Caw And Cry

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Caught up in an unexpected battle.

Submitted: April 30, 2017

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Submitted: April 30, 2017

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Caw And Cry

 

The cry of a seagull startles you. It’s not often that you get to hear them this far inland. Mostly when you’ve heard them it’s been at the beach or at the rubbish dump -- they always seemed to love the trash. Still, you’re running a bit late and can’t waste any more time thinking about this.

 

It’s a hot day but there is quite a breeze. It cools you as you set to work outside, heavy work, hard physical labour. You’ve not been at it long before the cry of that gull sounds again, this time it is not alone. There are three or four answering cries, all coming from the west. You look at the sky, scanning for signs of a storm which might have encouraged them to move away from the coast. The sky looks clear though so you get back to the job in hand.

 

The caws of crows you are used to, so much so that they barely register. But today they sound different. Angry? Hostile? Perhaps it’s just a trick of the wind. There seem to be more of them than usual, flocking in from the east in their droves. How many? It’s impossible to tell. There must be planting going on in one of the nearby fields – that would explain why there are so many of them.

 

But there are flocks of seagulls in the sky now, too. Hundreds of the things seem to be heading in from the sea. You can’t concentrate on your work so look up to the clouds. It appears, to you at least, that the white gulls and the black crows are heading straight towards each other. They are nearing you from both sides and the crying and the cawing is becoming almost deafening.

 

And then they merge above you. The black birds and the white birds are muddled together, angrily clashing with each other. The hostility is obvious. Two birds drop at your feet in a tangle of wings and feathers. Talons slash and beaks reach out to grab and to tear. Both crow and gull seem to be oblivious to your presence.

 

Another fighting pair drop to the ground, followed by another, this time so close to you that you feel the brush of their wings against your arms. The noise is horrendous; the screeches and croaks. The smell of blood begins to fill the air.

 

Where can you shelter? You are out in the open, no buildings in easy reach. You look to your left, to your right and reach your arms up above your head just in time to deflect a fighting pair from landing on top of you. You feel something tear at your arm. Talon or beak? You don’t know but you can feel the blood running freely.

 

There is a tree, not too far on your left. That seems to be your best chance for shelter. Putting your head down you run, swerving between the battling birds that are now surrounding your feet. It’s not much, offering very little cover, but it’s got to be better than nothing.

 

You press your body hard against the trunk of the tree, trying to shut your ears and your mind to shut your mind to all the fighting to the death that is taking place around you. There is a trickling feeling on your cheek, your neck. It is not your blood though, but that of one of the birds ripping and tearing at each other higher up in the branches.

 

How long this goes on for you have no idea but suddenly it becomes quieter, less frantic. The survivors of both crows and gulls take to the air. The gulls fly off towards the west while the crows make their way back east. They group up and go together, leaving no stragglers to follow on.

 

Once they have flown off into the distance you dare to move from that tree and wipe at the blood that is almost dry on your face and neck. The rip in your arm is still bleeding, but not profusely. You’ll have to go and get it seen to soon. Who knows what sort of infections and germs are lurking there. For a moment you think of rabies but birds don’t get that – do they?

 

All around you are feathered corpses, a sea of black, grey, white and red. What happened? Was it some sort of turf war? You don’t know and no doubt you never will.

 

Some of the birds are still alive, but barely. There will be plenty of work for your shovel before you decide what to do with the carcases. Should you dig a big hole and bury them or have a funeral pyre? Or should you just leave the bodies where they lay and let them serve as a warning?

 

But look in the distance. There are vehicles approaching, vans and jeeps. Very official looking, some of them are too. That decision then – it’s not going to be yours to take. And that is a tremendous relief.

 

And then it hits you, the shock of witnessing such a massacre. You begin to shake, cannot hold back the sickness that is flooding you. Slumping to the ground you wait for someone to approach you, to tend to your injury and to escort you away from this killing field. The images of it will not be so easy to leave behind.


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