The Dark Stranger
Raven sat crossed legged on the floor listening to the soft drone of Wolf's gentle voice. The acrid aftertaste of blue lotus wine still lingered on her tongue. The wine, combined with the smell of burning skullcap leaves and wood smoke, was making her drowsy.
"...now in your mind reach out and open the door. Who do you see?"
"A stranger...with thick long black hair. I can't see her face, but I know she's very old. There's something strangely familiar about her..."
Wolf smiled knowingly to herself, before saying,"Ask her your question."
Raven thought about the restlessness that had slowly crept into her life and the insidious fear that she'd chosen the wrong career, before answering, "I want to know if I'm on the right path."
"Now go to sleep, she will find you," Wolf whispered in her ear.
The cage swayed unsteadily, waking Raven from her slumber. Its metal bars creaked in protest as the wind rushed by.
"Where am I?" she asked no-one in particular.
"You're where you are now," a woman's voice answered her.
Sitting on a perch, swinging her thin legs in the air, the old hag chuckled as Raven clumsily swung around.
"Who are you?"
The woman cackled loudly in response.
"You're the lady in my vision," Raven whispered, walking to the edge of the cage. Grasping the metal bars in her hand, she looked down into the abyss.
Turning around to face the woman once again, she asked, "Am I on the right path?"
"This is the path you've chosen," the hag replied, sweeping her arms wide.
"But this is a cage."
"Ah, but a cage of your making."
"How do I escape?"
"Look around you Raven, there are only three walls."
"But I can't just walk out. I'll fall into the abyss," Raven cried in alarm.
The hag laughed mirthlessly.
"Then fly out."
"But I don't have wings."
"Oh but you do sweet Raven."
Raven quickly checked herself. To her astonishment she found that her arms had been replaced by a pair of black wings.
Raven woke to the sound of the radio alarm. Rolling over she hit the stop button, then dragged her sleepy form out of bed. She had a meeting with the manager scheduled for the morning. Making her way slowly to the bathroom, she checked herself in the mirror. A stranger stared back at her. It was the hag.
"Who are you?"
This time she knew the answer.
"Who am I?" she whispered as the image of the hag morphed into that of herself. Turning away she unclasped her right hand and watched as a black feather slowly floated to the floor.
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