“Oh, that explains it,” said Mark calmly.
He sat down, leaning back against the chimneystack next to the Banshee. “But would you mind not screaming while I’m in class? History’s hard enough to focus on as it is… All those important people and dates…”
“They’re not screams. They’re wails. You make it sound like I’m on some amusement park ride.”
She glared at him with cool green eyes and Mark shivered, despite noticing that her cheeks were covered with soot.
“Sorry,” Mark muttered. “So anyway… why are you screa – I mean, wailing?”
Meanwhile, Erica pushed her glasses up her nose and finished the rough draft of the essay she was working on. She would fix it tonight, for now she was done – and ahead of everyone else. She was almost tempted to think up an excuse to leave and find out what was going on. Mark had left the room fifteen minutes ago. It was far too long, considering that there were toilets just down the hall.
Last night, just as she was falling asleep, she had heard an owl hooting near her window. It had sent shivers down her back and she was still afraid that things were beginning again.
Before her mother had left, years ago now, they had sat together in the evenings and her mother would tell Erica stories as the sky darkened. The stories were always sad, and Erica would watch her mother’s face, which was as pale as the moon, and seemed to glow in the twilight. One evening, they had heard an owl hoot, and her mother had explained what it meant, and other signs.
The bell rang loudly, interrupted Erica’s memory.
“Remember your assignments are due tomorrow,” the teacher said. He almost needed to shout over the sound of the bell and students chatting as they headed to their final class of the day. Erica had chemistry, one of her favourites. She packed her bag, noticing that Mark’s history book was lying on his desk. Picking it up, she decided to return it and hurried outside, heading toward the English block.
As Erica walked along the path, she noticed three birds lying beneath the shrubbery, their wings outstretched and heads falling stiffly to the side. There was a robin and a sparrow, but the bird that worried Erica most was a raven, its sooty black feathers smeared with dirt. Nightmarish poetry filled her thoughts as Erica hurried toward the English block, terrified that she would be too late.