Crow Court by Jeff Bacon
A peaceful end to the night was all Deputy Tyler wanted. He had parked his cruiser on a quiet road a mile off the interstate. The double shift had taken a toll on him, and he wanted his last hour to be pleasant. He shifted around in the seat to attempt a level of comfort. I've sat in bumper cars with better seats than this.
The sheriff assigned him the interceptor for his shifts, a Dodge Charger with an enormous motor and specialized suspension built for high-speed chases. The unwritten rule was whoever they assigned this car to would write more speeding tickets than on a typical day.
Officer Tyler poured himself a cup of coffee. As he let out a sigh, he looked at a picture of his wife and newborn child. He took the first sip of his coffee as he looked up and spotted headlights bouncing down the road. The car was going way too fast to handle the curves and narrowness of the country road. Tyler took out his radar gun and aimed it at the oncoming car.
"So much for chillaxing" the deputy muttered as he took a big sip of his coffee.
The car sped toward the cop car as he locked the radar on. He tagged the silver car going 108 miles per hour. Tyler flipped on his misery lights and pulled closer to the road. As the car streaked past him, he poured the rest of his coffee out of the car window and turned onto the road to pursue the speeders.
The interceptor gained on the speeder as the lights flashed. The silver car didn't slow down or attempt to pull over.
Tyler reached for his radio handset. "Adam 103, Deputy Tyler requesting assistance. In pursuit of a Silver 2017 Mercedes-Benz, license plate number AHA 666 northbound on county road N."
The driver of the Mercedes seemed to realize that they would box him in eventually and stopped trying to escape. The car slowed down and took a right turn down another country road before coming to a stop in a slight indent in the forest.
Tyler turned on his floodlight and pointed it at the car. He put his hand on his gun as he exited his cruiser and slow-walked up to the vehicle.
"Turn the engine off, roll down your windows, and put your hands outside where I can see them," Tyler demanded.
They rolled both the passenger and driver's side windows down. They turned the car engine off and placed their hands out of the windows of the vehicle.
Tyler pulled out his first pair of handcuffs as he barked his next instruction. "Driver, exit the car, then turn toward the car and drop to your knees with your hands behind your head."
The youthful man in his late twenties stepped out of the car. Deputy Tyler couldn't help but notice that he was handsome, very athletic, and very charming. The man turned and dropped to his knees and placed his hands behind his head. Tyler walked behind him as he observed the passenger's hands as he approached the youthful man.
He placed the cuff on one of the man's wrists and looked back into the car. There he saw the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
He froze as he admired her beauty. This gave the kneeling man the opportunity to grab the officer and throw him to the ground. The man sat on Tyler's chest while holding his arms above his head. Tyler heard the other car door open and the sound of footsteps as the woman walked around the car. She stood above Tyler, then kneeled, positioning her mouth right above his.
She caressed his forehead. "It's OK officer, it'll all be over soon."
The lady placed her lips on his and kissed him. Tyler looked confused before his eyes opened wide in terror. He tried to scream as he struggled to escape. The center of the deputy's neck glowed. The light spread throughout his entire head as it lit up like a lightbulb. His skin shriveled like a raisin, and his body shook as the woman drained the last bit of life from his body. The light dimmed as the deputy's life force dwindled. The body went dark once he died.
The woman stood and wiped the corners of her mouth with her index finger. She walked over to her car, leaned against it, let out a deep breath as she smiled.
"Damn it Lilinova, you could have left some for me."
"Oh Fredrick, just put the corpse in the car with the others."
Fredrick did as he was told. He used the keys to pop the trunk lid open, picked up the frail, shriveled corpse and tossed it on top of the six other mummified corpses. He had to rearrange the bodies to make room for the new occupant. Once he had the trunk situated, Fredrick slammed the lid down.
Fredrick glared at Lilinova. "You can't keep killing people like this."
Lilinova turned and walked toward Fredrick. "We need to move, they're coming."
