Flight of a Raven

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a creative essay I wrote for my humanities class prompted by Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven".

Flight of a Raven

It was a cold midnight, cold and calm. Wind carried wisps of December snow over New York City, giving the appearance of purity with its whiteness. The city was quiet at this time, most preferring to be in the comfort of their home, though, some were in the theaters, at the opera or a late play.

Far above the city, observing all of this, a single raven flew. However, this was no ordinary raven; no, he was something altogether different. This particular raven knew things no ordinary raven would know.

Of course, being what he was, he was allowed to know these things, things about the dead the living were not allowed to know. He had done many a job that made him became a remembrance of lost loved ones. However, his true responsibility was to allow people to find their acceptance of that loss, the loss of a loved one.

The form he’d chosen, a raven, had been carefully chosen. It was a symbol, a bird of ill omen to most, yet his appearance did not mean the end of the life of the living one he visited. Instead, he was, as his Master called him, a reminder of those loved and lost, and an agent of acknowledgment of Death’s role in the lives of mortals.

This night was a little different than other nights. Tonight the raven was headed towards the cemetery to meet his Master, gliding easily on the suddenly harshening wind high above the buildings. Though the night was moonless and, due to the snow, there was little light from the city below he found his way quite easily. This city was his territory, his domain, therefore he knew it well. He also knew no other like himself could trespass into his New York without his Master’s consent. This was a rule.

The cemetery was below. The wrought iron gate surrounding the land had a light dusting of snow and the tombstones seemed shapeless masses rising from the frozen ground in an almost ghastly way. Some were crumbling, some new. The oldest of them stood in the back of the cemetery, near the oak, elm, and ash trees. These trees gave off the feeling that they were protecting the cemetery, somehow, watching over the dead.

The raven landed, perching in a low branch of a particularly old oak. Another symbol, the oak. A symbol of strength and protection, the raven thought fondly.

Here in the cemetery he was to meet his Master to receive his newest assignment. As always, he looked forward to seeing his Master. None of the servants could help themselves from looking forward to the Master’s presence. He was a comfort to them, as they themselves were dead. Yet there was also that recurring moment of fright when the Master approached, that recurring fear of Death, for what mortal does not fear Him? He is fear personified, Death clothed in mortal flesh, but Death nonetheless.

So yes, the raven decided, I still fear Death, though He is my Master, though I love Him.

A figure approached with inhuman grace, clad in flowing black robes, white hair and marble skin gleaming in the darkness. The raven involuntarily felt that moment of fear, then the acceptance of Death. He flew to his Master, landing only a few paces from Death’s naked feet. Slowly, the raven raised his eyes to the face of his Master and began his transformation.

The process was reasonably quick, yet gruesome to watch. The form of the raven expanded, the wings growing with the body. Feathers disappeared to form peach flesh, the beak softened to become pink lips. Soon there stood a boy of ten before Death, dressed in the clothing he had been buried in so long ago, the dark raven’s wings protruded from his shoulders the only indication that he was not normal.

When the boy saw his Master’s face he knew He had some important thing to tell him. This must be why He sent such an urgent message, the boy thought to himself.

“I am pleased to see you received my message and could meet me here on such short notice. I trust you remember your assignment of two years ago, this very night? To visit the mourning man whom had just lost his love, Lenore?”

“I do Master.” The boy thought back, recalling the memory of the man whom had asked him such painful, meaningless questions.

Death was appeased. He knew the boy was one of His most hardworking and was not at all surprised to find the boy remembered his assignment, though it had been two years since.

“Tragedy has struck again and Life has given over to me another soul. The very man you visited then, has died and lost his way. He is buried not far, and I wish you to guide him to my land. I know you can do this thing for me. I have been witness to your power.”

“Of course, Master. I will do as you wish.” The boy saw in his mind the grave of the man, a mental picture sent to him by his Master. It was not far, as Death had told him.

“That is well. I look forward to welcoming him into my home. Fly swiftly, child,” Death said, giving his final good-bye to the boy.

The boy bowed formally, then turned away and began to run down a line between the rows of tombstones. He needed sufficient speed to take flight in his humanoid form. Though the grave was not far, it would take a few minutes to reach.

He took to the air. He could not truly feel the cold, though snow swept around this larger form with vigor and would have stung the flesh of any living being. But he was not living, hadn’t been living for over two hundred years, and the thought of what chill and warmth on living flesh felt like escaped him.

Five minutes later the boy landed again, in the newest part of the cemetery. Beautiful carved angels dotted the land, standing as eternal watchers. Tenderly, thinking of himself and those like him, he brushed his fingers along the stone wings of one child angel, a boy no larger than himself. The roses resting at the carved angel’s feet, frost covered as they were, were a welcome dot of color in the black and white landscape, shadows and snow clashing for dominance of the cemetery.

Something moved out of the corner of the boy’s eye and he turned to see the misty figure of a spirit. He was frightened and cold. This spirit could feel the cold, because he had not yet accepted Death.

“Spirit,” the boy called softly, gently coaxing the spirit forward with soothing thoughts from his mind. The startled spirit turned, eyes wide. It was clear to the boy the spirit was about to cry out. The boy closed his eyes and whispered with his mind, “Hush, spirit. Do you remember me?”

