The Crow Box
The Shadow and Ink Series, Book One
Genre: New Adult Dark Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: January 15, 2016
Number of pages: Around 100
Word Count: 55, 323
Cover Artist: Nikki Rae
The small wooden box is dirty, the size of a human fist, and sealed with wax. When Corbin takes it upon herself to clean it and break the seal, a voice she has tried to ignore gathers strength. Shadows play on the walls at night, and with a family history of mental illness, Corbin fears the worst. But the voice tells her it is real. That its name is Six and it will prove it in time.
Drawn to this mysterious entity, Corbin isn’t sure what to believe and the line between reality and her imagination blurs more every day.
Some doors should not be opened; can this one be closed?
A tap on the window. Something that was too much like a tree branch to really draw any attention. Then it got louder. I shoved the pillow over my head, sinking its weight into the cool fabric and throwing the covers over my head for extra good measure. I almost forgot where I was until I felt the rough fabric of the blanket that wasn’t mine. I tried to open my eyes, but I didn’t care enough to exert the amount of energy it took. Instead, I rolled over, sinking deeper into the darkness surrounding me.
I knew somehow that I had slept through all the daily activities, through group therapy and arts and crafts and TV hour. I knew it was past lights out and I found myself not caring that it would all be monitored. I could stay in this room, in this bed forever. Somewhere between sleeping and waking, between my body and muddy, thick mind, I heard the voice. I couldn’t understand what it said, but it was a gentle, almost cooing sound, like one a mother would use on a child who had woken in the middle of the night from a bad dream. But they were down the hall and too far away to offer me anything.
The blanket shifted and I couldn’t see because my eyes were closed; the blankets and pillow still covered my head. A moment of quiet, then the mattress dipped in next to me, in front of me. My heart pounded in my head, my throat. A second later, the pillow slid from my head, but I couldn’t tell if it was my own doing. My head was too heavy; my thoughts were too clogged to get one solitary explanation through.
Hush now, the voice whispered. It was right next to my ear, right next to me. I’ll show you.
Yes. Show me. Show me how to be insane. Show me how to be just like my mother. I kept my eyes completely closed.
Corbin, said the voice. As much as I hated to admit it, I liked the sound of my name in its tone. I liked how it hit me deep. It was the sound of sand being blown by the sea on a windy day. It was the feeling of fingers in your hair as you fell asleep, tangled limbs after a closely spent night. Softness and hardness of an intimate touch, one that couldn’t have possibly been delivered by anyone or anything else.
“Yes?” I hadn’t realized I said the word out loud until my hot breath was bouncing back at me against the covers. I was afraid my roommate would hear, but her heavy snoring reassured me.
So you are with me, it whispered. Each word caressed my face, sent warm shivers through my skin and into the bone.
I opened my mouth to say something else, but I couldn’t think of anything; I doubted I would even be able to get the words past my teeth.
Hushhhhhh, said the voice. I felt something slightly cold, yet not completely solid against my waist. It wasn’t enough to make me shiver. It wasn’t anything that woke me further from the drugs. My shirt slipped upward, past my belly button before it stopped.
I inhaled sharply and turned over onto my back, convinced that I was half-dreaming and if I switched positions, the dream would change just as easily.
A few moments of silence. A few moments of the tapping on the glass, the rustle of the wind outside as the rain pelted the roof. It lulled me back into comfort, back into darkness.
My little crow, crooned the voice. Again, right in my ear, right in front of my face. It made the blackness behind my eyelids shake, sprout leaves and take root. My precious petal.
I was almost unaware of the sheet moving off of me, the blankets shifting until I heard them rumple into a careless pile on the floor. My face became warm, the smell of damp dirt in my nostrils, the sound of static electricity zipping through my brain, setting off synapses to synapses.
“What are you doing?” I whispered. But my voice sounded so far away, like I was standing on top of a very high tower and trying to make my words heard to people down below.
I felt my hair being moved from my forehead, then a small, sweet amount of pressure applied there. Kissing you, my love.
I liked the gesture. It overrode any logic, any sense of self I could bring forth from the darkness.
“Why do you only kiss me at night?” I whispered.
Another small peck, warm and then cool against my cheek. I am strongest at this hour. The words slithered around my skin, crawled to the back of my skull like some creature that had suddenly sprouted legs. And you are most open to me.
“Open?” I asked, my head swimming with medication, my eyes glued shut, my body heavy with sleep that had yet to come.
I felt the slight breath of an amused, silent laugh. Yessssss, the voice whispered. Open, my crow.
I opened my eyes, but I was only met with darkness. I knew that it was all in my head as the dim room spun around me, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to think about it or what it meant. It was easier to pretend. If I was the only one who knew, I was the only one who knew the truth. I couldn’t be losing my mind if I was so in control of it.
About the Author:
Nikki Rae is an independent author who lives in New Jersey. She explores human nature through fiction, concentrating on making the imaginary as real as possible. Her genres of choice are mainly dark, scary, romantic tales, but she’ll try anything once. When she is not writing, reading, or thinking, you can find her spending time with animals, drawing in a quiet corner, or studying people. Closely.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Nikki-Rae-394844663902407/