A bit of the macabre. Happy Halloween.

by Sterling Meeuwen

Just outside the small town of Corvus, next to the welcome sign, two hoodlums were pulled off to the side of the road. The sharper of the pair, Jimmie, leaned against the fender. The other peed on the sign.

“Sneaks, tie a knot in it. Let’s see if this shit hole has got a beer store.”

Sneaks zipped up his pants and returned to the car. He was a weasel and a bully. After a childhood of torturing animals, he had hooked up with Jimmie. This just made him meaner. Every cruel thing he did just impressed Jimmie who, egged him on. Though he was better looking, Jimmie’s sadism was uglier than Sneak’s. He got off on manipulating people. With an encouraging smile he would urge Sneaks to take things further and laugh. He got all of the sick pleasure out of the evil without getting his hands dirty.

The two sped down the main road. The one stop light in town brought them to a halt. The sun was going down and the town was empty. Sneaks noticed a statue of a large Crow that, stood in front of the town hall.

Struggling to pronounce the inscription sneaks sounded out, “Cornix cornice oculos non effodiet.’ What the hell language is that?”

“Sneaks, you’re an idiot, that’s Latin.”
“Well, what’s it mean, Jimmie?”

“How the fuck should I know? Do I look like a priest?”
“Jimmie, you the farthest thing from a priest.”

Sneaks laughed.

The light turned green and Jimmie stepped hard on the gas. Halfway through the intersection a large black bird slammed into the windshield. Jimmie hit the breaks; bringing the car to a screeching halt.

“What the hell was that?” Sneaks shrieked.

“I think it’s a crow.” Jimmie replied, getting half way out of the car to check for damage.

“Is it dead?”

“Yeah, it’s dead.” Jimmie looked around. The streets were empty except for a single crow, perched on the light pole, above the scene. Jimmie looked up. The crows black eyes held no emotion but, the cry it let out sent a chill into them.

“Caaaw!”

“What? You stupid bird! It was an accident.”

The crow let out another scream and landed on the hood of the car. Its black eye stared at Jimmie without emotion and its beak cawed out another accusation. He tried to shew it away but, it wouldn’t budge. Sneaks snuck out of the car and smacked the bird off the hood. It bounced across the pavement and squawked back at them.

“Ha!” He laughed. “We killed your buddy! What are you going to do about it? Nothing, Stupid bird.”

“Sneaks, shut up and get back in the car.”

“Did you see me smack that stupid bird?”

“Yeah, I saw it.” Jimmie smirked. “Let’s get some beer and push on.”

All the shops were closed in the small town but, the general store still had the light on. The two pulled up to the curb. As they reached the steps a crow landed on the roof of the shop and stared at them.

“Caaaw!”

“What? Leave us alone!” Jimmie waved his arms. Sneaks picked up rocks and threw them at the bird until it flew off.

Inside the store the two split up and slowly walked to the back. The shopkeeper was the only person in the store.  The two looked at each other when they reached the beer. The plan to rob the old man was silently agreed upon.

“That be all for you boys?” The man said, as he rang up the sale.  A racket could be heard outside. The crow had returned, relentless in its cawing. The old man didn’t seem to notice.

“Old man, you all, got a crow problem in this town.”

The man looked up puzzled. “Oh that’s Lucius. Usually he’s with his mate Domina but, I don’t hear her. Those two have been round this town for years. Crows mate for life, you know. I’ll tell you another story about crows…”

Just as the man looked up, Sneaks hit him hard in the face, knocking him to the ground. Jimmie grabbed the cash out of the registered. The man struggle to get up but, sneaks jumped over the counter and stomped on him.

 

Speeding down the road, the two men laughed while they guzzled the stolen beer.

“Stomped him good huh, Jimmie?” Sneaks slammed his foot against the floor board.

“Yeah Sneaks, you done good.”

With a beer in the hand that was on the steering wheel, Jimmie tried to light a cigarette with the other. The flame pulled his eyes of the road. When the flame vanished there was a crow on the hood. Jimmie swerved hard, sending the car into a tree

When Jimmie opened his eyes he saw that Sneaks had been sent through the windshield. The crow was perched on Sneak’s head, pecking at his eye ball. Jimmie opened the door and stared at the crow in horror.

“Caaaw!”

Jimmie got out of the car. The crow paused then pulled the eyeball out with his beak and flew at Jimmie. He fell backwards hitting the concrete hard. Jimmie got up and scanned the darkness for the bird. All he could hear was crows, taunting him, as he headed back into town.

Crows filled the town when Jimmie got to the edge of it. . He walked through the streets screaming for help. As he neared the store he saw the old man sitting on the steps. He walked towards him.

“Please, help me sir.”

“I had a feeling you’d be back.”  The man said, as he stood up. “I think it’s time you hear that story now boy.”

The old shop keeper began to speak as a crow landed on the railing next to him. Jimmie stared into the crow’s black eye. Sneaks eyeball was squished in its beak.

“There was once a pair of crows that were bred by a god, way up on top of a mountain. When the crows were full grown they flew to the town below. They took up residence on a shopkeeper’s roof. The town’s people brought the crows gifts and in return the crows brought good harvests. The crows kept century at the edge of town, alerting the town with caws when, anyone approached.”

The man paused a moment and looked at the town’s people that began to gather.  Jimmie didn’t turn around. He was locked on the crow that now had Sneak’s eyeball under his claw and was pulling on the end trail.

The shopkeeper continued, “One day an evil man came to the town. When the crows started to caw, he killed them both. When the town’s people found the dead crows, a mob formed. They chased the man and when they caught him, they drug him to the center of the town, ripped his eyeballs out, and crucified his body at the edge of town.”

Jimmie looked up horrified. The man’s eyes had turned soulless and black. Jimmie spun around to see the mob that had gathered, all of them with eyes black as ravens. They closed in on him.

“Do you know what you call a group of crows, boy?”

“A murder?”

The shop keeper grabbed  him.

“Not in this town we don’t.”

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