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Corvidae Screams

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story that has been brewing for a few days.
Cover image: pixabay.com.

Submitted: September 19, 2019

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Submitted: September 19, 2019

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Corvidae Screams

She knew exactly what she needed to collect, and where she could find the plants, growing in abundance. She knew what needed to be picked while still sprinkled liberally with morning dew; what was best to harvest while bathed in the glow of the moon.

There was no hurry to her steps as she walked from place to place. The clippings needed to be perfect, or as near as she could find. There was still plenty of time; there was no need to rush.

Morning saw her gathering wild thyme, sage, dandelions on the cusp of turning to seed. She gathered them in a basket, tied them in to bunches and hung them up by the strings she had used in binding. There they would be left to dry. A couple of days would see them just right for their purpose.

Towards the end of twilight, when, in a clear sky, the moon was at its brightest, she made her way to the fields of heather, picking a sprig from here, a sprig from there. When her basket was half full, she turned towards the hedgerows for that was where the tallest, strongest nettles would be found. She picked them singly, careful not to let even a drop of their poison enter her veins.

Heather and nettles joined the other plants, tied in neat bunches to wither. The scents mingled, clashed, for wasn’t that where their strength lay; they were powerful plants, gathered for that reason, and not to compliment each other.

For two days and nights she sat and waited. She did not speak, did not sleep. Nothing but water passed her lips, and then only tiny sips when her mouth and throat became parched. The sky remained clear, the nights stayed cold. Her timing had been perfect.

On the third day she set about gathering branches that had fallen. She could not make use of anything that was not already dead or dying, no matter how far and for how long, she needed to walk to gather enough to kindle the flame.

That night was clear with no more than a gentle breeze. Carefully she placed the sticks, one crossing over another. A tiny spark would soon catch and spread. She gathered the bundles, untied them and discarded the string, casting first nettles, then sage, thyme, dandelions and, finally, heather on to the burning sticks. Dried, they caught quickly.

There was no time to spare. The moment was there. She wrapped herself in her black cloak, pulled her hood up over her hair that had been flying free; and, bare-footed, she stepped in to the centre of the flames.

The fabric began to burn swiftly,  the smell of her flesh scorching mingled with the scents of wood and plant. Not one sound escaped her lips; not a moan or a murmur, as she dropped to her knees, lowered her head towards the burning grass.

The flames rose and danced around, consuming all in their ferocity. As her skin began to fall away, her spine split apart and from it arose a blackened smoke that swirled and lingered, mingled and formed itself in to a murder of crows that rose into the sky, giving voice to her screams.

Come the morning, there will be no trace of her there, not even a splinter of bone. But the crows in the trees, look in to their eyes if you dare, and you will find her gaze turned upon you.


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