Connie Corcoran Wilson and Virtual Author Book Tours kindly arranged for me to share an excerpt as part of the book tour for Hellfire & Damnation III. I hope you enjoy it!
Circle Six: Heresy
The Final Victim
Lee had been drinking since late afternoon. It didn’t so much stop the
pain of the voices in his head, as clarify what the voices were saying.
I’ll do the Reverend’s bidding, to a point, thought Lee. Reverend Jones
says Dave Downing has to die. If God or the devil wants poor old Dave dead,
He must give me some sort of sign. I ain’t no cold-blooded killer!
Lee took another swig of Old Milwaukee. He would have preferred
Jack Daniels, but he didn’t have the money.
Lee looked out the window of the shabby white house that stood be-
low the hill. High up on the hill was where the rich people lived. The poor
people lived down here. Lee was staring at the wet grass of his small yard.
It had rained less than an hour ago. He thought the drops of water on the
grass resembled the tears of some gigantic creature.
Lee popped the top of his sixth beer and glanced outside again.
Suddenly, birds. Thousands and thousands of birds. Black birds.
European starlings. They were everywhere! On his lawn. On the lawn of
the neighbor to his left, Ed Grant. On Rose Till’s lawn, his neighbor to the
right. He watched Rosie Till’s golden collie, Honey, barking furiously as
she chased the birds as far as her chain would allow.
“Melanie! Come quick! There’s birds everywhere! They’re peckin’ away
at our yard and Ed’s and Rosie’s.”
Melanie Elliot rushed down the stairs. She could hear the urgency in
her husband’s drunken voice. She stared in astonishment at the spectacle
taking place outside on their lawn.
“The weird thing is that the birds stop right there,” she said, pointing
to the perimeter of their neighbors’ lawns. Melanie was right. The birds
were covering nearly every inch of Lee’s lawn and Ed’s lawn and Rose’s lawn.
But the ubiquitous birds, clucking and pecking and sucking eagerly at the
earth’s bosom, stopped at the sidewalks of the two neighboring houses.
Only three lawns were infested by the omnipresent birds.
There were no birds across the street. There were no birds on any other
lawns beyond those three, which they could see by glancing up and down
Third Street. Only here, in their lawn and those of their two closest neighbors,
were there hundreds—thousands, even—of noisy, hungry, pecking black
birds, greedily digging with their beaks. But what were they digging for?
Melanie asked the question, “What do you think they’re eating? What
are they looking for, Lee?” She asked, “Are they migrating? Is there some
special food in just these three lawns that they’ve targeted? It’s so weird that
they aren’t across the street or, really, anywhere but on these three lawns.”
She shook her head in confusion.
Lee took a deep breath. He had just realized something that gave him
a start. He was going to have to admit to the Reverend that he had been
given a sign. The Reverend Jeremiah Jones had predicted to Lee just yes-
terday that he would be given a sign—a sign that he must follow Reverend
Jeremiah Jones’ instructions.
Jeremiah said to Lee, “The heavens might open up. You might hear a
loud voice telling you to do what I tell you. To do what is necessary. It has to
be the way I tell you. You’ll have to follow my directions. To the letter.” The
Reverend spoke slowly, in a stern tone of voice.
Lee thought, This must be the sign the Reverend was talking about.
What else could it be?
What Lee and Melanie Elliot were seeing defied logic. There was no
reasonable explanation for the sudden appearance of hordes of angry black
birds, mimicking Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds.
The small black creatures were everywhere: on the gables of the houses.
On the roofs of Lee’s house and his neighbors’ homes. On their lawns. In
the trees. Greedily pecking at the still-wet grass, searching for some mys-
terious food item. Some magic worm, perhaps? The entire experience left
both Lee and Melody chattering about the occurrence with their next-door
neighbors for hours afterwards. No one knew of any logical explanation.
But Lee thought he might know what it all meant. And he didn’t like
what it meant for his future.
To be continued on March 25th at What You Talking Bout Willis?