Written, Designed, and Developed by Aaron Kreigh Hooper.
Story edited by Annie Kratzsch.
Photography from Unsplash.
Built with Jekyll.
Firefly animation based on code by Sussie Casasola.
Glitch text and images effect based on code by Yasin Kalkan.
Special thanks to Annie Kratzsch for all your help and encouragement in turning this mess of words into a story; Mom, Dad, Ginny, Sara, Elizabeth, Joseph, Shoshanna for all your support and for making sure I never outgrew my imagination; Billy, Josh, Zack, and Neal for living this and so many other stories with me; and to my amazing wife Heather, the exclamation point to so many of my question marks.
About the Story
The Gargoyle is mostly a true story. The major plot points happened as written; the fictionalization is mostly related to dialogue, simplification of events, and a few minor details (plus one major conversation). A more detailed breakdown follows for interested readers. Spoilers abound.
Bill, Josh, Zack, Neal, and the mysterious Her are all real people; their likenesses are used with permission. Taylor is based on a real person, although her name has been changed both to keep her anonymous and to protect the hiding place of the Gargoyle. Her imagined dialogue is entirely fictional. Jake, the plainclothes security guy who worked alongside me, is a fictional composite of multiple people.
Most of the dialogue was reconstructed from my memories of actual conversations. The content of the conversations is true to life; the actual dialogue was rewritten to fit our fictionalized counterparts. However, these conversations may not have happened within the timeframe of the story; I selected conversations that revealed aspects of our character.
Since much of the plot is faithful to reality, it will be more expedient to list where the plot diverges.
- The burrito incident was fictional; although it’s probable something similar happened another Thursday night.
- Bill did turn down a chance to take headshots of a guy he was uncomfortable working with, but we didn’t actually think he was the Antichrist.
- My crush on Taylor was slightly exaggerated for the sake of the story.
- The geography and timeframe of the night we first went searching for the Gargoyle is correct, but the conversation is fictional.
- Copperhead, unfortunately, is quite fictional.
- My relationship with Her was far more complicated in reality. I simplified it for the story.
- There were other people with us when we found the gargoyle, but they had to be cut to keep the cast of characters manageable.
- The conversation with the Gargoyle was probably completely fictional. Probably.
- I don’t remember the specific reason Jake was at my store that day. There was a family of Vacuum thieves that struck a few times, but I’m not sure if that was within the timeframe of the story.
- My phone was messed up from the fall, but not quite to the point as portrayed in the story.
There may be a few more small details that I tweaked for the sake of a clearer story. Everything else, as weird and coincidental as it was, actually happened.
Why I Made This
I created The Gargoyle because I believe the Internet should be a much weirder place. The Internet I grew up with in the 90’s may have been an aesthetic wasteland, but it was a realm of wild self-expression. We could sense that our species had created something truly world-changing. I think the Internet of today has lost that spirit in the pursuit of as many clicks as possible. There’s less room for self-expression when everything is a giant ad.
The Gargoyle is my attempt at creating something that harkens back to that pioneer mentality. I wanted to build a website that used storytelling not for the sake of a brand or product, but just to tell a story. This is an experiment; I don’t know how people will respond to this project, but everything I learn from this will help guide my next projects. In the end, I get to tell a story that means a lot to me in a format that is different from much of what’s out there.
If you liked The Gargoyle and think it’s a cool and worthwhile project, I’d love it if you shared it with your friends. This is my first step in a lifelong mission to make the Internet a more creative, more beautiful, and weirder place.