Massing at the borders

Published 9:37 am Wednesday, January 11, 2012

He glanced out the window.

“How odd,” Brian thought. A high- pitched sound off to the north, like a thousand screams, pierced the sky. Then he saw them. A long, black, weaving chorus of birds, coming towards his house.

Stepping out on the porch, the screams intensified as the sky darkened. They started to land. In the fields, the trees, along the ditches, on the fences, they kept coming and coming and coming, until all in sight was filled with black-winged creatures, squawking and screaming and hissing.

Like an army, massing at the border before invasion, they skirted here and there, a nervous kind of prance, while thousands more joined their ranks.

He was uncomfortable. Stepping into the yard, he kicked at them. They moved but a few feet and kept their positions, appearing cocky and confident. Perturbed even. Between he and his car was but a few yards, but it was filled with black sentinels blocking his exit.

They appeared to be moving closer, as reinforcements kept coming and coming and coming. Their raucous sound, like a rioting mob, became unbearable.

He backed slowly to the door, not daring to peel his eyes away. Reaching behind, he squeezed the doorknob and turned. It was locked! “How stupid of me,” he thought. He was trapped.

And still, like paratroopers, they kept coming, coming, coming.

A spare key was around the back under the mat. But there was no way. One step in their midst could infuriate them. His cell phone was in the house. There was but one last desperate attempt left. His car. He had to get to his car.

Gathering himself, he dashed through the black masses, groping towards his vehicle. Tripping, he fell headlong into their midst.

And still they kept coming, coming, coming.

They say eyes are our most vulnerable organ. Soft, porous and exposed. I really don’t know. I’m just a farmer, you know. I rarely leave this place, but today I’m driving to town to visit my sightless friend, Brian. So sad. At the RHD (Radcliff Hospital for the Deranged), he hardly recognized me the last visit. “Severely traumatized” was his diagnosis, whatever that means. Say they found him in his yard, half dead, shaking, with punctured holes all over his body. Go figure! Wonder what could have happened to him? Driving along, I notice a long line of birds moving through the sky. They’re pretty, don’t you think?

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is