Blanca felt great about her new book. Her editor had taken it enthusiastically, hoping for another big hit from his favorite writer.
She knew it would be a hit. The whole series was, so far, and she was particularly proud of this one. Not that she entirely cared for having a huge fan base like J.K. Rowling, but it helped pay her house bills.
She enjoyed online chatting, anyway. It was better than seeing someone in person and feeling obligated to invite them over or to hang out. Online, it was all brief, but sweet, and the majority of her fans certainly were lovable by her standards.
The wind was chilly. It nipped at the exposed skin of her face and hands. She hadn’t thought to have worn gloves. When she’d left the house today, it was perfectly sunny, and such a nice temperature. It was approaching dinnertime now, and it was like a whole different day. The sky was covered by a thick, monochromatic cloud that seemed to seal the air into a constant state of freezing. A strengthening wind had also whipped up, forcing her to shiver as she made her made home.
The sidewalks were nearly deserted. Ahead of her, a small cafe was packed full of customers, hiding from the dreary frigidity. A select few stood outside it’s glowing doors, smoking cigarettes and chuckling lightly at each others comments.
As Blanca approached, they all turned to look at her, smiling respectively.
As she smiled back, they looked beyond her, their smile disappearing into an expression of confusion.
She looked behind her.
Off in the distance was a dark black cloud, moving quickly toward them. She stared at it in wonder, at first intrigued.
But, as it got closer, she realized it was not a cloud, but a flock of black birds. As they came nearer, she could hear them cawing. They almost sounded angry.
They were just over the park now.
“Ravens don’t fly in flocks like that, do they?” someone behind Blanca wondered aloud.
They were ravens, or large crows, she could see as they got nearer.
She knew they were just birds, but she didn’t like the fact that they seemed to be heading right toward the cafe where she now stood.
And something in her wouldn’t allow her to walk away.
She managed to turn around, to look into the cafe at the others. She could see the hoard of birds in the reflection of the glass. Those inside the tiny cafe looked out.
The sound of their wings and their frantic cawing was as loud as a V8 engine. The hoard dived down upon them, screeching and beating their wings in an endless flurry. Blanca could feel their sharp beaks tearing at her clothes, trying to reach bare skin.
The others outside of the cafe were screaming and shouting, waving their arms, trying to fight off the barrage of birds.
But there were so many.
As one of the ravens took a stab at her only partially covered face, she found it in her to run, run toward the door of the cafe, whereas the others ran up the or down the sidewalk, trying to escape.
But the birds only followed, like lions to wounded prey.
Blanca pulled open the cafe door, ignoring the sharp pain of the birds tearing at her back and neck.
Others inside pulled her in. A few ravens found their way through the door jam and into the cafe as well, fluttering wildly about the room, cawing angrily.
Many of the cafe patrons took swings at the birds inside, even the chefs. None of them had any idea what was going on. Birds didn’t attack people, but these ones were, and they had to get rid of them.
The birds outside the cafe circled around, out into the cold twilight, then back into the warm light of the town.
Many loud crashes sounded as the birds barraged into the glass window of the cafe. Blood spattered onto the glass as most of the birds hit and fell to their deaths. A second wave did the same, streaking the pane with even more red.
The sound was awful; for at least a minute straight, the birds ran headlong into the glass, breaking their necks, and even cracking the glass in some places.
Blood oozed down the fogged, dirty window, staining it a deep red. Here and there among the spatter, black feathers lay stuck in the liquid.
The few birds inside attempted another go at the patrons, and Blanca, diving onto them from above.
One man near Blanca actually picked up a hard glass plate and hit the bird with it, sending it up against the nearby wall, dead as a doornail. The raven fell to the ground, limp.
The other three were soon taken down as well, but similar action. As their beaks tore at the flesh of the patrons, others took the chance to attack the birds back, and easily won.
When the assault was over, an eerie quiet filled the room, almost like the world had gone silent.
The only proof Blanca hadn’t gone deaf was the quiet buzzing of the electric lights hanging above.
No one said a word, just looked around at each other. Some were still holding weapons of some sort, others nursing bleeding wounds.
Blanca couldn’t force herself to look over at the window. The gore that now covered the giant glass pane was too much for her.
A few minutes passed before someone in the room managed to find their voice.
“What just happened?”
The mans voice was shaky and unsure, almost as if he were about to cry or faint. No one really answered him, but whispered among themselves, to family and friends.
Blanca did not understand what terror she had just witnessed. It was the most horrifying thing she’d ever encountered in her life here in Clearview. She had feared death for once, thinking it was the end for her, being stuck outside the cafe and becoming the prey of hundreds of bloodthirsty birds.
One of the men, the one who had saved her from the bird inside, walked over the corpse of the raven, lying on the floor near the wall.
The bird looked as if it had been dead for at least a week already. Many of it’s feathers were missing, replaced by scabs and open, oozing wounds surrounded by blood and puss. It’s eyes were sunken into it’s skull, along with most of the skin around it’s face, giving it the illusion of having a skull for a face.
Blanca felt sick to her stomach. She covered her mouth in horror at the image of the dead bird, and everything flashing through her mind like a movie.
The man touched the bird with the toe of his shoe. “What the fuck…?”
It was what everyone in the cafe was thinking. No one understood.
“Why do they look…dead…? I mean…” Another person spoke up, standing near another bird corpse in the back of the room. He did not finish his sentence, but he didn’t need to. Everyone knew what he meant.
A younger man crept forward toward the front door, visibly nervous and fearstruck. The sidewalk just outside the cafe was littered with blood, feathers, and bird corpses, some still twitching or trying to get up.
“Someone please call the cops,” muttered an older woman.
“Yes, please do…!” A mother held her crying child against her, stroking her hair gently.
A young woman behind the counter grabbed the telephone and dialed 911.