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The Crows Caw

by Zoe Winterbourne 2 years ago in fiction

When you are haunted by an unknown voice, is there a way to escape it?

Disclaimer: Depictions and description of suicidal thoughts, suicidal intentions and mental health. Readers discretion advised. Please do not continue if you are triggered by the mentioned above.

I heard the call before I opened my eyes. A single piercing sound that resonates through me. A noise that has haunted me for years. A caw. It’s here, somewhere, watching me. I have never seen the owner of this sound in person but I always hear it. On more than one occasion the caw has woken me up, spooked me into consciousness. You would think after all these years, I would have adapted and it wouldn’t scare me anymore. But it does. It terrifies me. Every day for as long as I can remember, the caw has been following me. All that changes tonight. I will no longer be a victim, I’m taking control. I will see it if it kills me. Or I kill it. Tonight, I am prepared and I’m playing the game. It caws again. I keep my eyes shut and lay perfectly still on the uneven ground. I am fighting every instinct in my body to get up and run. It’s taking every ounce of self-control not to move beyond breathing. It’s painful, I’m tense, concentrating only on slow and even breaths. I know I can draw it out. I will draw it out. I start to assess my surroundings using my other senses. I can smell damp dirt and plants. I hear the wind rustling trees around me and I’m cold. So very, very cold. I can feel the damp earth beneath my hands and cheek as stones and branches dig into my body uncomfortably. It hurts but this pain is nothing compared to the caw. This is tolerable. The caw is not. I don’t know how long I’ve been out here or how much time has passed since I’ve been coherently thinking. All I know is that I haven’t heard it call again. Sometimes it can be continuous, other times it can be sporadic. Every time it is all-consuming. I lie here for what feels like hours, concluding I can’t keep my eyes shut. I can still feel its eyes on me, watching, waiting. I know it hasn’t gone but I can’t do anything blind. Careful not to move, I slowly open my eyes. I blink into the dirt and blurriness as the world comes into focus. It’s pitch-black and all I can see is the silhouette of trees.

You’re awake.

The voice makes me jump. I heavily push myself up onto all fours, wincing in pain at my body’s protests. I glance wide-eyed around me but see nothing. Nothing but endless blackness and trees. I’m somewhere deep in a wood.

“Who said that?” My voice comes out broken and panicked.

My dear, I’m offended you don’t know me after all this time.

I sit back on my heels frantically looking to see any shape, any movement, any whisper of a physical entity.

“What do you mean? Who are you?”

I’ve been with you for many years. Although we have never spoken on such terms before.

My breathing is loud and rapid, my body shaking from being tense and completely paralysed with fear. I need to calm down. I need to think. I close my eyes again and take deep, steadying breaths.

Close your eyes all you want. You know you can’t escape me .

I take big, stuttering breaths until I feel calm enough to speak.

“What do you want?” My voice comes out broken and quiet. Suddenly I don’t feel as confident as before.

So eager to get down to business. I’m surprised you don’t already know. You should know you can never beat me.

I look around the darkness but all my fight is gone. My head droops as I accept I can’t outsmart the fox. Or the crow.

Look to your left. Do you see the big, broken oak tree?

I squint and wait for my eyes to focus. I see a big tree but I don’t know if it’s the one it means. It’s the only thing I can see that’s wide.

“Yes I think so.”

Stand up. Walk towards the tree. A present awaits inside.

My breathing goes rapid again. I’m scared, more scared than I’ve ever been. I didn’t believe my fear could ramp up any more but it can. I want to stay paralysed but I force my body to move. I feel an overwhelming urge to obey although a nagging feeling in the back of my head wants to resist and run. I very shakily stand to my feet. I stagger weakly towards the dark shape, the tree becoming more visible the closer I get. I take a minute to lean against the thick trunk, my head resting against my arm. I am tired. Bone-achingly, mentally distraught, dog-tired. I slowly bend down and tentatively grope inside the hollowed-out trunk. My hand comes to rest on something hard and plastic. Pulling it out, I gasp and fall backwards.

You seem surprised. This is the thing we’ve been planning for years, my dear.

I start crying. I don’t understand. What plans?

Why are you crying?

“I don’t know what you want. I’m so confused.. I… I…”

I cry hysterically and the crow falls silent for a while.

You’ve always said you want to kill me. I’m just giving you your wish.

“What?”

We’ve had fun but now it’s time for it to come to an end.

I sit in shock, tears streaming.

“But… but how? And… why?”

I feel our time together has ran its course. You’ve been a wonderful host. But now I must set you free. We must set you free.

Free? Its giving me freedom?

“No. No you’re lying. Why now?”

You are resisting my help. My guidance. You have reached the end of your time.

Nothing is making sense. My head is scrambled. It’s setting me free and I suddenly feel… homesick.

“I don’t understand. How? I can’t see you.”

Why do you think I gifted you a gun?

I stare at the gun, my body convulsing.

You see, I have never been an embodiment. I have never been visible to anyone. I am a virus that lives in your mind. I am your controller, your saviour. Without me, you are nothing.

“What do you mean? You’re in my head? How are you in my head?”

I am a part of you, my dear. I’ve always been a part of you. You tried to ignore me but that just made me stronger. You wanted to be noticed, well I noticed you. I’ve been with you through everything yet you only think negative thoughts about me.

“No, no, no,” I whimper with my hands in my hair. This can’t be true.

Every decision. Every choice. Every thought you’ve ever had has been influenced by me. I have helped you shape your life and your purpose. But it’s clear you don’t respect me. You don’t want my help. So there’s only one way to silence me.

Suddenly my breathing changes from rapid to non-existent. I hold my breath as realisation dawns on me and I know exactly what it means. I stare wide-eyed at the plastic killer in my hands and my fight returns.

“No. No I don’t want to die.”

You must though. What is the point of you living? You’ve not accomplished anything. You lost your job because you’re crazy. You have no friends, you scared them all away. You’ve never found love, even your family disowned you. You’re alone and pathetic.

Within a second, my fight is gone. Its right. I know it is. Maybe I shouldn’t carry on. I’m not living. I’m not happy. I’m useless. I know what I need to do. I rise slowly and shakily to my feet, the gun hanging at my side with my finger on the trigger.

That’s my girl. You know I’m right.

I close my eyes and slow my breathing. This is the first time tonight I feel calm. The tears are still falling but I’m washed over with a sense of peace. I raise the gun and hold it to my temple.

Yes, my dear. You’re perfect. Do it.

Out of nowhere I hear a voice. A very different, very real voice from behind me. A soft, scared, weak, little voice.

“Mama?”

Without thinking, I spin and fire. I hear a scream. I hear a small body hit the ground. Silence. Blackout.

Welcome to the 6 o’clock news. Last night a young boy was killed in what is assumed to be a devastating accident. A local dogwalker found the body of a toddler with a gunshot wound lying metres away from a woman. Police reports believe the 30 year old woman to be the child’s mother. We have had official reports that state the mother is severely mentally unwell and was not in her right mind. Doctors believe she had a breakdown and heard a voice telling her to end her life. There’s speculation the woman took her son into the woods with her but she is alleged to have no recollection of the accident. We will report more as the news breaks.

fiction

About the author

Zoe Winterbourne

Just your average girl with a big imagination, looking to be creative ✨

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