31 Days of Halloween – Mary Merrill
Affinity – Blurb: The crows followed Talon around everywhere. When he graduated from high school, Talon moved to Sacramento to work with his Uncle, and the birds followed. He recognized the same straggly-tailed old crow that had followed him around since junior high. Iris Yorita lived in his old neighborhood in Modesto. Snakes were drawn to her as the big, black birds were drawn to him. She called their ability an AFFINITY and claimed it was a gift from God, and they should use it to help people. Talon thought she was out of her mind. How could a bunch of mangy crows or slimy snakes help anyone?
Gilded Cage – Excerpt
couch. The television was on but the sound muted. When his uncle returned, he held
an old, jacked-up photo album, the cover propped open by yellowed papers. He
stopped in front of Talon.
up and met his uncle’s blue gaze and braced himself to be made fun of, for his
uncle to laugh his ass off. “I can communicate with crows.” Okay. There. He had
said it. First time ever.
the couch, sinking into the cushion as he cradled Scraggy close to his chest.
you’ve been talking with them, but I’ve known you’ve got some kind of weird
relationship with them. I’ve been waiting for you to spill it, kid. I’ve seen
those black buzzards following you around like they was waiting for you to
croak or something.”
Talon felt…disappointed. As if everyone knew except him. Like he was a big
joke or something.
figured you’d tell me when you were ready.”
Talon like nothing bizarre was happening. “Look at this.” He put the photo
album on his knees, opened the worn cover and carefully put the papers and news
clippings on the end table. Sticky paper held old black and white photographs
in place as Uncle Nate flipped the pages.
means?” he asked.
Nate put the book on Talon’s legs, keeping far from the crow’s sharp beak and
pointed to an old picture. He tapped his finger on the man standing there.
Behind the man was a big, black bird perched on a fence.
raven. It’s the genus for large black birds.”
the crappy things he had just thought about his uncle.
could talk to these birds. Everyone thought he was nuts. Our grandmother, your
great-grandmother told us the family secret when we were in grade school. Your
father and I. Of course, we were warned if we ever said anything the crows
would come and peck our eyeballs right out of our heads.” He widened his eyes
at Talon, took on a spooky voice and waggled both his hands next to his head.
“Or you’d be driven crazy by the birds, oouuuuweee aaahhh.”
at his joke, he continued, “Your father and I used to imagine what it was like
if we could control the birds,” he said in a soft voice.
Talon ran his finger across the picture of his great-grandfather. “It’s more
like a connection with them.” He let his mind touch briefly with Scraggy,
sending comforting thoughts. The bird quieted down.
the page, looking for more pictures with a strange black bird.
of the bird. Believe me. We searched through this many-a-time. But you might be
interested in this.” He handed Talon a small black leather-bound book. “Your
great-grandfather’s journal. It sounded like a lot of rambling to me, but maybe
you’d understand. With your ability and all.”