Copyright © Samantha-Ellen Bound 2013. All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Copyright © Samantha-Ellen Bound 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

CHAPTER ONE

I’ll Fly Away
He sat perched on the bottom gable of the church’s
roof, a smudge of glossy blue-black with a tiny, alabaster eye. The raven was trying to watch the funeral below, but he had to keep looking back to check the weatherhen wasn’t giving him the eye. Oh, the shame of it. She had the act down pat – pretend to be all nice and silent and still. The perfect little weathervane, 1

Copyright © Samantha-Ellen Bound 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

pointing north from south. No problems here. But as soon as the raven let his guard down, there she was with her beady eyes. She was after something of his. He knew it. But no amount of razzle dazzle would get her anywhere near his treasure. In fact, she was trying it on now, puffing out her chest, idling back and forth in long lazy arcs. The raven gave his head a shake and glared at her. ‘Don’t try it,’ he warned. ‘There’s a funeral on.’ She kept on swinging. ‘Have some respect. This isn’t the time.’ The weatherhen laughed, in that squeaky way she had, and the raven grumbled in response and turned his attention to the funeral. He liked watching the bodies shuffling about, the black shapes spilling down the steps of the church. The raven noted Father Cadman, who was down there at the head of the human swarm. His pace was slow and appropriate, the very picture of decorum. Father Cadman got the raven’s tick of approval. Now here was a man of dignity  – unlike all the other humans, he was never prone to excess. Father Cadman kept things simple, and that was just what 2

Copyright © Samantha-Ellen Bound 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

the world needed – more simplicity. Or just for all the stupid people to go away. There was a cool breeze today, a wetness to it, and it kept ruffling the swathe of feathers at the raven’s throat. That was rather unpleasant, and the raven scowled and hunched his wings up around his neck. It was the kind of damp that settled in the old mausoleums, turning the corners mouldy and the walls breathing slime. Any other day and the raven would have taken shelter inside the church. Sometimes, when it rained and there was no one else around, the raven would sit up near the tabernacle. Much dryer, up near there. It felt safer, and the candle Father Cadman lit to drive away the shadows gave the raven’s feathers a lovely sheen. The church became far too old and echoing in storms. Even the great wooden cross sagged a bit further under the gloom. It was nothing like Sunday morning, when the pews were filled with satin dresses and fancy hats. Then the candles would burn brightly as Father Cadman, in his wonderfully refined voice, boomed out the word of the Lord. The raven was not religious, but he did enjoy the weekly Sunday mass. Such magnificent hymns. 3

Copyright © Samantha-Ellen Bound 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

He hid himself among the crossbeams and bobbed his head to the songs that drifted up. They had a way of filling his body, of falling away from his feathers like the slightest tickle of sun. His favourite was ‘I’ll Fly Away’, and he would join in on the chorus: I’ll fly away, O glory, I’ll fly away, in the morning When I die, Hallelujah by and by, I’ll fly away. Then the song would finish and the raven would hate all humans again. It was absurd that creatures with arms instead of wings liked to sing songs about flying away. Father Cadman was the exception; he looked as if he could fly away, if he wanted to. Especially now, down below. He didn’t fuss, even as he walked towards the empty plot and the wind buffeted his long white hair and caught in his heavy robes. His face remained serene and resolute. It was not so for the raven. He hated discomfort of any sort, and he swiped his beak through his feathers: an irritable, jarring movement. When his 4

Copyright © Samantha-Ellen Bound 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

plumage was smooth he unfolded his wings, shook them out and drew them back into his body, settling once more to study the procession below. He tilted his head to one side so he could further favour his good eye. But something came barrelling towards him, splitting the air apart and carrying with it an ungodly scent. The raven cawed in indignation, his meticulously preened chest feathers once again chuffed open. ‘All right, then. What’s got your goat?’ The raven swivelled his head towards the sound of the voice. It was a pigeon.

5

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful