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Prologue Today I discovered that I’m dead. Even if I knew it could happen after all these years, it still came as a shock to me. My own obituary. So it wasn’t just a bad dream. I don’t know how many times I have started on my way back, how often I have tried to think of something, anything, so we could all be together, like a family. But it has always been too hard. Too dangerous. And I know I couldn’t see them one more time, only to have to leave them all over again. I saw a baby girl yesterday, in a stroller. She had curly red hair. Her mother noticed me and hurried away, turned to see if I was following them. I couldn’t blame her; I probably looked like a child-molester in my dirty, worn-out clothes, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off of that sweet little girl. She looked just like Julie. And for a moment I was back home; it was almost as if I could smell the pine trees from the Uhuria Forest, the corn crops from our fields, the spices in our kitchen. I could practically feel the walls of our house embracing me. I could taste the sweetness of my wife’s lips. I could see my daughter laying there in her stroller just beneath the staircase, sleeping. I could see the barn with the flaky red paint. That, though, made me think of The Red Lady, and my brother, and once again it was evident why I had to leave. Why I could never return. I have finally found it. The place I have to be, and stay. I won’t write it here, in case anyone should find these pages one day, but I know I should have travelled there straight away all those years ago. I guess I just didn’t know. How could I? I do know this, though: there is evil everywhere. There isn’t a whole lot we can do to stop it. But I’m going to do what I can. I’m thinking about the life that lays before me. The life I’ve left behind. I’m thinking about us, my family, and everything we shared, and lost. God, how I miss my girls.  


THE EVIL LEGACY by Thomas Enger - excerpts

1. The smell always gets to me. That hospital scent. No matter how much the nurses shower my mother with that perfume she really loves, it never fades, that smell of people being sick. Of her being sick. Every time I visit my mother, I try to imagine what she would smell like if she only could have found a way out of the darkness, if she could live with us still. She would smell of something different than medicine, of yellow-old hallways and cooked-to-death dinner. She definitely would smell of something different than, well, death. The memories I have of my mother are pretty much this: her being stuck in a room with the curtains drawn. She has a problem with light, my mother, and she cannot stand noises of any kind, either. The doctors at Carrick Lodge don’t seem to know if she’ll ever recover, they just tell us to take it day by day. Which is what we do, my grandfather and me. In the meantime, I have reached my 16th year, and there’s not a thing in the world I can do to help her, besides what I’m just about to do now. Carrick Lodge is a nice hospital, don’t get me wrong. It’s a half hour’s drive from home, right next to a beautiful lake. The huge granite building is surrounded by large fields of grass, soft and gentle to my feet, and trees that seem to play music every time the wind blows, which is almost all the time. There are pathways nearby which lead to the water where people can sit and look at the swans playing gracefully. My mother doesn’t do any of that. In fact, I don’t think she ever has. I visit every Sunday. Just to let her know that it's me, I always knock on her door three times. Then I wait a little before I knock again, twice this time. And then, finally, a teeny-weeny knock, before I quickly open the door and hurry inside so I won’t let too much light enter her room. Then I search for my mother’s eyes. Sometimes the mere sight of me makes them sparkle just a little bit. Mostly they just stare blindly right past me. I don’t know what she’s looking at, or for, if anything. She doesn’t have a lot of strength left in her. Sometimes I even have to push the button for her so the bed tilts ever so slowly into an upright position, so she can sit while we talk to each other.

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We don’t do any actual talking, though, not as in speaking. We just write to each other on my notepad. Short questions with short answers. We sit like this until my mother wears out, never more than an hour. One hour every Sunday. That’s the extent of our relationship. She is 43 years old now, but she looks a lot older. I think it has to do with her eyes, her stare. It’s always blurry. Her movements are always slow, too. She used to be a math teacher, my mother. A very good one, too. She used to work at Wetherby High School, which happens to be my school. Sometimes they ask about her, her co-workers, but we never talk about why she is how she is, that it probably had something to do with my father walking out on us 15 years ago. I guess it’s better that way. Today my mother gives me a smile, though it seems to take a lot of effort. She sighs heavily as I walk over to her bed and kiss her gently on her forehead. I try to smile back, but I can’t seem to muster a sincere one this time. I don’t know why. I sit down and pull out my pen and my notepad. «You look nice,» I write, even if isn’t true. She doesn’t look nice at all. She looks even thinner than a week ago. Her skin is dry and pale. Creased, too. «Thanks, Julie», she writes me back. She takes a quick break before she slowly puts her pen back on the notepad. «School?» I try not to make a face. I’m thinking about Sara and Ophelia and the other girls, about all the mean things they say to me. But I don’t want my mother to be upset, so I just write «good», and then I add: «Got an A on a science project. Charles Froggle was very impressed.» Her mouth twitches a little. I think she’s pleased and hopefully proud, but I can’t really tell for sure. «Rudolf?» she writes. Rudolf is my cat. Well … he is really someone else’s cat, but he just showed up in our barn one day, and he has kind of just stayed with us ever since. I named him Rudolf because of the red dot on his nose. Other than that, he’s black and white, and very playful. When I think about it, Rudolf may very well be my best friend, although Glen and Margaret are okay, too, I guess. «He caught a mouse last night,» I write.

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Soon the room grows quiet again. Often, when we sit like this, I find myself looking at the watch far too often. I hope she doesn’t notice. I’m always a bit relieved, too, when my grandfather knocks on the door and whispers that we have to go. This time, before he knocks, I turn over a blank page and draw a big heart that I tear off from the notepad and put in her hands. As she looks at it, I think there’s a spark in her eye. A short one. A smile, maybe, I’m not sure. Nevertheless, I’m thinking that my mother could do with an extra heart every now and then. Usually I don’t say much on our way back to Woodsview, the house we live in, Grandpa and me. But I can tell that he is looking at me from time to time. I just stare out of the window where the fields and the trees are moving hastily by. After a while he turns on the radio. I tell him to turn it back off. Why? Because the smell still lingers in my nostrils. The smell of my mother. The scent of that hospital. The smell that tells me we have to be quiet.

2. Our house sits right next to the Uhuria Forest. It has a nice view to the woods, which is why, I guess, some bright mind in the family decided to call it Woodsview some hundred years ago. This neck of the woods, so to speak, is located eight kilometres outside the centre of Holloway, a small town right on the outskirts of Halbrook county. I don’t know why they call it a town, though. There are no more than 13.000 people living here, but it’s a nice little, um, town. There are small, narrow streets in the city centre. Cobblestone. A big city square that’s always packed with people and life during the weekends, especially in the summer time. We even have a small lake right in the city centre where the kids feed the ducks and their ducklings. Holloway has on numerous occasions won the «Nicest City» award the county gives out once a year. People around here seem to take a lot of pride in that.

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For Grandpa and me things like that don’t matter much. He does almost nothing but sit and stare at the TV. He solves a few crosswords in the newspaper every now and then, though. I know he studies the bridge column quite closely, too. I’m usually just doing my homework up in my room. Or I read for a bit. If I’m not exploring the Uhuria Forest, that is, all on my own. I don’t mind spending time alone. I quite like to read. I like how it takes my mind to places I have never been; places I know I’ll never get to. We don’t care much, Grandpa and me, with cleaning and stuff. I have learned to cook a little. Grandpa doesn’t know his way around the kitchen, besides heating and re-heating food from a can. By all means, I don’t mind can food, but I can’t have it every day. My grandfather doesn’t like to admit it, but he is nowhere near the man he used to be. He used to work outside all day, tending to our crops. At one point we even had animals. Cows, mostly. A few hens. It became difficult, though, for him to manage everything all by himself after my father left and my mother went crazy. I tried to help him as best I could, but it just wasn’t enough. Now his back is growing worse by the day. Picking up things from the floor, for instance … he can’t even reach up and grab a plate or two for us in the overhead cabinet. I mean, he can if he absolutely has to, but it always involves a lot of moaning on his part, and sour looks in my direction. My grandfather has never learned the skill of suffering in silence. Sometimes he surprises me and takes the car to town to go grocery shopping, but usually I’m the one to do that, too, mostly because he doesn’t know what we need (beer and Werther’s Original don’t really cut it for supper), but also because he thinks it prepares me for adulthood somehow. It certainly is good exercise, though. That’s what he always says, anyway. He never drives me to school, so I go there on my bike. Eight kilometres, one way. A bus pass costs money, Grandpa says, and God knows we don’t have a lot of that. I used to like riding my bike back and forth to school, at least when it didn’t rain. I didn’t mind having spokes that were broken or a chain that never seemed to tighten the way it was supposed to. I just loved to let my feet rest on the pedals while my hair was fluttering in the wind. Mornings were the best, when the air was still fresh and crisp. I used to go to school with joy and anticipation. Not anymore. I know exactly when it changed, too. 4


THE EVIL LEGACY by Thomas Enger - excerpts

It was that day in fourth grade when Miss Tilly, our English teacher, invited our parents to school so they could tell us about their professions. The others in my class wondered what Grandpa was doing there, and the old fool didn’t stop to think that the truth was best kept hidden from Miss Tilly and my schoolmates. I still remember how quiet the classroom went as he told them how my Daddy disappeared on New Year’s Eve when I was just one year old. How eight years later, he was pronounced dead, and that my mother has been living at Carrick Lodge ever since. What the others heard was that I had a crazy mom. They tried to contain themselves, the girls, but it wasn’t difficult to hear their giggles. In the days and weeks that followed I noticed how Sara and Ophelia whispered behind my back. I was the girl with freckles and red hair, who had a mentally challenged mother. To make matters worse, I wore glasses and braces, too, and I wasn’t what you would call an athletic talent, except that I did pretty okay in the swimming pool. If Glen and Margaret hadn’t been in my corner, I don’t know how I would have gotten through school at all. Glen and Margaret are kind of like me. By that I mean different. Margaret is bigger than the rest of us, both in height and width, and she is also a lot stronger than everybody else. She has a temper, too, and the boys definitely love to push her buttons. Sometimes she just up and explodes, and they all make a run for it. But Margaret, poor thing, is an even worse athlete than me. Glen is the complete opposite of Margaret. He’s the shortest guy in class, and by far the quietest. I don’t blame him for not speaking. When he does, he stutters. All the time. The boys in class, especially Rufus and Peter, love to make fun of him. Glen doesn’t stutter when it’s just the three of us. Then he even smiles from time to time. Especially to me. So we kind of just hang out, I guess, the three of us, and try to forget that we are who we are. It helps a bit that I’m somewhat good at school. Sometimes Charles Froggle, our science teacher, gives me magazines and books he thinks I might find interesting. Last week he lent me this pamphlet with pictures of all kinds of stuff you can eat in the forest. I’m looking forward to taking it with me the next time I go exploring in the Uhuria Forest. That’s not going to happen today, though. It’s dark outside, and the house is cold. I think I’ll just go to bed.

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Author’s note: The next day at school the girls and boys in Julie’s class pick on her again. Among other things, they destroy her front bicycle tyre, which means she has to walk all the way home. When she finally gets there, she is sad and exhausted. The next morning, she oversleeps, but Julie doesn’t care. She hates being at school, even though Glen, Margaret and her teacher, Mr. Froggle, stand up for her. Because she doesn’t want to tell her grandfather what’s going on, and because of her broken tyre, she decides not to go to school at all that day. Instead she makes a decision that will change her life forever. She goes for a walk in the Uhuria Forest.

8. Some of the kids at school ask me how I manage to live so close to the Uhuria Forest. Am I not freaked out by it? Some say the forest is haunted. That ghosts live in there somehow. I just laugh at that. I do have a vivid imagination, but I’ve never been scared when I’ve been out exploring the forest. Quite the opposite, in fact, and I’ve been doing it since God knows when. It’s where I feel the most at home, where no one is judging me. It’s like everything on the inside of me goes quiet when I’m in there amongst the trees, when I’m listening to the branches whistle in the wind. One thing’s a bit odd, though. For some reason the animals in the Uhuria Forest don’t seem to be afraid of me. I don’t know how many times I have stumbled upon a fox or a deer, only to see them not run away. They just stare back at me, like they know me somehow. I’m sure I could have just walked over to them, maybe even patted them on the head. I don’t mind, don’t get me wrong. I love animals. I love that they seem to love me back. I just find it strange. I never make any plans when I’m out exploring, I just walk about, take a left or a right whenever I see something interesting up ahead. I have a compass with me, though, so I don’t lose my way. Today I decide to take a break after having criss-crossed my way into the forest for about two hours. The afternoon light has started to fade, and I find myself a tree to sit on that has been knocked over in a storm a long time ago. I open my rucksack and take out a

