The Crow: Songs of Children

Detective Report: August 9th, 2005

Reporting Officer Jonathan Fuller

Subject: Fire at St. Helena's Orphanage

Description: The Detective arrived at the scene at nine o'clock. The fire was already in full force. Detective was the first one in, going through the door around the back, what was once the docking bay for the food deliveries. Already familiar with the Orphanage, the Detective armed himself with a fire extinguisher through the kitchen. Proceeded down the halls. Flames were chest high and the smoke was too thick to see through. Fought way through several locked doors. One door was chained, the Detective broke off the Masterlock with the butt of a flashlight. Down the corridor the Detective found several other instances where doors had been locked. And in the center of the hall, rubble was covering a woman, burned severely. The children were dead by the time the fireman were able to subdue the flames. Only one child, hiding in the gymnasium had escaped the flames, she was found carrying the body of another child.

Fifty-two children and three adults died in the blaze. There was no evidence that the fire was deliberately set, but the State Government is in the middle of an internal investigation regarding the locking of the doors and the limited information provided to the children on what to do if there was a fire.

The Detective has concerns about the effectiveness of the investigative parties. The Detective is filing an appeal with the Commissioners office to explore a separate investigation.

Detective Jonathon Fuller

Chapter One: The Kid that Rose from the Ashes

In the burnt field beside the ruined Orphanage, there was a tree that should be dead. The trunk was the color of slate. Its insides had been gutted by flames, with limbs that were husks, twisted and malformed with a terrible smell of sulfur. No leaves grew on the tips of the tree limbs, not a bit of life to be found, but for an organic boil that bubbled up from a crack in the bark. The substance was at first a drop, like a bit of oil squeezing through the surface of an oilfield. The bubble grew quickly, making a sphere of black sap. Within the sap, an even smaller organism had been growing, it had a shiny beak, a flash of eyes and sharp little talons that scraped at the membrane which contained it.

A swift slash of black claw and the membrane tore violently, spewing the fluid which ran in tributaries through the tree. When the Crow appeared, it felt an incredible hunger. He flitted about, expanding his wings to their full impressive span, shaking out his stark black feathers in the waning twilight. The dew or embryonic fluid, or whatever otherworldly substance clung to his body was shook loose with every flap and dip of his sharp beak, until he was comfortable enough to fly. And he took off from the black burnt tree he had been born from, cutting a path over a desperate scene, the charred remains of an Orphanage. A building that was as dead as its inhabitants. Still, the hunger persisted, cutting the Crow deep within, growing with each moment he sliced through the air.

The heartbeat was audible, though incredibly faint. His instincts guided him over and under the jetstream currents, through obstacles made by man, wires and partitions cutting out into the streets. The noise from below and around him was deafening, loud automobiles stinking from the street, yelling from people rushing about, gunshots in the distance like tiny explosions, and still, he could hear the heartbeat. The large bird swooped low into a grassy meadow, in the back of a large midtown church and pinpointed a spot on the ground where the heartbeat was the loudest. He landed, talons first on the soft grass, and smelled the cold real earth from beneath. Directly before him was a large stone statuette with scribbling and hash marks carved into its face. The words, the name on the gravestone had been chipped away, forgotten. The dirt was warm, full of burgeoning life, a strange sight adjacent to the hopeless graveyard. Flowers were sprouting and budding within seconds, worms and insects were squirming and jumping from the spot. The Crow bent low and snapped them up as quickly as they appeared, squawking with delight as he choked back the meaty little things.

A particularly meaty worm sprouted beneath a dandelion and the Crow quickly made an attempt to gobble it with his sharp beak. When the worm did not budge, the Crow tasted the ashy copper of blood and stepped back, raising his wings for the attack, readying his talons to tear at flesh. The tough worm had friends, nine of them, now clawing through the loose earth. A body rose and the Crow new that this was not a worm, but a finger, which belonged to hands and a person. He knew this person from somewhere; he was a young man, barely half the size of an adult. The clothes he wore were the tear away kind, nothing as beautiful as the Crow's own feathers. His body was badly scarred, but the more he struggled to free himself of the dirt, the more the wretched skin scraped off, revealing a milky white texture of porcelain human skin.

The child was thin, terribly emaciated, he could not focus on anything about him. He stumbled and tripped as much as a newborn fawn. Learning to walk as he fumbled about, the boy was coughing up fistfuls of dirt and grime from his newly pink lungs. He vomited whatever had been rotting in his stomach and pounded his fists against a stone cross to help him concentrate. The Crow walked along beside him, wary, not willing to fly away. He was magnetically drawn to the child, and felt concern for him. The Crow himself had just been born into the world, but the child was much more helpless than this pathetic human. His gangly limbs were not as majestic as the Crow's, standing upright was a struggle. The Crow felt pangs of sorrow for this boy, and instinctually knew that it was his mission to watch over him.

The boy was stopped at the cemetery gate, the moon glowed from high above as he reached his hand out, pushing at the metal. When it did not give way, the boy deliriously gripped the metal spikes and pulled. A great problem solver himself, the Crow gave his wings a few flaps, to rest on the gate. He looked over at the primitive machine, a simple latch system. The Crow bent down low over the gate and pecked at the latch. With a vacant look, the boy reached his hand down to the latch and lifted, letting the gate swing outward.

"Thank you Mr. Crow." The boy said weakly. "Do you know who I am?"