Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Entry #3

Prayer Circle
by Emeraldcite


The circling birds told me everything about the scene.

As I worked my way into the woods, dry twigs snapped beneath me and whip-thin branches attacked my eyes. Above, a dark silhouette about thirty feet up spread its wings, showing its winter-lean body, feathers ruffling as it floated the crisp wind. The bird arched, slowing down. A flick of the head and it flapped twice to rejoin the prayer circle of birds.

“Another?” My breath cut the air like a white knife.

An officer near the body lifted the sheet.

“Got a name?” I slid beneath the yellow tape and knelt, my knees popping. The younger officers glanced my way, returning to their electronics when the silence became uncomfortable.

Another bird dipped to the treetops. Its shadow sliced across the girl’s throat.

“Not yet,” someone said from behind a computer screen.

Another officer tapped keys as she entered evidence. Damn things kept getting smaller every time.

I turned to leave.

“Detective?” A red-headed Freshie said. “Don’t you want to, yanno--”

“I saw all I needed to see. Put it in your fancy computers.”

I returned to my car. My coffee no longer steamed. I peered out the windshield; the circle of birds had tightened.

I sipped the coffee and noticed a bit of browning blood under a fingernail. Careless. Then again, with faces buried in gizmos, no one noticed.

I looked up once more at the circle of birds laying their silent prayers on the wind and drove away.

53 comments:

Bernita said...

Satisfyingly wicked.
I really like how you used the birds.

Chris Eldin said...

I love the details you present. Nicely written. And great twist at the end too!

Four Dinners said...

Neat twist. Didn't see that coming at all!

Amias said...

Now this woke me up. Loved how you used the birds ...

Tara said...

Ooohhh! Well done. Love a good twist. Left me wanting more...

Missy said...

This short writing would pull me into the book quick!

Leatherdykeuk said...

excellent twist.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Wow. Great twist.

Aniket said...

I like it. A lot.

I love murder mysteries. I thought the protagonist was a old school straight shooter much like Gibbs from NCIS. But you totally had me with the twist. :D Nice.

Aerin said...

Sorry, but the twist wasn't what impressed me (or even hooked me). The characterization is amazing, especially for such a short piece. The language (shadow of the wing slicing the throat, damn things getting smaller every year) bites, indignant. Well written.

Meghan said...

Very well-written. I love the description of the birds.

Loren Eaton said...

Excellent. Very, very creepy.

Craig said...

Very effective use of the birds as a visual tool.

Kate said...

Ooh, this got my attention! Good use of little details, and I too love what you did with the birds.

pjd said...

Aerin beat me to it. The twist is, as Bernita says, satisfyingly wicked, but I like this more for its use of the right words. Every word is carefully chosen. Nice work.

emeraldcite said...

Thanks for all the great comments! I was hoping the twist would come through and not be too obvious.

Kartik said...

+1 up at Aerin's comments.. And the use of the swirling birds was very effective

Lena said...

Ohh... I did not see it coming at all. Pretty unexpected. But indeed very well written.

SzélsőFa said...

I'm unsure as the repeated use of 'another' adds anything more evil to this well written story. perhaps I don't wish to know. it is wicked as it is now. great job.

wrath999 said...

Enjoyed your tale. Great twist

catvibe said...

Nicely done. I like the bird imagery.

JaneyV said...

Emeraldcite - it's all been said already but I'd like to add my voice by saying that this is a superb piece of writing. I too feel that it would make a terrific short story.

It has legs.

Tessa said...

Well written and compelling. Great stuff!

Jimmie Vee said...

What I liked here was the phrasology. You got a lot of mileage out of 250 words, saying much with little. Good work.

Terri said...

Great use of 250 words. It's descriptive and sets the tone really well. Excellent twist at the end - I did not see that coming.

laughingwolf said...

very well told!

PEOPLE, PLACES, VOICES, FACES... said...

I like the way you etched the character and your very powerful image of the birds. You're very good at crafting your story.
Ranee

Beth Harar said...

How unexpected! I enjoyed reading this very much. And the part where the bird's shadow slices the dead girl's throat was fantastic!

maybe genius said...

Loved that twist :D

austere said...

Chilling.

Aimee Laine said...

Whoa boy. Dude. Did not see that coming. Kudos!!

MRMacrum said...

Very nice. Very nice indeed. Nice subtle ending.

Preeti said...

Detectives and crime scene investigation have always hooked me. And this one is so well written, i can almost see the entire narrative unfolding in front of my eyes. Loved it. Why do i feel cold when i read it???

kashers said...

Also thought the image of the bird's shadow slicing the dead girl's neck packed a mighty punch. But, most of all, loved the simplicity of the 'whip-thin' description for the branches. Others might have used the verb derivative, but the adjective, imo, works so much better.

Good story.

Lee Hughes said...

Devilishly good.

Loved this line: "Another bird dipped to the treetops. Its shadow sliced across the girl’s throat."

Stephen Hill said...

One of my favourites. The setting is crystal, coldly clear.

emeraldcite said...

Thanks again for all the great feedback, everyone! There are some great entries in this contest and I've enjoyed all the ones I've read so far.

(and miles to go before I sleep...)

Kurt Hendricks said...

I loved the detail of the popping knees - beautiful way to confer age upon a character. Subtle, but instantly recognizable.

Laurel said...

This is peppered with brilliant detail and the twist is fantastic. I like the take on the prompt, too: vulture rather than hawk or eagle. BUT.

Its shadow sliced across the girl’s throat.

That is pure wordsmith gold.

Enchanted said...

Read this one twice. The second time to savor. Good start for a book. Actually, this one will stay with me for a while. Thank you.

peggy said...

That second sentence was pure genius. Despite the subject matter, this was a lush, vivid, evocative piece.

Well done. You should be very proud of yourself.

stacy said...

Great twist! If this were the start to a book I would totally keep reading.

illyriataylor said...

great twist on an old theme.

angel said...

Very cool twist!

Jean Ann Williams said...

Very much so a twist and a snap that pulled me to attention.

Great for the beginning of a novel.

Jean Ann

S said...

Brutal without being visceral. Crisp! Fantastic! Thank you.

Stephanie Green

Rabid Fox said...

Surprisingly dark mood for this scene. The somewhat ominous nature of the gathering birds--particularly the shadow slashing across the throat--worked well. The ending came off a bit more ambiguous than I'd anticipated, however.

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Great dark twist.

Dottie :)

McKoala said...

Clever and atmospheric. I love how you presented the crucial detail at the end.

Harper said...

nice juxtaposition between unfeeling humans doing there jobs and the birds of prayer...I wonder what birds do think about their own fallen: shot,poisoned, habitats destroyed—do they ever think, 'we got a real homeless problem on our hands.' I know some birds who mate for life will die from grief themselves at the death of the mate....who knows? As pitiless as we can be to them, perhaps they do share in our own losses. Good tale, here.

james r tomlinson said...

That's one hell of a way to end the story. The narrator either has a carefree attitude towards his job or he's ... gulp ... never mind, it's just too damn evil to think about. Superb writing.

Deb Smythe said...

Now that's a twist! Subtly done. Loved all the imagery as well.

Jane said...

unexpected ending...loved how you used the birds in this