Friar Luke has become a champion to the homeless of the river district and a hero to the city of Chicago. The military sees him as the ultimate weapon. The young monk has been anointed by an ancient order of knights to be the guardian of the Volto, the sacred veil of Veronica. Luke has the singing voice of an angel yet he must hide his face daily due to a severe case of Hurler’s syndrome. But that is the least of his concerns, there is something else. Within the darkness of Luke’s consciousness, a vicious beast has manifested itself. It is an ancient blood thirsty creature and it is very clever. Believed to have first appeared in old Romania, these creatures were called gargoyles. Some say they were created using black magic by the early druids. Others call it the curse of Genghis Khan. However, the origin of these creatures is wrapped in mystery, shrouded by deception, and perhaps lost in history forever. Luke feels that he needs this terrifying inner beast if he is to survive the dark streets of Chicago’s river district. For that reason he has formed an alliance with it. The two have laid their vows upon a weapon called the Infinity Rod. It is the passing of this weapon that exchanges control of Luke’s body between them within their bi-polar symbiosis. Friar Luke holds out the Infinity Rod then summons the beast with a mantra. It is at that moment the beast within him takes total control of his body. It is only by song Luke is able to soothe and compel the deadly creature back into the shadows of his mind. Luke and his inner beast differ greatly on one major issue. The gargoyle yearns for the taste of raw flesh, preferably that of humans. One serious matter has yet to be resolved. Will this thing be Luke’s salvation or his eternal damnation?
Luke sat reading in his room. He had found some old books at the city library that he was hoping would answer his questions. Now he held the last of his research material in his hands. It was a documentary approach on the subject of the gargoyle legend. It wasn’t long before Luke realized the creatures known as gargoyles were recognized worldwide. Their images adored some of the finest homes in Japan. The Viking heritage was not without their beastly legends. Even the Irish had gargoyles. Castles almost always had them. Old European style Cathedrals were synonymous with them. The author wrote that the curse of the gargoyle first came out of Romania. He had read in another book that stated the creatures were formed using black magic by the very early druids. Some of the books Luke had read even tied the creatures to Genghis Khan claiming that Khan had two gargoyles as spies. Many believed Khan himself was a victim to the mysterious aberrations. Luke stopped and thought a moment; he recalled something he had read long ago. Luke pulled down the museum ledger and looked up the Infinity Rod invoice. “Infinity Rod; Florence, Italy, owned by a Knights Templar by the name of Jacques de Molay (1292-1314) Constructed by an unknown Asian weapon designer under commission of Molay. Weapon is made entirely of nickel, including spring mechanism. Once used to deter angry mobs without causing fatal injury. Discovered in the ruins of a Roman bathhouse at Fiesole, Italy in fourteen ninety eight.” Luke studied what he had just read. “Wait a minute. Molay commissioned the rod to be made. It does not say if this was the first or only one of the rods made.” Luke stated aloud to himself. The beast within chuckled. “What is it you know?” Luke stopped and asked his mental apparition directly. There was only silence. Luke went back to reading the history of the gargoyle. Some of what he read made no sense while other things seemed quite fascinating. But one thing began to become evident. The physical disfigurement and the savage mentality were consistent in all. They were often compared to demons, although their original intent was that as fierce guardians of good. They were protectors, defenders, and brutal angels of the almighty. So were so many contradictions. “Luke, have you found anything helpful?” Father Harris asked as he slowly made his way up the stairs to Luke’s room. As the vicar entered his room Luke replied “Some say black magic, others say it’s a curse, but I’m thinking it has something to do with my genetics. After all, I am half my biological father. That crazy Doctor Patterson genetically created a gargoyle using my father. I can’t imagine what DNA could he have possibly used? Where did he get it? This thing is in my mind, I catch it watching from the shadows from time to time. I now have an alliance with it. I know I’m not crazy. It is as conscious as I am and when it wants out it can be quite demanding.” Father Harris stood stunned. Luke had not actually clarified what was going on in his head until that moment. “If it will be of any help I can look through the on-line library selection for the clergy on the subject.” The priest replied. Luke stopped looking over the book in his hand as he turned around. “Oh that’s right, you have access to the Vatican Library!” Luke suddenly realized. “I’ll get right on it. We can’t let that thing consume you any more than it already has.” The vicar stated as he turned toward the steps. “Thank you Father. I must know all that I can about this thing that dwells within me. I also need more info from Linda. She may know something she uncovered while at the military base camp, from the official military report.” Luke responded as the two began a diligent hunt for the mystery behind the gargoyle apparition. Later that afternoon Luke pulled out Linda’s business card and dialed her number. “Linda Chamberlain speaking. How may I help you?” She answered. Luke smiled at the sound of her voice. “Hi Linda, it’s me, Luke.” He replied. “Hi Luke, what are you up to these days?” she asked in a very friendly tone. Luke quickly got to the point and asked what she had learned from the military reports. “Very little, except I know they’re looking for your biological father and another guy, a wolf hybrid I think it was if I recall correctly.” She told him. “Did they have any information of where Doctor Patterson got the DNA he used to alter my father?” Luke inquired with anticipation of learning something. “No, I’m afraid not. Of course I didn’t have access to the classified folder. That was with General Cartwright the whole time. I wish I could help you.” Linda responded. “That’s okay I just thought I’d call and touch base with you. Any chance you can join me for a coffee later?” he asked in hopes of seeing her again. “I’d love too but I’ve got to get this article ready by midnight and I’m far from being finished with it.” Linda stated with a sense of regret. “That’s okay, perhaps another time.” Luke sadly replied. They made small talk for a minute then Luke wished her well on her article and said goodbye. Luke mumbled “Another dead end.” just before sensing a shifting of the shadows within his mind.
