03 May 2008

Friday Snippets #4

Ah! A Friday Snippet on a Saturday! Well, why not?

In case you missed them, the first snippet in this story is here, the second one is here and the third one is here.

Oh, and a warning: this one is a wee bit gory. Maybe not the best thing to read right after a snack...


Jonathan crept around the big white house, slow and silent like he was stalking an animal that would spook at the slightest noise. For all he knew, that’s just what the black-haired woman was.

Overgrown evergreen shrubs offered cover, though they slowed him down. A giant pine tree shaded the bushes out and they thinned near the back of the house, where there was a small parking lot. He could hear the flock of ravens, croaking, hissing, feet scrabbling on the cracked asphalt.

Just before he got to the corner of the house, a smell hit him. It stopped him in his tracks. It was bad. Really bad. Dense as the evergreens, sweet and cloying – something had died. Days ago.

A hand to his mouth and nose, he peeked around the corner. And nearly lost his breakfast. Or would have, if he’d had any.

A white-haired man lay in the middle of a crowd of birds. Dead, very clearly dead by the smell and the bloat of the body.

Forty or fifty ravens milled about on the ground. Here and there one would dart close to the body, then hop back. A couple were having arguments over something gooey trailing from an eye socket.

And right in the middle of the mass of cawing, croaking wings was the woman in black, her long dark hair touching the ground as she crouched over the body.

She had set down the two-liter of water she’d got at the market and was very carefully unbuttoning the dead man’s faded blue jeans. A big bird waddled close to her and hissed, then scooted out of reach. The woman made an odd hissing noise back. A raven at her side did the same, as if to back her up. The others ignored her after that and she turned back to the body.

Jonathan’s stomach lurched and he gritted his teeth. She started going through the pockets.

One was empty. The other produced a handful of change, which she tossed aside, startling some of the birds into the surrounding trees. Then she found something else which she kept – a ring. She slid it onto the middle finger of her right hand and regarded it for a second as if deciding whether or not to keep it. It looked like a wedding band.

Next she eased an abraded wallet out. She went through it, looking almost sad as she pulled a driver’s license out and gazed from the picture on it to the dead man and back again. She pulled out a wad of paper and rifled through it. It looked like a bunch of receipts, but she peered at several closely, frowned and then tucked them into her bag.

She rummaged in the bag for a moment. When her hand came out, it held a knife.

Jonathan had to bite his lip to keep from sucking in his breath too loud. Horrified and curious at the same time, he watched as she cut away the dead man’s t-shirt down the front and tore it off the body. She did the same with the jeans. When she was done, the dead man lay naked on his shredded clothing.

She paused and closed her eyes, the knife poised over the exposed chest. Jonathan held his breath, somehow hating Jack for being right. She took a deep breath, pushed the knife in and drew it down the length of the body.




Joely Sue Burkhart said...

Whoa, things are really starting to get interesting here!

Gabriele C. said...

I have a Saturday snippet as well this week.

For the rest, I agree with Joely. :I

Jen said...

Lol! How about reading the snippet WHILE eating a snack. I survived it. It made me smile to think that my brother's name is Jonathan, and if he saw something like that, forget about losing his breakfast -- he would be unconscious on the floor. *g*

Saturday snippets are just as good. :-)

Miss Crabby Pants said...

I love how this is progressing! I want to read more.

IanT said...

Forty or fifty..? Good lord - I'm surprised he can see a body in the middle of all that. :-)

I like how the viewpoint shifts from the last snippet from a (relatively normal) woman to a "mad raven woman" in this one.

Tiny nitpick; you'd need to get the knife under the breastbone to be able to draw it down the body. Otherwise you'd need a saw or something to get through the ribcage. (I wish I didn't know things like that - stop looking at me like that, my other half is a veterinarian, okay? :-) )

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I'm not sure if my first thought was, "Yum!" or "An autopsy. Interesting."

I'd like to find out, though...

Jen said...

About the slitting-open of the body, I assumed she was just cutting open the skin over the ribcage and then down.

Bethanie said...

Wow - thanks everybody for visiting and commenting! I feel so loved! :-D

ian - You know, that may be too many birds.... I need to revisit my research on ravens (a book called Ravens in Winter - if you've never read it, it's awesome! One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read, hands down.)

ian & jen - thanks for the nitpick and the explanation of your assumption. Ian's right about where the knife should be going in, because our 'mad raven woman' is sinking it in DEEP on purpose... which I tells me I should have actually WRITTEN that, since that's what I want the reader to know...

So thanks for the nitpick!

Jen said...

Aah... eew... :-/

By the way, I could see a perfect picture in my mind of the event unfolding. Good job on that!

Bethanie said...

jen - thanks! :)

and 'eew' is right... eeeeeew...

cherylp said...

Yowser! I'll be interested to see why she's doing that.

I figured out the blogger problem. The html address was supposed to take me right to your snippet, but something was keeping that from happening. Once I got rid of the Friday snippet part of the address and just went directly to your blog, I got here.