With an abrupt flick of its wings, the raven halted in the air and landed amidst thestones. Heavy raindrops began to splash down upon the ruins. The bird shook its headto fling away the falling water, and it began to spring lightly among the shards of rock as another bolt of lightning split the sky.The raven hopped through the maze of rubble for a few moments, then stopped. Anameless saint gazed down at the black bird with lifeless stone eyes. The ravensquawked again, then jerked its head towards the base of the statue.It stared at another pair of lifeless eyes, but these were not made of stone. Bloodtrickled through the gorgeous black hair and seeped over the beautiful face. As the blood spilled out onto the stones, the rain water quickly washed it away.The raven hopped closer, leaning forward and peering intently at the girl’s face. Ahand, porcelain white, also protruded from beneath the statue’s crushing weight. The bird regarded the delicate hand, then stepped forward and pecked it lightly. It waited amoment, as if expecting a response. Then it pecked again, this time more aggressively.Lightning seared the swirling clouds and thunder rumbled as the raven’s pecking became vicious. It gouged and gashed the lovely hand, and blood began pouring fromthe savage wounds. The raven shrieked with bloodlust as it stabbed the hand with itsrazor-sharp beak again and again and again….
Father DeMarco bolted upright, gasping for breath. His chest heaved violentlyand he was covered with sweat. His hands clutched the bedsheets in a death grip.Each breath burst from his lungs and every muscle in his body was tense.“Father! Be still!”The voice was gentle but firm. Father DeMarco turned towards the darkness, andhis eyes slowly focused on a face shrouded in shadow.He was surprised to find himself unable to speak. After several moments, hemanaged to whisper, “Who…who are….”“It’s me. Donatella.”The priest frowned for a moment, struggling to clear away the fog that smotheredhis mind.