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bottle of water. I would have taken a sip or two if my eyes hadn’t been drawn to something strange a bit further into the forest. It’s a red light of some kind. Usually everything is green and black and grey in the forest, but I’m actually staring at a red light. It’s not from a fire burning; I would have seen the smoke rising towards the sky. Come to think of it, the sky is also a bit weird. It was cloud free when I left home, but now I can see something thread-like dancing across it. The threads are red, too, but the colours seem to change all the time, from strong to weak, weak to strong. Some of the threads stretch like a bow across the sky, and they are all in constant motion. It’s like they’re whipping at something in the end of the horizon, something I can’t see. It’s beautiful. And a bit scary, too. It feels like the threads, at any given moment, could just lash themselves against me and pull me out into space. I get up and put my rucksack back on. Hesitantly I move towards the red light further into the woods. I stop right next to a couple of trees that seem to have grown into each other towards the top. All of a sudden a powerful breath of wind hits me in the face. It’s so strong that it almost knocks me off my feet, but it dies just as quickly as it arose. Then it grows all quiet. Almost tomb-like. I take a look around. There’s no one else here but me. I take another step towards the beautiful, almost magical light. I make my way through a dense thicket. The ground underneath seems to grow more and more crisp; it’s almost as if everything I step on has died. The earth just crumbles under my feet. The red light is shining still; it’s only a few metres in front of me now. It seems to stem from a source that’s been buried in the ground. It paints the nearby trees and branches in red. I remove a twig that breaks between my fingers and stop right above the light. I can feel my cheeks getting warmer. It’s like the ground is on fire, except there are no flames. I can’t help myself, so I get down on my knees and start digging, with my hands, deeper and faster, the earth crumbling between my fingers. Everything in the ground just feels dry and dead.

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The light becomes stronger as I make my way deeper and deeper, inch by inch. Now I can see the source as well. The light stems from a square shaped box, no larger than a pack of toothpaste. It glows. It is actually glowing. I’m just about to reach down and grab it, when the earth beneath me gives out. I find myself falling. And falling. And then I’m not falling anymore.

9. I’m on my back. I think. I try to blink a few times, to get a better idea of where I am. It doesn’t take me long to realise that I’ve fallen into a hole in the ground. Or a cave. I can’t move, but I don’t remember hurting myself. Come to think of it, it doesn’t hurt at all. It’s as if I can’t even feel my body. The ground isn’t there. I’m floating. At the same time, I’m not. Am I paralyzed? Am I stuck in here? For days, weeks, months and years? Am I going to die? The mere thought of that makes me jump. And just a second later, I find myself standing. Whoa. How on earth did that happen? I’ve never been able to jump like that. I have tried to in our gymnastics classes, to just bounce myself up somehow from a laying position, like a gymnast. Now, all of a sudden, I can do it, without knowing how. And still, I can’t feel a thing. I take a look at my arms, my legs, my stomach. Yes, it’s still my body. But where am I? How long have I been out? The only thing I know is that I’m in a hole in the ground, and that it’s dark. I try to look up, but my glasses are laying on the ground right next to my feet, broken. Grandpa will go mad.

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Even without my glasses I can see that the dancing threads in the sky have gone, and that is has to be at least three metres up to the edge of the hole, maybe even four. God knows how far into the woods I am. No one will ever hear my screams from here. I try to pull myself together. Don’t panic, I tell myself. You can do this. You are going to get yourself out of this hole, no matter what. It helps, and I feel myself believing it, at least for a few seconds. I need to find something to grab onto, anything I can use to pull myself up. Then I realise that I’m still holding on to something. Even though its dark, I can see the shape of that strange thing that was glowing in the ground right before it gave out underneath me. It’s a container of some sort. A box or a cover. Definitely something human made. But why has it stopped glowing? And what was it doing buried deep into the ground so far into the forest? The cover is made out of wood. With my fingers I can feel that something has been burnt or etched into it. My eyes have started to adjust to the darkness, so I can see what it is. It’s the figure of a scorpion. I don’t know why I think of this right now, but I’m a Scorpio. I’m born on the 21 of st

November. Weird. I run my fingers across the cover. They stop at a notch which seems to split the cover in two. I squeeze my fingers on both sides of the notch, gently at first, then firmer. As the cover slowly opens, it makes a hissing sound, like I’m opening a soda can. There's something’s inside it. It looks like a candle. No, a pen, a bit thicker than your average school pencil. I take it out and run my fingers across it, shake it a little bit, press it against my fingers, just to get a feel for its consistency. It’s a bit pebbled to the touch, almost like sandpaper. Someone must have made this thing. But who? What for? The pen has another notch on it, which runs all the way round it, like a ribbon. It makes me think of another pen I used to have when I was little. I could twist it to one side if I wanted to write with it in blue, and to the other side if I wanted to write with it in red. I try to do the same with this one, and it definitely is twistable, clockwise, until it stops with a click.

