Chapter Eleven



Gilly had been the first to go in the birdpocalypse that was preparing to storm Chicago. Three days before that fated Tuesday that would set the city into eventual mayhem, Gilly had been biking from one part time job to the other when she realized she had forgotten to bring her black shoes that her second job required. As she had discovered in the past, it was better to be late with the appropriate footwear than to appear on time with  blue sneakers.

On any other day Gilly would not have needed to worry. She never worked both jobs on the same day during the weekends, but she had picked up an extra shift from a sick coworker. This, as you now know, left her speeding through city streets on her bike back to the apartment and, to Janice’s greatest displeasure, leaving her bicycle in the hallway. Gilly had only meant to be home for a few moments, just enough to dig her shoes out of the closet, and then hop back on her bike to race to her second job.

Proceeding as any normal human would, Gilly unlocked her apartment door, stepped inside and turned to lock the door behind her. That was when she heard the rustle of feathers. A soft sound, almost gentle. But when she turned to face the noise what she found was rather startling.

Two ravens perched on the edge of her windowsill, both glaring in at her with beady black eyes.

If there was one thing you needed to know about Gilly (Aside from a habit of leaving windows open. She was convinced her first floor apartment smelled like a sewer.) it was that she abhorred those birds. Hated their chirping. Hated their flapping, swooshing wings when they dive-bombed her on the streets. Hated the shit they left spattered across the seat of her bicycle when she locked it up outside. Every ounce of her wished to exterminate the stinking, flapping, potentially bubonic plague carrying shitheads from the earth.

Perhaps that was why they came for her first.

These were no ordinary birds though. Gilly knew these ones. The scruffy fella Mr. Mayland called Oscar and the pristine one Felix. For the most part they kept to themselves, way up on the roof with the rest of the birds Gilly hated. Mr. Mayland had offered the cheapest rent which was why she tolerated their existence, although that did not mean we wanted them snooping around in her kitchen.

Gilly had been the first to attack. Grabbing a chef knife from the drawer in the kitchen, she ran at the beady eyed bastards, letting out a battle cry of anger as she lunged at them. The ravens appeared unperturbed as though they were accustomed to bird hating ladies with sharp objects lunging at them daily.

“Get out of my kitchen!” Gilly screeched. She stopped a foot away from the windowsill and slashed at the air.

Oscar ruffled his filthy feathers and screamed an angry squawk back at her. Felix cocked his head, eyeing Gilly like a worm it meant to peck out of the ground.

“Out! Out! Out! Shoo!” They needed to be gone before she roasted them for dinner. She slashed the knife again, not entirely willing to commit murder (she was sure Mr. Mayland would press charges if she killed his birds) but eager to get rid of the beasts lurking at her window nonetheless.

The ravens refused to budge.

Another lunge with her knife, a few daring steps towards the window followed by a battle cry like a barbarian horde and then SWOOSH, Oscar flew into the kitchen. Flapping and squawking and screaming around Gilly’s terrified, bird-hating, knife-lunging self, Oscar twirled and spun in the air, around and around and around, always just out of reach.

In  a state of panic Gilly became less careful with her movements (if you could call lunging at birds with a knife careful to begin with), swatting and jabbing and spinning around in circles trying to get Oscar out of the apartments. Felix took her panic as his queue, swooping in and letting out a nice big splatter of bird shit on her head. Gilly screamed, enraged. That was the final straw. Regardless of Mr. Mayland’s attachment to the dreadful things she was going to burn them alive.

And yet, between one wild step and the next, Gilly would never be heard from again. Tripping over one of the legs from the kitchen table she fell onto her knife, smacking her head with a vicious clunk on the ugly linoleum floor as the blade sliced into her.

That was when the ravens descended, their big black wings swooping in as they began to peck peck peck away at her body.

Poor Gilly. If the girl had only not forgotten her shoes that day she may have been spared. Or maybe if she had held a little less hate in her heart, Felix and Oscar would have gone about their normal bird lives. Or perhaps someone else in the apartment building would have been the first to go down in a sea of black feathers and blood. But Gilly had forgotten her shoes, and Gilly had held onto that hate, and so she had set in motion what would begin later that fateful Tuesday.

Gilly had been the first blood sacrifice for the birds, but Beatrice would be the one to free them all.


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