Author : M. Irene Hill

A whisking wind stirred up a cauldron of crows that congregated amongst the remains of the centuries-old pagan temple. Accompanying the wind, a young woman of tempestuous temperament and flaming hair.

Unconcerned by the rumbling heavens, Akasha knelt down in the tall grass that sheltered the ruins. A rounded stone fragment, once part of the temple’s altar, invited her near. A cacophany of caws from the trees did not deter her. The wind whipped her long hair and pried at the ribbons of her bodice, but she was oblivious to everything but the ruins.

She traced the stone’s mosaic patterns with tactile reverence. Along its jagged edge, inscribed symbols of an eagle and a lightning bolt beckoned her soft touch, eliciting a resonant hum and crackling sound through the valley, and sent a frisson of excitement through her; the subtle change in the aether invoked a primal feeling that she didn’t understand, didn’t care to, but instinctively yielded to. Earth tremored in response to the exploratory touch of her fingers against the rough stone; its vibration penetrated deep into her marrow.

Akasha’s sonorous voice rang out, the mystical song carried by the wind, inciting more clamorous cawing from the crows that now assembled near the edge of the ruins. She stood amongst the stones, face turned into the wind, singing her siren song.

The crackling and humming sounds were almost palpable. A frenzied wind ravaged the treetops, scattering leaves, branches and startled fauna. Rumbling heavens reached their crescendo and, rather than cower or cringe, Akasha stretched her arms upward, like a small child wishing to be swept up in an embrace.

The frothy clouds boiled over, and the rain fell in a deafening roar, drowning out the crow’s cries. Akasha’s gown and long hair were wet and plastered to her willowy body. She stood stoically, a trembling, wet offering to the gods.

The murder of crows watched in silence now, from the safety of the hilltop cairns, while a colossal spacecraft fissured the sky and descended into the valley.

To the crows, the spacecraft looked like a fluid, rippling bird of prey, its shimmering exotic wings outstretched. It exhaled lightening bolts, and deep rumbles issued from its belly. Elder crows that had seen the giant bird before, long ago, feared its return, but respected its impressive might. It always took the females. They eventually were returned, similar but different.

The hovering craft captured its prey, shocking her into paralysis before carrying her away to its nest in some faraway Galaxy.

When the clouds retreated and the Earth’s tremors subsided, it was deemed safe to return. The murder of crows reconvened at the temple ruins. The tall grass was parched and brittle around the mounds of stones. Foreign smells lingered. Only a green ribbon from Akasha’s gown remained.

The youngest crows tried to make sense of it all. Others blamed themselves for not stopping the abduction. The elders reminded them it was not their place to understand or interfere. Their role was to bear witness. That was all.

The eldest crow grasped Akasha’s lost ribbon in his beak, and flew home to his nest. He added the ribbon to his growing macabre collection, which included myriad items like bones, teeth, scraps of fabric and metal, gadgets and gizmos, dried flora, shiny coins, totems and talismans.

His role as curator of alien artifacts would be passed on to the next generation soon enough, likely before Akasha returned to the temple.