A short story inspired by the works of
Edgar Allen Poe
Written by Warren Pond III
It is the black of night, and a storm is on it's way. I have yet to feel the touch of a single drop of rain, but the deafening clashes of thunder and the blinding flashes of lighting are the eminent warnings of things to come. I have not come across a town since last morn', both my horse and I are growing quite weary. I am running low on provisions and supplies. My pulse quickens when I hear a hoarse cackle in the distance. This mocking laughter was enough to startle my horse into a panic stricken gallop. My horse ran a good seven or eight miles before I was bucked off. Unfortunately, the fall rendered me unconscious.
I wake up, and I do not know what time of day it is. As of now, I have only just discerned that the rain has started to fall. I get up from the ground an dust myself off; as I am doing so, I spot a light in the distance. I cannot tell from what or where that light is coming from, but I have a hunch that where there is light, there must be food and shelter close at hand. Frightened and fully aware, for I dread the fate of my four-legged companion, I decide to investigate the source of the mysterious light. As I approach, I hear the sounds of what I would think to be a local custom or the evening's festivities, the likes of which I would not know of. As I draw near, I can now more accurately say that the light was coming from a lantern hanging from the signpost of a local inn. The sign, I note, was oval with a base coat of olive green paint, embroidered in a shade of wine-red with the letters painted with golden yellow paint, advertising the inn's name: The Pine Mountain Inn.
I still feel a tangent of fear playing an undertone in my mind, but my stomach says otherwise. And so, I reluctantly enter the inn. Upon entering the , I find the inn is probably half full of guests, merrily enjoying the celebration with food and drink along with laughter, dancing and a jolly good tale or two. The sight alone was enough to make me forget my worries; the loss of my horse, the foreboding scenery of the woods, the frightfully mocking laughter; all traces of these fears vanish from my mind. I now ask the innkeeper if I may join in the festivities, and to my surprise the innkeeper says, "Of course ye can, we town's folk are just enjoying ourselves after a hard day's work." After a brief pause he then asks me: "So, what can I do for ye?", and so I ask him for a mince-meat pie and a pint of ale; a task that he politely obliges to perform with a merry disposition. After I pay the innkeeper for his services, I manage to find myself tapping my foot to beat as the minstrels played( which the innkeeper kindly informed me that these men are a local group). And so, after a few more hours of drink and laughter, I again, pass out.
As I wake, now having regained my senses, I find to my dismay that the inn is now void of life; in which, the only source of light is coming from the full, harvest-moon. I assure you, that as of this moment my face has already blanched. Stricken with panic and my heart racing, fearful thoughts begin to fog, to cloud my rational mind. And yet, as if seemingly out of nowhere a hoarse, cackling laughter breaks the silence. Still scared out of my whits, I turn around in spite of myself to find a lone, stark raven, perched on a keg of ale. The raven, with its beady, mocking, yellow eyes fixes its gaze upon me, as if it were looking into my very soul. Slowly, out of fright, I begin to backpedal towards the door; my gaze only leaving the raven for a few moments at a time. As my fingers grope for a latch on the door, I can still feel the raven's eyes digging into my chest.
As my fingers have just now found the latch, and I curse myself for not finding it sooner, that retched bird starts to laugh at my escape. It's actually laughing at me! That vile thing is mocking me, bemused by me! This monstrosity is taking pleasure in torturing me so! Frantically, I undo the latch, throw open the door and make a mad dash for the woods; yet again, betraying my better nature. For some absurd reason, my mind is telling me to find cover in this foreboding wilderness. After what seems like an eternity of running, the adrenalin finally wearing off, I now begin to feel the burning agony of my legs and lungs. I steal myself to trudge another twenty paces till I, unknowingly, stumble upno a clearing, a glen, in these godforsaken woods. And yet, just when I think all is safe and sound, a cacophony of hoarse, cackling laughter erupts all around me. Everywhere I look, for ther is nowhere to run, my eyes catch a glimpse of a raven upon every branch; upon every blasted tree! Those mocking, sinister, leering eyes (all of which have their gaze fixed upon me) are watching my every move, never once taking those beady, yellow orbs off of my torso.
Suddenly, I find myself wishing to scream, to yell, to shout for help from anyone nearby (to my dismay, I find myself without any air in my lungs to shout with) as the ravens come in full swoop, relishing in the thought of, possibly, another victom falling into their clutches. I now writhe in agony as those foul, retched birds of the night and death poke and prod, scratch and peck at my flesh, as I (in vain) try to fend them off. A painful, burning sensation (momentarily) erupts in my eyes, as everything grows dark and quiet. Now, as weak and dreary and blind as I am in my presant state, I try to assaess the damage those frightful birds have wroght upon me. So far, I've managed to catalog various cuts, scrapes, scratches and bruises by touch (for as of the moment, I cannot see). And to my utter horror, as I further investigate the extent of my injuries, I discover that those foul beasts have clawed my eyes out their sockets!
And from the darkness, somewhere in the distance, I hear a hoarse voice. This voice, cold and heartless ( but shallow ans practically toneless), sent a chill down my spine. And as I breathe what I think is to be my last breath, that voice, that living horror, in what seems but a whisper in the wind, says to me, "Never more."