Lilinova walked around the car and slipped into the passenger seat. Fredrick turned his ear toward the sky and heard the distinct cry of crows. He hurried around the car and jumped into the driver's seat.
"The car Lilinova, change the car so we can escape the humans."
Lilinova leaned her head back, shut her eyes and concentrated. The car slowly reshaped into a black Jaguar X12. Fredrick put the car in gear and turned around. Once they were back on the county road, they passed six other cop cars heading in the opposite direction.
They came to a crossroads which led them to an interstate entrance ramp.
"Speed up Fredrick, I hear the caws. They are getting closer."
Fredrick stepped on the gas and sped up, eager to get to their new home on Crow Court.
The residents of Crow Court came out of their homes to watch the moving trucks back into the driveway of the largest house on the block. The men disembarked from the trucks and opened the lift gates. The ramps pulled were out, and the furniture and crates flowed into the home. Nobody knew who had bought the old mansion, but they could tell by the antiques hauled in to the house that the occupants were of a higher class.
Burt smiled as he saw Johnny march out into his yard as he slid rubber gloves over his hands. He bent over and snatched up the steaming pile of dog poop, then walked over to his neighbor's house and tossed it at the front door.
Johnny yelled, "Clean up after your dog, Burt!"
Burt and Johnny had been next-door-neighbors for two years. Every day, one of them would yell at the other, but that is the way it was on the end of a cul-de-sac.
No one was overly friendly on Crow Court. They constantly fought and had petty squabbles. The local police were hesitant to waste their precious time responding to complaints from these people. Issues never stayed resolved, the residents couldn't be reasonable with each other, and the cops avoided them at all costs.
The moving trucks pulled out as three pest control vans pulled up to the house. The home owners watched as the men unloaded ladders and hauled equipment to the roof. The men strung wires to where they had installed antenna stands with boxes on them. The installation took about two hours. The residents watched, not because it was interesting, but they were curious and nosey.
One hour later, a black Jaguar pulled into Crow Court. One of the garage doors opened as the car pulled into the driveway and slowly entered the stall. The small community was still sitting outside their homes as they waited to see who had bought the house. The overhead door closed. There would be no such spectacle today.
The house lights turned on. Then it happened. A loud bang followed by sounds of static filled the area as electricity flowed. A high-pitched hum that penetrated everything in the surrounding area followed the static. The dogs in the neighborhood whined and covered their ears as the contraptions on the roof emitted a high-pitched tone.
Burt's dog Patches ran to the front door and scratched feverishly to get into the house. Burt ran over to the door and let him in. Patches ran to the corner of the living room, laid down, curled up, and shook. Burt's wife Helen walked over and rubbed the dog's head.
"Burt, you go over there right now and tell them to shut that contraption off."
Burt turned around and hurried across the street to the new neighbor's house. He marched right up to the front door and beat his fist against it.
"Hey, this is Burt from across the street. Turn that damn noise machine off."
The locks slowly turned, and the door opened. "Hi Burt, I'm Lilinova."
Burt's jaw dropped and his mouth gaped open. His anger quieted as he came face to face with pure beauty. Burt could not help but smile. He tried to greet her, but the words came out murmured.
Lilinova smiled and grasped his hand. "How can I help you, Burt?"
Burt smiled as he looked at her beautiful face.
Fredrick came around the corner. "Yes, Burt, how can we help you?"
Burt glanced over at Fredrick, then refocused on Lilinova. "The sound machines."
"Yes Burt, what about them?" Lilinova asked.
Burt inhaled deeply as he collected his thoughts. "The machine is driving our dog nuts. Can you turn it down, or even off, please?"
Lilinova reached up and caressed Burt's cheek. "We need them for the pests. You will get accustomed to the sound. It's not that bad. The benefit is no rabbits, or squirrels, or even birds. It's really the best thing for the neighborhood, don't you think?"
Burt grinned at Lilinova as he stared into her eyes. "Yeah, it's not that bad. I'll get used to it. It'll be great."
