A Scene from The Secrets of Seashells

Nera was on her feet before she realized what she was doing. The pillows fell back to their spot on the floor, and Nera was clenching and unclenching her fists. The coldness in her soul seemed to be seeping from her every pore. Her nipples stood erect in the shift of temperature. A sound, part moan, part growl started deep in her chest, and the clanking sound of the pull chains of the fan could be heard just over the sound of flapping.

The light from outside vanished, breaking Nera’s murderous glare. Dozens of birds came swooping in through the door, which the men, in their haste to get Nera back indoors, had forgotten to shut. The image from her dream flashed before her, and she could see the breasts and fingers and human hair where none should have been. Then with a blink, the image was gone again, and all she could see were normal, everyday birds flying into her living room. For a moment, she thought they were going to swarm her, and she dropped to the floor.

“What the hell?!” Scott had already dropped into a crouch, with his gun at the ready, unholstered and safety off.

Nera looked at him, and she could see the calm of an army man just barely covering the surprise of a young boy. He was still so young.

Across the room, George had taken cover behind the armchair, while one after another the birds dive bombed the armchair. They flew straight with sharp beaks like arrow points right into the armchair. Some pierced the fabric there and stuck, like actual arrows in the chair, while others snapped their necks on impact as they bounced off into a fluttering mass on the floor. Over and over again they flew at the chair until only two birds were left. These two were much too large, the same birds who had watched Nera the night before, though she had not noticed them then. The light glinted off the silver and gold chains around the birds’ feet. One of them opened its beak to let out a caw when a thunderous boom went off next to Nera.

Next to her, Scott had let off a single shot, aimed out the door, but now, with both feet firmly planted, he aimed at the birds who were hovering just over the coffee table. With a screech, they flew out the door, with Scott quickly behind them.

“Note to self,” George muttered, peering over the armchair at the pile of flapping, dying birds, “don’t ever piss you off again.”

“It’s a good idea not to piss people off in their own home,” Nera said, eyes still wide with surprise, “but, just so we’re clear, what are you referring to?”

“Birds? I imagine those are pets of yours or something, right? It’s a nice way to kill without getting blamed,” George said as he stood and gestured to the birds.

“I had nothing to do with that! How could I have anything to do with that?” Nera questioned the man who mere seconds ago had angered her so much she had wished him dead. Had she caused the birds to die in his stead?

“Like you don’t know what you are,” he said in a hushed tone, coming around the chair inspecting the mass of dying birds with the tip of his boot. The pile tumbled slightly, and a few birds with enough breath in their lungs squawked and clucked in agony.

“And just what am I?” Nera asked, placing both hands over her ears to hold out the sounds of death. There was genuine fear in her voice, making it difficult to hold her volume to a normal level.

“Shhh!” George said, reaching one hand toward her to cover her mouth. Then thinking better of it, he whipped his hand back as if she’d snapped at it. “Scott can’t know. He’s only human.”

“We’re all ‘only human,’” she whispered back.

“Keep telling yourself that sweetheart,” the man said back. With the “s” in sweetheart, he let his true tongue slither out between his teeth, and then again as he tasted the air to determine how close or far Scott was.

“What the hell are you?!” Nera stared at the forked tongue as it waved in the air.

“More rare than you. Now hush! Scott will be back in three, two, one.”

“Well, they’re fast, whatever kind of bird they were,” Scott said as he strolled back into the room, his right hand still on his gun, though he’d holstered it. “Is everyone alright?” he asked as he surveyed the feathered corpses strewn about the room.

“I’m fine, I’ve seen messes like this before,” George said, putting his hazmat suit back on the way it was meant to be worn, “although this doubles my workload for the day. You better make a report of it so I get paid.”

“Always thinking about yourself,” Scott sighed with a roll of his eyes. “Nera, are you alright?” he asked with that genuine concern back in his eyes. He placed a hand on her shoulders, gently lest she break under the pressure of his fingertips.

“Under the circumstances?” she tried to manage a laugh, but it came out flat. “I need to get out of this house.”

“Put clothes on first, sweetheart,” George said, with just a hint of a lisp as he walked out the door to get his supplies from his truck.

“Dammit, George!” Scott yelled after him. “Don’t mind him. He’s mostly harmless.”

“Hardly,” Nera said under her breath.

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If you enjoyed what you’ve read here, please hop over to Tablo to read some more. It’s still a rough draft, but I could use all the feedback I can get to make it better… as in actually ready to sell. 

And if you really, REALLY liked it, (or you just want to be nice) click on over to Something or Other Publishing and vote for it to be published.

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