The birds were the first sign.
The gathering started with a quartet of blackbirds. They arrived in the middle of the afternoon, an innocuous time of day. Still, there was something in their silence, their watchful stares. I hurried as I crossed the road to the mailbox to grab the mail; I looked over my shoulder at the raven, the largest of the four birds, and shuddered under its glare.
As I went about my afternoon tasks, I kept glancing out the windows. The blackbirds were still there each time. The raven would turn his head toward the house with each opening of the curtains, but other than that slight movement, the birds were still, motionless.
Toward twilight, a cacophony of sound drew me away from the dinner table. I peered out the kitchen window. The sky cast a green and orange tint across my backyard. "Tornado sky," my mother would have called it. I looked upward, toward the swirling tornado of birds, spinning and spiraling around each other. In unison the four blackbirds turned to look toward me.
And that's when all hell broke loose.