Since today is once again devoted to revisions on Spirits from the Vasty Deep, I wanted to do a tiny teaser from Crow's Rest here. This scene is fairly close to the beginning, and Avery has already had some weirdness that day from Bobbin, the neighbor's Corgi.
Outside, the stars unfolded without the interference of streetlights, and a chorus of insects buzzed in the summer night. I grabbed my bag from the car and went around to the back of the cottage, since the bathroom was right next to the sleeping porch and I could avoid going through the kitchen and talking to Mom and Uncle Tam again.
I turned my gaze to Daniel's house without meaning to, and I saw Bobbin standing with his paws on the fence, watching me silently. Above him, the leaves of the sycamore shifted and rustled without the wind's help. A sound like muffled croaks and squeaks—or whispers—joined the rustling.
I stowed the bag inside the screen door, and grabbed the high-powered flashlight that Uncle Tam kept for emergencies. The beam played across the leaves and branches, glinting off of countless eyes and ruffled feathers. What the hell? I caught myself clutching my chest like a B-movie star.
Taking a few steps forward, I squinted to get a better look at whatever was watching me from the tree. A barrage of caws and croaks rang out from the flock of crows. As the light shone on them again, they snaked their heads in my direction and made a rattling sound in their throats—like I was a red-tailed hawk after their nestlings.
"All right, hush," I called to them. "If you'll be good neighbors, then I'll be a good neighbor."
The birds quieted instantly, making the hairs rise on my neck and arms. Glinting eyes focused on me with an air of anticipation. This was just beyond weird. I turned and ran back to the house with my arms covering my head, half-expecting to feel sharp beaks bloodying my scalp at any moment.
But I made it to the screen porch safely, and hastily drew closed the old sheets that served as drapes. I'd probably stifle in the heat and need to open them again later, but for now I didn't want all those dark eyes trained on me.