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Horror The Raven's Reap

Elements
A shift in power, Adventure, Anxiety, Change, Color, Courage, Desire to escape, Desperation, Destruction, Effects from the past, Family, Foreboding, Grief, Meaning of Home, Mystery, Pain, Pets

Squad141

The Purple Soul
The dark and cloudy night accentuated the smell of rot emanating from the back of the old, dilapidated building.

Chris stood in the center of the cracked back porch, surrounded by tall uncut grass and a menagerie of insects. In front of him loomed the shattered remains of the grandiose back window, leading into what he could ascertain as some kind of living room. From his point of view, all he could see were a few pieces of furniture coated in dust.

Sighing, Chris checked his bike’s kickstand and opened his backpack. The July night was unusually chilly, though it worked in his favor. Chris didn’t want to have to explore a rotting house sweating like a dog, though his friends who had dared him to come here would have certainly found it hilarious. Now, he stood in front of the ruined home with an unexplained past, merely equipped with a small blanket, some food and water, a can of orange spray paint, and his cellphone.

He looked at the overgrown backyard behind him, hoisted himself up and into the window’s shattered cavity, and entered the dark abode. Though he did not know it, this would be the last time he would ever see the clouds clinging to the deep night sky.

The living room was just as Chris had seen it. Most of the remaining items were either covered with layers of dust or on their sides, damaged beyond repair by unrelenting elements. The only other notable thing about the room was the door to the rest of the house, which Chris confronted before he started rummaging through his bag. Pulling out the spray paint, Chris wrote his initials on the side of the door frame, trying to take up as little space as possible. Satisfied with his work, he exited the room.

Chris entered a hallway. Wallpaper peeled off the wall in sheets, and a once opulent chandelier lay shattered to his right. Those glass shards are probably full of tetanus, he thought, avoiding that area of the house entirely. To his left, thankfully, an old steel spiral staircase led upstairs. After spraying his initials on the floor by the chandelier as proof he was there, Chris walked towards the stairs, inspecting the wooden steps.

The central pole supporting the steps was metal, so it wasn’t as dilapidated as the wood found in the rest of the house. Still old and rusty, the support beam was illuminated by the moonlight from the broken window behind the staircase. Chris sighed. He knew he wouldn’t hear the end of it if he chickened out because of some rickety stairs, so he silently thanked the moonlight for guiding his way so far, braced himself, and put his right foot on the first step and pressed down.

The wood didn’t give. In relief, he exhaled and lifted his other foot off the ground and onto the next step. Though he heard many loud sounds, including the creaking of the steps below him, Chris was able to slowly and steadily make his way up to the second landing.

He was surprised by the smaller size of the hallway on the second floor. The house appeared to split into two directions from the first floor, but only a single row of rooms was present. There must be another upper floor on the other side of the house, he thought. Stepping away from the stairs, he did a double-take, and quickly turned around, marking the support beam of the stairs with the neon orange paint.

Two doors on each side of the hall lacked discernible features except for the decay incurred from the elements. At the end of the hall sat a surprisingly unbroken window covered in the same layers of dust that coated the rest of the house’s contents.

Chris didn’t know what to do next as his nauseating friends hadn’t really set any rules for what to do after the challenge was completed. After all, in their minds, just entering the house was taboo. Chris looked at his watch. It was 11:45 PM. He still had plenty of time to get back and hang with his friends, maybe even brag a bit. Why not look around? He had always wondered what the inside of the infamous Raven’s Nest home looked like. The house had been one of the most famous legends in town for more than a decade. Besides, what damage could loitering do, other than accidentally finding a wasp’s nest or something?
Chris entered the room furthest to his right. Opening the ruined door, he was welcomed by an immediate chill from the unusually cool summer evening. Looking up, he saw the source of the cold, a hole of incredible size in the ceiling and leftmost wall. Chris recognized it as the giant hole commonly depicted as part of the legend of the Raven’s Nest stories. I must be near the front-end of the house, he thought, analyzing the room before him.


The room must have been a bedroom of some kind before it was abandoned. A crooked painting hung above the flattened bed, decayed by the wind and rain, with the colors and paint dripping and solidifying into some abstract scene. The bed itself was beyond salvageable. The four posts had been broken from the bottom up under the weight of the mattress, which had many rips on the sides. A rug had once been laid out below the bed and covered the floor, part of which was now falling through the weak wooden planks to the level below, the rest being eaten by moths.

Looking to his right, Chris realized he had missed a vital piece of the décor: a dresser roughly moved into the corner. He wondered why someone had pushed it away from the water-damaged area to his left. The only other thing in the room that could have caused damage would've been the hole above him, but this dresser was hundreds of years old. No one could have known about the damage back then, could they?

Chris kneeled on the dilapidated floor planks and grabbed the knobs of the bottom drawer and pulled. The knobs came off, and he almost fell backward from his loss of balance. Throwing them behind him, he grabbed the right knob of the second drawer and pulled more gently. After a few light tugs, dust billowed out from the sides, and the drawer cracked down, breaking in half as to show Chris its contents. Coughing, Chris waved his hands in front of his face to clear the dust. When he could see clearly again, the boy realized he was looking at a crushed metal cage.

