Monday, 6 February 2012

Tap, tap,tap by Helen A. Howell - February Femmes Fatales

Helen A. Howell and I are relatively recently acquainted, but goodness me do I like her words. She has a way with pace, pulls no punches and says it like it is.

With this tale Helen chills us slowly, dragging us down to a cold place of terror. It feels like a classic strange story from the distant past.

And the big surprise is - not only can you read TAP, tap, tap - you can also let Helen's lovely voice read it to you [MP3 file: 5MB].

Please enjoy this sixth story, from Helen A. Howell - our fifth February Femme Fatale.


The bird first appeared as a dark shadow overhead, just far enough away for me not to see it clearly. It followed me on my walks; dark, ominous, moving silently above. I shielded my eyes against the sun’s bright light and squinted at it hovering above me. The more I looked, the more I could discern what it was. A raven, a large black bird with iridescent feathers and a wing span so broad it caught the up-draught and hung in the sky.

Who had sent this? What did it mean?


Cr-r-ruck Cr-ruck. The noise woke me and I glanced at the clock. 5. am. I slipped out of bed and walked over to the window. There resting on the branch of the big oak sat the raven. Its eyes glittered in the light as it tipped its head from side to side. It had now been seven days since I first spotted it. It never left me when I ventured outside but this was the first time I had seen it close up. It balanced on the gnarled bark of the old tree and continued to call to me. Cr-r-ruck Cr-r-ruck— a sound so sharp it touched every nerve in my body. I knew I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t help it. I threw open the window and reached out to it, curling my fingers as I beckoned towards it. Its claws wrapped around my wrist and its jet black eyes stared deep into my own. I ran a hand across its inky feathers and a chill ran down my spine. I knew this wasn’t a good idea, that there was something dangerous about this creature, yet I was caught in its spell as hopeless as a fly in a spider's web. No amount of struggling would set me free.

The raven left my arm and glided to rest on the bed post. It turned its gazed towards me; those eyes, something was so familiar about those eyes. But how could that be? I stared at the floor, almost afraid to look back at it.

Tap, tap, tap. What was it doing? I forced myself to look up. Tap, tap tap. It had a picture caught between it claws. It looked at me, then with its beak, tap tap tap on the photograph. I advanced towards it and with a shaking hand I reached out and clasped the photo. Mark! My heart missed a beat.

“How did you get this? It was beneath my clothing in that drawer,” I whispered as I gestured towards the chest, waving the photo in its direction.

Cr-r-runk, Cr-r-runk was its only reply.

At Mark’s funeral I’d wept as the heart broken girlfriend. I looked again into the raven’s face. Those eyes, they’re his, but changed—darker, frightening. For a moment I felt dizzy as the raven held my stare. Unable to tear my eyes away, I walked towards the bed and sat down next to the post where it rested. Lifting my arm, I held it out and the bird climbed on; the photograph fell to the floor. The bird and I were trapped in a moment of time, unable to break free of each other. Just like it was with Mark, until I freed myself.

I lifted my hand and ran my fingers down its silky feathers, then rested them around its throat. Would I free myself from this bird or would it free itself from me? For now, we are joined. It knows my secret but the question is, can it keep it? Time will tell.

_________ The End _________

Bio: Helen has been writing for three and half years and has written several short stories, poems and completed her first novel.

She is a regular contributor to Friday Flash. She has had two poems, a short story and a Drabble published.

Her blog is where she shares her writing.
Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.