A short story with a touch of menace and a sprinkling of folklore.
You’ve got to admit it; you never realised quite how dark the night could be. An unbroken blackness never before experienced. It’s okay to admit it. I already know that you are scared.
The sky is full of rolling clouds which you cannot see. They obliterate the moon and stars, leaving nothing more than an ebony blanket. As they roll in that bit further, it becomes almost suffocating in the oppressive heat. Sweat begins to break out on your neck, your forehead, the pits of your arms. Soon your clothes are going to stick to every bit of covered skin.
They’ve taken away the air, those clouds; pushed and squashed it down to the ground. They will make you gasp for breath before you discover that the air is still there. It’s just become thicker, fetid, tainted by...what? ‘It does not matter’, your lungs will insist; ‘just let us fill and empty, fill and empty...’
You wonder if there has been some kind of chemical explosion. Or maybe it’s the result of burning oil, burning rubber. That can’t be right though, can it? There is no smell as such; no, it’s more of a taste. Not knowing what else to do you cover your mouths with either clothing or hands and try to make your way back to your house, back to your vehicle; back to wherever it was you were before curiosity got the better of you and lured you outside.
Alright! I admit it. A lot of you were outside anyway, so you have an excuse. But those that weren’t, that allowed themselves to be drawn...perhaps they should have known better. One thing I do know is that total blackness is totally disorientating, especially when you have never experienced it before.
Lift up your hand! Go on, I dare you! Now hold it up in front of your face and wiggle your fingers. Can you see them? No, but you know that they are there. What else might be lurking in this darkness, so near and yet unseen.
It’s quiet too. Where have all the noises gone? Try shouting! Come on, now, just give it a go. Not a sound is there? It’s muffled up and silenced by the clouds. Somehow that makes it even scarier. An attack on four senses; sight, hearing, smell and taste. You’ve still got touch though, don’t forget that. You can still experience pleasure...and pain.
I’m sorry but I had to do it, had to show you that I can. The street-lights, the lights in the houses, stores, factories, high-rise offices; all are out. Some kind of power cut, you are thinking, I know. But that would not have effected the headlights, the sidelights, every single light on every single vehicle now, would it? Some kind of solar flare then, although it’s kind of strange to think that, when there is no glimpse of the sun in the sky. Does the moon have power? You’d always looked at it as just a lump of rock, pulled in to a gravitational orbit. It has influence over the tides, but that’s about as far as you thought it went. Apart from those that believe in vampires, werewolves, magic and...evil. All nonsense, isn’t it. No adult, at least no sane one would believe in such things now, would they? They would have to be lunatics, wouldn’t they.
Am I evil? Well, you’ll find out, but I’d say it depends on how you look at things. Your perspective might be totally different to that of the man standing just two feet from your shoulder. Yes, that’s right; the one that you did not know was there.
That made you look, didn’t it! He is there you know, although in some cases it is a woman standing there, not a man. You can always take a chance...reach out and touch...No, I can’t tempt you? I thought not.
You are beginning to get restless. Nothing has happened; it’s just some kind of freak power outage, and you are sure your eyes are beginning to adjust. Is that not some kind of outline that you can just about make out? Maybe the corner of a wall? Stretch out your hand and see if you can touch it?
It’s time to move on, time to give things another stir.
Instantly the sky floods with silver light. Have you ever seen the moon so large before? It’s enormous! Whichever way you turn your head, there it is in front of your eyes. Weird or what?
The silence continues. You can hear the beating of your heart, but you cannot hear your breaths as they go in and out. The clouds have freed the moon in the sky but they still surround you. If you climb a bit higher, perhaps you might be able to see above them, but are you even going to attempt that when you can’t see where you are going? No? I thought not.
But listen now and you can hear a faint sound, like the movement of the air. Rhythmic beating, up...and...down. It reminds you of something, a very familiar sound but one that stays just out of reach of your mind. And then, when you’ve given up thinking about it, it comes to you; it’s the beating of wings, birds in flight.
I can’t help but smile at the gasp of your breath. The sweat runs in rivers but the icy shivers of fear won’t go away either. Goose pimples break out on your skin despite the heat. I’m sorry for being so, so cruel. You think I’m toying with you, playing with your fears. Well, hey, maybe I am! Why? Perhaps it’s just for the hell of it.
Enough, I’m growing weary of this game. It’s time to up the ante, play my hand and let you see what you are up against. Just one to begin with I think.
And there it is.
One big black crow lit up against the silvery white of the moon.
Your thoughts are hammering away inside your skull. It can’t be a crow, can it? They are birds of the day, the rubbish clearers in the realm of sunlight. Crows DO NOT fly at night!
I’ll throw a few more into your line of sight now; let their caws echo around the silence, as their beating wings bring them closer and closer. And now the sky is full of them, a mass of heavy feathered bodies. Grey sharp beaks wide as they let out their battle cries; grey hooked talons that are ready to grip, to rip...
Blind panic takes hold of you now as you try to flee. Pretty much useless in the dark, are you not! Perhaps you should have thought of that before banishing me, for I have lived the fear, conquered it, to become both less and more than human. But I’m sorry, for this is a serious business to you. Survival of the fittest, is that not what you have been taught to believe. And are not humans the greatest creations of all.
This night will tell just how fit you are. We’ll see how many manage to survive this moonlit landscape of blindness and terror.
You see, I am the Morrigan. And these birds that fly through screams of terror, through cries of pain; these, they are my crows.