I’ve never met a gargoyle before, let alone interviewed one, so despite the invite, I’m a little nervous when it shows up at my door. It’s one thing to make it a character in my novella. It’s entirely another to look into those shiny black eyes in person.
The gray monster is the size of a five-year-old but looks like it could bench-press my car. It has horns, claws, and leathery batwings, complete with hooks at the joints. Pointy yellow teeth jut from its thin-lipped muzzle, and I hope it’s friendly.
I’m tempted to call the whole thing off, but behind him, a pretty brown-skinned character is sweeping her long dreadlocks behind her shoulders. She’s wearing an India-print skirt, love beads, and combat boots, and a giant jar of peanut butter is tucked under one arm. She sticks out her hand. “I’m Tali.”
I reach over the gargoyle and shake her hand at neck height. “It’s nice to meet you in person. Thanks for coming with…”
“Zaahmaazigh,” the creature says.
Tali smiles. “You can just call him Zam.”
“It’s a he?”
“Apparently. Though, to be honest, I haven’t checked.”
I invite them in. Zam waddles past me and claws his way onto my sofa. Tali plops down next to him and opens her jar. “He’s always hungry. He loves Girl Scout cookies, but since he eats with his mouth open, crumbs get everywhere. This will hold him over without the mess. I think.”
The gargoyle digs his clawed fingers into the peanut butter and smears it into his mouth, mostly.
“Well, let’s get started.” I peel my gaze from the spectacle and open my notepad, ready to write his answers. “Thanks for dropping by, Zam. Can you tell me a little about yourself?”
“Oh, sorry!” Tali tucks a stray dread behind her ear. “I can understand him a little, but yes or no questions work best.”
I look down at my useless questions, unsurprised. “Okay, Zam, let’s start here. From what I understand, you were a prisoner of the serpent god Damballah.”
Tali translates, “That means yes.”
“And it was a voodoo prayer written in the margins of your mother’s Bible that freed you into our time.”
“1972, actually,” Tali clarifies. “The book was hidden in a cottage next to a lighthouse. I read the passage, and the next thing I know, Zam shows up. He freaked me out. And Daballah was worse. That’s one scary god you do not want to cross.”
“That means no.” She shrugs as Zam shoves his whole hand into the jar and licks his knobby knuckles. “I think Zam’s grateful for everything that happened. Speaking for myself, I could have done without the whole psycho ordeal.”
“So, Zam,” I ask, “did you enjoy being the star of the story?”
“Sss. Algae Eeggh sauv Zaahm.”
“Aww.” Tali rubs the gargoyle’s head between his horns. “He calls me Algae. And that Egg sound is Greg. He’s saying we saved him. But he saved us too. It’s a cool story when it isn’t terrifying.”
“Yup, we saved the boat too. We think. Time travel can get tricky.”
I watch Zam’s long tongue polish the inside of the jar. “Well, I don’t want you two to give too much away. Let’s see…. Here’s a question. Can you actually fly with those wings?
The gargoyle’s wings twitch but remain folded against his back. He eyeballs my kitchen. “Oood?”
“No more food.” Tali hustles to her feet and clutches Zam’s hand. “We should go before he raids your fridge. Or asks Damballah to suck us all into a nightmare adventure. You wouldn’t believe the potential for disaster, and once he starts….”
The creature’s lower jaw juts, and his eyes narrow into obsidian slits. A guttural growl rumbles from his chest. Tali crouches and whispers into one of his flattened ears, “I have Thin Mint cookies in the bug for the trip back to Harbor Pointe.”
Zam’s long ears perk up. He leaps from the sofa, and his hand rips from Tali’s grasp. His black wings flap, knocking over a lamp and upending a chair as he scrambles for the door. “Oogeez!”
“Hey, a new word!” Tali tosses me a grin and scurries after him. “Zam, wait!”
They’re gone in a flash, and I’m sitting on the sofa, wondering what just happened. As Tali’s VW bug chugs down the driveway, I right the furniture and throw the empty jar into the recycling bin. Back to editing. Now I know why this book is so out of control.