The raven spirit hadn’t been called to light in a century, but yet here it stood, perched on the highest rooftop of all the houses in Stratensborough. Some of the rumors were true; the ones you chose to believe at least. The raven hadn’t been around for a while, but those who caught sight of it knew it’d be best to stay home the whole day. Today, it scratched at the already fallen apart shambles of Stratensborough mansion, abandoned since 1844 when Sir Isacc passed in his quarters, blood spread thin over the ground like a blanket or icing on a cake. The raven spirit had been there on the night of the murder, and here it was again, a grim reaper, a fortune teller, perhaps a warning waiting to happen.
Julie Moon wasn’t in a good mood. If you could catch a glimpse of her face, you would’ve said it was anger but no. Julie Moon was a desperate young journalist losing the high hopes she’d once had before she clambered onto the Stratensborough shore.
“Ms. Moon! You’re wanted in the fisheries tomorrow!” Julie frowned, resisting the urge to slap the man silly. She was tired of chasing puff pieces all over the state; the big pieces were being aired all over live news channels in the big city. Julie pushed away from her negative thoughts, hoping to catch dinner before the townsfolk arrived at her hotel room. If there was a story to be found in this town, Julie would eat rocks for a day.
Bleary-eyed and exhausted from her trip, Julie pushed her mashed potatoes around her plate. “Psst-psst! Have you heard about the raven spirit? Yes, on top of Stratensborough mansion!” A man stood beside his friend, eyes darting around the small room, whispering something about that raven and a murder. At the word “murder”, Julie nearly skyrocketed off her chair and into the conversation, suddenly full of energy.
“What’s this about a murder?” She asked, slightly confused. The two men laughed, slapping their bulky fists against the linoleum, but after a few seconds, they quieted, allowing silence to fill up the tiny space.
“You must not go to the mansion tonight. Whenever that spirit comes to this town, it’s foretold that a murder is going to take place there.” The two men gestured out into the cold night. “I’m sure none of us are going to have a peaceful slumber tonight.”
The raven was hungry for something other than fish. It was slightly bored though it should’ve been grateful to have been called to action. Out of its side-eye, it caught a glimpse of a young woman along with another person holding a camera, attempting to enter the mansion. Distastefully, the raven stabbed at the fish he’d caught, letting red liquid bubble on the inside. The girl was going to kill herself, and the raven sighed, remembering how she had tried to come last night as well. But last time the raven had eaten a full meal, deer’s blood snaking down his beak. Perhaps it’d be alright if the other spirits took care of this disgrace by themselves. The raven cackled underneath the full moon; only the stars above could predict the events to come in the mansion tonight.
On her way up the road to Stratensborough mansion, the second time she had been up this hill, farmers stopped their weeding to shake their heads at Julie, other townsfolk boarding up their windows and smashing every lamp in sight. The castle mansion had a gothic aura to it, like a flock of bats would emerge from behind the walls at any second, ready to latch onto any bare skin they could find.
Julie and her friend entered from a broken window around the back, holding their cameras close to their chests, hearts racing wildly. They tried to avoid the rusted nails teeming with termites, watching spiders creep across the floorboards, and over the roof, threatening to lay their crusty eggs in Julie’s scalp if she idled too long. But before Julie Moon could take another step she heard a terrible screech, and then a thump beside her. The raven spirit lay there dead, a hideous gash ripped through its fur. Julie felt a tremor vibrating up her spine, but straightened up, swiftly kicking the dead bird over to one side. Suddenly, she heard a crash coming from behind her, and as Julie Moon turned around to see a discarded camera lying on the floor along with the dead body of her friend, everything went dark.
Construde hefted the garbage over her shoulder, grumbling under her breath as she tossed it onto the growing heap sagging on top of the once-glorified Stratensborough mansion. Her father would be growing impatient at the farm by now; she often wasted away in front of the old rotted thing, musing of the possibilities of what lay inside. Today, she lifted one foot above the first step warily, then placed it down firmly. Nobody had dared to step inside for nearly ten years, but Construde figured it was probably because the townsfolk were cowards.
Slowly, she opened the door, stomping inside defiantely until she stopped, her hand making its way to clamp over her mouth in the horror of what lay presented before her. A young man, no older than 25 lay collapsed against the hard floorboards, rotten termites and worms eating away at his flesh. Construe gasped at the sight before her, but as she began to back out of the house she bumped into something. Terrified, she turned around to find, suspended from the wall, the dangling body of Julie Moon, ghastly blood dripping onto the floor. Construde couldn’t bear it anymore. She began to scream, dashing out of that mansion like a shot, until she nearly tripped face forward over what looked to be a rusted nail. And down, along with all the pooling blood and the rusted nail was a picture of Sir Isacc, dangling from a dead raven’s mangled beak.