A Murder of Crows
By: Will Wright

I've fed the crows for a while now. It was the best way to get out of the house when my wife Karen died. Those crows gave me comfort, a routine, some companionship. Misunderstood black winged creatures. I learned to love them.

It all started one Sunday. I climbed over the fence of my garden into the large abandoned field at the back. The fog was thick that morning, rolling in from the sea and sitting like candy floss in the valley. Rain was in the air, spittle staining my cheeks. My battered old raincoat kept the moisture off my body but couldn't keep out the stiff wind that seemed to rattle my bones. I wished I'd brought a sweater.

I had a blue plastic bag full of the food. I wasn't even sure what I was doing. I remember zipping up my coat in the back porch of my house, the next moment I was in the middle of the field. I looked around and couldn't see any sign of humanity. The fog was thick here, as though I'd walked inside a cloud. I had no idea which way it was back home, but I didn't care. Karen had died recently, and the wound was still raw. She fell down the stairs. Such a stupid way to die.

I jerked my head towards the first crow squawking. It made me jump, and I thought the sphincter of my ass was about to let go. Luckily, I still had enough strength in my body to clench. The crow circled above, continuing to squawk. There was a tree in the distance and a handful of crows flew from there towards their friend in the sky, flying in an ominous circle. Do they know? I thought.

I emptied the contents of the blue bag onto the grass in front of me, and backed away, signalling to the crows to come and feast. I backed up ten or fifteen steps before the first crow swooped down and started to peck away. The others joined. I smiled. Content and having found a purpose, the world seemed to centre itself around me, and I felt the fog lift.


I'd fed the crows for a week when I took out the advert in the local paper for a lodger. I had a spare bedroom in my three-bed house, and I needed the money. I thought some company would be nice too. Barney called me about the advert. He was Australian, staying in the valley for a couple of months, driving down to the sea each day where he'd got a job teaching the summer people how to surf. I hung an Australian flag from his bedroom window the day he arrived, and we enjoyed a couple of beers. There was only one rule. He could come and go as he pleased, but he couldn't go in the back bedroom. I kept it padlocked on the outside. A man needs some privacy in his own home!

I continued to feed those crows. To get into the field, I had to walk over a stile on the dry-stone wall. One of the crows (I liked to think it was that first crow that circled back on that first day) stationed itself as a scout on the wall, and when it saw me coming, would fly up and squawk an invitation to its friends. The murder of crows rose up from the tree, blackening the sky. I would throw them the food on the grass, and they'd swoop down to feast. I felt so powerful. I'm not ashamed to say that by the end of the second week of feeding those crows, hearing the swoop and squawk gave me an erection.


I knew Barney was going to be trouble at end of the second week of his stay. The first couple of days had gone off without a hitch. We'd laughed at each other's jokes and shared dinner and beers in the garden. But he'd come more irritable, moaning about a lack of sleep. He said he could hear a whirring or buzzing, and he thought it was coming from the back bedroom. I don't sleep much myself anyway, and I heard him sneak out of his room one night. He walked on his tiptoes, but it was still too loud to outfox someone with hearing like mine. I might be getting on a bit, but apart from anosmia, my senses are still operating damn near perfectly. I listened at my door. I heard Barney pad along the landing, breathing heavily, the dumb Aussie cunt.

He reached the back bedroom. I heard him turn the handle. Of course, the door was locked. He shook the padlock. Some people won't accept the privacy of others. And I was putting him up in my house. At such a cheap price as well! The indignation settled over me like a cloak, but I let it simmer until morning.

Barney came down later than I did, bleary eyed. I'd poured him a bowl of cornflakes and left the milk next to his bowl.

"Morning," he said. No sign of forgiveness. I felt anger rise up, bubbling and frothing like a pan on a hob. I moved the pan off though, letting my anger recede.

"Morning," I replied. He sat down and ate his breakfast. No thanks either. Rude Aussie prick.

I stood up and boiled the kettle. He said he didn't want a cup of tea. Said he was running late already and needed to go.

"Oh, well I suppose you might have been on time if you hadn't taken a midnight stroll," I said. I faced the worktop, but I could hear his spoon stop above his cereal bowl.

"I'm sorry Mr Hill," Barney said. Sure, here was the apology. Prompted. And as I used to tell Karen, if it was prompted, the apology was barely worth the hot air it came out on. "I just couldn't sleep. I could hear that buzzing again. I thought it was coming from the back bedroom."

I turned and threw the mug at the opposite wall. The kettle hadn't boiled so Barney was spared a scolding.

