It has been such a long time since we last spoke. Therefore, I barely recognize him as he saunters into my bedroom. He leans against the door frame with a sigh of relief. He smiles to find me sitting up in bed. As I look up from the book I'm reading, I hear him sigh again.
"Glad to see you awake," he says.
I say nothing. I refuse to entertain the devil anymore than I already have. But, the bastard's persistent.
"You and I have somewhere to go," he informs me.
Again, I say nothing. I bow my head and begin to pray while the zombie book I am reading rests in my lap.
The devil knows me. He knows my weaknesses. He listens to my prayers. Lucifer understands that given just the right amount of time, I will lose my train of thought and look up.
I stubbornly refuse to. As I am saying the Lord's prayer, I hear it. Not the beautiful cackle of his laugh; but the call of a bird.
The devil has disappeared. There's a raven sitting on my dresser.
I toss the book and the prayer to the side. The raven looks at me and utters another call.
"If you croak 'nevermore' I'm gonna shit a brick farm house," I tell him.
As if answering me, the raven flies out of my room. I hear a thump at my front door.
I forget the devil, my zombie book, and even my prayers. Sensing what the raven wants, I open the door and follow the creature out into the night.
No moon exists tonight. The darkness holds no greeting for me. The wind remains still. There is no evidence of any nightly creatures making their way in the moonless night. The raven gives me a moment to adjust to the darkness and then sets out down the street. Away from the house. Away from the children. Away from safety.
I do not hesitate to follow this black bird. It's not trust that forces me to pursue him. It is a force that I'm not familiar with. A pull that tugs at me and compels me to walk down the desolate street. I do not look back as my house that holds my children disappears from view. I only have eyes for the raven.
The neighborhood quickly falls way to a wooded landscape. The bird circles ahead. Never to far away. Calling out to me to hurry. It knows that dawn approaches. It tells me with every beat of its wings that once the sun begins to show, it will leave me there; caught in the purgatory that is the space between waking and dreaming.
I travel through brush and trees until I come upon a clearing. The moon that was not there before, shines brightly over headstones and statues. They mark the graves of people who died long ago.
The raven travels around one marker in particular. His weary wings rest as he lands on a statue of a black angel. It is like no other that I have ever seen before. The wings of this magnificent piece of stone spans at least six feet from one end to the other. The feet of the statue are human and rest on a grave marker. I can not tell whose grave it actually is. The torso is long with scales chiseled on each side. It gives the granite a realistic look of breathing. The head holds nothing, but a set of closed eyes. There is no hair to indicate male or female. No mouth to whisper its secrets. No ears to hear mine.
I look about the rest of the cemetery. Old tombstones reveal hundreds of graves. I am unable to read the ones nearby. The faces of the markers have been worn down with age. Thus keeping the identities of those buried underneath a mystery.
I look to the raven, who continues to sit on the statue, for answers.
"Why have you brought me here? What do you want from me?"
Chah! The raven replies.