It made him jump again. 4:45 in the morning, not officially awake, steps slurring together on a half-sleepwalk to the bathroom something black right outside the frost-covered window. Some kind of bird but it looked too evil for closer inspection. Shower first.

He couldn’t get it off his mind in the steamy shower, kept looking over the curtain to make sure it hadn’t somehow phased through the glass into the house. Nothing out there but steam and towels, sleep-shirt in a pile on the tile floor. Washing his hair he had to check again. Still no bird in the bathroom. Stop checking. He tried reading the directions on the shampoo bottle to get his mind off it. The tongue-in-cheek stylized writing did not help. Still spooked, paranoid. Let’s get out of the shower. Hate being trapped in a small room.

He wrapped a towel around his waist and put some green stuff in his hair. Moisturized his extremely dry face but without shaving. He could see it still in the window from down the hall. A weird black shape. He went straight to it. He was awake now, cooking on all burners. Indestructible.

What was it? Staring at a point in the air just to one side of him. A scruffy thing with jagged black feathers that looked like morning hair. Beady, orange eyes. Blue tufts on the sides of the neck. Sharp, pointed black beak. Claws with an odd number of toes. Four on one foot, three on the other. The eyes shifted and head jerked and it now stared straight into his eyes, a frozen rush of ice cold running down his body. Then it took off, wings scraping on the frosted glass as it launched into the early morning electric blue twilight.

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