The Darkness

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Nine

She'd decided to sit up and read a little before lying down, as she wasn't feeling quite tired enough to sleep yet. After only a few pages, however, she got the feeling she'd forgotten something. It soon occurred to her what it was: she'd forgotten to feed her canary.

Reluctantly, because it meant leaving the warmth of her bed, she threw off the sheet covering her legs, pushed her feet into her slippers, and headed downstairs. The stairs seemed to creak more than usual. Perhaps it was because of the unusual quiet that was still going on. Just, although she didn't like to admit it, just like the unease she felt.

At the bottom of the stairs, she turned right and entered the living room. She took the canary food from the cupboard on the wall, and turned towards the birdcage.

The canary wasn't there.

The unease spiked up in her, but she very tentatively took a few steps forward anyway, and saw her canary lying dead at the bottom of its cage.

She clapped her hand over her mouth, and let out a single, dry sob. She dropped the can of birdseed and ran back upstairs, crying.

It wasn't until she'd washed her face and got back in bed, still sniffling, that a detail registered with her that she'd only absorbed before. Her stomach gave a violent jerk.

The canary's eyes had been closed, yes, but its beak had been strained open almost to the tearing point. There'd even been a tiny drop of blood on the yellow feathers by its beak.

She wondered... Could canaries... Could canaries scream?

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