On any given day, the walking path along Brakston Avenue was a flurry of activity, with cyclists, walkers, runners, even skateboarders, fighting for space. But tonight, it was a ghost town. Janice turned the corner at the start of the path, and found herself alone, as far as she could see.

It had been a tough week for Janice; in fact, she had just left David, her boyfriend, after a blowup fight. She needed space to clear her mind. Inserting her earbuds and cranking her favourite “relaxing” tunes, Janice began to jog down the lonely path.

Her mind wandered as she went. At first, staying with the music.

You don’t know me, you don’t touch me, you’re just a hollow shell.

But then she began to think. About her job, her ailing mother, and her fight with David. Janice’s mind whirled, jumping about, barely noticing the lack of people on the path, or the group of birds on the tree ahead, or the soft chime of a bicycle’s bell behind her.

A crack in path caused Janice to stumble suddenly. She caught herself, and realized just how hard she had been running, really hard. She leaned over on a nearby bench, catching her breath. Her eyes caught the sight of a few birds sweeping past, and alighting on a nearby tree. Then more birds, and a few more. Janice straightened up and saw, as she slowly stepped forward, that the tree ahead was filled with large, black crows. And, was she imagining it, they were all staring right at her.

Bothered by the birds, Janice slowly pulled her headphones out. And that’s when she heard it. The soft bell chiming. She tried to turn when suddenly she writhed in pain. Janice closed her eyes and screamed, or thought she did. The next thing Janice knew, she was on the ground, unable to move. Her arms and legs were a tangle about her, and she could feel blood pooling about her. She tried to move, but couldn’t.

In the distance, she heard the fading chimes of the bicycle bell. The noise of the crows suddenly hit her, as she saw the large birds, circling towards her. Janice opened her mouth, silently screaming as one giant crow swooped towards her face.

And at the end of the path, with no one around to see or hear, the bicycle slowly rolled away, chiming its soft bell as it went.