Tallahassee Plucker

10/25/22

Tonight’s the night. Nature calls all her creatures. Sometimes to mate, sometimes to murder. In the shadows a predator lurks, his gaze upon the unsuspecting. The unwary.

He hears the call. The urge to hunt.

They’ve written about me in the papers. Called me a monster. The victims never see me until it’s too late. They’re too distracted by my odd partner.

I’m not the first monster to hear a voice in his ear. A familiar, a watcher, a companion soul. But I am the first of my kind. I am the Tallahassee Ripper.

It’s a quiet night in the park, quiet enough to hear a jogger’s footsteps and the puff of vaping teens. All the little wings flapping. The sun and moon are doing a slow dance from sky to sky. I stalk in the late of day. I creep upon them when the hours are lazy and worn.

A woman sits alone at at bench with a book. Prim and pretty, with pale yellow hair, legs crossed. Creatures like her have a calling, too. Open spaces, fresh air, a paperback escape.

And tonight’s the night. I hear the call in my ear, the titillating, savory song. The call is always strong, so little, yet so large. I must obey the creature, for it has been with me since the dawn of the call. Since the hunger took wing. It is poised, cocked and ready.

I stand not too far off, unseen, but close enough to be seen. My partner and I blend into the world.

My partner stiffens and turns its head. And it whispers, “take, take.”

But we wait.

The woman looks up from her paperback. Her eyes turn to my partner. While I advance behind her, My partner emerges from the shadows into the light. He is the perfect distraction. A woman alone in a park must keep a wary eye on a man with shades stalking her closely.

I am on her in a flutter. She screams as my talons mark her face. I am a flurry of blue and gray. She is as confused as she is terrified. She must have heard of me before, but never believed I would finally come for her.

My watcher looks on, feeding in his own way. We spotted her together. We relish in her terror together.

Her skin is delicious to tear at, but it’s her eyes I want. She swipes at me with her book, but I am too fast. I am caught in her tangled hair. Where she goes, my talons go, gripping her scalp.

When her eyes are caught in the terror of recognition, it is then that my beak descends upon their bloodshot whiteness. Frightened moons. Begging to be punctured.

Pale blue feathers descend to the ground as I peck away at the soft, wet orbs of her mortified eyes. Gorgeous nature. My wingspan is a hundred feet long. I flap in the darkness. She is beholden to the unsuspecting fright of my baby blue frenzy, the last thing she will ever see.

My partner calls me back to his shoulder. The deed is done. The plucker has done his plucking. The rush of blood makes us feel like gods.

She fell prey like all the others. Another blinded victim, forever fearing the chirp of a parakeet, the swoop of a menacing fowl.

Tomorrow my work will be on the front page of the Tallahassee Democrat, with a photo of a blue feather on the green grass. Per our ritual, my partner will leave a copy on the steps of police headquarters, embellished with droppings.

~ fin ~

me-grav

Caleb Coy is a freelance writer with a Masters in English from Virginia Tech. His work has appeared in Mystery MagazineMystery Tribune online, The Common, and elsewhere. He is the author of the 2015 novel, An Authentic Derivative. He lives with his family in southwest Virginia.