Raven in the Sky

©2023 michael raven

Set a watch in the sky, to cry out when the hills begin to crawl and speak in unfamiliar tongues, when the bears wake.

Intro to “Raven in the Sky” (Oracle of the Morrigan), Morrígan Oran

“Hey Sam.”

Sam turned her gaze from the burning skies that turned the world a crimson color in the daylight and masked the stars come night for the past fortnight or so. No one could agree on the exact amount time that had passed, but agreed in principle the period could roughly be described as two weeks, give or take three days in either direction. Shit in the beginning had been chaotic by all accounts — there was no debate there. And, given the clocks had gone and done struck thirteen, then moments later given to the ghost just like anything with circuitry along with a blinding flash, well… the craziness and lack of proper tools to tell time made it awfully difficult to count the days, let alone the hours since.

It was Harrison. Again. Sam still wasn’t sure how she exactly felt about everything that had passed, but she was sure about her feelings for Harrison. He was a self-important, misogynistic prick and sore loser. Sam had won the semi-democratic poll a spell back, by a relative landslide when the votes had been tallied (twenty-one out of twenty-six total votes), and Harrison still had not been to keen accepting “the will of the people”.

“What?” Sam did not disguise the dread in her voice as Harrison crawled up the rocky slope behind her. There was a path, but Harrison was not one for taking the easy way to harass someone when he could show just how manly he was by climbing up the scree-scattered slope right there.

Panting heavy from his exertions, Harrison smeared the mixture of sweat and dirt from his forehead.

“We can’t stay here. Everyone’s decided we need to head South and get to the Cities.”

Sam blinked at that. It was news to her. “Everyone?”

Harrison at least had the decency to look her in the eye as he lied. “Everyone.”

“That’s funny, I could have sworn the Reverend had just come from the Cities when we crossed his path and adamantly advised us against going to the Cities. He’s voted on this course of action too? And,” she added before he could answer, “it’s not everyone, because I haven’t cast my vote on the matter and I stand with the Rev.”

“Well, fuck, if you want to be particular about it, the group is split even now that you’ve cast your vote. I was hoping you would see reason and ignore that fruit.”

Harrison also took issue with anyone who was openly gay and the preacher was well out of any closet he might have been lurking within back in the past.

“I see,” replied Sam. “Well, you were wrong. And, if you don’t mind, we’ll take another count when I get back to the group and make sure none of them weren’t bullied into your way of thinking.”

Sam wasn’t sure it would come to that, given how fast Harrison changed the subject.

“Whatcha doing up here, anyway? People need a leader, not some broad mooning over the countryside and the new hue everything has taken on.”

Sam resisted the urge to pull out the .357 she carried on a hip and add another pig to the slaughter. She turned back to the valley opposite the camp.


“What do you mean listening? Don’t tell me you are sitting up here just lis–“

And, as if on cue, it began again. A low moaning that sounded as if it came from the hill roughly south of the encampment, a groan sounding from the earth itself, growing in timbre. Harrison’s eyes grew wide at the sound and jumped when the resounding crack broke across the space before everything went silent. “Fuck.”

Sam nodded. “Indeed. And that’s what you’ve have us go towards?”

For once, Harrison was at a loss for words, his mouth moving silent under the burning skies.

“Yeah, you wanna change that vote of yours now? Or when we get back to camp?”

The groaning started again and Sam left him, mouth gaping. As far as she was concerned, he could go back down the way he had come. She might have even given him a helpful push in the direction — which is why she left before she was more than tempted by the idea.

As they had decided in an earlier vote, the Cities was clearly not an option based on all the available evidence. They needed to break camp and head out soon, or they might see more of what the Reverend had.

And, if she was honest about it, she didn’t need to satisfy her curiosity on that matter.

I’m trying to do more fiction exercises these days, more of the guerilla-style writing instead of a planned thing. Get a prompt from some place (in this case an oracle card deck I purchased a while back) and improvise a story within about 30-40 minutes without editing or a plan when I sit down. This is today’s exercise and exploration.

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