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When The Birds Came

by oceans


“WHEN THE BIRDS CAME”

PROLOGUE

It was the sound that came first.

A sound that trembled the skies and covered the town with a blanket of uncertainty. Worried 

murmurs added to the hum of wings that whipped and lashed against the morning light, cutting the 

air like a knife. Windows were opened and slammed shut, doors locked and unlocked, forming a 

sing-song rhythm together with the bird’s wings.

     As people hid or left their homes to investigate, the light morning sky went dark. Both from the 

shadow of the murder and the color of the crows’s feathers. Suddenly, the inhabitants quieted, as 

did the birds, except for one. The single crow’s caw echoed through the lonely town like a 

countdown. A caw that sent the usual monotonous town into a flurry of panic. A premonition of  

things to come.

1

Dean Declan sat at his desk, earbuds in. He held a pencil in his hand, his journal on display in front 

of him. An agreement between him and his mother insists that in it he write the things he couldn’t 

bring himself to say out loud. To which he complied for no reason other than his distaste for therapy. 

The journal compromised both their worries.

On his worst days, when life proved to be no more joyous than it was unsatisfactory, he would 

sketch his better memories in it. One of his favorite memories became a nightmare six years ago on 

Josh’s birthday. Still, although the night became traumatic, Dean did his best to only recounter the 

happy parts of the day.

Dean could just imagine Josh sneaking into the kitchen an hour before dinner and sticking his 

fingers into the cake to get a taste of frosting. Their mom would catch him, of course. 

"Joshua Declan!" she would say. "Can't you wait one more hour?"

"Mom, I couldn't help it." Josh would reply. "Can't we just have it now?"

She would give in like she always did. No one could say no to Josh, and no one ever did. But Josh 

wasn't there anymore. There will be no sneaking into the kitchen. No catching him. No sweet little 

face covered with icing. There will be no presents. No laughter and hugs as Josh opens them.  

There hadn't been any of that for the last six years.

Dean sighed and leaned back in his chair, looking at the page in his journal. Dated September 

twenty-second, intricate black lines formed a young boy’s icing-covered smiling face on the page. 

Followed by the words “Happy Birthday!” beneath it.

As Dean set his pencil down onto the table, a gust of wind blew into his room, forcing his journal 

closed. As he pulled out his earbuds he heard the crows's caws. He walked to the window and 

looked out. A crowd was gathered at the center of town. They seemed worried. They were shouting, 

but Dean couldn’t decipher what anyone was saying. Their voices merged with those of the crows’s. 

"Dean!" his mom calls from downstairs. "Are you seeing this?"

A scream interrupted him before he could answer.

From his bedroom window, Dean watched as his mother ran out the door and towards the crowd.  

He quickly followed suit, nearly tripping down the stairwell in the process. Curious and worried eyes 

pierced through him as he followed her into the crowd, pushing past heavy bodies whose feet 

seemed cemented to the ground by fear. By the time he reached the center his mom was already 

there, frozen in shock.

“Mom?” Dean asked, turning her to face him. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

Years seemed to pass until his mom looked at him then to the floor of the center crowd and back.

“It’s your brother.”

Dean turned his attention to the floor center. The townspeople quieted, the only sound came from 

the single black crow spiraling on top of them. Laid on display in front of the whole town, was the 

body of little Joshua Declan. Identical to the age and appearance he was when he went missing six 

years prior.

Slowly, Josh’s eyes opened. Steadily he looked around at the crowd, searching for familiar eyes  

until he found those he was looking for.

“Mom?” Josh spoke. “Dean?” he paused. “What happened?”

Dean stood there in shock and a little bit of hope, as his mother broke into sobs and fell to the floor 

beside his brother.


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313 Reviews


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Thu Sep 16, 2021 9:54 am
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RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hey oceans!

RandomTalks here with a short review!

