My new tattoo is haunted. Which is alarming for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that when I went to sleep last night, I didn’t have a tattoo.
I determined the tattoo was haunted because of one, its miraculous appearance, and two, in the hour since I’ve been awake it’s changed locations. Twice.
When I jerked awake at the sound of my alarm this morning, thankfully interrupting a really strange dream, I quickly realized the dream might have been the better option when I saw a raven on my wrist. I brought it closer to my face for inspection, rubbing my thumb across the, admittedly, beautiful design. The ink didn’t smear, and it certainly looked real, but having never had a tattoo before, I had to be sure. So I made my way to the bathroom and tried washing it off.
Once that proved to be ineffective, I slid to the floor and tried to think of what happened last night while I silently freaked out. I remembered hanging out with my friends at a carnival that had arrived in town. We rode rides, played some games, I even got my fortune read. But I certainly did not get a tattoo. And if I had got one, I would have chosen a more inconspicuous location, because when my mom sees this she is going to freak.
It was while I was fervently wishing the tattoo I didn’t ask for was somewhere I could more easily hide, that my wrist began to tingle. And that’s when the freaking raven moved. It actually started flapping its wings as it made its way up my arm and disappeared behind my shoulder.
Scrabbling to my feet, I grabbed a mirror and twisted around to find the raven on my left shoulder blade, wings outstretched and beady eyes watching me.
At this point, I was questioning myself. Was I drunk? Drugged? Just seeing things?
“Hey.” I whispered to the bird.
“Move.” I whispered, more forcefully.
“Great. Not only am I having an apparent breakdown involving a chicken, now I’m talking to myself.”
Apparently raven tattoos get offended at being called chickens, or least mine does, because it took off again, my skin tingling as it made its way down my back and then over to my hip.
And this is the situation I currently find myself in when my mom knocks on the door.
“Hal, I need to get ready for work.”
“Yeah, mom. I’ll be out in a minute.” Wearing my sleep shorts and tank top doesn’t give me a lot of coverage. But I hike my waistband up to cover the offending tattoo and flush the toilet before exiting the bathroom. “Good morning.” I say, with a smile that feels a touch too big, but luckily my mother doesn’t notice.
“Morning, sweetheart.” She says, kissing me on the top of my head as she passes by me and shuts the bathroom door.
I run back to my room, shut the door and put my shorts back to rights so I can, once again, stare at the raven dumbfoundedly.
So I have a haunted tattoo.
Now the question is, how do I get rid of it?
I poke at the raven’s head and its beady little eye flashes. I poke it again. This time the tingle turns into a burn and the raven fades to a milky white color. “What the-“
“Would you stop poking me, please?” At the sound of a strange voice in my room, I jerk back with a small shriek that hopefully goes unnoticed by my mother.
Sitting, or rather perched, in front of me is the raven. Who is somehow now three dimensional.
“Did you just speak to me?” I ask, my heartbeat racing.
“Do you see anyone else poking me?” He retorts, rather haughtily.
“I don’t understand. Where did you come from?” I lean forward to study him more closely.
“I think that should be obvious. I came from your tattoo.” He says, hopping back.
“Well, it certainly isn’t my tattoo since I didn’t consent to getting one!”
“I’m not exactly thrilled with this development either, you know. But Agnes and I never got along so when you ticked her off, she saw it as a perfect opportunity to get rid of me and back at you.” That name sounded slightly familiar and then it hit me. The fortune teller I saw yesterday had a sign outside her tent that read “Ask Agnes: Fortunes & Spells.”
“The fortune teller did this to me? What did I ever do to her?”
“Agnes is a very proud woman. And she doesn’t take kindly to skeptics questioning her work.” I never knew birds could be so expressive, but the look he was giving me very clearly said this was all my fault.
“That’s too bad for her, because there is a lot more questioning I have to do. We’re going to pay her a visit.” I get up to start getting ready then turn back to him again. “What’s your name, by the way?”
I give him a second, but he doesn’t say anything else. “Don’t you want to know mine?” I ask, exasperated.
“Your name is Hallie Montgomery.” He says, sounding bored. He already knows my name. Does that mean he can read my mind?
“How did you know that?”
“You told Agnes. And I was there. On her ankle.” He says this like I’m slow on the uptake. Which I guess I am, but having a haunted tattoo will do that to a person. At the mention of Agnes, I gather up my clothes then glare at him until he turns around before quickly changing.
“I can’t exactly walk out of her with a giant black bird.” I say pointedly. In the blink of an eye Kenai disappears and my burning hip tells me he’s returned to the tattoo. I take a deep breath before setting out. “This should be interesting.”