The Croaking Raven
My entry for the Love Bites 2016 anti-Valentine flash fiction challenge, which you can find HERE.
“The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.” – Hamlet
From the ebon pit where foul worms writhe and creep, black as Beelzebub and cold as bare winter, she crawled at midnight’s bell, clawing noisome ooze from her misshapen eyes. Her malformed, demonic gait dragged rotting feet through corpse-fed grass, stinking gobbets of once-flesh falling upon the rank ground.
Eternal rest had not been hers to grasp. What chance of rest when her fiery wronged heart and the acid taste of betrayal deep in her soul both cried without cessail for bloody revenge?
She had loved him as a fire sparks, dancing to the tune of an autumn wind. She had loved him as the enridged sea surges unrestrained on a spring tide. And she had made him love her. Yet he had thrown her love aside like a snake’s skin. He had betrayed her adoration, and he had murdered her, destroying her in a fire of traitorous fury.
Stronger than a lover’s adoration is a lover’s hatred, and stronger is it still than even Death, who, mighty sable wings unfurled against the turbulent lightning sky of purgatory, had looked her in the eye and roared “Go! Fulfil your dread purpose ‘ere I take you.”
Starless, this black night; a night for hell to breathe out contagion into the world, and she was that disease. Her poisonous intent was to drink hot blood, and with patient cruelty draw exquisite agony upon her lover’s face, as pale as a grave. He had spat away her love, and for that he must suffer tortured agonies. She uttered a raven-croak of promise, the only sound that the remains of her throat could now make, a sound of rising vengeance.
She was close now, fluttering like rivulets of hellsmoke through crevices, between thin gaps, finally materialising by his bed, a hollow ghost inside her remembering warmer times there with him. She pulled the sharp bone out of her left arm and raised it high with her right, ready to strike, to pierce him through as he slept, to finally sate her need to be avenged.
He whirled, a blur, a flashing blade severing her arm so that both flew across the room.
“Did you think to surprise me, witch? I knew you’d come. Christ, you stink more than you did alive. And you even gave me warning. You know, in Sweden, ravens that croaked at night were thought to be the souls of murdered people who didn’t have proper Christian burials. I think the Swedes might be on to something.”
He swung his blade again, and again, in violent sweeping arcs. Her limbs fell; her torso writhed, shedding rotting flesh across the floor.
“Why do you think I killed you, witch? I know that you cast a love spell on me, as I know full well your powers now, and I say that I will have no more of you! I was a fool, believing that the fire would rid me of a sorceress. I know better now. I know the true doombringer of a witch!”
He hacked off her head and, gathering all the pieces of her, plunged them, still croaking faintly, deep in a barrel of consecrated water. Its sting pecked at her withering soul, and awareness left her.
“Welcome back,” said Death. “Are you ready to go now?”