Welcome to the first story in our 2022 Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event! Starting us off… we have an appropriately atmospheric image as inspiration for L C Chase’s seasonal short story. I hope you love all our stories this week, and be sure to check at the end of each one for the contests/giveaways!!
RAVEN, MY RAVEN
It was a dark and stormy night. No, really. It was a dark and stormy night. Halloween, to be exact. Which made sense in a horror movie sort of way.
And because the night wasn’t spooky enough with howling wind and blowing leaves and the boom of distant thunder, the ravens were back.
They sat on a tangled mess of dead shrubbery that I walked past every night on my way home from work. Oddly, bright red flowers bloomed on seeming lifeless branches that reached for the sky like black skeletal fingers.
I didn’t think too much of the flock of ravens the first night I saw them. Or I guess that would be an unkindness or a conspiracy of ravens, as folklore would have it. Because who doesn’t think bad things are on the horizon when they see ravens?
The second night I thought it was a strange coincidence to see the ravens again—in the same spot. Every head and beady eye watched me.
My skin crawled from head to toe the third night I saw them. Deep down, somehow, I knew they were there for me. I cast my gaze to the ground and passed them quickly, just short of an all-out sprint. As they had done the previous two nights, they took flight as one and landed on a fence a dozen yards ahead of me. They did that until I turned left when they went right. Their furious squawks echoed behind me and followed me into my nightmares.
Tonight, the fourth night, they were there again. This time I took a deep breath and stopped. I made eye contact with the largest raven sitting on a branch closest to me. His feathers were inky black with a blue pearlescent sheen and the iris of his onyx eyes glowed a deep red. I was pretty sure their eyes weren’t supposed to do that. I shivered.
“What do you want?” I fought to keep my voice steady, but it still shook.
The bird made a funny sound. Ravens were mimics. I’d even heard one copy a cellphone ringtone once. This time the raven’s call sounded like help.
As one, the ravens took flight up the road and perched on a fence. Same as the three nights before.
The big bird looked at me, tilted his head like he was motioning this way, and called for help again.
“You want me to follow, don’t you?”
The raven responded with a rapid knocking sound and flapped his wings.
“Great,” I mumbled. “I’m talking to a bird.”
Batshit crazy as it sounded, guess what I did? That’s right. I followed. A bunch of menacing looking birds that were probably conspiring an unkindness on me, and I was walking right into their trap.
I paused at my corner, where I’d normally turn left. The red-eyed bird’s feathers ghosted my cheekbone as he swooped low past me. He sailed up and perched on the STOP sign in front of me.
“Help,” he called again, and I swear this time there was pleading in his voice.
I turned right. Icy fingers trailed down my spine. I shrugged deeper into my jacket and started walking.
The ravens led me on a zig-zagging path until we reached a darkened road where all the streetlights had burned out or been broken. My heart raced. This was such a bad idea.
The birds dipped low like a wave and banked right into the yard of a house I couldn’t see for the unkempt hedge that surrounded it like a keep. I already knew which house it was and I didn’t want to enter. It had been abandoned for as long as I could remember, after a family that lived there last had been murdered. As rumor went, their angry ghosts still roamed its halls. Local kids thought it was a great place for dares and hazing. I never took up anyone on that dare, thank you very much.
The large raven sat on the gatepost to wait for me. I stopped in front of him and looked at the house. It had probably been a nice place, once, but now, after years of neglect, its white siding was gray and black with rot and mold. Boards hung at awkward angles and the windows were boarded with sheets of aging plywood. The roof sagged, and sections of gutter were missing or literally hanging by a rusted nail. The front door though . . . It looked like the gaping black mouth a monster about to swallow me whole.
My raven buddy squawked in my ear, and I swear my heart nearly punched right through my ribcage. My head spun for a second as I glared at the bird.
“I’m here, aren’t I?” I snapped at him.
I looked back at the house and sighed. I was totally going to be that dude in the D-rated horror flick who goes to check out the scary noise instead of turning tail and running away like a smart person. But then, I never professed to being overly intelligent.
I took a deep fortifying breath and followed my feathered guide into the house, while the rest stood sentry outside. Those birds were smart.
Floorboards creaked and groaned as I entered the house. I pulled out my phone and turned on the flashlight app. Every shadow held a thing of nightmares waiting to attack me. I couldn’t move.
I yelped when something black flashed past me. The raven. He landed on the spiderweb-encased newel of a dangerous looking stairwell and shrilled impatiently.
“Hold your tailfeathers,” I grumbled. “I’m coming.”
I made my way slowly up the stairs, careful not to fall through rotted treads. At the top, I noticed a yellow light emanating from under a closed door at the end of the hall.
Inch by inch, hyperaware of every sound, my heart beating a mad rhythm in my chest, I made my way to the door. It was ice cold to the touch but swung open soundlessly.
My breath caught.
There, in the middle of the room was the largest raven I’ve ever seen. It was the size of an eagle. Glowing yellow light surrounded the bird, but I couldn’t find the source. A large circle was outlined in white powder on the floor. Inside the circle was an intricate pattern of painted black lines and shapes. I didn’t know what they were or what they meant, but I’ve seen enough horror movies to know that those were sigils.
Witchcraft was afoot, my friends.
“This is so above my paygrade.”
I turned off the flashlight and shoved my phone into my pocket.
