A treachery of ravens? Conclusion of the Raven Serial (part 4)
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
November 25, 2023
This is the last installment of the Raven serial. Previous installments can be found in the last three editions of The Loop newspaper. Added into the following is a submission by Shaun Barnes. Thank you Shaun! You brought to us another layer of raven mystery that perfectly fit! We hope readers have enjoyed our little journey into reality, fantasy and the unknown. Our world is truly a magical place full of wonders and mystery. Perhaps you have been noticing more ravens these days? They say to watch nature and it will show you its wonders. Perhaps...
There was a knocking sound. Just before closing the bedroom door, Ivy's father heard a gentle tapping at the little girl's window. He paused and listened closely. Silence. Through the room's only window he could just make out the outline of what he thought was a trash bag blowing in the wind. "Must have been caught in the branches," he told Ivy and assured himself. "I'll get it tomorrow. Sleep tight booger eater," he continued softly before switching off the lights.
Suddenly another round of tapping, sharper this time, could be heard. "Daddy," whispered Ivy nervously, hiding behind her plush comforter. "What is that?" Her tiny hand shook as she gestured toward the window with the trash bag.
Eyes slowly adjusting to the dimness of the night light in the corner of the room, he squinted hard and saw a pair of black wings stretched wide, easily three feet from tip to tip. "It's just a crow, sweetheart. Shoo. Get off of there!," he ordered taking a couple of steps closer to the window in an attempt to scare the bird off. The creature was peering into the room with one eye, blacker than its purplish black feathers.
The bird quickly adjusted its stance, still peering in through the window. As the man took another step, the bird turned its head looking at him with his other eye. A blood red pearl that stopped the man dead in his tracks. Again the bird began chipping at the window with its jagged beak.
"Stop it!" yelled Ivy. "Go now!" But the bird kept pecking louder and louder until the window suddenly popped and a spider web of cracked glass took form.
"Enough!" yelled the man as he charged toward the window waving his arms angrily. Not until the man crossed the room and began to open the window did the bird fly off, cackling wildly as the cold autumn wind carried it into a moonless night.
"Daddy?" chirped the little girl, hugging her comforter even tighter than before.
"I think that was a raven. It was way too big for a crow," said the man to himself as if properly identifying it would somehow make the event less terrifying.
"Grab your pillow, my heart. You're sleeping in our bed tonight."
– Submitted by Shaun Barnes
It was all coming to a head. The city was going to exterminate the ravens because they deemed them destructive. But first, a storm was coming with rains as hard as the storm in 2015. Would the hillsides hold this time? Would the runoff be contained? Would the cars and trucks remain safe, as well as the people inside them?
First a huge flock of ravens merged on the train tracks and totally stopped the train. They refused to move. Ravens sat on fences along the highway and suddenly many drivers pulled off, hungry or needing gas or found themselves in The Home Depot not remembering why they so desperately needed to go in.
Stephen decided to surprise his wife by coming home early bringing lunch and a sack full of supplies to make dinner, too. Walt and Mae decided to take their rocking chairs in before the storm. Leanne helped close the library early and picked up her kids at school, heading straight home. Maxi gave her ravens special treats before they flew off on a mission of their own.
Ivy's family had found out the day after the raven cracked her window, that they had a gas leak seeping into Ivy's room. Had the raven not broken the window, and the window been left open, the gas would have built up to dangerous levels. As it was, all were safe and the gas leak repaired.
Glen walked into City Hall to fight against the extermination of the ravens with a plan on how to clean their city streets of all the debris and the bird droppings that irritated townsfolk even more.
The storm came. Mudslides closed the highway. A few people were rescued from vehicles but Highway Patrol marveled that more cars and trucks were not on the road at that time of day. Things seemed to be working out.
The town quickly recovered from the latest storm with a forecast for rain again today. It was a very unsurprising windy day in Tehachapi. The winds always seemed to blow, changing from east to west and west to east easily. What was different today was the air. It filled with dust and as a sudden downpour began with a passion, a wall of mud in the sky was created that moved in sync with the clouds from the east across the whole of downtown to its western edges.
Mud covered cars and streets, homes and vegetation. But fortunately, a softer, cleaner rain continued after, as the winds slowed. The more it rained the more the mud was washed away along with debris and the dreaded droppings. Off roofs and cars and roads until the clouds finally broke open to sunshine and what looked like a bright shiny cleaned world. Until the winds whipped up again and the air filled with black.
Some people saw ravens in the skies. Others saw black trash bags whipping around and swirling above their heads. It convinced many that the bags had come from the dump east of town in those winds, escaping the new indoor sorting. Controversy started but ended quickly when the streets were empty of debris.
Glen noticed ravens gathering in smaller groups, their numbers truly diminished. He had finally come to terms about the ravens. He had no desire to share what he knew. Instead, with a calm he had never felt before, he headed up into the mountain.
The old man walked out of the desert and into the mountain town with a raven on each shoulder and one raven leading their way. But the old man knew exactly where to go as he had stepped each step before up to the mostly hidden cave. Glen was waiting.
They had no need for words as their eyes alone communicated. Each knew their mission, one staying, one leaving. It had happened for centuries and would go on for centuries more. The exchange of the Raven Guardian had been a part of this world from the beginning of time. Guardian ravens have watched over these mountains and its valleys and the desert beyond, being a raven one minute, then in an instant becoming a shadow, an elusive silky fabric and in this age, a black plastic trash bag. Who knows what it will be a hundred years from now? But the ravens will remain, always watchful under the direction of the Guardian, always ready to guard and protect. The trickster ravens will also make their appearance from time to time, to stir up the process. But in the end, the Guardian prevails. Hope prevails. Good prevails. For good is meant to be.
"Obituary: We lost a beloved friend this week. Glen Fieldstone's body was found halfway up the mountain. It is suspected he died from a sudden heart attack.
"Near his body a hiker and paramedics found a half hidden cave with walls covered with the drawings of ravens..."