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"The Watcher" by Lisa Colver

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Marcus gazed intently into the morning sky. Bone-chilling wind strewed about the heavens causing the clouds to dance in uncanny ways. Betwixt two orangish clouds near the earth's horizon the rising sun winked at Marcus, showering the sky around him with gifts of gold and pink rays.

Marcus blinked his eyes, gazing ever so intently at the rounded blaze rising in the sky. Yet it was not the glittering sunrise that brought about Marcus's morning vigil. In the distance, a harsh sound could be faintly heard. Marcus perked up his head, looking evermore intently toward the sunrise. As the sound grew louder, it beckoned him with an intensity that other men could scarcely comprehend.

The moment was growing closer.

Pinpoint sized dots of blackness began to dash madly across the distant sky, crossing the golden sun in a chaotic whirlwind frenzy. The sun twinkled from dark to light in the onslaught of the dark flying creatures. This strange eclipse only excited Marcus more. The dark creatures flew closer and closer to Marcus as he stood transfixed on their odd beauty. Their black feathers glistened like the smoothest onyx stones. Wildly, they pranced across the sky like a piece of night's darkness trying to invade the beginning day. Louder and louder their cries could be heard. Marcus cupped his ears to intensify the noisy jabbering of the black winged creatures.

The flock of darkness flew ever closer to him. Marcus sprinkled bread and beef amidst the yellow grass field and the gnarled oak tree roots at his feet. Suddenly, the dark inhabitants of the sky surrounded him, flying toward the ground like shooting stars that shone no light, only an intense blackness, darker than a moonless night's void.

The creatures surrounding Marcus were known to most people as crows. Yet, Marcus had affixed a different name to each one of his feathered companions. He could even understand their language of harsh caws. Their language was not complex, but very beautiful in its natural simplicity. It mostly showed intense emotions. In fact, it conveyed every emotion imaginable to mankind and some even lost by humans as they had left nature and animal instincts behind to depend upon complex thinking and order.

Marcus listened closely to the emotion-filled chatter of the crows. He crawled to the ground and looked into the luminous black eyes of the leader of the flock- Jelone. The crow had an uncanny wisdom in his eyes that seemed to show an understanding of the world that man has yet to comprehend. His glistening eyes shone of knowledge dating back to strange eons, to a simpler time when beasts roamed the earth and man was yet unheard of.

Jelone beckoned to his flock that it was time to continue their journey across the cloud-covered sky. They gathered the last remaining bits of food and leaped into the cloudy blue abyss. Marcus bade them good-bye as usual, and sat intently waiting for any other feathered guests that might pay a visit to him.

It was Marcus's lifelong dream to someday be visited by the Davians. According to local myth and legend, the crows and other birds worshipped bird gods called Davians that lived in the highest reaches of the sky. The Davians, according to the legend, were enormous birds, larger than the largest man. They were covered by black shiny feathers adorned with tips made of real gold. They were always surrounded by an ominous green glow of unnatural energy. They had glowing red eyes and voices that sounded like the sweetest music.

It was legend that if anyone harmed a crow, he would face the wrath of the Davians. But if someone helped the crows and earned their trust, he would be rewarded. As a bird watcher, the greatest reward Marcus could think of would be to see one of those magnificent birds. It was Marcus's life goal to see a Davian, to see their feather's real golden tips sparkling in the sun. That was Marcus's dream, as he stood, transfixed on the sky.

Suddenly, a small white bird fluttered in the sky above Marcus. It descended to the earth like an angel from heaven, bringing with it a soothing cooing sound. It was Marcus's pet dove Twilight. She hopped onto his open palm, happily eating the seeds it held.  After feeding his friend, Marcus reluctantly changed into a suit and went to work.

Marcus continued his daily morning bird-watching routine for years. The local townspeople often spoke of him in hushed whispers, talking about his odd behavior and bizarre beliefs. Stories and rumors about Marcus abounded throughout the small rural town. Most of the stories were the concoctions of creative school children and local gossipers. They made up strange tales that he was insane and had escaped from a distant asylum. Some school children had even invented gruesome horror stories that Marcus had killed hundreds of people in order to protect his birds. All of the various rumors were false, of course, but they made Marcus's life quest all the more difficult. People constantly stared at him and mocked him. When children saw him they would giggle and run away.

