Nevermore

By Henry Lion Oldie

Short stories, Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

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785
2 mins

Nevermore

...Dead gray waves were running over the dead molten sand and with metronome precision rolled back to the horizon where the foaming sea medley touched upon the dull sky, torn by gaping atmospheric holes and large tornadoes. The sky was unwillingly spitting small, glowing splashes into the filthy spittoon that was Earth, the soil lightly steamed, cooled and caked into a crust -- it had been steaming for a few years. The wind roaming along the coast, whistling in the dry skeletons of a few remaining buildings, and stirring the dusty veil of ashes, showed the bones buried underneath. The sky gazed at the remains indifferently. Uncaring...
At first the amount of corpses was so large that ravens, crazy with joy, indulged in luxurious feasts. Due to radiation the air was almost sterile, and their banquets lasted for weeks –months... Decay progressed slowly, and when many lost their feathers and died in the general hubbub and wing-flapping, their bodies remained untouched. Their winged brothers, ones with better luck, preferred human flesh.
Little by little the ravens noticed where the invisible death lurked and kept away from those places. The food was growing scarce, and it was getting harder to find bodies untouched by decay and beaks. Catching rats was out of question; during the first days after the End, in spite of all prognoses, rats were not as lucky as ravens. Gloomy birds dug in the ruins, flew from one spot to another, raised light rustling ashes and did not wish to realize that the time of plenty had lapsed...
...A raven sat on the shore, waiting. From time to time, the sea brought something edible to the beach: a crushed starfish, a crab boiled in its shell, a purple jellyfish... The hungry raven angrily squinted with its blood-red eyes at the dirty sea foam. Nothing. Bad times. Especially bad after the recent abundance slightly touched by the fire... The raven hoarsely croaked, and, for an instant, with a grinding sound from its throat came a word of a race which was gone forever. A different race. Tasty and numerous. Not anymore... Never...
With indifferent rustling another wave licked the damp sand of the beach and rolled back like all the preceding ones. It left behind gray flakes of ashes and something else, which did not match the depressing monotony of the shore. The thing's edibility was doubtful -- yet the raven hobbled over to the slowly receding foam that glistened with something dark...
On the sand laid an ancient, paunchy and sealed, green bottle. The raven squinted at the cork, first with one eye then the other... Finally, its natural curiosity won over. The bird pecked at the cork cautiously. Then again, with more confidence... When the black burglar managed to break through the layer of the stone-hard tar covering the cork his job became easier; the rotten wood easily crumbled under the tough beak. Again, and again, and...
The frightened raven had just enough time to hop aside. Yellowish brown smoke that came out of the bottleneck thickened and formed a naked, meters-high, bronze-skinned figure with the mane of midnight black hair.
"I heed and obey!" The giant's deep voice thundered over the dead shore.
Silence was his answer. Only the gray waves hit the shore, only wind sadly whistled around him.
The genie shivered.
"Where are you, o master who released me?! What is your command: destroy a city, build a palace?"
The raven cautiously shifted from one foot to another and decided against coming closer for the time being.



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