Brutality is the form of nature, raw and unrefined, terrible in its awesome power—and these creatures full of it, pecked at her face with ferocious vigor. Alvin watched from behind a tree as splashes of red covered their bony heads. The human bodies that carried them, dressed in black suits and ties, added a surreal quality to the gruesome scene he could scarcely believe.

The five creatures kept at it until the screaming turned to muffled gurgles belching from the twitching body of Alvin’s wife.

Tears streamed from his eyes. Elaine…

A crow squawked atop the limb above, the sound deafening in the quiet woods. He looked up, tried to wish it away, but it screeched again and again as if calling to its brethren, alerting them to his presence.

His lungs halted and he held them as long as possible. He strained against their natural urge to suck air, pursed his lips, and pinned his nose shut with two fingers. For the inevitable, he waited. The group of strange beings would surely converge on him and rip him to shreds as they had poor Ellie.

In a way, he hoped they would. If Heaven existed he’d see her there and they would be together again.

Curiosity forced him to peek around the trunk. They continued to stab her body with knife-like beaks. The whole of their skulls had reddened and dripped with fresh blood. He glimpsed the dark annular sockets where eyes should have been, but no organic matter existed within, only voids which could be seen—but not see.

The crow took flight and passed over the five beasts finishing their meal. It cawed once as it went by.

They all stood at once, rigid and perfectly upright. Rivulets of red ran down their beaks and steadily dripped to the earth at their feet. They raised their arms as if to fly but only stood still. Their beaks opened to expose pointed teeth, and together they lunged downward and finished their feast. A crimson geyser rained down and soaked their pristine suits.

Alvin’s jaw tightened as he stifled cries of guilt. I should have helped her. I should have at least tried.

The orchestra of gorging flesh stopped. The forest went silent, not even nocturnal insects sang. Alvin heard terror pumping though every vein. It pressed at his temples, the pressure building like a vice about to crush his skull.

The pain of brutal death instilled deep terror, willed his survival instinct to preserve his life. If not for that most primal part of mind, he would have walked out from his place of hiding and went willingly into the circle of chimeric beings.

Instead he turned and ran through the brush, forcing his way through bushes of thorns, jumping over fallen branches, dodging trees left and right. He carried himself as he never had before. His shoes grew feathers and the wind whisked his feet forward with every desperate step. Hope rose inside. Hope that he might get away, that the death behind would not catch up, and he’d see the sun again.

A blinding, amber light burst into the sky ahead, but not the sun he’d hoped for. It rained like fire on the forest floor as he covered his eyes against the pain. With it came a terrible heat that threatened to singe the hair from his forearms. He crouched and tried to shield himself.

Footsteps halted inches away from his fetal position. Death had arrived. He looked up to see the uncanny bird-men ablaze in the torrid light. The blood that covered them burned like fire. They’d become as the phoenix, all fury and power.

The brightness blinked out, casting the forest back into the shadow empty space brings to the night. All went quiet except for the breath of the creatures standing over him.

They stabbed repeatedly as he writhed on the ground. His view of the white moon turned to blood and the night darkened. Time slowed, and as his consciousness faded, he saw inside the empty, non-existent eyes of his tormentors. Inside he saw her, curled into a mangled ball that was once her beautiful form. All around her were strangers in similar position.

Elaine… Forgive me. I’ll see you soon.

∼Lee A. Forman

© Copyright 2016 Lee A. Forman. All Rights Reserved.


22 thoughts on “Avemwood

  1. Welcome to the Damned! This piece was fantastic! I actually found myself holding my breath when Alvin did, hoping that he would not be discovered. The imagery you conjured up, particularly with the creatures pecking away at Elaine was magnificent. Well done, sir!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What wonderful creatures you’ve conjured here, Lee! Phoenix-like bird-men!! I’m still smiling over their savagery & wondering about their origin. Thank you for roping me in, bravo!! A Damned great debut!! Welcome 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this story. The imagery was rich and I felt my own heart pound in time with Alvin`s. The creatures are terrifying, which is the point. What was your inspiration for this story, I`d be very interested to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My inspiration came from a sketch I did. One day I started drawing these skeletal bird heads and when I added the human body wearing a suit the idea of putting them in a story just came to me. Glad you enjoyed the story!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry for the late comment, Lee – the world swallowed me last week!

    This is a beautifully crafted tale. I’m in love with the descriptive prose, and the concept of the bird-men (I’m imagining a euphemism for expected societal constraints) ripping apart the two who dare to live in the fantasy world of Avemwood (which I’m interpreting to be freedom of choice). If the piece isn’t intended to be as deep as I’ve read it to be, then greater applause for giving the reader an opportunity to adapt your words to their particular world view.

    This is undoubtedly a magnificent first step into the realm of Pen of the Damned with a piece any wordsmith should be proud to call their own. Well done, Lee!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the compliment! I’m really glad this story came out as good as I’d hoped. I did intend for the story to be deep, but without being specific so it could be left up to the reader’s interpretation. Avemwood is a strange and obsucure place, and there is a backstory to what it is. Maybe it will be revisited someday…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Lee – sorry I’m late. I thought this was brilliant. It felt scenic and surreal and increasingly nightmarish as I read on. My favourite lines:

    “His view of the white moon turned to blood and the night darkened. Time slowed, and as his consciousness faded, he saw inside the empty, non-existent eyes of his tormentors. Inside he saw her…”

    Really impressive stuff, and right up my street.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well what can I say , but bravo that man! Really fab writing and highly enjoyable , nearly drop my iPad in the bath! (Note to self , don’t read horror stories in the bath) . Keep em coming old chap! And to think I only just read this, my bad for being a slacker, but I have a Drs note so it’s cool! AWDW X PS tea I am rambler ling a little , but it the pain meds😜

    Liked by 1 person

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