Lilinova gave him a smile, then leaned over and kissed his cheek. "I knew a handsome guy like you would understand. You are so reasonable. It was a pleasure meeting you, Burt. Goodnight."
Burt nodded his head and turned around. The door closed behind him. He focused his eyes on his house where Helen had been watching him. Helen's glare was noticeable even from across the street. She turned around, entered their house, and slammed the door.
The next day there was a steady stream of homeowners walking over to lodge a complaint with the new residents. They were all met by either Lilinova or Fredrick, and they all left content with the static. All except for Johnny and Sara, and they did not bother since everyone else had failed.
Johnny was grilling steaks while his wife, Sara, made a salad and garlic bread for supper. Lilinova walked into the backyard dressed in tight shorts and a button-up shirt that left nothing to the imagination. Lilinova stood next to Johnny and tried to get his attention while he continued to grill his food.
"Johnny, you and Sara have not come over to visit. You should both come over for drinks tonight."
Johnny tightened his face and concentrated on his food. "No, I think we will stay in tonight."
Lilinova reached over and caressed his hand. "But Johnny, it would be so much fun."
Johnny stopped what he was doing and looked at Lilinova. "No, Sara and I are good. Besides, those noise machines you have are annoying. Shut them off and we'll talk."
Lilinova moved behind Johnny and rubbed his arms while pushing her body into his. "I think we can come to an agreement on that. Come over, we'll talk about it over drinks."
Johnny sighed heavily. "Lilinova, you're in my bubble, back up about three feet. Turn the machines off, then we'll have something to drink to."
Lilinova pushed her lips together into a pout as she silently turned and walked out of the yard.
Sara saw the episode from the kitchen window. She stepped out on to the patio. "What was that all about?" she asked.
"Lilinova wants us to come over for drinks. She thought she could flirt a yes out of me."
"Fredrick did the same thing to me this morning. He tried to give me a back rub. Those two are nut jobs."
"Agreed. We just need to keep our distance." Johnny pulled the steaks off the grill. "There is something just not right about them."
Lilinova walked across the street back to her house where Fredrick stood waiting for her. He pulled a sucker out of his mouth. "Any luck, sis?"
She stopped in front of Fredrick and looked up at him. "I'm not done. I will get him."
Lilinova walked by as Fredrick smirked. "Maybe you're losing your charms. 203 years is a long time, maybe you're just not that desirable?"
Lilinova opened the door to the house. "Yeah, just like you and Sara. How are your charms working, brother?"
Lilinova closed the door as Fredrick tilted his head and stared at Johnny's house. What is so different about them? They're not immortals or hybrids, just humans. He watched as everyone else exited their homes to come over for the evening's festivities. We have everyone but them. Oh well, it's enough.
The couples filed into the house while Fredrick counted to make sure everyone was there. He followed the last couple into the house and slammed the door. Fredrick stopped at a mirror in his foyer. He looked at his reflection and smiled. The mirror revealed his true demonic image, the image of a Cambion.
Johnny and Sara took a walk after their dinner. They strolled down the street as they took notice of the noise of flapping wings above. Johnny peered upwards and noticed several murders of crows flying toward the neighborhood park. Sara let out an enormous sigh as she touched Johnny's arm. Johnny looked at her and nodded. They turned left and walked toward the park.
The sound of blackbirds cawing became louder and louder as they approached the park. They were perched on all the power lines. Every tree along the street was full of them. The park seemed to be the epicenter of the crow invasion.
The park was empty, except for the birds and an old man in beggars' clothes who sat on the merry-go-round, slowly spinning it with his legs. Sara looked at Johnny and rolled her eyes. They walked toward the old man.
The old man spoke. "It's so nice to see you two enjoying nature."
Sara responded abruptly, "What do you want, Dad?"
The old man smiled as he continued to spin the merry-go-round. "Can't a father just drop in on his daughter and her husband to say hi?"
