I have always been fascinated by fantasy and the art of storytelling. Even more so, the genre of noir literature has thrilled me from when I first read Poe.
As an ode to the great writers of noir fantasy, my first short story tries to emulate the dark genre, unsuccessfully I am sure. But as a treat to myself, I decided to just try.
Some say the raven came only to those suffering from a broken heart. Some say it came to those wanting others to suffer. But when the raven came to me, I was not expecting it. In the days and nights that followed, I resisted its call. I knew the cost of involving the raven. I had seen the evidence of those who had not met its conditions, The vacant stares of my neighbor's wife as her gaze followed the one she loved, her mind lost within itself, slowly driven to madness by the raven's call still haunted my dreams. The cunning gaze of the boy who lived down the street from me had slowly changed to a kind of hunger, and then to a dangerous gleam as he gave in to the raven's call…until one day he and his family vanished… the only trace of them being the rumpled beds on which they had slept the night before.
Outside my window, the raven perched on a branch looking in. I steadfastly ignored him despite the creeping chillness that overcame the heat from the stove I was cooking on. I wanted it to go away, pretend it was not there, but I could feel its cold, beady eyes following me as I moved around the kitchen.
The lure of the raven had been thought lost to time until the old lady near the forest's edge cursed the man who ran over her daughter, killing her on the spot. The raven appeared and though the details of the exchange were never revealed, the next day the man was found dead, in his own bed, with not a scratch on him. The old lady came to town the day after, dragging her body painfully using crutches for one of her limbs was missing completely - as if it was never there.
The raven was sighted more frequently after that. Have a neighbor you wanted gone? Sell a piece of your soul and he will no longer darken your door. Need your love punished for not returning your affections? Give the raven its price and see their every happiness destroyed. As the need for revenge grew, so did the raven's reputation and presence.
The whole town was gripped in the raven's machinations, using their need for getting even as a crutch to crush those they didn't like or didn't want to succeed. The original legend of the raven had morphed into something dark and disturbing… if you harbored any resentment at all, chances were revenge was yours for the taking - if you were willing to pay the raven's price.
I suffered neither from a broken heart nor from suffering caused to me by others. But the fire in me burned bright - I wanted to succeed where others had failed…I wanted fame and fortune, riches beyond measure. I wanted to be far gone from the town with its petty grievances. Ironically, as much as I hated what the raven had done to my town, the only way I could get out of it was to use the thing destroying it.
So I toiled away in the kitchen, in my house, in this town, watching the raven watch me, knowing that sooner or later, I would give in to its lure. The price had been set even before I knew the raven was watching me, the bones of the boy his family, who once lived down the street from me, were safe in a hiding spot - waiting for me to give in to the lure of the raven.