
“Ok, so this is what we do,” Kenny mumbled mostly to himself, planning on the fly. He was so not happy.
They waited, hidden behind ornately carved wardrobes. When the last tourist, a bored kid with a NIN shirt, short reddish hair, and an Attitude, strolled on in, they acted.
“All right everybody freeze!” Kenny yelled, as he and Rick jumped into the room, guns raised and aimed.
Then things got weird.
“Goddammit!” The chick with short brown hair sighed in disgust, rolled her eyes, and crossed her arms. “I do not believe this. One trip, just one normal trip, that’s all I’m asking for! This never happened before I met you guys. Now I can’t go anywhere without running into terrorists, Klan rejects, and....” She squinted at him. “What the hell are you supposed to be? A thief?”
“Yeah, now just shut up! I’ve got a gun!” This wasn’t working, they weren’t acting right, they should be cowering in fear of getting shot!
At least the tour guide was acting right, going along with the normal scheme of the world. He was in the corner, hands on his head, whimpering. But the tourists, on the other hand.... The tourists had spread out somewhat, an eager, almost predatory look in their eyes.
“Sig-sauer,” the oldest commented, a man with shaggy gray hair in a ponytail. “Nine millimeter, clip of sixteen....” Those eyes shifted up to meet Kenny’s. The man bared his teeth in a smile. “With the safety on.”
What?!? Kenny glanced down to check, and in that split second the tourists acted.
The girl with the attitude threw herself backwards, to land on top of the tour guide. The gray haired man snarled and effortlessly pulled the gun from Kenny’s hands and just as effortlessly crumpled it like it was cardboard. The green-haired chick snatched Nick’s gun away before Sunglasses Girl and the guy with the NIN shirt tackled Rick. Seconds later, the dating couple slammed into Kenny and brought him to the floor.
“Well that was fun,” Jay commented dryly as the shaken tour guide shut the door behind them.
“Yeah! Catching a couple’a thieves always makes a night better!” Frank gushed.
Jay sighed and sidestepped around a cop who’d stopped to examine the bottom of his shoes. “The thing that bothers me is you’re probably not joking.”
“Hey, at least all they did was take our statements,” Kyla said. “They could’ve asked us to testify or something fun like that.”
Jay froze for a second, then started walking again with a shudder. “So not funny. I can’t take you guys anywhere.”
Troy laughed. “Yes you can. You just can’t get us to behave.”
“You better behave, or you’re gliding home.”
There was a pause as the gargoyles mulled over the possibility. “Sounds cool,” Nina finally said.
Jay shook her head and opened the van door, grateful that the cops had parked far enough away that they couldn’t hear this bizarre little conversation. Or at least for them to pretend not to hear. “You guys are sick.” She slammed the door shut after jumping in and made the disguised gargoyles wait a few anxious seconds before unlocking the other doors. “Sick,” she repeated when assured that everyone was inside and buckled properly.
“You say it like it’s a bad thing!” Meg quipped. Jay let loose a sigh and rolled her eyes, apparently not noticing as Liam reached out to fiddle with the station selector. After a second, he blinked and began to twist the knob more violently, earning himself a light whack from Jay.
“I said leave it alone!”
“But it won’t change!”
“That’s what happens when you mess with it too much,” Jay growled sweetly.
The man shrank back in his seat, pulling off a kicked puppy impression as he hunched over in an attempt to not break anything else. Silence reigned among the clan for all of 20 seconds, when Meg exploded into laughter. Liam twisted in his seat to give her a puzzled look. “What?”
When she could finally pretend to speak in-between giggle fits, she gasped out, “Of course the channel changer isn’t gonna work! There’s a tape in there!”
“But how’d it get in?” the gray-haired male asked, puzzled by the mysteries of technology.
Jay bared her quasi-fangs in an evil grin. “Magic.” She laughed at Liam’s shocked expression. “I palmed it,” she said, relenting enough to take some mercy. “Smoke and mirrors, the only magic that counts.” She glared at him, ignoring the faint whimpers in back as she apparently ignored the road. “So leave – it – alone! Got it?”
He nodded frantically. “Got it.”
“Good. And heaven forbid you actually plan something like this again, you will get a different driver. Ok?”
“Yes, fine, whatever, just.... drive!!!”
Jay snorted in amusement and turned back to the road. Good. Blackmail is good. Hmm. I wonder if I could convince Chad to try driving them somewhere....
Much groveling to M.C. who pulled double duty again; general writing group of one AND proofreader. Thanks muchly!!!
Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home
I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive
As always, questions, comments, etc. can be sent to Norcumi@backtick.net. Actually, feedback is ALWAYS appreciated. No, really, it is!
DISCLAIMERS: All characters belong to me. You can't use them without my permission. But if you ask, you're most like to get it. But you still have to ask. The gargoyle race in general and a bit of gargoyle lore are owned by Buena Vista and therefore the Great Mouse, used with great reverence, respect, and without permission. This isn't intended as copyright infringement. Gillette's Castle isn't mine (much as I could wish!), and neither are various random brand names.