Galling, Gruelling Eternity | The Red Raven Part 5
Cold, stiff, skeletal . . .
“How long do you suppose he’s been dead?” the woman asked. She refrained from nudging the body with her boot.
“It’s hard to say just by looking,” the other man replied. “He’s been here for weeks, or months. We’ll have to get him back to the laboratory for further analysis.” He scratched his beard.
“It looks like he’s been bitten,” she motioned to the neck of the corpse. “Everything about this case screams that it’s been staged. Do you suppose that this is a ritualistic murder?”
“Yes,” the man replied without so much as a hint of hesitation. “I know this man.”
“He’s the thief, then?”
The professor–Alec A. Chamberlain–sighed. “Yes.” It was always the thief. He had seen DeCorvi dead so many times that he had become accustomed to it; the first few times he had dreaded the outcome–it was always the same–until he stopped thinking about it. Alec was not heartless. No, far from it. Pragmatic? Yes. So far his theory had been proven true.
The woman–his assistant Marie Patron–gasped. “Again?” She began to scribble down notes furiously. “What do you hope to find from the body then?” she asked Alec.
Alec let out a laugh that sounded more like a bark. “Nothing!”
“Well, don’t get too excited about it then,” Marie said rather dryly. “Have you tried to resuscitate the body?”
“No,” the professor turned away.
Marie watched him go. She knew he had not tried it, though. The thief was a curious case; he had died countless times, and yet somehow they always found him again, alive and well, with no memory of the past. Professor Chamberlain always hired him for the same thing, which DeCorvi always pulled off with astonishing ease. And yet they always found him dead at the end . . . It didn’t seem to matter if there were slight or significant changes to the plan.
DeCorvi always died.
“If only he would put the damn thing on!” Professor Chamberlain said with no small amount of frustration.
Marie silently agreed. There needed to be a drastic change to the plan. Then there would be results. She heaved a sigh. At times she dreaded her callousness. “He is not a man,” she reminded the professor. “Men can’t force him to do what he will not do.”
“Ah, yes. You are right. But still!” There was no arguing with it; Marie was right. The Professor thought about it for a moment. “What if you got him to do it somehow?”
“What? Add a touch of romance?” Marie laughed. “Professor, he does not look at men or women the way a real person would.” How many times had Marie watched DeCorvi? After all, it was her that planted the letter in his presence each time; she had become an expert at picking locks, opening windows . . . Even without any memory some part of the thief recalled the letter. “It’s clear he wants to be left alone, Professor.”
The Professor turned back to Marie and the corpse. Gesturing with his hands he said: “Now that is where I beg to differ. It appears that he’s divided between what he wants, and what he is. He, as the thief: Joseph DeCorvi, wishes to live a terrestrial life like you or I. But he, as the raven god–the Red Raven, desires war with the Golden Spider.”
“Okay. Suppose you’re right,” Marie began. She believed the same things as the Professor regarding DeCorvi, but not the part about him being a god. That was pure conjecture on the Professor’s part. And purely ridiculous. She was willing to accept that she was wrong, but the Professor had little to show for that part of his theory . . . “If DeCorvi is really the Red Raven, split over personal desire and cosmic purpose, what is he doing?” When it was clear she had him stumped, Marie continued: “ That man is not the god you’re looking for Professor. I’m sorry.”
He felt . . . An overwhelming shame. Joseph DeCorvi sat up in bed and winced. He felt at his neck; a moment earlier he had felt a great searing pain, like he was being strangled and bled to death at the same time. Hesitating for a second, he tried to remember the other day. “What is wrong with me?” He felt his forehead. It was cold to the touch.
Like he was dead.
I’m not dead! he reassured himself, pinching, poking, feeling every inch of his body. Just to be sure he was real. I do exist!
You exist? That’s a pity.
“Shut up!” he shouted, his voice raw, guttural. He clamped his hands to his ears. After a while Joseph found that his eyes had been shut. To his chagrin he had been crying. He lowered his hands, and to his horror found blood on them.
Bewildered, Joseph searched the room. He was alone–no . . . There, up in the corner. A large yellow spider sat on its web . . . “DAMN YOU!” Joseph growled, snarling. Like a half-mad animal he leaped for the thing, reaching for it with his bloodied hands. He grabbed it out of the air, and ate it.
“What is wrong with me!” he shouted. He vomited. He scrambled into a corner and hugged himself into a fetal position. He rocked back and forth with his eyes shut, whimpering.
Feeling an overwhelming shame at what he had become.
Stop it! he told himself, feeling stern. Joseph stood up, still shaking, but standing nonetheless. Good, now go make your bed. He continued on like that until he was presentable to the outside world, which made him feel bitter. No one cared about the inside, did they? Who wants to hear about you dying a little each day? Pathetic. Who do you think you are? You’re an adult now.
Joseph sighed. He felt tired, as if he had done this more than once. Passing a hand over his brow, he steeled himself for the day. “Since when did I hate life this much?” he asked himself.
There was no answer.
Good. He made sure to lock the door behind him. His apartment was not the best of places to be, but the neighbourhood outside was worse. When he first moved there he had been forced to learn that lesson. His memory was a fuzzy blur when he tried to remember what transpired, but the street people avoided him whenever he came around . . . So whatever had happened, he had won.
“Who are you?” someone asked. Joseph turned to find a woman behind him; she was average height, dark skinned, with striking grey eyes. She had her hair wrapped up neatly in a blue scarf; judging by the few untucked strands her hair was a dark red that was almost black.
“I-I’m Joseph,” he stuttered. No one talked to him on the streets of his own home town. Never. “Ugh . . .” There was a long pause. “Who are you?”
She smiled. “I’m Marie. I always see you around, I thought I’d say hi. It’s nice to finally meet you, Joseph.”
“Oh! Well, ah, it’s nice to meet you as well, Marie. Have a good day!” Joseph looked back once before rounding a street corner. The woman who had called herself Marie . . . She was writing something in a book.
The Red Raven is an ongoing series:
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4
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