Solace

I always believed the raven, although majestic in its blackened beauty was normally a solitary bird so it shocked me to see a flock of thousands upon opening the door. I must have given them a fright as well for all at once they took flight making early morning an artificial blue/black night. The sound of their caws was deafening like thunder causing me to duck back behind the safety of my front door.

It was only a moment or two before peace was restored and the cacophony of noise became a distant rumble left on my memory. I opened the door slowly just in case the crafty birds were in the mood for trickery. I stepped out onto the porch and there stood a single raven, eyeing me from its perch. With every step its watchful eyes followed. A shiver ran up my spine and I was more fearful of that single raven than the thousands that stood there moments before. It was as if it was waiting, daring me to move forward. I felt an unease that made me want to retrace my steps and once again take refuge behind the door.

This is ridiculous I thought to myself. I tried my best to make the bird take flight, to make it leave but its cackle only sounded like laughter in my mind as nothing I did would provoke it to go. Its head caulked this way and that as if it were calculating my next move. I made my way to the car and opened the door and the raven, as if it had figured something out, took flight and disappeared along the horizon.

What craziness, the scene played on my mind as I drove down the secluded tree-lined country road. I was on the road twenty minutes and noticed a raven sitting on the post when I stopped at the light. I couldn’t help but wonder if, perhaps, this was the same raven that laughed at me earlier.

Ravens – carriers of souls.

Messengers of death.

The light turned green and I left the raven sitting on the post looking perplexed.

I arrived in the city and made my way to work. The day was like any other, busy once I walked through the front door. Soon the flock of Raven’s was forgotten.  One thing that annoys me about the city is the damned pigeons – brazen bastards have their nerve. Cooing and squawking as if they have some right to my bread crumbs. “Here, take everything!” I toss the bread to the ground and watch them all swoop down on it like they were vultures rather than pigeons. I went back to work and finished out the day.

At five o’clock I was in the car heading back to my house in the middle of nowhere. I turned around the corner and there on my lawn, on my fence, on my house, thousands of ravens, waiting. I slammed on the breaks and began to shiver. I pulled up slowly to the edge of the driveway, blared the horn and once again they turned the sky into an artificial blue/black night.

I released my vice like grip off the steering wheel and the blood began to flow freely through my fingers allowing the colour and feeling to return. I pulled in the driveway and glanced in my rear view mirror to see a single raven sitting on the post glancing at me with its head caulked this way and that.  The car was barely in park before I was through my front door, kept hostage by a lone raven, sitting on a perch.

I went about my business, trying to forget that the bird was outside. My mind however wouldn’t let me and my eye kept wondering towards the front door or window, as if at any moment the raven was going to burst through screeching “ever more”. I got up and walked to the window and sure enough the bird was still there, only now it wasn’t alone. There were a hand full of birds like ducks in a row along my fence. As the night grew in around the house it was more difficult to make out the birds, their black feathers blending in with the encroaching darkness. Once in a while the light from the front porch would catch in their eyes giving them a demonic glow.

It was eleven when I decided that I really should be getting to bed but before I did I had to take one last look. Sure enough even more birds were now on my fence. I turned off the lights and went to my bedroom. I got ready for bed and lay there, restless and uneasy. I had an unnerving suspicion that I wasn’t alone in my room it was as if something or someone else was there to; some sort of presence. I turned on the bedside lamp. It had been years since I was afraid of the dark but I found myself reliving the experience. A little laugh later with a little disappointment for acting so childish made me turn off the light and I eventually drifted into a disturbed slumber. That night a bizarre dream came to me.

A throng of people were gathered on some sort of field. A thousand pair of eyes watching me, a thousand smiles of recognition. Even though I didn’t see any familiar faces among the radiantly glowing crowd, one thing felt sure that I should know them. There was a definite feeling of belonging. I wanted to talk with them all – I waved and in unison they all waved back and shouted “Hi Ted”. I jumped back, not of fear, but of the overwhelming power of a thousand voices sounding as one.  From out of nowhere, suddenly standing beside me was my mother, shining like a beacon. Tears came to my eyes and without a word she pulled me into a motherly embrace. A moment later she released me and in the time it took to wipe away my tears she disappeared just as suddenly as she’d arrived.

When I woke up my head was resting on a tear stained pillow. I laid there a second wrapped in the fuzzy warmth of remembrance, before the screaming of my alarm clock brought me fully to my senses. I got up turned off the alarm and went about my usual morning routine. I tuned into the local morning show to catch the weather. Warm and sunny was the forecast. A light breakfast of toast and juice then it was shoes on and out the front door.

No sooner had I opened the door to leave then slammed it shut. On my lawn stood what seemed to be a thousand ravens. My pulse began to race and I broke out in a cold sweat. I turned around and slowly opened the door. An eerie silence hung in the air broken only by the sound of a door closing and the lock turning.  I took a step forward and froze. As if on cue the entire hoard of ravens acting as one hopped forward and gave a single caw before taking to the sky leaving a single bird left perched on the mail box. I dropped to my knees as I realized something startling. My dream, here alive before me carried by a thousand ravens. The souls of my ancestors come to accompany my mother home. Tears welled up in my eyes and I walked slowly towards the raven on the mail post. As I guessed it didn’t fly away, rather it jumped onto my arm and looked at me its head calked this way and that. “Goodbye” I whispered to which I received an almost inaudible warbling sound. I raised my hand to the sky and watched as this magnificent bird took flight.

I never again saw those ravens. Although it’s been weeks now since they first appeared and left me feeling frightened now I’m sorry they’re gone. What they left me with was something much more valuable, a feeling of peace and closure. I’ve never heard of anything like this before or since and I doubt I ever will.
Cory

Original Fiction

About the Author

Cory

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