My guide raven stood beside me, and the raven in the circle wabble-walked to the edge of the salt line. He looked up at me and I saw an intelligence in his eyes that surprised me. Like the raven with the red irises, this bird’s eyes weren’t exactly black. I thought they were at first, but when the bird blinked, they were deep blue.
Something niggled in the back of my mind. A familiarity that I shouldn’t be feeling. I took a step closer, and the trapped bird did a funny little swoop and wave with its head. He flapped his massive wings, and a glint of gold behind him caught my eye.
There, in the circle, was a gold chain with a pendant that . . . No. It couldn’t be.
My heart thundered in my chest like a stampede of wild horses. I grasped the pendant that hung around my neck. A pendant that matched the one on the floor. There were only two of them on the planet . . .
“You’re not really a raven, are you?” I dropped to my knees, inches from the salt line. “I know you.”
I swear that bird shook and nodded his head. He stared at me, imploring. I had to get him out of there, but how? I didn’t have magical powers. I’d have said magic didn’t exist outside of movies and novels, but then, how did I explain what was happening here?
A piercing shrill at my shoulder startled me again.
“Will you quit with that?” I said as the red-eyed raven took flight and landed on a dresser against the wall. He walked across the top and tapped his beak on an old clock. It read 12:47AM.
Oh. “Witching hour ends at one in the morning, right?”
Both birds made a rapid knocking sound. Whatever I was supposed to do, I had to hustle.
“Oh, I got it!”
I leaned forward and smudged the salt line with my hand. That’s what they did in the movies, right? I sat back on my heels and the bird walked out of the circle. Pride washed through me but evaporated a second later. The raven that maybe wasn’t really a raven was free, but he was still a bird.
I fell back on my butt and looked at the time. There were only a few minutes before witching hour ended. The red-eyed bird lowered his head.
“I’m sorry,” I said to the blue-eyed raven. “I don’t know what else to do. I’m not magic.”
A low croak gurgled up from the back of his throat, and I swear there was sadness in that bird’s eyes. He waddled over to me, crawled up onto my lap like a dog, and snuggled against my chest. This was definitely no ordinary raven.
I wrapped my arm around him, and my hand tingled where it rested on his feathers—feathers that felt strangely like warm skin. The tingles in my hand exploded and electricity shot through my whole body. My vision whited out, and when I could see again, I gasped at the truth.
“Oh my god. Josh?”
He’d gone missing a month ago and I’d been beside myself trying to find him. But in some weird fantastical world I had no idea existed, he was right here, somehow transformed into a raven.
My feathered boyfriend lifted his beak and nudged my chin. How could this be?
I hugged him tighter to me. “Even if you’re a raven forever, I will never stop loving you.”
Josh began to vibrate so violently I had to let go of him. The red-eyed raven made a deep rasping sound, and outside echoed a chorus of shrills.
The yellow light grew brighter, it’s center larger, and then it began to swirl like a tornado. The wind it created whipped my hair across my face, and flecks of gold and blue glittered in the maelstrom. My eardrums popped. As suddenly as it started, it stopped without a sound.
And in my lap lay a fully formed naked man. I whispered his name—awestruck, elated, confused. He looked up at me with those big blue eyes of his and they swam with tears.
“You came for me.” His voice sounded rough and unused.
“Well, technically, a menacing conspiracy of ravens led me here.” I grinned.
“I love you, Danny,” Josh said softly.
He pulled himself up to sitting and kissed me. Or I kissed him. Whatever. The only thing that mattered was that he was back, and he was beautiful, and so long as he never turned into a raven again, we had our whole lives ahead of us.
“What the hell, man,” Josh said, his voice stronger. “Why was I a bird?!”
I couldn’t help it. I broke out in a gale of laughter, and a few seconds later he was roaring along with me.
“C’mon.” I stood up and helped him to his feet. He wobbled a bit, and I tucked him into my side. “Let’s see if we can find you something to wear home.”
He smiled up and me as lightning flashed outside and thunder rattled the house. Yeah, it was a dark and stormy night, but my boyfriend was no longer a raven, so there was that.
Today’s contest / giveaway is for one ebook from L C Chase’s backlist!
There are a few ways you can enter to win…
For a chance to win an ebook of your choice from L C’s backlist, follow on BookBub, their facebook group Chasing Ever After, or sign up for their newsletter.
Comment “done” or “already following” to officially enter.
Contest starts today, and one winner will be chosen from all eligible commenters at the end of our event. Winner will be chosen, then announced in our wrap-up post on November 1st.
Check out the Kick-off post HERE to see the full list of authors participating in our 2022 Halloween Flash Fiction Blog Event. Links will be added to the main post each day when that author’s story goes live. Each post will include the inspiration image from a DeviantArt creator, the story, and the contest/giveaway info.
6 thoughts on “2022 Halloween Flash Fiction featuring L C Chase”
Spooky story with a fun twist! Though I don’t know I would have been brave enough to follow a bunch of ravens LOL. Following on BookBub ❤️
Definitely a spooky story. Thank you for sharing!
Done and I enjoyed reading Raven, My Raven! Happy Halloween!
Really enjoyed your story. I am following you on Bookbub.
Marion, you’re our winner!!! Please email me at FunkNFiction@gmail.com with your choice of book in L C Chase’s backlist, along with your ereader email address. You have 7 days to claim your prize. Thank you, and congratulations!