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A Barn Owl & A Blood Angel

The owl appears to be almost tame. They are shy creatures as a general rule, but the falling body and the impact it made against the snow hasn't startled him off his high perch.

By L.C. SchäferPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - October 2023
A Barn Owl & A Blood Angel
Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash

The owl appears to be almost tame. They are shy creatures as a general rule, but the falling body and the impact it made against the snow hasn't startled him off his high perch.

The small girl stared up at the bird through thick lashes, and eyes almost to match his. Her winter coat was so bulky, it made her arms stick out comically to either side.

He is perched on his customary post, his feathers fluffed out and blinking against the flurrying snow. Much easier to look at that than the red spattered young man on the ground several feet away.

She knows, though she is studiously avoiding looking, that the man looks tremendously smart. That is, except for the messy way his arms and legs are strewn at odd angles. It is quite astonishing how much detail a brain can drink in, even in just a few seconds. It's even more amazing how much brain one head holds.

The owl really is very pretty. He looks almost nondescript and scrubby from this angle. Then he turns and his face is a perfect white heart, haunting as a ghost.

Ah. She is trying not to think of ghosts.

The expensive white shirt with its perfectly starched cuffs is splotched with scarlet and pink. His suit jacket, a rich black to begin with, is darker still in patches. Wet, sticky patches. His face looks straight out of a boy band or an anime adventure. Smooth shaven on one side, and caved in on the other. Silky blond hair segues to a dark matted mess with fragments of bone. Where in life he had been slender - elegant, even - now he is all wrong angles and soft pulp. His eyes are looking at nothing and gently filling up with snow.

The owl spreads his wings and takes off, with almost less effort than it took to huddle on his perch. He is poetry, so light he is almost not there at all... and then he really isn't there.

If Daddy didn't work so hard, she might live in a smaller house, and this boy wouldn't have died. Maybe he would have just hurt his leg. If he could fly, like the owl, he wouldn't be making a blood angel in the snow.

Her mouth trembles. Her eyes widen, casting about for something to land on, but there was nothing except the dead man. Panic rising and cresting, it wouldn't take much to push her from her perch and set her to running. The crunch of a soft footstep did it. Look! She is off! Her stumpy legs working hard, but not efficiently, her coat hobbling her further.

A gunshot cracks the stillness, and then two men lay crooked in the snow. She's still running, an awkward little shape panting through the expanse of white.

Outside the bright sphere cast by the outdoor light, the tree line is the only place to go. A lady is standing there. She looks slim and kind, with dark hair and a wide smile. She's wearing pretty gloves and her coat has a big shiny buckle at the waist. The sight of her causes a wave of relief. She seems safe. Safer at least, than what the little girl is running from.

If we were really there, we would step in front of her, warn her that the same smile belongs on a cat or a crocodile. But we are only shadows, you and I. She can't hear us. We cast no shadow on the snow.


Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment so it's easy for me to reciprocate.

Behind the story: I wrote this for the Barn Owl challenge, but it didn't feel finished enough to submit. I do like it, as far as it goes... but I felt like it wasn't good enough to enter a challenge. As a regular post, labelled Excerpt, I can justify it!

Edit: sorry I don't know why I lost my edits when I hit submit! I forget the site hates android!


About the Creator

L.C. Schäfer

Flexing the writing muscle.

Never so naked as I am on a page. Subscribe for "nudes".

I'm also on Twitter if you'd like to connect elsewhere.

I value feedback, and reciprocate reads and comments.

Also writing under the name S.E. Holz

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  3. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (34)

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  • Stephen Kramer Avitabile2 months ago

    Ooh that was great! So descriptive. I really got an image in my head of the scene, the body lying there, all of that. This was quite riveting too, kept me hooked. I think you did a great job with this.

  • Dana Stewart2 months ago

    This is the embodiment of suspense. Well written L.C.

  • Onah chidera2 months ago

    I loved it ❤️ Hope my stories gets to this point 😪😪 What type of stories do you guys like🤗

  • Naveed2 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story

  • Oluwadare Samuel2 months ago

    My lovely fans🙏 Share the🙏🥰🥰💛 please ; by checking out my last story as well. {The Last Sanctuary}⚡️⚡️

  • Oluwadare Samuel2 months ago

    captivating narrative. That's a very nice, like the Write up🥰⚡️✅

  • Kendall Defoe 2 months ago

    I remember that challenge! I was never satisfied with what I had, and I know that I prefer this story here. A very simple and effective narrative!

  • Celia in Underland2 months ago

    I am entirely freaked out right now. Beautifully penned as always but so insiduously disconcerting-Congratulations on top story 🤍

  • Donna Fox (HKB)2 months ago

    This was so beautiful L.C.! You have this breath taking balance of vivid imagery and an eery setting that really played well together! It felt tense and heart palpitating and yet had this creepy stillness about it! It feels like a great origin story or final chapter for something bigger! Great work and congratulations on Top Story!!

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Impressively written!!! Intriguing and horrific!!! Left a bloody heart!!! Congratulations on Top Story too, L.C.!!!

  • Kageno Hoshino2 months ago

    I love owls!

  • JBaz2 months ago

    You wrote this with a very unique style, it captures the readers attention and refuses to let go. I found myself trapped within your tale. To bad it didn’t make it into the bar owl challenge Well deserved congratulations

  • Antoinette L Brey2 months ago

    I find myself wondering what happened. i want to read more

  • Novel Allen2 months ago

    Innocence and terror. Is this the middle of a story. It could go either way, but there must be more somewhere. Very intriguing. Congrats.

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    Back to say Congratulations on a well-deserved Top Story!

  • Alexander McEvoy2 months ago

    So richly detailed! I’d love to know what happened before and what will happen after! I’m imaging a kidnapping and the dead young man was something like a security guard? Loved this one, L.C! Your ability to say so little and tell so much is mind blowing!

  • Teresa Renton2 months ago

    Oh nooooo! You have to finish this…I’m too invested now 😍

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    And congrats on the TS

  • 🦉♥️📝 Congratulations on your Top Story🎉

  • StoryholicFinds2 months ago

    Love it ❤️

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    I see this as a powerful metaphor for a runaway. She's in danger ar home, and maybe more so "out there."

  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    What is going on here? As an excerpt this is so captivating. Scary as hell too.

  • The owl immediately made me think of that challenge. I feel this is complete, you should have submitted it! Oh well, it's okay, thank you for publishing it now because I loved it! You know how much I love blood 😝😝

  • This was so good. The story really takes you in. It felt very suspenseful one of those tales that keeps you guessing. Feels like a part of a much larger tale.

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