Johnny gripped a handle on the merry-go-round to stop it from turning. "Normal dads can, but not you, Artimus. Sara asked, what do you want?"
Artimus gazed at the trees. "Do you remember what I taught you about the crow, kiddo?"
Sara crossed her arms. "We don't practice anymore, Dad. We want to be normal."
"What is normal? It doesn't matter kiddo, warlocks have a responsibility to maintain the balance of nature."
Johnny turned and sat on the merry-go-round next to Artimus and looked at all the birds, "The crows restore the balance and guard against supernaturals abusing their power." Johnny slowly spun around to look at the sheer number of birds. There were thousands of them. "It's our neighbors, Lilinova and Fredrick. They're here for them."
Artimus tapped Johnny on the knee. "That's right, my boy, and they need your help."
Sara pointed her finger at Artimus. "We are out. This is your fight, not ours. We don't even have our powers anymore."
Artimus stood, easing away her finger so he could move in for a hug. "I know you think I was unsupportive, but I was just trying to reason with you two. You cannot leave the order; it has a way of sucking you back in. I was told to stay out of this fight. It is yours, and yours alone."
Johnny continued to look at the trees. "What are we dealing with, Artimus?"
Sara pushed her father back. "Johnny, we were out. What are you doing?"
Johnny stood and pulled Sara towards him, then hugged her as he kissed her forehead. "I never stopped practicing. I do it in the garage when you're not around."
Sara pushed away from him. "You've been practicing, and you didn't tell me?"
"Honey, do you remember a few weeks ago when I asked you what was on the counter and you told me you had spilled some loose-leaf tea?"
Sara pulled away with a blush. "You knew?"
Johnny pulled her back in for a hug. "Yup, I knew. Doesn't matter."
Sara pulled back from Johnny. "You figured out the masking spell?"
Johnny laughed. "So did you. We need to do this, honey."
Sara nodded her head in agreement. "What are we dealing with, Dad?"
Artimus put his hands on both their shoulders. "Cambions, brother and sister."
Johnny sighed, "Ugh. That's why Lilinova was all over me. What did they do?"
Artimus answered, "They changed themselves so they could breed with humans. We can't let the Cambions reproduce. Their plan is to create a new hybrid race that will control the humans. They'll all be slaves."
"Any suggestions on how we stop them?" Sara asked.
"Lead the crows to them and let nature take care of itself," Artimus replied.
"Something is stopping them from fulfilling their mission."
Johnny reached for Sara's hand. "Come on. I know what we have to do."
Sara stopped and pulled her hand back. "And what's that?"
"We need to destroy that noise machine on their house."
She thought for a moment and then nodded. "I think you're right." Sara turned to Artimus. "Bye, Dad. Come over for supper sometime."
Artimus waved as he sat down on a park bench.
Sara and Johnny walked back to their house.
"I need to stop at the house and pick up a few things," Johnny said. "Also, I will have to take my wedding ring off as it's the item that masks my powers."
Sara laughed. "I did the same thing. Aren't we clever?"
When they turned the corner to enter Crow Court, they noticed their neighbors were all sitting on Lilinova and Fredrick's lawn. Lilinova and Fredrick were sitting in chairs on their porch. They all were watching Sara and Johnny return to their home.
Johnny went directly to the garage where he took a satchel out from under his workbench and a short staff from his golf club bag. Sara went to her sewing room and pulled out a beaded necklace from a drawer, then went to the closet and pulled out a long coat with pockets full of potions. They met back in the kitchen.
"Are you ready, sweetheart?" Sara asked.
"Yes, dear. Let's take off the rings."
They both removed their wedding rings at the same time. A ripple came from their bodies, and a wave of light shook the house. With their power restored, it was time for them to face the cambions.
They stepped outside. All their neighbors were now standing in a circle around Fredrick and Lilinova.
Lilinova yelled out, "Warlocks! You realize you can't get to us without hurting them first? Then, it's still a toss-up whether you will win against us. Let's negotiate."