This was a really interesting first chapter. From the very first line, you have pulled us into this different world of your creation and I absolutely loved the way you have set the scene in the introduction. You have built an ominous and and tense atmosphere with your careful descriptions and one can just feel that something very big is going to happen. I loved the tension in the air, that sense of foreboding that you have managed to capture so brilliantly. The imagery of the crows was on point and it delivered the unease which I think you wanted to portray, with excellence. I for one was holding my breath till the end.

I liked the way you moved on from setting the scene in the introduction and zoomed in to the main character. The entire story is narrated in a far off distant voice which I think gives it an even more ominous feel. We meet our main character and from that very first introduction we get a sense of the mystery his life is shrouded in - the mystery of his past. What happened to his brother? I am sure we are going to get that answered in the following chapters but the mystery you have built here is incredible. It is quite evident that Dean loved his brother, and that he never really moved on from what had happened even though it's been six years. I liked how you established the relationship between the brothers with that simple memory of his birthday. I have a feeling something went very wrong that night, but that memory gave us a glimpse into his life and helped us to connect with him better and sympathize.

The ending was really exciting. It felt as if all the tension that had been collecting since the beginning of the chapter had suddenly culminated right into that very moment on the street. I am a little curios about how his brother appeared to be the same age even though six years had passed. It makes me feel that the story is not just what it looks like right now, there is something greater at play here.

One suggestion:

An agreement between him and his mother insists that in it he write the things he couldn’t bring himself to say out loud.

The entire story is in past tense, however your use of 'insists' slightly throws the flow off balance. I would rewrite the sentence to fix that.

That's all.

This was a really intriguing start to the story and I can't wait to see where you take this.

Keep writing and have a great day!




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Thu Sep 16, 2021 6:18 am
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!

First Impression: Sooo...this is not something I've run into too often before...we've got a ominous appearance of a lot of crows, the return of a person missing for six years...and well, all in all, I'd say this is a pretty good first chapter at first glance.

Anyway let's get right to it,

It was the sound that came first.

A sound that trembled the skies and covered the town with a blanket of uncertainty. Worried
murmurs added to the hum of wings that whipped and lashed against the morning light, cutting the air like a knife. Windows were opened and slammed shut, doors locked and unlocked, forming a sing-song rhythm together with the bird’s wings.

As people hid or left their homes to investigate, the light morning sky went dark. Both from the shadow of the murder and the color of the crows’s feathers. Suddenly, the inhabitants quieted, as did the birds, except for one. The single crow’s caw echoed through the lonely town like a countdown. A caw that sent the usual monotonous town into a flurry of panic. A premonition of things to come.


Hmm, so I'm assuming this part here is the prologue and the rest of it here is the first chapter. Going along that vein, I think this piece here does make for a pretty powerful prologue. There's a very nice pervading sense of foreboding here and it just let's you know that something quite bad has just happened and potentially worse is yet to happen. It certainly catches your attention quite quickly as a reader.

Dean Declan sat at his desk, earbuds in. He held a pencil in his hand, his journal on display in front of him. An agreement between him and his mother insists that in it he write the things he couldn’t bring himself to say out loud. To which he complied for no reason other than his distaste for therapy. The journal compromised both their worries. On his worst days, when life proved to be no more joyous than it was unsatisfactory, he would sketch his better memories in it. One of his favorite memories became a nightmare six years ago on Josh’s birthday. Still, although the night became traumatic, Dean did his best to only recounter the happy parts of the day. Dean could just imagine Josh sneaking into the kitchen an hour before dinner and sticking his fingers into the cake to get a taste of frosting. Their mom would catch him, of course.


Hmm...alright, we have ourselves a decent looking introduction there to this character. We get a sense of someone that has a lot weighing them down emotionally and is therefore writing things down in a journal and avoiding therapy. Then it transitions into a sort of example of what's written in said journal by the looks of it. So far, this has been a rather relaxed start, which is quite different from the much more tense prologue...but I suppose we'll build up to the tension in this first chapter.

"Joshua Declan!" she would say. "Can't you wait one more hour?"

