The old rusted bus waggled to a halt. Clarisa wasn't surprised at the emptiness of the bus. She grabbed her cross-body handbag from the seat next to her and slung it over her shoulder. She stood up, her body stiff from apprehension and moved about the chairs.

"Hurry with it!" the driver barked at Clarisa and she visibly flinched from the harsh impatience in his tone. She could tell he was nervous about the surrounding and she didn't blame him.

She stepped out the bus and her leather sandals slapped the pavement whose bits had been chipped away. She now stood in front of a single post then beyond it, a fairly small village presented itself. Silence had settled like a canopy over the village and remnants of dread wafted through the air.

Clarisa inhaled then hugged herself when a cold chill raised the short hairs of her arms. She took a step or two but each felt like a step into a lake of agitation, one she knew would get deeper the more she proceeded. At the pit of her stomach, an eerie sensation took over and her heart begun its steady acceleration of beats.

The air that crossed her nose was fused with mustiness, rotten flesh and the faint odour of animals...birds. She surveyed the little buildings before her with slight trepidation of seeing those creatures again but no movement was registered nor a single sound.

She gained the courage to continue the walk to the entrance of the village, marked by two wooden poles, one out of its roots and combined with mud amongst tufts of yellow grass. She strolled through, her lips shifting into a straight line from the nostalgia of the grey-bricked homes. They stood lined on either side of her, paving a walkway at the centre. Five years ago, that walkway had been bustling with vendors and traders, chanting a list of what they offered, calling out to their customers.

Her hands fisted beside her when she walked across doors off their hinges, stalls thrown over with splinters of wood decorating the walkway. Windows of wrecked glass fluttered their curtains into the sky, tattered and blood-stricken. Piles of bones and shreds of worn-out clothing lay at every corner of the way. Clarisa had to shut her eyes from the pain of seeing the village that had harboured twelve years of her life, ruined and ravaged.

It didn't take long for her to wind her way around the streets. She found herself gazing at a similar brick house, small like the others, but this one had been hers and her mother's. Wooden planks from the roof littered the front and the door creaked from the wind and lay wide open.

A tear slipped and made its journey down Clarisa's cheek. She didn't want to reminisce that day but she did. It was one fine Sunday afternoon. Clarisa, at twelve, was racing through the streets to arrive in time for her mother's late desserts. She had burst through the door followed by her mother's stern scolding of how she would rip the door off if her tendency persisted. But her mother didn't get to finish her rebuke nor did Clarisa get to taste the cupcakes whose smell had been suffocating the interior with its sugary aroma.

The air had begun rampantly erupting with high-pitched whistles that had seared through Clarisa and awakened every nerve inside her. She remembers her mother’s unease and panic-stricken features. They had both darted to their door but her mother had held Clarisa back from the uncertainty of what awaited outside. It hadn't stopped Clarisa from seeing the black wings in profuse amount flapping across the window. They had seemed like eagles to her but only they weren’t, and no-one knew what they were for sure.

Her mother had become wild with terror, reeling back into their home and slamming the door shut with immense strength. Clarisa had feared her mother’s eyes would fall out from how far her lids stretched from the wide eyes. Her trembling arms wound around Clarisa and they staggered towards the kitchen table and she was ushered under it. Her mother proceeded to blunder around the small space all the while Clarissa sat balled up, listening to the terrified screams of her neighbours and the strange loud whistles of the birds.

Clarisa remembers the numbness of her body from shock and anticipation of what could happen to them. She was horrified, to say the least, but her heart nearly jumped out when one of the creatures flew right through the little window, shattering the glass into little splinters that sprinkled the room. A piercing scream had escaped her as if to reach out for her mother. Clarisa had crawled out from under the table and saw the creature fly right onto her mother and latch its long majestic claws onto her shoulder. Her mother had lurched and released a screech of agony. Only then did Clarisa notice the claws wedged into her mother's skin and crimson red liquid leaking out.

The image of her mother pulling at the bird and crashing to the floor had incited more wild screams from Clarisa. Her eyes had become unfocused and she tripped and stumbled over unseen objects to reach her mother. The large bird screamed at her and thrashed over her mother with its claws retracting then slashing at her clothes and skin. Clarisa willed her mind to think for a second and suddenly she was grabbing a pan from her side and slamming it onto the bird. It hovered in the air, its wings flapped ragingly. Clarisa had grown frantic from the chaos as objects were knocked over and the crashing rung in her ears, but she was determined to save her mother.

She stood her ground and repeatedly struck the bird in the air. Its claws jutted and caught onto Clarisa’s face, landing a few scrapes that stung and burned. Finally, she had taken it down and dropped to her knees, the entirety of her body quivering as she watched the bird lay in a mess of feathers and utensils.

Her mother, despite the splitting pain in her shoulder, had embraced Clarisa but no words were shared. Soon, they were racing to the door and stumbling onto the streets filled to the brim with crazed and hysterical residents tumbling and scurrying. The birds were relentless, flying low at times to yank at someone’s hair or garments. They hoarded several people around Clarisa and the harrowing and agonised bellows and screams shuddered through her body. She wished she hadn’t watched the claws of the birds ripping skin after skin of their victims. The images had become carved into her mind and traumatised her for life.

It was mere luck that got Clarisa and her mother no more scathed than they were. She had felt her mother’s increasing weight on her side. She had lifted her head to glimpse her mother’s face drenched in sweat her eyes rolling over. Clarisa had called out for her mother, wailing and whimpering for her to hold on a little longer. But all was good until they arrived at the two wooden poles and her mother went limp and fell over, onto one of the poles. Her mother never made it.

Now, standing in the same village she grew up in, the only memories sustained were of death.


August 22, 2019 08:45

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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