by Graeme Cummings
As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.
“You know what they are, don’t you?”
A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family in particular it’s more than a coincidence, but unease increases following a brutal attack. As tensions rise, a dark past returns to haunt them and others, while newcomers to the village are drawn into a mystery with terrifying consequences.
And only a select few know why the ravens are gathering.
He was disappointed about the Sullivans. He’d hoped they were still living here. They’d been such good sports when he was last in the village. He smiled to himself. It wasn’t an attractive smile. In the wrong company, it could be terrifying. A fact he was well aware of.
The McLeans were a different matter altogether. They were soft, bound only by the material trappings they had acquired. It would be too easy to break them. No challenge at all. He doubted he would even bother with them. They provided a place to rest. A place to hide things. That would be their main purpose. He did contemplate using the woman. She was attractive, and she knew it. He was in no doubt that she was used to getting her own way. There would be significant entertainment value in having her squirm as he used her body to satisfy his needs, and made her realise that she wouldn’t always get her own way. He hadn’t completely dismissed the idea yet, but having studied her for a while today, he wondered whether she might actually be aroused by him physically abusing her. If she felt that in only a small way, it would defeat the object.
Overhead, there was a rustling noise. His sharp eyes pierced the darkness and he saw the ravens. Thirteen of them perched on a beam in the roof. They waited patiently, occasionally shifting uncomfortably.
His arrival in the village had been noted. Whether the villagers fully appreciated the implications of his arrival was yet to be established. But it wouldn’t take long. No more than a couple of days. By then it should be time for him to move on. He had important work to do while he was here, and that work would start soon.
He had business to attend to in the village tonight. It had been years since he was last here. They had felt his presence before. They would feel it again this time.
Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country. He has wide and varied tastes when it comes to fiction so he’s conscious that his thrillers can cross into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as more traditional arenas.
When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking. He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club. Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.