We should have stayed in the house. Julia and I are huddled amongst the rows of hanging plastic trays of flowers in the greenhouse, shivering in the humid air from our brief exposure to the howling wind and rain of the outside. The banging on the thick glass panels continues without relent, over and over.
“I’m scared Daddy, I’m scared!” Julia cries, draped beneath the gray blanket around her shoulders. Her little face is red and wet with the rain and her tears.
“I know, honey, I know. It’ll be okay.” This is one of those times a parent fears, a time where as a parent I can’t tell her that I’m scared too. That I’m not sure it will be okay. That I don’t know what to do.
“What do they want, Daddy? Why are they doing this?” She looks up at me from beneath her blond curls.
“I don’t know, baby, I really don’t. Just be brave, okay?”
She’d found a crow behind the barn. Cawing pitifully, it had hobbled on one bad leg and hopped lop-sidedly around in a circle in the grass. It looked like its wing had been broken too.
“Aww, Daddy look!” she’d said, after calling me over. “Can we keep him?” Her eyes had been full of pity.
“Okay, we can keep him in the barn.” I splinted the poor bird’s leg as best I could manage and Julia had a new pet.
Two days later I found my little girl on the ground between the house and the barn, crying, the bird she’d saved and two others pecking her viciously, blood pouring from her face and arms. I ran and shooed the savage creatures away and they flew off into the grey sky. I guess the crow’s wing hadn’t been broken after all?
After that I saw them and many others watching: from atop the barn, sitting on the hydro wires between the house and the road, on the eavestroughs of the house. They were waiting. Waiting for the right moment. And when tonight’s storm had kicked up and knocked out the power they’d had it. We should have stayed in the house. We should have stayed in the house. But they’d broken in through the windows, hundreds of them, and we’d ran, out into the yard in a panic, past the barn and into the greenhouse. How I had the presence of mind to grab the gun I’ll never know.
“I’m scared, Daddy, I’m scared!” Julia cries again. “Shhh, shhh, shhhh,” I say, trying to console her. “It’s okay, baby, I’ll protect you.”
I’ve never been more terrified in my life. The fluttering and the cawing and the banging is so loud it’s like one animal, one monster coming out of the night for us. And now the banging on the panels is joined by the sounds of breaking glass.
I only have two shells.