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At that very same moment the moon peeks through a small hole in the clouds above me. It bathes the woods in a yellow-white light. I can see some roots sticking out of the walls in the hole here and there, roots I might make use of to get myself out of here. This is the strangest thing I have ever experienced. What’s even more surprising is that I find myself having a good time. I’m actually enjoying this. I realise that the hand that holds the pen has become warm. I put it back in its cover and place it in my rucksack. I put my glasses on, too, even though the glasses themselves are broken. What’s weird, though, is that I’m actually seeing quite clearly, even without the bright light from the moon. It’s easy to see the roots sticking out of the hole’s walls like helping hands. I grab the closest one and pull it towards me just a little bit, to see if it can hold my weight. Then I start to pull myself upwards. It’s actually quite easy, to go from one root to the next. I feel strong and able. I try to use my feet as well to propel my way out of the hole, even though they bury themselves deep into the crunchy, earthen walls. I feel like a spider climbing the walls like this, inch by inch, and soon I’m high enough to fling my right foot over the edge. The rest is easy. Everything was easy. Enormously relieved and pleased with what I’ve just done, I brush off some dirt from my clothes and get up. Normally something like this would have made me out of breath or tired. Not this time. I feel like doing it all over again. I feel like running. Right away. This is so weird. But I know I have to make my way home. It has to be in the middle of the night, and even though I told my grandfather that I might spend the night in the forest, I’m in desperate need of a shower. I also need to sit down and further examine this strange item I’ve found. I’m just about to head for home, when something on the ground makes me stop. It’s the ants. If I didn’t know any better, I would have said that they were hurrying away from me. Then another strange thing occurs to me: how can I even see the ants without my glasses on? It’s the middle of the night. I try not to think about it, I just start to run instead. I jump over stubs and twigs, roots and fallen trees, easy as a hare. It’s as if I’ve never been stronger or faster. It’s just the best feeling in the world. What if I could stay like this forever?

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10. I have started to recognise my whereabouts when a man appears, and almost walks right into me. He is wearing rubber boots and clothes that are easy to see in the darkness of the woods. I know I’ve never seen him before, but for some reason he smiles as he sees me. «Julie,» he calls to me. «Is that really you?» «Yes,» I stutter with a question mark in my voice. «Oh wow, you just made my day.» He produces a walkie-talkie from his pocket. «It’s Fitz,» he speaks into it - the walkie-talkie makes a static noise. «I’ve found her,» he adds. «She’s okay. All in one piece.» Then he gives me a huge smile and comes a bit closer to examine me. That’s, at least, how it feels. Like he has to make sure it's really me. «Where the hell have you been?» he asks me. I turn towards the forest and answer the first thing that comes to mind. «I’ve been in here.» He laughs briefly. «Yeah, it certainly looks that way.» He nods at my clothes. We stay like that for a few seconds, just looking at each other. I can tell that he has a thousand questions, but instead of spitting them out one by one, he starts to walk. He motions me to follow. «You don’t know me,» Fitz says as the twigs break beneath his feet. «But I’m one of the men who has been looking for you the past few days. We had just started up again for the day when you showed up out of nowhere.» I stop. «The past few days?» «Yes?» «What do you mean - the past few days?» Fitz stops as well and turns towards me. «You mean you don’t know?» «Know what?» He smiles.

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«You’ve been gone for three days, Julie. Didn’t you know?» * By the time we get out of the forest, the sky has regained its usual greyness. And I’m just as stunned then as I was when Fitz walked into me. There must be at least 50 people standing outside our house drinking something from mugs, looking at maps, talking to each other. Some of them shout something in my direction as we move towards them, but it’s impossible for me to make out what they’re saying from that distance. They seem very happy to see me, though. Some of them even come running and give me a hug. I have absolutely no idea who they are, but they seem to know me. And when they ask me if I’m okay, I just produce a simple «yes, I’m fine». I’m more than fine, actually, but they don’t need to know that. They don’t need to know about the red light, either, or the strange thing I found in the forest. I don’t want people to think I’ve gone crazy, like my mother. Then I notice Grandpa. And Grandpa notices me. He breaks free from the crowd and starting running towards me, even with his bad back. He stops about a yard in front of me. I don’t know what to expect from him, given what I now know about my disappearance. I guess I kind of hoped he would pull me close or something. But he just stares at me. «Where the hell have you been?» he asks, his voice angry. «Didn’t you see the note I left you?» «Of course I did, but I didn’t expect you to be gone this long. Do you have any idea how scared I’ve been?» I really don’t know what to say to that. «That would really be something, wouldn’t it, you disappearing in there as well.» He makes a gesture with his hands, towards the woods. Then he looks harshly at me, before he starts to walk away from me. «What did you just say?» I ask him. Grandpa turns his head towards me. His eyes are busy. «Nothing,» he says and lifts his gaze to the sky where heavy, grey clouds have started to form above us. I follow him. «What did you mean by «you disappearing in there as well»?» 12