All of this constant mockery made Marcus turn away from people even more and spend more time with his true friends- birds. Birds would never hurt him. They gave him support and friendship while his own people would only give him anguish and ostricization.

One hot Autumn morning, Marcus sat waiting for the sound of crows. He saw a V-shaped formation of birds

in the distance. It was a flock of ducks. Ducks rarely flew throught the skies above Marcus's town. He marveled at their distinct sounds and orderly formation.

Off in the distance near the rising sun the flock of crows appeared once more. As Marcus glanced at the tiny black dots in the distance, suddenly a horrible sound pierced through the air. It was not the sound of crows or ducks or even Davians. It was the sound of a gun. One of the ducks in the flock overhead made a cry unlike Marcus had ever heard before. It was a squeal that screamed of unfathomable horror. Marcus was not sure if it was his own screaming or the duck's he heard louder, as it turned somersaults in the air and plummeted to the unyielding earth.

Marcus sprinted over to aid the creature as it lay dying. A wave of fury swept over Marcus as he heard the shots continuing. Ducks fell to the ground like pouring rain. Two stocky hunters stepped out of the field they were hiding in and began to collect the fallen ducks into a dusty potato sack. Before Marcus could confront the two killers, another sound pierced the air. The crows had arrived for their morning breakfast.

Marcus turned his attention away from the landing crows, looked at the two hunters and screamed, "You murderers! You've slaughtered an entire flock of innocent ducks!"

One of the hunters gave Marcus a condescending look and said, "It's hunting season."

The crows on the ground looked curiously at the three arguing humans and could tell something was awry.

Suddenly a shot rang through the air. The second hunter was firing at the crows! Shiny black feathers flew through the air as the flock jumped up and attempted to leave the ground in a hectic frenzy. Crow after crow fell to his demise by the sting of the deadly weapon's bullets. Marcus ran over to the hunter and made a frantic attempt to dislodge the rifle from the killer's arms. In the struggle, the hard wooden handle of the gun struck Marcus sharply in the head. As Marcus fell to the ground his eyes glanced over to see the crow flock leader Jelone on the ground as well. Jelone's eyes no longer shone of mystery and ancient wisdom. The only message the luminous eyes conveyed was that of untimely death. As the world around Marcus slipped into blackness, he stared into those dark eyes, wondering what secrets would die along with Jelone.

When Marcus woke up it was significantly later in the day. The sun was high in the sky, and Marcus glanced at his pocket watch to see that it was indeed past noon. As he sat up he felt an intense throbbing pain in his head. Glancing around at the scene of horror that surrounded him, Marcus gasped in utter shock and disbelief. What surrounded Marcus at first seemed like a hallucination, a bad dream that couldn't possibly be true. He began to cry out lamentations as he noticed the dead bodies of his closest friends of the crow flock scattered in the field around him. By what he saw, he judged only a few had escaped. As he mournfully looked at the field he spotted another blood stained area in the distance.

Trudging through the tall grassy field, Marcus went toward the red stained niche. What he saw made him turn around in disgust and horror. The bodies of the two hunters lay dead in the field. Marcus gasped and wondered if he may have killed the two men in his rage. Was he knocked out so roughly that he forgot the whole incident? Did he kill them and lose the memory? Was he a murderer? Subsequent thoughts of horrible possibilities raced through his head. He went through his memories of what had happened over and over again. He didn't remember killing them, but still the mangled bodies of the two hunters laid sprawled across the field at his feet. Their blank stares spoke of unmentionable horror.

Marcus carefully looked at the two bodies for any clue that would help him to remember what had happened. Suddenly, he saw part of a black feather protruding out from under one of the hunters. Marcus pulled on the feather to see if another one of his crow friends had been killed and was under the body of the hunter. He wrested an enormous black feather out from under the hunter's battered remains. The magnificent glistening feather was adorned with a tip of sparkling gold. Marcus let out a maniacal laugh as he looked to the clouds and saw the enormous unearthly figures of a flock of birds flying towards the highest reaches of the sky.

 

The End

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