The following day Luke waked down to a nearby café to meet with his biological father. He saw him standing near the doorway as he approached. “Thank you for coming at such short notice. Do you mind if we sit and talk for a few minutes?” Luke inquired. “Sure, what’s on your mind son?” As they entered the café Luke asked “When you first escaped Doctor Patterson’s lab you said your head was messed up from medications. Do you recall feeling the presence of another in your mind? Something like a split personality.” Joe thought a moment and replied honestly “No, I don’t think so.” He responded with bright eyed curiosity regarding Luke’s question. They placed their order and sat down at a small table. Luke wasn’t quite sure how to phrase his next question without revealing what was happening to him. He finally asked “Dad, do you know if Doctor Patterson used some form of parasite or something to alter you?” Joe rubbed his forehead with his hand then told Luke what little he knew “From what I understand Doctor Patterson altered my DNA by changing the coding sequence to mimic that of a live specimen he had been working with at a military lab. He had that and several other things with him. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m not really sure what he did to me.” Luke was afraid that would be the conclusion. The information had not been very helpful at least not at the moment. “Well, I just thought I’d ask. By the way, the military is searching for you. They think you might be able to provide them with some information on Doctor Patterson.” Joe lowered his head as he spoke “I honestly wish I could.” Luke smiled as he responded “That’s okay dad, you didn’t have any choice in what happened to you. I’m just thankful you no longer suffer from those experiments.” Joe looked up and smiled back at Luke “Thanks to you.” Luke reached across the table and patted his biological father’s arm as he spoke. “Let’s change the subject, shall we? What have you been up to lately?” Joe straightened up in his chair as their order was delivered to the table. As the waitress left Joe smiled and answered Luke’s question “Carl and I are preparing to open a newsstand. We’ve rented a corner spot not far from Saint Matthews and hired a crew to build the stand. Starting Monday of next week our stock of magazines and miscellaneous items will arrive. By the end of the week we’ll be getting the newspapers delivered on a daily basis.” Luke was amazed how quickly his dad was getting his life back together and the man looked very healthy and happy. “That’s great! Apparently you and Carl have become very close friends.” Luke responded with a smile. Joe looked down at the table as he continued their conversation “Actually, we’re more than close friends. We recently moved in together.” Luke was slightly shaken and was uncertain as to how he should respond since he wasn’t exactly sure what his dad was trying to tell him. “I know it’s against the teachings of the church but I love him dearly and he feels the same way toward me. I just can’t see myself going through life without him.” Joe added as he slowly lifted his eyes and looked up at his son. Luke now understood what his dad was saying although finding out that his dad was actually gay had caught him off guard. After a moment to gather his thoughts he responded “Dad, you don’t have to get the church’s permission, nor mine for that matter. I’ve always felt that a person can’t help who they love. Yes, I’m a monk and I follow the teachings of the church. However, I’d rather see you happy and in a loving relationship than sad and all alone.” Joe blushed as he softly replied “Thanks. That means a lot coming from you. I’ve been wrestling a bit with myself about telling you. Coming out of the closet wasn’t something I thought I would ever do, or need to do for that matter.” Luke reached across the table once more and took his dad’s hand as he said “To thine own self be true.” Joe nodded his head as he responded “You really are an angel.” Luke simply smiled back at him. Upon finishing their coffee the two left the little café and exchanged a warm embrace before going their separate ways. As Luke walked back toward the cathedral he thought about his dad and Carl. He had to admit to himself that they did make a rather handsome couple. They certainly had a lot in common, not to mention that the two men had shared a very horrifying ordeal.