With wheels spinning on the gravel she reversed at a furious rate back through the gate, sending a wooden flower tub rolling down the road. As she accelerated away, she glanced through the gaping front door of the house and felt certain she saw a figure.
Ten minutes later she swung into her parents drive and slid to a halt. She pulled her protesting children toward the oak door and banged and thumped as hard as she could. A light came on and a worried voice called out ‘Who’s there?’ ‘Mum - let me in! The kids are freezing. Open the door. Please’
Once inside Candice settled Lily and Jack into their beds and began to go over the events of the evening. By now her father had joined them and her parents sat listening and wondering if the stress of the last couple of weeks had begun to have an effect on her mental state. Eventually the three of them retired to bed and agreed to talk more in the morning. Perhaps in the light of day things would be clearer and a simple explanation would be found.
It was a beautiful crisp and sunny winter’s morning. There was a dusting of snow on the grass and icicles dripped from the gutter on the shed. After breakfast Candice wrapped the children warm up and sent them out the garden to play. ‘Can I have a biscuit please? ‘asked Lily. ‘Of course you can’.
A few minutes later she heard them happily giggling, and for the first time in days she felt her self relax. Her precious children were safe and that’s all that really mattered to her.
She crossed to the window. They were on the lawn. She smiled as she looked at their rosy cheeks, and the white of their breath floating into the air.
Then her heart thumped. The full horror of last night returned. Lily was crouching down. Her hand was open. In her palm a broken biscuit. Eating it was a big black bird.
Her daughter’s laughter echoed around her head as she rushed to the door. She flew outside and rushed across the patio. She ran around the corner of the house, slipping and sliding on the ice, toward the lawn. The lawn was empty. The children were no where to be seen.
A black bird sat amid the white snow on the frozen grass. Staring. Blinking. Mocking. Menacing.
Candice rushed around the garden calling out their names. She was beside herself with fear. The black bird watched.
Suddenly out leapt Lily and Jack from behind a bush. 'We were playing hide and seek with the black bird' said Lily.' Just like we did with Daddy'. Candice turned around to face the black bird. It was not there. Nothing remained. The snow was undisturbed.