The Breck Block was built in the 1970’s; it’s a seven-storey structure that was called an eyesore in its early days. Time has not been kind to it: now it’s a forty-five year old eyesore. It’s home to the Faculty of Mathematics, the only ones who really appreciate neo-gothic.
Today there was a crowd gathered outside, several dozen people staring up while three campus cops tried to establish a perimeter. I could just see a human figure, standing on the lip of the roof and looking down.
I nudged one of the spectators. “What’s going on? Who is that?”
“I dunno, but I think he’s going to jump.”
One of the campus cops resorted to shouting. “Get back everyone! We don’t want to spook Mr. Armitage and cause him to do something rash!”
Armitage? Steve Armitage? I pulled out my cell phone. I knew Steve was nervous about finals, but I didn’t think it was this bad. He answered on the second ring.
“Tim? Is that you?”
“Who else would it be on my phone? Where are you right now?”
“On top of the Brick looking down. Can you come up here?”
“Why don’t you come down?”
“It’s complicated. Hurry, okay?”
I texted my girlfriend and slipped past the overwhelmed security officers. During the interminable elevator ride I reflected on this academic year, now nearly over. Jennifer Nelson and I had started dating last fall; since then I’d had a piano dropped on my car, lipped off an ancient Greek god, turned into a teenaged girl, and personally met Puss in Boots. And my lab partner Steve, who had been there for most of it, said it was complicated?
I stepped out onto the roof to an odd tableau. There was a car parked there, along with a seven foot stone monster holding a bedraggled girl in one arm and using the other to point a crossbow at Steve, who looked more than a little nervous.
“Okay, what’s going on here?” I know it was lame, but Jenny always told me confidence was key when dealing with magical monsters.
“He tried to steal my girlfriend.” The statue nudged the crossbow in Steve’s direction. “Came at me with a chisel.”
“I was trying to rescue the girl.”
“Why? ‘Cause I’m a monster? My body may be stone but my heart isn’t.”
“I’m sure this is all a misunderstanding. Steve, don’t you know better by now?”
“Look Tim, I definitely heard her scream.”
I thought about this for a while. It didn’t add up; gargoyles aren’t exactly the dating type, and what was that car doing here? Unless...
I addressed the girl. “Where are your friends?”
“Friends? They locked me on the roof after...” She trailed off.
“After you brought the car up here. You’re from Engineering, right?”
“I thought so. Mr. Gargoyle, ...”
I should have guessed. “Rocky, those girls didn’t mean any harm. It’s a prank; you’ve been here long enough to know that. They’ll take the car down tonight. And Steve really couldn’t hurt you, even with a chisel. What’s really going on?”
The gargoyle looked sheepish. “Well, you see I...”
“I put him up to it.” I turned and there was Jenny in her nine-inch fairy form. “Dad wanted proof that you were insightful before he agreed to the engagement. You passed, Tim.”
“But did you have to put these people in ... engagement?”
“You are my true love, Tim. The magic kiss was proof. And true love is worth any sacrifice.” She turned to the others and fished out three twenties. “Here you go Rockster, Tawny, Steve. Thanks for your help.”
Despite being ‘insightful’, I had walked right into the trap.