“Look at this,” said Owen, pointing at his feet. “Same welcome mat, all these years later.” He chuckled and shook his head, a shooting star of a lopsided grin flickering across his face for a brief moment before vanishing back into darkness.
“Are you seeing what I’m pointing at? Did you even look?”
Liz’s eyeballs popped up above the frames of her obnoxiously big sunglasses as she looked up from her phone. She slid them back up the bridge of her nose.
Owen groaned. “Fuck, Liz, can you look away from that fuckin’ thing for one motherfuckin’ second?”
He couldn’t see them, but he knew she was rolling her eyes.
“What’re you gonna do,” she said, “break it like you did my last one? Like you break everything else when you get all pissed off?”
He stared at her.
“Ok. Yeah, I see it. It’s an old doormat, alright? Old people keep shit forever. Ok? So what?”
He stared at her.
A bird in the oak tree at the end of the front walk began making an ungodly amount of noise, shaking most of the few remaining orange-yellow autumn leaves to the ground beneath it as it did so.
“Holy shit,” said Owen, finally breaking his death glare with Liz. “Those fuckin’ birds.”
He walked to the edge of the porch and watched as another large, black crow descended upon the same nearly bare branch his hysterical compatriot currently occupied.
He turned to Liz, smiling. “I used to sit out here and shoot those things all day!”
“Figures you’d smile, reminiscing about killing things.”
He glowered at her. “They were fucking up mom’s garden. She gave me a quarter for every one I took out.”
“Good excuse,” she said. “Come on, you know you enjoyed it. I can tell by your nostalgic reaction.”
He shrugged. “What can I say? I hated those fuckers. I mean listen to ’em!”
There were five of them now, and they were all loudly cawing, clicking, rattling, cooing and flapping their wings.
“Maybe they just don’t like you,” said Liz. “Maybe they remember you.”
“They’re fuckin’ birds, you dumb bitch. They don’t remember people.”
“Crows do. I just read an article about it, actually. They remember human faces for like, up to ten years or something.”
“That the kind of bullshit you look at on that damn phone all the time?”
“Yeah,” she said, “It is. I like to read stuff that makes me smarter. There’s more to the internet than all the gross shit I see in your browsing history. No wonder you never want to fuck me. Not that you could ever get hard enough any-”
She knew she’d gone too far even before Owen was stomping across the creaky old wooden porch, teeth clenched and fists balled. She braced herself.
Instead of the punch she expected, there was a shrill squawk, a throat-shredding scream that didn’t sound like it came from Owen but it must’ve, and the flapping of long, silky black feathers against her face. She screamed too.
“See?” He said, turning to face the tree as his assailant fled the scene of the attack. They’re fucking assholes!”
There were more crows now; many more. Too many to count, in Owen’s estimation. They’d filled up the tree and were spread out across the yard, along the power lines, on other trees, on top of the car…and they were all staring at him. And they were all cawing. Angrily. Except they couldn’t be angry, because they were fucking birds. Right?
“Come on,” he said. “Let’s get inside.”
As he started toward the door, three crows divebombed him. He stumbled off the edge of the porch and into the rose bushes, his arms waving wildly about above his head. He screamed as the thorns tore at his flesh.
With tears welling up in his eyes, clouding his vision, he scrambled to his feet and made a mad dash for the car.
Liz was calling after him, but he couldn’t hear her over the demonic cacophony of the crows’ discordant song. He refused to believe it wasn’t coincidence, but they seemed to be cawing in unison now, almost chanting.
He felt what he assumed was a beak or a claw penetrating the skin on the back of his neck as he flung the car door open and dived inside, grunting as his skull banged against the gearshift knob. He yanked the door shut behind himself just as a black cloud of feathers blocked out all sunlight and left him in the dark.
He fumbled for the dome light switch, disoriented by shock and pain. He could hear nothing but furious screeching and the sound of claws against metal; like a thousand nails on a thousand chalkboards.
When he finally found the switch and flooded the car’s interior with light, he couldn’t see much besides tiny bird feet, fluttering feathers, and his own terrified reflection in the rear view mirror. Something rolled off of his lap and hit the floor.
The dome light wasn’t bright enough to illuminate whatever it was, so he reached down to pick it up, dropping it with a gasp as soon as it came into view.
He’d decapitated one of them when he’d shut the door.
He wiped his bloody fingers on his torn, bloody shirt. Sunlight flooded in, assaulting his eyes as the crows vacated the now shit-streaked windshield, giving him a clear view of the porch where Liz still stood, looking…petrified? No. Pissed. He’d seen that look before.
A single crow flew toward her and landed atop the crumbling brick planter that stood in front of the porch. It hopped up and down, squawking and flapping its wings.
Liz looked at the bird, and then looked at the car. Owen couldn’t understand why they were leaving her alone.
She took a cautious step in the crow’s direction, paused, and took another, more confident one. And then another.
The crows didn’t move. Every last one of them suddenly ceased their caterwauling and there was no noise left but the ringing in Owen’s ears.
The crow hopped to its left, and Owen watched, mouth hanging open, as Liz picked up the loose brick the crow had been standing on. She looked at the brick, looked at own. Their eyes met.
“Yes! He mouthed, hoping she could read his lips. “Smash it!” He made a smashing motion with his right fist against his left palm.
Liz raised the brick. Instead of coming down on the crow and crushing its skull, however, it left her hand and sailed directly toward him.
“You dumb cunt!” He roared as the brick hit the windshield, spiderwebbing the glass. What the fuck was she doing?
He watched as Liz followed the crow to another loose brick, picked it up, hurled it. There was a hole in the glass, now.
“Liz! Damn it you fat fucking bitch fuck shit cunt…fuck! Liz!”
She selected another brick, and the crow flew away.
With her free hand, Liz waved at him. She was smiling.
“What the fuck are you…Liz!”
The brick was on its way. Time seemed to stand still. The birds were watching him. Liz was watching him. There was a hole in the fucking windshield. This was it.
Shards of glass rained down upon him before the brick landed squarely on his balls.
He howled as a tsunami of bloodthirsty, dead-eyes crows poured into the car and formed a writhing black cocoon over nearly the entire surface of his body.
Fade to black.