133. Soho's death bird
Lieutenant James Morgan found the blackout in Soho unsettling. Shadows from war-torn buildings seemed like eerie spectres as he traipsed the street in search of the office of the family lawyer. They'd moved premise,s so this cold November night in 1940 was a particularly odd one as he walked the labyrinth of alleyways. When he finally found the building, he entered and was pointed upstairs to the office of Mansell who he'd been in contact with for many years. On reaching the top of the stairs he noticed a mural showing a building resembling the one he was in. In front of the building stood a couple and above their heads appeared to be a coat of arms showing a large bird-like form.
Mansell greeted Morgan and they chatted business affairs until late. Morgan mentioned he must leave to get a taxi to find a hotel but Mansell insisted he stay the night in a second floor bedroom. When Morgan entered the cold air hit the face and the lack of carpet, and dour decor left a lot to be desired, but one night in the room was better than traipsing the dark streets looking for a hotel.
The curtain over the window hid the moon, and so to cast some glow into the surroundings Morgan cast the curtain to the sofa and then perched on the bed. After an hour struggling to get to sleep, despite severe tiredness, he dropped off. When he awoke he sensed something wasn't right and the feeling of dread began to overwhelm him. He cast an eye around the room. Suddenly the dreary curtain crumpled on the sofa began to move, and from the blackness emerged the form of a horrifying bird-like apparition with long beak and huge flapping wings.
Morgan leapt to his feet as the monstrosity approached. Its beak jabbed at him as he backed into a corner. Its massive, sharp claws attempted to slash his flesh, but oddly he noticed that despite the severity of its actions, the claws and beak did not once strike him. This phantasmal horror was clearly something unknown, and as he began to panic he found himself resorting to the only action he knew. He reached for the curtain on the sofa, and, like a person would blanket a pet budgie should it escape from its cage, he threw the curtain over the creature. He tugged down on the sides to prevent the beast attacking him but then noticed that its movements had lessened, and gradually the giant bird fluttered no more. The curtain was now as it was before the incident, a crumpled, lifeless pile on the sofa.
Mansell was at the door, wondering what all the fuss was about, and they began to chat, deep into the early hours about the mural and the legend of the bird of death which emblazoned that coat of arms in that mural. Mansell claimed the apparition was a bad omen, and sure enough his words rang true. A few days later Lieutenent Morgan was to hear that Mansell had been killed in an air-raid. Although Morgan had been notified as heir, he felt he'd become part of the monstrous curse of the ghastly bird of misfortune.
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