White-tailed Swift


There is a prophecy.

That's how this story starts- a poorly written jumble of words that could pass for a sad excuse of a poem, created by an old lady who claimed to be the Prophet. In her time, she wasn't that fantastic. She was a frail yet strong-boned woman with uncountable wrinkles that rolled down from head to toe; those beady black eyes that were all too eager to spot that tiny fluff of lint on your shirt and announce that it was a sign from the gods.

I hadn't been born yet when she told the prophecy, but many people told me that it was a time where our economy wasn't the best. Heck, the world wasn't at its best. So when she suddenly started to spasm in a seizure and announce that "the time for our end has arrived", well, people started to freak out. She muttered these rhymes about the dark, and the shadows, and how they would consume us. There was also a "Chosen One" in the picture, and after the prophecy was predicted, people started to get uncomfortable and went to search for their future hero.

Then they realized that she was probably joking, and that such a person didn't exist.

Since then, nobody actually believed that she was the Prophet. Actually, they thought that she was just a crazy old lady who was too fond of her alcohol to admit it. I used to be fascinated by her hard-as-nails attitude and the fact that she'd even shoot an innocent rabbit if it stepped foot on her mangled, dead lawn. But I was the only one who admired her for those traits. Looking back, now, I could definitely admit that I wasn't the brightest kid ever.

The kids in my neighborhood called her "Old Witch", because she was pretty damn close to it. One day, when I was nine, they announced, "Let's throw stones at the Old Witch's house!" Then they collected a group of the biggest rocks I had ever seen. These rocks were huge- the size of a kid's fist, maybe even bigger. The horrible part about this was that the older kids knew that throwing stones at houses was wrong, and they didn't do anything to stop them.

I remember sitting across the street from her house, watching as the group of about six kids line up along her fence, getting ready for the vandalism. They aimed for the dirty windows and the fragile items, and in a moment rocks were sailing into the air, waiting for impact.

When that first rock smashed a hole into the front window, I realized the weight of the situation. They were wrecking her house, her valuables. Heck, they could probably hit her. She had an attitude three times her size, but could her little body stand up against a rock being thrown at a speed like that? I was about to get up and stomp on over to the group of kids and teach them a lesson, but suddenly the rock came rocketing back through the hole in the window and hit poor little Billy straight in the face.

The group, shocked, screamed and ran away, dispersing in groups of three and pairs of two. People passing by that had witnessed the event just clicked their tongues and shook their heads. They knew that the lady was crazy, and her "all-seeing eyes" were nothing short of a phony, but they also knew that she was somebody you didn't want to tangle with.

Because when you threw rocks at the Old Witch, she threw them right back.

After that day, I used to hang around the front of her house, looking over the fence and watching as that old lady knit away with two sharp needles. Sometimes I'd ask what she was knitting, and she would reply "I'm not actually knitting anything- the Fates are using my hands to knit the future". I knew that that was just a joke, but I always seemed to ask her the same thing the next day. When she was getting extremely old and withered to the point where she was going blind, she'd answer, "Well, it looks like a giant sock, to me."

It was when I was ten when she passed away.

I didn't really notice until the Officials were moving everything out of her house, lugging a moldy arm chair into a moving van with all their strength. "She croaked," was all they said. It wasn't the fact that they were moving all of her stuff away like they were junk that made me sad. It was the fact that all they said about her death was "she croaked."

That was it. She croaked. That respectable, cranky old woman lived till she was ninety-eight years old, and all she got out of her sad death was two pitiful words. She wasn't a freaking frog- she was a person. A seer! Even if others thought she was crazy and off her rocker, there were times where I'd look over that moldy, broken gate and think, "She must be an amazing Prophet!"

The thing that that woman claimed to exist for was written on her headstone, under a name that didn't fit her at all. It was the prophecy, written in thin crisp letters that were so small you had to put your face right in front of it to read it:

The end has come, and it is shrouded in darkness.

The end is near, and it is in Shadow.

A child is born of light

Blazing, untainted light

And when the Chosen One rises

The dark will die.

Struggle, loss, death

Consume the dark, the black, the shadow

And it will take the chosen one

Strength to conquer

Sacrifice to conquer

Fear to conquer

Their fear of the dark.

Of course, this was the edited version of the actually prediction. There was also a part about the origins of the Chosen One. That he was raised among men and would rise from the ash of his home. So it was a big surprise that one random day, everybody was announcing that the lady was right- there was an actual Chosen One. He had popped right out of the blue and said "I am the Chosen One."

And people believed him. Everyone knew and praised his name. Lucian Gill, the handsome heroic boy who hadn't done a single thing yet to deserve such fame. He got rich and protected and loved because he rode on that name like a silk cushion carrying a king. People believed that he would save us when the time was right. He was the hero everyone desperately hoped for in the bottom of their hearts.

Nobody thought about the rest of the poem. I mean, THE DARK and SHADOWS were plainly there on that woman's head stone. It was now, after she died, that people regretted not knowing her and believing her. I would glare at them when they referred to her as "that poor woman". She wasn't the poor woman. She was the Old Witch. Just because they were proved wrong, she gets all the sympathies. They even made up some story about how that woman was a civilized scientist who predicted the prophecy by the stars, just to make it up to her.

Well, she was definitely not civilized, and the prophecy came during one of her coughing fits and after-shock seizures, thank you very much. If she was getting all of the praise when she was alive, she'd probably ward off the happy citizens with her sharp knitting needles and left over rocks. I liked to remember her like that- the way she threw that rock at that kid's face, because she knew how to take care of herself. She believed in herself. She was as hard as those rocks being thrown in the first place.

I looked up to her. I wanted to be her. The woman that everyone thought was crazy because she believed in something so outrageous. She believed it to the very end. The Chosen One was probably not the real Chosen One, but she was probably thinking down in hell, "I told you so."

She'd probably say something about the dark, too. How everybody was missing the actual picture, here. The dark was the cause of the end of the world- the shadows overriding the people.

So why didn't people realize that if the Chosen One was here, then "our end" was following close behind?