The stifling silence of the Robertson’s farm pressed down on my eardrums as I slowly stepped into their kitchen. I studied the quiet space with a growing sense of panic as the my eyes fell upon their large pine dining table wrenched into five different pieces, jagged edges clawing upwards at the low ceiling. Six pine chairs had been equally smashed to kindling by whoever or whatever had stormed through the usually cosy sanctuary.
Apples from the orchard were patiently waiting beside the sink, waiting to be washed.
I felt a fresh trickle of blood slide down my right arm and drip from my fingers onto the grey slate floor. I felt detached as I looked down at my forearm with the dawning realisation that I had injured myself worse than I first thought. Moving towards the pine panelled cupboard that had been the home of all things first aid related for the farm, even when I was a kid, I felt the hot stickiness of blood pumping out of the inner side of my right leg.
Dragging open the cupboard door with my left hand was awkward and a part of me couldn’t help but think of the mess I was making, but then I looked back at the smashed up furniture and realised that a bit of blood was nothing. I quickly found what I needed and lifted myself up onto a kitchen worktop and began to clean myself up.
My ears strained for any hint of life as I mopped the blood away from my leg and arm. Both wounds were deep and I hunted around the first aid box for the Steri-Strips that Gail always had on stand by for when Ted partially mutilated himself on farm machinery. Finding them at the bottom, I sped up sorting myself out, eager to track down my friends.
Finally, I stood on my bandaged leg and hobbled over to the doorway that led to the hallway.
I whipped my head round to the smashed in back door. It had sounded like a pane of glass being smashed in one of the outhouses. Their asbestos roofs covered in moss. I gave the inside of the house one last look, turned round and walked as fast as I could back out the wrecked doorway.
Standing in the yard outside, I looked over at the nearby outhouses. One pane of glass had been smashed outwards, its shards glittering in the meagre sunlight. I quietly moved over to the offending outhouse and peered in through the remains of the window.
Darkness greeted me along with the musty smell of dead farm machinery. I held my breath and waited.
I left the smashed window and quietly shifted to an old wooden side door. I took a deep breath. I gripped the rusting latch handle, slowly pressed down its leaver and pushed the door open.
Motes of dust lazily hung in the stale air as I waited for my eyes to adjust to the gloom. The shapes of forgotten farm machines and tools became clearer as I gently stepped further into the outhouse. Workbenches were littered with disused saws, hammers and levels, tins of aging paint and engine pieces.
I walked up the left side, carefully dodging the ancient assault course that surrounded me and stopped beside the window that had been damaged. On the floor – sitting in the dust – was an old Philips screwdriver. I crouched down and picked it up. Holding it close to my face, I studied the tool in the sunlight that was filtering through the shattered panes.
Blood had recently christened the once gleaming stainless steel.
With this sudden realisation I dropped the screwdriver.
It sounded so loud. Then I felt the air move behind me, the minuscule movement of hairs on the back of my neck shifting. No breeze had eased its way through the window.
That’s the end of part 3 of The Crows. Please vote in the poll below to help decide where the story goes next.