His eyes bulged as he looked up at me. For once his face wasn't screwed up into that impish smirk of his. Instead his face was white. Fear. That's how I liked it.

"There's one rule in this house, Barney. Do I need to remind you what that rule is?"

"No Mr Hill. Sorry Mr Hill. I better get going," Barney said. He fumbled at his bowl. It fell to the floor and smashed, milk and cornflakes spreading across the floor. It looked almost like the food I threw out to the crows.

He stooped to the floor to pick it up, but I just said, "no."

He looked at me. I could see a curl of his fringe sticking to his forehead, sweat gathering on his brow. "You'll be late for work, Barney," I said.

He nodded and left.

I went upstairs to the back bedroom and masturbated for the first time in years.


I continued my daily trips out to the field to feed the crows. Each day there seemed to be a greater number of the crows, but my supplies were getting lower and lower. One day, I felt as though they were eyeing me up as food. One of them swooped for my bag before I slopped it on the ground. I kicked the crow away, and it lay on its side, twitching. The others seemed to take that as a signal and waited their turn after that, keeping a safe distance up in the sky. Some of them didn't even swoop until I'd climbed back over the stile and was out of the field. I rushed home after that. I had another erection I needed to relieve.


I laid a trap for Barney. We'd been amicable since the morning I'd thrown the mug at the wall. He knew whose domain he was in now. But Barney reminded me so much of Karen, and I'd had so much experience with her; I knew his confidence would replenish and he'd try and take another look in the back bedroom. Only, this time I'd leave the bedroom door open so he could go in there. Then he'd see.

I waited up for several nights in a row, sleeping during the day after my trip to see the crows. I left the lights off, my door ajar. I was going to catch that Aussie bastard in the act.

On the fourth night of my vigil, I finally heard the movement I'd been waiting for. After a couple of false alarm on previous nights, where Barney had used the bathroom, I knew he was headed for the back bedroom. When he used the bathroom, he barged out of his bedroom and into the bathroom as though he had cymbals on his feet, loud enough that even if I wasn't keeping watch, I'd have heard him anyway. But on that fourth night, I heard the faint click of his bedroom door opening. He stepped out onto the landing very faintly. He must have been practicing, I thought. I could only just hear his light footsteps padding across the landing.

When he was outside of my room, I thought he might have noticed the door was slightly ajar, because it seemed as though he stopped there, agonising whether he should just go back to his room. But I urged him on. I wanted him to look now. I breathed heavily and in the rhythm of a sleeping man. The door was only slightly open, so he might even be agonising over whether the door was open or not.

Eventually he moved on. I picked it up off the side, turning the handle in my hand so that it fit snugly in my grip.

I heard him reach the back-bedroom door. I rose silently from my chair. I heard him fumble with the lock quietly. I'd oiled my door that day whilst he'd been at work. It usually creaked badly, but not on that night. Barney would have known about the creak, would have been listening out for it. I opened the door, looking out on the landing towards the back bedroom. Barney was a deeper black in the dark of the landing.

I heard him push down on the handle of the door. The buzzing grew louder as he opened the door and groped for the light switch. I saw him cover his mouth and nose with his t-shirt and hear him retch. Weak Anzac twat.

He found the light and switched it on.

"Oh, my dear fuckin' God," he said. "What the fuck is—"

I swept across the landing. I saw the realisation in his eyes as he turned around. There was a flicker of resentment as I hit him with my claw hammer. I felt his skull crunch underneath the weight of it. The dumb Aussie cunt didn't say a word. He fell to his knees and I whacked him again, and again, and a dozen times. I saw my erection protruding from my pyjama bottoms, but I'd have no time to masturbate.

I looked up from Barney and into the room and smiled at Karen. There she lay, or what was left of her. I'd butchered most of her, the open cavern of her chest lay there, filled with maggots. Flies swarmed around the room, from Karen's body up to the ceiling. Her face was still there though. She smiled at me and I winked back.

Maybe I did have time to masturbate after all.


My bags bulged as I walked out to the field. There wasn't a scout crow sat on the stile today. Perhaps it was just because the pickings had been so bare in the last few days. But not today. Today I'd brought two bags; the crows would feast!

I slopped out both bags on the floor, hearing the murder of crows fly out from the tree and come over to inspect what their master had brought them. I smiled. They knew I controlled them now.

First only a couple landed and began to peck, but then more grew bolder until eventually they all bumped into each other, scavenging from the food on the ground. I felt movement in my groin again and happiness run through me. These crows must like vegemite as well, I thought. My head fell backwards, and I laughed loud and high.

The laughter sounded much like the squawk of a crow.

The End


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