The Court of Ravens


Mathilda, the woman in the cherry blossom pink dress fidgeted uncomfortably as the new passenger sat down next to her. It was a boy with indecently long hair and baggy black clothes. Mathilda didn’t want to look twice but she was almost sure he had black nail polish and eyeliner. Shuddering, she tried to edge as far from him as possible, thus bumping into the shoulder of a respectable looking old man who was lost behind the sheets of The Times. She looked around panic-stricken, searching for a friendly face to share her distress with. However, all the other commuters seemed oblivious to the disturbing presence.

There was a group of blonde people arguing in a fast-rolling Scandinavian language, a kissing couple and a girl in a yellow coat reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Mathilda found nobody to turn to. After a while, she felt sure that the boy was staring at her, weighing her up, while listening to the horrible cacophony pouring from his headphones. It took a few more stops for her to realize that nobody was getting in and out off the carriage. It hadn’t even stopped for heaven knows how many minutes. She was trapped with a train full of freaks.

Her blood froze, a silent scream building up in her throat. She could have sworn that that odious boy grinned at her visible distress. To her great relief the carriage slowed down and came to a halt. She jumped up and rushed for the door. The stop where they stationed was dark with only a few spots of light. If she hadn’t known better, she would have thought she saw dancing candle flames. She waited impatiently for the door to open but when it did she couldn’t make her muscles move. She found herself face to face with a teenage girl who, judging from her traits and her fashion sense, must have been the sister of Horrible Boy. The girl studied her with an unflinching interest, the way children stare at an unusually bright and fat slug. Then the newcomer broke eye contact and made it for the now empty street next to the boy.

“Huggin, Odin, how could you let a mortal get on our train?” the girl said with outrage in her voice. The old man just shrugged. Nothing could derange his infinite peace.

“It was rather entertaining,” said the boy.

Her muscles finally obeyed her, so the woman jumped out of the door. She landed in the completely mundane and utterly deserted quay of the District Line. The last thing she saw was two huge black ravens mocking her from the window flashing by.

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Fanni Sütő (1990) writes poetry, short stories and a growing number of novels-in-progress. She publishes in English and Hungarian and finds inspiration in reading, paintings and music. Her heaven would be a library with an endless supply of coffee latte, cupcakes and Dr. Who episodes. She tries to find the magical in the everyday and likes to spy on the secret life of cities and their inhabitants.

Publications include: The Casket of Fictional Delights, Tincture Journal, Enchanted Conversation. Fundead Publications.

Website: www.inkmapsandmacarons.com