He was wandering blind in pitch-blackness. Groping his way forward without a clue where he was or how he had gotten there. A deafening silence enveloped him and tendrils of fear crept up his throat threatening to choke the life out of him. Sweat dripped into his eyes stinging and adding to his misery.
A hiss cut through the darkness in front of him. He let out a strangled cry. A mutter of unintelligible words came from somewhere off to his left just as a bolt of lightening split the darkness and he saw the face of the old woman inches from his. On her shoulder the bird screeched at him and he screamed until his throat was raw.
Brent sat straight up in bed, his blanket balled up in his fists on either side of him. Sweat poured down his face and he cast his eyes about the room in terror. A bolt of lightening followed closely by a mighty clap of thunder set his heart racing.
A nightmare. It was just a nightmare. He got out of bed and pulled the curtain away from the window. It was one hell of a storm. Good thing he had closed the window. He was about to let go of the curtain when he thought he saw movement in the lowest branch of the lone pohutukawa in the yard. He squinted into the darkness but couldn’t make anything out. He went back to bed and stared at the ceiling.
The old woman and the bird. Why did he have a nightmare about them? The bird on the windowsill before he went to sleep; that was it. He closed his eyes but sleep was a long time returning.
The next day back in his office at the computer security company he owned he found a world of business needing his immediate attention and he waded into it gladly. By the end of the day he was exhausted but happy to be back to his routine. He was looking forward to a quiet evening at home with some takeaway food and a nice bottle of wine.
He stopped at a wine shop near his apartment and went in to find himself a nice pinot noir. As he made his selection he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Hey Brent. How’s it going mate, long time no see.”
It was an old friend from university “George, oh my god, it’s been awhile, eh?”
They made their purchases and walked outside together and stood there catching up. Brent heard squealing tyres and figured it was some hoon showing off. He was just walking away after saying goodbye when a car jumped the kerb and slammed into George knocking him through a plate glass window.
The scene was bedlam. A woman screamed, people stood around in shock and stared and Brent ran to the shattered window to see what had happened to George. He was lying on the floor of the wine shop with broken bottles all around him, his left arm above his head at an impossible angle. He seemed to be unconscious.
The shop owner called an ambulance, the wail of a police siren drew nearer and Brent stood by and watched as they loaded his friend in and drove away. He couldn’t believe what was happening. The third friend in two days to meet with calamity. He gave a statement to the police and then as he turned to head back to his car he heard a sound that stopped him in his tracks. It was a loud hiss that took him straight back to his nightmare.
He looked up at the stop sign on the corner not ten feet away and there sat a bird. It hissed at him once more and flew off over the rooftops.
Part 5 Tomorrow