Today’s Sharing Sunday piece is the handiwork of a man that I beat in the early hours of my second nano. Andy Irvine is a uni buddy I met at Flinders University when we were both studying psychology. Would you look at that? He is the author of Affliction and Coercion, in his hit series Psi Novels. Enjoy a snippet of his work.
The Crow. A harbinger of death, a devourer of carrion. In some cultures it was considered a spiritual guide—a messenger—that might deliver one to the afterlife. A sleek, dangerous, creature. In some indigenous tales the crow was considered to be a trickster—that it stole fire—much as Prometheus did. The Australian Aboriginal myths said that a crow stole fire and gave it to mankind, in the process it was scorched by the flames and its feathers were forever blackened. A gift and a price—nothing in this world is free, nothing comes without sacrifice and suffering. Indeed the philosopher Nietzche posited that a man’s suffering, his self-mortification, was what endeared him to the gods for they looked upon pain and hardship and smiled.
Detective Reynolds jiggled his suspect’s handcuffs while he pondered the crows. Thoughts provoked by the young woman’s chosen attire. A black leather jacket emboldened with a crow on the back, its wings stretching out and reaching down the jackets arms. It was sleek, stylish and it made a statement. A statement he was just beginning to understand.
In the last six months the crow imagery had begun to pop up everywhere. At first he—like all the cops—had assumed it was just some new gang sign, a piece of splashy monochromatic graffiti on a street corner. But no group ever took credit, never claimed the sign as their own. A month ago he had helped bust a club where they took in a few known psis; two of the five had worn crows. One as a pin on his jacket, the other as a tattoo on her wrist. Nothing overtly obvious, but they were definitely there. A week ago a couple of delinquents had been rounded up in a park, again they had tested positive for psi and again the crow was there. As graffiti in the park, and as a bracelet one of the girls wore, as a necklace the others shared.
It could have been coincidence. He doubted it. It was a sign of the psi-afflicted—and it was spreading. Reynolds had reached out to a few other precincts, a couple of cops he knew, and they said the same thing, more of the psis they brought in wore the sign in some shape or form. It was only a minority of the afflicted so far but they were joined by more every day.
Reynolds tapped the key to the cuffs on the steel table; it clinked loudly and the woman—the girl really, she was late teens at best—glared at him. She was wearing a façade of nonchalance, if it wasn’t for the small beads of sweat on her forehead he would have believed it as well.
“Adelaide,” she jumped in, “It’s just Adelaide.”
“Adelaide,” Reynolds started again, “I like your jacket. It’s very… distinctive.”
She smirked, “Distinctive? Really. That’s what you’re going with?”
“Ok,” Reynolds conceded, “Would you like to hear a story Adelaide?”
“Aw shucks, well I do need to be running”—she jangled the cuffs against the table—“but I suppose I can make time in my busy schedule.”
“The Aboriginal culture in Australia has a myth about the crow—a myth were a trickster spirit stole hot coals from the Karatgurk woman. With those coals he had taken fire for himself, which he then shared with the other animals.” She was feigning boredom, but he could see her interest piquing. “Fire, the proverbial metaphor for the evolution of society. Fire took humanity from cave dwelling Neanderthals to the dominant species on this planet, fire, the wheel, the steam engine, progressive innovation that reshaped the world as people knew it. Now this isn’t a particularly new idea, most cultures have a story about fire, the theft of it, the salvation of the human race, but do you know what I find so interesting about the crow myth?”
“I suspect you’re going to tell me,” Adelaide muttered.
Reynolds smiled, “For his efforts the crow was scorched by the flames, the fire and smoke staining his feathers black for all time and marking him for all to see.” Adelaide was looking a touch uneasy. “So my theory? I think the psi-afflicted are tired of this disparate broken identity and they’re looking for a way to connect to each other, and to stand out. To make a statement to each other and to society, that they won’t sit back and take the government’s edicts anymore. And I think the reason your people chose the crow is because it was forever marked and changed by what it did. You see psi as the fire, the next innovation, the next step in human evolution, and you see those of you touched by it as marked—like the crow.”
“Pretty theory.” Adelaide shot back derisively.
Reynolds smiled, “It was a theory.” He agreed, “But you’ve just confirmed it.”
“What? No. I didn’t say anything like that!!”
“You didn’t need to, your reaction was all I needed to see. You understand as gallant and unifying as this symbology is it spells the doom of your ‘culture’, identifying yourself for all to see is going to draw hell down on you.”
Adelaide leant in and sneered, “Hell? We already live in hell Detective. We are hunted, persecuted for what we are—and some of us? Are tired of it. We aren’t going to sit by and let you pick us off one by one anymore, we are going to fight back.”
Reynolds stiffened uneasily. It was worse than he thought, the crow symbology didn’t represent the psi world as a whole. It was the mark of a radical movement within the psi culture. It would explain why the symbology had become so prevalent of late, with the new psi laws going into effect, those disinclined to accept them were making statements, sowing a little chaos and terror as their method of protest. As a radical aggressive element of course those particular psis would be the ones coming to police attention.
About the Dreamer
Andrew has been writing for decades. In fact he still has a note book from his third year of primary school which contains one of his oldest stories. Does it surprise you to learn that short story is entitled the Vampire Chronicles Six? Of course there were no preceding stories, for some reason in my child like state I thought six was a good place to begin. Check more from Andy at his site.