Loop Serial Revisited (part 2)

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment

 
Series: Loop Serial 2023 | Story 2

October 28, 2023

Joshua Crisalli.

We must admit that we did not receive submissions from the community for our second Loop serial to meet this week's deadline. It was not unexpected. Life is crazy these days with demands on everyone's time and attention, and it is not always easy to give time to creative endeavors. It was the chance we took. But not to be discouraged, we prepared for this very occasion and we have our own ideas of where the mystery of the ravens moves forward and we are moving the story along. Please enjoy.

Also, understand it is not too late if you would like to add something to the story yourself. The same rules apply with the deadline extended. Our hope is to find an ending of the mystery before the December holidays.

Rules:

All ages are invited to participate, open to both published and amateur writers.

Include your name and contact information (address, phone or email).

Submissions don't have to be long. We will edit for space and continuity.

Typed or handwritten submissions can be dropped off at The Loop newspaper office at 206 S. Green St. in downtown Tehachapi. Write "Attention: Serial Submission" or email to: loopserial@gmail.com.

Ravens?

Driving past numerous fast food restaurants and gas stations and the local truck stop, the landscape opened up. "If I don't slow down a bit, I'll miss the turn into the mobile home park, again."

Out of the corner of his left eye he saw a fluttering. Ravens? But when he turned to look straight at them, it was only a series of torn black trash bags caught in the barbed wire fence, fluttering in the wind.

"Heck!" Stephen exclaimed as he flew past his turn. He slowed and made a U-turn and headed back, ignoring the trash bags now on his right.

The next day, Stephen pumped gas into his SUV. Across the road rabbitbrush was in full bloom spreading across the brown sandy soil, dotting the hillsides. But he was distracted from the view while watching for ravens (or trash bags). He wasn't disappointed as two ravens flew in to perch on the trash bins in the corner of the station lot. As he stared at them, willing them to fly away in a flick of black plastic, they stared back. He was surprised that the hair was standing up on his arms. He shivered in 80 degree heat.

***

When excused from the picnic tables, the excited group of kids ran to the play equipment, each one veering off to get to their favorites first. Maxi chose to climb the jungle gym to the very top where big black birds were perched, the breeze ruffling their feathers that glinted shiny in the bright sun. When reaching the top, she found only black trash bags rather shredded and wrapped around the top bars. A sudden big gust of wind blew and they let loose to fly high above the trees in City Park and then disappear from sight.

Maxi was disappointed she couldn't sit with the ravens on top of the jungle gym. She raised her arms and flapped them like wings, pretending to be a raven herself taking flight. That is when she spotted more ravens calmly clinging to branches in the nearest tree. They seemed to be watching her with interest. She paused in "flight" to wave at them, when she suddenly lost her balance and started to fall.

All she remembered later was the sound of fluttering and blackness. She didn't remember the impact of the ground at all.

***

Leanne had joined the volunteer crew to help clean up highway debris. The sunny breezy day was mild. When a torn black trash bag scudded across her feet and headed up the slight incline, she laughed at the challenge and ran after it. Suddenly it took flight and she realized it had been a raven all along. She looked over her shoulder at the rest of the crew, hoping no one had noticed her mistake. "How embarrassing," she muttered as she used her grabber tool to bite down on some cellophane that had once wrapped itself around a long row of mini donuts.

As they headed their cars over to the dump to dispose of their collected trash, Leanne couldn't help but notice the number of ravens picking through the mess of black trash bags lying in piles.

"Hey you scavengers, out of my way!" yelled Barry, the leader of their crew. He threw a bag of trash at the ravens, expecting them to take flight and leave. Instead, they took flight and headed straight toward him. He ducked, but not fast enough as one sharp claw dug into his cheek drawing blood. "Did you see that?" Barry yelled to his group, holding his cheek. "The dang thing took a swipe at me!"

***

One of his favorite retirement pastimes was to sit on the front porch and rock in his wooden rocker while watching traffic travel by on Highline Road below. The rocker had a satisfying squeak that the ravens mocked as they flew over the roof of the house. They would land below him on the fencing along the road. "Funny how they look like trash bags from this distance," he observed for the hundredth plus time. He was content to believe it was his failing eyesight playing tricks on him.

"I don't like the ravens at all." Mae shook her head as she headed for her rocker on the porch. "I don't trust them. You know what they're called all gathered together? An unkindness. What does that mean?" Mae shuddered. " A treachery of ravens too, and a conspiracy of ravens. They give me the creeps!"

Walt didn't comment. He just watched as a number of ravens on their fence were joined with another dozen or so. He did note Mae called them ravens and not trash bags. Her eyes were better than his.

 
 

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