“Angel of Death!” the spirit called out, trying to step away farther away from the boy, but unable to do so due to his connection with his body. He had not accepted his death and was therefore bound to his mortal body.

The boy laughed. It had been so long since he had laughed… “Yes, I suppose I am at that. I am your guide, as I was once your reminder. This time I promise not to frighten you. You must come with me now. You feel the cold, yes? Then come. I will take you someplace warm.” The boy offered one small hand.

The spirit merely glared at the hand. Cold as he was, the spirit wasn’t about to give his life over to a black-winged angel.

“Please, spirit, you must accept Death. If you were to go back now, you would have nothing to go to, and you cannot go besides. Come with me. Accept Death.”

The spirit shook his head. “No, I cannot be dead. I-I still feel the cold. I can feel the cold! I cannot be dead.”

“But you are dead, spirit, and I am to guide you into my Master’s arms. Accept Death. Accept your Death, as all must accept it. It will bring you peace. If you stay, you will only bring unrest upon yourself.” Then the boy thought of something. “Would you want to keep your Lenore waiting?”

This seemed to strike a chord within the spirit, some long buried hope that he may once again see his love. He could picture her, lovely as she had always been in life.

“Yes, just like that. She will meet you.”

The spirit gathered together his courage. Was this death? Was this what it was like, this bitter chill? No, the angel had said he would go to someplace warmer. Could he accept his death? For his Lenore, he could accept it. He would accept it, as he should have done all along. All must live with Death on their shoulders, waiting for them, loving them, so all must accept Him.

The boy smiled. “I have one last thing to ask of you. I asked if you remembered me. You did not answer. So my question to you, spirit, is this: who am I?”

The spirit smiled sadly and said, “The Raven” before completely dissipating, turning to white mist, which was swept away into the snow. The boy turned away from the grave and walked back into the night. It was a cold midnight, cold and calm, not that the boy could feel it.

-------------------------------------------------------

I got a 93% if anyone is interested to know. :)


Submitted: July 21, 2011

© Copyright 2021 Rumor. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:

Comments

Coolidge Templeton

This is a beautiful story. It is an intersting companion piece to Poe's "The Raven".

Thu, July 21st, 2011 2:03am

Author
Reply

Thanks. It was a lot of fun to write, too. :)

Wed, July 20th, 2011 8:30pm

MrV

Already one of my favorites!

The opening and ending lines of "It was a cold midnight, cold and calm..." with its poetic repetition, served as effective nod to the original narrative poem. At first I thought it was a typo, but as I read along I understood its purpose (I hope).

Your attention to detail with crisp descriptions painted the nocturnal setting like masterful strokes onto a canvas. The highlight being the red roses in this achromatic landscape.

The Raven's transformation into the boy with the black wings (a black-winged angel) was one of the most amazing elements in the story. Death's appearance was suggestive of an elderly cadaver and appropriate. Even the symbolism of the trees was a neat detail.

The references to the evens of The Raven brought a smile to my face. The purpose of the Raven/Boy of being a symbol of acceptance was a great contrast to common lore. For an emissary the Boy was easy to relate to with his understanding of his Master and the inevitable fear he experiences whenever He is near.

Overall, this ingenious and visually ensnaring yet elegant sequel to Poe's classic, filled with spirit and passion that exumes from the crypt of time, complements well the original and enhances it by infusing with a much more comforting resolution.

The way the Raven and Lenore's lover parted at the end felt almost like an apology for the initial misunderstanding.

Wed, February 27th, 2013 11:24am

Author
Reply

You seem to have understood exactly what I was going for with this story. I'm glad you liked the small details so many find to be either unnecessary or stupid. It is very refreshing, to finally hear exactly what it was that was liked about one of my stories. Thank you. :)

Wed, February 27th, 2013 10:25pm

The Artist Cellar

Edgar Allan Poe! Ah, at first I compared it to The Raven, but then it WAS the raven you sneaky little, ah it was magnificent! I just love your writing style!It holds this dark and haunting writing tone, and the imagery is vivid, and overall its just crafted masterfully. You are truly a talented writer.
'Tis some visitor..tapping at my chamber door-Only this and nothing more.'

Mon, March 4th, 2013 12:03am

Author
Reply

I'm so glad you made the connection. :D The poem definitely helped set the mood for the short story and was a great inspiration. Poe's poems and short stories are my favorites. Thanks for the comment! :)

Sun, March 3rd, 2013 9:07pm

Lois Lawrence

Very atmospheric - I like the way you conjure a distinctive image of the environment with simple language, effectively used. :) LL

Thu, March 14th, 2013 10:11am

Author
Reply

Thank you. ^_^

Thu, March 14th, 2013 7:41pm

smircle

I really liked this. 'The Raven' is one of my favourite poems and you really added to that with this story. The language used it simple, but the images created are so detailed and the sentences run together smoothly. It's very well written and I enjoyed reading :)

Mon, March 18th, 2013 5:34pm

Author
Reply

Thanks so much. :D

Mon, March 18th, 2013 7:29pm

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