"Mom, I couldn't help it." Josh would reply. "Can't we just have it now?"

She would give in like she always did. No one could say no to Josh, and no one ever did. But Josh wasn't there anymore. There will be no sneaking into the kitchen. No catching him. No sweet little face covered with icing. There will be no presents. No laughter and hugs as Josh opens them. There hadn't been any of that for the last six years.


Hmm, so that appears to be a very well chosen memory right there, at first I was worried it would be random, but this one seems to highlight how nice of a relationship this person and his little brother had along with the family...and then we get to know the horrible news that said brother had been missing for quite some time..and I get the feeling this will play some part in things to come here.

Dean sighed and leaned back in his chair, looking at the page in his journal. Dated September twenty-second, intricate black lines formed a young boy’s icing-covered smiling face on the page.

Followed by the words “Happy Birthday!” beneath it.


Well, this just nails home the emotion of the previous paragraph there, you can very clearly see little Joshua was a very young child from these bits of evidence and that this loss is something that probably hit this family very hard.

As Dean set his pencil down onto the table, a gust of wind blew into his room, forcing his journal closed. As he pulled out his earbuds he heard the crows's caws. He walked to the window and looked out. A crowd was gathered at the center of town. They seemed worried. They were shouting, but Dean couldn’t decipher what anyone was saying. Their voices merged with those of the crows’s. "Dean!" his mom calls from downstairs. "Are you seeing this?"

A scream interrupted him before he could answer.


Oooh, alright, so here comes the tension, although this seems less like some kind of attack by the crows like I initially thought but rather some kind of grave warning cause it looks like the entire town is somehow gathered around one incident...oh dear why do I get the feeling that someone from the town just got murked by the crows somehow...

From his bedroom window, Dean watched as his mother ran out the door and towards the crowd. He quickly followed suit, nearly tripping down the stairwell in the process. Curious and worried eyes pierced through him as he followed her into the crowd, pushing past heavy bodies whose feet seemed cemented to the ground by fear. By the time he reached the center his mom was already there, frozen in shock.

“Mom?” Dean asked, turning her to face him. “What is it? What’s wrong?”


This is some interesting description there, you're not establishing the main setting particularly clearly...which is well, not the worst thing in the first chapter that can be overlooked...but despite this you're focusing on the people there and really foreshadowing what we're about to see by using the reactions of said people quite effectively..with everyone frozen in shock, you've got a good idea what sort of thing we're about to witness.

Years seemed to pass until his mom looked at him then to the floor of the center crowd and back.

“It’s your brother.”

Dean turned his attention to the floor center. The townspeople quieted, the only sound came from the single black crow spiraling on top of them. Laid on display in front of the whole town, was the body of little Joshua Declan. Identical to the age and appearance he was when he went missing six years prior. Slowly, Josh’s eyes opened. Steadily he looked around at the crowd, searching for familiar eyes until he found those he was looking for.


Oh wow..I was not expecting that...I though the little brother would be important, but not that he'd show up quite this early..well, this is certainly much better than the murder of someone in the town, the return of the missing brother although...the ominous signs from the arrival of the crows seems to suggest there's more here than what meets the eye. One nitpick is how you show Josh's first arrival as "the body of the little brother" that seems to indicate this is a dead body we're looking at when that's clearly not the case, so you may want to reword that part a teensy bit.

“Mom?” Josh spoke. “Dean?” he paused. “What happened?”

Dean stood there in shock and a little bit of hope, as his mother broke into sobs and fell to the floor beside his brother.


Ahh, this is a very nicely timed cliffhanger right here, it certainly does its job quite well...and I safely say that I'd definitely want to read more of this story here. :D

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, a very interesting picture that's been painted here to get this story started. There's already a very healthy amount of questions for us as readers to ask..and while we don't know too much about the characters to make a judgement, they seem to be fairly well thought out ones here at the start. Anyway, that's all I have to say here for now. :D

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry





if ya mention chickens, i have to show up, that is the law.
— alliyah