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Grandpa just keeps on walking. «Did you mean my father?» I ask. «Did he get lost in the woods, too?» Grandpa makes no motion to stop, so I run past him and put myself in his path so he has to. I don’t repeat the question, because I know he heard it. He doesn’t answer me this time, either. Instead he turns towards the others. «Thanks a lot, everybody, for helping me find my Julie. Words cannot express how grateful I am.» Some of them reply with a broad smile on their face, but I don’t pay any attention to what they’re saying. I look at my grandfather, at his evasive eyes. I think about the somewhat scared look on his face as he realised what he had said. But I heard it. Every word of it. Which is why I know, for the first time in my life, what really happened the day my father went away. He went missing in the Uhuria Forest.

11. I don’t know how many times I’ve asked my grandfather about that day. Every time, the same answer, that «there really isn’t much to tell». My father went out to get the morning paper, never came back. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this before, but The Holloway Dispatch usually doesn’t have editions on New Year’s Day, does it? It’s a holiday, right? Which means my grandfather has been lying to me all these years. I watch him as he walks around, shaking everybody’s hand. I feel like asking him about all this again, in front of everybody, but I know he won’t say anything. Not now. Probably not ever. What if my father fell and hurt himself, like I did? What if he's still in there somewhere? The mere thought that I may have walked straight past him… I go up into my room, don’t bother changing my clothes or taking a shower, I just toss the rucksack on the floor and lay down on my bed. Maybe my father has survived somehow all these years, I say to myself. What if he’s waiting for someone to come find him? It has happened before, hasn’t it?

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I can’t think of any cases like that right now, but I feel like going back into the forest to look for him, straight away. But where would I start? 15 years is a long time. The Uhuria Forest is huge. Did I really spend three nights in that hole? It just blows my mind to think that I’ve been laying on my back like that for so long, in the middle of the forest. How come the insects didn’t find me? A familiar sound from the hallway makes me turn my head with anticipation. I make a mieauwing sound back. «Hey Rudolf,» I say and get up from the bed. «Caught any more mice lately?» The cat stops at the doorframe. I get down on my knees, like I always do when I want him to come over. He doesn’t this time, however. He just stays there, quiet, and looks at me. «What’s wrong?» I ask and move myself a few feet towards him. «Has anything happened?» The cat backs away from me. «Rudolf,» I say softly. «It’s me.» Rudolf hides his tale between his legs. I try to pick him up, but all of a sudden he hits me on the hand with his paw and hisses at me, before he quickly runs down the stairs. I remain where I am, squinting at the stairs, thinking. That was weird. It was almost as if he were afraid of me or something. I go back to the bed again and rub my hand a little where Rudolf’s paw has just scratched me. It doesn’t sting, however. There’s not even a mark. Something strange is going on. It dawns on me that several school days have passed. Not that I mind, but school actually gives me an idea. I take a look at my watch. School starts in a little over an hour. I can make it, can’t I, if I really want to? I find my grandfather’s old polaroid camera and take a few photos of the strange pen I found. I put them in my schoolbag before I hurry outside. I’m on my way to the barn to see if I can fix my bike somehow, when something on the fields makes me stop. It's a large group of birds. Their beaks are big and powerful, their wings slender, their tails somewhat long. Their black feathers seem to shine even in the greyish morning light. These are ravens.

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THE EVIL LEGACY by Thomas Enger - excerpts

Charles Froggle just told us about them. But didn’t he say that ravens don’t live in these parts of the country? I don’t know why, but I count them. Twice to make sure. There are thirteen of them. Mister Froggle also told us that there are many myths about the ravens. Some say they created the world. Others believe them to have supernatural powers. What I remember best now, however, as I see them in front of me, is that ravens are also known to be omens. Of things like war, or death. I make my way towards the barn, but I keep one eye on the birds at the same time. They seem to have formed a line. Like they’re soldiers. And they seem to be staring directly at me.

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Thomas Enger - The Evil Legacy