Johnny pulled out a small bag of powder from his satchel, poured some in his hand and tossed it into the air as he whispered, "Excitare et vestrae mentes!"
The humans suddenly became confused. They held their heads as the word 'awaken' echoed louder and louder throughout Crow Court.
Helen turned around and looked at Fredrick, seeing him in his authentic form. She screamed and ran toward her house. The rest looked upon Fredrick and Lilinova before doing the same.
"As you were saying, Lilinova, is it still a toss-up?" Sara asked.
"We also know magic!" Fredrick yelled.
Fredrick swirled his hands around in a circle and the wind picked up. The air swirled, forming into a small tornado. Fredrick then whistled, and the tornado moved toward Sara and Johnny.
Sara went down on one knee and put the beaded necklace in her mouth. She held her hands out, her eyes became black as night as she held her hands out. Waves of energy pulsed from her hands. The waves hit the tornado and pushed it back toward Lilinova. Fredrick pulled Lilinova back and cast her to the other side of the lawn as the wind pushed Fredrick through the closed overhead door.
Johnny pulled two vials from his satchel and handed one to Sara. "Drink this."
They both drank the potion. It amplified their power. Their eyes turned pitch black, and the veins in their bodies popped under their skin. They moved as one toward the cambions, ready to fight.
They walked toward the house, expecting Fredrick to be there. Lilinova came from behind and put Sara in a strangle hold.
"Go, I got this," she gasped at Johnny. "Shut it down!"
Johnny walked through the broken door and toward the control panel. Fredrick met him with a baseball bat to the stomach. Johnny bent over in pain as Fredrick swung the bat again, hitting him on the back.
Fredrick dropped the bat. "Is that all you got? Or are you just waiting to die?"
Johnny stood and took a swing at Fredrick. He ducked, then grasped Johnny and flung him into a support pole. Johnny struggled to get up. Fredrick walked over and picked Johnny up by his shirt.
"Are you ready to die yet?" Fredrick asked.
Johnny pulled a small dagger out of his pocket and plunged it into Fredrick's chest. Fredrick knocked him to the other side of the garage. Johnny crashed into the control panel, the door crushed inward, and electricity flowed through the panel door into Johnny. Johnny fell to the floor as the sound machines shorted out.
The quiet was deafening.
Outside, Lilinova still had a hold of Sara, but she quickly let her go when she heard the first caw of a crow. Fredrick pulled the knife out of his chest and ran outside.
"Lilinova, get inside!" he screamed.
There was a swooshing sound as the first wave of crows descended on Lilinova. They pecked and clawed at her body. The wounds caused Lilinova's body to swell, almost to where it looked like it would explode.
Sara ran toward Johnny when she heard a loud pop. She turned around to see a red pool of sludge creeping down the driveway. The first wave of birds swooped around and around until they formed a tornado, which sucked up the remains of Lilinova's body into the sky.
The second wave came for Fredrick. He ran into the house and locked the doors. The crows dived at the windows until they broke. The house filled with caws as they flew in and out of the house until Fredrick's body finally popped.
Sara ran over to Johnny, who lay on the concrete floor moaning. "Are you OK?"
Johnny tried to get up but fell back down. "Yeah, I'm good. Worked out just as I had planned."
Sara smiled. "Really, your plan was to get beat up and thrown into the control panel?"
Johnny straightened out his neck and attempted to stand again. "It worked, didn't it?"
Sara put Johnny's arm around her shoulder and helped him up. They limped out of the garage to find six ravens waiting for them. They bowed their heads in a gesture of appreciation toward Sara and Johnny, then they flew off.
Johnny looked at their house. "Crap, now your dad's coming over for supper."
Sara smiled and gave Johnny a kiss on his cheek. It didn't matter. The life they had built had ended. It was time to go back to their clan. It was time to get back in the game.
Be sure to stop by next week for another short story.
Copyright © 2020 Jeff Bacon
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.