by Cull Strider

When the day was long, like this one, the ravens ate well.

I never saw them eat flesh: they ate light. The day grew darker at their feasts, a greyish hue to the sky. When the ravens glided up into it, and laid black wings against grey—well, in those moments I prayed for night, a constant night. And the night did come when the last of the light was gone, but never constant.

The ravens squawked at me; they would look at me, as if drawn to a lighthouse, and squawk. And I, at them, would throw my tiny stones. Chained and locked to my chair, my arms barely long enough to reach the pebbles beneath me, every pebble of fair-size gone long ago.

My only respite was the night, and the early morning. It was then, dawn, that the shadow of the bent—cowering—red cabin 30 feet behind me stretched long, like a finger pointing some unknowable accusation. The ravens would not enter the shadows. They did not often squawk in the night, or in the morning. But at noon, with sun overhead, they flew and they gorged.

Thus it would be, until the clouds came, and the sky would cry, with wind, and sometimes bellow with thunder, lightning, anger. And then the night descended, and sometimes the anger dissipated, and sometimes it was stark, and the only thing left was anger without light. The ravens would sit on their branches and they would squawk then. They would squawk at the anger; in defiance, perhaps, in anger, perhaps, and almost certainly in hunger.

And I screamed too. This is when I came alive! In the darkness, I screamed at the abyss, and the lightening, and the rain, and the ravens, and the dark. I screamed at the dark most of all—I screamed for it to stay, to embrace me for all time, and the ravens along with me. I wanted to gorge on their misery, I wanted to gorge on their hunger, as I sat there hungry, and dying.

My captor returned to me too late. Years too late. She came in the night, when she did come, and she buried my bones in the night. I know not what happened afterward.

But I know that before she came, the sky had greyed. And when my vision went black, the ravens feasted on flesh.


Cull Strider can be found near the edge of the Arctic Circle, in the Yukon Territory, Canada. He snowshoes through eternal night, listens to silence, and writes dark things.
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