I hear the word come from out of the darkness - ‘Nevermore’ - a deep, negro voice. And I stand dead still and I feel the blood between my toes. I shiver and the light extends only a couple of meters ahead of me. I hold my gun in both my hands but I shake so much I can’t hold it straight. And I hear my breath tremble and I hear the word again - ‘Nevermore’. And I shake and I look down and see and smell the men I fought beside, the men I would have died for but are now worth nothing to me. Now it’s just me. Nothing but me and the voice, and it says it again - ‘Nevermore’. Such a beautifully clean voice. Terrifying pure and bodies are dismembered beneath my feet. No deserted arm belongs to any man more than any other. And I hear the word again and I feel something cold and harsh and clean on the back of my neck. A giant claw, a talon. And I hear ‘Nevermore’ and my gun drops out of my hand. It sinks into the blood and bone beneath my feet and the talon pulls on my neck, twists it around and I slowly turn around and I begin to see it. But I see nothing. And I hear the word come from behind me and I turn around and something leaps from the light behind me into the darkness. A woman, a black woman, nude but black as night. Black and perfectly formed and slim but so black. And I only see the woman for a second before she disappears into the darkness again and I hear it again - ‘Nevermore’. And my breath trembles and my heart beats too hard, it too wants to just die and spare the horror. The horror penetrates me and holds me like a marionette.
I shout ‘I surrender!’, but nothing happens. Then - ‘Nevermore’. Behind me I turn and there she is, the woman, the black woman. Black and slim and divine and her eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming and her skin is so black, so nude but so black that she is part of the darkness. And she stands still and her hands, her hands are not hands, no, they still have five digits each but those digits are made not of skin but of bone. And the talon hands, so perfect and clean and reflect and refract light like a crystal and I tremble in the odd horror. And the raven-woman, she speaks, she says the word - ‘Nevermore’ - but her voice doesn’t come from the same place her voice, the deep, black voice comes from behind me and I turn and there she is and then she speaks again she says the word again and the voice is behind me and I turn again and there is nothing.
I turn slowly, trying to get a glimpse of the woman but she’s not there she’s somewhere in the darkness she’s going to kill me. And I see something - a bird, a black bird swoops in and I see it and it stares down at me and swoops down at me and its talons pierce my eyes and pull them out and I scream and fall to the ground and I open my eyes and I can see. There is no darkness but there is only darkness. I hear the word again - ‘Nevermore’. And I scream the word back into the darkness and my voice is the voice and I scream it again and tremble and the raven-woman walks out towards me and her wings surround us in a blanket of the deepest black and I shiver and we both say the word together - ‘Nevermore’ only darkness no darkness. Only ever horror and fear of the darkness only darkness only darkness and my eyes are holes in my head I can see out through the other side of them I see through the back of my head and the raven-woman is there as well she is everywhere I see and she walks towards me and her wings dome around us and the black bird flies in and tears out my eyes once more and I scream the word - ‘Nevermore!’.
And I reach down and pick up the gun out of the blood and gore and I fire it at the raven- woman but the woman is a mirror and the bullet hits me in the stomach but I fire the bullet again in all her directions but they keep coming back to me and penetrating me in a fantastic kaleidoscope of pain and terror. And my eyes go red I cry blood and I scream the word again - ‘Nevermore!’ and she screams it too we are the same voice and I am no longer afraid. And the raven-woman comes up to me and opens her talon hand and in her black palm is my eye but I don’t want my eye back I want the darkness and I grab her wings and snap them off her back and she screams the word and I scream the word - ‘Nevermore’ and I place the wings to my mouth and suck out the black, sticky marrow from the wings and the wings are now my wings I scream in the delight of the horror and my head no longer has a face, just the back of my head all the way around and the woman and I say the word once more the wings are mine now I am so black and terrifying and I am the word