It was a dark blur. I wish I could say with certainty that it was just the raven, though it seemed larger and grayer. No shining beak, no judging eyes. Now, I doubt it was the trickster bird. And I, too, had fainted.
. . .
When I opened my eyes, there was a ghoulish face looking down at me. The stony impish features of a gargoyle. A chest of scales that descended into brickwork. Taloned feet and clawed hands. Fangs like a snake. Wings like a bat. Its tongue was out and low, and its eyes were blank and without scintillation. My eyes swayed away, and it all became a blur.
I woke up the next morning to the sound of a harpsichord playing. Musical instruments are banned in our building. And then came the howl of a wolf. Her dormitory is in the middle of an urbanized downtown city.
I was confused.
Getting up, I saw the scene for what it was. The legs of the table had left gouges in the carpet, tearing through the under-padding to expose the floorboards.
Amy was already awake, writing frantically on a piece of paper. She must have moved me onto the bed.
"There was something in the room when I woke up. He told me things would be all right," she stated it all quite matter of factly, "I see him every Sunday on the Cathedral's edge. He told me he scared your demon away. I believe him."
I blinked, and rubbed the sleep from my eyes.
She kept writing, with frantic devotion.
"You're writing it all down?"
"No, I already did that. Right now, I'm studying. I have an exam in two hours. And you have a therapy appointment with your psychologist in... thirty minutes."
I leaped off the bed and headed towards her dorm's shard bathroom. I stopped, in the doorway, turning around. I pointed at the table, "What's written on the table?"
She said something. And as she did, there was a loud screech in my ears. I fell to my knees, wincing in pain. And she seemed not to have heard it.
"Are you all right?" Genuine concern for me.
"Yeah, I'm fine now. You didn't hear that?"
"No," Amy told me. "Let me add that to the list."
"Amy, what did it say?"
She said it again.
And again, I could not hear her - because the screech came again. My ears bled, and I clamped my hands to them. The blood met my hands, and she stopped talking.
"Stigmata," she said.
I do not know whether she was right or not. But I was beginning to fear not just for my sanity, but for my life. She never repeated it again.
I took a shower. Then she gave me her list of what had happened. She had drawn a picture of the gargoyle. However, he was crouched on the edge of the bed just as he was on the Cathedral down the street. I recognized him, then.
I looked back at the middle of the page, where the notes about the table were. As I went down in the elevator, I scanned over it. Again and again, and I could not read the four words. I could count them. I could read over them. But I could not comprehend them. Focus caused a migraine.
I got on the bus, knowing I would be late. It was full, so I stood, hanging onto the metal bars. Something caught the corner of my eye. I turned, and looked through the crowd that occupied the bus. It was morning rush hour. People dressed for work.
I saw the wolf, standing between men and women dressed for business. The wolf saw me. I blinked, and it was gone.