The Brush of a Feather

…Nat hurried on. Past the little wood, past the old barn, and then across the stile to the remaining field.
As he jumped the stile he heard the whir of wings. A black-backed gull dived down at him from the sky, missed, swerved in flight, and rose to dive again. In a moment it was joined by others, six, seven, a dozen, black-backed and herring mixed. Nat dropped his hoe. The hoe was useless. Covering his head with his arms he ran towards the cottage. They kept coming at him from the air, silent save for the beating wings. The terrible, fluttering wings. He could feel the blood on his hands, his wrists, his neck. Each stab of a swooping beak tore his flesh. If only he could keep them from his eyes. Nothing else mattered. He must keep them from his eyes. They had not learnt yet how to cling to a shoulder, how to rip clothing, how to dive in mass upon the head, upon the body. But with each dive, with each attack, they became bolder. And they had no thought for themselves. When they dived low and missed, they crashed, bruised and broken, on the ground. As Nat ran he stumbled, kicking their spent bodies in front of him.
He found the door, he hammered upon it with his bleeding hands. Because of the boarded windows no light shone. Everything was dark.
“Let me in,” he shouted, “it’s Nat. Let me in.”
He shouted loud to make himself heard above the whirr of the gull’s wings.
Then he saw the gannet, poised for the dive, above him in the sky. The gulls circled, retired, soared, one with another, against the wind. Only the gannet remained. One single gannet, above him in the sky. The wings folded suddenly to its body. It dropped, like a stone. Nat screamed, and the door opened. He stumbled across the threshold, and his wife threw her weight against the door.
They heard the thud of the gannet as it fell.

Daphne du Maurier
The Birds, Echoes from the Macabre 1952



2 thoughts on “The Brush of a Feather

  1. CaffeinatedJoe says:

    Seems like the book might be as scary as the movie!

    • AE says:

      When I read it I was reminded of all the zombie themed stories/dramas around these days. Just replace the birds with undead and you’ve got it, the natural order going bonkers is scary indeed.

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