The Messengers: From the Notebook Files


       I abhor the dark early morning hours of one to four a.m. It is the time of The Messengers. I never know when they will be coming. That’s the hardest part of it all–the randomness of their visits. Every night I’m filled with dread. Will they come tonight? Will I soon hear the pecking on my window? I hate the dark hours. I hate the daylight hours, too.


       Once upon a long time ago I considered myself a novelist. Nighttime was my creative time. Words flowed from my brain to the keyboard of my computer. They came fast and with ease. By dawn my fingers ached. My whole arm ached. But when my writing time was over, I was filled with contentment and with a desire for the day to quickly speed away so that I could once again engage in my obsession. 


     A few hours of sleep was all I needed. My job at the coffee shop began at nine, and when my shift was over, I’d go to class, then after class I’d head over to the diner to wait tables. I was young, barely turned twenty, and full of energetic determination to make it big in the literary world.


     This satisfying routine continued for weeks. My novel was nearing completion. My goal was just a few chapters away. I could sense success. I could feel it. I could taste it. It made me giddy with anticipation. Then they started coming–The Messengers. At first their visits were sporadic and random, but they increased as days went by. But I remember clearly the night of the first visit. The night was portentous to begin with. Wind howled outside. Sleet pelted my window. I paid no mind to it. The weather was not unusual for this time of the year. Autumn winds were ushering in the cold winter months. My fingers continued throwing words onto the monitor. Images in my brain and the rapid clacking of the keyboard occupied my thoughts. Until movement drew my attention to the window. Seeing an owl pressed against the glass stunned me. The wind must have blown the poor thing there. Shall I open the window to rescue it? Would it even allow me to approach it?


       Afraid I would startle the poor creature away, I stepped slowly, cautiously to the window, all the while watching it watch me with its big round yellow eyes. When I reached to slide the window open, it spoke. Not in the usual sense of the word but with its eyes and through thought. It held me transfixed as it delivered its message. 


       “A fair-haired girl will cross your path tomorrow. She will look at you and you will know to tell her that a loved one has passed away.”


     It happened just as the owl had said. I had kept my head down as I walked across campus to my class. I did not want to look into faces. But a strange, sudden compulsion forced my head up. A blonde had stopped to stare at me. How did she know? Like an unseen electrical charge, the owl’s message shot across the span of space that separated us. I did not speak it, but that didn’t matter. The girl hesitated for a moment, and horror filled her eyes. She turned and raced away. The recipient had received the message. I staggered to the nearest bench and sat. My entire body shook with fear.


       The Messengers came and went. Always at night. Always during the dark early morning hours. I stopped writing. Words fled from me. Enthusiasm and confidence that once filled me with happiness switched into a terror that crippled me. I waited for their appearance. I had become their messenger to the great-horned-owl-night_human world. Soon, all too soon, frightened whispers, furtive glances, and isolation, chased me off campus and to another town. I changed towns several times but The Messengers always found me. Where I went, they went. Their visits would not cease.


     I’m now in a room that has no windows. It is what I want, even though I was given a choice. I will not allow a computer to be placed in my room. My fear is for the monitor. It could become their window to get to me. I haven’t forgotten them. How could I? Now my wait is for the nurse who brings me two little orange pills that calm me and allow me to sleep during the dark early morning hours. I hear nothing. I see not a thing. I imagine nothing. My world is dark but peaceful because of the two little orange pills….