He lifted the object from the interior of the broken drawer and noticed it was about the size of his hand. It was some sort of birdcage. The sides were crushed inwards, presumably to fit in the dresser. The handle was completely missing, and the bars were extremely brittle with rust and age. The cage gave no indication of what it previously held. That was, until he stood up with it.

Chris heard a shuffling sound beneath the cage and realized that there was something underneath. Turning the withered birdcage over, he found a compartment held together with what would have been a thick metal cord, whose worn bond could not withstand the years it spent protecting the secrets within. Chris effortlessly tore it loose and found a yellowed piece of paper inside. Gingerly, he unfolded the parchment and realized it had cryptic writing from a child.

Benjamin is gone. I don’t know where they took him, but it was most likly somewhere in the Dark Room. I’ve only ever been thare once, but I still don’t know what will happen to him. Perhaps he will find a branch of his own to call home? I hope so. Maybe he will find the branch that looks like our home and try and find me. I will never find him, but prhaps he can find some peace in our old-

It ended there. Through the few spelling mistakes and sudden cutoff, it seemed like the author was in a rush. Chris shivered. Not only had he been dared to go inside the house that everyone thought to be haunted at 11:50 PM, but now he had discovered some cryptic lore about the family that used to live here, and he didn't particularly enjoy it. Chris decided there and then it was time to leave.

Leaving the cage on the ground, Chris stood up and exited the room without closing the door behind him. But as he passed the rest of the unexplored chambers, Chris stopped. He turned around, facing the only unbroken window in the entire house. It was now open.

There, on the windowsill, was an ivory butterfly.

Chris didn’t know why it was ivory. Perhaps it was made of bone, or maybe it was a weird color that luminesced in the dark, or maybe it wasn't even real and was simply some strange kind of origami. But whatever it was, Chris was infatuated by it. He stared. He didn’t know why he stared, and it began to freak him out.

The window had an incredibly clear view of the full moon. The butterfly gracefully flew off the windowsill, and fluttered out the window, towards the moon. Chris didn’t have any time to react to the strange occurrence when he realized he was standing at the window, holding the curtains, before throwing them together.

Conceivably, the moth-eaten curtains should have allowed the bright moonlight to shine into the house.

If that were the case, however, Chris wouldn’t be staring at an empty, unblemished wall when he flung them back open.

Chris backed up and blinked. The doors in the hallway were different. They weren’t water damaged anymore. They weren't made of wood. Big black slabs of stone stood where the doors once were. Chris retreated to the staircase, incredibly confused. The hallway was now dark, his guiding light having been depleted due to the lack of moonlight from the now non-existent window.

He fumbled for his phone and turned on the flashlight.

He blinked again.

Ten feet in front of him, where he had just been, was a figure in the darkness.

The only way Chris could tell there was something there, was because it blocked his view of the curtains at the end of the hall. Shaking, he realized that his light seemed to be dimming quickly and noticed that his battery was plummeting at an alarming rate. How did the thing in front of him get there so fast? Why couldn’t he see it, even though he had a light directly on it? Why were there two bright orange ‘X’s near the top of its body?

There was only one conclusion.

It was the creature feared, but sought after, by many in town. Chris had come face to face with the Raven.

Chris turned and ran down the stairs without a beat.

Reaching the bottom step, Chris barely thought about how the stairs hadn’t creaked as he bolted down them and ran into the living room.

As the door shut itself behind him, Chris looked around. Recently cleaned furniture stood in its place, with pristine wallpaper in black and purple tones along the sides of the room. Chris was standing on a rug, untouched by age or rot.

He stared at the wall opposite him. It was clean.
It had no stains, cracks, or conveniently big holes for something to get in or escape through.
Chris began to sweat.
Spinning around, he thought maybe the other direction could be the way out and opened the door behind him.

The hallway no longer existed. In its place sat a circular room with eight different doors surrounding it. Chris tripped and landed on his side, dropping his cellphone onto the ground. Standing up, he held his head in his hands, a splitting headache erupting. He had no idea which door he had come through, and his phone’s flashlight had gone off, making the room pitch black.

Sweating profusely and without any guiding light, Chris stumbled to one of the doors in the dark and opened it. There, at the far end of a hall, was an open door with light shining through. From his vantage point, Chris could see a small sliver of moonlight poking through, as well as part of the desecrated front porch. Then he saw something move.

It was the butterfly, fluttering on the porch, beckoning him.
Waiting for him.

Chris smiled, barely having any energy left, and sprinted for the exit. Of course, if he had been paying more attention, he would have sensed the different weight the shadow to his left carried.

If he had, perhaps he would have missed the sharp, tight grip that landed on the back of his shirt, digging its elongated claws into the flesh on his back. He had nothing on him now, so the only thing he could think to do was kick the entity.
But before his foot could make contact with it, something closed around his ankle. Jagged teeth bit down on his foot with ease, severing it from his leg.
The shock kept Chris quiet, as the Raven chewed on his broken appendage, and spat the shredded shoe towards the moonlight at the end of the hall.

It was at this point the door began to close, and Chris finally awakened from his stupor. As the light faded and he lay on the ground, Chris attempted to use his arms to pull himself towards freedom, but the Raven gripped its claw into his other functional leg, making Chris grunt in pain as he was dragged into the darkness behind him.

As the last light of the full moon shone upon his face, the hallway dimmed, and the old oak door shut, leaving an empty house and a vacant porch, devoid of any human or butterfly.



Chris screamed.
 

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